Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wild West Addendum

After re-reading my ride report I realized I forgot a couple of important "happenings".

Pavement Fall
Farley fell on the pavement. This wasn't a diasaster, but it easily could have turned into one. There is a stretch of very very slick pavement that everyone was required to dismount and walk. There is a narrow shoulder, however, there are sections of paved driveways that you have to cross over. I had the bright idea to cross over the road and walk on the other shoulder so I didn't have to walk across the driveways. Once I was over there, I found that the footing was not as good, Farley didn't want to stay on the shoulder, and I was on the wrong side of some blind curves. So we tempted fate AGAIN and crossed back over to the other side. We were almost across when, in slow motion, her hindquarters slipped our from underneath her and she slid to rest on her left side. She tried to get up once, slipped, and went down again. She layed there, and thought about it. There was no panic, no scrambling. She tried to get up one more time, very carefully, made it, and went over to the shoulder and stayed there. Whenever we had to cross a paved driveway, I noticed she was extremely cautious. We had gotten away with only a little skin rubbed off of the outside of her left hock.

I was very pleased to see that when she got into a bind, Farley didn't panic. She was able to think about the situation and extract herself. I think this is a very good sign. I want a horse that can think for herself in a hairy situation and isn't going to get us in MORE trouble by completely losing it. I took this kind of sensibility for granted in my Standardbred and I'm pleasantly suprised to find it in my Arab.

We were Stalked
Yep - we were stalked by something on a ridge. Farley felt the need to go and let her decide speed and distance. There were several bear and cub sightings this weekend, and it was in the same location that I saw a bear and two cubs last year. There's also mountain lions in the area. I didn't feel the need to stick around to see was evaluating our availability for dinner. There was a ride and tie event held on Sunday during the ride. I heard that one of the ride and tie horses spooked and broke his reins. The ride manager suspects that a bear came by and spooked the horse. I can just imagine what was going through the bear's head "Sardine on a string!".

I had a Crew!
I failed to mention my wonderful Mother who came and crewed for me on Saturday and Sunday. She is NOT a horse person and went to great lengths to avoid having to hold my horse for longer than about five seconds (as a result I got to sit there and hold the horse, while she did all sorts of useful tasks for me!). It was so nice to have someone at my one hour holds. I think having someone to meet me at the one hour holds at Tevis (IF I do it) is going to be really important. I didn't take any pictures on the trail (I wanted to be able to focus on my ride) but she took a bunch of photos that I'll probably post later. Saturday evening we played fiddle and banjo underneath my fly. I promised my neighbors that we would quit when the generators went off (9pm) and they wouldn't have to listen to us all night! It was nice playing at a non-musical event - the music was unexpected and I had several people tell me the next day how much they enjoyed having the music in camp.

I think that's it for my Wild West stories!

Electrolyte Protocol

Endurance Granny asked about my electrolyte protocol at the last ride. As I was e-mailing her, I realized that others might be able to get ideas from what I did. Below is what I used at Wild West. I'm definitely a newbie at the electrolytes thing and I would recommend you check out other people's recommendations and ideas (such as Karen Chaton's) before formulating your own protocol! If anyone wants to comment on what you do differently - feel free - I'm constantly tweaking everything I do to try and find the "best" way.

Which Electrolytes?
The electrolytes I buy are the cheap ones you can get at the tack store - just make sure they do NOT contain sodium bicarbonate. You can also make your own by using 1/2 regular salt to 1/2 lite salt (potassium chloride) to 1 part dolomite. I was told you could get dolomite in the health food section - it's adds calcium - some people also use tums instead. I don't make my own because for 10 bucks it's worth it for me to just buy the pre-made stuff (and I'm having problems finding lite salt). Another brand I've thought about using is "Acculytes". It's $25 for 5 pounds versus $10, but because it takes me so long to go through 5 pounds, in the end I probably wouldn't notice an increased cost. Acculytes is a brand used by a lot of endurance riders, but it's hard for me to get anything locally here, and the shipping on some of this stuff is astronomical, so I tend to stick with what I can find around here if it's working for me.

How Much?
The typical dosage is one ounce. That's usually the size of the scoop that comes with the electrolytes. I'm super conservative when it comes to electrolytes and I usually plan on giving 1/2 dose of electrolytes after every water stop (that the horse drinks at). At a vet checks and 1 hour holds, or after the ride, I may give 1 full dose.

Mixing and Storing
I put 1/2 dose of electrolytes in a 60 cc syringe (make sure you get the "feeding syringes" so the tips are big enough to let the salt go through) and filled the rest up with applesauce. Then I dump the syringe out, mix well, and refill the syringe and cap with a wire nut (you can buy at any hardware store - they are used to join wires together - they come in lots of different sizes so bring your syringes with you). After some trial and error, I found out that the volume of my plastic squeezee condiment bottle (found at walmart) is exactly the volume of 4 - 60cc syringes! Which means I put 2 ounces/scoops of electrolytes, fill it up with applesauce, shake to mix, and then squirt the mixture into 4 - 60 cc syringes. Voila! For the ride I made up 4 syringes and then mixed another bottle of electrolytes to refill the syringes at lunch. That way everything was premixed for me on ride day and there was no mess for refilling syringes (I just had to squirt the mixture in the empty syringes).

I'm planning on experimenting with replacing some of the applesauce with molasses. The applesauce/electrolyte mixture is still very salty, even with only 1/2 dose. The molasses will make it a little sweeter and maybe more palatable. If I do, I have a feeling I may have to use a mixer to mix the ingredients instead of just shaking it in the bottle.

Electrolyte Protocol at Ride
I give one dose in her mash for 2-3 days prior to travelling in her ride. Once at the ride, I'll give one dose in her mash the night before riding (I usually arrive the afternoon before the ride). I'd rather give electrolytes in mashes than syringing, but at some point she stops reliably eating her mashes - usually the morning of the ride - this is when I start syringing. The morning of the ride, IF she has been drinking/and or urinating and the urine color is good, I will give her one syringe (1/2 dose). At every water stop where she drinks during the ride, she gets one syringe (1/2 dose) followed by one syringe of water to rinse her mouth. At the lunch check, if she has been sweating a lot and is continuing to drink well I will give 1-2 syringes (1/2 - 1 dose). After lunch I continue with 1/2 dose (1 syringe) after every watering. After the ride is finished I will give 1-2 syringes (1/2 - 1 dose).

You could experiment with putting a full dose of electrolytes in a syringe and only giving 1/2 a syringe - but I don't like the idea of putting a small amount of extremely concentrated saltiness into my horses mouth. I like the fact that I'm diluting it.

Carrying Elytes on the Trail
Four syringes seemed to be the magic number for me - I never ran out of electrolytes on the trail, but my saddle pack wasn't so bulky that it was unmanageable either. If I do the Tevis or any other 100 miler, I will get a couple more (at least 3 or 4 more) of the plastic sqeezee bottles to premix the electrolytes and put at least one at each vet check. I'll also buy one or two more sets of 4 syringes so I can do a quick switch-a-roo at a check, or replace syringes if I lose a set on the trail.

