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Friday, August 31, 2012

Video with lunch!

I decided not to use this particular video clip in a boot post I'm writing, so posting now.  It's less than 30 seconds because I took it with my phone and I have a bad habit and hitting the "stop" button with my thumb if I'm not careful.

These are new boots and since I hadn't used boots in a while I wanted to let her out in the arena for a bit.  Things got exciting later (post coming!) but this is a sweet video of her trotting around in her very very very bright boots.

You may not be able to see a brown horse in a brown arena, but you can sure see those boots!

BTW,  here's what for lunch today - another fabulous Box lunch of course!

-almond butter
-string cheese
-goat cheese
-sweet potato and cinnamon chips

A little less variety in color than I would like, and only nut protein, BUT I know with a test today I'm likely to be in a more "snacky" mood than normal for lunch and tried to tailor to that need.  Cutting up the fruit and veggies not only makes it easier to fit more volume in the section, but also helps satisfy the snacky urge.  This is something to keep in mind when packing for vet checks at a ride, since sometimes it's easier to snack than eat a more heavy meal with traditional protein sources, fresh fruit and veggies contain lots of water as well as sugar, AND the dairy included (as well as the chips and nut butter) have enough fat to keep you feeling fuller for longer on the trail.  This box is lighter in calories compared to my "typical" meal, but since I'll be do very little besides sitting and studying and driving today, that's perfect.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Camp Far West

This is mostly likely be my last post until I come back from Camp Far West LD.  I'm super excited of such thing as "just" an LD, if Farley and I finish I'll be just as proud of her as when we completed our 100's.

I have several half finished posts that I wanted to get out to you guys before leaving, but that is so. not. going. to. happen.  I have a test every Friday and so I'm despretely packing and trying to study.

It's sort of hilarious to try and pack for a ride after having so much time off.  Went to the stable tonight to set up my trailer....and realized all my endurance stuff was at my parents house in a bin somewhere......Glad I realized it TODAY instead of tomorrow.  As it is, I have to leave from school, to the barn, without going home and I'll still be lucky to make it to ride camp before dark tomorrow.

I'm probably forgetting something critical.  Oh well.  It will make a good story.

I set up my food as a cross between what I've been doing for my lunches and how I would pack for a backpacking trip.  I'll let you know how it goes after the ride!  Nutrition for the rider during the ride is something I've always struggled with, and I'm hoping that this "system" helps.

Here's what I've packed for Saturday's LD:
-a container for Friday dinner
-hard boiled egg for ride day breakfast (this is my "typical" breakfast)
-container for lunch vet check
-container for post ride meal
-baggies for the saddle bags that contains a mix of various electrolytes types, carbs (apple sauce, nutrition bars) and protein (nut butter packets, jerky).  Each baggie contains enough calories for either 1 hour or 2 hours based on the 20 min book that suggested 200-300 calories per hour during prolonged exercise.  I packed 7 hours worth of saddle baggies.

-The containers have a lot of fresh fruits and veggies, hummus, cheese, hard boiled eggs etc. --> real food that won't keep on the trail, but that is fairly simple.  I also included a container of chocolate milk (one of the best post-exercise recovery foods because of it's ratio to carbs to proteins, which I have been using after my runs), and a can of coconut juice. 

Here's some eye candy while you are waiting for my Camp Far West story (along with the other great posts that I have promised on rider fitness etc.)

-Yes, I'm perfectly aware that this looks like a bad craigslist photo with her standing downhill, underherself, and not square to the camera.  But look at her BUTT!!!!!  She has a BUTT AGAIN!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I just have one question....

Who wears orange better? 

Procrastinating Rider Fitness

If you missed my ramblings on how I'm preparing Farley for our upcoming LD (THIS Saturday!!!!), go back a few posts and read " What I'm up to..." (Aug 14th publish date). My rider fittness "program" is going to be awfully reminicent of Farley's program....

But first, in the spirit of this entire afternoon which is apparently dedicated to procrastination (should be studying and instead I'm writing blog posts, visiting my mom, and now taking my own sweet time about getting to the point of this post!), I'm going to self-servingly brag about a little ride I had the other night.

That's right, NIGHT. With a MOON.

Let's see how you do on a little multiple choice question:

"Night+moon+new saddle+galloping = "

a. Insanity

b. what an adrenaline rush!!!!

c. broken bones

d. only in my worst nightmare

*I* picked up a saddle from my dad that he has for sale that I thought might work for Farley, and got the stable a bit later than I anticipated.

The problem is it gets dark so dang fast. 8:30 and BOOM, sun is over and down below the horizon. Considering that I did my 5am run in the DARK, I did think it was a bit unfair that I ended my day doing something physical in the dark.

I will say that darkness+saddle is WAY MORE fun than darkness+running shoes. At least in my everyone-owns-a-pit-bull-and-is-probably-manufacturing-meth neighborhood.


Went out to the stable, tacked up, and screwed around with leathers, stirrups, breast collars, and girths for far longer than I care to admit. (which is how I can explain my stirrup leathers being a full 2 holes too long). By this time it was dark, the owner was feeding and I was debating whether I should head on out to the trails. The owner mentioned that the moon lights up the area quite well. I realized she was right - the levee and river bottoms where I ride have no "curfew", there's no traffic, and I could actually ride on the trails quite safely.

That is if the dang coyotes/deer/turkeys/hawks/owls/rabbits etc. weren't intent on killing both me and Farley. Apparently they didn't quite believe their senses as a dark horse and rider thundered towards them on the trail.

I was really interested in how much more secure this saddle was than the english type than I have been using, and my seat is good enough that the only way was to get Farley to do something fairly naughty - like ubruptly slide to a halt (thank you Mr. Coyote that refused to move), shy side wise at a gallop (I swear the owl was going to land on my head), and maybe throw in a happy buck or two as she did some flying lead changes down the back stretch (she still can't change leads on the fly without bucking through it).

How much fun were me and Farley having?

