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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Update on renegades and Farley history part 1

Well, I am absolutely swamped at work, so I haven't had a chance to get any of the pictures downloaded and the posts written. It figures that the week I have lots of exciting news, I don't have time to write it up.

Just a quick up date on the renegades - I tried them on Minx's front last night and they fit like a glove. If they had made a mold of MY horse's front feet and called them "size 2", this is how they would have fit. :) She seems very comfortable in them. Since it looks like there isn't going to be a learning curve with the front boots, I ordered hind boots today. Size 1. I have a feeling they aren't going be as perfect as the fronts so I'll probably have to do some adjusting. If they don't work at all, size 1 will fit Farley's fronts once she goes barefoot. It will be a relief to have all 4 boots, because then I'll be ready for a ride if I want to do them.

Now for Farley's history. The breeder has been very helpful. When I go back to school, there might be the opportunity to lease/sell her back to the breeder since she is interested in keeping her bloodlines in her program. I posted Farley's pedigree on (type in "TKR Triforta"). Until I started googling some of the names into google, I didn't realize how well bred she really is. Some of her really close relatives (sire, aunt etc.) are fairly well known. She also has some well known endurance names in her back ground.

Here's excerpt from the e-mail correspondence between the breeder and I. Below, the regular font is the breeder, the italics are my response.

... she was started at the track was too immature at 3, so put her on pasture & ended up breeding her instead of returning her to the track the following year. she had a colt... her pedigree is racing & endurance. she has 3 crosses to the polish mare forta (including tail line). think forta still holds the record (globally/all breeds) for producing the greatest number of race winning get.... the only non-pure polish on your mare's pedigree was via finito, my stud. his dam goes to wazir's karahman a full bro to karaty (sp?) that won the tevis 2-3 times (i think with bc)& set records on that ride. think he is/was in the breed hall of fame. finito, has produced a bunch of race winners/top 5 state & halter winners. mira-finisz, finito's sire was a u.s. top ten pleasure driving, canadian national top 20 eng. pleasure + over 20 regional/resv awards in performance...

Triforta is turning out to be quite a nice little horse and I was just curious what her background was...Very sweet, sensible horse. Safe enough to plunk a beginning rider on, but competitive in a race situation. Takes care of herself during a race. She's a 100 miler horse. We'll either do our first 100 at the end of this season or the beginning of next. She can MOVE. HUGE trot....

Monday, March 30, 2009

Lots of exciting stuff!

EEK! I managed to use 2 of the most hated words (at least according to my mom) in the English language in one title! ("Lots of" and "stuff"). But I don't know how to describe it any other way!
Here's 2 pictures as a teaser.

This weekend I:
1. Broke a new team (pair) in on the breaking cart. Pictured above is my current ambulance team (Gunsmoke and Buttercup). They are busy breaking me in for the new season.....after they were finished with me, I started my new team (Griddlecake and Gringo).
2. Drove Minx for the first time (probably the first time she's been hooked up since the track!. Blurry picture above.
3. Checked out a new trailhead (I should start to put together a comprehensive "central California" trail list for other endurance riders)
4. Received my new Renegade boots!
5. Received a response from Farley's breeder/trainer. I have all sorts of interesting background history on her now.
6. Took comprehensive pictures of the artillery tack. Should be great fodder for a set of educational posts.
So please stay tuned! I have some great material for the next week.

Friday, March 27, 2009

TKR Trifota

is Farley's registered name. While doing some searches today, I found a women who owns several of Farley's half siblings (on the Sire's side). Now, I'm not much interested in breeding, and less interested in "cold-calling" someone, however, the curiosity of where Farley came from and what her history is (with possibly baby pictures???) was I called Anita Culp (she was very nice, so here's link to her website!). She gave me the name of the breeder, which I knew from the paperwork, but haven't gotten in contact with. Anita is going to e-mail me some information/contact information (hopefully e-mail???? I hate calling people).

What I do know about Farley is that she was born in California. She was sold to a horse trainer/seller named Angel in San Jose, who had her about a year, when I purchased her in late 2007. She had one registered baby (colt) while still in possession of the breeder the year before going to Angel. I think I am her third owner (breeder, Angel, and then me).

So what do I want to know?

What the heck happened to her right hind hoof? Was it a wire? Is that why she became a broodmare? (in case I haven't mentioned it, there is a HORRENDOUS old injury to that hoof that I can only IMAGINE what it looked like when it happened. I'll get a picture of it up soon).

She's "broke" but not much training has she had anyways? (maybe I don't want to know....)

Any other information she wouldn't mind sharing - pictures of Farley, Farley's mother (her father was a fairly famous racer so there's a lot of pics around of him). Stories etc. Where is the son right now? What did he end up looking like?

And what I want to tell the breeder:

That Farley is a well-mannered, good-natured mare that has incredible athletic potential. That we are going to be completing our first 100 miler this year. That I am blown away every day with how incredibly sweet and sensitive Farley is. That a horse she bred is doing something is this world and enjoying life.

Practice makes perfect

I'm off to go riding in Monterey area this weekend. I'll also be attending CHAS's annual driver's training so I should have some good reports for you next week. Here's 2 pictures - one taken at a past drivers training, and a few months later at a civil war reenactment at Gibson Ranch (near Sacramento, CA).
After much consideration I'm taking Minx. I still haven't done any civil war stuff on Farley and this would be SO good for her, but Farley is technically still on her "easy" month. In reality I'll be in the saddle a good 5-8 hours each day and I don't want to worry about Farley's tendon. So, I should have several good trail reports, a educational post on artillery tack and function, the same for ambulance tack, etc.
Everyone have great weekend and check back with me next week!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

History Malfunction

Above is a not so lovely picture of Minx. Adam - you might want to shield your eyes. The history malfunctions in this picture are almost overwelming. Does anyone else see it?

This is technically a 1904 Mcclellen Saddle. I have not done any riding in it because I don't trust the leather and haven't ordered new parts yet (this saddle is not a repro, it's an original with original leather...). So shall we list the ways?

1. Toklat woolback dressage pad. Not exactly military issue.

2. Easy ride stirrups. Perfectly suited for the calvary rider...although the original wood, hooded stirrups are dang good.

