Desert Horses

Welcome to my horse blog, Desert Horses. We live in the desert southwest, near Palm Springs, CA, but board our horses up in our local mountains where it is cooler in the summer. I have 4 horses, all rescues. Here is the ranch up the mountains where the horses stay.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Our beautiful German Shepherd is gone...RIP Rommel 2003-2011

Rommel, our beautiful German Shepherd, died 5 minutes after we arrived home tonight.  It was as if he hung on to life until we entered the house.  Then, his job was done, and he quietly passed.  My husband and I sat with him and stroked him until he was gone.  It's never easy losing a it a cat, dog, or horse.  Rommel was our third German shepherd and we had bought all 3 of them from different breeders in Riverside.  Our first one, Metternich ("Nick") was a huge, mostly black shepherd.  He HATED all men except my husband.  For some reason, he especially hated my grandfather!  Go figure...Grandad had dogs his whole life.  I remember one time we were renting a house about a block from my in-laws.  It was in Rancho Mirage and open desert was near it.  We had a 6 foot wooden fence in the back yard.  One evening a coyote jumped OVER the fence, saw Nick out there in the back, and I swear, he tried to stop mid-air!  I've never seen an animal do a U-turn so quickly BACK over the fence!  Nick was always very protective of me.  He lived to be 10 years old.  Our second shepherd, Maverick, we bought from a lady breeder who actually lived in Jurupa, which is next to Riverside.  She kept him because he had a floppy ear.  We didn't care, we loved him too.  Maverick hated every vet we ever took him to for shots...he would growl and I finally had to just muzzle him.  Turns out, one vet at PetCo said to him, "Oh, KNOCK IT OFF!" and gave him a cookie!  He was the only vet who Maverick loved!  Unfortunately, he was cursed with hip dysplaysia and we had to put him to sleep when he was 9.  He loved our son and all his high school friends and would play with the boys for hours.  Rommel, our last shepherd, we purchased from a different breeder in Riverside, out on Victoria Avenue.  There were 9 puppies in his litter.  Somebody recently asked about how much to spend on a dog.  Well, Rommel was the most expensive we paid for a shepherd and he had the most medical problems.  After he was about 3 years old, I noticed he was losing hair, so I took him to one vet down here in the desert.  They did a skin scan and said he had mange and wanted $1,600 to fix this.  Er, uh...I don't think so, so I took him up to an old vet up in Anza, where I board my horses.  He did a skin scan and found 1 mite, so thought it was something else.  He did blood work and for 2 years of treatment, he came up with 2 different diagnoses...either canine lupus or something else, which my mind has blocked...thyroid?  Anyway, after 2 years of baths and medications, last spring, my aunt suggested I take a day off and drive Rommel down to San Diego (she offered to pay for the exam) to her dog dermatologist.  So, off we went.  $600 later, this vet also couldn't come up with a clear diagnosis, but sent us home with more sprays and ear cleaners and medicated shampoos.  In the meantime, Rommel continued to lose his hair.  He still had energy and played with our other two dogs, but I noticed after the last day of school this month, the spark had gone out of his eyes and he wasn't eating on a regular basis.  We went to Arizona and our son reported that he didn't eat the whole time we were gone.  I tried to get him to eat when we got home and finally wet his food and he ate it with some warm water.  Then, we left for an annual family Christmas dinner with my sister-in-law up in Napa.  Our son, who stayed behind because he had to work, phoned us to tell us Rommel wasn't eating at all and was extremely thin.  He made him a little bed in the house, gave him extra water, but when we arrived home, Rommel lived only for about 5 minutes and then was gone.   It's very quiet without my buddy, but my husband and I have talked and we don't think we can support breeders who so carelessly or thoughtlessly continue to breed dogs who don't live long lives and who have medical problems, like our last two shepherds.  Rommel was only 8 years old and his last few years, well, they involved a lot of trips to vets.  We have Ripley, our black lab mix, who is a mutt, and is by far the smartest dog we've ever had and she was free at the swap meet.  We also have our son's Weimeraner, Atticus, but he's getting up there in years (I believe he's 7).  So, our house is a lot quieter tonight.  RIP Rommel 2003 - 2011. Here are some photos of him when he was about a year old.  He was a bright, curious, intelligent dog and never growled at anybody, vet or not.  We miss you, old friend.  He used to LOVE to come with me and visit the horses.  He would sniff them and then go sit down far enough away that he was out of harm's way.  They all accepted him and none of them ever tried to hurt him.  He was a good dog.  It's just a shame that breeders can't be more responsible for these wonderful animals and make sure they don't have health problems or issues. They are wonderful working dogs and family dogs, but it's a shame they are so thoughtlessly and carelessly bred.  Rommel was actually the offspring of an "unplanned" mating between his father and mother.  Another dog was actually chosen to be the father, but that didn't happen.  I've often wondered if his litter mates had the same health problems that he had.  And, YES, we visited the breeder...twice...before we brought him home.  So, it seems to me that price has nothing to do with the quality of the dog.  A secretary at my school had a shepherd who lived to be 14.  I think my husband and I need some "down" time.  While we appreciate the loyalty and devotion of a German Shepherd, we honestly don't wish to ever go through this again.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Riding lessons!!!!

