Monday, August 30, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: Whirlwind

WHIRLWIND is the sequel to Alison Hart's SHADOW HORSE (originally released in 1999, recently re-released).

Ms. Hart was kind enough to send me both books, though they can each stand on their own.  I read each book in an afternoon, and loved them both.  Since they are both young adult novels, they're a fairly quick read.

WHIRLWIND picks up where SHADOW HORSE left off, with Jas Schuler living with her foster mom on at an animal rescue, awaiting her grandfather's release from rehab following his stroke.  Having rescued Shadow from certain death at an auction, Jas found out that he was actually Aladdin, a horse who had supposedly died five years ago.  Armed with that knowledge, Jas sets out to prove that Whirlwind is still alive.

From the first page, I was drawn into this book and the world that Ms. Hart created.  I couldn't put the book down until the last page.  She creates a world where a scared thirteen year-old can band together with the good people in her life and fight the "bad guys".  The images flow from the page and I was with Jas and her friends throughout the entire thing, experiencing the heartache, uncertainty, fear and ultimate victory right alongside them.

I enjoyed both books so much that I wish I was a tween again, because her books would find a spot on my shelf right next to my Walter Farley books.  As an adult, I've had a great time spending a couple of afternoons in Ms. Hart's world.  I can't wait to pass the books on to my niece Autobot, and will anxiously await her take on them.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Who's Who?

So, there have been lots of HCR posts with pictures and I'm about to inundate you with more - some one-on-one pics.

Bill and Ranger

Me and Estes

RockCrawlinChef and Gem

Juanita and Jesse (doing their Stacey Westfall impression)

Rachel and Head Banger Baggins

Momma P and Timber

After the horse-swap, Rachel giggling her fool head off on Timber in the creek.

Killashandra and Raja, who holds a special place in my heart.

Riding through the Horse Smorgasboard: Juanita, Momma P, RockCrawlinChef, Rachel and Killashandra

One of my faves, me and RCC.

Shirley over at Ride a Good Horse recently hosted an equi-blogger trail ride in her neck of the woods.  Click on over there to see some absolutely beautiful pictures from her neck of the woods.  I'm glad to see other riders getting together to do things like this.  Ours was a blast and I can think of a ton of places I'd like to visit and ride and a bunch of equi-bloggers I'd love to do it with.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Take Off Your Hat!

As I was busy being traumatized by Bill, the rest of the HCR attendees were at the livery getting signed in.  Compass, the Barn Boss, has met my husband on multiple occasions.  In fact, the week before the ride, we'd had a bonfire at the livery to celebrate her birthday.  The woman knows my husband.


She's getting everyone signed in and collecting money and gets to RockCrawlinChef.  Being a smart ass, she says, "that'll be $500, please."  RCC, without missing a beat (so I'm told), tells her to put it on "GunDiva's tab". 

She looks up, looks him over in his cowboy outfit (the man in a cowboy hat is - wow) and honestly has no clue who he is.  Really, Compass?  We just celebrated your birthday together and you don't recognize RCC?

He thinks she's kidding about not knowing who he is until she demands that he take off his hat.  Then it sinks in that she really did not recognize him and wasn't being a smart ass.


Friday, August 27, 2010

Dinner Time!

The 1st day of HCR was hectic to say the least.  I spent the morning shooting with my best GunDiva buddy, Tara, ran home threw some clothes in a suitcase for RockCrawlinChef and myself, changed clothes and headed out to my former boss' memorial service.  In the midst of all of the excitement of getting to spend time with Tara and getting to meet Killashandra and Rachel for realsies, reality intruded and RCC and I spent an hour or so at a memorial service.

She was an amazing person and one of the most genuinely nice people I've ever met.  She died far too young and without warning, leaving an adult daughter.  The fact that her daughter is an adult doesn't make it any easier - her whole life, it was her and her mom against the world.  Luckily, she got married a couple of years ago, so she's not completely family-less.  Nevertheless, I was too chicken to stay for the reception and face her daughter in the midst of her grief, so RCC and I headed up to the lodge.

Check-in at the lodge is at 3:00 pm every day, but I knew that Killashandra and Rachel weren't going to be getting there until 5-ish, so I wasn't too stressed out about getting up there before them - I figured we'd make it.  And we did, but not by much.  The minute I walked in the door, Bill asks me, "Have you heard from Rachel?"

Um, no.  Was I supposed to?  Seems Mr. Daddy had called the lodge looking for her.  And when he called the lodge looking for her he identified himself to Bill by his alias, Mr. Daddy.  Which cracked me up.  Only when bloggy land meets real life do we have to refer to ourselves as our aliases (or alii?).

Mom was a bit stressed out because there was still so much to do before everyone arrived, so we headed out to clean the horse pen and then it dawned on me...most people clean their houses for company, we were cleaning our horse pen.  Only for equi-bloggers, I tell you.

