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Monday, January 30, 2012

New block!

First day of the new block!

Neuro if you must know - and so far its fabulous.

Not easy, not simple, but oh so interesting and I think I've just added a career possibility to the behavior and training consult for all animals big and small anyone?  Behavior modifications, drug options on the mobile side, and local hospital consults part time?  Oh yeah!

Among the pearls of wisdom - do neurology because your patients don't run away, and if they do they'll eventually circle back to you if you wait long enough.......

For lunch I'm attending a potbelly big behavior lecture!

As always, I'm trying to balance school, life, and making the time to ride Farley.  Here's some pics as a reminder of where we were 12 months ago.

Stay tuned for some tendon and muscle posts, and a scattering of cool neuro cases (star thistle officially scares the sh*t out of me).

PS - thank you thank you thank you to all of those who have given me blog awards this week.  I really appreciate the thought and it's very motivating to know that people are reading and enjoying the blog.  I probably won't have time to compose a formal "award" post, but wanted to let everyone know that I do appreciate it!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Ummm....just a little off subject

Not remotely horse related, but too funny not to share!

Back to studying!  Or bed.  Will continue studying in the morn.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Deep, dark, hole

I'm ducking into that deep, dark, hole that comes 5 days before a HUGE exam.

Of course, last time I said that I ended up posting on all sorts of interesting subjects to avoid as an alternative to studying. 

Maybe I'll finally get the motivation to post on the bone, muscle, and tendon conditioning subjects that were reader requested a couple weeks ago.

BUT - if you don't hear from me for a week or so, you can feel good knowing that I'm probably studying.

Or playing with Tess.

Or writing posts for Tess's blog.

Or working out.

Or eating cookie dough.

Or randomly organizing my bike bags.

Or doing boot fittings.

All of which I did this weekend, while I was suppose to be "studying".

See - this is why none of you are going to pay me as a veterinarian when I get out of school, because you know what I REALLY did during the most important/relevant block to equine medicine!!!!!!!!  (muscle, tendon, bone, and locomotion).  Do you REALLY want someone to treat your horse that doesn't currently know the difference between the ulnaris lateralis m. and the common digital flexor m.?

I didn't think so.

I don't even know if those muscles EXIST on a horse.

I do know that the common digital flexor m. flexes the digits and in the dog divides for the number of digits (4) below the carpus.

And the ulnaris lateralis m. abducts the limb.  I think.  

Maybe I won't fail this exam after all.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Rate this on the fun scale

Please rate this scenario from 1-4 on the “we are having fun” scale.

It’s dark, raining, and windy.  The pasture has a layer of water on it and is slick as snot because of the gazillion inches of rain dumped on it.  The horse is cold, shivery, and trembling.  Your equipment - a flashlight too big to fit in your mouth, a water resistant coat, rubber boots (muck boots with no tread), and a heavy weight turnout blanket.  On second thought you grab a halter and lead rope.  Wind is gusting, sustained at a gazillion mph. 

It took me 5 minutes to catch Farley.  At first it looked like she was going to come right up to me - we’ve both been through this drill and she knows that a blanket means comfort, but then she couldn’t decide if I was actually crazy enough to try and ride her, and played keep away around the pasture’s “island” of fenced off trees.  Finally I was able put a halter on her, get the gate open (no easy task in the gale that apparently decided to start up, and lead her to an area less slick. 

I’ve put blankets on in the wind and I know it’s a b*tch.  Usually you *almost* get it on, the wind picks up and flaps it all over the place, the horse steps sideways, the blanket drapes over you and you run around like casper the ghost.  Farley hadn’t seen a blanket in a year.  It was dark, raining, and slick.  With her behavior over the last couple of weeks, I was really hoping she didn’t spook and then squish me into the mud, damaging various parts that would require me to find out how good my health insurance was.  Did I mention that my hands were so cold and I was struggling with the blanket and could not hold onto the lead rope? 

Farley stood absolutely still, our butts to the wind.  To do anything else would have been a battle.  Just as I found the front of the blanket and tossed it over her back, a sustained gust of wind came up.  The trees bowed, the roofs creaked, and the blanket attempted to invert itself over both of our heads.  Farley stood still.  I had chosen the heavier blanket in part because I thought it would be easier to put on in the wind.  But the wind of was strong enough it picked this one up, no problem. 

The wind continued to blow and blow and blow.  I stood there with my arms around Farley's neck, trying to hold the blanket in place, slipping in the mud, and it was at this time that I contemplated that I might need help to get this done.  Getting help would have required me to take the blanket off, struggle with the gate to put Farley away, and then find someone (turns out Dad was asleep in his chair so I was out of luck).  I decided to just hold on.  The blanket flapped around her flanks and around her poll while I struggled to hand onto the front and try to smooth down the back.  She stood perfectly still. 

Finally the gust broke and I started fumbling with straps.  I got one chest strap on, and then went to the back.  Finally got all the straps on just as another gust picked up.  I got her put away (d*mn aluminum gate catches the wind and then pushes you through the slick mud), threw her a fat flake of alfalfa and called it a day. 

It’s moments like these that make me think there’s still a rock solid relationship there.  When it counts, Farley behaves.  She didn’t hurt me, didn’t spook - didn’t do all the things she had a right to do considering the circumstances.  It gives me hope that the solid little mare that I rode through Tevis is still under all that naughty behavior and that we will see the endurance trail again. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

I'm melting......!!!!!

It's raining.  It's suppose to rain for the foreseeable future. 

I guess the timing is good - I have another hideous final next Friday and I really should spend all of my time studying (with puppy breaks of course).  Farley gets a reprieve! 

I'm pretty sure my horse is melting too - but since there's no wind, she's fuzzy AND plump, she gets to be happy with a "happy flake" of alfalfa and no blanket. 