Sit down!  I emailed a friend of my cousin, Valerie, and she offered to help me with riding lessons next week. She has a well-trained gaited horse that I'm going to ride.  I actually have 3 weeks off for winter break, which is one more than we usually have, so I have an extra week off school.  Hubby goes back to work on the 3rd (THANK GOODNESS!), so I've set up 3 lessons next week.  I'm so anxious and excited...I only hope that my legs can take it and don't cramp.  Also, I'm so nervous around horses if I even THINK of getting up on one, but I've decided that I need to do this.  If these lessons work out, I want her to take me back to the beginning and really be critical.  She knows about my back problems and my fear of riding, so I'm hoping to overcome both of these issues and get back on a horse again.  It's NOW or NEVER!


Well, it took us 6 hours to do a 4 hour drive yesterday!  The traffic was that bad!  We left at 11:00 a.m.  We SHOULD have arrived in Buellton by 3:00.  We arrived after 5 p.m.  We hit traffic on the 210 going into Pasadena (for Santa Anita's opening day), so we got off the 210 and went down to the 10 and then the 101 through downtown Los Angeles.  Yeah...uh...not such a good idea.  From Los Angeles all the way to Santa Barbara, traffic slowed down to 10 mph.  I have no idea why so many folks were out on the freeways!  We did get to view a spectacular sunset from our car, which was going 5 mph on the freeway, but the cameras were in the back and I wasn't about to stop and get them out!  We could see the Channel Islands off in the distance, surrounded by fog, which has moved into Buellton this morning.  We will NOT be coming home this way.  I think we'll take a straight shot down Interstate 5...

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Day with the herd

It was a quiet Christmas Day down here in the desert.  Hubby and I drove over to our son's house so our grandson could open his presents.  He's into trains and we bought him a wooden train set and some engines.  That kept him busy for HOURS!  And, he took a 3 hour nap!  So, after the opening of the presents, I headed up the mountain to unload 3 bags of pellets, to check on everybody, and to put up some treats and a jolly ball apple for Quad.  He seemed alarmed by the jolly ball, but I'm sure his curiosity will get the best of him.  They all got a Christmas Day treat of pellets and some oil, as it has been below freezing up there....29 degrees this morning. I got my Nikon back from the shop, but I need to adjust its settings, as you can see!  The viewfinder is now fixed and it's good to have my backup camera back!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all my friends and followers.  I haven't had a decent day up with the horses, but today we're going to our son's for breakfast, then I'll dash up the hill, unload 3 bags of pellets, feed everyone a nice Christmas day extra meal, dash back down the hill, and have dinner with our son's family.  Phew!  What a day! The horses are all fine and wooly! Cathy and Bill are getting ready for the Rose Parade.  Look for the Southern California Peruvian Paso Association's horse group. They do the Rose Parade every year.  Have a wonderful holiday.  See you next week!  For those of you who follow Joe at TB Friends, he'll be posting this morning about Magic, the horse he is getting from the feedlot today.  I can't wait to see Magic!  Photo is Canyon Lake, Superstition Mountains, Arizona.

Friday, December 23, 2011


After stopping by Lake Pleasant, we headed over to Wickenburg, AZ to find some lunch.  We stopped at Nana's Sandwich Saloon and got some sandwiches (I bought the vegetarian one), then headed out to look at the cottonwoods at the regional park.  However, it was quickly getting too dark to photograph them, so we headed back to Scottsdale.  I'd like to spend more time in Wickenburg sometime when we aren't in such  rush!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Horse having fun!!!

