Thursday, January 29, 2009

Today is another cold day here in Northwest Lower Michigan. It is only in the 20s. I am about fed up with winter. It has been snowing blowing and cold since early November. We have had a few days of alright weather but nothing to write home about.

I am still thinking about my trip to Washington DC, one week ago today I was sleeping at this time of the day trying to recover from the 12 hours non stop on the road. It was a trip that was worth every heartbreak and frustrating moment that it took to get there. My mare still has her shoes on from the trip because now I might be riding in another parade here in Northern Michigan during the Beulah Winterfest on Feb. 14th. I haven't ridden in that parade in several years but it will be fun if I can ride in it this year with my friends Janet and Trina. The last time I rode in it it was just with Trina, but we had a blast!!

My horses are in the barn today because of the wind. With the wind chill factor and that we are on top of a hill it is hard to have the horses out in the cold and the wind at the same time. Another reason why I would just like the spring to get here. I am tired of having the horses in the barn more then they are out. Horses are ment to be out running in the fields not locked up in a stall, even though my stalls are very large.

I have a meeting with the Benize County Sheriff's Mounted Unit tonight. I might be going back to riding with them. I would love to ride with my home county once again. I miss everyone that had become such great friends over the four years that I rode with them before. It has been a year and a half since I rode with them officially and but it seems like five years.

I am also trying to get the Wolverine Morgan Horse newsletter started so that after the meeting this coming Sunday I will be ahead of the game and just have to ad the minutes from the meeting.

My friend and I will be starting our Christian Trail Riding group next month also. We are looking forward to having a summer full of trail riding and praise to the Lord while we are doing it. The Lord gave us the horse to enjoy and we have to remember they are a gift from him and we should thank him all the time for this wonderful gift. Also if we can help bring people to know the glory of the Lord through our love of the horses, what a wonderful thing.

I will try to post later tonight and post the out come of the meeting tonight and rather or not I am going to be riding with the Benzie County Sheriff's Office Mounted unit again or not. I really hope so.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Trip to DC Part 5…………..

Well we successfully striped the horses of their shipping gear and replaced it with saddles and tack. We were directed to a secured holding location where we had to be searched, and swept with a medal detector. Once inside that secured area we were allowed to get on our horses. At this time it was just a little after 10am.

We knew that we would be out there for a few hours so we had to stay warm. We rode in circles between the two parking lots that we are secured areas. We were penned in by a ten foot tall fence all around. We were joined there at first by the United State Border Patrol and the Crow Nation Native Americans. There were in our wave of horses that came in.

Soon our transports moved out of the secured areas and were gone. We were then joined but other mounted units that we didn’t meet at the barns because they came from local areas.

Soon the hour or two that we knew we would have to wait turned into three and four hours. Then we were finally told to move into line. While we were in the secured area of the two parking lots we at least had the sun shining down on us and keeping us a little warm, especially when the wind died down. Then the fourth hour turned into the fifth hour and where we stood now we were getting really cold. My friend to the left of me was starting to get so cold that her leg muscles were cramping up. Mike Foote from the Michigan Horse Council talked her into getting off her horse and walking around. While another rider from the Eaton County group was even colder she was taken off her horse and placed inside a Washington DC police car to try and warm her up.

Matt Kempt from the Muskegon group decided that we needed to start moving our horses so he stared calling out drill movements that we performed in the space of 50’x60’ area of the street. It got the horses moving and warming up some, which in turn started to warm us riders up.

Once we stopped and started the waiting process again we got to do the watching too. As we stood at the area of 4th Street and Independence Ave. we were still behind the 10’ tall security fence. There was fence as far as we could see went all the way to Pennsylvania Ave. However there were gates closing off Independence Ave. from traffic, foot and car. Every once in a while the military would open those gates and it was like the flood gates or the parting of the Red Sea, which ever helps you imagine the amount of people that pushed there way down Independence Ave. to the other side of the road. I am only assuming that the people had themselves had been locked on the Mall since the actual inauguration just a short time prior and were just wanting to move down to the parade route or to go home. Then the gates would close again. This process was repeated several times. After about two hours we were finally moved across Independence Ave. just three blocks to go to the start of the parade.

We really thought we were on our way, but no. We inched along slowly as the sun went down behind the sky line of Washington DC. As we crawled along we got to see the US capital build come alive in the evening lights. This made for some wonderful photo opportunities. Those photos however were taken with my friend Judy’s camera so I don’t have them yet but I will soon.

