Saturday, January 3, 2015

Elder's Meditation of the Day January 3

Elder's Meditation of the Day January 3
"We don't have to say or think what we don't wish to. We have a choice in those things, and we have to realize that and practice using that choice."
--Rolling Thunder, CHEROKEE
Having choices makes us fully accountable. No one can make us think anything we don't want to think. No one can determine our behavior and how we act. It's not what's going on but how we look at what's going on. If someone does something and we get upset, we can change how we look at it any time we want. We can tell ourselves in the morning that the day is going to be beautiful and that we have expectations that great things will happen. Doing this daily sets our mind to look for the joy and the excitement of each day.
Great Spirit, help me to choose my thoughts with Your wisdom.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Jerry Ingram (Choctaw/Cherokee)

Elder's Meditation of the Day January 2

Elder's Meditation of the Day January 2
"People have to be responsible for their thoughts, so they have to learn to control them. It may not be easy, but it can be done."
--Rolling Thunder, CHEROKEE
We control our thoughts by controlling our self talk. At any moment we choose we can talk to ourselves differently. The fight comes with the emotions that are attached to our thoughts. If our emotion is high and seems to be out of control, we can say to ourselves STOP IT!, take a few deep breaths, then ask the Creator for the right thought or the right decision or the right action. If we practice this for a while, our thought life will be different. It helps if in the morning we ask God to direct our thinking. God loves to help us.
Great Spirit, today, direct my thinking so my choices are chosen by You.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

When You Come to Know Nature....

Cherokee Blessing Prayer

Elder's Meditation of the Day December 31

Elder's Meditation of the Day December 31
"They must give themselves to Wakan' Tanka and live a spiritual life. They will have the peace that frees them from fear."
--Frank Fools Crow, LAKOTA
There are two wills available for us: self will and God's will. Our choice is: figure it out ourselves, or have the Creator involved in our lives. If we are honest with ourselves and look at past experiences, what are our lives like when we try to figure it out ourselves? Is there fear, confusion, frustration, anger, attacking others, conflict, fault finding, manipulation, teasing others, belittling others or devaluation? If these things are present, they indicate that we are choosing self will. What is it like if we turn our will over to the Creator? What are the results if we ask the Great Spirit to guide our life? Examples are: freedom, choices, consequences, love, forgiveness, helping others, happiness, joy, solutions, and peace. Which will I choose today, self will or God's will?
Creator, I know what my choice is. I want You to direct my life. I want You to direct my thinking. You are the Grandfather. You know what I need even before I do. Today I ask You to tell me what I can do for You today. Tell me in a way I can understand and I will be happy to do it.

This winter view of the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Go Ahead.

Navajo Santa from Joe Yazzie (Navajo)

The awesome art of Joe Yazzie (Navajo)

Problems ahead for marijuana reform

pot leaf.jpg

Any way you look at it, marijuana will be big in news in 2015. After all, 2014 was a good year for proponents of legalization with victories at the ballot box in several states and in Congress. The year was so good for marijuana that Delaware will finally open a long-awaited medical marijuana dispensary. In addition, the Delaware General Assembly is expected to at least decriminalize marijuana possession in the state. Possession of marijuana may finally be almost a non-criminal act in 2015.
However, 2014 ended with an ominous legal action that could not only set back the legalization movement, but could create feuds between the states that could spread to other topics and put a greater emphasis on the difference between red and blue states.
Nebraska and Oklahoma have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to force the federal government to enforce U.S. laws. The sale and possession of marijuana is still illegal in the United States no matter what Colorado, Washington, Alaska and Oregon say. Nebraska and Oklahoma allege that Colorado’s 2012 legalization of marijuana sales has created a cross-border drug problem for them. Colorado, the lawsuit claims, is allowing Nebraska and Oklahoma residents buy marijuana in bulk there and then resell it in the neighboring states. Under the U.S. Constitution, states can go directly to the Supreme Court to settle arguments against with each other. So, if the court takes the case, we may see the Supreme Court having a say in whether you can smoke pot or not.
Such a ruling could derail the pro-legalization movement. States with ballot measures are the target of pro-pot campaigns. Proponents target 2017 as the year marijuana becomes legal throughout the country. A Republican Congress is unlikely to do it, so the campaign is going state by state. It is raising a lot of money along the way.
Colorado’s relatively smooth to a recreational marijuana market has encouraged forces in other states to do likewise. It does not hurt that ailing legislatures are hungrily watching the pot taxes roll in. Minor inconveniences, such as pot dealers having enormous cash amounts on hand do not seem to bother people. The trouble comes from misaligned federal and state laws. The cash problem comes because banks are not allowed to handle drug money. Marijuana possession can be illegal in one state and legal in another, such the problem between pro-pot Colorado and anti-pot Nebraska and Oklahoma.
Decriminalization is a lot different from outright legalization. Under the 2014 proposed law in Delaware, individuals could possess a small amount of marijuana and smoke or eat it in private. Public use would have been limited to a fine. Legalization means marijuana stores can openly grow, sell and buy marijuana. Medical marijuana was just approved as one of the last acts of Congress. However, recreational pot is still against federal law.
This is obviously a potential problem. Just ask the Supreme Court.