About halfway through the cleaning process, Killashandra et al. arrived and Bill brought them over.  I was thrilled to meet them face-to-face, despite the fact that I was slinging manure.  I have to tell you, I fell absolutely in love with Killashandra's boots.  They were amazing!  Red with just the right amount of bling.  I was so dazzled by her boots that I couldn't even gather my thoughts enough to get a picture of them. In fact, I'm pretty sure I gushed over her boots before I even managed to tell her hello properly. 

Mom headed back over to the lodge with them while RCC and I finished up the pen.  Tell the truth, we kind of didn't do the best job in the world finishing up, I was too excited to go spend some time with our guests.

We stalled for a bit, waiting on Rachel and her mom, but we were getting hungry, so I set the table while Mom put the finishing touches on dinner.  Bill rang the brass bell to announce dinner and we sat down.  Before all of our butts were in our chairs, up pulls Rachel and her mom.  By God, not only can the woman read lips, she can read minds!

We didn't even give them time to unload, just met them on the porch with hugs and ushered them to the dinner table.  Click here for the dinner photo and Mom and Bill's take on dinner.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

It's Here, It's Here!

The first annual High Country Rendezvous starts tomorrow!  Yep, you read it right.  First.  Annual.  So if you aren't able to make it this year, pencil us in on the calendar for next year.  We're gonna have a great time getting to know each other in real life, we're going to get some one-on-one instruction on horse anatomy and saddle fit, go for a beautiful ride and eat ourselves silly.  I can't wait!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Behind the Scenes at Horse Master: The One In Which I'm A Total Dork

If you've ever watched Horse Master with Julie Goodnight, you know that during each episode she does what's known as her "Quick Tips".  They're 15 - 30 second of bite-sized pieces of information.  At the end of the first day of shooting, we were ahead of schedule, so we decided to go ahead and film some Quick Tips and do some sponsor-related stuff.

Now, I don't know about you, but I'm kinda in awe of Julie and her horses.  Dually and Digs have been on multiple magazine covers and are featured in her shows and articles.  To say I was a bit star-struck by her horses would be an understatement.

Julie decided that we'd use Dually for one of the Quick Tips - I don't even remember which one - and I got to hold him off-camera.  You would be surprised at how thrilled I was to just stand there and hold that silly horse while she was doing her bit on camera.  When we were finished, we went to the barn and I got a little one-on-one tutorial about how she sheets her horses.  I've never put a sheet or blanket or cover of any kind on a horse, but she was really patient and answered questions I had about it (not many - it's pretty straight forward, but I didn't want to screw up with one of her horses).  We used her husband's horse, Digs, for another Quick Tip and I got to hold him for that too.  I know it makes me a total dork for being so excited, but I know I'm careful about who handles Estes and she's just my mutt.  I was super honored to get to "handle" Dually and Digs.

A couple of days later, she asked me to pull Dually and get him tacked up for an episode in which she was going to be riding alongside the cast member.  Never have I ever been so happy to groom and tack a horse.  Again, I know how picky I am about who handles Estes and I rarely let anyone else tack her up for me.  Call me a control freak if you must, but I want to know that she's tacked up safely and correctly.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Behind the Scenes at Horse Master

I'm a good month behind on this post, please forgive me.  I've been debating on how to proceed without telling too much about the episodes or any crew secrets.  I also tend to be a bit wordy, so I was afraid my post would be way too long (that's still to be seen, huh?).  I've finally settled for some of the more memorable moments, at least from my point of view.

The morning of the first day of shooting was beautiful.  The weather was perfect and the backdrop.  Well, the backdrop, not so much.  Julie's neighbor had been building a barn for the three months prior to shooting.  They'd built the roof on the ground and were going to use a crane to lift it into place on the barn.  Guess which day the crane was scheduled to lift the roof?  You guessed it, the first day of shooting!  Cheryl (her wardrobe wrangler) had talked to the foreman the night before and worked it out so that we could call over when we were ready to shoot and they'd cease moving the roof, then we'd call back when we were clear.  It was unbelievably gracious of Julie's neighbor to agree to such a thing.  After a few times, though, Julie decided that it wasn't that distracting and that we'd just continue to shoot through it saying, "do you know what it costs per hour to rent one of those?".  If I hadn't been a fan of hers before, I would have been after that statement.  She's so down-to-earth and wants to continue to be a good neighbor that she was willing to do her shooting around her neighbor's barn raising.  So, when you watch the Colorado episodes when they air next year, if you hear some odd background noise it's her next-door neighbor's barn going up.

Normally, six episodes are shot in three days, but for this shoot Heidi scheduled eight episodes in four days.  It actually worked out perfectly, though a great deal of that was because we were at "home".  If we needed something, we could go dig in the barn, tack room, or bunkhouse to get what we needed.  I heard horror stories about how they'd shoot from sun-up to sun-down and were always scrambling for the light.  I didn't feel any of that at this shoot.  In fact, we were done with filming no later than six o'clock each night.  We were still plenty exhausted, but we were at least able to get a good night's sleep each night.  Those of us at the "party house" - Lucy's house - were in bed by eigth-thirty pretty much every night.  So much for being bachelorettes for the week.