We both galloped past the barn and didn't realize it.

We both sorta looked at each other, than looked back and then walked to the barn.

First night ride since I got pulled at 20MT 100 Feb 2011.

And the best part? Farley's legs, just like every other ride I've put on her this training cycle, were absolutely, completely clean the next day.

The verdict on the saddle? It's a maybe. Definitely keeps me in the middle of the motion, but I'm not quite sure it's going to work just yet. A few more rides are needed. I'm loth to give up something as familiar as the english saddle, but on the other hand the price is right on this one, it gives me more options, and if it keeps me centered better when I'm tired, than that's less wear and tear on Farley's body and back near the end of a 100.

I'm being deliberately vague about the saddle because you guys are going to make fun of me when you see it. :(. You will snicker and not have any mercy. Dad and mom - no fair giving away anything in the comments. That would just be mean.

Now on to rider fitness - how did I lose over 10 pounds since the end of June, am close to the best shape of my life, and achieved this WITHOUT ANY INJURIES? I'll share in my next post (unless I find something more interesting to post about in the meantime....) what I've been doing and how "20 minute" book that covers the most recent exercise physiology research that I keep mentioning (way too long of a name, in my fitness post I will link to it in amazon) has applied to my routine.

Until next time!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Horse time

I know I'm definitely getting enough saddle time when.....

...riding my bike around a turn on campus I looked down to make sure I was on the correct "diagonal".


The cow idea - never mind....

Considering that the normal heart rate of a cow is above the recovery rate for endurance, perhaps they are not the idea, tougher endurance animal that I had suggested in a previous post!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Portable Standing desk

For those of you that couldn't visualize what I was talking about when I said I used a music stand, here's a picture of my standing desk:

A friend at school uses a more traditional, sturdy "school" music stand and it can hold her computer.  Mine is less stable, but portable and I already had it!

Ride and Tie practice!!!!

Note: pics are random from the internet.  If I had tried to take pics last night I probably would have tripped and fallen on my face. Please let me know if you have the copywrite to an image here and want credit or it removed.

 All week I've been telling my friends that "I have ride and tie practice on Friday".

Yesterday I wore my patterned riding tights and bright orange shoes, and a tech shirt I got at a race and informed people, when they asked whether I was going riding, that "no, I have ride and tie practice after school...".

It was a total blast. Even if I felt like a monkey with amputated fingers and frontal cortex when trying to find a good tree to tie to. 

Stasi is this cute little gray arab gelding that M* is pulling out of "retirement" (he's been off for a couple of years due to various circumstances with humans - not because he is unsound or unsuitable) and we agreed that with me being a total newbie we would plan on using Stasi instead of Farley for at least the first race.

He canters like a rocking horse dream, is funny, full of personality.  It's hard to remember that according to all the "charts" he's in his geriatric years, being the ripe old age of 20 or so.

M* and I met in the evening with the plan of riding a short little trail behind her house in the foothills.

When we first started talking about doing a RT together we did the obvious thing and compared leg length (she rides one hole longer than my "ideal" length on the trail), the fact that we are midpackers in both the endurance and running world, and admitted that the running and riding hadn't exactly been happening in the past year or so.

GREAT!  Perfect match right?

I didn't even consider all those other little things that could turn a partnership like this into a freakin' disaster.........

-M* admits that her pregrooming routine is to knock the dirt off the tack areas.  (Thankgoodness!!!!  what if I had ended up with a person that insisted that her horses be kept spotless??????????)

-M* admits she has a competitive side, even though this first race we are only focusing on FINISHING (What if I had ended up with a partner that either wanted to top 10, OR wanted to do this as strictly a recreational ride and smell the roses the entire time?)

-The post ride routine is to spray the sweat off the horse (OMG what if I had to give the horse a bath with SOAP after every ride?)

-Multiple other little things that we are similar enough in that I'm unlikely to offend or get booted off the partnership after one ride!  (whoo hoo!)

With a relief made greater by the fact I wasn't even aware that there COULD of been a problem, we started down the trail.

This is how it's suppose to work:
-Person 1 takes off on the horse, Person 2 runs behind.
-Person 1 finds a good tie tree about a 1/4 mile or so (depending on terrain) in front of person 2 and person 1 takes off running.
-Person 2 runs up to the horse, unties, mounts, and races up to person 1.
-Person 1 and person 2 do a fancy, let's-make-this-look-easy hand off and person 1 races off with the horse.

This is how it works when you have an incompetent newbie
-M* takes off with the horse, finds a place to tie
-I find Stasi, get on, and ride past M*, forgetting that I'm suppose to hand off.  Oops.
-M* gets on, goes on up ahead.
-My shoes fill with these dang little stickers that are in the foothills and I swallow a bug while racing down hill.
-Because we are having conversations about technique and strategy, I'm close enough to M* that we switch places briefly, with me being the rider that ties......
-I do a lot of standing on the trail, holding Stasi and yelling back at M* "is this a good tie tree?".  It usually isn't.
-I find out that when riding as fun a horse as Stasi, I have no judge of distance or time and I invariable go too long or too short before tying.
-We agree that more practices before our mid-October race are needed......

The hardest thing about RT is that it's all about teamwork and strategy - a LOT more so than endurance.  M* assured me that as partners we will get into a routine and pattern, but my poor little walnut sized brain (Stasi had more cognitive power than me last night) I think a better plan for M* is to have me on some sort of shock collar that she zaps me with when it's time for me to pull over and tie.....

Here's what did go well:
-Even though I need to work on my RT skills like tying and choosing trees, at least it looks like my level of riding skill is sufficient.  I can't keep my heels down as far as I would like with the stirrup length, but it's not a big deal and it makes it easier to mount!
-My run work out seems to be preparing me well for hilly terrain, even though I can't train on hills a combination of high intensity intervals, and progressively waited squats.  When going up hills, I could feel the aerobic capacity going into effect that's developing from the intervals, combined with the power I'm developing in my legs from the squats.  So while I'm building each component seperate in my training, it doesn't look like it matters!
-Absolutely no problems running on the hilly terrain or hills.  In the past my IT band would hurt going down hill, and based on my experience of sliding down a ditch with Tess I was worried about the tread on my new shoes.  No issues on either!

