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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Check this out!

This is an awesome Tevis story. Absolutely hilarious. Check it out.

Any guesses?

Any guesses who this is? :)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Publishing mistake

Publishing mistake. Sorry folks - I was composing random thoughts and hit the publish button. I was going to see if I could run some sort of statistics and see whether there were differences between people who used boots and people who didn't (times, number of miles completed before Tevis, etc.).

Crystal - My apologies - the "case in point" had nothing to do with the previous sentence but because of the draft form, it made it sound like it - My congrats were for finishing 11th (WOW) and also for using a glove through the finish. I was researching an answer to my question at the end of my last post.

thanks everyone

My Tevis 2010 Story

I was assured yesterday that if I posted the long version, people WOULD read it, so instead of trying to condense this into a nice little 4 paragraph story, here’s the whole caboodle.

May I start with the end as opposed to the beginning?

24 hours later Farley looks great. No visible weight loss, a great attitude, and moving well and sound. My only concern is some edema in the girth area (I use a long girth, so the edema and swollen/lumpy area is up on her sides). Any suggestions? I think the girth was loose and moving throughout the California loop caused some rubbing and friction, so maybe I need a tighter girth? I use a mohair girth – how about adding a fleece cover? Her back looks great – I switched to an equipedic pad at the last minute and the risk paid off – it’s a hotter pad, but gives more support, which I think it important at a 100 since I’m still not riding well to the very end.

I discovered that in addition to hydration, starting the Thursday before the ride, my NUTRITION does at well. I have such a hard time eating during a ride that I MUST eat as much as possible on Thursday night and all day Friday. I did a good job doing this and I felt great most of the way. I had a problem with getting very hungry on the California loop and not daring to get anything out of my saddle bags. By the time I got to Fransico’s, I had transitioned from hungry to feeling sick and I never was really able to get past that.

We finished at 4 am, and power walked with very little trotting the last 6 miles. Her scores from Robinson onward only improved. My only complaint was her trot outs. She was TOTALLY not motivated and it’s a problem that has only gotten worse this season. I think we need to work on it at home. The reason she isn’t trotting out is a good one – as soon as she sees the vet check she immediately goes into the “zone”. Even if I trot into a check mounted, by the time I get off, her pulse is usually around 54. BUT, for 10 seconds she CAN summon up the energy to give me a good trot out without messing up her “vet check zone” so I’m going to start insisting on it.

Next year I want to finish “better”. At the end of the ride she was definitely tired and a bit sore. Unless I had a bucket in hand, there were definitely no friendly nickers in my direction. This is only the second time that she has gone the 100 mile distance and I need to remember that she also acted like this after her first 50, and her first 65. It takes her twice at a distance before she “learns it”. As long as everything continues to look good, I’ll take her to Virginia City 100 in 6 weeks and see what her attitude is finishing that ride. If she’s still a bit grumpy after that one, I’ll go back to 50’s and multi’s for a while. Overall, Farley stayed strong from finish to end. Her attitude on the trail was bright and cheery and she took care of me and her until the very end. Kudos to an awesome mare.

Here’s the Tevis 2010 Story

The start

Karen Chaton found me at Robie on Friday to give me a very special present – a Tevis angel. It was beautiful with a sliver charm that showed an angel and a horse, with a colorful line of beads. I was very touched but did wonder, as a hornet bit me on the nose at that exact moment, whether or not I should have chosen a different one……

Once again, I chose to ride out of camp in very last place. I had a hard time convincing Farley it wasn’t a conditioning ride. She was totally relaxed and on a loose rein the entire time. This is the second year I have done this and it works well (at least so far….). I usually don’t see my first crowd of people until the Red Star vet check.. The benefits of this are obvious – for the first 36 miles of the race I get to ride my own ride. My friend I had went through the bogs at our own pace, let our horses eat and drink at Squaw along the trail. Everything was calm and relaxed and we could pace the first third of Tevis exactly to our liking. We did get lost (a lot of people did, there was some trail marking sabatoge….) that put us back about 15 or 20 minutes, which was a blessing in disguise. There was some trouble in the bogs this year. I heard someone came off, horses fell, and some serious tack malfunctions. Being delayed that 15 or 20 minutes probably saved us from getting caught up in that mess. At Red Star, there’s usually ~40 horses milling around. I waltz through the check fairly quickly and thus pass about 40 riders. With only 7 or so miles until Robinson I don’t like to take a lot of time at that check. I spent more time there this year, waiting for my friend Kathy to pulse down (I ended up leaving her at the check).

Robinson is a tough vet check because of how they have it set up. You are immediately funneled into the pulse box, which then immediately goes to the vet in area. Technically you can stand in the pulse down area as long as you want and let your horse eat and drink before pulsing and vetting in, but I’m always anxious to get to my crew area so we can both relax. Therefore, I wasn’t surprised when the vet gave Farley mostly B’s . I had a strapon on one hoof and the vet made me trot out 3 times but finally admitted he couldn’t see anything and he would “let the trail sort it out” (he also said that I shouldn’t worry about it – just ride)

After Robinson

My time for the first third was almost identical to 2009. I decided to do the 2nd third of the trail much slower this year. I had plenty of time in 2009 but worried about the cut offs, and felt that by pushing the 2nd third, I ended up with a horse that was too tired.

I use the strategy of passing riders at vetchecks (like what I described for Red Star) throughout the ride. For example, at Last Chance there were a TON of riders (40 or so). I trotted in, mounted and she was already down, so I immediately vetted through (pulse – 54) and let her eat and drink on the other side of the vet check for ~5 minutes. As riders started to go through the vet check, I left, which allowed me to go through the first canyon unhindered by long lines of riders. I spent a lot of time cooling off at Devil’s thumb this year because my horse needed it and the stop was deserted. When I arrived at Deadwood, again the check was totally impacted. Since I had spent time at Devil’s thumb making sure she ate, drank, and was cooled, I walked out of the check, hand feeding and then hopped on and headed to the second canyon. I rarely pass riders on the trail and people rarely pass me. In a sense, I create my own “luck” by making sure I don’t get caught up in other people’s rides or other people’s accidents.

The second canyon I had my first and only altercation in my entire endurance career to date. About ½ way down the second canyon, a group of 5 or 6 riders were going very slowly down the trail. The horses in the group went very slowly, stopping before each section of particularly rocky trail to look before crossing the rocks/downbank/whatever. Then, at any wider flat spots, they would fly at a very fast trot, making it impossible to pass, and not checking if anyone would like the trail. After 30 minutes of asking them to yield the trail, I took matters into my own hands. I became insistent that they MUST yield the trail when possible. They replied that they had 2 juniors and it would be against the rules for me to be between them and their sponsors at any time, even to pass. I was told that they would decide “safe” and it would be the bottom of the canyon. I was cussed at and told to shut up. I did not respond except to ask that they yield the trail. Finally, as they are screaming at me and getting my name to “report me”, I tell them where to stop and then blow past them on the trail, one by one. I took the “cliff” side so that I was taking the bigger risk. Then, once I was past and out of sight I started bawling from the stress and emotion. I then headed up and out of the canyon as fast as I dared so that I didn’t have to see them again for the ride. I understand that the narrowness of the trail makes people nervous, but there ARE safe places to pass and common courtesy can allow all of us to have a safe and pleasant ride.