3. Nylon offside latigo. You can the tail of it under Minx's belly. The fact that the near side latigo broke apart in my hand like cardboard really should have told me something :)

4. 1859 girth. A really short western would have worked. All my girths are a 26". I need a 24" or smaller, but I don't have one. It's really a shame that the rings don't come with 2 english billets instead of those latigo straps. The 1904 girth looks much different than the 1859 girth. And yes Adam, I know I could punch more holes in the quarter straps, I'm just lazy :)

5. 1859 surcingle (the big blue strap going around the saddle). A nice strong strap. All my 1859 gear is repro and I trust the leather. If my quarterstraps break, this bad boy would keep my saddle from flying. NEVER NEVER NEVER use a Mcclellen without a surcingle. Modern Western and English saddles have fail safes in case a billet/girth strap breaks. The surcingle is the Mcclellen's safety strap! The fact I had the surcingle is the ONLY reason I even attempted to ride this saddle in the first place!

How to test ride an old saddle:

1. Time to mount up. It says something when you don't trust the stirrup leathers enough to mount from the ground and you need to use the block. In my opinion, this is what arenas are for - testing out questionable tack (I'm sure everyone here is familiar with my fear of arenas/fences by now).

2. 2 laps around the arena at a walk. Everything is going well. I love the close contact feel. Let's try a little trot. Yes, these stirrups work well on this saddle. POP! Mmm....when a stirrup leather breaks and you stay perfectly centered in the saddle, is that a good reflection on my balance?

3. Take of old saddle and replace with synthetic Thorowgood. Continue ride.

So yes, I really really really hoped I wouldn't have to replace all the leather on this saddle (quarter straps, stirrup leathers) but it is not to be. So off to my saddle shop for replacement parts. Later. :) The 1904 was given to me, so I don't have any $$ invested in it right now. The 1859 Mcclellen is fine for now. Once the 1904 is up and running it will probably going to replace my 1859 as my endurance saddle for Minx. It's cooler, lighter, and has a leather covered tree instead of raw hide - handy if you're riding in rain. My 1859 now has a split near a seam because I rode it in a rainy ride. I'll save the 1859 for civil war reenactments and for long trail rides - I find it's easier to pack a lot of stuff on an 1859. Since I won't be reenacting in the 1904 I'm going to ask the saddle maker if he can give me new rings with english billet straps instead of latigos. This will put less bulk under my leg and allow me to use a dressage girth.

On a different note, here is a not so good picture of Minx's feet yesterday: (taken from the front - she slightly toes out on that LF but not to THAT degree!)

I called Renegade up today (decided not to have them cut down my boots after all - I can always cut down later, but can't add back!). They are shipping my boots TODAY! Wow! They have a lot of inventory right now, so if anyone is looking to order, now is the time. I might have them by the end of the week. BTW - Ashley - I let them know you were being a good ambassador for the boots.

Monday, March 23, 2009

A little Monday Math :)

Several people have commented on the math behind shoes versus I wanted to post this, just in case anyone else was thinking about switching, but was having a hard time making everything add up!

Shoes - Farrier does trimming
Assuming your horse is on 6 week shoeing cycles at $85/shoes. Assume you shoe 5 times a year (this is reasonable for me. The last year is was closer to 4 times): $425
3 trims for pulling shoes/trimming etc at $35/trim: $105
Total cost: $530

Boots - Farrier does trimming
Assuming 6 week trimming cycle (reasonable considering that foot must fit in boot!): $280
Boot cost. Assume renegades and they last 1 year: $360
Total cost: $640 (even if you trimmed every 8-9 weeks the cost is still more)

Boots - Self trimming
Cost of tools (this is estimated because I don't know how often I'll need to replace my rasp): $50
Boot cost: $360
Total cost: $410

The neat thing is that since I have a budget on the computer where I track my spending I'll be able to do an exact cost analysis at the end of the year, between horses (Minx will be booted, Farley will be shod) and between years (2008 versus 2009).

It's more than just the $$$ though (as I think everyone here who boots their horses "gets"). I do NOT want my horses shod more than a total of 9 months out of the year. If I have a horse that is consistantly competing throughout the year, competing with boots will let them have that barefoot period. Like I mentioned before, booting is also about freedom for me - I won't have to worry about shoeing cycles.

Thank you everyone for your public and private posts! I feel like I'm entering a brave new world (in a good way).

Hoof boots

This post is an incredibly wordy way to say I ordered a pair of renegades.

In my previous post, there's a picture of the hoof stand my very talented younger brother welded for me on Saturday. It works WONDERFULLY. I'm thinking of painting it, but probably won't get around to it.

Which brings me to my next point - I have found I LOVE puttering around with my horse's feet. Minx is currently barefoot and I have been doing my own rasping. I had my farrier look at her feet on Thursday to make sure I wasn't missing anything or screwing up any angles, and he pronounced my work good :). I probably rasp and touch up her feet once a week.

In this part of the country hoof protection is REQUIRED for all rides, which is why Farley is currently shod (She's been competing at least every 6 weeks). The ONLY reason I shoe my horses is endurance rides. Minx hasn't done her first ride yet this season so she is barefoot. Both my horses have excellent hooves. (Minx actually completed a 50 last year where hoof protection was recommended, not required - obviously a duck ride!). My horses only get shoes if they are going to a ride in the next 6 weeks, the rest of the time they are barefoot.

Part of the headache of getting to a ride is scheduling shoes to be put on. The farrier comes out to the boarding stable every 3 weeks. So I'm limited. Too bad if I want the shoes reset at 4 weeks because of hoof growth. In fact, the week before Farley was re-shod on Thursday, I didn't ride her because I was uncomfortable with the amount of hoof growth and the angles. Depending on where the ride falls, I might be too close to the beginning or end of a shoeing cycle for my own comfort. I can't decide to go to a ride on a whim. For example, if there was a ride this weekend, I couldn't go because the farrier was out last week and won't be out again for 2 weeks.......which means unless I call the farrier out special (if he's even available!) my horse won't get shoes.

Before I go on, I do want to put a plug in for my farrier - he's WONDERFUL! I've only lost one shoe ever and that was the first set of shoes he put on my Standardbred. He's helpful, nice, and good to look at. He's in high demand in this area and I feel lucky to be able to use him (he has a standing appointment at the stable every 3 weeks for any horses that need to be done). To top it all off - he's affordable! Shoes, including hot shoes with clips, are only $85! Trims are $35. His affordability is one reason it's hard for me to justify going to hoof boots - the boots are going to cost more.

