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Monday, January 31, 2011

Yes I'm a Wimp

Last weekend I got confirmation of a very important decision.

I’m done riding in the rain.

Did you know that it rained at every. single. endurance. ride I did last year? With the exception of Tevis?

It is true that with the proper gear, it becomes bearable. And last year, based on my goals I needed to grit my teeth and just bear it. So I did. And I triumphed. This year I have no such goals to keep me from wimping out. In fact, my goals revolve around having fun and having a sound horse. Therefore, I will be cancelling all rides where I wake up to the sound of rain coming down on the steel roof of my trailer. And quite possibly, attending an alternative ride the next weekend.

Last weekend I had a living history event in the bay area. It rained. I was on horse back 3-4 hours in a wool uniform. At first it wasn’t too bad, but inevitably you get cold. For me it starts in my hands and feet. I’m not shivering, but the cold is that numbing, chilling cold that there is no recovering from until you can get a good night’s sleep. My back starts to hunch over and I don’t take full breaths. My thighs begin to ache and it becomes impossible to ride well or even move well. I have Raynaud’s so my hands are usually totally useless as the blood vessels spasm, and trust me – gloves are not much of a help in this situation. Most of the time I get a headache at this point because my shoulders are knotted up. I’m not cold and shivering, but I’m not comfortable either.

It’s extremely difficult for me to regulate my temperature riding. I can do it – but it requires me to be attentive, and proactive something that can be difficult for me during an endurance ride, especially a 100 miler. And this year, there’s no reason to be miserable.

Scattered showers – I’m OK with. Rain, storms, downpours – I draw the line.

So, I’m introducing the new, not-so-tough-Melinda. The revised and revamped Melinda who does difficult things, as long as they are too difficult!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

It's working!

I had the BEST lesson and/or ride today, that I've had for a very long time. Couldn't stop grinning from ear to ear, was really able to concentrate and focus, and I had FUN.

I can't WAIT to get on Farley again - and that's the best feeling in the world.

I'm thinking about taking a vacation day on the 1st, when I move her into her new digs. I could take an entire day to putter around, get stuff moved around and organized etc. It would be a novel concept since I usually jealously guard every vacation day as a potential travel day to a ride or other event.

BTW - this is not good "Sales talk" - but then again, I'm not a good sales person! To those of you that are waiting for the items to go on "sale", I can tell you with confidence that the prices WILL drop as the weeks go by, however you DO run the risk of the item disapearing since I will be starting to list the items other places. Everything needs to be gone by May, so I'm motivated (not to mention the list is probably going to be 2-3X the size once I finish taking a hard look at my gear). I don't want to spend lots of posts on my for sale items, so I'm creating a new page on the blog: "For Sale". Check the page for updates, I'll keep the page current with a revision date.

Breaking news!

On February 1, Farley will be moving into a different barn.

Life is a series of major transitions.

My last major transition was graduating from UC Davis. Life conspired to throw a million different things at me at once (of course!) and I had my first (and only to date) panic attack during this time.

I learned an important lesson.

There is a limit to the amount of stress that can be handled, even over the short term. Stress isn’t healthy and it will demand its payment physically and emotionally.

I’ve mentioned to several of you that I haven’t enjoyed riding in the last couple of months. Even non-riding activities that I used to enjoy, like trimming feet, have fallen by the wayside. Lately, Farley has become another chore and another thing that I “should be doing”, instead of something that I look forward to all day. It’s unlike me to be so ambivalent towards my 100 mile ride in 3 ½ weeks. Yes, I want to go – but the excitement is gone and if truth be told – I’m going more out of desperation that I’ll be able to find “it” again – the pleasure that I felt at this time last year – and to see my friends than for the actual ride. I find myself wanting to make excuses for cancelling lessons (even though I still go and don’t use the excuses), and although I enjoy the lessons once I’m there - I’m struggling. I find myself going and trying because I want to make my trainer happy, instead of doing them for myself. Riding, so long my stress-managing tool, has slowly become a stressor unto itself.

As I (not so patiently) wait for word on my vet school interview and other million things that are happening this year, it has become obvious that I MUST reduce the total amount of stress I'm having to deal with.

It occurred to me on Monday that what I am paying in board, added to the cost of buying my own hay, was roughly equal to the cost of boarding at my trainer’s – which is full care. This is opposed to what I am doing, which is essentially self-care.

I didn’t realize how much unacknowledged stress was associated with how I was boarding Farley until I made the decision to move her. It doesn’t matter how well I was managing the stress or the winter-SAD stuff if the actual AMOUNT of stress is extremely high. You can only “manage away” a certain proportion. At some point you have to ELIMINATE stress instead of merely managing it.

I love having total control over the care and management of my horse, but I will get my chance again this summer for the next 4-5 years. In the meantime, not having to buy feed, feed hay, clean pens, worry about turn out, hook up the trailer 2x/week for lessons (and having to leave work early and thus trying to work split shifts), and feed supplements (only happens the 4-5 days/week I’m at the stable) is a huge relief. Not to mention access to arena with good footing year-round, not having to worry about security, and the knowledge that even on the days I can’t be there, Farley will be turned out, watched carefully and will get her supplements.

