South Carolina

11/18/13
I rode Dreamy on my last day at Leatherwood. I let the reins down, I had my iPod playing my God songs, she moved out, I felt tingling starting in my legs and it coursed thru my body. It is stronger than any drug, its euphoric. Like Frankie said, trot when you can and lope when you can and walk when you have to. I let Dreamy decide most of the time, just letting her know that she can. We were flying over all sorts of terrain, thru water, over bridges, up and down the hills, sand, leaves, rocks. Most of you probably think I am making this up but I am not. God was with me in the saddle.

Saturday night I met Susan at camp. She is married to the other family partner of Leatherwood. She is young, tall, lean, blonde, beautiful and has piercing blue eyes. She rides a Rocky Mountain horse and has lived here 15 or so years. She had a very cute dog with her that had showed up in her driveway as a puppy. I showed her my paintings that I’ve done so far. Before I left the next morning she pulled up and gave me a small daily devotional book. It was a perfect gift and ending to my stay and I told her so. We hugged and she told me to stay safe and that she’d be praying for me. I have met so many amazing good people. God is good.

I used my check list twice, drove the hooked up trailer over the crazy bridge, walked the horses over it and loaded them. If I dump the trailer in the river, at least my horses won’t drown. They are getting so good at this life. It only took about 4 or 5 hours to get to H Cooper Black in SC. Along the way I got a cell ding so at the gas stop, I checked my messages. My dad called to say that he would pay for Tommy’s airfare to SC if Bill won’t. He is the most generous selfless person in the world. He knew how much I wanted to see Tommy. I do not think I will ever find a man to match him. I think I must of expected Bill to fill his shoes which was unrealistic and unfair. I am so sorry.

H Cooper Black is full, but not with horse campers. I had heard there may be field trials going on but I didn’t know what that was. It turns out to be the Super Bowl of Labrador Retrievers. Oh God, I don’t know if I can bear to see a city of labs. I didn’t go over to the field where it was going on. All the trucks have dog shelters on the beds. They look very high tech. When my neighbor was around I introduced myself and he let me pet his older “spoiled” lab that was allowed into his trailer. What a magnificent animal, big black lab with long legs, solid muscle, soft coat and sweet. As I stroked him I swallowed my tears…The trials last until Saturday.

I made a bag of Bertolli’s, garlic bread and had a beer, took a shower and sat down to watch Eat Pray Love. It is a great movie and I loved it. Julia Roberts is young and beautiful and a published writer living in NYC. She divorces, has a fling, feels dead and empty so she takes a year to find herself by going to Italy, India and Bali. She learns to love food, God and herself… and of course a man in the end. I found some similarities and was inspired. I am no longer young and beautiful and no flings flung. I’ve never had an art show. I unwound a long time ago, I waited too long to do this, but I am doing it now. I just don’t see the last part ever happening, but I will accept what ever God has in store for me now.

I got up way too early again, its 6:00, my alarm just went off. I wake up at 4 or 5 now and can’t go back to sleep so I just get up make coffee and wait for the sun to come up. In my old life I could barely get up by 8 or 9. I was so depressed. I would wake up and go Oh, God, No, its my life again, let me go back to sleep, maybe it will go away… Thank God that is not my mornings any more, I thought that would never go away. God has been so good to me. I am so grateful it brings tears to my eyes.

11/19/13 TUESDAY
Finally last night I got a whole bunch of much needed sleep!

I ponied yesterday about 7 miles. It was warm for us, over 75 I think. I’ve come to not looking forward to doing this any more. It has been my “1st ride in camp” routine. It gets them both out together in the new environment and gives Dreamy miles without me on her. But it is hard to ride with 2 hands, something I need with the snaffle on Wildflower now, and hold Dreamy’s rope too, (Wildflower gets annoyed when Dreamy lags behind or gets in front of my leg.) Let alone pull out a map or smoke. Dreamy has taken to stopping when she is tired too. She never gives me trouble retrieving her but its annoying if I am in a rhythm. I wish I had brought the shank snaffle I used to use with Dreamy so I could ride WF with one hand. I don’t feel like buying another bit but I might need to. The trails here are deep sand most of the time, in the middle of what seems like an endless pine forest. They were huffing and puffing the entire ride, mostly at a slow trot…changing terrain and weather weekly is difficult for them.

