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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Tevis Evaluation

We are reaching the end of my planned "Tevis" posts! I hope that the posts have been enjoyable and maybe even given you ideas for your own ride.

Because Tevis is such a challenging ride emotionally and physically, I think it's a perfect opportunity to access some of the strengths and weaknesses of me as a rider, and Farley as an endurance horse. I am a huge propenant of contemplating, as honestly as possible, the "reality" of myself and my horse in endurance. As I prepare my crew notes for next year, I think this exercise is especially helpful, as hopefully my crew can make up for some of my shortcomings.

Let's start with Farley

  • Pulsing down. I can ride into a check at a trot, or sometimes even a canter and she'll be down to pulse criteria as soon as I dismount - no sponging or pulling tack required
  • An efficient trot. She's like an energizer bunny.......the downside is that sometimes we can be travelling quite fast and it's kinda "sneaked" up on me because after all....we are still at a trot right?
  • She will eat and drink as needed and will take care of herself
  • She's very efficient downhills and if there's lots of up and down, we can make good time on the downs so we can take it easy on the "ups".
  • Great feet and comfortable completely barefoot if necessary.
  • Very very sure footed.
  • Not spooky, very brave, sensible and will use her head if she gets in a tight situation.
  • Not herd bound. Travels well anywhere in a pack, or all by herself.


  • Unethusiastic trot outs. Can be marked down for attitude and impulsion because she's not quite "into" the whole trot out thing.
  • We don't live in the "hill country" and I'm relying on my conditioning base and dressage to get me through rides. Therefore I must be conservative going up and down hills.
  • Extremely sensitive skin, need to be on the look out for any rubbing, especially in girth area and on legs underneath leg boots.
  • Very ineffecient canter. Better to vary the speed of the trot and allow to walk to work different muscles.
  • tends to get cold and "shivery" easily. Always have a cooler available at checks.
  • Will snap reins and leadrops if she steps on them
  • Although usually starts on a loose rein, totally calm, occasionally (~1 out of 5 starts) is a complete maniac for no reason (at least, not that I've been able to discover).
  • Tends to do something stupid in front of the photographer which makes it very difficult to get pretty trail pictures. :(

Now let's talk about Melinda


  • Is very focused and is good about riding on target times (if possible with the horse on that day).
  • Good sense about miles travelled
  • Doesn't usually get lost
  • Fairly fit, could hike out if necessary
  • Is very good about rider on top, horse on bottom
  • Encourages others to ride their own ride around her and tries not to affect the ride of others around her.
  • always carries a spare EVERYTHING in the crew bag.
  • Obsesses about her horse insissently
  • Organization
  • Data collection, comparison, and trends
  • Loves her horse more with every passing day and is more determined than ever to place FARLEY'S WELFARE FIRST.


  • Not as likely to unbridle for every check - need to get Farley going at rides in a hackamore ASAP. Minx was hard to bridle so I think this is a hold over from that. Either ride in a hackamore or take the bridle off at every check! (see comment above about horse welfare...)
  • Does not eat at night in the saddle - need to keep snacks in bra or front pocket of shirt for last loop of a 100.
  • Tends to not do "extra stuff" that seems like "too much trouble" such as......applying technu, packing extra caffeine pills, carrying a GPS.
  • Has a hard time eating during rides and is very picky. Often doesn't feel hungry at rides, just sick.
  • Has a hard time getting enough electrolytes or calories down during a ride (although it's getting better as I find stuff that agrees with me...)
  • Not good at cleaning girth throughout ride - need to have a spare so I can just swap out.
  • Has a hard time at keeping track of vet cards
  • Will COMPLETELY stress out over an off hand comment that a vet makes until the next vet check, where Farley is completely fine.
  • Has a hard time saying no to people and doesn't want to hurt feelings. I'm working on this and everyone should consider themselves warned - my crew is going to undergo a radical change this year and please be understanding! It was too big and disorganized this year at Tevis and while it's been fun, I'll be doing things a bit differently in 2011.


  1. Don't sweat the blasé trot outs. I think while you might get an initial B for impulsion, what matters most is consistency. I saw a horse at FH that did the laziest WP jog, but C said that horse -always- trots that way, from vet in to finish. Vets figure that out.

  2. Ugh, trot outs. Mimi had some of the worst ever, for several reasons. When I used to show her, we did a lot of in-hand Halter and Showmanship classes, which emphasized a wimpy western jog. She was also quite a handful in-hand when she was younger, so I spent a lot of time trying to keep her calm and sedate.

    Then when I started distance riding, I had to teach her that trotting in-hand meant enthusiasm and energy. She also has her funky egg-beater style of going, which looks really bad at a slow trot. The faster I get her to trot out, the less the vets look cross-eyed at her.

    One thing I do for trot outs is use a specific word or command when starting out. Mimi's word is "Go", a holdover from our gymkhana days when that was her signal to sprint back to the timing line after running whatever pattern we were doing. So her association with the word is "Move your feet!"

    Also, I do a trot-out at the end of every training ride after getting back to the trailhead. She's learned that she's not "done" the second we get back and I get out of the saddle.

    She still doesn't have the most inspired trot outs, but she's gotten so much better about it in the past year since I've started working on it on a regular basis. She's learned by now that an enthusiastic trot out is the expected response.

    Whew...that got long-winded! Clearly trot outs are a favorite subject of mine!

  3. Very insightful.
    What does this expression mean? "Is very good about rider on top, horse on bottom"
    Not doing your horse's job or working too hard in the saddle, maybe? Just thought that was interesting.


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