In the Fall of 2018, a friend of mine (Tracy) and our trusty equine partners (Tanner, Carter and Fatty) along with Trigger my beloved Rhodesian Ridgeback made a 33.1 mile trek from our Iron Horse property at the south end of Mt. Shasta all of the way to the PCT down to where the trail crosses under I-5. We weren't exactly sure of mileage, my guesstimate was about 35 miles, we carried external batteries to keep the phones charged so that we could log our entire trip, complete with photos and video! It ended up being 33.1 miles and all through some pretty scenic country. We were riding through some areas where they had been recently logging so our views were fantastic. At one point, we could see the Castle Crags, The Eddy mountains, Black Butte and Mt. Shasta all at one time. We rode about 17.4 miles on day one to make it to our camp spot, which we found on the top of a mountain. We watered and fed the animals and enjoyed a nice dinner and then hit the rack so we could start again early the next morning. We made it to the Pacific Crest Trail at the top of Girard Ridge and met a USFS timber crew that was doing some more much needed logging. After that, we were heading down the PCT all of the way to the Sacramento River at the base of the beautiful and rugged Castle Crags. This is where we ended our trip. It was a fabulous adventure and we are already planning another adventure for this fall! Stay tuned for more....
The trail ride to Faery Falls is in a historic area near Mt. Shasta called Ney Springs. Ney Springs was discovered by John Ney in 1887. It became a destination health resort based on the mineral waters there. When the railroad first became operational, Ney Springs was one of several summer resorts that were popular with wealthy Bay Area residents who were drawn to healing spring waters. To get to Ney Springs, visitors would take the train to Cantara, near Dunsmuir, then follow a trail (with carriage access) along the west side of the river. The Ney Springs resort consisted of a hotel for 50 guests, a bath house, barn, carriage house and boardwalks that meandered through the wooded forest. All that can be found now is some masonry foundations and a small trickling stream under the tall pines. It’s a wonderful stretch of one’s imagination to envision a lively resort at this now tranquil location.
The trail ride follows part of this route along the west side of the river. A short distance upstream from the resort ruins leads to nearby Faery Falls, where Ney Springs Creek crashes nearly 60 feet down a granite cliff face, forming a clear pool at the bottom. It may be the tallest waterfall in Siskiyou County.
To get there take WA Barr Road going to Lake Siskiyou; after crossing the dam take the first left going to Castle Lake; from this road take the first left onto Ney Springs Road (dirt). This is a sharp left on a somewhat blind corner so turning must be done with caution. About 2.5 tenths of a mile there is a small parking area in the trees on the left. Across the road is a gate and the trail starts on the other side of the gate. The trail is easy to follow although when you come into the area that has some log slash and it appears there was a deck that was burned, veer slightly left to stay on the trail. When you come to an intersection, go right uphill. You will pass the short trail down to the falls before finding trees to tie to. Do NOT attempt to take horses down the path to the falls as it is not a horse trail. Total length is 1.45 miles and is shaded the entire way through a primarily tall oak forest with gentle terrain the majority of the ride. If you take a left turn downhill at the intersection, it will take you past the old resort and through a dispersed camping area near the water.
Recently I was on a wilderness pack trip in the Trinity Alps Wilderness with my horses. After a long day of riding, I had one of my horses who began to show signs of colic. He is in very good shape and had many opportunities to drink water that day and he did drink every time, so I knew it was NOT a case of being legged up enough or a lack of water. I immediately administered 10 cc of Banamine and decided to go ahead and administer IV to get it in his system right away. He had no gut sounds on his right side and limited gut sounds on his left. After 45 minutes of absolutely no relief, I remembered that a friend had purchased for me a product called Say Whoa. My friend purchased it for me last year after this same horse colicked and told me to keep in my trailer for just such an emergency.