We spent 50 minutes running and riding and tying --> I slept good last night!

Wanna know the best part about the evening?  M* is the researcher I worked for over the summer and I noticed her name was on the list of available mentors for the class.  Mentors were assigned to students purely on first come first served basis, with the "start line" being noon on Monday.  Exactly at noon I raced to finish the online application and submitted it, hoping that I was the first to request M*.  I officially get notified today, but I knew M* probably knew before I did so I asked.....AND SHE'S MY OFFICIAL MENTOR!!!!!!!!!!!  AND since administration made a point of telling us all that mentors are not just for career mentoring, but someone you can share activities with, my ride and tie stuff is officially part of her mentoring.....which means it's totally justifiable to take an afternoon off and spend it doing ride and tie practice or conditiong with M* because after all she's teaching valuable lessons to achieve balance between school and life?  Yeah, we will go with that one :). 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Flurry of updates

I'm concentrating on doing well in this block so that I'm eligible for research funding, so the blog writing has been a bit slow.

I'm learning all sorts of facinating things, including I'm pretty sure we should be riding cows instead of horses - they are just so much sturdier in all sorts of ways - their plural membranes are stronger and when one lung collapses, the other one doesn't automatically do so, (unlike horses), their bones mend really well (unlike horses), even if their diaphragm is paralyzed they do just fine!!!! Yeah...definitely need to look into that. (and yes, I've been the article from Europe of that girl trail riding/jumping the cow).

-Stop sitting so much. Stand and move. You wouldn't believe how your cardio system responds to laying prone or sitting. There is SUCH a difference in physiological response to just standing. Don't have time to cover it all, but stop sitting on your A$$. I'm using a folding music stand as my standing desk at school and it works PERFECTLY to hold an ipad and my keyboard. It's portable, non-intrusive etc.


Some more quick updates (lecture going on right now is review so I have about 5 minutes to get something here and post it!)

-Tess got snarfed by Harley again, dispite my best efforts. It was fairly traumatic for Tess, me holding both their collars while the german shepherd was still able to inflect some glancing puncture wounds. One on her shoulder was quite deep - I could see the muscle layer, but the next morning there was heat and swelling on the joint, where a more superficial cut over a joint on her front foot was. Took her to the vet, got antibiotics and NSAIDs. While I was there had them take a second look at Tess's tooth that sustained damage from a snarfing that occured when she was 4 months old. Bottom line - the 4th premolar, which I've been worried about has "turner's tooth" and could be fine, dead, need a root canal, or need reconstruction. I had my vet look at it while she was out for her spay and he said it was a slab fracture and was fine. Glad I went ahead and took her to the hospital here and school and got a second opinion. She'll need dental radiographs to determine whether the tooth is OK. I'm really really hoping it's OK. Dental work is not cheap. Second issue - the first molar that is just behind Premolar 4 is missing. Gone. No idea where it is. Probably related to the trauma as well, it could be retained and happy, absessed, moving it's way up to the nose etc. Needs to be taken care of. Radiographs will help us determine a plan of action for that too. Although, now the more I think about it, I wonder whether the "baby tooth" that was knocked out that I thought was the premolar prior to the adult one coming in, was actually the molar 1. In that case I know exactly where that molar is - gone. And no further surger would be required on that issue. So, need to make an appointment with the dental service and have then access, including radiographs and then I'll decide what absolutely has to be done. As much as the money matters, I'm also worried about putting Tess through a major procedure. Based on what I observed Tess doesn't handle surgery and associated pain well, and I don't want to put her under without a really really good reason that directly related with her welfare.

-Needless to say Harley got a muzzle. In this case, it wasn't an issue of a supervised play gone wrong etc - this was Harley actively evading control in order to attack. Not OK. There's only so much behavior modification that can occur, and I'm done with Tess being traumatized, hurt etc. The attacks come out of the blue, are unpredictable etc. The muzzle is going well, Harley doesn't even notice it, doesn't modify her behavior. Tess is terrified of Harley now, since the latest attack and spends most of the time avoiding being in teh same room and hiding in her kennel. Harley ignores Tess for the most part, and the muzzle is actually helping the situation - Tess is no longer the dog that's always in the other pen and thus of great interest and I can be calm about their interactions without worrying that Tess is going to be hurt.


Couple more things:

-I have a ride and tie practice tomorrow - Whoo hoo!

-Farley continues to do GREAT. We are on track to do the LD the weekend after next :)

-Fitted Farley for boots yesterday and she's gone up a whole size in the back and front :)

-My fittness plan is going very well - no injuries, no decrease in motivation, the weight is staying off, and I feel great. Still planning on writing you a post to give you the details :)


Monday, August 20, 2012

Tess Drama

I haven't dropped off the map - just had some Tess drama in the last day or two and haven't felt like blogging. Harley got to her again, and while the injuries are not horrible and she'll probably be fine, I had them recheck the tooth from an altercation last year.....and the news isn't altogether good - won't know until I take her into the dental service and have radiographs done.

She's not dying, she's doing fine, it isn't an emergency situation but it's a lot for me to consider and think about. I'll give you a full update (with some pictures) and details as soon as I get some studying done. You can't not study for 2 days and not feel really behind, and for my sanity I need to do some catching up before doing something as fun as blogging. :)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

"What's for lunch" post

Once again the picture doesn't do it justice....sigh.  I'm just too impatient to deal with the correct lighting and backgrounds.  After all these posts go up because I don't have the time to do a real post!

I should mention that I'm VERY lucky and live in California where fresh produce is both easy to find and relatively cheap.  My food bill is one of the cheapest bills I have, yet I look at my lunch pictures and wonder whether that's true across much of the country. 