It seemed like hours and hours before we finally made it to the start of the parade but we finally did make it. Though it was dark by the time we got most or the way through the parade it was still an exciting moment in life. Again as it was when we where sight seeing the day before to be actually riding our horses down Pennsylvania Ave. in the Nations capital was amazing. We rode by the National Archives building, the Ronald Reagan building and International Trade Center, the FBI headquarters and several other famous buildings.

Then we turned the corner for the final leg to the White House the street was lit up by hundreds of flood lights. The excitement was unbelievable. Closer and closer we got to the President and his family. Then we were there. He and Michelle were standing behind a glass (bullet proof I am sure) enclosed room. They both waved to us as we rode by. Then within minutes it was all over.

We then were directed down to Constitution Ave. were the Hughestons were waiting with the trailers. We quickly reversed the process that we had done some eight hours earlier. The horses were once again packaged up for shipping. Tack and saddles were loaded into the equipment trailer and the horses were loaded onto the stock trailers.

We then all climbed into the vehicles that we came in and headed out of town, just happy to be in a warm vehicle again.

End of Part five.


We were ordered by the Armed Services to be at loaded by 7am, which meant we had to be at the barns at 4am so that the horses could be feed and watered prior to leaving. This also meant that we had to leave the hotel at 3am!!! We set up for Kyle’s wife to meet up with my friend Sarah and her husband downtown so we had to put her on a Metro, which added to our adventure to find one open at 3am that would take her to where she needed to go.

Once at the barn and the horses were feed and watered we had to start packaging them for the trip into DC. This means we had to put the leg wraps back on, with shipping boots and bell boot, the whole works. There horses were packed in like sardines into these trailers. Plus now we had to squeeze in the extra large Toronto horses, which just happened to be packed into the trailer my horse was on.

Once the horses were packaged up we had to change into our uniform in the tack room and then do our last potty break (in a real bathroom, with heat). The Hughestons showed up at 7am so they hooked up the rigs and we started loading. Hughestons were great and had the whole process down to a science. Missy went in first again with her buddy Banjo in next to here. The process in Eaton County was repeated.

Since we were told we were only allowed seven vehicles into the staging areas we had to condense everyone, up to that point we were driving nine vehicles. The entire Manistee Unit climbed in with Nate and his wife Lori (one of the horse transport drivers). So we had six people in a crew cab truck. It wasn’t too bad; Kyle (who is 7’ tall) sat up front and he finally had some leg room.

We were given orders to get into line in the upper parking lot of the PGEC and wait. Several times a military person came up to Nate’s window to give him the same order that the previous military person had just given him and that was, “once we start moving do NOT stop for anyone or anything.”

We sat there for about an hour or maybe a little more and then we started moving. Now remember that Nate was given orders not to stop for anyone or anything. Right as we were getting to leave the PGEC one of the tour buses hauling parade workers pulled right out in front him causing him to slam on his brakes. It is very hard to stop a trailer loaded with 32000 pounds of live horses. Nate was a little vocal about that one. But we got on our way.

We had a police escort and then there were police officers closing all on ramps coming onto the highway, needless to say there were a few angry people at the ramps arguing with the police officers at times. The line of horse trailers and other vehicles was about three miles long. I got a good picture of the line as we crossed the Potomac River going into DC.

Once we got closer to the Mall the real fun started, at least during the transport of the horses into DC. Every time we even slowed to a crawl pedestrians were rushing the streets and trying to cross between the vehicles. One time Nate was still moving at about 5mph and he had people walking out in front of him. 5 mph may not sound like much but remember he had 32000 pounds of live animals in his trailer so stopping on a dime was not an option.

One intersection some how got forgotten by the police and since we were going through on a red light and Nate was concentrating on staying close to the bus ahead so that he didn’t have people trying to cross, a taxi who had the green light came barreling through the intersection. Everyone else in the truck saw him coming and we started yelling. Nate said he looked just in time to see yellow streak across in front of him. He said “I think I need to change my shorts now!” Then because he slammed on his breaks there was a gap between us and the bus people started crossing the street. He at that time was at a complete stand still because people were in his way. He finally had to stand up and was half out of his side window yelling at people to get out of the F*&^ing way. His wife started pulling him back into the truck before he got himself killed. People just looked at him and kept crossing so he just started moving and they did get out of the way.