Usually after a few minutes of an IV injection of banamine you can bring some relief to a horse even if the colic isn't resolved but this was not the case, so I immediately read the instructions and gave the Say Whoa to my horse, along with offering water (which he did drink a little of). I waited about another 40 minutes and he layed down and seemed comfortable so I left him alone. Soon, he began to eat grass and then finally stood up and I listened for gut sounds which were starting to be much improved on both sides and after about 10 more minutes his gut sounds had returned to normal and he was perfectly fine for the rest of the night. Trailering to a vet was not an option at that time, so I was very happy that I had Say Whoa on hand. I would highly recommend this product to be kept in your trailer and in your stable and at the first sign of colic that you use it. The theory is that it is an all natural, drug free product that helps the horses body send water to the gut which can help with impaction, light sand and spasm & gas and generally helps with the normal flow of digestion. Considering the cost of a vet bill or a colic surgery and the risk associated with a surgery, keeping this product on hand is a much cheaper alternative and can't hurt. While it may not help with every colic, my thought is that if it can't hurt, why not try it!
The shelf life is 5 years and it is not affected by high temperatures and if it freezes you can just thaw it and use as normal. I am convinced that this product helped my horse and from not on, I will give it to any of my horses at the first sign of colic. If you are interested in learning more about this product you may go to:
I hope this product can prevent a colic for you too!
The McCloud River is one of Northern California’s most scenic and famous waterways, known worldwide for native wild trout and the beauty of multiple spectacular waterfalls. It begins its journey on the southern slopes of Mount Shasta with multiple springs contributing significantly to the river’s volume. More importantly, the river is swollen by subterranean waters coming from the heart of the great volcano. For the most part, the trail follows the river and is a single file trail, with almost no elevation gain and is easy for horses. The three most remarkable waterfalls are easily viewed via the hiking trail from Lower Falls to Upper Falls, or short walks from parking areas. Each of these waterfalls has a distinctive personality, adding a great deal of character to an already attractive river. Paralleling the river the trail winds around large boulders and large old growth trees, which creates a shady canopy for much of the trail. The river is almost always in view and can often be heard. Be sure to look for Pacific Yew trees, which thrive in wetter spots and is identified by its fir-like needles and red, peeling bark, similar to a Madrone tree. Though the trail passing directly by the waterfalls is not accessible by horseback, each of them can be accessed by vehicle along the way, with plenty of parking for horse trailers at two of the three. All of the water falls possess unique features, however the local favorite is
Middle Falls, and a short stop on your way to or from the horse trailhead is a must. You’ll find a large parking area, restrooms and short walk to a viewing area to take photos. The section of trail open to horses stretches from Upper Falls to Algoma (a small US Forest Service campground). Unlike the trail passing the falls, this section sees fewer hikers and only an occasional mountain bike. The first interesting sight you come to when travelling East from the Upper Falls is the sound of more falling water. Instead of a waterfall, the sound is made by the McCloud River surging over the top of Lakin Dam, an old concrete dam built to provide water for the lumber mill that once operated in McCloud.
The dam was built in 1925 and named after an executive of the lumber company who perished while fighting a fire on the outskirts of the town. Beyond Lakin dam the river character changes from the roaring river with extensive volcanic features, to a more lackadaisical landscape as it flows quietly through meadows and forested areas. Further east you will come upon the site of what was once Daveney's cabin. The cabin was built in 1935 by Mr. Daveney, who leased the land from the McCloud
River Lumber Company for $1.00/year. The chimney (all that’s left of the cabin) was made from native rock from the immediate area and was constructed by Joe Bertaco, the company’s finest stonemason. Traveling east you then come to Forest Service Group Camp 4, and a good watering hole for the horses. Leaving Camp 4 it will take you about 90 minutes to reach the Cattle Camp Swimming Hole. We find this busy on some summer weekends, but have also found it with few or any others there. Even on busy weekends there are lots of places to tie up and take a break at the water’s edge. Although the trail goes further east to Algoma, the ride I like the best is from Camp 4 (park outside/adjacent to the camping area along the road going in) to the Swimming Hole for lunch and then back to Camp 4. This makes a 3 hour round trip of ride time. If you went from the Upper Falls parking area, to Cattle Camp Swimming hole, it would be about a 3 hour ride one way. There is trailer access at the Swimming Hole if you wanted a pick up there. You do have to use caution during the fall season when we have encountered bees along the trail, and sections of the trail can be dusty in the dryer months.