GUESS WHAT!!!!!!!  All those nice endurance "learning" experiences are paying off!  We have a small group project due next Wednesday where we had to come up with a clinical case related to a muscular disease, either real or made up.

I offered up all my records related to Farley tying up 2 weeks post Tevis 2010 - vet card, blood work before, during and after, physical exam records etc.!!!  It's fabulous.  I even have pictures.  See - that hoarder tendency paid off - not to mention the $1,500 vet bill the resulted from THAT particular episode.  Getting an A on a project while exercising minimal effort and creative ability?  Priceless. 

I'm not quite sure that I was referring to this scenario when I said that endurance prepared me very well for vet school.....

BTW - Heads up, next couple posts will probably be over on Tess's blog.  I have a soap box that I need to get out of my face book people know EXACTLY what I'm talking about. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

It was so cold....

... this morning the manure balls "plinked" into the wheelbarrow.  Crazy!  Got down to at least 19 degrees last night.  The last time Farley and I saw these temps was at Death Valley doing the multi-day ride in 2008.

Farley was naked last night and continues to be naked.  Guess that answers the question of whether she needs a blanket just because it's cold.

Last winter was the first time she was blanketed, and I only did so because it was a service the barn included in the care, and I thought "why not?".  In hindsight, I'm not sure that deciding to blanket was such a good decision - especially considering that there aren't mitigating factors like her weight (she's quite plump now). 

How much of her inability to deal with the cold temperatures at 20 MT 2011 had to do with my decision to blanket?  It didn't rain - we were strictly dealing with air temperature at that ride.  I had hind end cramping issues that seemed to be related to her getting cold.  How much of the fatigue and compensation for the cramping contributed to her injury and lameness?

Every time I decide to do "more" for my horse, I end up going back to the fundamental concept of less is more.  The more I can mimic a "natural" lifestyle for the horse, the better she seems to do.

There are some exceptions - blowing rain warrants a blanket.  She isn't out with a herd, and doesn't have adequate shelter or a windbreak that will protect her from just being wet and cold, with her coat plastered against her body.  Because I can't provide her a way to deal with that kind of weather condition "naturally", I feel like I do need to supplement her care.  It would be best to supplement her in a way that she could "take it or leave it", but it isn't possible to be perfect all the time - sometimes I just do the best I can with what I have.  :)

Here's some other ways that I keep Farley that attempt to provide as natural an existence in the hopes that it will have a health benefit that will directly correlate to a sucessful endurance career:

- keeping her barefoot as much as possible.
- let her have a natural coat that responds to the seasons and the weather.  
- giving her enough space to move around in, that ideally doesn't make her come to abrupt stops or turns because of coming to a fence (Not there yet, but better than a year ago!).
- Attempting to keep her feeding as natural as possible - free choice when possible, grass hay, fed at ground level (in a fruit bin).
- providing a social herd structure (currently a dismal failure)
- providing freechoice, loose salt (still not convinced that loose is better or worse than a block)
- Encouraging movement throughout the day, every day but the construction of pastures, placement of feed and water etc. (again - not there yet, but it's in the plan for some day)

Does this mean that I don't believe in vaccination, riding, shoeing, trailering, vet care, worming or any of those other "modern" ways that we use and keep horses?  Absolutely not!  I think that Good Sense is walking the line between believing we can (and should) give horses a total natural existence (complete with cougars and disease), and picking those things that give us the most "bang for our buck" and allow the horse to reach it's full potential as it does it's "job" for us.

Monday, January 16, 2012

This is 100 miles looks like in the beginning

It’s been an uncanny winter - full of clear skies, sunshine, and the highs in the 60’s. 

Can’t say I’ve been complaining - it’s allowed me get some riding in, get plenty of sunshine, and put off dealing with muddy puppies, soft hooves, and where the heck to store coats and winter gear for use.  Can you believe I haven’t even unpacked my plastic bin of coats and other over layers yet? 

Not to fear!  Rain is coming and from what I’m hearing from the “experts”, the last time we had a Dec/Jan this dry, by the end of Jan we were flooded. 

I elected to keep all my body parts intact and did NOT ride yesterday.  A new system is blowing in and Farley was HIGH.  Doing her best impression of The Black Stallion (you know - those stylized images used in the books?  With the tiny head and the mane blowing in the wind?  With the body poised for flight?), I decided it would be a round pen day.  After doing some walk/trot I dug out a lunge line and decided to do that instead.  She can make a bigger circle on the lunge and is more balanced at a canter on a lunge, a compared to the round pen.  She cantered and bucked, and galloped, but generally behaved herself.  It was tricky because the ground is so hard, and there’s dry grass, AND her bare hooves are a bit slick right now, so I was trying to keep her under control enough that she didn’t slip and go down, and (of course, preserve the integrity of that LF). 

Where we are:

We continue to make progress towards a well-behaved pony.  I think if she was 100% and not in rehab I could get to where I need to be in about 2 days (with of course reinforcing the point in the weeks/months afterwards).  As it is, I think it’s going to take me  closer to a month or two because I won’t increase duration or intensity, and I only see her ~3x a week.  Although I’m choosing a slower way, I still make noticeable progress after each session.  After session 1, she no longer crowded me when I had a feed pan in my hand and didn’t even threaten to turn her hindquarters towards me.  After session 2 she started watching me when I came onto the property.  After session 3 she started walking up to me in the pasture.  After session 4, she started asking to get into my personal space, and didn’t even DREAM of coming into it on the lead yesterday, even when she was SURE the horse eating trees blowing in the wind were going to come after us ANY SECOND. 