Michigan Bluff and Chicken Hawk went off smoothly and off I went to Foresthill. My horse felt great, I felt great. At the Foresthill the vet said “It’s such a shame to get all the way here and….” As he looked at my shocked face, he complained that no body has a sense of humor at 68 miles. He smiled and said she looked great. I got mostly A’s with a B for muscle tone. I decided we would walk up all the hills for the remainder of the ride. (BTW – the next vet at Fransico’s shrugged and said that all the horses felt a bit tight at this stage of the ride and I shouldn’t worry about it, he didn’t see anything unusual).

I was leaving FORESTHILL!!!!!!!

Foresthill and Onward

I fell in behind Melissa on her Paso Fino and off we went to the California Loop.

I have ridden the California Loop in the daylight. At a trot.

I didn’t think it was that bad.

In the dark it alternately scared and terrified me. As I suspected, glow bars distracted both me and Farley so I shut them off after 20 minutes or so. I liked having them at the beginning while navigating through the town of Foresthill so I was more visible, and it was nice to know that I had them in an emergency, but they remained off for the remainder of the ride. If I wanted to check something out, I used the red bulb on my headlight.

Farley led ~50% of the California Loop and it was both exhilarating and terrifying. If you looked hard you could see the faint light (or dark, depending on the surrounding vegetation color) ribbon winding through the darkness that was the trail. Cal-2 was neither worse nor better than the rest of the California loop because the moon light made the entire, unshaded hillside, including the trail a blinding white that was as disorienting as the darkness of the previous trail.

Half way through the California loop, all of a sudden there was a movement ahead of me and I realized that a dark horse, with no glow bars, was heading towards me at a trot (and I’m also on a dark horse with no glow bars). I call out to the rider and we stop, facing eachother. Farley, the great little horse she is, never even flinched. It was Karen, who hadn’t seen a glow bar or ribbon for a while, and not being familiar with the trail was afraid she was lost. We assured her she was fine and she turned around……to show a red glow bar on Bo’s tail. Oh no. I tried to let her get far enough ahead that I couldn’t see it but it was impossible. Once the eye (horse or human) saw that red dot in the distance it was impossible to focus on anything else. The glow bar was malfunctioning and Karen couldn’t get it to turn off, and could TAKE it off without two hands. Finally we found a safe place to pass, but not before Farley got disoriented enough to step off the path a bit with her hinds (and give me a heart attack in the process).

I would argue that if you have never gone further in Tevis than the Forest hill vet check, than you haven’t gotten to really experience Tevis. I found all of the vet checks prior to Fransico’s tense and stressful. I made it a point to leave as soon as I felt I could once my horse had eaten and drank. At Fransico’s, it was like a giant party. Farley didn’t see the reason for leaving. She planted her feet and told me in no uncertain terms that we had plenty of time to finish and she WAS going to pig out some more on this lovely flake of alfalfa. I conceded that she had a point, removed her bridle and gave her 5-10 more minutes.

The river crossing was a bit stressful. I started to drift down stream a bit and the water was high enough that it was over her belly and over my stirrups (there are good and bad things about a small horse…..).

Once over the river, Farley and I both started to lose a bit of motivation. My caffeine pill was wearing off, and I was starting to not feel good. I had been very hungry on the California Loop but didn’t dare reach around to get food out of my saddle bags. I never really was able to get down enough food after that to make up for that couple hours of not eating. I had been imaginging things in the trees and bushes for some time but now I saw little animals in the leaves and branches and everything seemed to be moving.

Lower quarry was at the beginning of the gravel road and not the end by the highway crossing like I expected. The bright lights were absolutely blinding, so I dismounted to come down the hill before the check. Farley had tripped and fallen during a training ride here and figured that NOW there was even a bigger chance because we were both blind.

Farley did a most UNspactacular trot out but we were allowed to go on.

At this point, I had 6 miles into the Auburn and I knew we could do it at a walk. I insisted we trot most of the gravel road, up to the HWY crossing, then Farley could do whatever she wanted. And she decided she wanted to power walk into Auburn. So that’s what we did.

I was feeling downright disoriented and threw the reins at Farley and told her to take us home.

The Finish

Her attitude was GREAT – ears forward, energetic 4.5 mph walk forward, no stumbling or tripping, and attacked the hills and rocks with vigor. She just didn’t want to trot I didn’t particularly feel like trotting either that was fine with me. (About 3 miles from the finish she did offer one a couple of times. I declined.)

The same vet who pulled me last year at Tevis had the honor of giving me a completion this year. By coincidence, he also vetted me in this year. He gave me a hug and told me he was proud and then I managed to drag me and my horse to McCain stadium.

Here is where my crew and I had a difference of opinion. I did NOT want to go around the stadium and had in fact decided not to while I was still on the trail. Terry (part of my crew) said I had to. My argument was that I did not finish well and didn’t feel like I deserved to. Terry’s counter argument was that my parents were already sitting there waiting for me. My response was that I would go to the stadium, stand on a hill and wave to them. They waved back. Terry told me that I should go around. I countered with – “fine, but they would have to allow me to lead Farley because it’s unfair for me to ask her to pack me around any more”. Terry agreed and before I knew what was happening, I was leading Farley around the stadium and the announcer was getting all sorts of my information wrong (probably my fault as I didn’t spend much time on my “info” sheet since I wasn’t all that confident I was going to finish).

Then it was back to the stall where I managed to choke down a cup of champagne, get hugged, and managed to keep from puking or passing out (a side effect of being really really tired and hungry is getting sick and then NOT being able to eat. Lovely eh?)

I then fell into bed for an entire…..2 hours.

The Day after

I had a LOVELY breakfast with my crew. Upon hearing that I was not planning on purchasing a buckle, my crew IMMEDIATELY decided I MUST have a buckle and everyone chipped in to buy me a buckle for my completion. I’m going to have it engraved – “From the 2010 Crew”.

