Archive for the ‘Duffy’ Category

Duffy and Me   1 comment

Friend and boarder Lori B. happened to be here when I went out to ride Duffy, so she got some pictures. Here are a few of the best.

Before I saddled up, Duffy had a resigned expression.  I’m sure he was thinking, “Oh no!  Not again!”


I wanted a picture of Duffy gaiting, and that’s not easy to catch.  Here he’s just doing a nice walk.


Even fifty pounds lighter than a couple of years ago, I still fill up that saddle pretty much . . . sigh.  At least I can ride it now, though it’s built for a slim person.

Here he is gaiting, but not a good clean foxtrot.  It’s a little pacey, but three feet are touching the ground, so it’s not a true pace.  It felt pretty good.


I’ve always thought of Duffy as a rather homely horse, but in summer coat and under saddle he looks pretty darned good.  And it was a beautiful day for a ride; just look at that blue sky.  The temperature was still in the seventies.

And I’m seventy years old, and still in the saddle.  Life is good.


Posted May 24, 2013 by stablewoman in Duffy, Horses, Riding

Return to the River   1 comment

Last night, I walked down to the river once more.  I could see the water was higher, and hoped that might help out some of the surviving vegetation.

Note to self:  don’t walk in a burn area while wearing white socks.

Out on the island, it looked pretty bleak.  Pale flashes of wood showed where charred bark had flaked away.


There were spears of green out there.  Something was sprouting already.  I think, though, that it’s bamboo; a non-native invader.  It’s not marijuana, though.  There have been times in the past when you could have called this “Pot Island”.  In fact, I think the police did.


Looking upriver, you could see the limits of the burn easily — and something else.


It was a couple of male mallards, dabbling unconcernedly.  Or was it three?


The telephoto showed that it was only two; and a charred snag, floating like a decoy.


If the water stays high for a while, it will certainly help.  There’s not much water up in the mountains, though, so it’s not likely that it will.

I got in another ride today.  Somehow, I always seem to pass through the other side when the crew is doing tree trimming.  This time, it was a little surgery; some wires that were strangling a young cottonwood.  Duffy took a dim view of the thrashing in the treetops, but stayed under control.  We’re doing pretty well together, considering how long it’s been.


Posted May 15, 2013 by stablewoman in Birds, Duffy, Kern River, Nature

The Australian Saddle   Leave a comment

I mentioned my Australian saddle the other day.  I’m very fond of it — it’s perfect for an older person — but it’s not a true Aussie.

The history of the Australian saddle goes back to the early days Down Under, when settlers abruptly realized that the English saddles they brought with them were not at all suitable for working cattle in the rough outback country.  I have read somewhere that at first they tried to make their English saddles more secure by lashing a heavy stick across the front, which helped keep them in the saddle.  I don’t know if that’s true or not; but soon enough someone came up with the “poley”.  That is an extension below the pommel, something like the swells of a western saddle.  They help lock your thighs in place, making an extremely secure — almost too secure — seat.  A classic Australian stock saddle looks like this.  The poley is just behind the front of the saddle, sticking up like an ear.


There are a couple of disadvantages.  One, the narrow English-style stirrup leathers tend to pinch your legs, unless you wear protection.  In this picture, it looks like the owner has rigged makeshift western-style fenders, which protect your legs.

The second disadvantage — they use an extremely secure double girth system.  Two girths, an undergirth and an overgirth (just visible in the saddle seat in this picture) keep the saddle in place.  This is a disadvantage for someone like me, who doesn’t have a great deal of strength in the hands and arms.  It takes some muscle to get those girths buckled up.  English saddles have a buckled girth, too, but many have elastic ends to help out.

I had a true Aussie, and I loved it; but the time came when I could not longer get it buckled up.  So I sold it, and bought my half-breed Aussie, which has points of English and western saddles.


It has poleys — adjustable ones at that — but it also has fenders.  Most important, it has a western-style cinch, which is much easier to tighten up.  It’s secure, surprisingly comfortable, and fits Duffy perfectly.

There are other differences — a sheepskin-lined solid underside instead of wool-stuffed fabric which shapes to the horse, for one — but one of the things I really like about it are its graceful lines.  It’s severely plain, but I still find it an object of beauty.

But the durn thing’s heavy — it takes a pretty good swing to get it up there, since Duffy’s back  is above my eye level!

Posted May 13, 2013 by stablewoman in Duffy, Horses

Night Ride   Leave a comment

Grandson Andrew borrowed Duffy last night, to go on a night ride.  His girlfriend Ciera and a buddy were going, so he needed the extra horse.

