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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

More thoughts on Desert Gold

FYI - I changed the side bar info a bit (you know - new year and all least that's a good excuse for my continual tinkering!).

As I reviewed the Desert Gold ride-recap I realized I had more thoughts I wanted to add. In my head-cold fog, I wrote down the 3 thoughts on a piece of scrap paper, so I wouldn't forget. Upon reviewing said scrap paper several days later, I cannot for the life of me decipher the first thought. So I present you with the TWO further thoughts from Desert Gold.

(Pictured: The one and only pic from Desert Gold. This was at the lunch check. It was rainy and she was STRONG. Not condusive to picture taking)

Race Strategy
I kept pace with a very nice women from England trying qualifying for FEI. This was a prep ride for her horse and she had a very specific strategy: Canter the flats, trot the uphills, walk the downhills. And she stuck with this program the entire race. Her horse had a very cute canter and jog, which means they were traveling at a similar pace to me…..speaking of, what is my race stategy?

In general, I trot the flats and gradual hills, walk steeper hills and down hills. Or at least, that’s how it is SUPPOSE to go. In reality, if Farley isn’t relaxed, she doesn’t get to trot very fast. Once she is relaxed she can go like a bat out of hell if she wants, as long as it is a trot and she is RELAXED. Occasionally we both have some fun and I let her charge up a hill or go really fast on a straight flat part.

So we walk a lot, we speed trot a lot.

We DON’T do a lot of slow trotting or jogging.

We DON'T do extended periods of cantering.

Normally we do NOT charge up or down hills at unreasonable speeds (are you listening Farley?).

(Pictured: drying everything out on Matt's front lawn).

As long as she’s relaxed and has great attitude we book it on down the trail. However, we’ve also been on the trail a LONG time at a SLOW pace because that is what was needed for her to screw her brain back on.

I could formulate a plan and stick with it during a ride….But I love adjusting to what I feel like, what Farley feels like, and the terrain of the ride. After all, we are both there to have fun. As long as we are riding MY ride and I have general guidelines, why not scream like a banshee and let ‘r rip sometimes, dashing along on single track with the intensity of a Olympic skier doing the schloam? (is this even a sport? I'm envisioning hunkering down and skiing down a hill, avoiding flags at TOP speed. But as I don't ski, I could have just made this up). Other times we go painfully slow, stopping to snap a picture of a picturesque pond, or walking slowly to enjoy the scent of pines and muffled hoofboots on the forest floor.

I was impressed with the English women’s dedication to her plan, she was riding someone else’s horse and was trying to qualify for a specific thing, so it probably served her well. I don’t think it’s for me, right now – my life is too structured and planned. I need spontaneity in endurance.

(Pictured: Left hind boot. See how the velcro folds up from the bottom? I think it happens because the boot slides against the front boot. This was much worse at the Oroville ride, so I think that the improvement in her movement, as evidenced by the velcro on the boot may be one reason we didn't have any boot malfunctions. Also, this is the only boot whose velcro showed wear - it's starting to fray at the top - probably because of the sand.)

A pulse back into camp
Last year, Friday was a single loop out of camp. To my dismay, this year it was 2 loops out of camp….that meant I was going to have to pulse into camp…..

I’ve only had to do this once with Farley. It was a nightmare. The pulse down area was right outside of camp and she was HIGH. She knew where camp was and wanted to get there and didn’t understand why she couldn’t go and eat when her trailer was right there across the road.

I was nervous and stressed about the pulse down for lunch for the entire first loop. It TOTALLY a non-issue…..ride management had set up the pulse box right in the middle of camp. Farley was relaxed because she was in camp and it was a no-stress situation. Yeah! I wish the other rides would do this instead of setting up the pulse area outside of camp. I’m sure this will get better as she does it more. I'm am very lucky to be in the west where most of the rides are single loops or point-to-point.

(Pictured: After finding sores on her hind inside fetlocks after Oroville, the hind boots went back on for the Desert Gold ride. I'm glad I did! That sand is you see how the bottom strap is worn away? That wasn't like that before the ride!)

Last of all I have pics of Matt's "puppy" that kept me company on his lawn while I scrubbed and dried everything from the ride.

Just 10 months ago she fit in my lap!


  1. Great "puppy"! They do grow up so quickly, don't they?

    Here's a technique that I used with the Toad in years gone by that *might* help Farley calm down at pulse boxes where she is high and frustrated:

    About a quarter mile from the vetcheck, I would dismount, loosen the cinch if Toad wasn't being a total Toad, drop his bit, and feed him a granola bar. His favorite food in the entire world is those Nature Valley granola bars in the green wrapper--oat and honey, I think. I would take one bite and he would get the rest. The routine was a cue to him that he was about to enter the vet check, and thus could "power down." The granola bar also raised his blood sugar a tad, making him FEEL hungry. I only gave him that kind of granola bar before the vetcheck--not in training or on the trail, so he knew that after that taste, it was time to relax and chow down. For him, it worked, although it took about 3 rides before he figured out the cue ---> response thing.

    Let me know if it works for you. Those one-rat studies can be helpful, but aren't always, and I'd like to hear if it's helpful.

  2. I'll let you know. One problem I have is that in-camp vet checks are so rare that I don't really get a chance to work on it - probably only one or 2 a season. It will be interesting to see how she does at future rides - I'll keep you posted on this one-rat study :)

    I might have had issues at that one ride because I trotted in - not usually an issue at out-vet-checks. For Desert Gold, I dismounted and walked in because it was the middle of camp, I had to cross a road, etc etc. That may have been the deciding factor, not the location....

    I agree, NV in the green wrappers are my horse's FAVORITE treats. She'll hear the wrapper and if I say "want a treat?" she turns around and takes it from the saddle. It would be easy to restrict this to just prior to a vet check.

  3. I don't like the idea of having a set stratagy. On conditioning rides I always had "rules" for Lucy, but never had to worry about following them because she would take care of that herself, she refused to over do it or go to fast up hills.
    With Ocean, I found that I really did have to enforce the rules upon myself because he had no rules or limitations himself. I didn't fare very well there!
    I now think I prefer Lucy who won't allow you to push her past a certain point, or she will make sure she gets enough rest before you push her some more.
    I think at this point I prefer a horse that takes care of itself to a horse that you have to worry about letting go too much.

  4. By the way, I LOVE the new sidebar! And not just because I am in it! Hehe!

  5. Sure has nothing to do with the fact hat of the hundreds of comments here, your's made the cut! :) :) It is an AWSOME comment and I REALLY wish I had thought of it myself!

    BTW - the Fit to Ride book is out of the queue because I have the review written, just not posted yet. I wrote it on binder paper (the old fashion way!) over sushi and haven't finished transcribing it. I'm still reading it (did a heavy skim for the review) so I'll contact you about giving it back in a couple of weeks.....want to go back and read some of the chapters in more detail.

  6. I wonder if you could teach the "relax and eat" cue on a training ride? Plan on two loops out from the trailer, and when you get close to the trailer, dismount and treat her. Then let her eat and drink at the trailer, then do a second loop.

    Beautiful puppy! :3


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