Good luck! I hope this made sense and it helped.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Wild West

So I just spent 2 hours on a post that described in excruciating detail how much fun I had at this ride, how good my little pony was, how beautiful the trails were, etc. And then, do you know what I did? I deleted it. "Why", do you ask? Because it was boring. Very boring. Everything went perfectly. I feel great, my horse looks great, what is there to write about? Instead, I would like to highlight some things that went especially well, or tricks that I discovered that served me well over the weekend.

First I want to go over the goals I made for this ride:

1. Finish with a strong and sound horse - Completed

2. Get off during the race and run - Completed.

3. Finalize my crew bag decisions. - Kinda Completed Still haven't found the "best" way to do it.

4. Practice my electrolyte protocol - Completed

And while we are at it - I can check off one of my yearly goals - Complete my first endurance multi-day - Completed!!!

Electrolytes

I mixed applesauce and electrolytes in a squeeze ketchup bottle and then filled 4-60cc syringes. 1/2 dose of electrolytes was in each syringe. I capped each syringe with a wire nut. Then I mixed another batch of electrolyte/applesauce in the ketchup bottle and put in my crew bag. It worked PERFECTLY. It was easy to refill my syringes at the lunch vet check (just squeeze it into the each syringe) and easy to give on the trail. I electrolyted after each water stop (1/2 dose, or one syringe). She drank great, was well hydrated, and peed several times on the trail every day. Very very very happy how this method worked out. Thank you everyone who gave me ideas for this!!! For future: Buy at least 4 more syringes as a spare set, and a couple for bottles so I can have mixed electrolytes for longer rides.



Running and running shoes

I wore my trail runners and actually got off and ran a total of ~7 miles this week (not counting the 7-8 mile "adventure" - ie Melinda got lost - run on Friday morning). The shoes felt great in and out of the saddle. The second day I duct taped my laces and didn't have to re-tie my shoes ONCE. Yeah! Very annoying to get out of the saddle to run, only to find out that you have a shoelace untied.... Farley seemed to really appreciate the break, especially on the second day when travelling on some endless side jeep roads....I would get to the point where I couldn't STAND it anymore, and then I would get off and run for a while. It was a GREAT break for both of us. For the future: Practice my running/moving mounts. I knew Farley was ready for me to get back on when she would start moving ahead of me when running. That was my clue to run along beside and jump on....theoretically.



Helmet handkerchief - or - "The Flying Nun"

I took a clue from Karen Chaton and duct taped a handkerchief to the back of my helmet to keep the sun and bugs off my neck. It worked like a charm. I'll definitely be doing more of this! For the Future: Try to get a handkerchief more dignified than my teal and magenta mayan print....



Tall Socks in Lieu of Half Chaps

Went well - my leathers rubbed a hole in the sock of my inside calf of my left leg - but it didn't bruise my leg or tear into my tights. I think a combination of the tail wraps around the leathers and a knee high sock on at least my left leg, should eliminate any half chap need. It was really nice to run without the half chaps.



Just a short note on how good my pony is....:)

My horse LOVES single track and technical trail. She's completely awesome. Some of the single track on this ride is a little hairy....she handled it like a pro, never taking a wrong step. I couldn't be more proud of her.



Eating on the Trail

I can tell when she's going to stop and eat - we'll be going at a power trot and then she'll start examining the side of the trail for edibles. She'll slow, walk and grab 3-5 bites and then trot on. After a couple repeats, she's usually good for a while. I was able to ride by myself for most of the 2 days which really made a difference in her comfort level of eating on the trail. I did have to put a limit of the number of times she wanted to stop and eat on the second day on the second loop. We would have NEVER made it through the last 10 miles if I had let her eat as much as she wanted.



Did I push her this weekend?

She barely sweated this weekend. Never had a problem with pulse, excellent recoveries (CRIs were all 52/48 etc.). There was one STEEP (and I mean STEEEEEEEPPPPPPP gravelly hill that went STRAIGHT up for at least a mile) hill that I decided NOT to get off on because I wanted to see if she had enough gas in her tank to get me up it - it was near the end of the second day. She did. I got off at the top and walked her the mile to the vet check. By the time we got there she was under sixty pulse and looked great. She never felt tired. We both hit a mental wall on the jeep roads. It was tough. But I found out how to handle it - when I got off I immediately felt better. I practiced our "stay cool" strategies - trotting in the sun and walking in the shade. Her gait and hydration was absolutely solid both days and the day after. She was mentally with it and focused for the entire ride. She could have easily done another day of 50 miles, or have done the 2 days of 50's much faster - probably top 10 both days (not that I would have - that's not my goal right now, but I just trying to provide a reference of how she felt).

What I WASN'T happy with....
I had to pulse down for lunch on the second day right outside of camp. She threw a hissy fit. Apparently she thought she should be able to go straight to camp. She was down on the trail (totally relaxed, I walked the last mile in, probably in the 40's). When she threw her fit by spinning, pacing, and invading my personal space, she of course was over 60. This was not a tired horse that wouldn't pulse down, this was a misbehaving horse that was not pulsing down because she was refusing to stand still and accept her fate of having to listen to me. I'm sure the pulse takers thought I was a crazy person for disciplining her for not standing still. I was NOT doing the whole "poor horsey must be so tired...", instead I was working on the behavior of "I asked you to stand so you will". I knew I was going to pulse down and honestly, even if it took me 45 minutes to address this behavior and I got pulled, I would rather address this behavior NOW instead of having to deal with this every time we have to pulse outside of camp. We (pulse takers and I) finally got her to stand and she pulsed in. I have a feeling that point to point or single loop trails are going to be her best rides.

Rider Fitness
For these 2 50's I was in the best shape I have been while doing a ride (I've been fitter, but wasn't doing rides at that time). It made a huge difference. I could ride well all the way through, I could get off when I needed to, and I could help my horse. Even at 5000 feet (I live at sea level) I could get off and run 30-60 minutes no problem. If I do the tevis I should be in even better shape by then.

So the Tevis or Not?
I'm waiting 1-2 weeks before making my decision. Sometimes an issue doesn't show up until a few weeks after the ride. I want to make sure she really is 100%. She has some weird bumps on her back (bug bites?) and I want to make sure those go away without incident. I probably won't do Diablo - I'm going to want to take as many weekends in June and July to ride the Tevis trail as I can. One of the differences between Saturday and Sunday's ride was that I knew Saturday's trail much much better. I definitely need to continue rider fitness - it made a huge difference.

So the Tevis decision is still up in the air - I'll let you guys know at the beginning of June what I have decided. My pony has earned her 2 weeks of vacation/easy work, but there's no reason for me to be a slacker! I need to get more miles on my own legs, ramp up my hill and the heat training.

