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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Desert Gold 2009 ride

Desert Gold Day 1 2009 - another 55 miles under my belt and under Farley's girth. I end the 2009 season with 475 miles.

Some of you may remember my mother's (Carolyn) comment on an earlier post about my old blog layout resembling a comfortable pair of jeans that are ready to be thrown out....I decided to wear *those* jeans to the ride. The entire seat of the pants ripped out when I stepped into the truck for the last time. Oops. Apparently the 2010 season will start with a new blog look AND a new pair of pants. Upon arriving to ridecamp I discovered the ever so pleasant fact that apparently I had not forseen the need to pack anything but riding tights. I am not overly modest, but even considering the fact that ripped jeans are in, for me the whole cheek hanging out for everyone to see was a bit much. On went the riding tights for the entire weekend.

Not totally socially inept
I spent Thursday night talking to Jaime and eating her homemade apple and blackberry cobbler. It was the best pre-ride night I've ever had. If Jaime has decided not to do endurance for the time being (see her latest blog entry) I definately need to step outside my comfort zone and meet someone at ridecamp to talk to and have fun with. It really does make a difference in how much I enjoy a ride.

It might not be as hard to meet new people as I think. As I was standing around the campfire, a women said hi to me that I did not turns out she reads my blog and recognized me. This is the first time I've had someone whom I did not know previously introduce themselves based on the blog. We talked briefly about the risks of posting on the internet. I'm really careful about what I post - I try to be entirely truthful (I really dislike hypocrites) without being hurtful to anyone. I try not to post anything I wouldn't say to someone in person. I'm under no illusions how nasty something can get by just one mis-worded post.

Boot report
I'm really really REALLY glad I have 2 drastic different colors for her front (yellow) and back (black) boots. No guessing which ones go where in the dark! I didn't have a single problem with the boots. I made two changes to the boots at this ride.
1. I tightened the cable on the left front (the one that comes off). I kept the toe strap tension the same, but I had less "tail".
2. I left more growth on her hooves.

It's also possible that I didn't have any boot malfuntions because the boots have finally "broken in". She also wasn't stepping on her front boot as much with her left hind (possibly because of the growth I left on the hoof?). I can tell because of how the velcro gets "folded up" on the bottom (I have pics, will post tomorrow). After this ride, the velcro on the hind was only slightly folded. After Oroville LOVE ride the velcro was folded up ~halfway.

The boots performed very very well. There was less deep sand this year, but there were still some patches of deep footing. There was more pavement this year and I was very glad I was wearing boots, especially because she was being a bit "jiggy". I am 100% satisfied with the boots and highly reccomended them to people that asked. I strongly feel that the reason for the boot malfunctions so far have been a function of break-in period and just really odd circumstances (thrashing around in the cut bank).

Hackamore.....or not?
Farley is getting very professional at rides. The sweet, cute pony dissapears and is replaced by a all-business, focused horse. She drinks and eats at the trailer, marches to the water tank, strides over the vet check, and waits patiently for pulses with the left front leg slightly ahead to give the vet better access. When tacking in the morning she stands rock still.

I had lots and lots and LOTS of horse. Controllable horse, but lots of horse. Switching back to the french-link baucher for the ride really helped. She still pulled more than she should have. I learned that instead of giving her constant pressure when I asked for slower, working the bit in her mouth back and forth really improved her response. She couldn't get tense and pull against me. I sang, and hummed, and lalala'ed almost the entire ride. It kept me from clenching my jaw when I pulled on her and kept me more relaxed. As a result, even though we was extremely strong 'til the end, I never actually lost it and got frustrated, and didnt' get as sore and actually rode well until the end.

Farley did not go into the hackamore because she was so strong. We finished the race WAY too fast....55 miles in 7:15. I'm glad she has 2 months to recover before our next ride. She looked great after the ride, but I worry about cumulative stress on her delicate little legs. I'm still hopefully that in a 100 I can switch her to the hackamore about half way through. I'm 85% sure I could have ridden her in a hackamore if we had continued on after the 55 miles......