I'm not sure if this was his feed tub or his water tub, but this buckskin was throwing it around when we drove by the other afternoon in Cave Creek.  I caught a glance of something moving as we drove by, so I stopped and backed up.  Yup.  He picked up the tub in his teeth and threw it!  Over and over! Sorry about the photos being so dark, but it was late afternoon and very cloudy and DARK!  I tried lightening them up with Picasa and this was as light as I could get them without them becoming grainy.  Does anyone else use something besides Photoshop (which I don't have) to edit photos? I noticed on one of my other blogs that I've used my 1 MB of storage and now I'll have to buy more on Picasa (Google)...sigh...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Horses sighted~Cave Creek Park

Well, I got my horse fix today!  Hubby and I were up at the Cave Creek regional park when I spotted a group of riders out on the trail.  We had taken a picnic lunch there, after stopping by a nearby AJ's store.  Hubby had a ham sandwich and I had a green salad and vegetarian garden soup.  It was cold and the clouds were getting darker and darker, but we did a little hiking and took some photos before the raindrops started.  This group was on a trail ride from the stables there at the park.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Scenes from Arizona

Hubby and I are spending a few days over in Arizona.  It rained all the way here yesterday and it was cloudy and cold all day here today, but we are enjoying a change of scenery, like these pics!  The first one I took from Interstate 10, when the clouds were hanging around the mountains.  I took the second one today at Canyon Lake, late afternoon, when the sun was hitting the cliffs and turning them golden!

Saturday, December 17, 2011


Well, I'm grounded by hubby today.  I was all set to drive up the mountain to go visit the horses and give Cathy my boarding check, but hubby woke up in time to ground me.  It's snowing up in the mountains and I drive up some areas over 5,000 feet to get to the horse ranch.  Chains are required by the department of transportation, and I'm just not going to take a chance driving up there.  I called Cathy and talked to her and she said it wasn't snowing at the I guess I'll just stay home and take it easy today.  It is drizzling here in the desert and I may just go out later and run some errands.  I did go to the park this morning to feed the ducks again.  There's one duck who gets fed by tugging on people's pants and he did it to me again this morning!  He doesn't hurt, but he makes his point clear:  FEED ME!  I'll try to get some photos of him tomorrow morning, if it isn't so darn dark and dreary!!!!  In the meantime, here are some pics from last week, right after the snow storm at that time. These photos were taken at 5,000 feet elevation, which is about 500 feet higher than the horse ranch.  It didn't have any snow, but you can see it here at these ranches.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Snow and fences~Friday Fences~121611

After the recent snow storm this week, I drove around Garner Valley looking at the snow on the fences there.  The snow made everything look completely different.  Everything was cold and white.  Snow sat on the white fences as well as the tall grasses outside one fence.  Another storm may be heading this way this weekend, so more snow may be on the way.  Friday Fences for December 16, 2011. To visit more of Friday Fences, please go to this link:

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Mountain drive and SNOW

I took a drive up to the mountains yesterday because, frankly, I was bored.  There is only so much TV I can watch and by 8:00 a.m., I was itchin' to get outdoors. After 3 days of being home, I'd reached my limit!!!  I took some photos of the roses in the park because I figured they would have water from the rain on them (they did), then looked up at the mountains. I just HAD to see how much snow they got (insert eye roll...)  Yes, I took a run up the mountain...sigh...I'm actually glad that I did because it wore me out!  It had snowed earlier that morning and everything was covered with snow, including houses, fences,, bushes, and pine trees!  :-)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I'm back! and How do you destress?