I'm back

Just wanted to drop a quick note to let everyone know that Farley finished both days at Wild West and both of us were very strong at the end of each day. It was absolutely amazing. The first day (Wild West Day 2) was fairly easy, but that might have been because I knew the trails well. The second day (Wild West Day 3) was brutal, but we finished that as well. I learned that Farley and I do much better on technical single track than gravelly jeep roads that go on forever and ever and ever and ever.....

I think I managed to achieve every single one of my goals I had for the weekend, and I think that this was the "smartest" rides I've done to date (pacing, electrolytes, getting off etc.)

I have a lot to say about the weekend but it will have to wait until I have more time to do the ride story justice.

See you in a bit!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

I'm off! (and new product review)

I'm off to Wild West! The blogging front has been quiet (I subscribe to 55+ blogs in Google Reader and no one is posting!) so I thought I would post one last thought before leaving.

My first product review! This is especially relevant to women who spend a lot of time hiking and riding in the back country, although I can imagine other uses too (dirty porta potties, if you spend a lot of time travelling etc.).

Attention men and easily offended women: The following product refers to a ummm.....private function, and although I'll try to be as discrete as the packaging the product comes in, you may not want to read the following paragraphs in great detail!

Women - every wonder how you too could conveniently "use the restroom" in a modest and not quite so revealing way when there is no restroom? (OK - I'll break it down for you people - ever want to be able to pee in the back country without exposing all?). I've been using a little device for ~3 weeks and it has given me incredible freedom.

I would like to introduce you to "The FUD". (Real name is "Freshette"...talk about a name that doesn't say anything. Jeez - I bet the namers and package design people went to school just to be able to sell something for 25 bucks that doesn't actually describe what it is or what it does!)

To this product on the REI website, click here.

Don't get me wrong - I am not overly modest while in the back country or on an endurance ride. In fact, I wasn't sure that this device was for me, as I like minimal fuss, and I couldn't the see difference between the potential embarrassment of "just doing it" (bare bottom and all) or the fuss of having to drag this thing out.

I was taken aback at the price, but after using it for the last 3 weeks in various situations (civil war reenactment, porta potties etc.) I've decided I love it. It's discrete, small (the hose portion collapses inside the plastic cup), light weight and easily cleanable. Take a water bottle with you into the potty or behind the bush and just rinse it out. There's no pieces to break or wear out. The freedom is incredible. At Wild West I will have this in my saddle bags. I'm pretty sure that doing it from the saddle won't be a problem (I may have to buy a longer hose).

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Bear Story

Loreleigh came through! My original plan was to co-post this piece with her, adding my comments along the way, however, after reading it, I decided my comments would only detract from the story. This story is particularly timely as I am leaving for Wild West tomorrow. It takes place the day after Wild West, at the same location in 2008.

So without further ado....here's Loreleigh!

Hi, I’m Loreleigh. Melinda is my sister and she threatened to tell these stories in her own words if I failed to write in. Before I begin this episode of “how Loreleigh almost became bear food” I ought to introduce my horse and myself. I am NOT an endurance rider- one of my favorite horsy activities is to ride my Sally bareback to a nice patch of sun and stop. Enjoy the sun. Enjoy the feeling of sitting on the horse. I also draw little hearts around Sally’s name when I get the chance. Sally is a mustang, which I’m sure I don’t have to tell this audience is NOT a car but an excuse for a horse to be both lazy AND have a spiteful streak.

So, on May 25th 2008 Melinda came home from her endurance ride wet cranky and cold. Minx wasn’t going to be talking to her for a good while because Minx, apparently, hates the rain- “See,” Melinda said” I’m smiling here because I knew I was going to buy the pictures not because I was actually happy.” At my urging we returned to the scene of misery to go riding – it even started raining again as we pulled into the equestrian overlook with Sally, Farley and my boundless optimism, which I credit for sending the rain away. The trail was amazing and the scenery was gorgeous even when it managed to collide with my knees (this is Sally’s favorite trick and I could hear her snicker whenever she scored a point). The slopes where so muddy that to get up them I was letting my horse choose the pace which seemed to consist of leaping up the steps formed by the tree roots and for the first time the horn on my western saddle reached out and touched me. Right then and there I decided to become a convert to non-western tack, hear the angels sing, another lost soul has been saved.

We made it back to camp, untacked, propped our heels up, heated up some chili and watched my horse steam in the cold air as we rehashed the ride. The previous day at the endurance ride there had been some bear sightings and we had been scaring ourselves with “what is that over there!!!????” for the entire ride and the first thing we did when we got to camp was come up with a plan in case of a bear 1) get rid of trash 2) load horses 3) load camp table etc 4) drive away. This was, of course, if the bear wasn’t charging, if it was Melinda pointed out that she could run a good deal faster than I could so I got to be bear food. This was until we decided that the subject of bears was officially closed because it wasn’t going to happen and we were just obsessing. I was 2/3rds thorough my tack wish list (long and varied as is any good tack wish list should be) and I was trying to convince myself that the scary sounds were a cow or a bull frog despite every PBS save-the-endangered-bears show I’ve ever watched when Melinda said “there’s a bear.” Look-yep-a bear. I drained my post ride tea and what follows is a series of vivid scenes and curious blank spots. Melinda ordered me to grab the trash and get it away from camp as per plan. In my mind I argued about it being ME who ran like a prey animal and smelled like chili but it WAS the PLAN. “Farther! Farther!” yelled Melinda “Farther!” Finally I dumped it, ran back and realized I’d only gotten 10 feet from camp though I swear I’d run a half a mile. Horses next. Sally planted her feet (we were half hoping that the mustang would warn us if a bear came, she just looked mildly interested and wanted to finish her hay). I was; however, plenty scared by now and just pulled on the rope. I’m pretty sure I could have reeled her in willing or not at that point. It was then that I became aware that when I’m scared for my life my hands shake like leaves and it takes so long for me to say words through my stuttering that I might as well be mute. I also cannot perform simple tasks like tying up lead ropes or figuring out fasteners on horse trailer dividers. Melinda “It slides!” Me “I-i-i-i-i-it wo-o-o-n’t-t-t-t-t….!” Melinda, it seems, reacts the opposite: she laughs like a kid on a roller coaster and gives lots of orders none of which I cannot question. All in all, I think she is quite happy with this combination.

As Melinda made sure we were are ready to roll, I start pitching our camp in to the back or the truck (we had untacked our horses directly into the trailer and had run a very tidy camp for which we were very grateful). The first thing I threw in was the 5 gallon jug of water as my mind from some small sane corner remarked that yeah, that was the first thing the bears would be after on a rainy day but with all the adrenaline let me tell you, that jug FLEW into the bed of the truck. Melinda kept and eye on the bear while I was tossing – VERY helpful, Melinda. “It’s standing up!” Me (in head because my mouth is not working): “ It’s kinda small – oh no! What if it charges!!!???? I’m gunna die!!!!!” Melinda: “It’s a mother with cubs!” Me (still in head) “ Why can’t we leave Melinda’s camp stuff?!!!!?”