The rest of the afternoon is a bit hazy. I was sweating a LOT, even if I was just sitting down in the shade. Just from walking from the parking lot the stall I would start to feel very sick and need to sit down or risk puking. Matt (boyfriend) had come to help me celebrate my completion and kept an eye on me. He convinced me to let my aunt drive me home. I was very well hydrated so I think I’ve narrowed down the cause to an electrolyte imbalance. I talked to my mom (she’s in charge of rider welfare during the ride to discuss strategies for my next ride). When I started to feel the sickest was during the awards ceremony. In fact, I was feeling so awful, I didn’t know whether I would be able to make it on stage. When I looked at my watch, I realized it was 2pm and I hadn’t eaten since breakfast at 8:30a. I didn’t have my ticket but went down to the buffet table and explained that I was a rider, hadn’t planned on eating so didn’t have my ticket, but I wasn’t feeling good and could I PLEASE have a plate of food. I did feel better after the food, but felt BEST after finishing off a McDonald’s fries on the drive home. I felt like licking the salt out of the carton.

Lessons learned

So much went well at this ride I really have a hard time complaining about ANYTHING. Here’s what I AM looking at for next year.

1. Making a point to have Farley a little distance away from the crew “main”. I’m lucky the commotion doesn’t bother her, but I’ll feel better if she’s apart from the hustle and bustle with limited access to her (only people who need to be messing with her will go to her)

2. Remember to put sunscreen on in the morning. (at least this year I didn't have to ride the first 36 miles in 1 contact!)

3. Have a back up alarm in the morning….don’t ask.

4. figure out how to eat out of my saddle bags in the dark

5. Designate a crew leader who is also an endurance rider

6. Take another caffeine pill at midnight

7. Do not give up my Monday vacation day no matter what – I NEED IT.

8. Include salty foods in my ride food box for vet checks and in my saddle bags – this year all I had was potato chips at the vet checks.

9. Move my chicken hawk crew to Michigan bluff – I don’t need a crew at chicken hawk.

10. Continue to use boots. I felt like I had superior traction as compared to last year, her legs only have a little bit of filling (24 hours later), and she tripped/stumbled less.

11. Remember the ice!!!!!!! I didn’t ice legs afterwards!!!!!!!!!

12. Make a decision on Adequan.

13. If she continues to be a good girl for the next couple of weeks AND starts Virginia city as well as she started the last 4 rides, consider switching her to a hackamore at least for the last part of the ride. She can eat OK around the bit, but when she’s REALLY hungry she can’t stuff large mouthfuls into her mouth and get it past the bit. I was nervous to do this on the California loop, so VC might be a good place to try this since it’s doesn’t have the same kind of drop offs that I could die on.

I probably forgot stuff, so be prepared for “Tevis Talk” for at least the next week……

If you are a reader and you want me to post your tevis story, let me know.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tevis Boot Story

There’s a lot of stories within a single Tevis. The horse story, the crew story, the people I rode with, the trail, Farley’s story, and my story. I’ll probably get around to telling some of these stories in bits and pieces as the week goes on, but I wanted to start with what I consider one of the most important aspects of this year’s Tevis – my decision to use boots.

This post is rather long, but I ask that you stick with me. I feel what I have to say is important and worth your time if you are considering boots for your horse.

My boot criteria is simple.

1. Application of the boot must not require any hoof modifications – ie I am not willing to wrap, duct tape or otherwise modify the hoof in order for a boot to stay on. Conversely, the boot must not modify the hoof – ie scrape, cut into, or rub.

2. The boot must stay on and be easy to apply and take off without any “professional” help.

The only boot that fits this criteria currently on the market is the renegade strap on. Boot application takes seconds and can be done by anyone. I could do it one handed if I needed to. Once fitted, the boot stays on. Any fit modifications are done using the BOOT, not the hoof, and involves fitting the different boot components, NOT by adding athletic tape, duct tape, vet wrap, or mallets.

So why did I choose not to use the renegade strap at Tevis this year? I was having trouble fitting the hind hooves. I was confident that my fronts would stay on, but for some reason my hinds, under certain conditions (specifically when they were wet, going up a very steep hill that involved boulder hopping and leaping ledges) would twist off. If I had more time, I could have resolved my issues and used the strap ons. In fact, it only took a 10 minute conversation with Kirt in Robie to identify the probable cause and solution (Need a stiffer captivator and to go back to 0 max cut backs on the hinds). However, even though the glueons do not fit all of my booting criteria, I wanted to experiment with the glueons and I was short on time before this year’s Tevis, so glueons seemed like a good decision. I had good luck with the glueons staying on at Wild West (3 day ride) so I thought I was good to go for Tevis.

I learned the following lessons at Tevis:
1. Renegade is one of THE best companies - bar none - I have ever had the pleasure to work with. The level of service, care, and commitment is absolutely astounding.
2. Glueing on boots may work in the short term, ie for very specific races or during times of transition while fitting boots in an issue, but is NOT the answer for the competing barefoot horse.
3. I CAN trust the renegade strap on boots.
4. I have always believed that the point of having a barefoot horse is to ride barefoot as much as possible. This served me well as Farley had to do significantly rocky parts of the trail without protection.

Here is my Tevis boot story.

This part you can skim through. If you want the “Bottom Line”, skip to the end of the post.

I glued on my boots before heading up to Robie on Friday. I found the Renegade trailer, met Kirt and Chad, who took a look and said that as long as I prepped the hoof properly (ie – sanding) I should be fine. We talked a bit and in addition to boot bags and a polo, offered some very insightful advice on my issues with the hind boots. Kirt said that if I needed any help during the race to look him up at the vet checks.

Which turned out to be a very good thing. If I had thought Kirt and Renegade was helpful before the ride, I was absolutely shocked at the level of commitment and care they showed during the ride.

I lost my first glue on about 5 miles before Redstar (after first trot by). I trotted on (thanking God the entire way that Farley has such wonderful feet and we do 90% of our conditioning barefoot). At Redstar I applied a strap on and continued to Robinson Flat.

I yelled at a crew member to find Kirt and let him know I had a problem. I wanted him to double check my strap on fit before heading into the canyons.

Kirt arrived and told me he would be installing another glue on for me (insert shock and surprise on my part!). As I watched him and Chad install the boot, I saw immediately what I my problem was – I DEFINATLY was not sanding the hoof wall enough. He also recommended that I carry a 0 as my spare strap on for the hinds, not a 1.

Half way down the second canyon I lost another glueon – a front. I continued down the canyon and up the other side into Michigan Bluff, where I installed another strap on. I told my crew there to go to Foresthill and let Kirt know that I was going to need another glueon.

Kirt and Chad were waiting for me as I arrived into Foresthill. I vetted in first to make sure everything was OK and then got another glue on installed. They told me that my two remaining original glueons probably weren’t going to make it, but we decided there wasn’t enough time to replace them before heading out. I lost another glue on (the other front) somewhere in the California Loop, arrived at Fransico’s, and installed yet another strap on. I crossed the river, vetted through Lower Quarry, went across No-Hands, and finished in Auburn at 4am with 2 renegade-installed glueons, a strap on, and a glue on I personally put on. Kirt, Chad and my crew waiting for me. Somehow I managed to schedule a visit with Kirt to discuss boots at 10a Sunday.

I left the strapon on during the vet trot out and while she wasn’t moving perfectly (she was downright grumpy….) it was good enough for a “fit to continue”. I removed the strap on for the night and went to bed for an entire 2 hours.

A crew member told me that Farley trotted out sound for her 1 hour welfare check (Tevis has a second required check 1-2 hours after you finish) so I think she just looked funny at the finish because of the strapon on one foot.

At 10am I headed over to the Renegade trailer where they removed the glueons and spent an hour going over her feet with me, trimming, fitting boots, and giving other advice regarding the barefoot horse and how to maximize the performance of the boot.

The Bottom Line

Gluing on boots is NOT easy and it’s incredibly easy to make a preparation mistake that results in a boot loss. It’s a lot like nailing on a shoe – yes, the layman could do it, but you would rather have a professional do it right? Because there’s a lot to get “right” and whether or not you get it “right” depends on how well that shoe is going to perform at a ride like the Tevis (and you have to get it “right” for each application, unlike a prefitted strap on). And even if you get it “right” there’s still a chance the boot is going to come off – as evidenced by the fact that easy care was re-gluing on plenty of boots at vet checks that they themselves applied at the beginning of the ride.

For those of you that use easy care glueons for rides, and might have even completed Tevis in a pair of easy care sponsored and applied glueons, I want you to consider the following. Could you have applied that boot and had it perfom throughout the race? If it had come off and you did not have the support of the easy care team there to reglue a boot on, did you have a strap on that would have worked for the duration of the ride? Or could you have glued on another in the time allotted at the vet check? Are you comfortable constantly relying on a boot application professional to ensure good boot performance (much like relying on a farrier for your shoes)? One of the most fulfilling aspects of going barefoot is how much control I have over my horse’s feet – and some of that control is taken away if I have to constantly rely on someone else for booting. How many of us in glueons took off the boots right after finishing the ride? I didn’t. Approximately 2 hours later the boots came off, but at the expense of my horse’s discomfort at having to hold up her feet for a lengthy amount of time. Farley was tired and sore after the race. Instead of less than a second per foot required to slip the strap on off right after the race, she had to balance and hold her feet up while the glueons were cut and pried from her hooves.

Armed with my strap on boots that were fitted by Renegade (and yes, the boots were different from what I had fitted…..) I’m going to tackle my next rides – in a strap on. I still might glue on for a ride like Tevis, but I truly appreciate the control and increased welfare of my horse I gain from using a strap on.

Please understand that I am not interested in “bashing” Easy care. However, after doing Tevis, some things are much clearer to me, and as you should all know – I call it like I see it.

Up until this point I have restrained myself from a negativity, chosing to highlight the reasons why I chose Renegade boots and perferring only to respond to comments that I should try Easy Boot products with a vague "I'm not a fan of the easy boot products". However, armed with more information and experience, as well as observing the Easy Boot team at Tevis, I feel that I'm comfortable making my opinion public.

At this point, I see Easy Care promoting a product, that while it can be a solution for the short term, is NOT the answer over the long term. Where is their strap on that can handle the rigors of Tevis? Where is their boot, with no modifications such as vet wrap or athletic tape, that will stay on? (I'm so tired of seeing advertizements for the glove where you can tell the hoof isn't wrapped - especially when I overhead the Easy care reps say that in order for the best chance of the boot staying on, you need to wrap - then why isn't the horse in the pic wrapped? Why isn't athletic tape and the rest of the wraps listed on the side panel under "needed materials"?) Where is their boot, that without professional application, will stay on? I commend Easy Care for encouraging people to try Tevis, the hardest endurance race in the world, barefoot. Now please do us the courtesy of publishing, along with the statistics of your finishers and Haggins Cup results, the other facts such as – All boots were professionally applied, and nevertheless some of those boots came off. Give us th exact number of boots lost - that should give us lay people the failure rate of a professionally applied glue on (which is the best case senerio) so we can make informed decisions on whether glueing on boots is a good alternative.

If easy care or anyone else that is happy with their boots would like to comment or respond, I welcome the dialog. I'm absolutely convinced that Renegade strapons are the answer for Farley and I, but as I have critisized a particular company, it would be unfair to not allow a response and I will honor any comments or correspondence sent to me.

Virginia City 100, here I come! In pretty orange strap ons!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tevis Trauma (I mean Drama....) Update

I GET TO GO!!!!!!!!!!!

Many thanks to my co-worker and friend who stepped up to the plate to help me out, bought me lunch, and said "we are going to do this".

I was more scattered brained than a twitter bird, based on 2 hours of sleep in 48 and a lack of any thing that could be construed as food. But we did it and I can go.

Off to take a nap, nurse my headache, and pack my stuff (the horse stuff got packed last night). I'm sleeping in tomorrow and will end up in Auburn "whenever". I only have a 2 hour drive, so even if I don't leave until 8 or 9am it will be just fine.

With this much pre-drama the ride itself should go off without a hitch right?

Thanks everyone for your support.

Tevis Drama

I'm sitting under my desk right now crying. I have NEVER in my working life lost it at work, thank goodness I have my own office.

So at this point I CANNOT go to the Tevis unless my manager cuts his vacation short.

I've had this vacation approved since the beginning of the year.

I have 2 sponsors and well over a thousand dollars invested in this ride.

This is likely my last chance to ride Tevis before going to vet school.

I have made so many personal sacrifices for this job and have never said no, whether it was flying across the country on short notice or volunteering to reschedule vacations when needed.

I have a crew travelling many many miles and hours.

I just got off the phone with my manager, whom was probably still in bed when I called him and asked him to call his boss with a game plan that will allow me to have Thursday and Friday off.

It doesn't help that I'm operating on nill hours of sleep, having put in some crazy hours and shifts trying to get this issue resolved so that I can go.

My manager said he will "think on it" and call me back "later". Somehow, by the time he calls I will have pulled myself together, accept with grace and dignitiy whatever the decision is, and somehow come up with the $$ to make restitution to my sponsors if the decision is that I cannot go.

I then I will cry. A lot. Maybe even spend the night in my horse's pen crying and looking up at that Tevis moon.

Really truly absolutely the last Tevis post

If you don't know a lot about Tevis, and want the very short primer, check out AareneX's blog here.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tevis - REALLY the last post

I'm #68! Follow me on the webcast and you too can laugh and cry as I finish (or not).

Go to the tevis website (, click on webcast on the right hand side bar, and watch me progress (or not!). :) Great fun....

Tevis: Where I am today

You probably won't hear anything else from me until after the Tevis. Here's my thoughts as of today (4 days until Tevis).

I still don't know my rider number, since the Tevis website is so $#$*^#@^%@!!$ hard to navigate. If you want to follow me on the tevis webcast, you are going to have to look up my number from the start list that morning. Sorry.

Farley's stall assignment is 2-5 (barn 2, stall 5) so if you are in the area please say hi.

I'll be camping in a columbia brand tent and looks kind of purple and yellow, at the fairground.

The big 5th wheel RV in the middle of now where by itself on the fair grounds in my crew headquarters.

And lastly, a brown/tan-ish "first up" will part of the crew ensemble at Foresthill, as is the shower tent. Come by, say hi, and if you arrange for hot water, take a shower.

I haven't had any time to worry about Tevis. In fact, Tevis will feel easy compared to the crap I've been through the last 2 weeks. (mostly work stuff). Desperately trying to get enough sleep - cancelling meetings right and left and becoming the "absent supervisor" who says "call me anytime" but doesn't really mean it, if your phone call is going to come after midnight.

My horse looks great. Started elytes last night. On Saturday I had a jump lesson where she was completely awesome. First time in stadium, managed to do a pattern of 4 fences. It was absolutely incredible. She didn't dive out once and she's not rushing. I'm very proud of her.

Sunday was a dressage show, where once again I got to practice lessons of humility and character building. I don't want to get into the particulars, except to the say that my horse did a great job and handled the show really well, even though I didn't get the scores I expected and wanted.

BTW - In the quiz everyone has been taking lately (check out Funder's and AareneX's blog), Farley is a "steady eddy".

More than ever I am totally committed to pulling me horse if there is even a hint of an issue. Having goals beyond endurance - such as dressage - puts everything into perspective. I do NOT want to lose training time for dressage because I pushed me horse too far in an endurance race. TOTALLY not worth it. It's no longer a question of whether she will work out of whatever issue in time for the next race in 6-8 weeks. Now, I want to ride conservatively enough that my horse is happy and sound enough to do a rated dressage show in 4 weeks, which will mean she's happy and sound enough to school dressage before then. We've made so much progress in dressage (we finally HAVE a canter and we are close to having a transition into and out of that canter) I WILL NOT throw it all away for one race.

NOTHING is more important to me right now than finishing Tevis with happy, sound horse.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Newbery blog change

AareneX kindly pointed out that Newbery has only one "r", and by doing so in the infancy of the blog, saved me and my mother (Carolyn) from the immense embarrassment of having someone tell us a year later....

So.....If you have decided to follow the fabulous Newbery blog in reader, please direct it to the new address (an "r" has been deleted):

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Shameless Self Promotion

My mom (author of the Food Adventures Etc. blog) and I have created a new blog called "Project: Newbery Award".

It can be found here.

We are going to attempt to read through, and comment on, the newberry award winners. The focus will be on the books that have won the Newbery Medal, however on occasion a special Newbery Honor book will also appear.

It has been a pet project of my Mom's over the last few years to collect and read through the Newbery books - the opportunity to share our Newbery musings together in blog form will make the exerience even more delightful! Our goal is not to actually BUY any of the books, but rather find them at thrift stores or garage stores, or borrow them from friends.

Please stop by and share you comments! The blog's final formatting is still under construction, but the first 2 posts are up!

If the shirt FITS....then wear it!

Can you guys stand another product review?

Have you ever, completely by accident, discovered a product so wonderful you don’t know how you did without it?

That’s how I feel about my F.I.T.S riding shirts.

My trainer bought them new, off the sale-rack for the low, low price of 10 bucks. The tag said $60. She couldn’t wear them and must have sensed my proviclation for used, cheap clothes and ambivalence towards funky patterns (why do you think they were on the for sale rack?), and offered them to me.

I tried one on, decided it was just OK and stuffed them in my trailer for later.

The next day I wore it in the arena while helping another boarder with ground work. Mmmm….comfy.

The day after that I wore in on a canal hack. Mmmmm….it doesn’t bind.

Friday night I slept in it (amazingly comfy) and Saturday I prerode Tevis in it (100 degree day). It’s the first shirt I have EVER ridden in that I completely forgot about. It didn’t bind, annoy, move, choke, get damp, chafe, or otherwise piss me off. I had excellent protection from the sun, but also stayed cool.

After that ride, I couldn’t get enough of the two shirts.

  • I slept in them (way comfy)
  • I went to work in them (trendy, cute, modest, and very stylish)
  • I traveled in them (didn’t annoy me on the plane or in the truck)
  • I did my stable chores in them (cool AND protected from the sun)
  • I rode in them (absolutely perfect)

In fact, I can barely stand to peel them off my body to launder them. I would rather be stinky and dirty in these shirts than put on any other top in my current wardrobe.

I’ve decided to redo my entire Tevis wardrobe to accommodate these tops.

After testing and living in these shirts for 2 weeks, I can honestly say that I would ACTUALLY pay 60 bucks for them. Without batting an eye. They seem quite durable and can do anything from the office to the stable. I am cheaper than cheap when it comes to clothes, but I also know what it means when for 2 weeks, every time I grab a shirt, I find myself in a funky patterned F.I.T.S.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Tevis Gremlins Strike Again!

Side note: what the heck happened to my profile gadget on the side bar???? Itś not there and blogger won´t let me add it because it says itś already there.....very weird.

The Tevis Gremlins continue to focus on me rather than my horse.

Which I should be grateful for.

Iĺl try.....

***Warning! This post mentions various body fluids and is *probably* not for the squemish

The ¨back story¨
As some of you may know, my return plane flight (June) from Alabama was not exactly picture perfect. It involved me passing out and then become concious again as I puked all over the aisle, too out of it to even grab the air sick bag. Not fun, fairly tramatizing, and a little scary since this is about the 3rd time the whole passing out/puking thing has happened and I have no. idea. why. it. happens. Every 2-3 years I have an ¨episode¨.

I have been flying trouble free for a year (I fly every ~4-5 weeks for work) and had even come to enjoy it. Alas, no more! The total lack of control seriously tramatized me now all I do is stress about flying, wondering if ¨it¨ is going to happen again.

Back to the story
So.....Letś think about this - Tevis is in 9 days AND I have a recognized dressage show (triple rated) in 3 days.....AND I have to fly for work at the last minute.

Enter Tevis Gremlins

All week I´ve definately been a bit anxious about this flight. This morning I start to feel light headed, dizzy, and nauseous even before I leave the house for the airport. I kneel over the toilet and figure FINE! If I´m going to throw up, then DO IT! Because this is REDICULOUS and as much as I HATE puking, I´d rather do it at home than in the airport parking etc. Just as I´m preparing to MAKE myself throw up (something I´ve NEVER done and NEVER thought I would do) Jonah barges in. Poor, crying Jonah that knows I´m leaving and is determined to touch me and be with me at all times.

I´m not amused. I don´t need company, I don´t need the insistent meowing, and I don´t need an audiance!!

I scream at him ¨JUST GET OUT¨ and manage to slam my forehead against the bathroom counter as I attempt to shove/throw/drop kick him out and slam the door shut, and he attemps to bite/claw/meow/slobber to stay in the bathroom with me.