Really?  Did you think I'd stay away for weeks?  Nah.  Actually, I'm home with a case of the flu...body ache, headache.  I can feel bronchitis settling in.  Oh, boy!  I'm staying home again today and that means I'll only have 2 1/2 days for the rest of the week to muddle through.  I was reading Nancy's blog over at A Rural Journal and she got me thinking about what she said.  She was discussing how she relaxes, especially during this holiday season.  I think part of the reason I'm sick now is that last week was very stressful with parent conferences.  I mean, I went to school Thursday, after staying at school until 7:00 p.m. Wednesday, like a zombie.  And, then I had more conferences on Thursday.  Friday...forget it.  I don't even remember Friday.  So, how do I "de-stress"????  I go visit my horses.  Which is impossible right now as our mountains just got snow down to 4,000 feet and the mountain roads are CLOSED to all vehicles except those that are 4 wheel drives or have chains.  I don't know how to put on chains and I wouldn't drive up there anyway today...But, I also destress by taking my camera out with me and stopping and taking photos.  And, I did that yesterday morning when I ran out to the grocery store.  Believe me, I stayed inside for the rest of the day, but I'm out of stuff for lunch, so I'll need to run out again today!  Oye!  And, being on a vegetarian diet is extremely difficult and stressful because hubby came home with a COSTCO chicken and mashed potatoes last night.  UGH!  I ate a cheese burrito and a small salad with avocado.  He just doesn't get it and that's making more stress!  I also love watching movies and TV shows, so yesterday I rewatched "Cowboys and Aliens" (since we bought it on Sunday and I had 12 hours left to view it) and the latest HOMELAND.  I also caught up on Covert Affairs (2 episodes).  Anyway, here are some of the photos I took yesterday morning, on my way to the store. I find the roses very calming.  How do you destress?  To visit Nancy's post, please follow this link:

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Glued meat video

I know, I know...I promised to go away for a few weeks, but I'm back already!  My friend Barb sent me the link to this video about butchers and major chains who are glueing meat scraps together to make filets.  If THIS isn't enough to make you quit eating meat!  I am so glad I've given it up!  Here's the link to the video:  The main idea is that butchers are putting together scraps of meat with a glue made up of coagulants (which are unhealthy) and then selling the meat as filets.  Even a real butcher can't tell the difference, BUT...this meat has a high bacterial count and can make you sick.  UGH!  I'm glad I'm eating organic lettuce and dandelion greens!  I really do need to cleanse my body and system and get rid of all the toxins!  :-)

Taking a blogging break

Winter break is almost here and I had a busy week last week with parent conferences and I'm exhausted.  I haven't even made it up to the horses today and it's nearly noon!  Plus, another arctic storm is barreling down the coast and even the horse ranch will be getting snow by next Tuesday (a snow advisory has already been issued for our local mountains, with estimates of snow down to 4,000 feet!!!).  I really need a break.  I have two other major blogs and since we'll be traveling during the winter break, I'm going to focus on them.  In case you are interested, they are: (Deep Canyon) and Deserts and Beyond at  I may update my desert southwest blog, also, since we'll be traveling to Arizona.  It is  So, please, enjoy your friends and family during this time.  If I get some decent photos of the horses tomorrow, I may post them, otherwise I'll see 'ya all in a few weeks!
~~Cheryl Ann~~

Friday, December 9, 2011

Why I'm going vegan

I'm DONE eating the meat of animals.  No more beef, no more chicken, no more ham.  PERIOD.  I simply cannot do it anymore, especially after the decision to fund inspection of horse slaughter houses.  Ugh..I've been "meat-free" now for a week and I feel so much better!   I bought organic greens and dandelion greens for dinner tonight, along with a half a tomato and half an avocado.  It was delicious!  I've been eating bean and cheese burritos for lunch at school and I feel GREAT!  I have more energy and my digestive system isn't bogged down by having to digest DEAD ANIMALS!!!!!!!!  I bought some organic dates this afternoon, along with the other items, and I enjoy them.  Please DO NOT email me with your comments about horse slaughter being humane.. NOBODY is going to change my mind on this.  Please respect my personal decision.  Thank you. UPDATE:  I've now been meat-free for one week.  My joints no longer hurt or throb and I have more energy!  :-) I'm heading out to my favorite health food store this afternoon to stock up for next week!