There are tradeoffs to moving Farley – it will cost a bit more, I will have less space for horse stuff (which is why lots of stuff will go up for sale and I AM open to offers – especially if you are buying more than one thing), and I will lose control over how/what/when things are done. But it is worth every single sacrifice right now – and none of these tradeoffs will create more stress than my current situation. All I care about right now is riding Farley and enjoying it and boarding her at the new barn will make that possible. And hopefully – riding will once again be enjoyable and a way to forget my troubles – at least for that short period of time I’m in the saddle.

A tale of Melind'a Birthday Trip

If you are looking for a good read mom has posted Day 1 of our backpacking trip together here

I spent most of my time on the trip giggling hysterically at Mom and her antics related to gear - which she seemed to have taken note of. She's totally right. Everytime something happened (picture her running down the steep hill we just went UP to retrieve an errant sleeping bag, or trying to get up off the ground the 3rd day after lunch), I was on my hands and knees laughing so hysterically I couldn't breathe - much less lend a helping hand!

First round.....

UPDATE: A new page has been created for the blog called "For Sale". Please click on the link below the picture header for the most current list of available items and prices. Everything must be gone by May 2011. All prices are OBO.

I do have some “breaking news” (non-vet school related…*sigh*) that I’ll post on later.
I usually try to avoid using the blog as some sort of classified site, but here’s the deal. I’m moving. I’m going to be going to school. As a result, I will have less space, less time, and less money. A lot of stuff needs to go.

I’ve done a first round through the horse stuff, and I’m planning doing at least 2 more. Originally, all this was going in a local tack sale in April, but I’m tired of seeing the pile in my living room, and I'm moving my horse this weekend (oops – did I let that slip?), so I’m going to have to sell more stuff faster…..

So here’s the deal. I’m giving my blog readers first look at the list because most of this first round of stuff is something a fellow endurance rider can appreciate. What doesn’t sell by April will go into the tack sale. What doesn’t sell by May will go in the Yard Sale, and what doesn’t sell by June will go to the local freecycle list.

If you want something, you must e-mail me directly at, or leave contact info in a comment with what item you want. First come first served. I can’t respond to comments, so if there’s no contact info in your comment, it doesn’t count.

I accept pay pal and Money Orders. If paying through pay pal, add $2 to the item price to cover fees (or chose the option to pay the fee yourself during the transfer).

Prices do not cover shipping. Most items will ship between $5 and $10. You will have to tell me if you want special shipping (insurance etc.) otherwise I ship USPS, cheap. I’ll arrange pick up if you are local, or can bring to any rides or events I’m going to etc.

I have pics of most items. Some of the items will be dirty and may need laundering. If there’s damage, I’ve tried to note it. Jonah the cat tried to help me take pics last night. Cat isn’t included.

Yes, I’ll take offers. In most cases, I’ve tried to make sure that none of the items are priced more than 50% of their new price.

Ready. Set. Go!

Synthetic stirrup leather. Great for a spare leather for rides/crew bag. If I can find the other one, I will sell as a pair. $5 (for the single leather).

Camelbak backpack with reservoir (missing cap). New bite valve. Has pockets for small items. $20

Picnic blanket – smells funny, needs washed. Fuzzy/flannel feel on top, tarp like on the bottom, folds and rolls for carrying and storage. Great for putting tack on during vet checks. $5

Solar shower - $5

Troxel sport helmet, white, size small. 1 year old, no falls. - $10

Easy ride stirrups with cages and the “new style” top bars. Plastic - $45

Easy ride stirrup without cages. Old style top bars Plastic. $35

Black round rope reins with clips. I really like these reins, but I have too many reins so I’ll let them go fo….$15

Leather roping style reins with clips $10

Nylon roping style reins with clips (I like using these as a pair of spare reins in my crew bag). $5

Toe stoppers for English stirrups. Some of the Velcro needs reattached to backing with super glue or something. These are the “old” style without the additional stitching, which is why the Velcro needs to be reattached. They have a website if you are interested in more pictures/info. $15

Brown English brow band. $2

Camo mini mag flashlight. No batteries. Worked last time it did have batteries, but no guarentees. $5

22” mohair girth – used once, like new condition. Montana Cincha brand $50

26” mohair girth. Clean and in excellent condition. Montana Cincha brand $40

Burlap-like blanket. 56” from neck to tail, 76-77” from check closure to take. Has all leg straps and fasterns. One hole ~1/2”, no chest straps. $10

Cable lock (master lock) with key. Great for trailer hitches. $3

Red “stowaway” cantle pack for English saddle. All zippers work, all straps present, no holes. $25

Blue “stowaway” pommel pack. Would work for both English and western saddle. All zippers work, no holes. $25

50” brown fuzzy girth. $10

Black Griffith short boots. Bottom Velcro strap is worn. Boots are designed specifically for endurance riders. $15

Thinslate black riding mittens. $10

Nylon sheet – good condition. All straps etc. Neck to tail = 57”, 76” from front closure to tail. $15

Play station games. E-mail me for selection - $10 each

Cookbooks. E-mail me for selection - $5 each

Monday, January 24, 2011

And that sums it up!

Do you listen to Stable Scoop Radio Show?

Did you listen to episode 115?

You should.

You can ignore the blah blah blah about the equine affaire and skip right to the interview with Mr. Trainer-whoever. He pretty much sums up everything I'm struggling with - Everything from the post-Tevis let down, to my lack of straightness in dressage, to the mental blocks I'm struggling with in jumping.

It was one of the most insightful programs that I have listened to in a long time.

When you are done with that, go over to my newest blog recommendation and read this.

I don't have an interest in being a millionaire, but the life lessons to being sucessful are remarkably similar, no matter what the end goal is.

So please, if have seen any of your life in my blog lately, do yourself a favor and listen to episode 115, read the post on on Eventual Millionaire, and then come back here and let me know what you think.....

A ride

This weekend I got over to Del Valle and did a wild, 3 hour ride where the main goals were:

  • Melinda to get more sunshine and downhill work (I got off and ran all downhills)
  • Farley to stretch her legs and see how she feels about doing a 100 in 4 weeks.
  • Ride for 3 hours, regardless of mileage.

The trails here are very gravelly and can be tough on the feet so I put her renegades on.

I haven't put boots on Farley since our last 100 at the end of October, 3 months ago, so wanted to make sure everything still fit. It's so nice to have boots that I can just slap on and go. The boots performed flawlessly, despite the fact that I was in too much of a hurry to replace the toe straps (they are completely worn out), didn't put the straps under the O-rings, and haven't trimmed in a couple of weeks! We walked, trotted, cantered, and GALLOPED and the boots stayed on! You would think that by now, with the number of miles and rides I have in these boots that I would stop being so amazed by how they perform, but everytime I use them I marvel at the engineering. I feel so lucky I don't have to worry about boots that come off and that take seconds to apply and take off.

I know I sound like a walking advertisement and you can point to me being a dealer - but I can tell you with certainty that I loved this product BEFORE I was a dealer and would continue to use these boots, even if they doubled in price and I had to crawl on my hands and knees for a 100 miles to get them.

I get a lot of questions about how long the boots will last, which is why I took a picture of the bottom of the boots.

I got these boots at the beginning of August 2010. I don't use them for every conditioning ride, but will if the area is gravelly and rocky (like Del Valle). In addition to conditioning miles, I've also used them at 2 rides - a 50 in October, and a 100 in October. As you can see, there is still tread left, and except for the toe staps that need to be replaced (they are considered wear items), the boots are in good condition. I plan on using them at the 20 MT 100 mile ride, and then retiring them to "conditioning only" boots, and my backups for competitions, and purchasing a new set of boots for competitions. The 20MT ride is mostly flat sandy desert, with very little climbing or mud (as long as it doesn't rain!) so the tread on these boots is acceptable for that ride. If I was doing a ride that I knew was fairly technical, I would probably trade these boots out now, for a pair with new traction - but there isn't a need for 20MT. I average ~1 year for a set of boots. The last 6 months the boots are used for conditioning and backups for competition. Use definitely varies on horse and rider, the type of terrain, and the type of riding you do. I probably don't squeeze every last mile out of my boots that I could - but I'm still coming ahead on shoeing versus booting costs and with so many great colors to choose from, I can't help myself!

When ever you are competing in boots, it's a good idea to have a spare set, just in case something goes wrong. Especially because I feel these boots are reaching the end of their "competive career", I'll be carrying spares that are brand new, just in case it ends up raining and there's a lot of mud, or some other issue. Carrying a spare is like insurance - if you carry spares you probably won't need it!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Being a horse person

Over the last couple of days I've emailed a friend and blog reader about trailer issues that morphed into a more abstract discussion. I can tell my "mojo" is coming back because as I was writing my latest e-mail, I realized that what I was really writing was a blog post!

Thought #1
I had a jump lesson yesterday. It was 3 jumps on a 20 meter circle. The exercise was to go round and round and round at a canter and over the 3 jumps. Janelle kept yelling at me "FIX THE CANTER - It's not about the jumps!" The point being I was suppose to focus on the "dressage" of the 20 meter circle work - the jumps were just something that happened within the circle. I feel like trailer loading is the same - it's not about getting the horse in the trailer! If your method results in a better horse each time with more relaxation, than the method is "working". Some horses can handle pressure, some can't. Some can handle repetition, some can't. It's about reading the horse and deciding how you are going to get the final result with the least amount of stress in an acceptable time frame. What worked with Minx during her trailer issues wouldn't have worked with Farley and vice versa - what matters is that at the end of everything they both go into the trailer calmly, by themselves, with confidence every single time right?

Thought #2
Farley gets stressed through repetition. It's like she says "look - I understand and I did what you wanted. I don't understand why we are repeating this. What am I not getting!!?!?!?!?!?" It quickly unravels from there. Minx thrived on repetition. With Farley it is important to quit sooner rather than later - because she'll often give me more the next day when I ask if I stop too early the first day, but not if I've pushed too hard with too many repetitions. The realization that repetition isn't always the answer has made me consider the difference between Farley doing something through training as opposed through habit.

Of course, there's the argument that training is based on the habit of obedience, but instead of thinking about these terms in their "correct dictionary" definitions, consider instead that I'm using these words as an imperfect way to describe a concept.......

For example. I don't consider trailering a "trained skill". I want it to be a habit. When I walk up to the trailer - the horse gets in every time. I'm willing to accommodate individual horse's quirks as long as they don't compromise safety or the underlying "value" of "I point you at the trailer and you get in". As a result, once the horse gets in the trailer reliably (even if it takes me several approaches and it's not self-loading) I don't spend a lot of time "training" the trailer. As soon as possible I try to move to the "you load, I close the doors, and we go" concept. I trailer so often (several times a week) that there's PLENTY of repetition to reinforce the concept as time goes on, and I find that the horse isn't thinking "unload" when I'm loading because the routine is "load and then go". I'm picky about trailering. I know people who have died in trailering accidents when loading and unloading and I'm EXTREMELY conscious about MY safety. IMO loading and (especially) unloading is the most dangerous thing I do with horses. But I'm digressing - back to the original point - when I trailer a horse there's nothing for them to figure out - they just need to do it. It's a habit. It's done the same way every time. Other examples of "habit skills" might be: how to move on the lead rope as I open and close gates, going through an endurance vet check, walking on a lead.

Let's contrast that to the "other" type of skill that are about "training" (remember - using imperfect terms to try and describe the concept!). An example of this is training dressage. It SEEMS like in dressage there should be a series of buttons that I can press to make her do X, Y, and Z - but it doesn't work like that. A combination of aids (and sometimes the combination isn't exactly intuitive) produces different effects. ADDITIONALLY, once she does something - let's say something as simple as cantering a 20 meter circle.... - we set about to IMPROVE the gait and the figure. There's constant adjustments and signals as we tell the horse "be more through", "stand up straight", "more impulsion", "shoulder fore". Trust me - dressage only LOOKS effortless and as if the rider isn't doing anything. There is a CONSTANT line of communication between rider and horse to achieve the movement. Nothing is every "good enough" for more than a couple of strides before I tell Farley "let's do this even better".

Do you see the differences between the two types of training behaviors I'm trying to describe? I think I see the most problems between people and their horses when they confuse the two types of training - yes, obedience is at the core of both, but the final results we are training is completely different (habit obedience as opposed to responsive obedience). If there are any horse trainers out there, I'd love to hear your opinions about this - do you train for all skills in a similar way, or do you take a different approach depending on the type of training (habit versus responsive)?

Thought #3 - A good thought to end on
I think the hardest part of being a horse person in a boarding situation or as a competing equestrian (example: endurance riding) is keeping my mouth shut. :) And by shut I mean both not talking about them to others, giving them advice unless asked, or writing about them on my blog. And I must admit I've learned some surprising things by watching others. I may start by thinking they are totally WRONG and inside I'm TOTALLY snickering.....but then I continue to watch and keep my mouth shut and I start to learn that some things they are doing have merit - I may not agree totally with what they are doing - but often there's more than one "right" way to do something. I think coming to the realization that not everything I think is "right way" is the way and often, what I take as the "only" way to do something just a preference!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Wanted to do some quick updates.....

1. I AM going to 20 Mule Team. If it doesn’t rain. Or if my horse doesn’t kill me between now and then (have I mentioned lately she has turned into a little fuzzy MONSTER?). If you are going to 20MT and are interested in buying or renting renegades, please let me know what you are interested in! I only carry a select inventory of rental boots (ie – orange) in the most common sizes. This means I can fit you for a pair of rentals, but if you want to buy boots in a certain color or size, please let me know ASAP so I can order in time to have them at 20 MT– this includes glueon boots.

2. I have a new blog for you’all: This guy makes even the weather entertaining.

3. Thank you to Monica for the blog award. (her blog is: I haven’t had an award for quite some time and I must admit that I’m flattered to get one. Getting the award “picture” and all that jazz is WAY too difficult from work, so if you are interested in what it looks like or even what it’s called, go over to Monica’s blog and take a look. I do happen to know I’m suppose to pass it on to 7 “new” blogs – Google reader is not cooperating right now so I don’t have addresses to give you, BUT, when I find a good “new” blog I do my best to pass it on to my readers.

4. A big welcome to my new readers and/or commentors. I can’t post in the comments during the week right now – but for all you people who posted on the breeches post who I haven’t heard from before, THANK YOU. I love that I have local people reading the blog that I’ve never met in person before – maybe I’ll see you’all at a ride some day?

5. Vet school update. There really isn’t an update. It seems both silly NOT to post on something that occupies 98% of my thoughts at any one time, and equally silly to post on something that I have no further information than: I have submitted my application, I have gotten confirmation that my application is complete.

Applying to grad school as an adult with a career is very different from applying as an undergraduate student, or one that has been out for a year or two. I’m giving up a lot to do this. It’s sobering to realize that I have enough $$ saved for vet school I could go out and put a down payment on the ranch of my dreams and start living the lifestyle I’ve wanted since I was a little girl. And I currently make enough $$ in my career that I could sustain that life. I could have multiple endurance horses and go to rides every weekend. I could have a home to call my own. I could continue to save for retirement. I could continue to train in dressage and jumping and compete at Pebble Beach. I could continue to wear fancy cocktail dresses to work parties and sip expensive wine. Instead I’m going to take that money and go to school. By the time my four years are done, the $$ will be gone, I will have a load of debt, I will be restarting my career, and my retirement savings will have been put on hold for at least 5 years (during a period of time that is crucial to saving). In reality, that ranch is probably a long ways away.

In a way, this is my one and only and best chance of getting in. I have already given notice at my job that I will be leaving sometime early summer. If I don’t get into school this year, the application committee expects you to make substantial improvements to your application to be considered for the next year. I will get notified in March if I don’t get in. That gives me less than 6 months to gain any additional experience I need and redo my letters of reference. If being in this job 5 years and having top-end references, including one from the VP (who is also a vet) doesn’t get me in this year, there’s no reason to stay an additional year. In reality, although I may be able to apply for entry into the 2012 fall admissions, I probably won’t be a serious contender again until 2013.

Right now, I’m focusing on the “for sures” and leaving all the “what ifs” until March, when I know whether I’ve been accepted. In a way, it’s good that it’s taking so long to go through the application process. I have time to decide what is really important in my life and what can be sacrificed and what can’t. Farley is important and a priority, competing with her isn’t. Something as intensive as vet school will take its toll on personal relationships – what relationships can be sacrificed and which ones have priority? Having almost a year between staring the application process and notification of admission means I have time to think and consider what getting into school will mean. I have a long time to say goodbye to my current life and to appreciate what I’m doing NOW, and even to grieve for the things I’m really going to miss. This week I got thrown a curve ball that may mean that I’m able to do even less than I thought during school in terms of recreational activities such as endurance. It’s a very real possibility I may not do endurance at all while in vet school, or it may be reduced to one local 50 miler per year – or maybe just to volunteering at a local endurance ride. But these thoughts are all “what ifs” – so back to the “for sures”.

The “for sures”
  • I’m quitting my job in early summer (exact month will depend on a number of factors, so that is in the category of “what ifs”). Originally it was my intention to give notice 4-3 weeks prior to quitting, but I started being very open about my intention to quit in November because of some circumstances at work – and it becomes a sort of insurance: I told everyone I was quitting and going to grad school this fall, so now there’s no backing down! I did my 3 marathons in a similar way – I told everyone I knew that I was doing a specific marathon so I couldn’t wimp out! There are some advantages of being labeled a “short-timer”. I never thought I would be happy being a “mediocre employee”. However, now I understand better the shift I’ve seen in co-workers: high achieving performers go off on maternity leave and return post-child and they seem less driven and focused – their priorities have shifted. I’m still the same person that cares about doing a good job, but my definition of “good job” has changed because I *can’t* do everything.
  • I’m moving in early summer out of my apartment. And now I know where I’ll be going, at least for the summer , and I know where my stuff will be stored.
  • Related to the point above, that fact makes these facts “for sures”: I need to get rid of as much stuff as possible, pack everything into boxes. I have started a Keep/Sell/Giveaway list.
  • Farley will be moving to my parents in the summer into a pasture. I will be quitting lessons, and will not be competing in horse shows. I need to sell all non-essential horse equipment and gear in order to do some pasture improvements (build a shelter, set up a feed area that won’t get yucky – which includes mats and gravel – etc.) and maybe create a riding area/dressage court.
  • I will be leaving a church (that I love) in Turlock and will need to find another one close to where I’m living.
  • Jonah will become an outdoor ranch cat at my parents. (Mickie is still a “what if”)

Focusing on the “for sures” definitely makes me feel better, and makes everything seem a little less chaotic. I’m alternating between can’t-contain-myself-exhileration-dancing-in-the street and just-stay-in-bed-and-eat-popcorn moods but it’s working for now!

Monday, January 17, 2011

The question

The question is -

if one (theoritically) drops an entire 20 pound bag of cat food on the floor, or more preciesely, if the bottom falls out of the bag because it sat in teh truck through a rain shower and endured the ravages of the feral cats - can one leave the food on the floor for the house kitties to eat, or must one pick the food up?

Observation -

Jonah prefers the floor pile, Mickie likes the dishes (or more specifically, the tupperwares that came from the lunch meat).

Fact -

I am single and there is no one else to go "crunch in the night" on the way to the bathroom as they leap the pile....

Fact -

Only 10 pounds of the food pile fits in the old litter pan (that then spills when placed in the closet).

Fact -

Ten pounds of food on the floor is still a lot of food on the floor....

Friday, January 14, 2011

"I look better naked - I swear!"

I'm not sure about you, but this post here hit upon several sensitive issues!

I agree I look better naked than in most swimming suit.

I agree that most breeches are horribly unflattering. Maybe I should wear a sign on my back - "I look better naked - I swear!"

I own a few breeches and tights that I feel FABULOUS in, and I must admit I wear those to the exclusion of the rest - in fact I wear the breeches and tights that flatter me until I am basically naked in them - see through and with holes. (thus giving everyone around me a chance to consider the validity of my statement...)

I feel that tights give me a more flattering fit than breeches, especially if we are talking full seats. My hands down favorite pair of tights is a pair of knee patch Tropical Riders. I may have to admit soon that this is their last season. A very sad day.

Of course, I could admit the problem isn't the breech - after all my body is a certain shape and no pair of breeches or tights will change it. Short legs, round butt, and "ample" thighs. So it's doubtful that anytime soon I will put on a pair of breeches and explaim - "look how long and skinny my legs are! And my butt is positively cute!", but I can dream. So until someone comes up with a design that flatters, I'll focus on function and comfort.....