This lunch contains:
-a kiwi
-string cheese
-Kale sauteed in butter with salt and pepper (OMG my first experience cooking Kale and the reason there isn't more in this box is because almost ate it all as it came out of the skillet)
-white fish that I smeared pesto on, and then cooked in my tabletop rotissouri.  (pretty sure that isn't how you spell it, but I curiously like how it looks like "Missouri", so we will go with it. 

This is a lighter lunch than usual, not much above 300 calories, so I threw in a pouch of applesauce (I like the ones with the twist off containers because I can eat them in class or while riding a bike) and a seseme/nut bar I got as a treat at the grocery store.  I have an exam tomorrow and I know if I don't pack some extra "goodies" I'll be tempted to get a milk shake or something else that will make me feel dreadful after I eat it on the way home. 

Endurance ride potential?  Except for the string cheese and kiwi, probably not.  I don't like cold fish, or cooked veggies that are cold.  The blueberries might be OK, but in summary that leaves me with a distinct lack of protein and an overload on milk and fruit based sugars, especially combined with the apple sauce and sweetened bar.  A peeled kiwi seems somehow very palatable for ride day.....mmmmm.....

BTW - another reason I'm posting this relates to my very-soon-to-be-completed-post on rider fittness.  Eating boxes like these was an integral part of me losing almost 10 pounds this summer and how I got fitter in less time than ever WITHOUT INJURY.  So yes, what you have for lunch affects YOU as an endurance rider.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Cool vet fact of the day

This is a quote from one of my assigned reading cardio textbooks:

"...a strong emotion can lead to precipitous hypotension with syncope (i.e., fainting). Conditioned reflexes can also elicit cardiovascular responses. For example, it is possible, by reward conditioning, to train an animal to increase or to decrease its heart rate."

One more thing to consider when training an endurance horse.....

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

What I'm up to....

Yesterday I rode. It's been hot and humid here - much more humid than I can remember it being most summers. We may have started late, but Farley and I are getting plenty of heat training.

I hope that each one of you, is at last once in your life blessed with as fun and uncomplicated a horse, as Farley is.

I can't recall any other horse I have ever ridden that I could get on and RIDE without ANY DRAMA. It seems unbelievable to me even now and at the end of such a ride as the one I had yesterday I feel like laughing hysterically at my good fortune.

The maniac horse of the spring is gone, replaced by the Farley that I remember and love. Going down the trail, it's hard for me to decide who is actually telling who what to do - we are perfectly in sync, a harmonious pair that feel almost like they are melded into one. It's a hard feeling to describe - 2 beings focused on the trail, moving as one, each seeing the same path, making adjustments in perfect harmony.

I was reminded how "catty" and balanced she is over technical trail. How she absolutely floats, never putting a foot wrong. I'm convinced now, that the reason that I've never been dumped off of Farley (the exception being an unfortunate jump during a jump lesson) is less a testament to my seat, and more an indicator how how balanced SHE is. I think that's why I feel so absolutely safe on her - yes, she spooks sometimes - yesterday there were a couple of naughty bunny rabbits and squirrels that decided to make their presence known while we were at a full gallop - but I never as much lose a stirrup or even come close to coming out of the saddle. It's because she takes me with her. She's so balanced that she makes you, her rider, feel a part of her. Yes, I have cultivated balance and rthynm and I contribute some to the equation, but likely I am the lesser variable in the sum of the equation.

Yesterday I spent most of an hour cantering and hand galloping around the river bottoms and orchards. It was a blast. We did sharp turns, some elevation changes, but mostly we just FLEW over the perfect footing because we both wanted to, and because it was FUN. By the end of the ride we had both had an excellent work out (just ask my core and shoulders today.....) and it reminded me of the major change that I've made to my endurance conditioning.

I'm having fun.

Gone are any serious training plans, record keeping, or expectations. Based on what interval training has done for my fitness (how the rider, ie ME, is building fitness is the next post), and the fact that too much trotting makes Farley grumpy about conditioning rides we throw in some interval training once in a while. We also fit in a 20 minute dressage ride that may or may not last 20 minutes, and may include some polo stick and ball afterwards. Sometimes we do ride for a couple hours at a trot, and sometimes we just walk and enjoy the scenery. I try to get on 3 times a week. I decide what to do any particular day based on how I'm feeling, if I'mstill sore from my last ride, and what Farley is telling me what to do that day (have some fun, go fast, go slow, or take a day off).

I don't worry too much about time or distance. I have a good feeling of what she needs to feel like during the work outs in order to be successful in an LD (our first ride back is an LD the first Saturday of September) . Having fun is the priority right now.

When either of us is pushing too hard, it's rarely fun. It usually means that we are logging too much time, or too many miles, all in the name of achieving some goal, and putting us at risk for injury. If I don't feel like riding, I don't. If I dont' feel like doing anything except walking for 20 minutes, that's what we do. If Farley wants to canter instead of trot, we do some intervals.

So far this relaxed approach to our riding has served us well. Her legs are doing amazingly well - isn't filling at all, no matter what the previous day's work out, and she's staying super super sound. Farley's attitude towards "work" couldn't be better, and I don't think I've ever listened to my body or my horse better.

This type of "training" program would be hard to explain to a newbie, but if I tried, here's the "program" Farley and I are following for our LD:

1. Try to ride about 3 days a week

2. Some work outs are easy and short (mostly walk with a little trot), some are harder (hills or intervals), some are brain work (dressage, stick and ball, trail trial practice), and do some long rides periodically (a couple hours at a walk/trot that is pretty close to how you would ride an endurance ride, ie about 5-6 mph).

3. Do the workout that seems right for the day, not for the goal.

4. Keep it fun for you and the horse

5. If you don't feel like riding, don't. If you follow this rule and aren't getting in enough rides to feel like you are "on track" for your LD, evaluate why - To finish an LD does not require so much work or miles or times that it should seem like work to either you or the horse for the majority of your rides. Usually feeling like skipping a ride is because you know either you aren't at your best physically or mentally, OR there's just something NQR with the horse. Trust your gut. Remember rest is when your horse is REALLY conditioning for your ride. Rest is a much bigger component of your training program than any other single factor.