After getting trimmed by Wayne in the first week of January, and getting out a couple days that week, her hooves have changed SO FAST.  I think Wayne is going to be surprised by the how quickly she loosing retained sole, especially in the heels, and regaining that nice concave sole.  Maybe like cardio fitness, hoof fitness comes back faster if you were once already there….

She’s not 100% sound/even under special circumstances (that’s vet lingo for going in a circle….).  There’s a couple of confounding factors, which is why I’ve elected to continue riding and working her.  She has arthritis in her LH.  This kind of arthritis does better in warmer weather and when the horse is worked regularly.  Farley has been off for a year, and I’m restarting her in winter.  If the unevenness is because of that LH hock, then working her in a slow and gradual manner is actually beneficial.  I’m not ready to inject her hocks again - it’s expensive and until I’m doing something that I feel exceeds my ability to manage the it by long warmups etc (like training for a dressage competition, or doing 50’s or above) than I’ll hold off.  The Left front continues to stay tight and cold with no pain on palpation, and each time I throw her in the round pen she’s a little more even.  There’s no head bob and it’s very very subtle - hard to see unless you have a round pen with regular, evenly spaced markers that you can count the strides on.  At some point, before doing a 50 miler, she’ll go to the vet for an evaluation and hock injections if necessary.  I need to walk the fine line between giving it enough work, but not increasing inflammation, and not putting her at risk for a compensation injury.  Of course, waiting to have it looked at, and continuing work assumes it continues to improve with work, or doesn't start to look like something other than that hock!

I’m looking at a March or April LD.  A lot of it depends on the weather.  The March LD would be with a blogging friend in Nevada - which highly depends on my ability to get over the pass without chains.  Especially if the weather turns bad in the next couple of weeks and I’m unable to condition, that first LD will be pushed to June or later.  Here is my criteria for doing the LD:
1.  Good weather
2.  Good footing.  Hills are OK, sand is not.  Some rocks are OK. 
3.  At least 2 20 mile conditioning rides at least a month apart that I have ZERO concerns about afterwards in terms of soundness.
4.  Farley will calmly, on a loose rein, canter home.  I’m not talking about conditioning her at a canter - all I want is 10-15 strides on the way home that lets me know that I have the degree of control I need for the ride.  LD’s have especially been a challenge for me and Farley - mostly because Farley doesn’t think they are a challenge…..
5.  During our conditioning rides, she will maintain a speed of less than 10mph without a fight. 

Lucky readers - those of you that joined me after I had already completed my 100’s and thought “I could never do that!”, get to watch me start all over again!  I wasn’t blogging in the very very beginning, so it will be good for me too to relive the LD and that first 50. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Google Reader fixed!

Looks like google reader is working again, so something I did last night must have reset something (how's that for preciseness?).  Yeah!  I wondered where you'all went and it's been mighty quiet and lonely out here! :)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Google reader not working

Hey - just verified that google reader isn't updating with posts from this blog. The Tess blog is working fine, but none of the quick fixes such as deleting the feedburner, unsubscribing and resubscribing, etc didn't work. I'll work on it tomorrow and this weekend and keep it updated.

Where did my horse go?

Specifically, where did my fat little trustworthy pony go?  It’s been replaced by a fire breathing monster who doesn’t seem to possess a shred of common sense in her walnut sized brain.

At first, I thought this change was a fluke - I would get this behavior at rides approximately 1 out of every 7 starts - so I knew it was in there.  When I got it on a conditioning ride, I thought “GREAT!  I can finally work through this behavior when I have plenty of time to train through it and really make an impression on her silly little pea sized (I mean walnut sized…) brain. 

And then…….I continued to get this behavior on EVERY SINGLE FREAKIN’ RIDE. 

I have 2 hypothesis’

1.  Obviously our relationship has taken a hit during the year off. 
2.  Staying out in pasture, she hasn’t lost NEARLY the amount of fitness I thought she had. 


My submissive little pony has decided that she knows her job far better than I do and is ignoring proper chain of command. 

Normally I’d throw a horse who has made this poor decision into the round pen and have a discussion.  Repeatedly if necessary. 

BUT - I’m still being cautious of that tendon.  Putting Farley in a round pen and being comfortable applying as much pressure (i.e. speed, turns) as necessary to get my point across is going to put a lot of torque on that LF and IMO it’s not ready for that.  I haven’t asked for a canter under saddle, much less in a 20 meter circle. 

So, I’ve made some compromises and modifications. 

1.  In the round pen I’ll ask for a trot both directions, canter to the right only.  (round pen is large with good footing, and is level - no banked sides.)
2.  Lots of hindquarter disengages for naughty behavior when I’m on the ground and in the saddle. (have to be careful, as she did take a swing at me).
3.  Lots of standing still, relaxed.
4.  Her behind my shoulder at ALL times when leading, enforced with a whip if necessary. 
5.  Lots of 180 turns and moving away from home when she tosses her head in the air and seems to have lost focus on the most important thing - ME!
6.  Lots of walk trot dressage focusing on submission and a very low head. 

What I’m not doing -
1.  Any intense round pen work - including working her to the point where she’s tired.  In addition to the torque, I DON’T need her getting tired and fatigued and thus making that tendon more likely to reinjure at this early stage of putting her back to work. 

2.  She has lost any “good horse privileges” - including being able to walk beside me, graze under saddle, graze on the line, and making any move towards my personal space without being invited. 

3.  My standard strategy for Farley to fix the running home thing - as we go towards home if she ignores my half halt and/or sticks her nose in the air, immediately reverse direction and head away from home at one gait higher than we were going home at.  Thus, trotting towards home will result in a canter away, cantering towards home will result in a hand gallop away.  And I want just as much energy and activity away as I was getting going towards home - no half-assed canters - it better be forward and engaged and happy! 