Still, even if I discount the "look" entirely, I still haven't found the breech I'm in love with. Cotton Naturals fit my budget and fit me well enough, so when I had to buy a pair of show breeches (white), that's what I got. The rest of my breeches are second hand - a mix of Kerrits, Cotton Naturals, a swiss brand with a label so faded I can't read it, Saddle Bums, and Carosals. The only ones I like OK are the old swiss ones - too bad I can't read the label - they have a full seat and they actually fit, are comfortable, flattering, AND wore very well. In fact - I'm almost positive I DON'T want to know how much they cost new (they were freebie second hand-ers).

For tights, I may have found "the one" in the tropical riders, but they aren't exactly easy on the pocket book....but if you consider they got almost daily use, including 100 mile rides - then maybe they are a bargin at ~$100 for 2 years. (I found my pair for $50 from someone who had bought new, never wore, and then sold - want to bet on when the stars will align like THAT again?).

So in summary - I want the impossible. In the meantime maybe I should buy another pair of Tropical riders and just hope that my perfect breech comes along someday that doesn't break the bank?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Yummy Food

I wrote my post today and then realized it fit much better over on my mom’s blog, Food Adventures Etc. So for today’s post, please read it here.

Yes, I’m doing the primal thing – but it’s not a 100%. 80/20 with some non-gluten grains allowed (oats being one of them). It’s wonderful to re-imagine one of my favorite dish in a more-primal friendly way (although still not suitable for you people that are actually serious about this whole thing).

Tomorrow’s post will probably have something to do with either:
  • Farley attempting to kill me on the canal (probably due to a lack of riding, turnout, and lunging) during today’s ride and my intention to give her more of what she needs (ie riding, turnout, and lunging!). It was my first non-lesson ride it what seems like MONTHS. Did I mention she has grown at LEAST 2 inches since last year (I swear ), put on a TON of muscle (dressage and jumping will do that to you…..), is incredibly fit, and is a downright SCARY little monster right now? Where did my fuzzy fat pony go? When does she come back?
  • My indecision of whether to go to 20MT 100 mile ride at the end of February.
  • My lamenting that my schedule is now booked through the end of February.
  • My jump lesson yesterday with grids, in which Farley cussed – and it was very cute.
  • Me really Really REALLY looking forward to a trail ride with a fellow endurance rider next weekend. Hopefully a good ride between 2-3 hours. Which would probably solve a bunch of the issues above – blow off her excess energy, and let me know whether I should be considering 20 MT. Not to mention getting me out into the sunshine.

I’m on pins and needles waiting for my vet school interview notification and it’s making it very hard to concentrate on ANYTHING. I go crazy the minute I stop living in the moment, so just taking it a day at a time right now.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Bonus Monday Post

Based on my last post recommendation of the Literary Horse, you should have added this blog to your blogroll, and thus would have already seen this post.  However, if you need just a little more convincing that this blog deserves a place on your side bar, or a subscription in your reading, today's post should do it.  
Additionally - here is some eye candy from my trip.  The trip was along ~20 miles of the Ohlone Wilderness trail.  (Del Valle to Sunol portion).  May each you have some down down that is as equally as rewarding as this trip was for me! 

A different kind of review

Today’s product isn’t technically a horse or endurance product, but we could make broad assumptions such as:
  • When you are at ride camp you cook food
  • Hot food is better than cold food
  • Thus, you must have a stove of some sort
  • True, you might have a standard camp stove that uses the ubiquitous green propane bottles, or even fancy butane stove – BUT you might use your backpacking stove. Because, like, carrying 20% of your body weight around the hill side is almost EXACTLY like asking your HORSE to carry 20% of HER body weight around the hill side – thus backpacking and endurance riding are basically the same thing.
  • Thus – you have a backpacking stove
  • And so, you will use backpacking fuel.

See how easy that was? Time for more assumptions

Whew! That was a lot of work. But as you can see, a review of fuel canisters, such as this one, will be EXTREMELY useful .

I went on a backpacking trip last weekend. It was very cold. It was very important that I eat very hot food. *nods vigorously*

I’ve owned the raptor stove for 2 ½ years and used name brand fuel canisters – brunton, snowpeak etc. I’ve never had an issue heating water efficiently and quickly in a range of different temperatures. The downside? This stuff is pricey. My mother told me that Walmart carried a fuel canister that was the same thing. I was skeptical, but it was Coleman branded, a brand that I trust (at least until recently, as this is not the first coleman product I’ve been disappointed by recently). If I could get 2x the fuel for ½ the price – it seemed like a risk worth taking.

Fast forward to the first night on the trail. I was frusterated. I had to keep retightening the stove on the canister, and no matter what I did, the flame was not as hot as I was used to, and it was taking FOREVER to boil water. At least twice as long. It was difficult to say for sure though. Mom pointed out that when she was researching stoves, many reviews of the raptor mentioned you had to overtighten the canister onto the stove. I wasn’t convinced – my stove performance was different enough to make me a bit suspicious.

Last night I whipped out the stove and 2 canisters – the walmart/coleman and the brunton for a head-to-heat test. Both canisters were half empty. I boiled water in the pot to make sure neither canister had an advantage of a hot pot to start. I premeasured water from the same tap at the same time.

Ready, set, go.

Kind of.