An Aha! moment
Diagonals. They are important. I'm really good at picking up the correct diagonal in the arena. I'm really good at switching diagonals throughout the ride. I've never, on purpose, changed diagonals to match the turns on a ride, such as when riding singletrack. It had never occurred to me. On the first loop (35 miles) she was pulling hard near camp and I noticed that she wasn't balancing around turns, instead motorcycling in and putting a lot of stress on her forelegs. I starting switching diagonals for ever turn, sometimes it was every 2 - 3 strides on the winding trail. It made a huge difference in her balance and coordination. Aha!

Rain - what to wear?
I have been planning a post focused on riding in the rain and keeping comfortable. In 2008 I rode one day at Wild West in pouring, cold rain. It did not go well. I FROZE and could not ride effectively. I was so -ill prepared. I swore I would never be that miserable again and have gradually been collecting rain-riding gear in case it happened again.

It rained/misted/sprinkled (depends on where you are from and what you call "rain"!) the last half of the ride. I was absolutely comfortable the ENTIRE way. I was wearing a full set of silk underware, regular weight tights, and a dry quick long sleeve shirt. Gloves and wool-blend socks completed the ensemble. I cannot stress enough about having a decent base layer. It made the difference and it didnt' matter that I was damp, I was still warm.

Last year, because of the high humidity on the coast, I had a very difficult time getting Farley dry after the race. She ended up with rain rot because of the extended time wet, and me trying to curry off sweat while she was still damp. The trick is to have lots and lots of coolers and to replace them when they get damp. She was much more comfortable this year because of the blanket and cooler options I had to chose from this year.

The best moment of the ride? Returning to camp and finding that my neighbor and good Samaritan had put most of my equipment out of the rain, into the back of my horse trailer.

Because of the wind, my allergies are absolutely killing me and this may not be as cognizant as I think it is.... :) In summary, it was a fabulous ride and I'm overall very happy with Farley. With Dressage comes great rides, as well as fabulous muscles and better relationship! I know I harp and harp and harp on this.....but if you've never had lessons, even if you ride well, consider dressage lessons for a better endurance experience!

EDITED(~5:30pm): I'm definitely sick and it comes with overall crappy feeling and achiness.....I don't think this is allergies......Please excuse the quality of this post - wanted to get the ride story posted.


  1. Congrats!!!!

    I love those Aha! moments on a ride :) At wild west (that last big hill, going back to camp with all the switchbacks) i relized i changed my diagnols on the turns as sassy changed her strides with them. It was great!

    I crewed that day at WW in '08 with the rain, not fun :(

    What a GREAT neighbor :)

    I have been thinking about dressage for some time; now with the great thing you have said about it, i think i will start looking for an instructor :)

    What a great way to finish the season!

  2. Grats on an awesome ride! Go eat some tangerines and get well soon, ok?

  3. Congrats on the finish. A post about rain gear would be a great idea, for both the horse and the rider. I have slowly been getting myself and JB a few needed items and I agree, a good base layer is crucial and definitely need lots of change outs of coolers and rain sheets... makes for a happier time.

  4. I'm still in a bit of shock from not enjoying the ride, but will swing round soon enough! Hehe!

    As I was driving up the coast and it started to rain, I had a huge sense of guilt for not having the foresite to put your stuff inside the trailer so it would be dry.
    Being mad at my horse should not have made me miss that. But I am so glad that someone did that for you!!

    Glad you had such a good ride and enjoyed chatting with me (and eating my homemade apple blackberry cobbler! Or in my case, but shoving it in at mouth hight off your tailgate!).

    Endurance is not entirely off the table, but I need to slow down and assess things first, I have been moving altogether too fast lately.

    Thanks for being so helpful at the ride!!

  5. That is fantastic! What a great day! It sounds like the two of you are on the path to becoming total pros at the rides. The cooler trick is a good idea. Feel better soon!

  6. Congrats on another successfully good ride! I've had the blog experience at two rides now, and it is kind of funny. Also a great door opener for meeting new people.
    Sorry to hear you are not feeling well...sending the healing vibes your way. ~E.G.

  7. Ahhhh, there's just nothing as wonderful as a Really Good Ride!

    Thanks for posting your ride story.


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