4J Horse Camp Duke, MO

10/15/13
The CO fairgrounds were depressing for me. The trailer next to me had some yelling going on. The woman emerged shouting “you make me feel like everything I do is shit, you are sick, sick, sick!”. She slammed the door and took off in her car. It gave me the creeps, I have screamed those same words. Its hard to believe I lived like that for so long, and that it was only one year ago.

My last night at the fairgrounds in CO it was super windy and raining. I woke up with the trailer rocking so hard I thought someone was trying to break in.

I arrived at Tin Acres in Colby KS in the afternoon. Jane, the owner was not around so I turned the mares out in her large sandy arena. Kathy, her worker, filled me in on stuff. Jane has suffered 3 major tragedies in the last few years. Her barn was wrecked by a tornado a few years ago, her husband of 30 happy years died last year and her main squeeze horse was bitten by a rattlesnake and died just recently. So much tragedy made me feel sad for her, (and made me feel like a cry baby) and when I met her I was surprised by how upbeat she was. She talked me into joining her the next day to go to this horse camp. I joined 4 other guests for an awesome breakfast in her B&B, then we left following each other. We overnighted near Kansas City where another friend joined us and then again another friend merged at our breakfast stop creating a convoy of 4 big rigs. The drive took much longer than I had expected, mostly on 2 lane highways, and they stopped at a tack store sale on the way which didn’t interest me at all and I hated leaving my horses in the trailer for a shopping trip.

I have never been to a horse camp before and didn’t know what to expect. It is in the middle of absolutely no where, on a dirt road! There are at least 150 horses here and everyone has a big rig! I feel right at home. The trails are really pretty, some kind of challenging and a beautiful winding river that Tucker loves. Many of the horses are gaited. There is a big mess hall where 3 big meals are served daily and the food is good. I am eating like a horse. The stalls are very small but my horses all seem ok with it. There have been 2 dances at night but I didn’t go, I am not ready for that. In fact I have found that a lot of the time I don’t want to be around most people at all. I kind of miss my solo routines, altho I really like Jane. She reminds me of some of me and some of my friend Jan. I ponied Dreamy with Jane and JJ the first day (Monday) and we got to know each other better.

The morning breakfast bell is a truck that drives around with loudspeakers playing some cowboy song “ooooh oooooh oh weeee, ooooh ohhhh, singing the cowboy song”, I can’t get it out of my head. Oh yeah, this is at 6am and its pitch dark. They have a lot of trailer services for us which is really cool, a tack store, showers and they sell hay (but my horses won’t eat it so they are still on cubes and some hay that Jane brought along).

Tuesday
It rained last night so the trails were muddy and slippery in places. I took Dreamy out alone on the dirt road for a ride and when I returned she was so anxious to get back to Wildflower and her stall she took off galloping across the field of trailers when I removed her saddle. Kind of embarrassing. I brought her back and hobbled her at the trailer until she relaxed. I then went out with the 3 other ladies I came with on Wildflower in the afternoon. We went on a more difficult trail that I would of never done with the mud if I was leading but we were ok. Jane was pretty nervous on her 4 year old reining horse as she has not done much trail riding. Her horse JJ buddied up with Wildflower and it worked out ok.

Yesterday I hobbled the girls and let them graze. I got some good shots for a painting I think.

10/17/13 morning
Yesterday (Wednesday) I ponied Dreamy and Jane was on JJ and we were going out for an “easy day”, meaning short, flat, soft and sweet. We crossed the river at an easy shallow place fine but there was a deep mud kind of bog thing that Wildflower had a few major slips thru. She tried to climb the sides twice but loose dead logs nearly knocked me out of the saddle. This morning I heard another woman came off there when her horse had a rough time. The trail entered a beautiful meadow then came to a dirt gravel road which we followed. When checking WF for rocks in her feet, I thought I saw red on Dreamy’s hoof but then thought it was just a reflection. A ways later Jane said Dreamy’s RF was bleeding and sure enough it was cut on the heel bulb kind of badly. As usual I felt guilty that I hadn’t caught it. We wanted to head back but there was no way I was going thru that mud spot again so I figured the road would follow the river back in the general direction of camp and we could find a better approach to the river. All leads dead ended tho so we kept going.

WF began stumbling a lot, a sign that her feet were sore from the gravel road, so I got off and walked them. I had a cell signal in and out and could figure from that and the gunfire, bombing noises on our left (that we can hear from camp too) that we hadn’t gone too far. But it was a long walk time. We saw not a soul, nor house. Later Jay told us that one path that we didn’t go down was a mean guy with a meth lab or pot field. Eventually a guy came up on a four wheeler. He had a hat on and a bandana over his face. Jane said Yeah! then quietly This is a little scary. I approached him and said we were a little lost and trying to find 4J camp. After what seemed several minutes, he pulled down his bandana and said that he worked there, noted that my horses were barefoot and that he’d call for them to come get us when he got home. Seeing that we had not seen a single house we didn’t know when that would be but were relieved that he wasn’t going to do us harm. He said to stay on that road and something about the old cabin, but we never saw one. We did pass a house soon, it was so pretty with a picket fence porch. My mind wandered a lot about living this remotely…its kind of appealing.

