Monday, November 28, 2011

T.A.C.C. Thanksgiving Gymkhana

Today Willow and I were up and on the road by 7 o’clock as we were heading up to our local arena for a gymkhana. Now Willow has a little experience at this kind of events but as for me, other than one barrel race with my niece Caron a couple of years ago I am a neophyte. In fact when they decided to rake the arena right before my run in the barrel race I was telling folks “Now how am I going to remember which way to turn”, even though I think those who do it on a regular basis are happy that the ruts are all worked out. Nevertheless I found my way around the circuit and made it back across the finish line in a pretty decent time. No prizes but no penalties either, and although it was close the timer resisted the urge to turn the page on his calendar as I was coming home.

Just a comment on the rules of this game, although you see all sorts at these things it would seem to me that all those 100 pound girls should have to haul one or two big sacks of potatoes while they are running just to even it up for poor old Willow hauling my carcass around that arena (remember my “A Man’s Gotta Eat” blog of a day or two ago.). That and the fact that most of them look like while I was out earning a living they were born in the saddle or sure didn’t take long getting there afterwards. But for our first time out we were pretty happy with the results and are already looking forward to the next chance we get to show folks just how slooooooooooooooow you really can go.

There were four events here and other than the barrel race we had only seen one other before. That was something called Washington Poles that looks an awful lot like the Stake race I have seen Caron run except for there is just one horse running a single course in the arena at a time instead of two sets of stakes side by side, both with separate timers, that make it a little more like a horse race, that I have seen back in Canada. Better this way as at least I didn’t have some little girl whipping my butt in real time, I guess….lol.


This young lady as accomplished as she is on her horse in the Pole race also is the heeler on her grandpa’s team roping team. And after the poles it was on to Cupid’s Arrow where you run down and alley and then have to circle three barrels set up at the end in a kind of arrowhead formation and then back down the alley between the poles to the finish line.


Then onto the final event called a Potato race where you pick up a spud out of a bucket on top of a barrel at one end of the arena and then race back and drop it into a garbage can at the other end of the arena. By this time in the event my personal photographer had gone on home so I am going to pick on one of my competitors to depict how that works.


Nothing to it, and actually Willow and I found that this one was our best event, I think we came in fourth in the senior citizens division and were pretty proud of that. You just knew that I would find my stride when it came to something that involved food eh!

Great fun and Willow did a bang up job of hauling my old bones around the arena (thanks for that Caron) and also working as my seat for the time I was just taking photos of the goings on. Here she is enjoying a well deserved rest.


Just click on the link below if you have lots of bandwidth and a long time to look through the photo’s of the day. Thanks to Brenda for a lot of the shots.

T.A.C.C. Thanksgiving Gymkhana

Saturday, November 26, 2011

What’s Up at Dogpound South

What with all the eating I have been doing it seemed that we needed to do something to get Brenda out of the kitchen. Thanksgiving was pretty low key here, we had breakfast for supper and threw in the left over Cheese and Bacon potatoes. Ohhh they are so good and I am thinking pretty fattening as well, but I persevered and now they are history…. 'Winking smile.

Black Friday around here was different than in  a lot of places, neither Brenda and I are insane so we decided we would join some of our neighbours here and take a spin up Vekol Wash with our horses and dodge all the crowds and the mash of folks trying to save 8 cents on a TV. We already have a TV with no dish so another would just add to the frustration factor here. We are hoping once Al gets his and Kelly’s dish up and running he will stop by and figure out ours. Smile

Our horses are all dressed up in their winter coats and hiking around in the desert here is hot work for them so with that and Brenda’s still wonky knee we were only gone a few hours and then it was back to the cool shade here at home.

Last night we joined Mike and Kathy, who sold us our place, and their friends, John and Diane, and slipped out for dinner to “the Duke” here in Maricopa. We had plans to slide over to San Tan Flats for dinner but it got to late and that is about an hour away so the restaurant at the Duke was a great second choice. I had the fish and chips special and although there are no photo’s it was good.

This morning we again saddled up and headed up a different part of the wash with another local guide. We made this a shorter ride as both Jill and I were planning on going to a Cattle Sorting practice and although Jill had a fresh horse I knew that my remuda was pretty limited and I didn’t want to wear it right out. Blue and I went to the practice and had a good time while Willow stayed home and rested up for the gymkhana at the Thunderbird Farms Arena tomorrow.


Brenda and Blue and Jill on Zeus as we head home for lunch.

After a couple of hours of rest Blue and I headed up to the Team Sort and had a great time but this little girl was the star of the show.