So now I´m throwing up AND I have a gash in my forehead that gushing blood. I feel like a bulemic teenager who tried to attempt suicide by blunt force trauma to the head.

On the way out of the bathroom I trip over Jonah who was coniving to get his fat body under the bathroom door, who meows EVEN LOUDER when I step and then stumble and then kick him (accidentally) *trying* to get OUT of the bathroom.

I haven´t packed at this point.

On the way to the airport I stop in and say hi to Farley. Feed her mash, kiss her nose, and apply fly spray.

I purposly don´t wash my hands so I can breathe the calming scent of horse and horse products as an emergency back up at the airport.

No one at the air port even notices the horse smell. They are too busy looking at my forehead.



A "study" in Conditioning

OK - more like an observation. Or theory. Or hypothesis.

Mustang Sally went with me again (with a friend mounted) to preride the Tevis finish to the river crossing and back.

Sally was slightly thinner than last year (Thank Goodness!) and the weather was slightly cooler (100 degrees as opposed to 115 degrees).

After 25 minutes of untacking, cooling the horses with the hose, and waiting for my friend to get back with the car I got curious.

What was the difference in pulse?

Both horses finished the ride looking good with plenty of energy (unlike last year where poor fat Sally was led in and then tried to do "death by trailer" on the way home - probably trying to roll in the shavings inside the trailer).

I had loaded Farley by this time in the trailer and while she wasn't upset...she wasn't exactly thrilled to be in the hot trailer while Sally was tied up in the shade still grazing.

Farley's pulse was.....44

Sally's pulse was....60

So I have a couple of theories -

#1: Farley is really fit and Sally is.....not
#2: Farely is fit but also has the advantage of a lower resting pulse. Sally is average fit but naturally has a higher resting pulse.

What's interesting is that the horse's "looked" almost identical after the ride!

I don't ride with Sally often, but I think I'm going to keep an eye on her pulse - both resting and after activity. It's interesting. It's fine and dandy to know what a horse's pulse is/how they are recovering etc., but what's even more interesting (to me) is to have a fit horse doing the same work as a comparison.

Sally is great on the trail and would make a nice little endurance horse, so if she does enough work where she's 50 mile "fit", it will be even MORE interesting to monitor her pulse. My experience is that fit non-arabs will be outpulsed by a quaisi-fit arab a majority of the time. I don't particularly want to get on my soap box about the 30 minute pulse finish criteria here (an AERC thing for you non-endurance people) but it will certaintly be interesting to monitor Sally over time....

A completion in 2010?

Tevis 2010 is different from 2009.

Honestly, I'm not sure whether the differences will add up to a completion (I hope so!), but the fact remains that 2010 IS different from 2009 (after all if you try and fail, then something should change).

Fact 1 - Farley has a 100 mile completion under her belt (or girth....).

Fact 2 - We will have almost a year of dressage together. I'm a better rider, she moves better. Her hindquarters development is significantly different and she's a power house up hills even though....

Fact 3 - .....we did less trail conditioning this year. But I think I'll be Ok because....

Fact 4 - ...we did more rides and the rides were stronger. American River in April, and 3 days at Wild West instead of 2. AND she was just much stronger at all those rides than last year.

Fact 5 - No lameness problems this year (or last year). Some scares and me being silly, but she's stayed sound.

Fact 6 - Her hocks feel a WHOLE lot better.

Fact 7 - Her saddle fits better (started getting a "b" for her back last year at Tevis after the canyons, but could have also partially been due to sore hocks, as they also saw a stiff LH).

Fact 8 - My crew is mostly returning this year, so I think they deserve the title "experienced".

Fact 9 - She's barefoot this year

Fact 10 - She's been ridden more frequently this year leading up to Tevis, but the riding has been easier. Last year we prerode the last 2/3 of the trail, including some long, back to back days (was 3 weeks before the ride but still....). No significant work (prerode the finish and then doing my regular dressage and canal hacks) this year since Wild West so I KNOW she's well rested. I did the same sort of 6-8 weeks "off" for both the 20MT 100 and Wild west 3 day ride and it worked fabulously. I think Farley's best performances at rides are coming by maintaining her endurance base (which was built over the last 2 years) and then riding regularly (4-5x week) with very few "strenuous" work outs, combined with endurance rides every 6-8 weeks.

Fact 11 - I will be riding with front leg boots this year - the lack of these is one reason I pulled last year.

Fact 12 - Farley and I practiced riding in a group this year and I am MUCH more confident and don't have any stress when doing so now. It really was my mental hang up - not Farley's, but I'm much more confident that everything will go well, even if I get stuck in the middle of a big group for a while.

Fact 13 - Farley and I have been practicing the "stand" command faithfully for 2-3 months now, and I no longer envision certain death if I have to stand on a single track for a while, waiting for some diaster in front of me to get cleared away.

Do 13 changes = a 2010 completion. Let's hope so.

Before the 2009 ride I gave myself an 80% chance of completion. Looking back, I would have put it lower - probably ~60%.

I'm feeling pretty confident this year - let's call it ~80%.

I've heard it said that you shouldn't start Tevis unless you are 100% confident you can cross that finish line. Let me clarify why I'm at 80%.

I have a hard time lying to myself. I'm NEVER 100% confident that I will finish ANY ride because of getting pulled with Minx so often. I have a healthy appreciation and respect for the endurance distance and I do NOT fool myself into thinking that ANY ride will be a walk in the park. Doing endurance on a non-arab or a horse not perfectly suited to endurance will give you a whole 'nother perspective on how "hard" endurance can be.

That being said, Farley and I have never looked better, my equipment has never been so dialed in, I KNOW that Farley is a 100 mile horse (it remains to be seen whether I'm a 100 mile rider becuase of my idiocy at 20 MT!), and I've seen the trail - I KNOW that it's doable for both of us. In reality, Farley has been pulled just once - 2009 Tevis. We have 630 endurance miles together (I have an additional 150 on Minx) and an additional 165 LD miles together. Farley is GOOD at this. Maybe this is our year and maybe it isn't, but what ever happens, I'm confident that Farley and I will work as a team and get eachother safely through it.

Greatest Gift

At my jam last night (I play fiddle), I got presented with a special "award". Uncle John retired....and decided to bestow upon me the hat.

The hat was first presented to John by Frank, upon Frank's retirement.

Now it's mine.

I'm told that I'm going to have it for a really long time....which is probably true as the years until retirement exceed those that I have lived.

On the front: "Born to Fiddle, Forced to Work"

On the back: "Old Guys Rule" (oh yeah....)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Tevis 2010 Crew Sponsor

I am proud to introduce Elk Grove Milling as the 2010 Tevis Crew Sponsor. I will have free mashes made from Elk Grove Milling product "Stable Mix-Senior" at my crew center at Foresthill, as well as literature and other information.

