An easy day

I showed Frankie how to put boots on Boulder this morning. Actually, she did most of the work and I just kibitzed. It took her some time, but she still did a better job than I did the first time.

I treated Boulder with EquiSpot, even though it has only been eleven days (rather than 14). The flies were just driving him nuts in his stall. I had purchased some EquiSpot from Western Ag Supply the last time I was there, so I opened the box—and found that apparently it had been on the shelf for awhile, as the applicator design was different. Instead of the familiar orange ampule, this looked more like a yellow miniature sardine can with a little spout at one end. It was difficult to avoid slopping the stuff all over, so that design gets a definite “no” vote from me.

And after that, we checked and tweaked the tightness on the boots and turned Boulder out in the pasture. Like yesterday, he was eager to go.

I got an email from Kelsey, and it sounds like she’s just a couple of days away from getting her trainer’s insurance. So, maybe by this time next week Bob and Boulder will be starting their training and Kim and I will be able to resume our riding lessons. With getting the boys’ feet issues taken care of, I think the timing is going to be just about right.

I spent some time chatting with Frankie, and then poked around the old Valley & Siletz Railroad right-of-way near Sarah Helmick State Park. To get there, I drove south on Highland Road, which is a gravel road off of Stapleton Road that I drive past every time I go to the barn. It is one of those roads that just looks interesting, so on a whim I took it.

What a find! It rolled south through beautiful quiet farm country that made my heart sing. It’s hard to explain, but gently rolling hills under cultivation is a sight that is deeply satisfying to me. Perhaps it is the blood of my Norwegian farmer ancestors speaking—I don’t know. I just know that it’s lovely.

I easily found where the V & S made its sharp turn west at the Luckiamute River. Unfortunately, Highway 99W was cut in at a lower grade where the line crosses it, so the railroad grade is at least ten feet higher than the highway (I guess that indicates how long ago the right-of-way was abandoned, come to think of it). Getting horses safely across 99W is going to require some very careful thought. Where the railroad crossed Helmick Road, which is the old Highway 99W, the crossing is at grade level, so the crossing here will be relatively easy and safe—especially considering that traffic on Helmick Road is slower and much, much lighter.

I poked around Helmick Park a bit to see of there was a footbridge across the Luckiamute, as the park is on the opposite side from the V & S. Nope, no footbridge, but it looks like maybe there used to be one on the north side of the park. All that’s left now is a small abutment that might have been a bridgehead.

I drove back to Independence and wandered by the old Fir Mountain Mill on the south edge of town. This was the last freight customer for the V & S until the mill shut down, so somewhere in this area would be a good trailhead. Happily, there is a city park right next to the mill that goes along Ash Creek, which used to be the old millpond. The V & S trestles across the creek are still there (but posted) and then the right of way just heads south toward Abiding Acres. Somewhere in this park would be a good trailhead, and it would draw some more attention to the efforts that have been made at habitat restoration in the creek (salmon and steelhead).

After tromping around the park in the happy dreaminess that comes over me when poking around old and abandoned things, it was time to get a bite to eat and then head to the salle.

Finally, the HoofJack hoofstand arrived today, as did the Cashel Soft Saddle. The draft-sized hoofrest for the HoofJack is, um, quite impressive. I hope Boulder likes it, as it might make working on his feet a whole lot easier for everyone. It should make it easier for Kim to clean Bob’s feet, too; Roberto is awesome with his feet, but it’s quite uncomfortable and awkward for Kim to be hunched over AND trying to hold a hoof.

I’ll be interested to hear from Frankie about how Boulder did for the rest of today. No phone calls or texts, though, so I guess no news is good news. I’m also looking forward to trying out the Soft Saddle!

About Mike

Michael Heggen is a horseman, maker, and thinker who lives in Salem, Oregon with his wife, Kim, and "three to eight cats". He stays quite busy riding, driving, and caring for their three horses, Boulder, Shasta, and Bob. Among other things, Mike has been a fencing coach, police chaplain, computer consultant, aspirant to the diaconate, computer salesman, box boy, carpenter, computer technician, typesetter, church youth leader, copy machine operator, and network administrator. His other interests include juggling, reading voraciously, and (pretty occasionally these days) cycling.
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