The McCloud River Loop Road is approximately 6 miles east of the town of McCloud, off State Route 89.
Springtime is just around the corner and if your horse or mule has had some time off this winter, or for any lay-up period, you might be thinking about the best way to get yourself and your equine in shape. Remember that they get muscle sore and can be prone to injury just as we can, if they are not properly conditioned.
First and most important is to start slowly. Begin with some conditioning rides in the arena. Try to keep your first few rides to about 15-20 minutes of walking before you begin any trotting or cantering, so that your horse is thoroughly warmed up. Remember that they will be getting their heart rate up, so you should keep the trotting and cantering work to a minimum. I suggest about 5 minutes of trotting max and then a short walk break to let their heart rate come back down and allow them to catch their breath before about 3-5 minutes of cantering or more trot work. This is all gauged of course, on the amount of lay off period your animal has had. If they seem overly winded, then you can shave a minute or so off all of these times. The other thing to remember is a proper cool down. You should walk your horse to cool him out until he is no longer hot to the touch and his breathing and heart rate has come back down within normal levels. (Resting respiration rate should be between 10-24 breaths/minute and a normal resting heart rate should be between 28-44 beats/minute – take either count for 15 seconds and multiply by 4 to get the total/minute) With a walking cool out period, the rates may be just slightly higher than normal resting rates.
When a horse has worked hard, you can actually stop your horse and feel their sides heaving up and down when on their back and can even feel their heart rate if you take a minute to stop and feel. This is an excellent opportunity to determine if your horse is being overworked. Soft horses lack muscle tone and the ability to handle very hard work and may sweat profusely. This is a signal to you to cut back on the work load.
When laying out your plan for your ride, the first order of business should be your ground work. This is an important first step to have your horse respecting you as a leader which can be crucially important after a lay-up period when the horses may have excessive energy. This is also important because it can help you to know if your horse seems attentive and will also help you gauge his reactiveness level. Another benefit is that it will help you to know if your horse is stiff or rigid on one or both sides. I will even do ground exercises before I get on a strange horse that I don't know so that I know where they may "freeze" up when I am mounted and to lay the foundation for the role I have as the horses leader. If you think your horse will be acting fresh and want to jump around, which most will after some time off, then ground work is crucial.
Once mounted, I will begin my warm up with specific suppling exercises. This helps to stretch my horse out but also helps me to again know if they are going to be resistant on one side or the other. If I have a horse jump around and want to act silly, it is pretty important that I be able to gain control back with a soft and supple horse rather than one who wants to sull up and not give to my rein or leg pressure. I will do several minutes of suppling and leg yielding exercises to start out, before I even begin walking. Then I continue to do these rein and leg yielding exercises while I am walking. This also serves the purpose and is perhaps most important, to keep my horse’s brain on me and what I am asking. It is giving them a job, so that they can stay focused on the work at hand. Once I begin trot work, I will continue with the exercises throughout the trot work and then when I am allowing the rest period in between the trot and canter work, I will usually just allow the horse “free” rest and time to bring the heart rate back down. If I choose to go on with some light canter work, I may even continue with these exercises. However, if I don’t feel the horse is ready, then I may choose to skip the canter until a later date and just build on the trotting.
Once I am in the final cool out phase, I will allow the horse free time to just walk, unless they are still feeling a bit amped up and wanting to be silly, then I may intermittently add back in some yielding and suppling exercises to keep their brain engaged.
The most important thing is to be consistent and slowly bring the horses work load back up to a normal level. Of course, the job you are asking your horse to do would be important to factor in. For instance if you have a jumping horse, you would not just begin jumping right away until you had done the appropriate amount of time working on flat work to properly condition and leg your horse up. Likewise, you would not take a cutting horse and just put them immediately on cows. You would be sure your dry work is completely up to par and the horse had been asked over a long enough period of time to execute the same type of moves you would be asking him to perform while working a cow. You also have to ease into the harder work as well, for example you would not go out and work that cow for 30 minutes you might begin with just a few minutes on a cow until you were satisfied that you had a good enough “quit”, or you might only jump a few smaller jumps to begin with, or do pole work and then gradually build up the height of the jumps as well as how many you are asking your horse to jump.