The Coleman canister was up first and I had to re-tighten 4 or 5 times before even getting the gas to flow through the stove for ignition. It was even worse than when on the trail. Perhaps you have to screw the stove on tighter and tighter and tighter as the fuel canister is used? Finally I was able to start the test. Time didn’t start until the post of water was on the flame. Result? 4 ½ minutes to boil 2 cups of water. I redid the test. 5 ½ minutes to boil water.

Next up was the Bruton canister. I tightened, but did not over –tightened. Voila! It worked. Put the pot on…..and didn’t have to wait very long. 3 ½ minutes to boil water. Redid the test. Just under 3 minutes.

A clear difference between the canisters.

For when it really matters (for example – a backpacking trip in January) I will be reaching for a name brand canister. It doesn’t matter if the canister is half the cost, if it takes 2x the fuel to boil water. Not to mention the extra weight of carrying that extra fuel.

There’s a couple of reasons why the canisters could have performed differently. I would love to know the “real” answer, so if you know, please speak up! These are all guesses -

  • The mix is different. Bruton publishes their mix, but I couldn’t find Coleman’s stated mixure for their canister.
  • The connection or consistency of the connection is different. Why do you have to over tighten the stove on the coleman and not of the bruton or snowpeak canisters? It makes me wonder whether the reviewers of the raptor stove were using cheap fuel and that’s why they were having trouble? Maybe some stoves can handle the cheaper fuel better than others.

I will not be taking something as important as fuel for granted for future tests. If I switch to a brand I haven’t used before, I will be taking the time to do a boil test pre-trip!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Wandering Minds

We’ve touched on before that my mind does not “shut off”. I’m always thinking something – and some of those thoughts become full-fledged posts. I’m usually thinking either about the future and “what if” plans, or I’m thinking about the past in the context of how I can do something better in the future. Or analyzing the why’s.

This kind of thinking shuts off during periods of great effort – 100 milers, backpacking, marathons etc.

My mom made a comment during our trip this weekend that expressed perfectly what happens.
When I think of being “out in nature”, I often imagine the intellectual conversations I will having, the philosophical thoughts. Finally, I will have the time to think on those things and come to conclusions that elude me because of the everyday interruptions of my normal life! Instead, while on the trail, the thoughts are – “I’m hungry”, “I’m thirsty”, “I’m sleepy”, “My feet hurt”. Everything is an immediate need or want. It’s impossible to let my mind wander. The same thing happens during 100 miles or marathoning. I am forced to live in the moment, because the moment surpasses any theoretical need or concern my brain could dream up. And I’m happier for it.

I’ve often thought that my tendency to “think” made me happier, but looking at my activities that I “lose” myself in, it appears that NOT “thinking” makes me actually happier.

By recognizing this, there is a possibility that I can reach that point of living in the moment of immediate concerns faster, with less physical pain because I know what I’m looking for.

A friend sent me an article which I have put into Google Docs here. It describes this phenomenon and gives me more reason to believe that I’m on the right track.

A wandering mind is part of who I am, so I’m not eager to excise it from my life. With knowledge comes power – the power to be happier and more content, while still engaging in stimulating thought that’s important to me. Some of my more important takeaways:

  • Pleasant mind wandering and not mind wandering have similar “happiness” ratings.

  • Neutral mind wandering is not necessarily neutral for my “happiness” rating.

  • Try to limit neutral and unpleasant mind wandering. This might mean setting a time limit. For example – I allow myself to think about all the “what ifs” and “contingency plans” for x amount of hours. At that point I either drop it and focus on living in the moment, OR I write it down (writing something down let’s me let go of something better) and file it away where it’s not in plain sight.

  • Focus on strategies for living in the moment. An example might be to quit using my walks and runs as time to rehash over and over a particular looming situation and instead either think only pleasant wandering thoughts, or live entirely in the moment – foot fall by foot fall. Another strategy that I’ve been using successfully when I’m almost in panic mode because I can’t let go of something, especially before bed, is to have a mantra. My current one is a bible verse. I just repeat it in my head over and over until I go to sleep. As long as I repeat that phrase over and over, my mind seems to not be able wander and I can go to sleep peaceably.

  • If an activity brings me joy because it allows me to live in the moment, don’t ruin it by over analyzing it. For example – my backpacking trip was wonderful. I don’t have the words to describe it. I learned a lot of things that would be easy to apply to both endurance and life. I could talk and write about it at length. But I’m not going to. I’m going to let the weekend stand as it is and quietly try to apply some of the “lessons learned” without thinking about it too much.

  • I’ll try to do less over-analyzing of the activities that were once my escape, but perhaps I haven’t been enjoying as much lately. I haven’t found my “escape” in riding for a couple of months now. Some of that could be because I’m not really RIDING lately, due to crappy weather. As the weather improves and I start riding more, I’m going to make an effort to just go along for the ride more and enjoy the ride and the moment. I’ll be a little less critical and a little less quick to overanalyze and create a post. I may post less often or chose not to share a really cool observation by overanalyzing, but I also may enjoy riding more.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Food for thought?

Just had an aha moment....

(and yes, I'm still on blogging vacation - I swear!)

Farley has arthritis in her left hock that warrents injections, but the right hock flexes clean. (both hocks still get injected).