At another intersection where we got a yard or two behind people started crossing and the police this time was around us on foot and they were yelling at people to get out of the way and one lady decided to keep going and she was tackled by the military right in front of us. We felt like trout trying to swim up river in a heavy current. It was crazy.

Then as we headed down Independence Ave. we did end up getting stopped on a down hill slide. We sat there for what seemed like forever. After about 30 minutes of sitting there I am sure the horses toward the front of the trailers three sections were getting squeezed even tighter. The trailer started rocking back and forth because the horses started getting up set and pushing back. One time the trailer was rocking so hard that Nate jumped out to check what was going on. The trucks emergency brakes couldn’t keep the trailer from pushing the truck forward and we kept moving slowly toward the bus in front of us. Lori ended up jumping over into the driver’s seat and stepping on the brakes.

We finally made it to the staging area. Once we started unloading the horses we found out just what was going on in the trailer. One of the Muskegon horses got loose, out of it’s halter. The halter wasn’t broken, just too lose .

We had 45 minutes to unload and have the horses saddled and all the shipping things put back onto the trailer because they had to leave to allow the next wave of horses and trailers into the area.

End of Part 4

DC trip part 3

Monday morning came quickly. The pair of Toronto Canada Police Officers that were invited to ride with us finally arrived late on Sunday night but were up and ready to spend the day in the DC area and have fun. They had performed the drill with us in 2007 and we told them if we do something like this they would be invited to go too. I personally haven’t seen Rob or Jeff since that ride in 2007 but it was great to see them again.

We went to the barn and cleaned stalls and feed the horses and took them out for a morning walk. Renia and I had to have a small interview with the Secret Service but that went very well and they told us to have a fun time in the parade. It just added to our experience. To be asked to sit in a black SUV with two SS agents and be questioned is something I will never forget.

We were then told by the drill master that we were free to roam at will until 2pm. So the Manistee group headed for downtown DC. The traffic didn’t seem too bad considering it was the day before the inauguration and Martin Luther King Jr. Day. We grabbed lunch at a local Applebee’s before heading into the downtown area.

As we headed into the heart of DC we looked at and took in a lot of scenery. It was a lot to take in. The buildings are some of the most amazing that I have seen in my life. The history alone behind some of those buildings is amazing all in itself. We crested a slight hill on the street we took into the capital and straight ahead we got a wonderful view of the US capital building.

Traffic continued to get heavier and heavier as we got closer and closer to the downtown area. We played out the complete roll of tourist and rolled our windows down and took a lot of pictures. I said we look like Japanese tourist!! We got about a block from the Mall but then the traffic got so heavy we started to worry that we would get stuck there and not be able to get back to the barns on time. So we did a u-turn and headed back out of town. We stopped at the edge of DC and parked, ran across the road and took our picture at the “Welcome to Washington DC” sign.

We headed back to the barn for our 2pm practice with the drill team. We got to the stable in time to saddle up and ride. We rode in formation around and around the PGEC. We determined our order of ride since we had to have that in place before we stepped out onto the parade route and we had to stay in that formation. We had three horses at the front to carry the American Flag, Michigan State flag and the Mi. Horse Council flag. I was placed in the third line, second horse in from the left. I had Jeff from Toronto on my left and Judy from my group on the right. Jeff rides an 18.2h Clydesdale/TB mix gelding so his foot and sometimes his spur was kicking my calf muscle, talk about busies!

On our last few travels around the PGEC we picked up a few more riders when the members of the US Border Patrol joined into the formation. They did great. We started talking to them and found out that they were from Spokane Washington and they ride nothing but Mustangs. Beautiful horses by the way. They had four buckskins that looked like they could have been twins. They left the Spokane area on January 9th and got into the PGEC on the 16th, and we thought we had a long trip!!!!

Once we finished up our practice we went into grooming mode. I had to put some finishing touches on Missy. We had to hoof black everyone and make sure every hair would be in place for the parade the next day. Some people actually bathed their horses but I chose not to, it was only 22 degrees outside (they bathed inside but still our stalls were outside in a shed-row type barn) and I was not out to make my horse ill, she has a thick winter coat because she is in an open air barn up north. The entire Manistee Unit chose to just do some really heavy grooming and our horses looked great in the end. Plus it helps to have a black horse.