6. Have a motto that reminds you of your philosophy of endurance and will keep you from sucomming to your biggest weakness. Mine is to do too much. My motto is "everything pull on my record is from doing too much, not too little". It could also be stated "every injury my horse and I have ever had came from doing too much, not too little". (and yes, this is true of my HORSE'S injuries AND MY injuries, many of which are chronic by this point - one for every marathon).

I'm in the best shape since my junior year of college right now and I'll share how in the next post!


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Summer 2012 in pictures

School starts tomorrow (yes, I think it's way early accepting sympathy cards and cookies.) and while hopefully I'll still be involved with the researcher and lab that I worked for over the summer, my major involvement in the lettuce project is done. Here's a quick picture summary of Mel's fantastic, awesome, let's-repeat-this-annually, summer.

The plot of beautiful, yummy, almost harvest-able lettuce. About to get poop-ified. Mmmmm......

I would like to take this time to lament my stupidity at not majoring in the boring subject of botany. Why was I so insistent on animals? Plants stay where you put them, don't require you to wait anxiously by the phone to see how they are doing, and don't take it personally if you need to stab them with something.

The wonderful PhD student whose dissertation will contain a lot of data from this project.....

Can you see the poop? Naughty little animal! Ummm....actually that would have been me, dropping poops in the field from little saran wrap "candy wrappers".

My lab away from the lab.

Looking oh-so very scientific!

This was the major project I worked on, however there were many many others as well --> as time allows, and as those projects progress, I'll share more on what a career as a public health veterinarian might look like.

Friday, August 10, 2012

First Aid - with pictures!

If you are a bit squeamish, you may not want to scroll all the way down to the bottom of the post. I will warn you. My barometer for gory things that might offend is based on what makes my boyfriend ill, as I seem to have lost my "what is appropriate for the general audience" meter long ago.

Remember when I told you that I had something unpleasant to my calves while indulging in a ummm....bit of creative ride attire?

After 3 days the right calf, which was less affected, healed quite nicely.

The left is turning into quite the ordeal.

Why do I bore you, my Dear Reader with this?

1. It's my blog and I feel like whining

2. It's a riding related injury and a fairly common one.

3. How I treated it is actually very similar to how I treat these types of things, either human or horse, out in the field - and my though I think most of you are privy to my little "tip" on what to use for bandaging material, some of you may not be. :)


Since getting on an actual pair of pants yesterday (even if they were rolled up around my knee for part of the day) decided to go for a run. It was 3 days since the injury and while it still hurt to touch or kneel or do anything that disturbed the wound, it had formed a nice crust and I could ignore for long periods of time without pain killers.

The run went well. The shower went well.

And then I decided to half bounce, sit on the bed to play with Tess.

Through my pants, my calf hit the corner of the bed and just briefly, slid just a little.

I lay on the bed for a couple of minutes deciding that whimpering in pain and having Tess lick my face was preferable to out and out bawling and cussing and screaming in pain.

I hitched up my pant leg fulling expecting it to look unchanged, which perhaps a crack in the scrab.

Instead I saw lots and lots and lots of red stuff. Oozing and running down my leg. And that nice little crust was over on the side, exposing a big 'ole section of raw, red, bleeding flesh.

I limped over to the bathroom, cussing because I knew exactly what I would find.

-No bandages

-No wraps

-Not even a bandaid

-No teflon little squares

-No gauze

In short, nothing that was going to be of any use at all and since it's 30 minutes to the nearest drug store, I didn't even know if I could successfully drive to the drug store, let alone limp into the store with a big 'ole towel clinched to my calf to buy anything. Aren't there laws against leaking bodily fluids into public places?

And then I remembered seeing a feminine pad in the trunk of my car, that I had found somewhere and was waiting to be placed into my horsey first aid kit.

I don't use pads (oops - TMI) so anytime I get samples in the mail (or, friends actually give them to me with cute sayings markered onto them once they find out that I need some to go into a horse first aid kit) they go out to the barn. Pads are the PERFECT emergency bandage. Sterile, non-stick, easy to apply, big, sticky on the back which makes them stay in place very well under a polo type wrap. In short, very good for trail and traveling horse emergencies. If you don't have some in your kit, or you just have rolls of gauze (or even worse, those little gauze squares) please add some pads to your kit.

Now from personal experience I can tell you that the pad also provides protection and cushioning that feels really really good.

The pad was super easy to apply, stayed in place when I wrapped a bandage around it - one that I got from the ER when I broke my arm. It's stiffer than a traditional ace bandage, but still elastic. Maybe it's a compression bandage?

My leg felt IMMEDIATELY better with the pad plus bandage. In fact, I'm pretty sure I could actually ride right now if I had too - wouldn't be the best thing in the world to do to the wound, BUT if this allowed me to ride pain free and finish a 50, I would do it.

I'm going to add a bandage like this one and a pad to my crew bag today.

I've now walked around in this bandage for a couple of hours and it has yet to slip or move. I think that a regular Ace bandage wouldn't work as well, and vet wrap is easy to get to tight and cut off circulation. My recommendation would be a compression type bandage like what I used, since it has stayed in place like a charm, but is definitely not too tight or cutting off circulation.

Now for pictures.

This is what the finished product looks like

Now for the gross pictures - cleaned up the blood, so you could see the actually wound better.
(scroll down)


Thursday, August 9, 2012

"What's for lunch" post

As you might have guessed these posts tend to go up when for some reason I won't be able post something more substantial.

In today's case, my calves hurt (from riding in shorts), I'm still sore from working out Tuesday, I've had a migraine since yesterday, and then to top it off, when I was preparing to toss Tess out the window this morning (screen is busted and it was a more was efficient way of letting her outside this morning, and seemed perfectly reasonable through the haze of pain) when Tess decided she could make it on her own and she jumped as I bent, thoroughly demolishing my lower lip.