I was considering doing my laundry today, there is a laundromat about a half hour away. My laundry bag is very heavy now hauling it in and out of the shower to use the shower. I looked at the calendar and realized I haven’t done it since Tennessee, about 3 weeks ago. I hate doing it so I keep buying socks and underwear when I see them for sale at Tractor Supply or Walmart. I have enough jeans and tops to last much longer…

Its chilled down today, I like it chilly now, about 65 degrees is my perfect temp now. I remember in CA when 72 was my favorite. Maybe because it was always so fricking hot there.

I still have not confirmed Tommy’s coming to SC for Thanksgiving and assume that he is not now. I am considering heading straight to my dad in FL, skipping GA. He is doing chemo and altho the 1st one seemed easy, he now is having 3 days of extreme fatigue afterwards. I want to be there for him and he suggested that I could be there by Thanksgiving even. Its about 600 miles from here and I will break it up with one or two overnights along the way. I have left a message with a friend of a friend of his to find a large paddock/pasture to keep the horses in while I am there so they can be free to roam if I don’t ride as much. It would be nice to have some trails nearby too.

11/20/13
Wildflower and I went out to ride and met up with the group that arrived yesterday. We rode a few hours at a walk. They knew the trails here so we were able to go on some trails marked for endurance rider events that are not on my map. It was a little more diverse than what I saw the other day and I enjoyed the company. One guy has a horse campground that he doesn’t advertise (?) but invited me to it, he told me I was very brave. I have heard that a lot lately, altho I don’t feel brave. I am no longer afraid so it doesn’t seem brave at all, just a challenge. I later learned that he and his wife outfit an 80 mile ride in VA, driving the guests and horses to the top of a mountain, then meeting them with their gear and food at night along the way back to their place. Its some famous trail but I can’t remember the name of it. His wife showed me the inside of their trailer that her husband had done the living quarters part of using a 4 horse with I think 28’ LQ. It has a slide out (envy, envy…it makes such a huge difference). They even made a mud room. Must be nice to be so handy making things. The other couples said they would come when I come to his camp. Its on the St James River I think he said. I’ve heard from others that this area is great riding. I heard from them about other places to go and others to avoid and times of rain and mud in Shawnee in Illinois. I didn’t have anything to take notes with so I have to make a point of writing them all down, they are here till Tuesday, same as me.

After we got back to camp I trotted and loped Dreamy along the long dirt roads. No vehicles encountered what so ever. I lost my hat at one point and figured I’d retrieve it on the way back, and yes it was just sitting there fine as can be. Dreamy wouldn’t “grab it” for me until I dismounted tho. Something to work on. The stampede string attachment do-hickie was missing so I need to somehow fix it. Packed sand is the perfect surface for her. What a blast!

I want to arrange to include a few things on this trip: an ACTHA ride, an EAGALA clinic and a team penning clinic. Maybe a mounted shooting clinic too. I am starting to think about a new puppy too. I also want to get to a church service, just not sure where to go. Lately I have been moving camps on Sundays since there is less traffic. There are so many churches in the south! Like Starbucks in LA.

I finally got a chance to check out the website of the couple that came here from England in 2007 and attempted to ride the 48 states. It is http://www.horsequestusa.org if any one wants to see it. They rode in 35 states but had to stop. They had a bunch of sponsors too. Something I wish I had set up. They were on Best of America by Horseback also. (btw, Tom Seahy did a ride near this new friend’s camp I was just talking about and he rode with him then too. I am going to do his ride in Mayo, FL at the end of January if I can remember to call them back when I have service and its during working hours).