Today, as I wait at my desk anxiously awaiting the clock to magically speed ahead to 1pm so I can start my vacation, I was thinking (as usual) about Farley. Now, I know that there isn't an explanation for everything, BUT - did you know that Farley has an old scar from a horrendous wire cut on her right hind? An injury, that when it happened would have been extremely painful (she's still a bit defensive about that hoof) and she probably spent some time hobbling around, putting more stress on the opposite leg and hock - the LEFT.

Voila! A left hock that's been stressed more than the right.

Of course, no matter WHY it happened or HOW, it's still up to me to monitor her comfort and make it possible to do her job for as long as we are both enjoying it.

BTW - vet appointment yesterday for the injections went very well. Absolutely routine, which is how we all like our vet appointments eh? The doc said her stifles felt fine (I haven't been observing any problems or behaviors that would suggest otherwise, but still nice to have a professional opinion), we re-flexed and trotted her at my request just to make sure nothing funky was going on.

There was a German vet student finished up her extern at the clinic who was very interested in endurance riding and Tevis (The doc described it - in jest - as a masochistic ritual performed every year by a group of absolutely insane people and their horses - or something to that effect!). I love talking about endurance - I can barely form words and comprehensive sentences when some stranger starts asking me questions. Maybe I'm not the best ambassador?

In addition to light sedation, Farley was twitched (lip). I actually perfer the use of a twitch for performing quick procedures, rather than administering more sedative. Sure, it can be overdone and done incorrectly, and it's no substitute for proper, long term training - but when done correctly I feel it is far more effective and safe than the drug alternative for simple, fast procedures. I mostly use it on uncooperative horses for very simple fast procedures (such as a leg bandage removal) and the horse is being fractious enough that the person is in danger of being hurt. Just applying the twitch with my hand while the other person dashes in is often enough to get the job done, and it's much less tramautic for the horse and the handler than fighting for 20 minutes (versus getting it done in 15 seconds).

post recommendation

Hilarious post here.

Post isn't specifically horse related...but the blog title is and that counts for something right?

BTW - this post doesn't actually count as posting. Because I'm not actually writing anything. So technically I'm still on blogging vacation.


Sometimes it's all about perspective. 
Sometimes it's about looking at the big picture, but sometimes it's living the moment and focusing on THIS instant in time, and being able to ignore the chaos around you.
Is it a flooded arena that represents a loss of training time, frusteration, and stress; or is it a peaceful picture of a contented pony grazing by a pond?

Monday, January 3, 2011

A little OCD (if there's such a thing!)

Heads up - I probably won't be posting this week (although everytime I say that I end up posting all sorts of good stuff). My week is absolutely jammed packed full - including a birthday backpacking trip this weekend - and I'm feeling the need to take some personal time after the hustle and bustle of the holidays.

In the meantime, head on over to Tamera's blog and read this.

I felt like I was reading my own words as I read this post today. One of my personal 2010 resolutions was to stop relying so much on my lists and LIVE life. This goal continues into 2011. It's amazing how, once I make a personal resolution I have opportunity to "practice" it. 2010 offered many opportunities to go crazy and retreat into my lists - and I refused to do it - and lived life better because of it.

I have to remind myself constantly to look up from my obsessing and to enjoy life - and my readers help me! It's impossible to obsess when I have you guys standing around me ready to give my support when I need it - but also telling me when it's time to knock it off and get on in life.

I try to keep my non-horse life to a minimum in the blog, but there are a couple of things in the forefront of my mind that make this post especially relevant - as it would be extremely easy to let the obsessing of these things to get in the way of fully enjoying this period of my life. Here's what's doing the "continuous" loop thing in my mind (and hopefully what getting away for a couple of days in the backcountry will fix).
  • Will I get into vet school? What if I don't? What will I do?
  • When I quit my job in the spring (and I will regardless of vet school status), what will I do? How will I pay? Am I going to run out of money? When do I start packing? where am I going to put my stuff? Should I quit my lessons in March after I know about vet school? Or continue on a part time basis? Or continue lessons as long as possible knowing this is my last chance for awhile?
  • How am I going to fulfill all the obligations to everyone that I've made? Who do I say no to this summer because I've overcommitted myself? My weekends are already committed through the end of February!
  • It's exciting when a romantic relationship goes through a period of growth, but also scary. Am I making the right decisions? Why can't I seem to get my act together?
  • I am NOT enjoying my horse time right now. Would time off make it better or worse? Do I need time off, or am I just frusterated because Farley is in knee deep icky mud that makes everything IMPOSSIBLE?
Tomorrow I turn 26, which also happens to be my favorite number. I'm very optimistic about the year - but anytime change is so prevaleant, it's also very scary. And when it's scary, I tend to retreat into the safety of my lists and not LIVE LIFE for right now. I'm doing everything this year that they say NOT to do at one time - moving, career change, and relationship change. It's time and I'm looking forward to it - but it's not going to be easy. Blogging forces me to be honest about life and my perspective. Life usually goes better when I'm honest and direct, even if it's not the easiest path.

So in the spirit of being honest and direct - that crap in the beginning of the post about giving myself time off because of the "hustle and bustle" of the holidays? Complete crap. I really need a week off to contemplate the upcoming year and the changes it will bring.

So, here I am taking a deep breath and giving myself some quiet time before diving into 2011.

As always - thanks for listening, thanks for the advice, and thanks for the continued support.