About an hour later as we are climbing a hill, Jay appears with his stock trailer. He said why did we go so far, the cabin was back where we came from and we could of crossed there (?) We loaded the horses and got in his truck. These horses were so happy in this trailer even tho we rumbled on this very rough road rather quickly. But Jay obviously knew what he was doing. He turned around in a spot that I never would of been able to, like no big deal, talking the whole time about his 4 kids, people in the area, selling their 6,000 acres in the 80’s recession to the Forest Service and a bunch of other stuff. The guy who made my eggs this morning said I hear ya got turned around yesterday…how did he know me? When I was eating a woman sat down at my table. I asked where she was from…Texas, you? LA, I’m riding the 48 states…Oh I’ve heard about you. After being alone for so long its weird to have people seem to know you or something about you.

Once back in camp I cleaned up Dreamy’s foot wrapped it with Fureson, cotton, elasticon and slipped it into a Cavallo boot. She was walking fine then.

My new friends are leaving tomorrow but camp goes thru Saturday so I’ll probably stay and use the time to paint and figure out where I’m going next. The planning stage takes a lot of time and concentration…and internet! And I get a lot of anxiety about it all. I was told about a facebook page for camping with horses, need to join it.

10/17/13 Thursday afternoon
I went out with Jane today and joined a group of gaited horse riders for the most extreme (reckless) trail riding I have ever imagined for 4 hours. I am exhausted and so is Wildflower. I’m trying to figure out which way to head now on an impossibly slow internet connection in the mess hall. Illinois, Tennessee, Arkansas, Kentucky? Horse camp, State Park, Overnight place? I’m so tired I can’t think straight and by the time the page loads I forgot what I was doing…I need to do laundry again, walk Tucker, feed and muck again. Dreamy’s foot looks better but she seems kind of sore on the rocky road. I feel guilty for her injuries and pain since I have taken her on the road. What am I doing this for? I miss having a normal life even though my life was not normal in CA. I miss my kids a lot. I miss the predictability of my days even tho they were not very happy. I don’t know what I am going to do, where I am going to live. I feel out of place everywhere and with everyone. This depression hit me like a load of bricks right after lunch and I don’t know why, except that I am exhausted.

10/18/13 Friday
I had awful dreams about buildings blowing up among other awful things, most I can’t remember. I hoped I would wake up better but no. I put one foot in front of the other like a robot, fed, mucked, started laundry, walk dog, drink coffee, smoke (my 2nd e-cigarette is broken), avoiding people contact, no joy, no hope…
I went to the mess hall and the 3 girls from Kansas I’ve become friends with in the last 6 days were there. After a while Nancy asked if they could pray for me. We all held hands, I cried the entire time. She said everything I needed to hear. She offered me a place to stay, so did Barb and Jane did again, adding I could stay as long as I want and I could teach her to ride. We talked a lot about God. Its been a long time since I had someone, if ever, to talk to about this. I know he saved me this year. I just don’t know why he lets go of my hand sometimes. I am stripped of my defenses, it is so scary. They gave me advice about everything I am questioning, that I could live comfortably in the mid-west, even specifically a house that’s for sale, Barb gave me a bible study book, Nancy gave me fire starters, Jane left me hay and an inspirational book of writings by Florence Scovel Shinn. And sincere warm hugs. People are kind, they can be trusted, God keeps showing me this, yet I am afraid.

I am going to Lonesome D in New Blain, Arkansas tomorrow. Its confirmed. Its 7 hours away. My laundry is done and put away.

Evening
Wildflower finally pooped so I’m not so worried about that any more. I salted her cubes to make her drink more. Everything is packed back up and I’m ready to load in the morning after we all eat. I did not paint and I should of. The girls look more rested now. I need to stop on the way to get some decent grass hay, groceries. I’ll download topo maps tonight if I can get decent wi-fi speed in the mess hall. And update the blog. I hope I am not getting too emotional here for my friends reading this, is anyone reading it?

bluff

bluff

prior to our

prior to our “rescue”

on the way to getting lost but the fall colors are pretty

on the way to getting lost but the fall colors are pretty

JJ's first water crossing

JJ’s first water crossing

cool old log cabin

cool old log cabin

river crossing

river crossing

group photo shoot

group photo shoot

Tucker in Big Piney River

Tucker in Big Piney River

my new dear friend Jane with JJ

my new dear friend Jane with JJ

lush limited grazing with hobbles

lush limited grazing with hobbles

convoy of 4 big rigs going to horse camp

convoy of 4 big rigs going to horse camp

4 thoughts on “4J Horse Camp Duke, MO

  1. I stumbled on your blog, and forwarded it to my sister as well… Love hearing your story, sharing in the beauty of your horses and the ride, and totally understanding the highs and lows you describe. God gave us horses, I believe, as a reminder of His love and willingness to carry us over the rocky paths. Cannot wait to read and see more from your adventure!
    Karen

  2. Enjoyed reading your blog. Just happen across it. We have been to 4J many times & felt I was there with you. We really enjoyed our trips there. Also have been to Lonesome D many times & really like it as well as 4 J. Especially the trails & overlooks. Beautiful!!! Keep up the writing & I want to follow you. Maybe we will cross paths as we start our trial riding trip very soon.

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