As I was hooking up to go dump the tanks a big septic truck pulled in. The driver who had a horrible limp and half his teeth, said it would be $50 so I said never mind. But then he said he’d do the other camper that had called him and me for $50, so we split it. I didn’t feel like doing it, kind of lazy I guess. In the old days I would of just had it done it for $50, now I worry about spending $25. These are my luxury items now, having someone pump my shit. I am pretty broke. I guess I need to write a letter to the riding club to drop my membership. I guess its pretty unlikely that I will ever afford to live in that area or board my horses there any more. Absolutely no news or movement on the divorce proceedings, I am coming to expect nothing. But I am at peace with it.

And still no word from Tommy. If I’m not in LA I will probably never see my children any more. They don’t even call me. I am at peace with this too, no more crying jags about it. If they are safe and happy and ok so am I. I guess we just don’t need each other like we did when they were younger or when there was so much turmoil in our home that I felt I needed to save them and myself from. Fine job I did anyway…

WF only had one pile in her pen to D’s 3 so I gave her some probiotics.

Its 8:00 and I am so tired I am going to bed.

11/21/13 Thursday morning, SC
As usual I slept like a log but had to get up to pee in the middle of the night. This happens quite a bit so I have been reluctant to drink before I go to bed even tho I am thirsty. When I got up to relieve myself, my jaw was sore and aching from grinding my teeth so hard in my sleep. I tried to remember what I was dreaming about but it was vague. I used to keep a journal of my dreams and try to figure out what they meant, thinking this would help me work stuff thru. I now think that I don’t have to do that, my brain is figuring it out when I am asleep and doing all the work that needs to be done in my dreams. It was working overtime last night, I felt really crappy when I got up to pee so I went straight back to sleep. Let it go…

WF had plenty of poop in her pile, (she goes in one neat pile all night opposed to D scattering it all over the place) so I am relieved too.

One of the guys yesterday said not to mix alfalfa and the Nutrena, that it was too much protein. During the transition (TN & KY) they were getting both which explains why I had so much trouble keeping Wildflower’s attention and collection. I went back to her bosal yesterday and everything was just fine again. Not sure if it was the protein issue or if the 2 weeks in the snaffle or a combination of both fixed it, but it sure is nice to ride her again.

To Do list: I will need hay soon. I also need to consider how to transition to a pasture in FL. They will due for shoes in FL also so I need a good farrier there. And the truck is due for an oil change and tire rotation now too.

Evening
A long slow ride on Dreamy with my new friends from VA today. Perfect riding weather again, perfect footing. We saw a fighter jet playing in the sky overhead. Towards home we heard a loud shot from the field trials and 4 of the horses went nuts behind us. Dreamy even trotted off a little bit. It was very close and took us by surprise. They shoot 3 or 4 times before letting the dog off on the course. Horses have to stay off what ever course they are working on, we were on a dirt road along side of it. The first one released is a live duck or pheasant which gets shot in the air, the rest are already shot birds somehow projected but the shot is fired into the ground. A typical run takes 10-15 minutes. Yesterday a dog took 30 minutes to find a bird and once he got it he collapsed. They work till they drop…2 vets attended to him and he revived quickly, he was dehydrated. But still it sounds awful to me. Animal rights groups in CA would go nuts over this sport. I got to play with Bull, the older (veteran of 11 of these final trials) black lab that is camped next to me. He is soooo sweet. What a beautiful dog, much taller than my labs were, solid muscle, no fat. I heard that the winner of this trial will be able to fetch $200,000 stud fee! Assuming its a male…I don’t think horses ever get that much. Most of the owners aren’t even here, they’ll fly in if one of their dogs makes it to the final days.

One of the pheasants was loose in camp and I tried to take a picture of it. Brilliantly colored. I can’t imagine raising these beautiful birds just to shoot them. Butch, the ranger, said they cook up some of them and eat them. The ones that are used repeatedly (projectiled dead) for up to 3 days, are not edible. Duh….