Elder's Meditation of the Day December 30

Elder's Meditation of the Day December 30
"Always remember that the Great Mystery is good; evil can come only from ourselves!"
--Grandmother of Charles Eastman. SANTEE SIOUX
The Great Mystery is love, good, and principle. He is a guiding Father. He doesn't play games. He knows only how to love. Sometimes, when things go wrong, we blame Him or others. Usually, if we are honest, we can see how decisions or things done in the past put us in a position to be hurt. It comes back to us. When this happens, it is not something the Creator caused, but something we, ourselves caused. Most of our problems are of our own making. When this happens, we should correct what we've done, ask the Great Spirit for forgiveness, and pray for guidance in the future.
My Creator, bless me with Your good.

Leonard Crow Dog, Lakota Sioux

Monday, December 29, 2014

Ultralight Horse Packing

Ultralight Horse Packing

Take leave-no-trace camping trips easily with these ultralight horse packing techniques.

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If you wish you could just saddle up Old Paint and trot off into the wilderness for a few days, but come up short because you don’t have an extra horse to handle all your gear, you’ll love ultralight horse packing.
Ultralight combines the new generation of lightweight backpacking equipment with leave-no-trace camping and traditional horsekeeping. The result gets you into the backcountry and keeps you there, with only one saddle horse per person. No extra stock, pack frames, puzzling knots or awkward bags of feed. Just you, your friends and your horses.
For the past nine years, Karen Bragg and her family have ridden into Oregon’s Three Sisters Wilderness for days at a time with only the supplies and gear they can carry on their saddles. Karen, the president of Oregon Equestrian Trails, has trained as a Leave-No-Trace Master Educator specializing in pack stock at the National Outdoor Leadership School in Lander, Wyo.
The Braggs’ average trip is six days with three to six riders. Since their first ride they have fine-tuned their equipment list to come up with the ultimate essentials. Here’s what it takes to go ultralight.