I’m sure Duffy enjoyed being out with Kitty and Pepsi, Andrew’s horses and Duffy’s “girls”, though he kind of loomed over them.  Working ranch horses tend to be short.


They had a great ride, though they didn’t get back until it was late and very dark.  Not much of a moon, either; night rides are more popular on full moon nights.

Duffy has a new breastplate, and I fitted it to him today.  It’s Australian style, to go with my saddle, and looks very good on him.  It looked like it might be too small, but fits just fine.


It gives him something of the look of a cavalry horse, and makes me want to whistle “Garryowen”.  Or maybe not; that was General Custer’s favorite tune!

It’s turning hot.  I got a late start and only rode for about fifteen minutes before I gave up.  We were both sweaty, even so.  Duffy has gotten really fat, but maybe he’ll lose some of his pudge if I can make time for riding this summer.  A horse and two ponies to work — it’s a good thing the days are long!

Posted May 11, 2013 by stablewoman in Duffy, Horses, Riding

Back to Work, Duffy   Leave a comment

It’s been better than a week, now, since the fire, and life is getting back to normal.  I missed blogging yesterday, but not due to any disasters; only errands in the morning and a pleasant trip to the SPCA book sale with Marion in the afternoon.

It’s time to get back to riding Duffy, so today I got him up, worked him in the round pen, and gave him a good grooming.  It was a warm day, and it was hard to get him going in the round pen.  I wanted some pictures of him gaiting, but every time I quit urging him on and picked up the camera, he dropped to a walk.  Still, I got a couple of shots that demonstrate the difference in way of going between gaited and non-gaited horses.

Here he is at the walk.  Even walking, his legs on the same side move much more together than a “normal” horse.  (Let me emphasize — this is normal for him, not something taught.) There are three feet on the ground.


Here I managed to catch him pacing — reluctantly.  His head has come up, he legs on this side are moving almost exactly together, and only two feet are on the ground.


This would be very uncomfortable if I were riding him; he rolls like a ship at sea.  It’s a lazy way of moving.  He won’t foxtrot until he’s collected up a bit — and feeling peppier.

Both of us could stand to lose some weight, but Duffy for once is fatter (proportionately) than I am.  We’ll get more exercise in the days to come.

Posted May 10, 2013 by stablewoman in Duffy, Horses

About Duffy   Leave a comment

I’ve been writing about riding my third equine, Duffy.  Since I hadn’t ridden him in some time  . . . a couple of years, maybe? . . . he hasn’t been featured here in a long time.  So, since I’ve started riding him again, here is Duffy.

He is an eleven-year old unregistered Foxtrotter, chestnut roan in color.  This is what he looks like.

duffy 6 30 08

He is a big strong horse . . . and he finds his size a disadvantage sometimes; like when he’s trying to reach grass. (You can sure tell this isn’t this year’s picture!)


He is big enough that I can’t see over the lowest point of his back.  He makes quite a contrast to the ponies.

His color is the most noticeable thing about him, other than his size.  His ground color is a dark red chestnut, almost burgundy.  This makes the white hairs sprinkled throughout his coat stand out and glitter like silver.

duffysbottom2 6 08

He is very strongly gaited; I’ve never seen him trot.  Even his canter is lateral.

His temperament . . . well, he’s a big amiable doofus, but brighter than he looks.  His size and strength make him intimidating, but he’s ridden successfully by this seventy-year old lady.  He gets along well with other horses, but (thank goodness) doesn’t put up a fuss about leaving his pasture mates.  Though he put up a fuss all day when they left him.  His heartbroken whinnying . . . “Where are my girls?” . . . lasted all day.

All in all, he’s got a lot of personality.  Now if he was just about two hands shorter, it would be great!  It’s such a long way to the ground . . .

Posted April 30, 2013 by stablewoman in Duffy, Horses

The Second Fire   1 comment

The second fire of the season (already) was across the river again, just a little east of the first.  Marion got this picture of the firefighters, barely visible in the trees, pushing chunks of charred wood into the river.

You can see how low and stagnant the water is, but there was enough to help.


We have heard that it was deliberately set.  If we have a firebug on the prowl, it may be a long summer.

We did some moving this morning.  We had one pen that had several very old horses and one big fat gelding.  He was hogging the feed, so we moved the old horses to the front pasture, and the three family horses that were in that pasture in with Fatso.  Then another old horse (the rescue found running the streets of Oildale) went in with the first three.  It looks like it’s going to work out.  We’re watching the two big geldings, Duffy and Fatso (not his real name, I imagine) but it looks like they’ll get along.


A surprising amount of time is spent playing musical horses, but it’s all part of good management.

Posted April 29, 2013 by stablewoman in Duffy, Horses