So what's the answer? You might automatically say hoof boots....but it's not that simple. Minx's hooves are not shaped for most hoof boots on the market. Additionally, until I discovered I could do my own trimming, it was much more expensive to pay my farrier to trim AND do hoof boots. However I think it's time to make a what did change?

1. The introduction of the renegade and easy care glue on boot on the market. The renegade was the first boot I could see myself using. The easy care glue-on was the first boot that would actually be cheaper than shoeing my horse.
2. The realization that I could trim my own horses. The realization that I loved doing it.
3. The realization that Minx will be getting a light year. We won't be doing more than 4-5 rides this year, all spread out. I'll have to shoe for 6 weeks, for every single one of those rides.
4. Upon investigation, the renegades can be cut down for length, meaning that they should fit Minx's rounder hooves. Finally a hoof boot that will fit. (at least the front hooves. I'll figure out the backs later)
5. The incredible feedback from Karen Chaton's use of the boots, and Ashley from "Go Pony" about Renegade customer service. Discovering Renegades generous return policy.

So, this post was a long way to say this: I ordered a pair of size 2 yellow renegades for Minx's front feet. I'm having them lop off 3/8" off the length, which should be perfect.

So what's next?

Minx will be my guinea pig. I think keeping Farley in shoes is for the best right now. She wears down her feet MUCH fast then Minx when barefoot, and has an old hoof injury that I worry about (I like having the support of shoes there). Farley is doing more rides and more miles than Minx this year, so the steep learning curve will be with Minx whom I'm using recreationally, rather than on a 100 miler with Farley....I'll reevaluate after a year.

I will need to figure out what I can put on Minx's hinds. I doubt the renegade strapons will work. Perhaps the renegade glueons, which have the ability to be cut down like the strapons. The easy care options (glueons) can't be cut down, which limits me to fit that comes out of the box.

Wish me luck!

The virtures of modern camping and other misc items

Warning - this is going to be LONG....

I took my sister camping over the weekend. (see her blog on the right). It was fun. I took the opportunity to go hiking over the same trails I ride my horses on. WOW! No wonder they are all sweaty :)

We went to Livermore Del Valle. I often do day trips here to train, and there is an endurance ride held here in October. This was the first time I had actually spent the night in the "regular" camp ground. Maybe it's because I'm used to rustic camping in the civil war reenactments, or the bare bones endurance camps, but I (and I believe my sister) were turned off by the RV's, screaming children, tricycles, and radios playing until 10pm etc etc. We had a simple camp with a 2 person tent and a picnic blanket. Most of the time we were either hiking or playing in the river. I guess that's why they make "undeveloped" camping areas. For grouches like me.

I was going to put together the crew bag post this weekend, but after dragging my stuff out, I realized I was getting grumpy because of the very strong wind (I HATE long hair) and the fact that everything was MESSY. I'm obsessive compulsive to a fault about organization, so instead of spent the afternoon cleaning and organizing :). Until I get around to doing a real post, here's a few pictures.
Above is a black tack-box-looking-trunk-that really isn't. It's sold for $45 in the Walmart automotive section. (and how much do you think they would charge if they labeled it as a tack box?). In the trunk pictured above I have ALL of my "ride" items. Everything that I don't need to ride on a daily basis goes into this trunk. That way during a ride, I don't have to go looking for anything. For example my breast collars, cruppers, sheepskin covers, saddle packs, water bottles, slimfast, hand warmers, crew bags are all in this trunk. Along with MOST items that go in my crew bag.
Blogger isn't cooperating with uploading pics, so here is a not-so-good pic of my rolling crew box. It has a lid sturdy enough to sit and stand on (although there is a warning not to stand on it....), a removable tote for smaller items, and a larger area underneath. The dimensions are similar to smaller tack boxes sold in magazines. I bought this one for $60 at sears (technically a rolling tool box). It's extremely useful. When not being used as a crew box, I use it to cart stuff from my trailer to where I tie my horses. In this pic I have farrier tools, a note book, ruler, wormer in it. Underneath the tote is an air mattress, sleeping bag, and pillow, left over from camping. It's SO useful.
I also have a "real" crew bag that I didn't get pictures of.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A spring ride

Last weekend I had a delightful trail ride with family, attended a surprise birthday party for a relative, and planned my riding lesson schedule (with horsemasters, through US Pony Club). It was a lot for one weekend (and a 3 hour drive with the trailer to get there) and it's just today I have started to feel human again!(Eleanor, Ishi, and Cappy going up the trail.)

Saturday's ride was after the surprise birthday party and horsemasters meeting, so needless to say it was late.
(Eleanor and Cappy with the color of the setting sun.)
I knew if we hustled we had a good shot of making it back before dark. We did, but just barely. We went through the last wire gate and were home just as it was so dark you couldn't make out the trail (or whether there was a wire gate in front of you).

(one last shot before the sun sunk. The layers of color on the hills are incredible this time of year).
The loop total was ~7 miles. My cousin I trotted every where we could and it still took us 2 hours. The terrain is SO STEEP and HILLY. There isn't ANY FLATS. I always have to remind myself when I'm riding at Yokhol that it's about the time in the saddle and the hills. It's really hard to do significant mileage here, or keep an "endurance" pace.

Sunday's ride was more relaxed. My aunt joined my cousin and I, and we chose a beautiful, difficult trail. I have always wanted pictures from this trail, but never remembered to bring a camera. It's a LONG steep up hill, some flat, and then a LONG steep downhill. I like this loop because it forces me to get off my horse and work on my own fitness!
(taking a grazing break)

(across wide, slippery rocks. You can see running water at the bottom of the photo. It's amazing how much "self-carriage" a horse has when they are moving careful across questionable footing. Emry - the grey horse - looks absolutely gorgeous in this shot).

(down, down, down, the trail goes)

This was my aunt's first trail ride of the year so we took it easy. There was no trotting, only walking. The 10.5 mile loop took us ~3.5 hours (includes grazing breaks, waiting for people to catch up etc.). Again, it's important for me to keep in mind, that while riding in Yokhol, not to get caught up in mileage and pace. It's all about spending time with family and getting some serious hill workouts in.

BTW - all horsey ears in these shots are Minx. Farley is getting the entire month of March easy (hand walks, jogs etc.). She showed she had plenty of fitness to get through a ride at 20MT, so we are taking a step back and working on speed control, strengthening that left front leg etc.

This will be a light horsey week. I feel that both horses are moving fairly solid. I think my next ride will be Wild West in May for both horses. Last time I took 2 horses to a ride I swore that would be the last time...however I have a short memory and it's starting to seem like a very good idea to take 2 horses to a 3 day ride.....

Monday, March 16, 2009

A brief interlude

I'm in training for work for the next couple of days, so it will be quiet.  I had a great weekend.  I saw family, got to go trail riding, and planned riding lessons for the year.  I got some VVMarchMadness miles in with Minx.  I'll give a report later this week, but I couldn't resist showing off some of the pictures.  The flowers were gorgeous.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Minx's story Part 1

I'll eventually get around to Farley and myself, but I thought I would start with Minx (the Standardbred).

I don't know a lot about Minx's history. According to the partial lip tattoo that she has, her registered name is probably "Linda". She raced as a 4 and 5 year old, but not extensively. She had some top 3 placements but won very little money. Probably she was ~6 years old when picked up at Cal Expo racing track. I've only heard the story third and fourth hand, so I'll try not to speculate too much, but this is what I do know. A women, briefly a part of CHAS was impressed with the Standardbreds we had, so went down to the local track and purchased (I assume) the most beautiful horse she saw.

CHAS uses Standardbreds to pull the cannons and fill other roles in battle reenactments, parades, funerals, etc. Our Standardbreds are carefully selected for temperment because we are working with the public. We give no notice to looks what so ever. In fact, sometimes the uglier the better. That way we can give them names like "Beautiful" and "Good-lookin' ".... To give the breed some credit - they are sane, WONDERFUL horses. I would like to think that our CHAS horses are very good ambassadors to their breed. However, just like all breeds, there's always some wackjobs. (and from my experience, aren't all the beautiful ones a little not right in the head?)

Minx does not look like a Standardbred. She's relatively petite for the breed, black and has a full tail that drags the ground, a forelock that goes to her nose, and a mane 18" long. She has a small head for a Standardbred that is softly dished and a huge eye. She also has PRESENCE. I can't ride her down the street without being stopped by cars asking for pictures. In short, she looks like the female version of the black stallion.

It quickly became apparent that the women had over-horsed herself and she gave the horse to the man who owns the ranch where the CHAS horses are. SOMETHING happened when she unloaded off of the trailer, I still can't get the specifics, but that SOMETHING earned her the name "Devil Horse". She ran on 40 acres with the other horses for about a year. In that time no body touched her. She wasn't friendly, was rather aloof, and made it clear she would rather not be messed with. I think most of us assumed she was unbroke. She was so much smaller than the other horses so she looked very "young", which just perpetuated this idea. In the CHAS tradition, she was given the name "Gal". (all girl horses have a "G" name, the boy horses have "B" names). In March of 2006 I had a special opportunity.

I don't have pictures for this section because it was before I came along. However, if you would like to check out CHAS's website, you can view pictures of our horses and their creative names!

A little Endurance humor

I thought this had posted last week, but apparently it didn't!

I found a list sure to make you laugh:

I'm sure we could all add to this list. Here's mine:

You might be an endurance rider if....

1. you swore off wearing spandex EVER, and now proudly sport it all weekend. In fancy colors AND stripes.

2. frogs are not green (and if they are you are in BIG trouble).

3. You pay more for your horses' supplement/extra feed than you do for your own monthly groceries

4. Your closet is divided up into "office/work clothes" and "barn clothes". You chose your office clothes by whether they will make good barn clothes.

5. You are obsessed with shoeing cycles ($80/shoeing every 6 weeks), hoof boots (more $$ than that) hoof care, yet agonize over an $80 pair of shoes for yourself that will last you a YEAR.

6. Winter is the only time of the year that housework gets done.

7. Won't consider going to the doctor unless an artery is literally spurtting blood all over the pavement, yet takes the horses in if they are the tiniest bit off.

8. Endurance riding is so "normal" to you that when you mention to your co-worker that you are doing a 50 mile ride, their lack of surprise is not noticable. Until, 15 minutes into the conversation you realize they thought you meant a bike ride....

9. Taking the horse out for a jog is normal (everyone says they are just like big dogs right?)

10. When you go to the vet for a lameness exam, the trot out is a chance to show off.

Enjoy! Hope you are having a fabulous day and are looking forward to the first full weekend of daylight savings time! I'm visiting my aunt's and should get plenty of miles in.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Poll results - lameness

It seems the top 3 lameness's that people have experienced are tendon related, muscle related, or stone bruised.

This is interesting because of those three, I have only had tendon related injuries (specifically superficial digital flexor). I am suprised that no one specifically chose suspensories. During rides, especially sandy ones, I see horses pulled for lameness with a possible diagnosis of suspensory problems "often" (see disclamer in next sentence). The other 2 "common" (I'm going from gut feeling here, absolutely nothing to back this up!) pulls I see are muscle related and stone bruises.

Here's my lameness history -

Minx - tendonitis in both front superficial digital flexors. Probably due to me overriding her when I first started endurance. I have also learned that long-cannoned horses take longer to get "legged" up so I needed to take it especially slow with her. She has had zero problems since healing and a very sucessful (in my opinion) endurance season since. Sucess! Now if we could only solve all her other problems (mostly mental :) as easily! Minx also has some arthritis in her hocks that does great as long as she gets regular exercise.

Farley - bowed her left superficial digital flexor by hitting her back hoof into her tendon, during a semi-controlled runaway incident involving cows, a rail fence, a narrow trail, and a canal. I had owned her a whole 3 weeks. Tendon appears (through ultrasounds) to have healed well, but I am currently having some minor lameness issues that are related to the original bow. Probably due in part to doing three (one of them a 4 day LD) sandy rides in a row. I'm not quite ready to declare success here, but the vet is very optimistic (more optimistic than he was with Minx) that she will heal.

I learned A LOT from the above lamenesses, and while I would not wish a lame horse on ANYONE (if you learn from your mistakes) a lame horse can be a very valuable education.

If you would like to share any lameness stories, please do in the comments!

VV rides revisited

Has anyone visited and checked out the very virtual rides? I talked about the VVMarchMadness ride here. If you have recieved your March Endurance News (AERC puplication) check out Flora Hillman's article.