Choosing Your Trail
The key to planning an ultralight trip is grass and water. When your horses can graze, you won’t need bags of alfalfa pellets or other feed. You can find good grazing by asking people who’ve been to the area you intend to ride or by
Leave No Trace
Learn more about Leave-No-Trace camping and horsekeeping:
Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics
(800) 332-4100;
National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS)
(800) 710-6657;
You can pick up pamphlets on leave-no-trace camping and on horse packing at offices of the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service.
studying maps. Look for maps that show forested areas and topographic features. Grassy meadows usually appear as non-forested and relatively flat. Recreation staffs at nearby Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management offices can provide tips on horse camps, trails and camping spots with good grass. Grazing is restricted on some publicly owned land, so be sure to check with the agency in charge. Karen grazes her horses for two or three hours first thing in the morning and again in the evening while making camp.
Stop at stream crossings during the day to offer your horses a drink. Try to make camp within a half-mile of a good stream or lake and take your horses to water in the evening and morning. Leave-no-trace guidelines recommend keeping stock and gear at least 200 feet from lakes, streams, trails and other camps. Karen avoids turning her horses out in wet areas, which are easily damaged by animals that weigh over a half ton and can sink up to their fetlocks in mud.
“You’re trying to leave no trace,” she says, “and a horse on marshy ground is going to leave post holes. The whole idea [to this type of camping] is that no one will know you’ve been there.”
You can pack everything you need into saddlebags, an oversized cantle bag and roomy horn bags. The Braggs fill their cantle bags with a sleeping bag, an air mattress or sleeping pad, a sturdy tarp, a lightweight two-person tent and a change of clothes. After Karen stuffs all this into the cantle bag, she cinches it down with a couple of straps, squeezing the air out until it fits comfortably behind her saddle.
One rider’s saddlebags carry the kitchen—pots and pans, utensils and the stove. The other riders fill their saddlebags with food. Horn bags are for personal gear like toothpaste, hairbrush, sunscreen and cameras. Each rider carries a bathroom kit—a reclosable plastic bag with toilet paper, a small folding shovel and other necessities—and follows leave-no-trace techniques to dispose of human waste. Karen packs a basic first-aid kit for people and horses, and makes her own fly wipes by putting a piece of terrycloth in a reclosable plastic bag and pouring fly spray over it.
How you attach the various bags depends on what type of saddle you use. Western saddles, which have more connection points, can be easier to load than English saddles, but Karen’s daughter rides English and carries her full share of gear. Saddlebags and horn bags need to be balanced, both for the horse’s comfort and to keep them from slipping. Weigh each side at home to see how you’re doing.
Ultralight Gear
The gear you’ll need falls into two categories—camping and horse equipment.
Any good outdoor store, and a number of print and online catalogs, offer a fine selection of lightweight camping gear. Karen Bragg warns against extremely lightweight pots and pans, which can make balancing the weight in saddlebags difficult. You’ll find, though, that most backpacking gear is suitable for horse packing.
Look for camping gear in the Campmor and REI catalogs, and other outdoor sports suppliers.
(800) 226-7667;
REI (Recreational Equipment Inc.)
(800) 426-4840;
Country Supply offers a “campsite in a cantle bag” from Sportz Pac that includes a two-person tent, two sleeping bags, two campstools and a carrying/cantle bag. In their catalog you’ll also find a highline kit and an assortment of saddlebags and horn bags.
Country Supply
(800) 637-6721;
Outfitters Supply offers the TrailMax system for “overnighting with saddle horses only,” as well as many additional trail ride and packing items, including neoprene hobbles and collapsible water buckets.
Outfitters Supply
(888) 467-2256;
Once you’ve settled on your gear and how to pack it, practice loading your horse at home. Take a short ride and check that your knots and buckles are holding, and that the gear is staying in place. You want everything snugged down tightly enough that you can trot for a short distance without too much flapping or banging around.
Karen expects her horses to tote one rider and a maximum load of about 45 pounds. The cantle bags weigh about 20 pounds and the saddlebags 15, for a total of 35 pounds behind the saddle. Horn bags carry up to 3 pounds.
Camp Cooking
A typical menu for the Braggs includes oatmeal or pancakes and ham for breakfast, tuna sandwiches for lunch on the trail, and packaged noodle or rice meals for dinner.