The first three episodes were all English disciplines. I know nothing at all about English tack, which proved to be a challenge for the Horse Grip.  I was lucky that Lucy was around to teach me how to do the stirrup length adjustments that needed to be done and to teach me about over-girths (still don't get them, but I know what one is).  I always thought that English tack looked pretty simple, but I'll take Western tack any day.  There's so much stuff that goes along with English that I never knew about; there's nothing simple about it.

Also in one of our first three episodes was a 17.3 hand Hanoverian jumper.  His rider had to use a three-step step-ladder to mount.  I really wanted to get my picture with him, but couldn't figure out how to hold him and get a picture with my camera at the same time (without disrupting the others who were working).  Since I'm 15 hands, that horse was almost a foot taller than me at the withers.  It's kind of mind boggling.  At one point, I was on the opposite side of the horse and both Julie and Heidi were looking for me.  I raised my hand to show them where I was and they couldn't see my hand over his back.  How crazy is that?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

HCR - Just Days Away!

Those of you who are attending the High Country Rendezvous - We are so excited that you're coming up to join us.  Just a couple of things, though...

The weather at 8,500 feet changes a lot...pack clothes for either eighty degrees or eight degrees.  We've been below forty at nights already. order for us to make arrangements for the horses, we need to hear from you.  We need to know how many of you are riding and what type/length of ride we want to do.  Do we want a loooooooooonnnnnnnggggg ride (all day with a picnic lunch) or a two-three hour ride (maybe a couple of them)?  We will be using livery horses, so there will be an additional charge to ride.

Please shoot me an email ( or Juanita an email ( and let us know what you'd like.

For those of you who are not coming to High Country Rendezvous - there's still room and time to join us.  If you can't make it this year, there's always next, so get us on your calendar!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

There's Still Room!!!

The High Country Rendezvous is just a couple of weeks away, but there's still room for equi-bloggers.  If you've thought about joining your blog friends for horses, fun and blogging...stop thinking!  Get on the phone and reserve your room (303)747-2552.

For more information, click the tab at the top of the page.

C'mon - you know you want to join us...

I'll be back in a couple of days with more from Horse Master.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Crew Member: Horse Master with Julie Goodnight Day 1

The week following my birthday, I treated myself and went to work as a crew member for Horse Master with Julie Goodnight.

I thought I'd gotten a pretty good behind-the-scenes look at HM as a cast member, but, boy, was I wrong. My week started with playing hide-and-seek with Dale Myler at DIA. I flew in from Texas and landed about the same time as Dale, so Heidi asked me to meet him and she would meet Steve when he flew in a couple of hours later and then we would all meet up for a late breakfast and caravan to Salida.

Of course, nothing quite went as planned and by the time Dale and I met up, Steve was just a couple of minutes from landing. Since Dale had a rental car and I had parked my car in the long term lot, I thought I'd run out, pick up my car and meet him at the rental car place. Only, I had never been to the rental car place so I had no idea where it was. So I had the brilliant idea of going back to the terminal, locating the rental car shuttles and following them. It worked and I was pretty darn pleased with myself for thinking of it.

What I didn't think about was that the rental cars might be separated from the general public, so even after I met up with Dale, I couldn't have him follow me to the meeting point. That's when things went horribly wrong and we ended up playing hide-and-seek for the next hour. I'm suprised that our cell phones didn't blow up for all the calls flying back and forth.

I was so worried, because I was supposed to be meeting Dale on behalf of Julie and Heidi. Talk about pressure. I mean, he's Dale Myler of Myler Bits. The man has forgotten more about horses than I'll ever learn. Turns out, not much phases him and he was as laid back as possible and not at all frustrated about not being able to meet up according to plan.

Finally, we all got met up and headed to Julie's place, where the work began in earnest. We put together the "goodie buckets" for each of the cast members. The sponsors did good! Each cast member received a Cosequin bucket, a Troxel helmet, a Spalding Fly Predators' barn knife, a Circle Y Saddles luggage tag, a copy of one of Julie's instructional DVDs and a ton of other cool things.

At this point, I thought I was supposed to be the Hospitality Grip, but found out before the crew meeting that I was to be the Horse Grip. I can't say that I was heartbroken to be moved from essentially being a hostess and Chief Cleaner-upper to being Chief Booger-wiper.

At the crew meeting, I was re-introduced to Lucy (Assistant Instructor) and Cheryl (Wardrobe Wrangler) and met Sharon (Key Grip) and Yvonne (Hospitality Grip). Heidi, Lucy and Cheryl have been with the show since the very beginning and, in a way, so has Sharon. Sharon was one of the very first cast members in the first episodes. Yvonne had originally applied to be on the cast, but her application wasn't accepted (no, I don't know why). However, she did jump at the opportunity to work as a crew member.

Lucy was kind enough to host both Sharon and me at her place. I'd like to say that the "bachelorettes for the week" lived it up, but the truth is, we were so all dog-tired at the end of each day that we were in bed before nine.