What I have on my side:
1.  She’s an honest horse.  She’s not playing games and tricks to try and unseat me - it’s energy forward and the bucks are a result of that energy forward. 
2.  She’s not a spooky horse.  I don’t have to worry about something “setting her off”.
3.  She’s on pasture - I’m not dealing with a horse that has been confined for a long time.
4.  she’s not “bad” all the time -
5.  We have a relationship that stretches over years - I know what I can expect from her, and she should quickly relearn what she can expect from me.  It’s not like I’m completely starting over, or have had a problem relationship with her. 
6.  Minx was so much worse than Farley can even dream of being.

On the bright side.... 
1.  I'd rather be dealing with this problem than what I've been doing the last year - not riding and treating a tendon injury. 
2.  I can FINALLY replicate something at home that sparodically pops up at rides - naughty behavior under saddle.  WHOOO HOOO! 
3.  I have MONTHS before my first LD to fix this - plenty of time to get my point across.  
4.  My first ride will be an LD - an LD that I will spend the entire time schooling if necessary. 

This just goes to show - You can buy the calmest, sweetest horse - and there’s no guarantee that they will stay that way all the time, especially if they aren’t ridden regularly.  I know people who want a perfectly trained horse that will be perfectly safe all the time - but they aren’t robots.  They respond to their environment and use and even the best ones will require a tune up now and then!

Did I miss anything on my horsey boot camp list?  Feel free to add in the comments!!!!!!!! 

And once again…..I have come to the end of a discussion (discussing an osteomyelitis - infectious I believe) and have a lecture coming up (Nutritional Bone Disease if you must know) so must post this and start paying attention!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Gift List

I’m trying really really REALLY hard to post daily.  When I’m feeling less than inspired, or short on time (currently writing this during an afternoon discussion whose subject is a review for me) I grab one of the many topics that is sitting in my queue. 

According to the blogs that blog about how to make your blog successful…..I should have posted some sort of post before Christmas with the keyword of “gift list”.  Apparently this will instantly bring hoards of readers to my blog, where they will be sucked in by my oh so wonderful writing abilities and engaging topics (immune system anyone?). 

I’m a little late. 

Here it is anyways - perfect gifts for that equestrian person in your life.  And even the non-horsey ones. 

I will admit to pulling heavily from my own wish list.  :)

Anatomic charts - always a good addition to a tack room or other horsey area, I never appreciated these works of art until after getting into school.  Renew your sense of appreciation for the athlete your horse is by always keeping those muscles and bone in view.  For those dog and cat people in the audience - wall art is available for you too! I recommend these

Hoof picks - trust me on this one.  No true horse person will turn down a gift of a hoof pick.  I wouldn’t mind getting 3 or 4 in my stocking.

Exotic sands art - I first saw these in Colorado last summer and have been fascinated ever since.  They are gorgeous, mesmerizing, and incredibly beautiful.  They calm me and I can stare at them for a very very long time.  But alas - they are a less than practical item and too expensive for a starving student.  I was planning on asking/buying one as a graduation gift to place on my desk - but Matt bought me one!

Long underwear - silks or good quality wool ones, like Smartwool.  Yes they are expensive.  Yes it isn’t the “fun-est” gift you’ve ever gotten.  But that person will think of you fondly every. single. time. they climb into the saddle, go backpacking, slip into a sleeping bag, or do anything outside or inside for fun or work.  I promise. 

Gift certificate for a favorite pair of riding tights - there are people like me that absolutely refuse to pay $100 for a pair of riding tights that will be used to cross rivers and deserts, and will mostly likely be dragged through the muck and mire and worn for a week straight.  Unfortunately, the only tights that we will wear to a ride are the ones that are $100+, so we depend on a steady supply of used and discounted pairs….how nice to order new from the company in a color of our choosing!!!!!!!  Here’s mine……hint hint hint……

Wine vacuum saver - because no one should finish a bottle on their own in a single night.

Platypus bottle - very neat alternative to a camelbak and more versatile.  Can bridge that gap between unwieldy camelbak and hard plastic space-taking-up water bottle.  (see REI website)

Barefoot shoes - such as soft stars.  Going barefoot has made a huge difference in my “soundness” and my overall wellness.  Minimalist shoes are expensive and those us that wear them full time would appreciate a new pair :)

Breyer horse - I always wanted one as a child…..and recently I saw one that I really must have.  It’s a rendition of the “visible horse” - the grey horse that has bones and muscles and stuff painted on it.  It’s beautiful!!!!!!  Any vet, vet student, vet wanna be will LOVE IT. 

Discussion is officially over and we are moving onto Lecture: Pathology of Metabolic Bone Disorders so I’ll leave you with these 9 things.  Which is unfortunate because it would be so cliché to have 10 items!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Electrolyte Debate

An electrolyte article I can't remember whether I have posted this article yet or not. 

Google “electrolytes endurance horse” and be prepared to be officially both over and underwhelmed.  To give or not to give?  How much to give?  Give all the time, give only when you *think* they need it, let them self regulate?  One of the projects I’ll be working on this summer is an electrolyte project.  I’m excited because I think it will finally start shedding some light on this subject. 

I want to know - what statement below do you most agree with and why?

1.  I condition without electrolytes, and I do not give electrolytes during competition.  My horses have access to free salt and I may provide electrolytes free choice at rides/competitions.

2.  I condition without electrolytes, and I sometimes give elytes during competition- either by syringe or by putting it into a mash which I make sure the horse eats. 

3.  I condition with electrolytes (and may or may not give access to free salt), and/or give elytes in a daily ration, and I follow a similar protocol during rides/competition. 

I tend to alternate between numbers 1 and 2. 