Karen’s secret for packing food is repackaging. She opens boxes, cuts out the preparation instructions, and repackages the contents and instructions into reclosable plastic bags. She buys tuna or preseasoned cooked hamburger in pouches, uses powdered milk and replaces butter, which could spoil on the trail, with salad oil.
“We eat pretty good,” Karen says. “It wouldn’t be something you’d do at home, but at 6,000 feet it’s kind of amazing to cook like that.”
You can freeze your first dinner the night before you set out. By the time you make camp the following day the meal will be thawed and ready to warm up over the stove.
You’ll need a water filtering or purifying system, available from most outdoor equipment stores or catalogs, to treat drinking water from streams or lakes.
Horse Management
The Braggs use highlines to secure their horses at night. They carry the highline equipment—50 feet of mountain-climbing rope, tree-saver straps and knot-eliminator hardware—in a cantle bag on a western saddle. Horses that tend to paw while tied are hobbled by both front feet to stop them from digging holes in the highline area.
For grazing hobbles, Karen uses a halter, a single neoprene cuff hobble, and a 12- inch trailer tie with a quick-release or “panic” snap on one end and a bull snap on the other. The quick release is fastened to the hobble, the bull snap to the halter, below the chin. Once hobbled, the horse cannot lift his head or run, but can walk easily, even across rough ground.
“You’re talking about horses that have worked pretty much all day long, or stood on a highline all night,” Karen says. “You put them on grass with this hobble, and they don’t want to pick their heads up.”
Where there are horses, there is horse manure. The leave-no-trace guidelines specify dumping animal waste at least 200 feet from water, trails or campsites. Karen says that spreading it out is even better.
“One pile of manure will sit there for months,” she says. “If you kick it around, the little road apples will dry and dissolve and be gone in a week or two.”
For the same reason, don’t let your horse stop on the trail to make a deposit. Keep him moving, and the manure will naturally scatter behind him, speeding up decomposition and causing less bother for other trail users.
After they break camp, the Braggs scatter the manure in the grazing and highline areas and fill in any holes the horses may have left. They drag a dead branch over the area, followed by handfuls of pine needles, to erase the signs of their presence.
“We walk away and look back,” Karen says, “and you’d swear nobody had been there.”
Backcountry Horse Training
Your horse needs to be in good physical condition for this kind of trail riding. He should be able to walk cross-country, go up and down steep slopes, and cross logs and streams. He should be comfortable carrying saddlebags that may rattle or snag on trees. He should stand quietly while tied, and you should be able to pull a jacket on without dismounting.
Backcountry horses need to be well trained for rider safety but also, Karen emphasizes, in order to protect the environment. A horse that paws while tied to a tree compacts the soil, which not only leaves an unsightly ring but can damage or kill the tree. A horse that fights his rider at a stream crossing is not only dangerous but tramples the bank and pushes sediment into the water.
Practice with your horse at home. Teach him to tie and stand patiently. Rig your highline and tie him the way you will in camp. Longe him with saddlebags filled with rattling empty pop cans. Make a point of crossing water, logs and other obstacles during your regular rides.
Try to schedule a farrier visit a week or two before your trip. New shoes that are going to come off usually do so within a few days of shoeing. You don’t want to take your horse into the wilderness at the tail end of the shoeing cycle either, when clinches are working loose and hooves are growing long. Carry an Easy Boot or similar protective horse boot, so you’ll have a replacement if he does lose one.
“You are going beyond a day’s ride from the trail head,” Karen says. “That’s the point, after all. You do not want to get yourself or your horse hurt when you are so far away from help.”
To get the most out of ultralight horse packing, start with short trips, refine your gear and packing techniques, and then move on to some of the most beautiful places on earth.
Lee Farren didn't own a horse until she bought one for her 9-year-old daughter. After paying out a truly astonishing amount of money for feed, stall rent, riding lessons, 4H activities, show fees, vet and farrier bills, et cetera, and after spending many hours at the rail observing riding lessons, it dawned on Lee that shecould learn to ride, too. Now the daughter is in college and the horse, a mare named Echo, is grazing in the pasture. Lee trail rides in the mountains of Northeast Oregon.