Everything was loaded. Melinda “ Go get the trash!” Now, I thought that this was patently unfair that I got to be bear bait twice but once again to question requires working vocal chords. I was secretly happy that I hadn’t managed to dump it very far from camp seeing as I HAD TO RUN BACK FOR IT (how’s that for sisterly love?). As we scrambled into the relative safety of the cab and make our painstakingly slow get away I started coming off the adrenaline – nothing like your first scared-for-your-life-because-that-bear-might-rip-you-to-pieces-and-eat-you to cheer you and make you laugh so hard you risk your life a second time to suffocation. Now you can all see why I can’t wait to go riding with Melinda again. It is a blast!

What type of rider are you?

I found a new blog today called "Confessions of a Struggling Dressage Rider".  Recently she posted "What type of rider are you?"

Seriously - Aren't all endurance riders over-analyzers?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Product Reviews

Product Reviews
I've decided to start doing some product reviews here periodically.  When I'm shopping for an item, I often search through the internet trying to find people that have experience with the product.  I have found the endurance.net ridcamp archives very useful, as well as horsetackreview.com.  Hopefully you'll find my reviews helpful.  If you want a specific product reviewed, (such as one of my endurance items I mention on my blog), let me know.  I'm going to keep my review posts positive and honest.  It is not my intention to publically "bash" any product.  If you have specific questions beyond what I post, leave a comment or e-mail me!  

I'm Stressed/Worried/Apprehensive/Concerned......The after math of Minx's death?
I'm in San Jose for work right now.  It is the first multi-day/multi-night absence I've had away from Farley since Minx's death.  It's affected me more than I expected.  I'm not having full panic attacks, but I'm extremely stressed and apprehensive during the two feeding times at the boarding stable. If I get a call, that is when I would get it.  I don't feel good at all because of the amount of stress.  If I get a call that Farley is not doing well, I don't know what I would do.  The situation is made worse because the weather has been unseasonably hot over the past couple of days (over 100 degrees).  When I saw her Monday, she was covered in salt from Sunday's heat wave and looked slightly dehydrated.  I wish I could check in on her to make sure she's drinking OK and taking care of herself.  She's never had a problem, but ever since Minx, I've become a OCD worry-wort about it......I wonder how long this lasts?  I cannot go through this every time I'm gone for a couple of days.  

Monday, May 18, 2009

Good News

Just a quick note - I'm crazy busy and don't want the sweet feeling of success to die before being able to post this.

Farley had her check up ultrasound appointment this morning and......(drum roll please).....she had the cleanest ultrasound on her tendon EVER. Better than a year ago when she was cleared for regular work and they told me that she was "almost 100%"! SUCCESS. Actually success will be defined as finishing both days at Wild West this weekend on a sound and happy horse - but I digress.....

The tendon fiber looks good, the actual size/volume of the bump looks good (is currently 1.12 square cm, ideal/normal is less than 1.0. The last couple of ultrasounds it's been 1.23-1.3).

I gave her one month of easy work, and 2 months of intense/regular work. I have not babied the tendon over the last 2 months because I wanted to ultrasound to reflect what would happen if she was on regular work. So yes I'm very happy. :)

BTW - I found out that Dr. R* volunteered at Tevis at a vet student, so she has some idea of what I ask my endurance horse to do. (comforting - not as good as being an endurance rider herself, but better than nothing!). I really like her as a vet and I asked her if she was interested in becoming a control vet for AERC. I think she would do really well and it might be fun change from her regular clinic work. I gave her the info, but I'm sure her life is very busy! Still, it would be nice.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Patient Pony



~E.G., This post is for you.

Endurance Granny was asking in her blog tips for posting better. As I whipped out my keyboard to give the standard advice - ride without stirrups and bareback, I must admit a not-so-small feeling of guilt rising up. When was the last time I rode bareback? stirrupless? was my posting all that great? (the answer is no). I stand before you - convicted and guilty as charged.

So last night I whipped out the bareback pad (she has some not-so-nice withers for bareback, but GREAT for keeping the saddle from moving forward!). You know - the bareback pad I've used twice since I bought it three years ago. I stood back and took a look - yellow halter, southwestern print pad, purple tights, bright pink long sleeved shirt. Yep, I don't look like a anomaly in this mostly western and drill team boarding stable AT ALL.

Time to get on. Where did all my courage go? I rode bareback for YEARS. In a halter....at a gallop...on the beach. I never had any trouble, although that downward transition from gallop to trot can be kind of rough on a Standardbred. Oh that's right - the LAST time I rode bareback it was on Minx. The Doc's orders were ride at a walk for 10 minutes during the bowed tendon rehab. I figured if I rode without a saddle maybe she would be less crazy. She was extremely fit and hyped up from the limited about of hand walking that was allowed. I remember I was in a plaid skirt and the plan was to swing my leg over and go for an easy 10 minute walk in the arena. I swung my leg over Minx. At 16 hands it was more of a hop and a slide. I was halfway on and she bolted. She went galloping and bucking on the nicest change of diagonal across the ring you could ask for. I lasted until "X" (center point) and made a not-so-controlled dismount with my skirt around my ears, spitting dirt. I swung my leg over Farley and miracles of miracles, she just stood there. It was going to be a good ride.

Farley is normally bored and sloppy in the arena. Diving off the rail and death trots are not uncommon. Last night she lightly JOGGED for 15 minutes, staying on the rail, completely ignoring my bouncing and grunting, stopping when I got to unbalanced, letting me find my balance and pull on her mane, being overall a perfect pony. After 15 minutes of circles, serpentines, and change of directions she came to a gentle stop in the middle of the arena and told me I was done. I have always thought long line lessons would really benefit me. I think Farley was doing her best to give it to me.

So how did it go? The first 5 minutes were spent hanging on her mane, forcing myself to lean back. I found out that by lifting my knees slightly, first one side, then the other in rhythm to her trotting, that I could sit the trot. I found out that by rolling my thighs forward and back I could post bareback. An Arab trot is LOT different (more bouncy) than an Standardbred trot (rough and bone jarrring, but more forward and back motion than up and down). The last 10 minutes I experimented with moving different parts of my body while trotting - leaning back, twisting my body to one side and the other, reaching to the side with my arms, lifting my legs off her sides. I spent less time hanging on to her mane.

By the end of the session I wasn't competent, but I wasn't falling off either. The death grip on the mane was lessened and I was able to steer with quiet hands. I was still bouncing though! It was disheartening to look at my shadow and realize that Farley still wasn't TROTTING, just doing a nice little jog. No where near where I need to be! I think 15 minutes a week bareback and 10 minutes of stirrupless saddle time on every arena ride is what I need.