Fences and maples~Friday Fences~120911

Well, I survived parent conferences.  And, I can't WAIT for the weekend!!!!!  It should be sunny and clear for the weekend, but a storm front is moving in next Tuesday and it may rain.  Next Friday is our last day of school for .... THREE WEEKS...and it's only 1/2 day.  Yes, the kiddos and I get three weeks' winter break!  In the meantime, this was the view of one of the fences up at the ranch last weekend.  Friday Fences for December 9, 2011. To visit Friday Fences, please go to:

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Becoming vegetarian and letters

I've HAD IT eating meat.  PERIOD.  I frequently pass cattle trucks on the freeway while driving to school in the mornings and afternoons and a couple of times I've pulled up alongside them, only to see the eyes of doomed animals.  I just can't take it anymore.  So, yesterday, I was thrilled when our new principal ordered pizzas for the entire staff (for parent conference night) and 2 of them were... VEGETARIAN!  Yum, yum!  They were covered with mushrooms, red onions (which I peeled off, lest I offend parents!), black olives, green peppers and yes, cheese.  (I still eat cheese, but not meat.)  And, you know what?  I don't have that heavy, bloated feeling in my stomach!  I'm out walking around with my 2/3 combo class for 10 minutes in the morning while they take turns for their bathroom break and yesterday they had a hard time keeping up!  (hehehehehehe!)  I asked the second graders to write a letter to their former teacher telling about their first week in a 2/3 combo class and a couple of letters brought a tear to my eye.  They are afraid.  They are in with older kids (the third graders).  They don't have ANY friends in my room and they miss their friends in their old rooms AND their teachers (or teathers, as one wrote!)  The third graders wrote letters to my husband thanking him for buying speakers for my school laptop as mine in the room have never worked and we can't hear our daily math movie or the PE movie for "inclement" weather days.  They were all adorable!  I heard him chuckling last night as he read them!  It's another afternoon of conferences today and I think we'll take it easy on Friday.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Frost warning tonight for the desert~

We have a frost warning here in the desert tonight which means that the smudge pots will be utilized in the eastern edge of the Coachella Valley.  While driving to school this morning, I saw a haze of smoke across from the turnoff to my school.  I didn't have either of my cameras with me and I was late enough I didn't have time to stop to take photos.  Maybe tomorrow the meantime, Abby, our black cat, is currently curled up on top of the TV's DVR, where she's nice and warm...Daisy, our orange and white tabby, RAN inside and is curled up on one of the big living room chairs, on top of piles of blankets.  Loki, our big white outdoor male cat, is currently asleep on an old blanket which hubby THREW out the front door earlier this afternoon (I'm not quite sure WHY he threw it outside...).  Our son's Weimeraner has his head on my husband's lap on the couch, Ripley, my black lab, is sleeping on the floor at my feet (she's actually ON my foot), and our old German Shepherd is asleep next to our bed, in our bedroom.  Here's a photo of Loki and Daisy from this week, along with the birds that they both LOVE to look at in the front yard!

Busy week ahead~~

I have parent conferences this week, which means that I'll be pretty much insane exhausted by the end of the week.  Last year I had bronchitis during conferences and I sounded like a frog!  This year...knock on wood...I haven't been sick, although the kiddos are coughing and hacking in class.  Hubby has also had some kind of flu for over a week now and he's still very weak (and cranky!).  He has been too tired to cook, so we went out to Mimi's last night.  We've just been having some cheese and fruit for dinner every night, and of course, HE has lost weight (not me, duh...)!  It's that time of the year and I expect some of the kiddos will take off early for vacation in Mexico.  We are already taking an extra week off school to accommodate those families who travel to Mexico to see grandparents, so I'll have 3 weeks off for winter break.  That means a couple of vacations and some extra horse time for me!  Here are some scenes from the horse ranch this past weekend.  There was still snow on the road along the way to the horse ranch, but I thought I'd include some color for those of you who already have snow.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Cali in the shadows

Saturday afternoon was windy and cold up at the ranch.  I didn't get up there in the morning, like I usually do, but drove up mid-afternoon.  And, brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!  It was cold!  It had been freezing the night before.  I wanted to give the horses an extra meal and some oil, so I headed up the mountain.  I got some nice photos of back lighting, which I needed to do for Sunday Stills.  It's so different in the late afternoon!  I saw lots of shadows and lighting that I normally don't see in the morning, including this one of Cali in the shade.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Yucca and fence backlit~Sunday Stills Challenge~120411

This week's challenge was backlighting.  I hadn't really thought about it, but I frequently do this.  And, this weekend provided several opportunities for backlighting.  I found this yucca near one of the fences along the highway.  Sunday Stills Challenge for December 4, 2011.  To visit Sunday Stills Challenge, please go to: