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Monday, October 19, 2009

A year ago yesterday....

Farley did her first AERC ride.

On 10/18/08 I completed the 30 mile Del Valle Vulture Venture in Livermore.

I came in first with a blistering time of 4:57 (you can see that the ride was very competitive.... :).

I am going to resist the urge to recap the 2009 season because there will be a place for that in other posts, but, I feel like I do need to speak briefly on what Farley has accomplished over the past year.

Farley bowed her left front tendon 2 weeks after I bought her, (Thanksgiving 2007). I had purchased her as a backup for Minx, while rehabbing her through 2 bowed tendons. While Minx's problems were my fault (although time has moderated this opinion, and I now know it was probably equally my fault and hers), Farley's was a pure product of fate. When Minx bowed her tendons I was devastated and cried a lot. When I heard Farley's diagnosis I just had to laugh. I had done everything right and sh*t still happens.

It was a bumpy start to a very rich, rewarding relationship.

I carefully rehabbed Farley through the dark winter months of 2008. Her prognosis was excellent and the bow very mild. I did ground work and taught her to ground-drive. We built a relationship and trust.

In the early spring (remember this is California so spring = February! :) I started Farley undersaddle again. Minx was the focus of my spring 2008 endurance season, but I got some good conditioning rides on Farley. After a disastrous ride at Mount Diablo 2008 in June on Minx (and her last endurance ride), I started riding Farley seriously.

Farley gradually transformed from a sway backed, rump high, potbelly broodmare that was tense ALL the time; to a lovely, affectionate mare that thinks for herself and chooses me as her preferred companion, and knows her job as an endurance horse.

In October, we did our first ride - an LD close to home - and she did fabulously. 3 weeks later we finished another LD, this time after heavy rains in slick mud. I swore I would never do another LD on her and signed her up for the 55 at Desert Gold 4 weeks later. She finished the 55 tired, but strong, and I knew I had my endurance horse.

She's had an incredible year - multi days, a 65 miler, and a Tevis start.

I've ridden her more cautiously and have kept an eagle eye on that LF tendon because of the bow. Each ride was ridden as to keep her sound for the next one. As a result, we've probably been more successful. There's only been one hitch in our gittyup - after the 20 mule team 65 the tendon was slightly ouchy again. Not ouchy enough to keep us from completion (or, according to the vet after ultrasounds, to stop riding), but enough to give pause, see the vet and reiterate the importance of attending to the basics (6 sandy flat rides after training in hills and rocks probably wasn't the smartest....).

She's had one pull so far - Tevis - and it was unrelated to her old bow (thank goodness!!!).

So what's ahead in the next year?

I'm not sure, but I have a feeling there's a whole lot more to come.
  • We've signed up for dressage lessons and have our first show in 2 weeks.
  • We are training for the regional cavalry competitions and are diligently practicing our sword and pistol work.
  • We'll try our hand at another 100 miler in January or February.
  • In 3 weeks we have our first barefoot/booted endurance ride 50 miler!

I always thought it would be Minx that I would be riding 10 or 15 years from now, maybe taking the trails a bit slower, but still enjoying life. If Farley is looking to fill that spot, she'll hear no objections from me!

Happy trails.


  1. Happy anniversary to you both!

    I have bumbled happily along without any leg injuries so far - what is the problem with rocky hills and flat sandy trails? I have been assuming long sloooow miles will keep Dixie sound. I hope so anyway.

  2. Sometimes the unexpected is the greatest gift! Glad you are building that perfect relationship with Farley. Wishing you two many more happy trails. ~E.G.

  3. Thank you everyone.

    Funder - the issue is that my conditioning miles were not the same as the ride terrain. Farley's muscles were conditioned to deal with variation in elevation (up and down) and she's legged up for rocks. Flats, alhtough it seems easier, uses different muscles than climbing up and down hills....and sand is a different animal from rocks. Anytime I'm doing terrain that I don't conditioin on, I try to be very conservative because her body isn't conditioned for it and therefore is susceptable to strains.

    I think you are on the right track. I haven't been donig this a LONG time, but from what I've read from the folks that have, long slow miles are the way to go. Mileage is not necessarily hard on the horse, speed can be.

  4. Thanks for the explanation - that makes sense now. :)


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