My crew will be sporting Elk Grove Milling Stable Mix T-shirts and Hats - look for a group of beige shirts.

Stable Mix is a pelleted feed that is forage based. I really like this feed. The senior and the performance stable mixes have very similar nutritional panels with slightly higher fat contents than the "original" stable mix. It doesn't have molasses or other added sugars on the label, but Farley still seems to love it. It's one of the few feeds that she will eat at home AND at a ride.

If you have a horse sensitive to sugars, I would contact EGM for it's suitability for feeding, however based upon the label and talking to knowledgeable people in this area, I am comfortable feeding it.

I have had problems keeping Farley is good condition over the last nine months. I'm very picky about what I place in Farley's dish. I dislike feeds that are corn based, make my horse's "hot", and have a lot of added sugars. I like LMF's "Gold", but I have to special order it in this area, and it was expensive - approximately twice the cost of EGM's product. It also didn't seem to stay as "fresh" as the Stable mix pelleted product.

After trying EGM's stable mix at the recommendation of a local feed store, I was in love with it. The low cost, ease of buying (no special orders!), and platability has made it easy for me to feed regularly and as a result, Farley looks better than ever.

I was surprised how many people I knew and encountered at shows were feeding EGM product. Apparently it has quite the following from serious dressage competitors, to western pleasure, to 4-Hers, and pleasure trail riders. In most cases, people started to feed it on recommendation from friends. Everyone I talked to liked the product and was still feeding it. I think this is the strongest recommendation a product can have. After all, I can name two or three feeds that I liked, but I'm no longer feeding for a variety of reasons. Horses like the feed and it helps put and keep weight on (which mystifies a lot of people since it's forage based with no molasses or traditional concentrates...).

Thank you EGM for agreeing to sponsor me this year!

Stop by Farley's fairground stall or the Faubel Team Crew area at Foresthill for literature, a handout detailing which feedstores carry it, and a free sample.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Black Stallion Returns

OK - now you guys really started it. I carefully restrained myself from getting into the nitty gritty of the books and which are my favorites in my previous post BUT with all this talk about the series in the comments.....but I can no longer restrain myself.

I didn't know that The Black Stallion was series for the first 3 years I read it. My earliest memories of the Black Stallion was me reading it (and not for the first time) when we moved to Davis - I was going into the first grade. Two years later we moved, and having a residence that was bigger than a matchbox, books were brought out of storage and my mom presented me "The Black Stallion Returns".

I hated it. I read it once. I was mad at my Mom for even giving it to me to read.

Then I discovered something else - there were more Black Stallion books - more and more and more! The next years were spent in the "F" section of juvenile fiction at the local library.

As an adult, after graduating from college, I started to actually buy my favorite Black Stallion books - The Black Stallion's Filly, The Black Stallion's Sulky Colt.

And then....for my birthday this year my Mom made me an offer - would I like a selection of Black Stallion books for my birthday? Would I???? WOULD I??????? WHOOOO HOOOO!

I let her pick the selection after we both agreed that The Black Stallion and the Girl was just weird, The Black Stallion Ghost was just weird, and The Black Stallion's Mystery was just kind of....dumb.

I recieved "The Island Stallion" (one of my mom's favorites), the original "The Black Stallion" (my very own copy!), "The Black Stallion and Satan" (guess who's faster......), "The Black Stallion Revolts" (every good story has a case of amnesia), and......

You guessed it.....

"The Black Stallion Returns".

As an adult I appreciate this story more. It's subtleties and nuances that were lost on me as a kid, made this book a enjoyable read as an adult.

Mother's always know best.

In fact, I have trouble understanding what about this book even scared me so much as a kid. I was such a wimp. The violence of Alec of Black getting shot at? Alec being tortured? or maybe just the fact that there was "change" and Alec and the Black were no longer together and there's no reassurance that they would ever be to together again.

So while I may still prefer the story of Black Minx or Bonfire to the story of how Alec lost the Black, I no longer have to hide the book underneath a pile blankets in the corner of the room while I sleep.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Black Stallion

Let's say you've been living on an island and I have never read the 1941 "The Black Stallion" by Walter Farley.

Similar to trying to explain what oatmeal was to the Japenese college roommate (it's delicious I swear!), the conversation might go like this....

"'s about a boy getting shipwrecked and being saved by a horse and they are on a deserted island. And he tames it. And rides it around the island at a gallop without a bridle or saddle. And then they get rescued.....and they run this race and....Hey, where are you going!? It's good I swear!"

Because honestly, let's face it, in less than 200 pages we have a shipwreck, the taming of a wild stallion, and a winning horse race. And let's not forget, a boy jockey that seems to fall unconcious at the drop of a hat.

Not to mention a whole 'nother host of equal improbabilities and cringe-worthy information such as:
  • It's possible to have a "special relationship" with a horse, such that you can become a world class jockey in less than 200 pages. (and your special horse will not kill you or otherwise harm you).
  • Stallions fight to the death.
  • A hot or nervous horse that is given water will colic
  • It's appropriate for a young kid to own an unbroke stallion.
  • It's appropriate to show up with your unbroke stallion and ask your parents to pretty please keep it, so you go across the street and plunk it in a broken down stall that needs repairs.
  • It's perfectly acceptable to let your stud act like an idiot around other horses (and people) because "that's his nature".

And yet, 180 pages into the book, as Alec flies around the track, I'm STILL teary eyed as love conqueres all and victory is won - every single time I read the book (which is a lot, as I read The Black Stallion as my first chapter book when I was 5 years old or so).

Why is it that I forgive Walter Farley's fantastical details, with a smile and an eye roll, where with another author I might become so irritated I might not be able to finish the book and quite possibly make rude comments with a pencil in the margins?

Is it because Walter Farley alone manages to capture the spirit of the horse so accurately that all else if forgiven? That he comes the closest to describing the relationship I have and the way I feel about my horses?

For those of you that aren't aware, Farley is named in honor of Walter Farley, and Minx was a tribute to the Black Stallion's filly, named Black Minx.

How many countless children (and adults) has W. Farley inspired? Among the "gee whiz's" and "golly's" of a bygone era there's a kernal of the essense of what it is to love horses. Do yourself a favor and let yourself get lost in the fantastical world of the Black Stallion. You won't be dissapointed.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Food for Thought

On Stable Scoop (Horse Radio Network), they interviewed the author of Austrailian-based blog,

He made a comment about riders wearing helmets, put in a way I had never heard before. I have no data to back this up, but in my opinion, it rings true.

  • Beginners should wear helmets because they tend to come off more than experienced riders.
  • Experienced riders should wear helmets because although they come off less often then beginners, their falls tend to be "harder" and more critical when they do occur.

I had never thought about that before. Yes, I have less falls now, and yes, I think if I DO come off, it's going to be because something really weird or bad happens and it will *probably* result in a worse fall.