I’m not convinced I see a substantial difference with electrolytes.  I’ve always thought, no harm, no foul…..I’m not real good about giving them consistently.

Here’s some more statements to consider:

1.  We know “don’t do anything new on ride day.”  Why are elytes any different?

2.  Horses seem to adapt to whatever we condition them for, and that may include elyte utilization - thus would there be any difference between a horse conditioned with elytes and competed with them, as the horse that is conditioned and competed without? 

3.  Horses are to compete on their own merits for endurance.  If you elyte a horse because it’s on the verge of thumping/tying up or other metabolic syndrome, is your horse properly conditioning?  Are elytes a “legal” drug to keep borderline horses in competition? 

4.  If we can’t give bagged fluids by mouth, why are we allowed to reconstitute dehydrated fluids (i.e. elytes) and give them during competition? 

I intend to post new content daily on my blogs - if you don't see anything new here - check out Tess's blog.  I even bought a "streak calendar" app for my iTouch to encourage me to blog daily!  A post on either blog counts :). 

Monday, January 9, 2012

100 miler points

Fair warning - you probably don't care if you aren't an AERC rider.  You probably don't care if you don't ride 100's.  In fact, I can't think of a whole lot of people that are going to care about this post.  But I care and it's my blog, so you'all get to suffer.  

I was disappointed to see that AERC has reverted back to 1.5 point/mile for 100’s, from 2 points/mile in the 2010/2011 season. 

In 2010 there was a focus on how to support and encourage people to do 100’s.  Several new programs were implemented, including recognizing equines completing their first 100 in the EN, and celebrating a certain amount of 100 mile completions by establishing “bronze”, “silver” and “gold” levels.  Among the changes was an increase in the amount of points you could earn for completing a 100.  While 1 point per mile is awarded for completing a 50, 2 points (an increase from 1.5 points) was awarded to those completing a 100.

I felt that this was reasonable.  If you ride 100’s, you can’t do as many rides.  1-2 100’s is the max for most people riding one horse, and 3 is considered a good year.  Considering that your chance of getting pulled at a 100 compared to a 50 is much much greater, the increase in points rewards both the risk and the reduction in overall mileage for choosing 100’s. 

I never would have been in the point standings in 2010 for the western region if it hadn’t been for the point change.  As someone who focuses on 100’s with a single horse, I’ll have to have nearly a perfect season - or switch to 50’s and mutidays - if I want to be in the point standings again.  Or race for top 10. 

Assuming no top 10 finishes, here’s an example of a season between a 50 and 100 mile finisher and the point values.  This assumes that you give a horse 6-8 weeks off after a 100 and don’t do a 50 more than 4-6 weeks before the 100, and that you are able to do 1 50 or multi day a month, and gave the horse a month or two off here and there. 

50 mile finisher, 1 point per mile
Jan - 50
Feb - 50
March - 50
May - 50, 50 (2 day)
Jul - 50, 50,50 (3 day)
Sep - 50
Oct - 50
Dec - 50
Total: 550 points (attended 8 rides)

50 mile finisher, assume got pulled at one ride
Total: 500 points

100 mile finisher, 2 points per mile
Feb - 100
Apr - 50
May - 50
Jul  100
Oct - 50
Nov - 50
Total: 600 points (attended 6 rides)

100 mile finisher, 2 points per mile, with one non-completion at one 100 miler
Total: 400 points

100 mile finisher, 1.5 points per mile
Total: 500 points

100 mile finisher, 1.5 points per mile, with one non-completion at one 100 miler
Total: 350 points

There’s a couple things you should notice.
1.  I consider both competition schedules comparable. 
2.  At 2 points a mile, while the pay off is really good if you finish both 100’s in a season, if you get pulled at just one, the person that did all 5o’s will beat you. 
3.  At 1.5 points a mile, it doesn’t matter whether you finish both 100’s or not - the person doing 50’s will beat you. 

The best way to insure I’m in the point standings is to never take a risk of doing a 100.  The payoff now for doing a 100 is so little at 1.5 points/mile, and the risk for the loss in points so great if I get pulled (and the chances of being pulled at a 100 are much higher than a 50), that if I’m doing 100’s, it’s for the love of the distance.  There’s little else to motivate me. 

It was fun being in the point standings.  I won’t deny it.  I don’t think it’s necessarily something that will be my goal for a season - but I won’t deny that every time I wear my vest, I feel a sense of pride for what me and Farley did that year. 

Some might read this post and say that I’m mad because it puts me at a disadvantage for winning, and if I want to win, than I need to play by the rules and just do 50’s.  BUT, me being (or not being) in the point standings is NOT WHAT UPSETS ME.  It’s what AERC appears to be prioritizing. 

100’s struggle to get enough riders.  While Tevis boasts 200 riders or more, most 100’s I’ve done have been 20 people or less.  Often it doesn’t matter whether you top 10 because there weren’t 10 people that finished the ride.  By increasing the point count, AERC was telling endurance riders that 100’s matter, and supporting 100’s is an integral part of our sport.  When AERC increased the amount of points for finishing 100’s it changed the way you had to ride your season if you wanted to be in those standings.  Either you did substantially more 50’s, or you added 100’s to your ride schedule. 

There are a number of us (the crazy people!) that are going to continue to ride 100’s because that is the distance we love - points be damned.  However, there’s another set of riders that are chasing points, that won’t because the risk is too much and the reward is too little.  And we will continue to reward riders who chose the safe route, as they rack up the points 50 miles at a time. 

Of course there’s a 100 mile award -  a single award that’s awarded on the national level regardless of region or weight division (don’t even get me started on weight divisions….). I’m not sure - but I highly doubt that 10th place for the 100 mile award gets an embroidered vest.  I believe only the winner (and maybe the runner up?) gets recognition. 

Does AERC support 100’s or not?  Why is it possible to win in points if you ride lots and lots of 50’s (and get pulled once or twice), but not if you chose to do 100’s? 

I can think of a few reasons:
1.  Those riders used to winning based on lots of 50 milers moaned and complained enough
2.  AERC makes more money if people ride more rides, and if they ride 100’s, they ride in less rides. 
3.  AERC determined that increasing the point value did not substantially increase the participation in the 100 mile distance, and so decided to cater to numbers 1 and 2 above.  Thus foregoing a show of support for the distance that started it all, and one that is a real physical accomplishment for both horse and rider. 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Why my birthday was perfect

On the fourth I turned 27.  (I know - so old, almost over the hill!).  Numbers mean a LOT to me.  They each have their own personalities which I think are based on a combination of how they behave mathematically, and how they look.  I don’t like most primes (except the number 2).  I like the numbers 2 and 6.  I like 26 better than 16.  Primes are my least favorite (probably due to the days of algebra and calculus and knowing when I saw them in an equation I wouldn’t be able to do ANYTHING simple like divide both sides to get an easier equation).  I particularly dislike the numbers 3, 7, and 17 because they look “broken”, are primes, and there’s no trick to memorizing the multiples of 7 except rote memorization. 

I think you get the point. 

What’s interesting is that my best years come when I’m an age in numbers that I don’t particularly care for.  23 was a fabulous year for me - so even though I still don’t like “23”, there is a sort of fondness for it by virtue of me having a lot of fun that year. 

Thus, I’m a little curious to see what happens this year, when I’m 27 and Farley is 13.  Two numbers I don’t particularly care for.  27 is interesting, because while it isn’t a prime, it’s a factorial of a prime (3) [and it’s 3 3’s!], so I tend to lump it in with the other distasteful prime numbers. 

Now that all of you think I’m especially weird - even for an endurance rider, let me tell you why my birthday was perfect. 

1.  I found my Tevis buckle.  I contend it was never really LOST - I never wore it, had put it on once only to decide it didn’t go with the outfit and took it off again.  And.....didn't see it again for an uncomfortably long time.  It was somewhere in the very tiny house, attached to a belt.  See?  Not really lost, I just haven’t been able to find it for 6 months.  I was a little irritated.  I never got to even WEAR it.  It was purchased for me by my 2010 crew and so special to me beyond just being my buckle.  I don’t lose things and while I knew it had to be in the house, it wasn’t turning up - thus keeping good company with my kershaw leek knife (which I still can’t find BTW).  Then, preparing for a boot fitting and dragging boot boxes out of the closet I was in a hurry and knocked over my sock bin….and there is was!!!!!!!!!!  I of COURSE put it on and wore it.  Perfect day = finding and WEARING my Tevis buckle. 

2.  I went riding.  Farley was a witch.  To put it simply - if she had tried this crap on our pre-purchase ride, she would NOT have gone home with me!  Farley tried to run away, and when that didn’t work tried to buck me off, and when that didn’t work tried to jig, and when that didn’t work tried to be squirrley while standing, and when that didn’t work tried to do an advanced dressage move that involved sideways movement and a very elevated foot placement and when that didn’t work decided (1/4 mile from home) that perhaps just going calmly down the road was the easiest thing.  After almost 2 hours.  We checked out the levee road, which is gravelly, so I put boots on her on the trail (new philosophy - during conditioning she doesn’t wear boots except for specific stretches that need them.  That way we get LOTS of practice taking them on and off on the trail and more opportunities to practice standing).  Boots, I might add that have hundreds of miles on them and I haven’t used in over a year.  Nothing like setting myself up for success eh?  The RF that is sometimes a 2, looked to be a 1 when I slide the hoof into it before the trail ride so I packed 2-0’s and 2-1’s and took off.  Ummm….what I didn’t do was actually try and put the boot completely on, with the captivator up.  Thus, on the trail when I got to the RF cursed a bit but finally got the captivator up and did what you aren’t suppose to do - stuff a too big hoof into a small boot.  I was begging for a boot failure - but everything stayed put, even through her canter/bucking antics and stepping all over herself when we were practicing standing as an alternative to lunacy and above ground airs. 

3.  I had a boot fitting and met some wonderful people who sent me home with dried fruit.
  I’m now convinced I need to go into mobile practice.  I know I know I know.  I said I was NOT going to be clinician and I was NOT going to treat horses……but I realized that as a mobile vet I would be doing something similar to my Boots 4 Mel practice - driving around helping animals, meeting wonderful local animal people, and giving back to the community.  I could own my business (I know I know - something else I promised I’d never do), have a flexible schedule, and be able to work outside.  I could still focus on food animal and pick up enough equine and small animal knowledge to help pay the bills.  A PhD would be just as much fun and very interesting - but now I’m not sure that's the right path for me.  The idea of practicing is crazy and 180 degrees away from what I had planned on doing (never being on call again, not working weekends and holidays….) but I think the reward of meeting local people and working in the community, as well as having the ultimate control over my working life would be worth it. 

4.  Went for a run with Tess and she behaved herself (Is my puppy finally turning into that dog I’ve always wanted?  I was told all the qualities of a rather challenging puppy are the makings of a great dog!!!!)  Run + Ride in the sunshine = a very very mental (and physically) happy Mel. 

5.  I was lent a saddle!!!!!!!!  The generosity of people amazes me.  A blog reader and client of Boots 4 Mel read that I was riding trail in my dressage saddle and had borrowed my Dad’s Mcclellen and decided to lend me one of her trail saddles!  It was incredibly kind of her.  The saddle fits Farley almost perfectly - better than the solstice did, and fits me as well.  I’m truly doing endurance on a budget for the first time, and I was trying to figure out how to buy a used all-purpose wintec with the $100 left over from my financial aid last term, combined with birthday and xmas money.  I’m used to having to live frugally, but since graduating from college have been able to buy something I want for a hobby, without having to change my life style significantly.  Very scary to be living as cheaply as possible and realize that the money was still very very very close.  The good news is that endurance is cheaper than a lot of organized equestrian sports.  But, entry fees and gas still cost money.  To make endurance happen, I need to watch every penny and it’s a relief to have a saddle that will work without a significant outlay. 

6.  Decided to go to the AERC convention for the first time ever.  It’s in Reno again this year.  How ironic that I’m going to the convention after “completing” season with my fewest rides ever?  Even my first year I did more rides!  Even though the completion rate was the same as it was for 2010 - a big fat ZERO. :)

7.  Yes, yes, yes, the next 2 happenin’s are decidedly not horsey.  But since it’s MY blog and MY birthday, I get to post all sorts of OT thingies if I feel like it!  I planned my backpacking season for the first half of the year.  A sweet little overnighter in a new location on BLM land with an emphasis on bird watching and a longer trip in May at Point Reyes with family members. 

8.  I’ve decided to do a half marathon. 
Now, I know what you are saying - “didn’t you do one of those last year?”.  Why yes I did!  The difference is this year I’m actually TRAINING for it.  :)  No showing up to the start line with a broken arm with my previous runs 6 months ago.  No sirree - no one in a cast will be passing me this year!  It’s great to be hitting the road and the pilates mat again.  I’m doing the running barefoot, and coupled with the flexibility from the pilates, I’m having less issues with knees and feet than I ever have before.  I can run on grass in my barefoot Softstar shoes - not something I’ve ever been able to do with regular shoes (because of the clearance and having to pick up my feet higher than usual) so I think I’m actually accumulating less impact. 

It’s time to eat breakfast and peel the bored puppy off the walls of the house and do something. [like ride!  and run! and write my research proposal! and clean manure! and get ready for school Monday! and play with Tess!  and hang out with friends!  and catalog my birdwatching trip yesterday! - 40 species seen and 10 lifers! Don't I have a wonderful life?  This too could be yours for the low price of going into debt $50K a year!]

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Found a farrier!.....and my motivation!

I officially LOVE my new farrier.  He's soft with the horse, and said all the right things - the importance of not taking away too much sole (only to the dirt line), the importance of the bevel, the function of the quarter, of leaving frog etc.  He explained everything he was doing, wants me to maintain the hoof between visits and will teach me all I want to know - and I can go on ride alongs with him if I would like.  Told me to call him anytime with questions, no matter how trivial they may be. 

He didn't take a lot off of Farley's feet.  I was pleased to see that even though I've been lax on doing any regular rasping - especially on the hinds - that her feet have maintained a good balance and he didn't have to fix any high/low efforts as a result of my rasping.  He has her on a 5 week schedule, which is a little often, since I can maintain what he's done for a couple of months.....BUT I realize that I probably won't do regular raspings - especially if I want to have time to ride.  Better to save money somewhere else, than to try and skimp on hoof care unless I KNOW I have the time to do the maintenance myself.  And my track record over the last year doesn't look good.....

I'll try to remember to post pictures soon, but in general, this is what I want to see in Farley's feet:

1.  elimination of the flares on the quarters of the RF.  My last farrier was adament about not scooping the quarters, however without doing so, I couldn't get rid of the flare and stretched white line.  My current farrier DOES scoop, so it will be interesting to see if we can get rid of those flares.  The flare is what bumps me up to a size 2 boot on that foot (the LF is a size 1) and IMO I had a much healthier foot when it was a size 1 and didn't have the flare. 

2.  "de-contract" the LF.  The LF grows a lot of heel and tends to be a very upright foot with a forward heel.  With regular riding and trimming/rasping, the LF starts to look more like the RF, get a nice concave sole, and normal looking heels.  I sighed a bit when I saw it today all cleaned up.  It looks like it did when I pulled her shoes a couple years back. 

3.  Minimize the distortion and stress on the RH old injury.  If the heels on the RH get a little long, it puts stress on the old hoof wall injury and it has a tendacy to distort and want to crack out.  That would be BAD.  I want to get that healed area as stable as possible, which means keeping the foot nice and short - especially the heels. 

I was so motivated by finding a new farrier that I tackled a new project - organizing my tack in my storage horse trailer!!!!!  I'm letting my Dad use my trailer for lessons and for hauling out - so my tack is in his much smaller 2 horse, along with some of his stuff.  Even though I sold a bunch of stuff before moving - everything was a disorganized MESS. 

I can't function in a mess.

I think a part of me not wanting to ride was due to the fact I had to crawl through tack and horse gear for me to find my saddle, a blanket, a bridle, and my helmet.  Everything was chaos.

When I was pulled at 20 MT, I just chucked my stuff in my trailer.  There is remained until I moved Farley into my parents pasture.

Then, Matt took the contents of my horse trailer, and chucked it into my Dad's horse trailer.

And there is lay. 

Or rather, piled.

Today, in full sunshine, I took out everything, organized, threw away junk, and repacked the trailer into a functional tack storage. 

It took 3 1/2 hours. 

It now looks like a working tack room as a opposed to a tack swap pile. 

I'm so excited!!!!  Tomorrow is my birthday and I'm planning a nice ride on Farley in celebration of my organized tack storage, finding a new farrier, and starting over in endurance.  LD's, here we come!

A New Year's Ride

There is no better way to start the New Year’s than a brisk ride in the sunshine.  A local endurance vet that I admire and respect [not the least because he has a great sense of humor and can appreciate the Mcclellen saddle, even if he DID pull me TWICE in my first season :)] offered to take me out on one of his horses and of COURSE I said yes. 

