- Trail: Weiser River Trail
- Miles: 10.12
- Ave. MPH: 3.6
- Top Speed: 15.8
- Moving Time: 2.48
- Horses: Jack – J’Lo
- Dogs: Shade – Hank
- Riders: Self
Here’s the deal. I cached a can of Beanee Weenees on one of my trail rides in the Weiser area. I want to see how many people actual read my blog and figured this was one way to generate interest. Sort of an interactive blogging experience if you will.
If you have a GPS – this is a great way to learn how to use one. If you already know how to use one, this should be a piece of cake. If you don’t have a GPS – you might be able to follow the clues in this blog piece to find the cache.
What’s in it for you? Well, besides the opportunity to get out and explore some beautiful country – the winner will receive the coveted decorative and magical horseshoe pictured below. It is rumored the possessor of this horseshoe is empowered with magic powers beyond imagination. What exactly those powers entail are yet to be determined.
The BW’s is a specially marked can. Simply find the cache, snap a picture with your cell phone that proves you found the cache and behold the magic of a successful treasure hunt. (Nope – that’s not corny at all)
Good luck…and watch for snakes.
Who doesn’t love a good treasure hunt? From Easter eggs to arrowheads, there is something thrilling about the search and potential discovery of hidden treasure. Years ago I unearthed an antique porcelain and metal canning jar lid using my grandpa’s old metal detector. You would have thought that rusty old remnant of kitchens past had been attached to a jar filled with gold bullion as excited as I was to find it.
Years later I took up geocaching as a way to learn how to use a GPS effectively. It didn’t matter if the cache contained old door knobs, empty thread spools or keychains; the thrill is in the hunt – not the find. Unless the find is a jar filled with gold bullion – in which case the find may very well out-trump the hunt. Totally beside the point.
A thought occurred to me during a trail ride on the Weiser River. Surely I’m not the only one that likes to search for buried treasures and I know I’m not the only one who frequents the WRT. Instead of snapping my obligatory Beanee Weenee photo – I’ll “hide” a can instead. Mark the coordinates with my GPS and post it for others to find. So…that’s what I did.
I hobbled Jack and J’Lo in a grassy area next to the river. I pulled the specially marked can of BW’s out of my saddle bags and looked around for a good caching spot. I’d have to hide it from casual site or somebody might inadvertently pick it up. Not by the tree – too obvious. Definitely not in a pile of rocks – too many rattlers on the trail; don’t want to risk getting somebody snake-bit. It shouldn’t be so far off the trail that a person has to switch from cowboy boots to hiking boots to go after it, either. Ah ha….there’s a good spot!
I sat my camera and lunch supplies on a downed snag and went about “caching” the specially marked can of BW’s. The piece of RR relic obscured the can completely. I created a waypoint of the coordinates on my GPS: N. 44.32322 ~ W.116.79700
Jack, J’Lo and I continued on our trek shortly after setting the BW cache. The plan was to ride farther down the WRT than I’d ridden before. The old RR track converted to trail follows the river for 84 miles from Weiser to New Meadows. I’ve ridden sections of the trail in Weiser, Midvale and out of Cambridge. One day I will ride the total 84 miles.
You always run into something new on the WRT. I’ve heard people say they don’t like to ride the trail – they think it’s boring. I guess if you find hikers, cyclist, fisherman, coyotes, cool rock formations, waterfowl, game birds, eagles, wolves, cougar, elk, deer, rafters, rock chucks and rattle snakes boring, the WRT is not for you.
A group of rafters waved up at us with big smiles visible from 150 yards; obviously enjoying one of the first nice days of spring. I snapped pictures of them as they snapped pictures of my exclusive pack string consisting of two horses, two dogs and one human.
The trestle bridge was the highest bridge I’ve crossed on horseback to date. Albeit higher than we’ve crossed…I suppose in the grand scheme of bridges it’s really not that high. The planks and railings looked sound enough. Here goes nothing. Never weaken. Just go for it. Jack didn’t bat an eyelash. I refrained from looking behind me at what J’Lo was doing. I was content with knowing we all crossed to the other side without incident. John Edward would be proud.
A nice little camping area with picnic tables lay off to our right. I made note of the spot for future reference and checked my GPS – 8.1 miles. 16 miles for one day was adequate. We turned around and headed back to the trailer.
Jack stopped dead in his tracks refusing to move on. Jack is a looker – always gawking to and fro as he moves down the trail, much like myself. Usually it does not impede his forward movement as he checks out the scenery. This was different. He planted all four hooves and snorted. I scanned the area over the bank and didn’t see anything other than a pile of dog poop in the middle of our trail. I gave him a gentle squeeze – come on horse! He didn’t budge. Hank barked at the poop pile and jumped back. The poop buzzed back. That was no pile of poo…that was a pissed off rattle snake! The dogs ran behind Jack and J’Lo. We stood waiting for the rattler to let us pass.
Do you know how long it takes a rattler to uncoil itself and let you pass? However long it wants and not a minute sooner. I turned us around to give the snake some room to relax a little. Eventually he slithered off the trail allowing us to pass…buzzing as we rode by.
I worked at positioning Jack at the last swing gate. I’m never very good at this. Do you position the horse toward the open end or toward the hinged end? Do you side step into the swing or away? I fumbled around long enough for Jack’s liking. He pushed the gate opened, walked through and shoved it closed again for me to latch. Smart ass.
I un-saddled at the trailer and studied the sweat patterns on both horses. It was perfectly uniform. Several weeks ago I started positioning my saddle farther back on the horse according to an article I read on Facebook. It might be the only intelligent thing I’ve read on Facebook in the last 10 years. Normally both horses have a dry spot around the shoulder/wither area that can turn into white scalding. It drives me nuts. My vet told me that if you ride your horse like they should be ridden – it’s going to happen. Still – it drives me crazy. After moving the saddles back – I noticed the sweat pattern improve and the white spots diminish. Who’d a thought Facebook could teach us about proper saddle positioning?
We’d ridden 16.2 miles total in 4.55 hours travel time stopping for 46 minutes to eat and cache a can of BW’s. We averaged 3.3 MPH with a top speed of 13.7 MPH. I planned to post the BW cache on my blog in hopes it will give others the incentive to check out this cool trail. I figure if they are bored by rock chuck and rattlers – perhaps a Beanee Weenee treasure hunt will provide some motivation.
The dreaded STD. A fear capable of reducing the punchiest of cowgirls to a quivering mass of Q-babies and spurs. Our precious pony has contracted a “Steed’s Transmitted Disease.” How did this happen? We practice safe saddling. We don’t share water buckets – blankets or grooming supplies. We freak out when our equine companions touch noses with other equine companions. I personally am not above grabbing for that bottle of hand sanitizer after a hesitant “curtesy pat” to Sally Mae’s new pasture pet rescued from some cesspool auction yard from god-knows-where.
I strive to be a diligent and responsible horse owner. I feed the best hay money can buy. I worm and vaccinate on schedule. My horses are protected from Equine Encephalomyelitis (Eastern and Western strains), Equine Herpesviruses/Rhino (EHV-1 and EHV-4), Equine Influenza (virus subtypes A1, A2 including KY93, KY02), Tetanus Toxoid and West Nile. Most of which I can’t pronounce but damn it- my horse isn’t going to contract it!
I reached under to scratch Jack between the jaw bones. It’s an area he can’t scratch himself without impaling himself on a T-post. Which reminds me – I need to get some of those T-post covers…anyway – as I ran my hand along the underside of his jaw, I felt a crusty scab like thing about the size of a quarter. It came off easily in my hand. I tossed it on the ground – gross! What the heck was that? I stood under his neck peering up to investigate. A hairless patch peered back. Huh…
I thoroughly examined both horses when I got home. My mare didn’t have a spot on her. Neither had been sick, both were eating and while I don’t take their temperature every day – I was pretty sure neither had a fever. A few days later and I notice another spot similar to the first under Jack’s jaw. This one hadn’t completely scabbed over yet. Is this new or had I overlooked it? My heart sank. I’d heard rumors of strangles in a town not 100 miles from home.
If Jack had it – J’Lo was sure to have it, too. My mounted shooting career was over. I’d have to cancel the shooting clinic the end of the month. I’d be sanitizing every inch of my property, the horse trailer, tack rooms and every piece of clothing that ever came in contact with a horse – which is pretty much everything I own. Both horses would go into quarantine. Might as well wrap them in bubble wrap while I’m at it.
I googled strangles. Never google strangles. Never google any ailment equine or otherwise. Just don’t do it – it’s not worth it. Jack had none of the symptoms of strangles. No fever. He was not lethargic. No swelling of the lymph nodes. No nasal drainage or cough. I strained to remember if J’Lo had any of these symptoms. I’ve heard mares are tougher than geldings. I imagined J’Lo contracted a mild version and brought it home to Jack – who would die a slow and painful death covered in oozing abscesses. Damn you Google.
Strangles is highly contagious. I envisioned calling everyone I’d ridden with since last fall. That was going to be a long list. How was I going to tell them my horse exposed their horses to an STD? Jack’s reputation would be ruined. Nobody would ever ride with us again. It’s one thing for them to risk riding with me and getting lost for 12 hours – something all-together different exposing them to a highly contagious and socially inacceptable disease. Jack’s day at court was over.
I would start with the most recent riding partner. I visualized her sweet face as I gave her “the talk.” Jack had exposed her beloved, delicate mare to an STD. I couldn’t do it- but I had to do it. It was the responsible thing to do and I would want to know if it the horseshoe was on the other hoof. Maybe I’ll call the vet first.
I called the vet. Carol answered the phone. I spoke barley above a whisper as if the closest neighbor could hear me 5 acres away: “Hi Carol…I need to bring my horse in. He has something under his jaw…yeah…uh huh..yeah and it’s FREAKING ME OUT!” I confirmed with Carol I would not unload my horse in the event it was strangles. Good hell – my horse was an equine pariah.
I prayed as I somberly walked into the pasture with halter in hand. “Hey God..it’s me again. I know you’re busy with curing cancer and world hunger and all. I know it’s a small, insignificant thing to ask for – but could you please let this be something other than a life threatening communicable disease? But if it has to be, please give me the fortitude to call all of my riding partners and own up. Amen…” Speaking of halters – I’d better burn these and replace them ASAP. Jack lowered his head for me to halter him. It was as if he knew. We were taking the last, long walk across the green pasture of shame.
I announced my arrival at the front desk. I took care not to touch anything. Carol’s eyes filled with pity and a knowing look of concern shared by a fellow horse-woman. “Go on out with your horse and I’ll let the doctor know you’re here.” I complied.
Jack nuzzled my face through the stock trailer. I didn’t care. Besides, humans can’t get horse STD’s – they have their own variations of those to contend with….or so I hear. It was the longest five minutes in history before Dr. Johnson came out. I was glad it was him. He’s my favorite vet down there. He at least pretends to like my horse. If you want to make points with a girl – tell her you think her horse is pretty. Seriously – it works. He thinks he looks as if he’d make a nice roping horse. I’ve never told him Jack’s afraid of cows.
Dr. J checked him through the slats in the trailer and asked me some questions. I answered them all and several he didn’t ask. “Hmm..let’s unload him.” Was that good news? Apparently he wasn’t concerned about my horse contaminating the greater part of the Weiser Valley just yet. Jack deftly backed out of the trailer. I’m proud of how well-mannered my horse is and how easily he loads/unloads. We might be lepers – but damn it- we are well mannered lepers that can load and unload with the best of them.
Dr. J checked him over completely. Jack doesn’t have strangles. I wanted to shout it from the rooftops! I wanted to grab Dr. J up in a bear hug that would turn his lips blue. My horse wasn’t a leper! He didn’t have a communicable disease! So…what does he have? Either a systemic allergic reaction to something or he scraped it and it got infected. Damn T-posts. I could live with that. My horses wouldn’t have to go into quarantine and I wouldn’t have to start down the list of riding partners and alienate them from ever wanting to ride with us again. Best of all – my shooting career was back on track. Thank you, GOD!
Dr. J and I discussed the strangles vaccination. A vet friend told me once that he felt the vaccine for strangles was more important than vaccinating for West Nile. He didn’t understand why people were concerned about the W.N but not the more prevalent strangles outbreaks. For some reason, we don’t commonly vaccinate for it around here. Dr. J promised to do some research on it and let me know. I plan to vaccinate for it first thing if his research supports it.
I suppose if you never take your horse out of the pasture you don’t have to worry about such things. They aren’t likely to come in to contact with various germs and other such cooties if they never leave the barnyard. As I look out my kitchen window at my ponies grazing in the pasture I know in my heart it is worth the risk. Jack loves hitting the trail. He excels at long runs through the open desert. J’Lo seems happy to get out and explore new country and if the last few practices are any indication – I think she enjoys killing a few balloons now and then as well. It seems cruel to never take them anywhere for fear they might pick up a cootie now and then.
I slipped the halter from Jack’s head and turned him out with J’Lo. He wouldn’t have to explain to his adoring mare that he contracted an STD. Of course – now I’d have to wrack my brain and fret over what exactly it is that my horse got into that didn’t agree with him. I’d stew over that tomorrow – one over-reaction for the day is enough for this cowgirl. Do I realize I over-react? Absolutely. Do I plan to change my ways? Absolutely not.