Does this ring true to you? If you are an expereinced rider that hasn't come off in a while, do you think that your next fall will have a probability of a poor outcome, compared to your beginner days?

I think there is a multitude of factors of why I think experienced rider falls are worse.

  • I probably would be able to stay on longer during a dicey situation and wouldn't bail as soon.
  • As I get better at riding, the stakes are raised. For example, now I'm jumping solid cross country jumps, riding trails that are more narrow, have drop offs etc.
  • I ride more. Time in the saddle is important for getting better and therefore reducing the amount of falls, BUT the more time you spend on the horse, the more time you expose yourself to the possibility of a fall.

I think this argument for the type of falls and frequency of falls between beginners and experienced riders certaintly bears thinking about if you decide to not wear a helmet because you've "outgrown that phase" - you haven't come off in a while, and your riding has improved to the point where you don't *think* you'll come off at all.

It's also a warning to us experienced riders to not to get complacent - just because I haven't come off in a while doesn't mean it can't happen and when it does....there's no guarentee that I will walk away from it like I have for the past 50 or so falls.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

New blog contact

Please note that the blog contact address has changed in the side bar.

I do not find Yahoo a user friendly service and it won't allow me to forward e-mails to an account I actually check without upgrading to the paid new e-mail has been generated using the gmail service.

You can categorize this information as "didn't really need to, or even really want to know". That's OK. I feel better for venting.

Horse Bloggers

Behind the Bit has set up a google group for horse (related) bloggers to network in. I think it's a great idea - it will help us stay current, get ideas, and connect with the horse blogging community.

I've met some wonderful people through this blog, and by extension met still more people or businesses. I would not be nearly as successful in my horse endeavors if it wasn't for blooging.

I'm all for another way to discover good horse blogs and keep my blog fresh and exciting.

If you are interested in Behind the Bit's original post, click here.

To join the google group, click here.

I have a confession

I have a confession.

This year.....I haven't been so good about getting off Farley during rides.

Well.... my conscious compels me to be a bit more honest than that.

This season, I haven't gotten off my horse at ALL and I've required her to pack my ample behind up and down seriously steep trails.

And I don't feel guilty about it.

Here's why.

I could blame it all on the fact that I've managed to injury knees and other injuries are catching up to me, and I've spent more $$ than I care to mention, "fixing" everything. I'm feeling a bit fragile at the moment and although I'm running the streets pain-free, letting myself go pelmell down a hill on uneven ground feels a bit...reckless.

However, there's even better reasons to blame this particular bout of laziness on.

Last year I got off and ran because (although I didn't know it at the time), I was compensating for my riding and for her lack of fitness. Since starting dressage, her fitness level has gone up SO MUCH and my riding ability has SKY rocketed, and I simply have not felt like I needed to get off. The other difference was getting her hocks injected. Going down steep single track, she tucks her butt so nicely and tackles it with such confidence, I actually feel better staying on and letting her handle it, rather than risk me getting off and losing my footing and falling.

Now that both of us have the fitness to "go the distance", there's other reasons to stay in the saddle.

Mounting from the ground is hard on the horse's back. I used to pride myself on being able to mount any horse from the ground, without lengthening my stirrups. However, after reading an article in Equus about the pressure put on a horse's back through mounting from the ground, I've become a firm believer in mounting blocks and not even using the stirrups to mount if possible. (I can't find the Equus article online at this moment, but if someone - like a certain librarian has it??? - they are welcome to link it in the comments) Finding a tall object to mount from at a ride is a pain and I have to weigh the benefits of having to remount several times, against staying in the saddle.

Mounting on the ground is hard on your tack. Check out the pics of these saddles and explanations on the saddle fitter's blog. 'Nough said. Not to mention my girth has to be tighter if I'm getting on and off.

This does NOT get me out of paying attention to my fitness....Just because I may not be getting off and running as much, does NOT exempt me from being an equal partner in this partnership. There still might be circumstances where I DO get off in a ride and run or walk, however, it's no longer my default decision in all circumstances - Farley is much fitter, I'm a much better rider, and our saddle fit is much better. While last year the scales tipped in favor of getting off, I'm discovering that this season they have tipped towards staying on.

Any comments?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Tevis Gremlins Strike Again!

After two kitchen fires and three glasses of wine, dinner is served.

It's best that you don't know all the details but it is sufficient to say that the first fire was of a magnitude that after vainly looking for a fire blanket in the kitchen and attempting to beat out the flames with a towel, I ran screaming outside for Matt to come and save me (and dinner).

Tevis Gremlins - you will not thwart me from riding on the 24th!

Tevis - 2010 Rider Sponsor

I'm pleased to announce the Team Faubel Tevis 2010 Rider sponsor is De-Lyte Bites!

De-Lyte Bites is a new company that is owned by none other than fellow blogger Heather. I love the concept of dosing electrolytes in cookie form, so I'm very excited about the De-lyte bite for electrolyting during rides.

I really don't like the idea of dosing Farley with electrolytes via syringe because she has shown me that if she needs electrolytes, she will eat them free choice. At Wild West I provided her a bucket of electrolyte water (as well as "plain" water), and she had the choice of mash with and without electrolytes.

However, it's difficult to provide free choice electrolytes on the trail and I think electrolytes work best if you can elecrolyte often, in small doses after the horse has drank along the trail. These cookies are a good solution. Each cookie represents a 1/4 dose of electrolytes which is perfect, since I usually dose in 1/2 dose increments. I tasted one before offering to Farley, and while they are very salty, they are also platable and a bit addicting - kind of like salty pototo chips.

I'm careful about adding excess sugar to Farley's diet and was pleased to see that each cookie contains less than 1 tsp of sugar (and to my taste buds, don't taste sweet).

Carrying electrolytes in syringes is bulky, I've had problems with syringes falling out of my saddles bags, and then not having access to electrolytes when I wanted them. The cookies are much more compact and it's easy to carry them in my breast pocket. They are slightly soft, but if you leave the bag open for a couple of days, the cookies harden a bit, making them more durable for bouncing around in saddle bags.

The cookies are convient to feed. Farley readily takes the cookies from the saddle during our conditioning rides and it's so easy to reach down and offer her a cookie after she drinks. I'm very much guilty of NOT adminstering electrolytes near the end of a long tough rides on the trail, and waiting until I'm at a vet check....I think I'll be able to offer electrolytes more consistently in cookie form, even at the end of a long tough ride.

Farley has shown me over and over she WILL take care of herself if given the chance. Offering electrolyte cookies gives her a choice, and gives me a convient way to offer that choice.

I will have samples and literature if you will be at the Tevis and are interested in learning more or obtaining a free sample. Look for me in a black technical polo with the De-lyte Bite logo on the back, or stop by Farley's fairgrounds stall.