So I'm not in the best of moods this morning and I'm late to work. An excellent day for a food post.

This plate runs about 700 calories and contains:

-Brussels sprouts sautéed with bacon, garlic, almonds, and red pepper

-String cheese (a tomato basil variety that is quite delicious)

-Half a red bell pepper

-A little nut based snack pack as a treat that I had in the cupboard.

Btw, today was a perfect example of a day that would not have resulted in my bringing my lunch if I didn't have this container system. I pulled the tupperware out of the drawer and knew if I filled all the compartments I would be fine. So I raided the kitchen to find stuff to fill it and ended up with a decent lunch.

Here's some more ideas

Homemade baked coconut shrimp

Shrimp and veggie spring rolls

Home made peanut sauce for dipping

-This box has more calories than usual, but it was for a travel day that I needed finger food throughout the afternoon for, and I needed these dishes eaten before I was going to be home again.

An early attempt at boxes. Figured out very quickly that I didn't need to purchase prepackaged stuff anymore because of the compartments.

-veggie straws

-Apple sauce

-Walnuts and raisins (Left hand box)

-Ready to eat tuna salad (left hand box)

-Cottage cheese (right hand box)

-Left over steak (right hand box)


Similar to another box I posted


-rice and cheese

-String cheese

-Quiche: zucchini, riccotta cheese, mint

- Wrap made with: whipped cream cheese, spinach, tomato, smoked salmon


-Walnuts with raisins

-Dark chocolate

-Bag of cut up watermelon


I'm increasingly convinced that at least for me, lunch is the most important meal of the day, probably because I eat very little breakfast (hard boiled egg and coffee). It sets up my eating for the rest of the day.


May your lunches be colorful, satisfying, and make the people around you envy you :).


Update - nathan hydration pack

Remember the pack I bought?

I used it on my fast paced ride that I wrote about yesterday.

Bottom line?  It works GREAT.

I didn't even notice the pack, I carried it half full of water, allowing for plenty of sloshing.  Here's the results:

The good
-It didn't bounce
-It didn't slosh
-It didn't leak
-I didn't even notice it
-Even when I almost fell off my horse backwards it didn't hit my saddle cantle
-The nozzle didn't get dirty because it's protected
-The bottle didn't fall out, even when Farley bucked and jumped
-It didn't have to be super tight for it not to bounce
-It didn't make noise, even only half full
-elbows and arms do NOT rub against the pack or any part of the pack while riding.

The "bad" - ie things to be aware of before buying
-There's no way I could get the bottle in and out while on a difficult horse early in the ride.  The pack feels looser once the bottles out and wants to spin if you try to put it back one handed.

Why I don't care:  This is an emergency water if I get dumped, and water from when I'm running on a ride and tie.  I prefer to drink from the bottle on my saddle while riding.  For my purposes this is perfect.  I'm pretty sure I can control my enthusiasm during a long run or marathon and not jump and skip so much that I'm not able to get the bottle back into the holster......

-My rather smallish smart phone (LG, approximately the same size as an ipod touch) will NOT fit into any of the pockets.  Pockets are big enough for concentrated energy such as Gu's, nuts, blocks and the like.  Not for the person that carries the kitchen sink and looks like a kamakazi bomber running down the road with a multitude of bottles in belts and keys and catered meals hanging of their person.  Also not for the person that has to be super prepared and carry EVERYTHING for herself and everyone else on the trail "just in case" (Mom....).

Why I don't care: my phone is on an arm band, the pocket is big enough for ID, cash, and calories.  If I plan on consuming 200-300 calories per hour of a run, than I'll need more space, but that's what sports bras and saddle bags are made for.  Again, this product for me is mostly for emergencies and for ride and ties when I deliberately abandon my horse on the side of the trail for the opportunity to die further up the trail, eaten by a bear. 

Here's a picture on how the pack fits on a smallish, short women with a big butt and thighs [trust me, if you saw they aren't there, it's because it's an optical allusion --> it's where I tend to put on the weight and I'm OK with it :)]

 This by the way, is the outfit I ran and rode in yesterday, before developing the condition that I've decided to call "fire calves". 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Griffin's Tack

I've bought a lot of stuff from Griffin's tack over the years and so I was saddened to see this on Ridecamp:

Henry (of Griffins Tack) suffered a stroke late last week and is back home now from the hospital, but will not be able to travel to any rides for the remainder of the year.

Donna asked to help spread the word that all of their tack will be 20% off. You can view and order at their web page:

Henry's health is uncertain at this point, and they have huge medical bills to contend with. Any support is encouraged!

If you have had your eye on something and are interested in checking out their website, it's easily google-able.

Earrings that truly celebrate the horse

I don't own any horse-themed jewerly.  I find much of the stuff on the market way too cutsy for my taste.  And really, I'm sick of horseshoes - to me they don't represent THE HORSE and my relationship with that animal - they are just things that we stick on them in order to use them, like a saddle or a bridle. 

I did a boot fitting for a client recently and noticed her earrings.

I immediately knew I wanted a pair. 

They were silver impressions of the bottom of a horses hoof. 

I love them.  They represent exactly why I got my ears pierced - in order to enjoy art and jewelry that really means something to me. 

My client is a local artist, who makes the earrings and then sells them.  Although the earrings were priced above what I can normally afford to spend on little luxeries, I managed to scrape up enough birthday money etc. to buy myself a pair. 

The horses hoof represents to me the ultimate symbol of my relationship with the horse and distance riding.  "No hoof no horse" goes the old saying and it's true.  I can tell whether I'm feeding the right thing by looking at the hoof.  I know if we are working too hard or not hard enough.  It's one of the regular maintenance things that occurs between me and Farley.  I can tell when I worm or vaccinate, what season it is, whether she's been standing around or working. 

The hoof is a mirror of what's going inside the horse and is often the first warning that something is going wrong (or right). 