Elder's Meditation of the Day December 29

Elder's Meditation of the Day December 29
"What you see with your eyes shut is what counts."
--Lame Deer, LAKOTA
Another whole world opens up when we close our eyes and calm our mind. Be still and know; be still and hear; be still and see; be still and feel. Inside every person is a still, small voice. Sometimes it is necessary to close our eyes to shut down our perception in order to see. Try this occasionally when you are talking to your child or spouse, close your eyes and listen to them. Listen to the tone of their voice; listen to their excitement; listen to their pain-listen.
Great Spirit, today, let me hear only what really counts.

Seven Tips to Help Save Horseback Riding Trails

Seven Tips to Help Save Horseback Riding Trails

Don't let another acre slip away. Be proactive and help protect equestrian trails.

By Leslie Potter | August 2011 Extra
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Tips on keeping equestrian-accessable lands availablePublic and private trails that were once open to equestrians are disappearing every day. What can an average trail rider do about it? Plenty. Here are some tips to get started.
  1. Use it or lose it. Here's an easy one: Get out there and use the public trails in your area that are still available to equestrians. It's easier for landowners and decision makers at your local park to close trails to equestrians if there aren't too many riders out there. Be an active, responsible user of your local trails so that the world knows equestrians still exist!
  2. Be a good steward. Pay your dues or fees, clean up after your horse and yourself and obey the posted rules of the trail. This may seem obvious, but even experienced trail riders can get careless. Get your friends or local trail riders' group together for trail maintenance days. Volunteer to clean up trash and move fallen branches from the local equestrian trails. Be the kind of trail user that land managers want to have around.
  3. Join forces. Become a member of your state horse council, local horsemen's group, or trail riding club. Networking with other riders will help you stay abreast of the issues are threatening riders and rural land owners in your area and provide an opportunity to work together toward positive solutions.
  4. Be courteous, even if you don't want to. Yes, equestrians technically have right-of-way on most mixed-use trails, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be considerate. Make every trail user's interaction with an equestrian as pleasant as possible. Smile and say thank you when someone pulls off the trail to let you and your horse pass. When you encounter an oblivious trail user speeding around corners on their mountain bike or letting their dog run amok, assume that they're not malicious, they just don't know better. Saying, "Would you mind holding your dog over to the side while we pass? I don't want him to get stepped on," is a lot more effective then yelling obscenities, even if that's your first impulse.
  5. In fact, make friends with your fellow outdoor recreationalists. We all have similar goals. We want safe, accessible parks and trails in which to enjoy our favorite sports and activities. Speak to local hiking and cycling clubs so you can share concerns and even organize trail maintenance days together. It's a lot better to work through trail conflicts together than to stay isolated from one another and point fingers when problems arise.
  6. Know the facts, and share them. Horses often get blamed for having a negative impact on the environment, but research has shown otherwise. For example:
    • Research from the Delaware National Heritage Program showed that horses and riders were generally less disturbing to wildlife than joggers, hikers and even photographers.
    • Several studies have shown that waste left behind by horses on the trail did not have an adverse effect on water supplies.
    • Horses are often implicated in causing accelerated trail erosion, but studies have shown horses do not cause more erosion than human foot traffic or natural environmental processes. Get more information at
  7. Call your senator. Many riders enjoy riding in state and national parks and in national forests. Sometimes, these trails are closed or reclassified with little input from users. By knowing what's going on in your state and national government, and rallying your fellow trail riders, you can make sure your voice is heard. Believe it or not, those phone calls and letters to your senator or representative do matter. Keep up with national issues through the American Horse Council, the Equine Land Conservation Resource, and Back Country Horsemen of America.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Elder's Meditation of the Day December 28

Elder's Meditation of the Day December 28
"I believe that being a medicine man, more than anything else, is a state of mind, a way of looking at and understanding this earth, a sense of what it is all about."
--Lame Deer, LAKOTA
The Medicine Wheel explains different ways of looking at the world. The four directions are the East, the South, the West, and the North. In the East is the view of the eagle. The eagle flies high and sees the earth from that point of view. The South is the direction of the mouse. Moving on the earth, the mouse will not see what the eagle sees. Both the eagle and the mouse see the truth. The West is the direction of the bear. The bear will see different from the mouse and the eagle. From the North comes the point of view of the bison. To be a Medicine Man you must journey through all points of view and develop the mind to see the interconnectedness of all four directions. This takes time, patience, and an open mind. Eventually, you understand there is only love.
Great Spirit, today, allow my mind to stay open.

Hollow Horn Bear 1850-1913