In typical Melinda fashion I was excited until the day before.  I have a hard time forcing myself to do new things, meet new people, and go beyond my comfort zone (which is flying solo) and started feeling the urge to just stay in bed and not do anything as difficult as going on a FUN ride with other FUN people. 

Then I get the email - “bring your own saddle and a set of reins in case you hate the ones I have”.

Crap Crap CRAP.

You see - knowing that I would not have time for endurance (or so I was told, a self-fulfilling prophesy that may or may not be true considering the new curriculum….) I sold the 2 good saddles I had and bought a commuter car with the money.  Still a good decision - I couldn’t guarantee safe storage for them and neither fit Farley and I perfectly. 

The plan was to buy a cheap all purpose winter saddle for the riding I could do.  THAT hasn’t happened because of an inherent lazy streak and the fact I want a 17.5” seat, not a 17”.

What I DO have is a winter dressage saddle. 

With a single dressage girth.

In a very tiny size. 

Time to go to plan B and bring an “insurance” saddle.  I call up my Father and explain I REALLY need to borrow his Mcclellen.  I know I can do a 50 in it, because I sold it to him after I had done just that.  It has an inherent design flaw in the seat, which is why I sold it and bought my Doug Kidd Mcclellen, BUT I WAS going riding, and I was REALLY hoping to not have to do it bareback if the silly girth didn’t fit. 

So of course, I show up like a valley girl on vacation - WAY too much stuff.  I explain to the vet that I am NOT that girl that packs everything as I stuff his truck and trailer with 2 fully rigged saddles and my riding gear. 

Of course - he ended up having a girth that did fit and of course, even with 2 complete sets of horse gear I managed to forget riding gloves and a girth loop for my d-ring-less girth. 

Bailing twine, how I do love thee. 

Two gals joined us and it turns out that it’s the women I rode with at Patriots 100 in November 2010!  We both had great rides and I had really enjoyed her company.  Her sister was also there.  Turns out, they are local to this area, put on a local ride, and she and her sister were as good a company as I remembered. 

I’ve ridden a lot of horses that weren’t mine - Standardbreds, mustangs, Quarter Horses, Thoroughbreds - mostly used for civil war reenacting, polo, or ranch work.  I have NEVER gotten to ride someone else’s endurance horse.  Technically this horse hadn’t done any endurance rides, but he was a sweet 1/2 arab that could definitely get the job done of the 10 mile walk/trot ride we had planned. 

I’m shy about asking for rides, partly because my formal training came so late and I’m used to being the rider that is the rank beginner (as a 4-Her in the horse club), the not-so-pretty rider that managed to stay on most of the time (polo), the cautious one (mustangs at the Wild Horse Sanctuary), or being careful about what horses I ended up on because although I COULD stay on them, I was beginning to learn that being the cowboy wasn’t all it was cracked up to be (Standardbreds). 

Thus I was immensely flattered when the owner of the horse asked me for my opinion on how the horse was behaving under saddle - he had started and trained him, and rode him regularly, and like most of us was interested in what a new rider could feel - what little behaviors were there that were being automatically corrected by the regular rider?  Because of my dressage lessons I was able to describe what I was feeling!  Whoo hoo!!!!!  Maybe I can call myself a rider after all!

My first “real” trail ride in almost a year - 10 miles in just over 2 hours.  Lots of hills, great footing, plenty of sunshine.  I was feeling rather proud of myself - I wasn’t sore, tender, or chafed.  And then….I woke up the next morning.  It wasn’t my butt, thighs, or calves that were killing me.  No, it was my back muscles.  I couldn’t twist, bend, or sit, or stand, or walk……I think I’ve done a better job of maintaining my abs than the back muscles that make up my core.  UGH!  Time to hit the pilates mat again. 

I really hope that this ride was a sign of what is to come in 2012 - more riding, more social riding, and me doing things - even if they make me a little uncomfortable. 

Find a used Wintec for a couple hundred dollars and buy it.
Organize horse trailer tack room.
Ride 2-3x a week
Pick a spring LD
Get back into riding (and trail running) shape

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Trimmer tomorrow

Found a new trimmer in the area that is coming by tomorrow to trim Farley's feet.  Cross your fingers that it works out.  He has great references, talks well over the phone, is willing to teach me anything I want to learn, and just moved back here from Idaho and so is looking for new clients.  I don't have the time to trim Farley's feet right now - I just want to ride. 

I'm just really really really picky when it comes to my horse's feet.

I promise to keep my mouth shut.  I promise not to ask leading questions.  I promise to be a good client. 

I really really really want this to work out - I'm not having much luck with shoers/trimmers in the area and I can't see the balance in the foot well enough to entrust Farley's entire foot care to myself.  (and did I mention the time?).  The trimmers I do like don't want to add a single horse client who only want trims - and I don't blame them at all.  This guy is local and like I rambled about before, moved back to the area after an absence and thus has gaps in his clientele. 

*crossing my fingers*

2011 part 2!

Make my life easy and read part 1 first.  That way I don't have to recap why I'm breaking this post into 2 parts (or more).  (hint - it's blogger's fault).


A backpacking trip in January for my birthday

A breaking of the elbow.  (oh how fun) and the running of a 1/2 marathon I didn't train for (even more fun).

(somehow missing these pics.  Bummer.  Use your imagination.  I was tired, wearing a race t-shirt, and had my arm in a sling)

Of course there is school.  The drama of applying, of the interview, and of actually being accepted.  And finally, giving up on the notion that anything interesting horse-related would ever happen to me again, and so I started writing vetmed related posts. 

There was hiking Pikes Peak and exploring Colorado