How much trust does a prey animal have to have to willingly offer up a hoof and immobilized for a spell? 

How beautiful is the horse's hoof! 

I love these earrings.  They are beautiful, elegant, perfectly balanced, not to heavy, and are by far the most comfortable earrings I've worn.  They don't catch on my hair or clothes and while I don't run or ride or sleep in them, I do wear them as an "every day" pair to office, lab, and school. 

Kat has a really nice stainless steel version of the hoof hoof as well that I really like. 

Please visit her facebook page and website!

Full disclaimer - I paid full retail price/shipping/tax on this and am doing this review/promoting the earrings because I love them, not because I've been paid or in any way compensated to do so!  :)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A story of "naive optimism" and sandbagging

I have a TON of product review updates and a few new things....

But first a bit of whining.

I'm in a tremendous amount of pain.

Enough pain that I'm wondering how well those vicodin in the cupboard would work, that was was given for the plantar wart removal that I never needed to take.

The day started superbly and then rapidly, before noon, degenerated into painful stupidity.

Or as I would rather phrase it "naive optimism".  :)  I swear if a child of mine ever throws that phrase in my face during the teenage years I will slap them, child abuse laws be damned.

Anyway.  I believe it may be time to flip a u-turn from this tangent and actually relate what happened.

I got my first day off from work in 10 days, and because I've been doing so much sedentary sitting and driving, I couldn't WAIT to hit the road and hit the trails.

I changed into a cute little running skirt that I've had for a number of years that I mostly use for hiking and went for an interval run.  A bit reduced since it's been 5 days since my last run and according to the "First 20 min" book that I keep raving on and on about, the injury rates seem to be a bit higher in runners that are coming back after 2 days of rest, as compared to only taking 1 day off...the advice being that rest is good and you should absolutely have days off - but perhaps if you are coming back after more than just a day, take that first work out a bit easier, just to make sure all systems are "go".  As I had actually converted my last run from an interval work out to an easy 30 minute run that was Tess-centered because I just didn't feel motivated/NQR, this was an especially good idea (BTW - another rule of thumb for my new running program is to listen to my body and NOT push through low motivation, tiredness, or a feeling of just not "being there" that day for the run.  Go easy or take the day off - running is supposed to be fun, AND it could be an "early warning system" for injury).

I wasn't going to take Tess this morning because it was a bit later than I usually go and the sun was already up, but she begged with big soulful puppy eyes and little dancing feet and off we went.

Then I did a strength training session.  That was the point I knew it was a good day - I got my run in and instead of the bed calling me, the bar and weights were.

Then, still in my running clothes, I jumped in the car to go see Farley.  I had tights at the stable, but the idea of riding in my flippy little hiking/running skirt made me feel empowered, and with the ride and tie coming up, decided that it wouldn't be a bad idea to see whether it would work for that.

After all, a stretchy little wrap skirt with what amounts to bike shorts underneath would perform better than most of my running shorts.

The plan was a short (30 min or so) trot with a little canter on the trail.  Perfectly doable right?  When I got to the stable and the barn owner asked if she could go with me and do a set on her polo horses I didn't see any reason to change my skirt plan.

After all I've ridden in shorts and skirts plenty of times (bareback), and even before a ride at Funder's house (in a full sheepskin cover).  Surely the little fuzzy things over my leathers would be perfectly fine.......

Because canter and handgalloping all over hill and dale is EXACTLY like riding bareback at a controlled pace, and happily shrieking with Farley did little happy bucks and flying lead changes perfectly describes most of my day-before-a-50-warm-up-rides (NOT!).  And we all know that the power of fuzzy leathers somehow extends magically in an aura that includes coverage of the fenders (NOT).

In summary, after completing one of the funnest rides I've had for a while (when was the last time YOU held a perfectly normal conversation while handgalloping across an open, perfectly groomed field with 2 horses on lead lines that are farting and bucking and kicking in pure joy?  Not to mention Farley's cute little game face as she navigated the trail and dust, and how she spotted a big 'ole week in the middle of the trail and decided to turn it into a 2 foot jump, which she did very prettily?), my calves lack any skin.

Picture big yellow patches with oozing fluid.  And redness.

And pain constantly.

YIKES.  In fact, they hurt more right now than they did right after the ride.  Anything is intolerable next to my calves whether it be clothing, air, sun, breeze, dogs.

They feel like they are on FIRE.  All the time.  No matter what I do or don't do.

I have learned things. I swear.
1.  I will not be wearing tights or shorts to my ride and tie no matter what.  No siree, this was enough to cure me of that notion.

2. You can ride for less than an hour and still destroy a portion of your body. (this ride ended up being 40-45 minutes)

3. Leather plus bare skin plus movement probably equals trouble no matter how hairy your legs.  It's just not the same as a fur coat.

4.  Farley still loves her job.

5.  I will probably NOT be riding tomorrow.  Or wearing pants.

6.  The next time one of the dogs bumps against the back of my calves I am going to turn into that firey devil dude from Lord of the Rings from the mines of Moria.

7.  Don't do stupid shit. 

Post script:

I think the reason I had such a kick-ass ride today was because the LAST time we were in the saddle together we had a little conversation.  It was rather one-sided and went like this:

Don't be a bitch and take out your moody mare attitude on me. 

We may not have a 7 day/week relationship anymore, but a 3 day/week relationship does NOT mean you wear the tights in this relationship.  I have a pair of orange shoes just like yours and I'll raise you a pair of ridiculously cute tights!

We usually condition in the afternoon.

So when I showed up shortly after breakfast, Farley lost no time in informing me that this was her NAP time and she wasn't in the mood to do a leisurely paced jaunt through the orchards. 

I kicked her up into a trot a couple of times, and then got off to check her out.  I believe the Endurance Granny term for this is "sandbagging".

Here's my take on it. 