I haven't gotten as many miles as I would like yet. Specifically I have ridden 11.38 miles this month (doesn't count arena or days I did ground work). Doing a 65 mile race the day before the VV ride started and ending up with a slightly lame horse doesn't give a lot of opportunity to get the miles in! It's still fun and I have to admit it's encouraged me to get out to the stable and ride more often. Or at least made me feel slightly more guilty when I give up a riding weekend to play with a puppy. :) The ride on 3/2/09 never would have happened if it wasn't for the fact that I wanted to log some miles! Getting into the saddle 2 days after the 65 on a 16+ hand horse was interesting.

The best part about these virtual races is that everyone uploads their tracks/trails to google earth (this is how you get credit for your mileage). Either using a GPS or hand drawing the trails is acceptable. Using Google earth, you can see exactly what trails other endurance riders are using to train on. You may even find a new riding location near you.

It's very simple to participate in this virtual race. The point is to encourage everyone to get outdoors and ride, and document the trails they are using. All of us are already doing (or should be doing) the conditioning miles to do endurance. Why not sign up and be part of something?

Let me know if you are interested and want more information. I can walk you through the process. I think I'm going to try and link my virtual "vet card" to this blog so that people can follow along if they would like. It's really quite pitiful right now :(

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Daylight Savings

Yesterday was my first daylight savings time riding opportunity! It was very frustrating. According to how yesterday went, I have some short term goals for this spring.

My plan was to jog/walk by hand Farley on the canal banks for ~30 minutes. She was a good girl, but circumstances were against us. We jogged down my normal canal route and very shortly met a HUGE dog. Loose. Running free. Looked like a chow mix. So I turned around. The gate was closed on the other canal bank route, but I went around it (it's my understanding that canal banks are public access?), only to meet another gate I couldn't get around. All together I got about 20 minutes in. She is still slightly uneven. You have to be watching for it, but it's there. Since she's still off, I'm going to give her another week off (hand walking only) and then try jogging her again (by hand - I don't have a dog, so it's nice to have a jogging partner!).

On to Minx. After my trials and tribulations with Farley and really didn't feel like riding on the canals, so I spent the first real riding day of the the arena. Yes, really. It's been a week since I have ridden Minx so it probably was for the best. She tried some side-teleporting moves, and a slight rear, but then was good for a whole 15 minutes. We worked on bending, outside reining, halts and backing based on seat/legs instead of reins......I was planning on doing a short 20 minute ride at a walk, so it was really a shame she started being pissy 15 minutes into the ride (she's NOT an arena horse). So, I threw her into the round pen for 10 minutes. Then we worked on walking out of the round pen for 5 minutes (no, you CANNOT rush through, even if you are respecting my space!!!!!!!!!). ARRGGGGGHHHH!!!!! NOT how I wanted to spend my first riding day of the year!

And then I cleaned pens.

My goal everyday is to do something that will bring me one step closer to completing my first 100. It could mean improving my physical condition (going for a run etc.), or making good food choices. On the horse side, it could be as strenuous as trailering out and going for a hilly 20 mile LSD, or as simple as allowing Farley to recuperate, while engaging her brain (ground driving, obstacle courses etc.).

Short term goals:
I'm hoping to have Minx ready for a 50 in 6-8 weeks. It's easier to get a horse in condition if they have been in excellent shape before. Minx raced as a 5 and 6 year old and so was in very good shape. Since that time we have been in "50 mile shape" twice. She's had ~7 months off, so any nagging little injuries should have had a chance to heal. I want this horse to have fun. She's so grumpy and pissy all the time. I'll alternate arena days and canal/trail days until she's more responsive. (This horse is going to kill me. Seriously. Someday I'll get around to posting her story and try to explain why I put up with her).

I'll give Farley as much time as she needs to heal. Once she's trotting 100% sound, I'll hand jog her for 2 weeks, followed by light riding for 1 week. Then we'll gradually return to normal conditioning. If her ultrasound is not favorable at the end of May, I'll give her the summer off (still ride, but no competitions) and see how she's feeling in the fall.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Crew Bags

I did buy a new container for a crewbag yesterday....

I have a crew bag from Sportack that I bought used ( I really like it. I tried using garment bags and duffel bags for crew bags and they just don't work as well as something made for that specific purpose. At 20MT 65 I started thinking about my crew bag set up and realized that it would be very useful to have a second crew bag so that I could send bags to different checks. I also discovered that the longer the race, the more stuff I pack! While the Sportack bag works fine for a 50, more things can go wrong in a 65, 75, 100 etc. and I wanted more "spare tires". For example - a spare stirrup, stirrup leather, reins. A spare set of shoes (last set pulled that still had some wear left) and the farrier equipment to nail it on. I didn't have room for a extra pieces of clothing or my running shoes. If I had been able to trade in my ariats for running shoes at the vet check, I would have gotten off and ran more in the afternoon.

With the above in mind I went to Sears and bought myself a rolling tool box. It's the perfect size, and comes with a tote inside. With the tote organizer removed, I should be able to use it as a saddle stand. The box is sturdy enough I can use it as a chair at the vetchecks. I should also be able to use it to haul water containers in camp. It was also reasonably priced. I sold my level one parelli kit (old old old with VHS) to someone in Canada, so I used those funds for this.

I'll post pictures of what and how I pack my crew bags. I LOVE being organized. Now that I have 2 options, I will have to think what is the best system for packing the bags. A 50, 100, LD, multi day, lots of vet checks, or just one vet check all affect how the crew bag is packed! The crew bag system, in turn, affects which saddle bags I use, and what I carry with me.

In the meantime, go to Karen Chaton's blog and search for "crew bag". She has a great system that I referenced when I was trying to develop what worked for me.

A well packed crew bag and can make or break your ride (or at least, make the ride decidedly unpleasant if you are missing something essential....).

Thought of the day:

Until I post some pictures and (my favorite) LISTS (I make a list for everything), what are your essentials for a crew bag? What do you use for a crewbag?

One of my essentials is (besides the obvious rump rug etc.) something to put my saddle on. Some vet checks are "tack off" and I hate putting the sweaty blanket and saddle in the dirt. I always manage to forget this though and end up trying to find a rock/tree/fence/creative propping.....AND where my tack ends up is always REALLY far away from the vet check.

Beautiful weekend and no riding

Yep - that's right. The weather was perfect and didn't even see my horses. M* got a new puppy so I went over to his house for the weekend to give him his birthday present (the book - "How to be your dog's best friend") and play with the puppy. I also washed my truck :)

I didn't fret about not riding this weekend since with daylight savings FINALLY here. I can ride after work now.