The final thing I always tell my riders is to lower your expectations. If your horse has had time off, they are usually not going to start out mentally like they did when you stopped riding. I like to just assume they will not be so great and sometimes I am pleasantly surprised when they act better than I expect. This will give you the mindset you will need to be patient as you are bringing them back up to speed. Be consistent with your work, start slowly and do your ground work and suppling exercises. You will run less risk of injury to you both and you will be right back where you left off. Before you know it, both horse and rider will be in shape!
Have you ever had a horse with a major dread lock in the mane or tail? Well here is a full proof way for getting those tangles out without having to rip or cut them out. If you use a product such as WD-40 on the hair first, (this is what I sue) apply liberally and then wait a few minutes for it to begin to lubricate, then you can start picking it apart with your fingers into sections and then go to carefully brushing out. (I use a high quality hair brush rather than a comb)
Once you have all of the hair tangle free it is very important to thoroughly wash all of the lubricant out of the hair. Then you can go ahead with applying your conditioners. See my earlier blog post for more information on that.
Many people think that you cannot brush the hair or you will rip it out. Horses naturally shed their hair so if you don't regularly remove the shed hair then you will get dread locks. This is because that long shed mane or tail hair inter-twines with the other hair in the mane or tail and creates a tangle. To avoid this you should try and remove the hair that has naturally shed. You can actually see this a lot of times both in the mane and more often than not at the top of the tail head. The hair that is naturally shedding will have a white tip on the root and this is a sign to you that the hair needs to be brushed or hand combed out. Remember though, that if the hair is not clean and conditioned you can pull out in tact hair along with that shed hair so it is important to wash and condition the hair at minimum every two weeks and at best once per week. I make it a general rule never to brush the hair without having it clean and conditioned first. If I see shed hair and am not ready to wash, then I use my fingers to comb through carefully to remove this shed hair. I hope this helps with those tangles!
COMING VERY SOON! We are just about to launch a beautiful place to hold your special outdoor event. It is very conveniently located with easy access and TONS of parking! There are world class views of Mt. Shasta and the surrounding mountains. If you are a guest at the Altes Chalet you will find the event center just a short 3 miles drive down the road. The outdoor event center is currently under construction but is slated to be open and available for your special function by mid to late summer. We have plans for a large dance floor where you can dance right under the stars with fabulous views of Mt. Shasta, a beautiful and picturesque bar area, a place for the DJ or band, a covered caterer area with ample and spacious area for tables and seating. A trip down the aisle will allow you to make a grand entrance and will land you at the perfect backdrop of Mt. Shasta! This will also be available for other special events: corporate retreats, spiritual retreats, yoga retreats, family reunions, birthday parties, or whatever functions you can think of. In addition, there will be RV sites available on the property as well as overnight horse accommodations and a large horse arena available for rent as well. If you are thinking of hosting a horse show, play day, gymkhana, or a clinic this would also be a fabulous location for your horse event. The view in the picture above is the view from the property. There will be more information coming soon, but if you are interested in finding out what we have to offer or interested in booking a date, please give us a call: 530-925-2608.
Siskiyou County is a gem of a place to bring your horse and explore! There are so many trails that you could ride a different trail every day for the rest of your life and never ride the same trail twice!! I am fortunate to have been exploring this area for the past few years and know many great places to go and ride. There are fire roads, jeep trails/roads, single track trails, the Pacific Crest Trail, the Sisson Callahan Trail, several rides to beautiful lakes and rivers, rides along rivers and to water falls, out through the forest on no trail at all, the possibilities are endless. I am happy to say that I am now offering to the public the chance to ride my well behaved and well trained horses on trail riding excursions and as a special bonus I am able to take people that have their own horses or mules out on guided rides, you just tell me what kind of ride you would like and what you like to see and do and I will get you there!
I get this question a lot, how do I grow a healthy and thicker mane, forelock and tail on my horse?