I drove in to Society Hill to get cigarettes, milk and ice cream (I haven’t had room in the freezer for my favorite snack!). Its not really a town. They had Blu electronic cigarettes so I got a starter pack and will try to quit again. I really don’t want to smoke any more. The truck and trailer stink. It doesn’t even taste good to me. When I am in FL I will order replacement batteries for the electronic cigarette I bought in CA. I really preferred it to real cigarettes. No yucky taste or smell or smoke. I haven’t tried the Blu ones yet, the batteries have to charge first. I hope they are as good.

I bit the bullet and cancelled the SC stop that was near Columbia (where Tommy was going to be). I booked an overnight in Jacksonville, FL and thru dad’s friend Jim, found what sounds like a great place to keep my horses in Jupiter Farms, FL, about 20 minutes from his house. They will have stalls that open to a very large paddock, over 75’ long. I talked to the woman who owns the barn. She lives there and has 2 horses also. She trail rides (former endurance rider) and said the trails are great. She will feed 2-3 times a day (I supply the feed/hay) and muck when needed. It will cost me $300/horse/month. It sounds like a good deal too. This will give me more time to spend with my dad and I won’t worry about them as much. Jim’s wife and daughter have horses right down the street and want to ride with me too. Interesting to note, this woman said she feed peanut hay…that’s a new one on me. I’ll stick to my grass hay which she said is available nearby.

These sand hills are so neat. The ocean was here like a million years ago. It is solid sand everywhere! My CA friends would love it. The horses sure do. I am a little worried about them eating it tho. I caught WF licking the ground again. I am out of Sand Clear but will get some at the next opportunity.

The pine forests are interesting, some of my new buds filled me in on it. The trees are actually planted and managed. They plant twice as many trees as will survive, then cut half down at some young point and use it as pulp for paper manufacturing. The others trees grow tall and when they are cut they are used for lumber. The ground is covered in pine needles and they rake it up twice a year (by hand!), bale it and sell it for ground cover for landscaping. It is very expensive but I bet it is beautiful. This state is very resourceful. The camp ground is always full, with either dog trials or dog handlers training dogs or trail horses and endurance rides too. And from the looks of the arena, western shows. The ranger is very helpful and nice. They have 2 stalls per site and a large barn with stalls if you prefer. A round pen and a huge arena with lights. All white fluffy sand of course. If anyone is not familiar with H Cooper Black you should come see for yourself.

11/23/13 Saturday
I can hear the rain on the roof when I wake up. But its not cold so its comforting. I am drinking coffee smoking my new e-cigarette and listening to my favorite song. I hate mucking wet manure in the wet sand, its so heavy…I’m thinking about my plan to leave Tuesday. Its raining today, it will be 27 degrees tonight, 21 Sunday night, and 32 Monday night, and rain predicted again for Tuesday when their weather really goes to crap for Thanksgiving. Sunday and Monday highs are 45 which is still pretty cold for me to ride I think. I heard they are getting cancellations at the camp for the week. Maybe I should leave tomorrow instead. I’ll call my overnight and my Jupiter Farms new horse home and my dad to see if that will work. Today I can paint and go get a truck full of hay. Leave in the am…I think that’s a better plan. Be to dad by Monday.

Still sad that I won’t see Tommy here. I love him so much, he is 6’4” and all man, but still so sweet just like he was when he was a baby. He gives amazing hugs. I could use one.

Yesterday I rode Wildflower alone. I planned the 10 mile loop. She was jittery most of the time but ok. We trotted most of the time and loped some. On the road approaching camp (a couple of miles of sand road, I cut the loop short) we heard the tail end of the guns from the field trials and I realized I was near their area (that I thought I had planned on avoiding), but it was just ending there and the caravan of dog vehicles started passing us, they were moving to another location… at least 100 vehicles. Many rattling a lot, some with the dogs barking in them. WF was pretty disturbed. We stopped a few times to pull over and do some old maneuvers that she is good at. This builds up her confidence and focus on me.