We again tucked the horses in for the night and went back to the hotel for uniform preparations. First though we stopped at Chili’s for dinner. That was even better then Applebee’s earlier in the day. I had baby back ribs, mmmmmm.

We tidied our uniforms, made sure every pin was in order and every button was in place. We then went to sleep since we had to be at the barn at 4am we decided to turn in extra early.

End of part 3

My trip to DC part two

DC Trip part 2

Once we had horses settled, about two hours later, we went to the hotel (40 miles away on the west side of the Potomac River) and settle ourselves in. We then all went to a find some lunch. Not as easy as it sounds on a Sunday morning two days before the inauguration! We ended up in a little family owned restaurant that apparently just opened. It was a nightmare. I never did get anything to eat there. It wasn’t that the food was bad or that the service was bad either, it was more the fact that twenty people walked in unannounced to a small family restaurant that didn’t have the staff on board at the time.

While in the DC area I traveled around with my core mounted members. We ended up leaving the restaurant without me eating. On the way back to the hotel Kyle stopped by a KFC so I could at least get something to eat and it was so good and I was so hungry. We went to the hotel where we rested for a short time and then headed back over to the barn to see our horses.

My friend Sarah came to visit. Her and her husband used to be our neighbors here in Michigan. We miss her and Nick so much but I didn’t get a chance to see Nick because he works so much.

We rode around for sometime exploring the PGEC (Prince George Equestrian Center), what a place! This is the same place that the Washington International Grand Prix show is held at.

We tucked the horses in for the night and headed back to the hotel for a good nights sleep.

Once we arrived at PGEC the rest of our day want by fairly quietly. Once I took a shower and laid down in a real bed (instead of a van seat) I was sleeping before 9pm, which is unusual for me who normally stays awake until midnight or later.

End of part 2

Part one my Trip to DC

I know everyone has been waiting for word our how the trip to Washington DC went.

Day one, Jan. 17th I left here with my friend Judy, from my place at 8:00 am. My brother came with his wife to haul us down to the meeting area for the entire group which was a four hour trip south to Eaton County Michigan just north of the Indiana/Michigan State borders.

At noon on the 17th we arrived at the Eaton County Sheriff’s Office and we met up with all the others. We had a short press conference and then loaded up the twenty horses in the two trailers, ten horses in each trailer. My horse Missy was the first one on, with her buddy Banjo right next to her. The trailers were open stock trailers, but the holes in the walls were blocked about 90% so though the trailer was open air it was still fairly nice for the horses. There were no dividers between most of the horses. There was a divider closed behind every fourth horse. There heads were tied to the driver side wall and the next horse placed tight next to them.

The weather was not going to co-operate with us at all. We left in a middle of a blizzard with wind chilly well below zero, but we continued and it was a slow start at the beginning. At 40 mph it took almost an hour to travel the 30 minutes to the State line.

Though the passenger vans were traveling at 40mph the shipping company did not seem to be fazed by weather conditions and got about 150 miles ahead of us. We did finally catch up with them near Toledo Ohio and the rest of the way we were able to stay in a good caravan trip formation for the remainder of the trip to Upper Marlboro Maryland where the horses were stabled.

I separated from my core Manistee Sheriff’s group and was assigned to a passenger van with three other people from three other counties, Larry from Oakland County, Leslie from Macomb County and Denise from Eaton County. We had a GREAT time. I had only met Leslie back in November when she first joined the drill team on her little Morgan mare Jezebel. As we talked back in November we found out that are horses share the same Grandsire and Jezebel was born up in Northern Michigan near me.

Leslie drove for the first two hours; the Denise took over through most of Ohio. Once in Pennsylvania Larry took the wheel which ended up being a God send because we came into the storm system that had started our trip out of Michigan and by this time had traveled east it caught us again. I was also lucky enough to have been asleep through this part of the trip. Even the livestock transports wanted to stop and check into a hotel because they felt it was getting too dangerous to continue, but we did continue and finally drove out of the weather as we traveled. I took the wheel in Central Pennsylvania and drove to Maryland, were then Larry took over and drove the rest of the way to Upper Marlboro MD. We arrived at the stables at about 8:00am Sunday Jan. 18th.

End of Part 1
This is all new to me. I hope to be able to share with everyone things that are fun and interesting.