First off, horses like humans have good hair genes or not so good hair genes, but all horses can grow a better mane and tail that is healthier and prettier. I want to share with you some of my secrets.
1.) Never brush or comb a tail that is not clean or is extremely tangled. You will end up brushing those tangles out but also pulling, breaking and ripping hair out at the same time.
2.) Wash about every 2 weeks and not more than one week. (You don't want to wash out or strip the natural oils in the hair). My favorite shampoo is actually one used on horses but also on livestock, it is called Orvus. Don't be surprise it is a white solid when it is cold and then turns to a milky sticky liquid when warm and then a clear runny liquid when warm but seems to be the best soap I have found for really sud-sing up and getting your horse clean! It can usually be bought in a one gallon containers and because it works so well, a little goes a long way.
3.) After washing your horses mane, tail and forelock then put your conditioner in. I actually use a combination of Mane N Tail conditioner (by straight arrow) and Cowboy Magic detangler together and it really seems to help get all of the tangles out. When brushing out those tangles, start at the bottom and be VERY patient and carefully work through the hair to ensure it is completely tangle free.
4.) Avoid using products like Show sheen which works great to get the tangles out but has a lot of alcohol in it so if you use it to get tangles out before be sure to wash it out and apply the products I outlined above.
(I learned this after MANY years of using show sheen on my show horses and just leaving the product in, after some time I began to notice my horses hair got very brittle and was easily broken and frayed. So though I still use Show sheen, I am careful after using it to wash it out of the hair)
5.) If your horse is really swishing his tail to combat flies then it is really a good idea to use some sort of tail bag. I used to make my own out of old worn out jeans but have also found that electrical tape, panty hose and tube socks work wonders. The modern day tail sock, though really stylish and pretty to look at are easily torn, ripped and don't protect the hair as well.
6.) If putting your horse in a bag or sock, you can also add strips of a tough material such as denim as a fly swatter. The main reason to do this is still allow the horse to protect himself from flies but protect his tail from the beating it takes when being swatted.
7.) Another really important thing is to make sure your horses tail is trimmed to no longer than his fetlock joint. If you make a blunt cut you will allow the hair to thicken over time. This will also minimize the horse backing up (either when riding or in the trailer) and stepping and pulling long sections of hair out. A thick tail always looks better than a long wispy tail.
8.) THIS IS SUPER IMPORTANT! Make sure when placing your tail bag,or sock that you are at least a good inch below the tip of the tail bone. If you wrap and tie that sock on any farther up, you run the risk of cutting off circulation to the tip of the tail bone. That is a disaster!
9.) To get those beautiful longer manes you will also have to do some maintenance. For horses that have lots of hair like Friesians or some of my reining horses, I typically keep the mane braided in long braids using sections of about 2-3 inches working down the neck of the horse. You will have to use small mane rubber bands and get them tight enough to hold the braid but not so tight they break the hair. If you can keep the mane carefully tangle free on some of the shorter mane horses you may not need to braid. I also have found that if you stop the braid on a thicker portion of the hair the rubber band doesn't tend to break the ends off as bad. You will have to be sure to replace braids and remove tangles (gently) often and may be washing the mane more like once per week.
10.) A word of caution about the tail covers that have you braid the tail into 3 braids and then put into a sleeve and braid the 3 braided sections together. These do stay on very well, but I have know a horse who while swatting caught his tail on something in his paddock and actually broke his tail so those may not be the best option. At least a sock, or tail bag is likely going to rip before it breaks the tail bone.
If I am trying to grown my horses mane or tail I am careful to diligently keep the hair clean, conditioned and be very careful when brushing it out, keep it up especially during fly season or hot, dry weather and never use a metal comb or brush in fact I usually use a brush similar to a human bristle brush. Those metal rakes just pull and rip the hair out and are disastrous to the hair.
Remember if you find your horse is stepping on pulling his tail out, it is likely just a little too long. If you are showing your horse and a super long tail is desirable be careful to keep it up when you are working it so it doesn't back up and step on the tail.
Good luck growing those luscious locks!
Ruth has been around horses for 46 years and loves to share her knowledge and what she has learned with others and to help horses and humans be in harmony.