Home from “the Ride”, now what? (August 2023)

Once home from “the Ride”, following unpacking and straightening trailer, resting horses and myself a day or two,  I take out my score sheet and decide on 2-3 things to on which to concentrate and try to improve. 

I use the score sheet as a reference and guide, as every ride is different and the parts of the obstacle that are judged can vary from ride to ride.  Josie is not a “drill it and kill it” type of horse, so I am careful to keep things interesting.  I may pick one in-hand and several mounted obstacles to practice.  I then think how I can use what I have at home and out on my local trails to practice and reinforce the training.  I have no problem recreating most obstacles as they were, but I also try to expand on them and develop specific objectives.  For example:  foot control, smooth flow, and of course “stop and settle”.  What is it as soon as I start an obstacle that I get in a hurry?

I have several plastic barrels, landscape timbers, cones and Jim has made me a square pedestal from a plywood covered pallet.  I have an old rope that I use to drag and swing around Josie.  To quote Greg Dial, “4-6 cones or barrels and some landscape timbers should be sufficient to create an endless supply of practice obstacles”. A canvas tarp far outlasts a blue poly, which eventually disintegrates. 

On my local trails I look out for flat rocks to put a foot on, a downed tree to step or back over or side pass, and small hills to practice speed control, turning, stopping and side passing in tight spots. I can practice forward laterals and transitions on straight trails.  Trees in clearings are good for backing practice in circles.  I never let just the trail we are on be Josie’s guide, I engage my body and legs on turns and sometimes intentionally go off trail to check our communication at that moment.  Sometimes we are in such harmony that I can disregard reins for 10, 20 or even 30 minutes at a time.  During this time, I can turn, stop (hard for us to do reinless), back, transition and yield.  If I do pick up a rein, I try to use it as a reminder that she missed a quiet cue. 

Another way to practice for rides is with lessons and clinics.  Jim, Emily and I also practice together at home on weekends.  Finding a good instructor is valuable, as they are eyes on the ground that can watch for improvement, offer suggestions, and help me focus on a few things to work on at a time.  I love doing clinics because usually we work specifically on one focus, and I see improvement by the end of the session. 

A little back story on Josie.  I got her 3 years ago this fall, and it took me two days to load her in my straight load.  Her past included toting cowboys/husbands/pasture pony/camp horse reject and then she landed in the care of an older lady.  She was an 18-year-old grouch, didn’t want to be caught, be with me, nor be saddled or ridden, and especially did not want to trot or canter.  Sour and shut down would describe her to a “T” back then.  My first year and a half with her was building our relationship, and once she became more trusting and willing, things started to blossom.  She now hangs out with me by choice, and is first in from the pasture when I call them in.  She has arthritis and is long of tooth, but her heart is pure gold, and I am grateful for every ride with her. 

I do love the rides and the evaluations I receive, but, for me, there is nothing better than riding my little red mare and watching her ears pay attention to the trail ahead.  She has given me so much confidence and reminded me that the journey is the goal!  See you on the trail! Kim and Josie

Getting Ready for a Ride (March 2023)

1. Clean & Prep Trailer

Oh boy, there is a lot that is involved in getting ready to head out for a ride!  So much that I will need to break it into multiple parts.

This is the way I do it – 1.  Clean & prep trailer  2. Pack for human  3.  Pack for horse(s)  4.  Load & Go. 

As you all know, Jim is very particular about the generators!  Ours were run this past weekend, just to make sure all was good to go.  REMEMBER to always use premium gas in your generators.  Jim says some of the additives help keep them running better for longer.  I like to start on the outside of the trailer, so I check tire pressure and air up any low tires with a small battery operated DeWalt air compressor.  I hate looking for the correct psi on the tire so I write it inside one of the side storage compartment doors in permanent marker.  If there is a Tie Blocker or any ropes hung on trailer I remove them also.  I also check the inside of the horse area to make sure old poop has been scooped and the area has shavings evenly distributed.  I know some folks don’t use shavings as it is a personal preference.  I think it helps with road heat in summer and if a horse wants to pee, it cuts down on them splashing.  I put in hay for the ride and check that water tanks are also filled up.  We have a 50 gallon tank mounted in the hay pod, another 25 gallons in our tack area, and Jim has a water tank that fits in his truck bed. The LQ on board water tank is also topped off.   I believe horses drink better if they have water from home.  Sometimes we take three horses, so we go through a lot of water.

Once inside the LQ, I like to spray and wipe down: shower, counter, sinks and commode.  I also make sure I have a few extra garbage bags, rags and that there is plenty of drinking water stored in the fridge.   I always check the microwave because sometimes we store a few things in there for travel and I have discovered a “science experiment”.  Yuck!  I check our closet to make sure we have emptied our cubbies and have room to bring out our clothes, and that Jim has enough beer for the weekend.  Our little tiny living room also gets straightened up, and so does the bed.  I finish up by vacuuming the floor.  We put down a carpet remnant and have welcome mats for outside and just inside the door.  It helps cut down the grit on the floors.

Coming Soon – 2. Pack for Humans

See you on the trail

Kim & Josie

Beyond the Trail Ride and the Obstacles (Jan. 2023)


          Who do you call when in need?                     

I have been asked to create bi-monthly articles focused on topics to make your equestrian adventures more enjoyable.  The topics will vary, plus they will be on the website for your convenience.   We hope you will find “Camp Life” useful and entertaining!    Enjoy your adventures with your horse!

I made it!

I got to the ride without missing any turns with google maps, and I am looking forward to riding with friends across some gorgeous countryside.  That is until …… as I am setting up camp, I realize I forgot _____ (insert any necessary item), OR I am all set up, a perfect little camp site, now my generator will not start! These things happen to all of us sooner or later – Yes, it has even happened to Jim Miller!

So, before you panic, resign yourself to a crappy ride, or pack up and go home. STOP, take a few deep breaths, and think about possible solutions. Missing a bucket, apple picker or snap and chain, try reaching out to your neighbors, they might have exactly what you need! Or reach out to the ride managers as they really want you to have a great time at the ride!

Now for generators, flat tires or dead batteries needing a jump & assorted other mechanical issues, I have a wonderful camp husband who loves to meet new (& old) friends and lend a hand.  Jim Miller, or as the WWW ladies call him, “Mr. Fixit”, will gladly lend a hand and try to help you solve any problems that may arise.  He does this because he likes to be of service and help others out, but if you feel the need to pay, his hand fits a nice cold beer! Just no beer on Sunday, we must drive home! 

NOTE: Some folks have insisted on giving $ for Jim’s assistance, he has asked IF you feel the need to repay his kindness with $, please donate it to the Military EOD charity. Your charity will impact our veterans.

Jim Miller   254 368-0599   in case you want to add his number to your contacts

See you out on the trail,

 Kim and Josie