The little horse did pretty good considering that all but a couple of the cows were bigger than him.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Man’s Gotta Eat

Well you might be thinking all we do around here anymore is ride and wander the trails in Arizona. Well as good as that sounds like the title says “A Man’s Gotta Eat” and around here we do a lot of that and every bite a mouthful of heaven. Brenda has been using this new quick internet of ours to find some delicious recipes. And of course I have been called to duty to serve as the official tester of those recipe’s. As a warm-up for Christmas though she started with what we call Turtles and what Gina our friend in Denham Springs calls Millionaires.

Well whatever you call them they are just sinful they are so good.

After the Turtles were stowed in the refrigerator to tempt me everyday she whipped up a homemade soup, Cheese Corn Chowder, from the Pioneer Woman’s Blog. Mmm mmm good!


And if you eat something relatively healthy like homemade soup you have to follow up with a homemade apple pie for desert. That one is not off the internet but out of Brenda’s own cookbook. I think I am having a piece of that for breakfast tomorrow. WHAT, it is just fruit and a little sugar, sounds like a great healthy breakfast to me.


And you can’t just have one desert in the fridge so the other morning she whipped up these Peanut Butter Cup Brownies.


And then tonight it was Rib Eye Steak with Caesar Salad and


Bacon and Cheese Mashed Potatoes


Not many calories in that at all. But with all this eating going on I still had time to get out and take Willow for a ride around the neighbourhood today. She is pretty much getting used to all the dogs barking as she passes and the traffic on the roads. There is a field only about a block away from our place where we can get out and get a little exercise and there are lots of places to ride right close here too.

Just in case you were wondering I did eat a lot more salad than the pic above portrays.


But I am still planning of finishing up that apple pie for breakfast but I will skip the ice cream on top…..maybe!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Day 2 Team Sorting Clinic and Jackpot

Sunday was day 2 at the Thunderbird Arena for an early morning clinic and then the Jackpot in the afternoon. Unlike yesterday Brenda was not wielding the camera so there will not be a preponderance of photo’s of me. I was helping out where needed with the cattle and then Blue and I spent the rest of the day just taking pictures. I like taking pictures but it was an education for Blue to stand still as he was my seat for the day. And a fidgety horse is not the best photo platform. But he came to work today and although he didn’t get a lot of exercise he did his part by not moving while we were taking the shots. Hard enough for me to get things in focus without some moving around on our end.


Now although they didn’t make any money I think that little spotted horse to the left was the best horse in the pen today. He was quick and knew his job, you can see him watching that cow while his rider, Dave is checking out the herd looking for the next one. In the picture below he was guarding the gate and you can see him piling on the brakes to keep from getting a roughing the stock penalty although that extra cow sneaking through did what he managed not to. His owner is a Canadian cowboy who helped out a stranger the first day we were here when I was looking for a trailer to go and pick up some panels for our horse setup here at Dogpound South.


By the way having that #4 cow sneak by was nothing to be ashamed of that critter caused a lot of swearing and eliminated a lot of teams from the running. I think a lot of the riders here Sunday will be looking forward to meeting her at McDonalds someday.

I believe we ended up having somewhere around 26 teams entered in the Jackpot. You can enter yourself on as many as four teams each with a different partner and many of the folks here did that. That meant there was a little over $1000.00 in entry fees paid and the payout here was 60% so there was about $600.00 in prize money. The rest of the cash goes to pay for the cattle and then any left over will be plowed back into the arena. There is a lot of work that needs to be done to change this from an older good facility into a refurbished great one and the volunteers in our neighbourhood are determined to do just that.

I managed to get photos of every team so I am certain I have shots of the winners, BUT, my memory sometimes lets me down and if the following shots are not of those winners, my apologies and let me know and I will use the great editing software Microsoft supplies me with and change those photos.

As for placing's I am not so sure of them but as only one person changed from each team I am sure to get it at least half right.


These two Arizona cowgirls were in the top two and the lady on the yellow horse was on both winning teams.


You can almost imagine Tricia, on the yellow horse, hollering to Yvonne, a Canadian cowgirl, “I got this one you get the next one. And it worked because they were the other top team.


There is another shot of good horse taking care of moving the cow while the rider is surveying the herd looking for the next animal her partner is looking for.

Now there was side pool for the lower rated riders and our neighbours, Tanya and Candace, took that pot home.


Just another shameless plug but Candace is another good Canadian cowgirl and the daughter of Dave seen earlier in this epistle. In case you are keeping score, yep the ladies won everything, and as the guy with the next best seat in house, to Gage, seen in the background with the flag, let me say the ladies did it with class, no curses, were uttered at least out loud, more than I can say for some of the men. Smile

Brenda and I were talking this morning about just how at home we feel in this community and a large part of that is how great the folks here are at accepting strangers in their midst and welcoming us into every activity. Over the last two days Brenda and I and Blue managed to take a few over a thousand images and for anyone who wants to spend some time looking through them I will include a couple of links to the web albums that hold them.

T.A.C.C. Team Sorting Clinic – Day 1

T.A.C.C. Team Sorting Clinic and Jackpot – Day 2

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Team Sorting Clinic

Our local Thunderbird Arena Community Council put on a Team Sorting Clinic today up at the Arena on Ralston Road. We are hoping to raise some cash so that we can do some improvements there. It needs some bleachers, just in case someone wants to watch the goings on, and a little paint on the fences would be good also. But back to the Clinic. I decided to give Willow the day off so it was Blue’s chance to shine. He was a foal around our place at Dogpound North when we still had cows. I am sure he just thought they were some kind of strange looking short legged horses and had no idea that his ancestors were bred to handle their foibles.


Our clinician was Dale Darnold and although not many of us had much experience with Team Sorting he managed to get us straightened out and we actually sorted some cattle.

For those who have no idea what I am talking about I’ll try to explain this game. You start off with a dozen or so cattle numbered from 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,0 and a couple of unnumbered animals just to add a little challenge. The point of the exercise is to move the cattle in order from one pen and into another. You are given the number you are to start with as you cross the start line. For example if the announcer calls 6 you need to move the animal wearing the number 6 across to the second pen all the while making sure none of the other animals follows along. Once 6 is across you need to both hold it there and move 7 across and so on and on till you have all ten marked animals across, always remembering that the trash or unnumbered animals can’t be across that line between the pens. Sounds simple but remember cattle are herd animals and don’t want to leave their buddies behind or be left behind themselves so they are constantly trying to either cross the line, out of order, or get back across to rejoin the herd. The team part is there are two riders in the pen at a time and while one attempts to move the cattle in order out of one pen to the other, the second is both keeping everyone on the proper side of the line as well as assisting rider number 1 with cutting the proper animal out of the herd.

You’ll notice in the shots above Blue has his ears pinned back, well to be a good cow horse doesn’t mean you have to like cows, in fact all the good ones I have seen seem to have a little bit of mean when it comes to working cattle. That said you are not allowed to rough up the cattle so it is OK to look mean but not be mean, although I am sure some horses would like to bite those cattle.


Now his ears are back in this photo also so maybe he is not enamoured of having his picture taken either.


After the clinic we set up for some practice runs and here is our management group, the announcer Kit on the truck, Jim, in the blue shirt and Dale on the far right overseeing it all. And below is Blue thinking “OK enough with the pictures, get this saddle off my back and let me in the trailer so we can get home and see what Willow is up too.”


Wednesday, November 16, 2011



Today we were up and at ‘em before the dawn. We were heading over to Apache Junction to meet some friends, Joe, Dan, and Kristi, for a ride around the desert over that way. This beautiful desert with Superstition Mountain looming over it was one of the reasons we knew that sooner or later we were going to have to bring our horses down off the northern range to see this place the best way we know how. It was a beautiful day with just the odd cloud floating by. Nice weather for riding but not so great for taking photos. The above picture was taken today and the one below a few years back, same mountain, different light.

Superstition Mountain

We headed north from the old Ghost Town and just wandered our way across the landscape.

We didn’t linger long in any spot as Joe had us talked into visiting his favourite Italian restaurant in Apache Junction but Brenda, as usual, did have to feed folks, so here is a shot of her doling out some of her fresh baked cookies from her stash.


Everyone except the photographer got a ration, but I guess seeing as how I have eaten a couple of hundred of these oatmeal raisin and peanut cookies over the last few weeks and I have direct access to the mother lode I don’t mind sharing. A FEW!

It was a beautiful ride and to soon we were headed back to the trailers, and passing by the old Goldfield Ghost Town that is in the foreground of the first picture.


Here is the web album with the complete photo story.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Just Another Day

Today was just another day down here at Dogpound South. We were not doing anything exciting and we managed to get all the unpacking from our weekend excursion done yesterday so it is just a matter of marking time till the next ride on Wednesday.

Brenda needed to run into town for some supplies so it was off to Costco for us. That place seems to have a minimum $200.00 charge to get back out and today was even worse as our membership had expired so we needed to renew that first.


And just for our friend Heather we stopped after we were done our shopping and enjoyed a great lunch at an even better price. While she was running off to London, England for a grilled cheese sandwich we had our usual here at our favourite old folks eatery.


And for those of us on a fixed income once you include the tax it is still only $3.27 for the two of us to dine.

And then it was back off to Dogpound South for another enjoyable day in the sunshine, and some playing with the Security detail. They need to keep in top notch shape just in case they are called to duty.



Sunday, November 13, 2011

Bronco Trailhead

This week we took a spin north of Cave Creek to meet up with a bunch of folks and their horses. The ride organizers were a group called the Lone Rangers and they are actually a singles riding group but they seemed to be hospitable to us married folks. We can ride with them whenever we like but I don’t think they want us as actual members in their club. There were some interesting folks in this bunch, some of whom were on our ride last week in the Dragoons as well.