Farley has earned the right to give me feedback on how she's feeling and what she would prefer me to do (lead down a hill instead of walk for example), up to and including showing a reluctance to go forward as a way to communicate with me.  99% of the time she doesn't abuse that privilege.  Because she normally IS a forward horse, I take a consistent relunctance to go forward seriously, especially considering a tye up in her history. 

However, if I feel that she's abusing it and/or I got off and there's clearly nothing wrong except she's in a bad mood, she gets to do twice the work and I become the micro manager from hell, insisting that she is in front of my leg and GOES when asked.  

About a mile into the ride, after checking everything I could from the saddle I dismounted.  I took pulse, picked up feet, listened to gut sounds, check all legs and muscle tone......and decided it was a brain issue.  I was pretty sure that was the case, but now, after deciding that physically she was fine, and knowing that she wasn't overworked, tired, I could push her without qualms.

The ride became a lot less leisurely paced jaunt and more "move it move it move it....move it move it move it".  (I'm sure there's a song with those words). 

I got mare ears, a bit of a swinging neck and then.....obedience, and grunts, and sighs, and stretches. 

Apparently she just wanted to make sure we still understood eachother. 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

May I announce.....

The new Melinda. Or rather, the old Melinda. That isn't really right either.

How about, It took me 18 months to find myself again after a load of huge life changes, and to my delight, I was in there the entire time.

I adore this picture. Rarely do I actually pose and smile for a picture (just ask my mother, who takes the majority of pictures of me that appear on this blog. The vast majority, like all of them, are candid because of my absolute zero tolerance for humoring a photographer). This makes 2 pictures of me SMILING on PURPOSE (not just squinting at the sun.....) within months of each other (the other was me showing off earrings and a black dress). It has to be a miracle.

***To be entirely fair I do pose and smile with Matt during pictures since he's even more camera phobic than I am and we have reluctantly agreed that at least SOME posed pictures are necessary, as we realized that less than a handful of pictures existed of us as a couple, even after a decade of dating. but I would argue that posing with a loved one is an entirely different matter than standing all by your lonesome and not looking like some maniac serial killer.

And on the subject of pictures, here's another random Tess picture.

Did you know she can clean out a watermelon rind faster and cleaner than any other animal I've ever owned? (Yes, my horses and rats got the occasional watermelon). The other dogs in the household where not nearly as talented. Seriously, she scraped every little bit of red off, and never touched the white or green rind. Smart girl :)

And yes, those are Golden Retriever Paws in the bottom of the picture. She didn't let him have any of it, but when I offered it to him, he proved to be dumber than a box of rocks and sorta licked it. Considering that he seems indiscriminate about what he puts in his mouth when alone in the back yard.....I find it odd that he is suspicious of EVERYTHING that comes from my hand. The German Shepherd attempted to eat the rind and make a mess, so in the end, I decided only Tess was adorable enough for watermelon on the kitchen floor.

And yes, this could have gone on Tess's blog, but I'm tired, it's after 11pm, and I promise to do better next time. Maybe. Unlike in real life my promises on this blog seem to have little meaning, and I am continually missing deadlines and making excuses. When endurance blogging make me rich I promise to be prompt and entertaining. For reals.


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Today is Tevis

I am crawling out of my skin. I went to Robie (where the ride starts) on Friday to catch up with Ashley from the Go Pony Blog and cheer on those riders that are wearing Renegade STRAP ONS for the Tevis, (whoo hoo!!!!!) and compulsively buy 2 new pieces of endurance equipment.

Since I'm back to buying equipment simply because it is the right color, that means I'm "back" right? That I'm really serious about doing this again right?

All I know is that I've never left Robie not on horse back and it KILLED me to do so yesterday.

I'm so jealous of the riders going down the trail this weekend. I so want to be there so very badly I can taste it and I've avoided looking into the mirror since I'm pretty sure I've turned an ugly shade of green.

In some ways I feel like I'm being ungrateful for my opportunities at Tevis, and I'm being unfair to many many people in this sport that would LOVE to do Tevis, that can't for various reasons, some of whom show up at Tevis year after year to crew for their friends, or cheer along the side lines just for the sake of BEING there.

In fact, this entire week I avoided looking at the fattening moon. Hard to do while driving a van 8 hours a day and night with that big old windshield. I avoided the endurance email lists. I avoided my friends' blogs where they would be chattering about Tevis. However, being on the road for 10-12 hours a day gives you lots and lots and lots of time to think, and feel.

But feelings are feelings and it does no good to label them good and bad (or so I've been told) and if I can't be honest here, on my blog, with you my Dear Reader, where can I be truly honest?

At this very moment, none of previous rides, my previous buckle, or my mileage accomplishments mean crap. I just want to be out there, on that trail.

Yes, I got into this sport to ride Tevis. But once I got here, I found I loved 100's, and decided that Tevis was just another 100. I got an inkling of how special Tevis was after my first attempt, but it wasn't until after my second Tevis that it really hit me in the gut and heart in a way that completely transcends reason.

All day, every single minute since I woke up at 4a (I would be waking up for Tevis right now....), ate lunch (I would be coming into Robinson right now....), unloaded poopy lettuce at Davis (I would be passing through the canyons right now), or finishing up dinner on my way back to Salinas (I would be in the middle of the California loop right now), I have been thinking about Tevis. In a way, this is much much worse than before I had rode, when I only had imagination and vague notions about how it would be. Now I can close my eyes and literally feel the sweaty shoulders of Farley, how she smelled as we trotted out from Foresthill, how she looked as I sponged her off at Devil's thumb....

I have tons and tons and tons to blog about, some of which was scheduled to go up today, including my concrete plan to resume endurance on Farley with an LD next month. But please forgive me as I leave this day to Tevis and those riders out there right now, and my future self riding it some day soon.

Yes, I am currently in a hotel room, but not with Tess and not in this particular room. Although I'm pretty sure having my suprisingly grown up, incredibly sweet, talented, dog with me would help me sleep. Or at least, she snuggles in bed a lot better than Farley!