My plans are to lightly ride Minx this week (walk, trot) on the canal banks 5-8 miles a day, and then take her to Yokhol this weekend and ride with my aunt. There's some SERIOUS hills and we should get a good work out.

Farley will go jogging with me on the canal banks this week, and perhaps we'll saddle up for nice walking trail rides of ~5 miles. Farley is on light duty this week and next so she won't be going to Yokhol with me.

The weather has been so nice the last couple of days, maybe I can finally do a decent job cleaning pens today!?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

A little Endurance humor

Here's a endurance-related "list", sure to make you laugh.

Have a great day! Hope you are looking forward to daylight savings time as much as I am.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Great post

The mugwumpchronicles has a great post today on training for the arena by being out on the trail. It as interesting to see the thought process of her (I think...his?) brain.

(for some reason I can't embed the link today so here it is old-fashion style):

I'm bad about training horses on trail. However they want to travel is fine with me (because I'm ignorant probably). I teach them about footing, up and down hills, manners, how I want to them cross water (no jumping!) ect, but I don't worry about headset (happy horse = good head set right?), "lifting the back" (wouldn't know how...) etc. *sigh* There's so much to learn! I think if I live to be a 100 I'll never get it! I REALLY need to get riding lessons.

Back from the vet

So I took Farley to the vet this morning and I have "OK" news.

The vet could see a very slight lameness on her left front. No head bobbing, very subtle but there. There was no pain on palapation. This all adds up to very good news! I will say that is very nice to have an endurance horse trot out for the vet. They are so used to trotting out and I'm always so proud of how well behaved they are.

Upon ultrasounding her, we discovered that she does have some slight pathology of her old bow. The area of the old bowed superficial digital flexor tendon is about the same as her last ultrasound, performed July 2008 (1.30cm sq versus 1.28 cm sq), and smaller than her original ultrasound when she first bowed (1.51 cm sq in December 2007). However, she had 2 tiny dark spots within the tendon. Ideally the tendon is less than 1.0cm sq (her normal, right leg is something like 0.71cm sq). I'm not sure if she will ever get there.

So what's the plan? In terms of severity, Dr. R* told me that most people would never have even noticed this lameness and wouldn't have brought them in. It's extremely minor. she gave me the option of using Surpass for a month, which I took her up on. I really felt it made a difference when she first bowed (versus Minx, whom we did Fereson wraps on and not surpass). Plus it's handy to have a tube of that stuff around! I'd rather give Surpass than Bute if I concerned about a particular area. I'm to keep riding her lightly for a month and then return to normal work. I'll re-ultrasound prior to doing our next ride. I'm going to forego the April Shine and Shine only 50 and do May Wild West 3 day ride as our next ride. I'll use the opportunity to get Minx up to speed again (9 months since her last endurance ride! The time flies!).

Yes, ultrasounds are expensive, however it was worth every penny for my peace of mind. This horse could be a 100 mile horse if that tendon heals. Ideally I would give her a year off and then restart her. That's totally not practical for me right now for a variety of reasons, so I'm willing to pay for the ultrasounds in order to ride her a little sooner and push a little harder than if I didn't know what was going on inside her leg.

So for her next ride it is imperative that I be able to control her speed. I will be doing lots of walking, jogging and experimentation with hackamores and bits in the next 3 months!

I wanted to let everyone know how much I enjoy you coming around and visiting. Endurance is a journey for me and I feel compelled to write about it. I would write even if no one read, but it's sure nice to have your encouragement. One of the realities about endurance (at least where my horse and I are right now) is that I can't get out and do this every weekend. By writing this blog and reading others, I feel like I can stay connected to the endurance community, even when I'm not at rides.

Happy trails everyone.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

I've made a decision...

I got an appointment with my vet tomorrow morning to ultrasound Farley's LF digital flexor. the original plan was to keep tabs on the tendon for the first year anyways, and I haven't had one done since June 2008 (she originally injuried it December 2007). I palapated it last night very aggressively and she may be reacting, but it isn't consistant. I have a $50 credit at the vet so it wouldn't be that big of a deal to take her in a get peace of mind.

Of course this happens right smack in the middle of breeding season so Dr. S* the vet I usually have do the ultrasounds is busy. I'll be working with one of his other vets, Dr. R*. Dr. R* was present at Farley's last 2 ultrasound by complete coincidence, so feel OK about it. The first time was right after she was hired and she was still in school. Dr. R* was visiting the clinic in preperation for starting there. The second time, I just happened to bring Farley in on Dr. R* first day of work!

I'll let you know how it goes. The day after ride was was 95% sure it was the splint. After last night, now I'm not sure.

Pictoral representation of 20MT

At home the night before the trip. Let me present: Dirty, ungroomed pony.

Farley has now been groomed and braided. I always braid the night before I leave. I find that I can never find the time once I am at a ride to braid.

Stress relief at home with the cats. Jonah is playing with his new toy. I try to get EVERYTHING set to go the night before so I literally jump in the truck and go to the stable, hook up the trailer and load the horse in the morning. This means a lot of running around the night before. I still haven't learned how to relax. The drive over. This is right before red rock canyon.
After vetting in and getting our number.

Camp: I chose to sleep in a tent this time. I sleep with the door open so all I have to do is open my eyes and I can see Farley at night.
I'm finally happy with Farley's condition. I'll see how she sheds out, but I think she's looking good.
This is Luann (may have got the spelling wrong). We rode part of the first course together. She unfortunatley got pulled at mile 35. This was her first ride back after a horrendous accident that involved a horse falling on top of her and crushing her. For those of you in CHAS - this is the police officer whose horse "danced" at old Sac. It's such a small world! I had never met her but had been told stories, e-mailed a pic from U-Tube, and then e-mailed a news article about the accident. What a suprise to find out that the very interesting person next to me was the same person! I wish her the best of luck and hope to see her at future rides.

The trail right before vet check 2

More trail.
Vet check 2: This is Thor and his horse. They are trying to complete their first 100 miler together. They did it! Neither of us had crews so we helped eachother out by holding eachothers horses while we used the portapotty, moved crew bags around etc.
Me, leaving vet check 2
Very pretty trail right before vet check 3. This is the point where I REALLY wanted/needed a walk and didn't get it...
Vet check 3:
These pictures absolutely do not capture the beauty of the trail. I'm told that the 35 mile loop that the 100's continued on was even more beautiful. I wish I had gotten some pictures of some of the rock canyons we went through. Karen Chaton always has great trail pictures during rides. You can check out her blog on the right for more pics.
After the ride.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Future plans

So I took a look at the websites for the 2 rides I was considering next for Farley.....and I have ruled Git-R-Done out. It's FEI and 200 dollars for a 75 mile entry! Plus I have to drive 300 miles each way. The April "Shine and Shine Only" ride is only ~100 miles away from me and is $100 for entry into a 50. I'm thinking the SASO ride is a better deal for me. By only doing a 50 in April, Farley will have a nice long time to heal up from the splint and be ready for the 3 day 50 Wild West ride at the end of May. I might lose some conditioning, but I think it will be worth it because of the healing that will take place.

Now - back to work - really!

Just a hint....

of pictures to come. Karen Chaton (see blog on right) was kind enough to e-mail some pictures of me near the end of ride, when I was riding with her and Dave.

The 2 mounted pictures are during the ride, the dismounted is after the ride finish. The finish line was ~1/2 mile away from the base camp.

She looks so grimy and pathetic! Do not be fooled. She was being obnoxious!

Looking at these pics makes me feel trim and fit! I feel like I'm in good shape. If I had to go out tomorrow and run 10 miles I could. If my horse isn't being obnoxious (my new favorite word) I can easily dismount on the hills.....then why do I feel like someone beat me with a stick after Saturday's ride!!!!?????
I would like to point out that I am smiling and it even looks like a geniune smile. This was the point where I was battling some immense discomfort. However on a ride, nobody, especially someone putting on the ride or volunteering, wants to hear about your discomforts, so I put on a smile, and laugh, A LOT. I also wore yellow so if the going got tough I would be at least wearing a "happy" color. It's hard to be grumpy when it's spring and you're wearing yellow! I don't want to be the person that spoils some else's ride by complaining, moaning, and groaning! Plus I really did have fun. It just hurt, a little. OK a lot. But it was totally worth it.

I'll upload my pics when I get a chance. I got some great ones of the trail etc. I really should be getting some work done right now.

After math

I just re-read my post from last night (I wrote it last night, posted this morning) and wanted to assure everyone that I had a great time. Even Farley enjoyed getting out. The wildflowers were beautiful and some of the rock canyons we went through were stunning. I thought the ride was very well organized (the Ribley's are great) and would definitely recommend this ride! I think I sounded a little negative yesterday because I was tired and a little frustrated with Farley. I try to ask, but sometimes I end up INSISTING and then she ARGUES, and then she gets hurt, because she's NOT PAYING ATTENTION!!!! (just like a teenager...she'll grow out of this right?). Saturday was just one of those days! She looked great last night and I can't wait to get out to the stable after work today and see how she feels. It's suppose to rain all week, so I have plenty of time to unpack, organize, and reflect. The most important thing is that I keep learning and applying that knowledge after every single ride. Each ride I do I'm riding smarter and better, and that's the point right? I'm told that the steepest learning curve is in the first 1000 competition miles.

BTW - I earned my 250 mile endurance patch after this ride! Right now I have 435 AERC miles total (LD=165 miles, endurance = 270 miles). Farley has 165 LD miles and 120 endurance miles. The temptation to do a couple more LD's and earn a 250 LD patch is strong. If I don't those miles will just sit there....

So here's the thought of the day: What the heck do you do with your milage patches?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

20 Mule Team 65

I’ve just returned from this year’s 20 mule team ride. It’s amazing how much there is to learn in this sport. I will post pictures in a separate post in a couple of days. In the meantime, here’s the summary (warning: long…).

The Base camp is at the Desert Empire Fairgrounds. There was plenty of parking. I set up camp and met my neighbors. Vetting in was a hassle. Something spooked the horses right before it was my turn. My normally calm, sweet horse bucked and cantered during her trot out. *sigh* After all the jogging we do together it’s a shame THAT is what she chooses to do when people are watching. Her behavior during the trot out set the tone for the rest of the ride.

After not sleeping at all, I got up and tacked. At home I don’t ride with saddle bags, a breast collar etc, so on ride day I have to attach all the “extras”. At a ride, I usually set everything for the ride on a saddle stand the night before, but don’t actually put on the horse and attach everything until the morning of the ride. This time I put everything on the horse and attached my saddle bags, ziptied my camera to the saddle, attached my pad to the saddle etc. In the morning I lifted the entire ensemble (including the saddle pad already set and attached underneath) on the horse. Very nice. Especially if your horse is like mine and has a limited amount of “standing still” patience the morning of a ride.

The ride start was a nightmare. Farley usually starts a ride on a loose rein. She was HYPED. Fighting, bucking, one rein stops during “warm up”. Once the ride actually started she did NOT settle. One issue was she was in season and 2 stallions were near me. During AERC rides my experience with stallions has been 100% positive. They all had excellent manners, and even when I had a mare in heat there has been ZERO issues. In this case, I was NOT impressed with this stallion’s behavior. He was actually being allowed to call to my mare under saddle and was barely under control. I found out later that this particular gentleman (the rider, not the horse) has a “reputation”. As soon as the controlled start ended we spread out a little I was able to put good distance between them and me.

After 2 hours and almost 15 miles Farley finally started to work off of a loose rein. We were all by ourselves! I had finally found my bubble and she had found her brain (it didn’t last)! This was by far the worst start. She almost succeeded at bucking me off. I’m thinking the wet weather and limited riding the last 2 months was not the best situation. She usually only takes 30 minutes to settle during a ride.

The miles passed in a blur. I should have appreciated the loose rein before vet check 1. It was the last time it happened. At mile 35, my shins/outside calves were on fire. At vet check 2 I tried dropping my stirrups one hole to see if that would help. The only thing it did was cause my abs to be on fire by mile 50 (which means I was using my core, and posting correctly right?). At mile 53 I put my stirrups back in their original hole. At mile 55 I asked for a walk and got a jig…..we practiced one rein stops as I asked for a 4 beat gait and got a 2 beat gait. I was furious. My abs hurt so bad, and I knew that if I couldn’t get a break from trot/jigging, my muscles were shot for the rest of the ride. At mile 57 and vet check 3 I collapsed off my horse. 15 minutes later I remounted. I can tell you with certainty that the last 8 miles to the finish were NOT short. I was unable to check her or make her walk. In fact, I’m sure she had lost the ability to do a 4 beat gait. Apparently the core muscles are extremely important in order to check a horse. The only way I could check her was to brace one hand on the saddle and pull with the other. That way my abs wouldn’t engage. I practiced breathing.

I tucked in behind Dave Rabe and Karen Chaton (see her blog in the bar to the right) until the finish. They were going at a nice little pace – trot with some walking. During the trots I stayed in 2 point, leaned over the neck and rested my hands on withers, grabbed mane, and focused on deep breaths. At this point I could not touch my stomach without wanted to grunt in pain (abs were VERY unhappy). If I moved my legs wrong, there was a bad tearing sensation in my outside calves. Finally we got to the finish line. It was a bitter sweet completion. She was deemed “fit to continue”, but was slightly off on her left right. I’m fairly certain it’s the splint that was present after Death Valley. As she was perfectly fine at mile 57, it was probably due to my very bad riding the last 8 miles and being too forward. Total ride time (does not include hold times): 8 hours, 52 minutes. I’m sure she was as sick of me after the ride as I was of her. But both of us relented after I brought her grain, and she knickered at me from across the fairgrounds :)

This morning she was perfectly sound on the lunge going both directions, which means the lameness is fairly minor. I buted her for the splint and muscle soreness and will continue to for 3 days. I’ll give her a couple weeks off, then start back with light work and see how she does. If she looks fine, we’ll either do a hilly 50 or a flat 75 in 2 months.

Things that went especially well:

Dirt bikes passed us numerous times and Farley didn’t even look twice.

I didn’t look at my GPS at all. I was able to use my watch for pacing! I knew approximately how far I had gone at all times, and came into the vet stops about when I thought I would! The GPS was great for learning pacing and is very useful for training rides, however, I don’t like being too dependent on it for actual rides.

I got to ride with Karen and Dave! Karen gave me some good advice. I did very little sponging (OK – none), because the weather was cool and breezy, so Farley was covered with salt and grime. I don’t groom my horses at vet checks because there is so much other stuff to do and I really focus on specific things that will help my horse – checking feet, watering, mixing feed, massaging, refilling water, scratching her itchy spots with my fingers etc. Karen told me that by currying the salt off my horse, I may help recoveries and hydration because of how salt in the hair can act on the skin. So now I will have an excuse to make my horse pretty at the vet checks!

She recovered VERY well over night. Because of the 4 day Death Valley ride, I’m sure she thought she was going out again today. She looked like she could have. (but I wouldn’t have because of her being off at the finish)

Her condition looks fabulous. Using the formula (in inches) girth squared multiplied by length (point of shoulder to point of buttock) with the result divided by 330…she weighs ~830 pounds. She was probably ~790 at Death Valley.

My Achilles gave me ZERO problems. This is good news because it means I can start running again. Some of my fitness issues during this ride were because of the Achilles (this was the third time it was injured in 5 years. It’s REALLY important that it heals and not become chronic).

Things I learned:

I am not fit enough for a 100 miler. Farley is.
***If I had been in better condition and she had not been off, she would have gone out for a “surprise loop” after finishing. That is how atrocious her behavior and how forward she was for the ENTIRE ride.

I need to rethink the “no riding for the week previous to the ride” rule.
***It think it would have helped if she had gotten out a few times in the last week.

I need to switch to a different bit.
***I bought a kimberwick a couple of months ago that I think she’ll like. She was bad about pulling for her first 2 rides, but then was SO GOOD for Death Valley and Desert Gold I didn’t think there was an issue. I had blisters on my fingers by mile 30 from trying to hold her back, and I think this was part of the reason my abs hurt so bad. A hackamore may be part of the solution, I will just have to experiment. I do NOT want to pull on her mouth! I want both of us to have fun.

I really really really planned on getting off and jogging part of this ride.
***It didn’t happen because she was so forward and brain dead. Sometimes a button is pushed with her and I can’t get it unstuck….I’m going to focus on SLOW miles for the next conditioning rides. She obviously is fit enough, but apparently has forgotten the 6 months of “brain work” I did with her.

I will never ever again judge someone who’s horse is a spaz.
***Maybe, on 90% of the rides the horse is an angel. Sometimes it is “one of those days”.

Even when she has lost her mind and starts to buck (HARD, at a FULL extended trot) I can stay on and stay in control. In an emergency situation (a junior’s horse bucked the rider off), I can ask for a stop and get it.

Bad riding will hurt the horse.
***I know this, but it’s the first time it’s happened to me. I only had 8 miles to go and thought it would be OK. I physically could not ride correctly. I couldn’t make her walk, couldn’t ride the trot, and couldn’t dismount. If I had been doing the 100 miler, or if I had reached this point earlier in the ride, I would have had to pull with a rider option.

Desert rides can be just as hard as huge hilly, rocky ones. It’s just more subtle.
***Sand, gradual long uphills, cactus, rider fatigue, lack of water. Which brings me to the one item that made me mad during this ride.

*stepping onto soapbox*

When ride management asks everyone not to sponge because water is EXTREMELY scarce and it a) makes the water salty for everyone behind you and b) uses up the EXTREMELY scarce water supply for the riders behind you…..then DON’T SPONGE!!!!! Cupping your hand with water and soaking your horses neck…OVER THE WATER TROUGH is the same thing…..Ride management generously let us sponge at vet checks because they were easier to get to and refill water, yet, I came across countless people on the trail wasting water, and contaminating the troughs. It was very frustrating. The weather was cool, and even with my horse’s winter coat, I didn’t NEED to sponge. Yes, it would have been nice, but water is too precious in the desert. By following the ride rules, we can insure rides are held again. If you can’t follow the rules “because of the welfare of your horse”, please do whatever is necessary to insure it’s safety and keep that in mind when choosing your next ride. Choose a ride where water is more plentiful.

*stepping off of soapbox*

*stepping on with one foot…*

And I come from Northern California where water is plentiful! Come on So Cal people! I lived in the Delta for years and yes, I wasted water. But when in the desert, CONSERVATION is key.

*taking deep breath*

**stepping off of soapbox**

I almost forgot! There were showers! Hot showers at the fairgrounds! Or may I say “heavenly spas” upon unlimitless clouds of hot water steam? (Can you tell I’m tired, sore and slightly delirious? Work tomorrow should be interesting)

And one more thing! Check out the March Edition of Endurance News. Farley and me are number 1 in national LD mileage standings! It’s won’t last, but it’s exciting anyways.

Pictures coming soon!