Starting from the left in the brown ball cap is Dan, and going clockwise at the top in the brown cowboy hat to Joe, then Theresa and Eric with Theresa’s husband K, who is also a friend of mine on the Flickr website, and in is the centre is our long lost cousin, Ray Brown. Ray just retired on January 1st this year and is only 85 years young. He kept us in stitches most of the weekend and we can hardly wait to meet his wife, Georgia Brown.

We pulled into the campsite about mid day on Friday and got set up before many other folks were there. That meant that our horses were in the luxury suites and had a corral and were not tied to the trailer all weekend. That’s them down there with our truck on the lower right side of the trailhead and our LQ out in the centre with no truck.


You won’t see any pictures of the ride here as it appears that my little Olympus point and shoot has given up the ghost. Lot’s of pictures but NONE in focus. Oh well it is embossed on my memory. Sorry about your luck though!

Once we got back to camp it was time for that time honoured tradition, POTLUCK, and as usual there were twenty odd folks there and each and every one brought enough food to feed 20 odd folks. Brenda contributed linguine and meat sauce along with a salad and a chocolate cherry cake. Needless to say there were glucose monitors all over the camp setting off their alarms all night.

It rained pretty steadily through the night and all morning as we packed up to head home. If this keeps up the desert should once again be a beautiful green this winter. We got back to Dogpound South in the early afternoon and got everything unloaded and set back up for the next trip.


Not often I get a guy sitting beside me that makes me look good, but that is Larry, ‘er I mean Joe, our friend from Wyoming inhabiting those coveralls.

A couple of pics I stole from our friends K’s collection to quench Caron’s thirst for shots of Willow.

Blue and Willow on the trail to the China Wall


Blue and Willow along the edge

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Council Rocks

Friday morning we finished packing up the LQ and made sure all the right tanks were empty and the other ones full, then loaded our two hounds and both of our horses as we were heading down Tombstone way to meet up with some folks from a group called the Arizona Back Country Riders to do a little riding in the Dragoon Mountains. It is about a three hour haul from here at Dogpound South to the camp just a dozen or so miles outside of Tombstone. We found our way with no problem (good directions Bill) and pulled into the site about 2:30PM and got ourselves set up.


Some of the folks were keen to get riding and were saddled up and ready to go, we however opted to run into Tombstone with K and Theresa, and David and Linda, and Joe Carl and Adina(?) and wander the streets and then grab a bite to eat at Cafe Margarita and of course do a little shopping for the ladies. The others headed into Big Nose Kate's to do a little dancing after dinner but as Brenda and I are not the dancing type, or so she says about me, we headed back to camp to let the dogs out, yep it was us.


Well early to bed makes early to rise and we got up to a small change in the weather.


You betcha we are still in Arizona and that really is snow. As you can tell from the shot below there was a little wind through the night also. that is Joe Carls shower stall there standing on its head beside his tent.


But a little snow never gets a cowboy down so we gave it a couple of hours while folks drank an extra cup of coffee or two and I slurped down my hot chocolate and then it was time to hit the trail. For those who missed the trip the weather was actually perfect for our ride, cool enough for the horses and just enough moisture to keep the dust down and not enough to make things slippery.

That fellow off by himself in the bottom right photo is K, Brenda and I had met him and his wife Theresa early in 2008 when we first came to this country looking for a place to ride. Took us a while but we made it back and are hoping to stay for many winters. K and I met through another website where we both post photographs from time to time. You can follow these links to K’s and my own Flickr sites if you are interested. It was his photo’s that drew us to this country to ride in the first place so we are hoping to trace his trails through the back country of Arizona.

Our ride on Saturday took us through and along the Dragoon Mountains to a place called Council Rocks, it was really just a jumble of boulders but at the base of them there was a natural amphitheatre where we left the horses and scrambled up to the top to set a spell and eat our lunch. There were some old old pictographs on the protected undersides of the boulders so you knew folks had been coming to this spot for thousands of years.

Now these new friends have a custom that is very similar to that we used to enjoy with our RV’ing friends and will continue to enjoy with whomever we are sharing our camps with. We gathered around the campfire back in camp and had a great potluck supper.  Those of you who I caught with your mouths full I apologize in advance but it just had to be as there was not much talking going on while the food was hot.



I am hear to tell you that there are just as many good cooks amongst these cowgirls as there are amongst those RV’ing folks we hung out with the last few years. As Nick Russell says "I am never going to be a thin man”.


The picture above is our host and the leader of this expedition Bill, Brenda and I can’t thank him enough for sharing his country with us and our horses.


It is beautiful country and the pictures above were taken this morning and you’ll notice the snow is gone and the weather is back to normal.


I will leave you with a link to our Cochise’s Stronghold Web Album that has more photos from this adventure.