On a different subject...
I sent pictures to the saddle fitter of Farley's back and current saddle. Even though I'm not having saddle fit issues, her back is changing and I think the fit of the saddle has changed slightly. I'll probably need to adjust it, or switch saddles sometime in the future. It will be interesting to see what she reccomends and what she thinks of the current fit.
The braided hair thing hanging off the saddle in this picture is the "tail" from Hairloom Treasures, where I got my bracelet. I keep in clipped to the D-ring on my saddle. It's very nice to have it there.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

One week 'til WW and electrolyte thoughts

Seven days until I leave for Wild West. At this point there is a slight chance of showers Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. I really really really hope it doesn't rain. I'm out of town this weekend and Monday afternoon-Wednesday evening next week for work - not a lot of time to prepare! Fortunately, since I use my trailer almost every weekend to go trail riding, it's set up and ready to go - just need to pack clothing, food, and horse food. I'm looking forward to the extra day at ride camp to set up, do some riding/running, and re-pack my crew bag.

My goals for Wild West (these are evolving) so far are:

1. Finish with a strong and sound horse

2. Get off. I've never been successful about getting off during a ride. I want to do at least 1-2 hours on foot each day (Saturday and Sunday). I'm young and fit. I have no excuse.
2a. There are a couple of long, rocky sections. I want to get off and walk those, especially after lunch.
2b. I want to practice tailing up a set of good sized hills. She tails fine on the flat, when we are moving some where, but I haven't been successful at doing it on a trail (haven't tried that hard either....).
2c. Finally, this is a conditioning ride for me too. I'll be able to get some altitude and hill training in - so I want to run some sections that I would usually ride, in the name of rider fitness.

3. Finalize my crew bag decisions. I have a lot of options. I did well at 20MT, but now I have a rolling container to add to the mix so I want to finalize the details - what goes where, etc.

4. Practice my electrolyte protocol. I am a firm believer that you can easily overdo electrolytes and cause a lot of harm, so I try to be conservative. My preference is to give them in her food, but that doesn't work so well on the trail! I've heard smaller doses more often on the trail are better than a bigger dose at the vet check. Which brings me to my.....

Thought of the Day!

If I want to carry preloaded syringes of applesauce and electrolytes on the trail, how do I keep the applesauce from leaking out of the tip? None of my syringes have caps! Anyone have any ideas or want to share how they carry electrolytes on the trail?

Funny Story (kinda)
I've never been a fan of electrolyting my horses by syringe on the trail. I will put a dose in their food before, during, and after, but that's it. At least three different times Farley has placed her salt block IN her water bucket during the night before a ride. Each time she drank the water during the night, I didn't notice until after completing the ride. Fortunately I always make a point of offering water through the night every couple hours at the community water trough, so she wasn't dehydrated. However, I always wonder if I would have gotten my horse in trouble if, not knowing she had been drinking salty water, I had electrolyted her by syringe on the trail? Hard to tell.

Ironically - at each of the rides where she had salty water overnight, she drank earlier and better! So I do believe in the power of electrolytes, but I'm still careful! I installed a saltblock holder on my trailer this year, so hopefully the block stays where it's suppose to. If I do syringe electrolytes on the trail, my plan was 1/2 dose at the water checks she drinks good at.

Running Partners



Before there was Farley, there was Toby.



Toby was my faithful running partner through school and the first part of college.




He's getting a bit gray, and up there in years. On Mother's day, my sister and I decided to give him a little outing around Ellis Lake, a man-made lake in the middle of Marysville.




He was happy and strong the entire way, showing that even if his ol' hips weren't up to a nice run, he sure appreciated the 2 hour walk.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Follow up to Tevis post

I have gotten a lot of feedback from my past post (which I think - ironically - was also my #100 post. I didn't realize that at the time of posting!). I started to respond in the comments but then I kept typing and typing and typing.....Here's what is going to through my mind right now.

First of all: Thanks for all the feedback. I gotten myself in trouble before because I didn't listen to others who were more experienced than I, and I was too focused (is there such a thing?) on the goal. I have no wish to get myself in that situation again!!! It's a lot less painful to sit out a ride than to try and put yourself and horse back to together again after pushing too hard.

Good Advice
I've noticed that when people ignore good advice and do what they want, knowledgeable people stop giving good advice. I don't want that to happen to me!!!! I want everyone here to post in the comments giving me advice! Please don't stop! It might take me little bit to figure it out, but I realize that I'm still figuring it out - I don't want to be the person that asks for good advice all the time and then continually ignores it.

Karen - your advice means a lot to me. I will definitely take it under CAREFUL consideration before deciding for certain to do Tevis or VC100. I learning there is always another ride! I don't want to be a danger to myself or others on the tevis (because I've gotten myself in a bad situation and have to be trailered out) and I don't want to burn this horse out - we are both having so much fun at this point.

The Dilemma
If she stays sound through 2 days at Wild West and Diablo AND the pre-rides on Tevis trail, is she OK to do the Tevis?

1. Especially if her ultrasounds are clean, after doing 2 days at WW and Diablo, if 20MT is her only poor ride of the season, is it still the *right* thing to do to not do a 100 this year? I think this is a judgement call in which you have to weigh doing today what you may not be able to do tomorrow, and be able to live with your decisions tomorrow, knowing you made the best decision at the time, with the information you had.

2. "What's the rush?", you say "You have your entire life in front of you to do 100 milers and the Tevis!" I'm going back to Vet school in the summer of 2011. I'm paying for it by joining the Army Vet Corps. This season and next season is probably going to be my last chance to do 100 miles or the Tevis for quite some time. My lack of time is NOT an excuse to selfishly trash my horse to achieve my goals, BUT if she can do it, I want to do it.

Where I am now
I'll know more after Wild West obviously. IF the ultrasounds come back clean before WW and IF she does WW strong and IF the ultrasounds are clean afterwards, then I'm considering doing the Tevis. I won't enter unless I think she's 100%. It's quite possible that Farley WON'T finish strong at Wild West and this situation will resolve itself!

After I do Wild West, I'll also have a talk with Dr. Melissa Ribley, if I can find a moment that I feel I can ask without bothering her. She's vetted almost every ride I've had on Minx and Farley.

My Obsession about Farley's "lameness issues" clarified
I want to clarify Farley's "lameness issues" so that as the months go on and I try to make the "Tevis decision" we are all working off the same facts!

Farley hasn't had any pulls for lameness, or what my vet would call significant lameness problems. As a comparison, I would consider Minx as having significant lameness problems. Not doing endurance is what would have kept that horse sound! Which is why shortly before her death I was looking for an alternative career for her, such as driving. Anyways - back to the topic at hand!

In December of 2007, when I first got her she interfered and hit her LF SDF with a hind hoof (a result of an evil cow chasing her along a split rail fence on a canal bank). She wasn't lame, but because of the slightly thickened tendon at that spot I took her to the vet the next day. Even though she wasn't lame, as a precaution the vet and I made the decision to take her off work for 3 months. We drugged, wrapped, hand walked etc. for 3 months. Then, over the next 3 months we gradually brought her back up to regular work. Then I started doing rides.

She has completed every ride I have taken her to successfully. She has done each ride better and stronger than the last. She does MUCH better on hilly, rocky rides. The rides that are mostly flat, with sand, get us into trouble. Probably because we train in hilly, rocky terrain.

Here's the rub: After finishing 20MT she was not 100%. More like 90%. The verdict from the vet after the ultrasound: Ride lightly for a month and then put her back to regular work. Exactly what I would have done even if she had been 100% after the ride!

You can probably tell I really really really want to do this ride. If you are a fellow endurance rider, you can probably even sympathize with me! LOL. I've gotten really really good at making better decisions this season and following my gut feeling instead of sticking my head in the sand.

I will now stop typing because I'm starting (heck! "starting?" some of you might say? "you've been there for the last 10 minutes!!!") to obsess......

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tevis?

Even though I resolutely promised myself NOT to talk about it - it looks like the Tevis cup race may be on for me this year.

I was planning on doing the Virginia City 100 in September. The feedback I've gotten regarding the VC100 is that it is a tough ride PHYSICALLY with the potential for lots of lameness, tendon, and leg issues. One person stated that if she had a horse with ANY soundness issues she absolutely would not take it to VC100. That's good enough for me. Farley isn't going. Tevis is suppose to be metabolically more challenging, but not quite as physically challenging as the Tevis. VC100 has lots of slow gradual LONG hills, while Tevis is more technical. It sounds like my chances of finishing the Tevis are better than VC100.

Here are my requirements before I do the Tevis:

1. Farley must finish both days at Wild West absolutely sound and strong. This is a technical ride so this should test her soundness.

2. I need to continue to have ZERO tack issues with my saddle (update - the white hairs don't seem to have anything to do with my current tack set up).

3. Farley must finish Mount Diablo on June 27 strong and fast. Last year this ride was HOT. Hopefully it's another hot ride. I need to know that she doesn't have metabolic issues that haven't yet emerged.

4. I need to preride the last half of the Tevis trail prior to the ride.

So yes - the Tevis might be on. I'm finished talking about it. I will allow myself to talk about it AFTER each ride I complete but then I'm DONE. I REFUSE to be the type of person that OBSESSES over this. I will just do it.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Poker ride



A poker ride is where you ride a designated trail trail, picking up playing cards or tokens that will later be exchanged for playing cards. However the ride is set up, you end up with 5 playing cards and.....a poker hand! Top hands (and the worst hand) are called and you get to pick a prize!


Saturday I arrived ~9:30 at Camp Far West with Dad and Mike.






Although I didn't really need to, I set Farley up on the spring-tie. I figured that a lot of people at this event may have never seen one and this would give them the opportunity to see one in action and ask questions. A few minutes after my arrival, I had a small crowd around looking at it.




Once saddled we headed out. More rigs were pulling in and it looked like it was going to be a full ride. We followed the pink ribbons. Dad did especially well at keeping us on task and not getting lost. He'd be a great endurance rider! I made sure that Farley's ears were in the picture so it's really a picture of all 3 of us!



The five tokens along the path were tied in buckets to trees. None of us had to dismount to get our tokens. The poker ride was quite long for this sort of ride - 7 miles.


We took several lake and grazing breaks. All the horses did really well. Dad rides a Morab that can get a little hot and this was her first outing in 6+ months. She did really really well (no major spooks). Maybe at 11 years old she's finally starting to mellow!

I rode Farley in a hackamore. This was her 3rd or 4th time in it. She did well, but didn't rate very good. She has a habit of throwing her head, inverting her back and jigging. I had a hard time convincing her that this was NOT an endurance ride. I will definitely stick with my bit at the beginning of rides and only switch if she's fairly mellow and I can find a decent bubble (so that I can ride by myself)




Once back at start we handed in our tokens for cards. I had a pair of sixes with a queen high. :( Not likely to place. The lunch was wonderful and we waited for the prizes to be called.






During lunch we watched a lady in riding tights canter down the path that split the parking area. She was riding an arab. Unfortunately, the horse was the kind of arab that makes the "cowboys" standing around at these events say "yep, it's an arab. crazy thing...". She made a not-so-controlled dismount outside of camp and the horse galloped back to her friends. She did hang on to the reins but didn't seem to be able to leap up after her fall and the horse got away. Maybe I shouldn't be so hard on my sister about not getting up after falling. It seems like I may be the anomaly, not her! At this point I felt for the women. It's never fun to be dumped - never mind in front of a bunch of cowboys with tights on, riding an arab. I next saw her climbing along the edge of her trailer with her horse in one hand. The horse knocked her off balance, she fell and the horse once again galloped back to it's friends. It was at this moment that my concern turned into something else - I'm not sure what - but it was a kissing cousin to frustration. It's been a long time since a horse got away from me on the ground. It's one thing to fall off and have the horse run away - it's happened to everyone, or is going to happen - but unless the horse is absolutely NUTS, or very talented, it's unlikely to get away on the ground. It was obvious that this horse and rider partnership had a few issues to work out, and the problems didn't start in the saddle. As the rider caught the horse and galloped/cantered down the center road, yet again, in a vain attempt to show the horse (and the cowboys?) who was boss, the comments started "an arab". I laughed because if it had been any other breed, the spectators would have been unlikely to say "a quarterhorse" or "a paint"! My dad pointed out this is why he wears jeans. Because if he shows up in "fairy riding pants" aka "tights", this what people assume he's like. I guess this is not the groups first experience with people showing up in tights with an arab. Predictably the horse came galloping back up the road...riderless a few moments later. It was at this point that the manager went and talked her discretely and (I assume) let her know that he would appreciate it if she would stay dismounted for the time being.
It was about the time she galloped down the road the second time that I did get frustrated. I'm fairly tolerant when it comes to rides. We are all there to have fun. But sometimes, you need to know when to quit. It's one thing to be embarrassed about a fall. It's another to do something stupid to prove yourself after a fall. If you have anything prove, stay off the horse. The horse doesn't understand your need to make yourself look good. I can think of very few training issues that are solved by galloping your horse out of camp.

I did meet 2 people at lunch that lived locally and have both finished the Tevis "a couple of times". They were both wearing belt buckles. Now, I do not have a habit of looking in that particular...ummm...region, so we had actually been talking "endurance" for ~45 minutes before I saw the buckle and asked. They invited me to come ride sometime which would be fun.


After lunch I headed back out. I did 5 miles on foot and finished up mounted. Including the poker ride and run, I got about 18 miles in. It was great. When I was out by myself, I rode IN a herd of cows. Cows were not more than 10 feet away, weaving in and out of a herd, of about 30-40 cows! Wow. Farley was GREAT. First time she's EVER been OK with cows. Not one snort or blow. I'm not sure what changed, but I LIKE it!
This post ending up really long - one more thing. Farley sustained a crack in the front of her left front cornet band. not sure what caused it, but it's definitely a split and it extends a little down into the hoof. I'll get a pic later if I can. Errrrrr! Not sure how she did it? Knocked it on a rock? One more thing to worry about for Wild West. She's not lame or ouchy, but it still worries me.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Poker Ride Try #2 and a BIG thanks

Tomorrow I head off for yet another poker ride - so far there no chance of rain for this one - in fact it suppose to be over 80 degrees! This poker ride is held at Camp Far West, which is also the site of an endurance ride held over Labor day weekend. The poker ride fee includes entry into the park and lunch, so it will be a good opportunity to scope out the trails and get a solid 20 miles in this weekend. This is my last chance to get a trail ride on Farley until Wild West (15 days!).

I know I do this every once in a while and it's sappy and probably no fun to read - but I again want to thank all of you who come by and comment and read. One of the hardest things in endurance for me is the lack of actual time spent AT rides. I might, if everything goes well, go to 6-7 rides a year. That's not a lot time to spend with friends and getting to know people in the sport. Since so much of the sport's preparation is spent solo, the support I get from you on this blog, and from reading your blogs has made a tremendous difference in this season's endurance riding, compared to the previous two seasons. I think in the past I was so desperate to go to a ride and get to BE in the endurance world, I pushed myself and my horses too hard, didn't enjoy the preparation as much, and didn't appreciate just BEING on a horse. I'm much happier now, I'm making better decisions for my horse, and (most importantly) I'm having a lot more fun.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Start 100 Pushup challenge

I did my max test of pushups to kick off the 100 pushup challenge. I managed a measly 20. Which isn't too bad considering I haven't been doing them regularly. I think the most I have ever been able to do in the past was 35-40. I didn't squeak every pushup out I could - I did them until I couldn't hold good form and I was "pushing" with my legs. Supposedly I'll be able to do 100 in six weeks. I'm.....skeptical.

In other news....I have some sort of bad allergic reaction on my face. I'm allergic to EVERYTHING. At first I thought that it might be a reaction to the hypoallergenic face wipes I have started using after my rides and runs. My mother favors this theory. After watching it get worse and worse and worse....over the course of the last 5 days, I'm now favoring the poison oak theory. Oroville (where I road Saturday), does have poison oak, but I don't remember any during that wet rainy ride. I stayed mostly on the road during the ride, which is wide and easy to avoid vegetation. I also wore (as always) long sleeves, gloves etc. So in summary I'm not sure where I would have picked it up.

WHATEVER it is, it doesn't really matter because the facts are that my face burns/itches/hurts enough that I can't focus and I had to go home sick yesterday so that I could take copious amount of benedryl and sleep on the couch last afternoon. Yes, I have FINALLY made a doctor's appointment this morning. In which they are probably going to try and give me cortisone, to which I will say "I react to that" and they will say "no one reacts to cortisone". *sigh*

I felt horrible last night (see preceding paragraphs...) so I went to the stable ONLY because I didn't go the day before, and I thought that giving Farley a bath would be fun (cold water on my face is VERY soothing - don't know how clean Farley would have actually gotten). Of course once I was at the stable, why not go riding? For the first time since I've started arena work, there were LOTS of other horses in the arena (4-H lesson). Farley did very good and only got antsy when she was on the rail walking and other horses would come up behind her, loping. Good girl! She gave me the right canter lead without too much trouble. I focused on NOT pulling back on the reins. If she got going too fast I would ask with my seat, and then we would circle off the rail. It worked quite well.

Part of me feels bad for blowing off my lesson this weekend to go to the Poker ride with my Dad, but part of me feels that I'm making so much progress on my own, it's OK to wait to take a lesson for a while. I also think I might get a lot out of auditing a lesson from the ground.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Wild West Update

I just learned that there is a good chance that I will get a four day weekend for Memorial day - which means I can ride 2 days at Wild West without taking vacation! Yeah!

I e-mailed the Ribleys and it wasn't a problem to tack a Saturday ride for my already-registered Sunday ride. So it looks like I'll be doing my first multi-day 50 on memorial day weekend. I wouldn't do this except that Farley feels absolutely solid AND I don't know if I'll get another ride in until September when I attempt my first 100. It would feel SO good to get 2-50's (in one weekend) before my 100.

I am considering doing Cooley ranch (June) or Gold Country (July), but my schedule is starting to get tight and I might not. BALANCE is the key and doing these rides would mean I would have to forego some family events.

Tedious Tuesday

I admit it was sheer laziness that kept me from sharing the camel picture of Farley from the last post, so without further adieu (I'm almost positive that that is the WRONG way to spell the word I'm trying to use) -





I received my bracelet made of Minx's hair from hairloom treasures last night. I got the option of the braid with an engraved plate. You can see it below, along with the beautiful plant I got from work and the sympathy cards:




The plate has a rearing horse and "Gal's Black Minx" on it. It's very sturdy and I shouldn't have to take it off unless I'm swimming or working with something abrasive like concrete.

I knew I wanted something to wear, made with Minx's tail, but didn't like most of the what I came across on the Internet (or it was too expensive!). When I came across this site, it clicked that this is exactly what I wanted. Her items are simple and elegant. The engraved plate was important to me so it wasn't "just another braided bracelet", however, after recieving it, I like it well enough just based on the braid that I might consider one of her other bracelets "just because" in the future.

If you are looking for a fun way to remember a horse, I would highly recommend a Hairloom treasure. She was prompt in answering my e-mails and kept me informed throughout the process.

Have you thought about braiding a horse hair hatband Giselle? Now that is something that would be really really cool.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Wild West - 20 days

Wild West 50 is only 20 days away! I must admit I'm getting a bit "cocky". I have the fittest horse I've ever had who is in beautiful condition. I am hitting my running mileage goals for the first time in 2 years. AND I feel my riding is better than ever before! What could burst my bubble?

1. I have an ultrasound on the 18th to check the tendon. I'm sure it will be fine. If I still had the added expense of 2 horses, I would probably even blow the appointment off.

2. I found a couple of white hairs on Farley's back, on either side of her spine, in the center of her back. Mmmm.....there's been several tack set up changes and tweaks.

Did they come before I switched saddle pads (skito from a woolback)?
Before I bought my new saddle? (I was using a not-so-good Borelli that didn't really fit until the middle of last summer)
Because I was using my stirrups too much (more a problem in the Mcclellen Saddles) due to my riding?

The current sweat pattern doesn't show any pressure in that area. My gut says to leave everything alone for the moment, check and make sure my saddle doesn't have lumps in the flocking in that spot (would be unusual since it's even on both sides), keep an eye on everything and watch for more white hairs. The next step after that would be to contact a person that reflocks saddles in my area and perhaps have my flocking readjusted. I think it's probably time. Anyone know a good saddle adjuster/flocker in central California?


Thought of the Day
Does anyone know when the summer coat starts to "grow" and develop? If white hairs are caused by pressure (damaged hair follicles), then the pressure must have started/been worse when the summer coat was developing or prior to the summer coat right? Would LOVE some insight on this. It might help me track when this issue originated. I try to get pictures of her white hairs soon.

Rain and more Rain

On Saturday I dragged my poor unsuspecting sister out of bed to join me on a morning trail ride. I should explain. On every trail ride that has threatened rain that I have taken her along, has cleared up just in time for the ride. I'm sure she thought her "sunny" optimism was going to work miracles again. HA! It was a wet wet rainy ride. (Loreleigh - this is your chance to tell, of our last almost-rainy ride where I turned you into bear bait, before I tell it!)

We headed up to Oroville again. I have exactly one picture. Farley the camel, in her tack, covered by a green rain sheet.

I decided to leave my 100% waterproof duster at my parents because #1) I wrongly assumed that if I left it, it might not rain and #2) I needed to get 2.5 miles of running in and had a strong suspicion (rightly so) that I wouldn't run in the duster.

During the tacking process Loreleigh used the wrong "slot" in the dressage girth to buckle the billets. I seriously thought I was going to have to cut the saddle off because I couldn't get the buckles off. I was strangely philosophical about the whole thing. My exact thought was "Oh well, the billets are leather and need to be replaced anyways". In fact, my biggest frustration was that dealing with this issue was cutting into our limited riding time! Loreleigh had to be at work not-so-later that afternoon.

FINALLY we were off. I started on foot jogging (I HATE that term. Either you are running or walking. No matter how slow. From now on "jogging" is BANNED from this blog). Sally (Loreleigh's horse) decided to lead. Sally spooked to the side (a fine feat for such a plump horse) and Loreleigh, in wonderfully slow motion tumbled off the horse, spun a complete somersault, and ended up on her bottom, legs splayed in front of her. She had the oddest expression on her face. Sally (in true mustang fashion) was eating grass. But for how long? AND we were right next to rail road tracks, I wanted to get the h*ll out of there ASAP! In accordance to my new resolution to be a better and more fun sister, I did NOT yell in my big sister voice "get off your A$$ and catch your horse NOW!!!". Instead I faintly, urgently whispered "get up, get up, grab your horse". She just sat there with a look of shock on her face. Later, after the ride I had a conversation with her that she really needed to come out of her falls a little better (see, true sisterly concern). Sitting there in shock was not reassuring for the people with you on the trail ride OR a good option when you have a loose horse next to a potentially dangerous situation (rail road track, busy highway etc.). She said that after she assessed herself and knew she was OK, she told herself to get up, but her body wouldn't listen. My response was "don't assess the damage, just get up and catch your horse. If you can't get up, then assess the damage!". LOL. We both had a good laugh.

Our trail ride continued. I ran for ~30 minutes. It was a good lesson in sisterly trust - she was following me ON horse back, and I had to trust she was not going to run me down. The pounding of hoofbeats behind me was a familiar one... (Loreleigh - this is your chance to tell the story of you running over the top of me at the beach with Buster before I do!)

We turned onto some single track for a while, but it was mucky so we went back to the gravelly road. I started to get a little cold and damp, but didn't really feel the rain until I lent my gloves to my sister. Dry and warm gloves are certainly a necessity for wet weather riding!

Overall the 2+ hour trail ride went well. Both horses behaved in the rain, I got yet another ride in my hackamore AND I got to see the results of all my arena work paying off. I have never felt so balanced and "easy" in the saddle on the trail. My seat and legs and hands were quiet and my posting gentle. Wonderful!

I turned Farley out with a rain sheet Saturday night. I had never turned her out with a blanket, but wanted to know that I could, so it seemed like a good opportunity. She did well, but when I caught her Sunday morning she was shivering. :( She was dry and warm, but shivering. So maybe even though she was dry, it was not enough to make up for the fact that the hair was laying flat? Not sure. She warmed up very nicely in the trailer in a cooler on the way to Sunday's (cancelled) trail ride.

Unfortunately with all the rain, Sunday's ride was cancelled. :( Fortunately it was not far from my parents house so we didn't drive far. There is another poker ride next Saturday and I agreed to go, even though it means skipping out on one of my (very few) riding lessons to do it. But hey - spending time with my father is a good thing! I will ALWAYS be able to take lessons.

As you can see, unless Loreleigh "ponies up" and provides us with riveting accounts of prior trail rides with me, I will be "forced" to entertain you with tales of past doings, to make up for the fact I have no entertaining tales OR pictures from this weekend.

Friday, May 1, 2009

To be or not to be?

I'm off to a poker ride this weekend with family and friends. My first organized non-endurance event! What to be (or not to be)?

Option A: wannabe cowgirl

The look: tight jeans, knee high cowboy boots (with hearts!), belt with buckle, helmet optional (I have a cool hat), little western shirt, and just possibly, some makeup. If it's rainy, perhaps there will be a duster.

The downside: I look no older than 16 with this particular look, it's EXTREMELY hard to mount a horse with jeans as tight as I was planning, AND I'll be using an english saddle -awkward to say the least.



(no no no - stand square! Don't look at me!)


Option B: crazy endurance rider

The look: tights - preferably some outrageous color such as purple, athletic shoes (with crazy knee high socks???), running singlet top, helmet with big ol'salamander sun brim with a handkerchief duck-taped to the back, sponge on saddle, if it's raining there will definitely be a trash bag or two. Extra points for color coordination of synthetic tack, tights, and saddle bags.

The downside: I will be shunned. The colored tights do not do my fat bottom any justice. There are far more upsides to this option: Everyone will be so busy looking at my tight-clad-bottom it is doubtful they will notice I'm riding an arab, I will be comfy, I won't have to talk to anyone, AND the flapping trashbags might scare enough of my fellow riders that I will be the only one in the running for any prizes......mmmmmm.





(Nice butt! Again with the not standing square thing....*sigh*)

In reality it's suppose to rain - so I'll probably don waterproof-english-looking boots, my polartec riding tights, duster, and a helmet - hopefully with a water proof cover if I can find one. Hello warming hot hands stuffed inside of gloves!

Farley and I have put in some serious arena work this week and we are both better for it. Mugwump's blog has been extremely informative regarding cantering issues. Last night I worked on trot/canter transitions and picking up the correct lead (that right lead is a &$#@!). I feel more balanced and confident during the up transitions and (surprise!) so does she. I can't wait until my first lesson (next weekend) in over a year to show off what I've been practicing to my riding instructor (this will be my 4th lesson ever!! ) Arena work is HARD compared to the trail! I think this is the longest I've ever had a sound horse (Minx was constantly lame/not lame/lame/not lame) and it's wonderful what can be accomplished with regular work. Farley has only had regular work since June/July of last year!

(Farely's hair "quilt" as her summer coat is coming it!)

Pictured throughout the post is my attempt at some conditioning photos. I always wait until dusk, when she's on an uneven surface AND I've just unsaddled so she's waiting for her beet pulp mash. *sigh* She's starting to look pretty good! I still want to put a bit more weight on her, and then we'll go to maintenance mode. Goal is a 5.5 condition score! I can't see her ribs any more so I'm getting close.