Once she greeted Dreamy I turned her out in the arena where she showed me that I had not worked her hard enough. A guy on an arab came by and chatted telling me that I should take her in an endurance ride. He explained the endurance trail markers to me. There are several courses; green is about 15m, yellow and blue are about 25 miles and “don’t go on the red”… which I gather goes on for eternity. You can start on the course here and they all cross the road 119(?) and you can return on that if you want to cut it shorter (like what I did today). Two colored markers mean the trail is “fixing to turn”…Keep the markers on your right side. Useful info since the endurance trails are a little more interesting than the HCB trails. He has ridden endurance rides in a bunch of states, real nice fellow, pretty and calm arab. After we said good bye he thundered off across the field.

I then took Dreamy to the arena. The entrance is on the far side to my corrals and she galloped the length to get closer to Wildflower. I walked her back to the entrance and she did it again. Pretty tricky of me huh? Then I just shooed her away from that corner and she galloped the rail of the entire arena back to see her buddy. I did that a few times then let her be. She was all sweaty.

Later…
Went to the feed store for hay but they only had bermuda (no no for us) so I got some alfalfa cubes to stretch out the 2-1/2 bales I have left (small 35 lb bales). I also got a jar of honey that I then dropped on the floor, ugh, what a mess, I apologized, cleaned it up and bought another one.

I decided between the cold weather coming in and running out of hay before Tuesday to up my departure. Its ok with dad and the new home for the horses in Jupiter Farms. I left a message with my overnight stop. So I’m leaving in the morning. Jupiter by Monday.

This will be a long break for the SHLEP so I won’t be posting as often probably. I’ll start back up at the end of January with the Mayo, FL ride with Best of America by Horseback.

Happy Holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas & New Years), stay warm…I’ll be in sunny FL.

11/24/13
Hauled from SC to Jacksonville FL. As I entered GA I read the sign “We’re glad that you have Georgia on your mind”…I lived in Georgia 44 years ago for one year. It was not a happy time for me. I was in high school and had moved from NJ to CT to GA in the last few years. I was 15 or 16. It was the time of the Allman Brothers Band, hippies, make love not war, LSD, “pigs”, around 1970 I think. I spent the entire drive thru Georgia today trying to remember what happened here. I have blocked a lot of it out. I am not proud of what I do remember. If I write a book, I will have to include these memories. I have a feeling this will happen to me in other states along the way. From the time I was born until I graduated from college I had lived in 13 states. This is the first one I’ve hit, with the exception of CA but I was a toddler there and don’t remember anything. Oh and MO where I did a semester in college. But there are going to be big bug a boo states like GA looming in my future.

I was rudely awakened from my daydreaming about this stuff by the FL border. My health certificate for the horses is expired…oh crap. It took an hour for them to fill out the paperwork. They go into quarantine at the new barn we are going to, until a state vet comes and inspects them after “several days” of being in quarantine. I messed up.

I am at Walker Quarter Horses for an overnight in Jacksonville, FL. Big barn, big stalls with bedding, big arena, pond…Nicest overnight I’ve done so far I think. Owned by a friendly gal named Dixie.

Made a burger, lima beans and am going to bed by 8. 6 hour haul tomorrow to new temporary home for the horses in Jupiter Farms, FL.

Going on 8 typed pages not put on my blog yet, I haven’t had wi-fi since Leatherwood, NC.

Dog trials starting

Dog trials starting

Sunset

Sunset

Dog handler from Oregon

Dog handler from Oregon

soft white sand to roll in

soft white sand to roll in

New friends, sand roads

New friends, sand roads

pond

pond

young trees

young trees

Carol & Kieth (?)

Carol & Kieth (?)

pine forest

pine forest

me

me

break along the way

break along the way

Ron & Penny

Ron & Penny

escaped pheasant

escaped pheasant

trail cart driving

trail cart driving

tasty barrel

tasty barrel

H Cooper Black campsite horse corrals

H Cooper Black campsite horse corrals

Dog trailers

Dog trailers

4 thoughts on “South Carolina

  1. Thanks for the kind words Kathy, you are all of the same but you have SO MUCH more courage than I. I am thankful that I did get to meet you and I hope our paths cross again someday. God Bless.

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