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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Camping tips to be ignored - VI

The posts are going up out of order because some of the posts keep crashing my blogging app when I try to post them. Infuriating! The tips aren't in order anyways, so it doesn't really matter.....

Tip: not having cell service is a mixed blessing.

I had left a list of 3 things I wanted done in my absence.

1. Feed my cat

2. Feed Connor and be nice to him/her

3. Water my garden

Camp didn't have cell phone service so all three of us were a bit aprehensive of what was waiting for us when we got home.

My trip home was uneventful and I came home to a clean house and garden that apparently prefers my boyfriend to me. My carrots that had been subbornly refusing to sprout, had decided to enter the sunshine under the care of Matt. Lovely!

Kim and Michele's trip was not quite as uneventful.

After having her truck blow up in Michele's drive way, she continued home (in Michele's truck) only to see a window suspiciously broken, with blood smeared on the outside wall of her house......apparently her husband had altercation with a rattlesnake, which was resolved with a 12 guage shotgun. "Overkill" perhaps?

I crack myself up.

Cache creek 50 in 2 weeks! Entry is in the mail today :)


Camping tips to be ignored - V

Tip: you can never have too many "ear" pictures, especially when there are bombs and serial killers around....

On day 1, how was it that Michele and I ended up doing a wild night ride - which was my second ride of the day? And why did Kim and I abondaned Michele and her naughty steed on that first ride of the day?

So......after arriving in Cowboy camp and tacking up to ride, we were told there was an out of control crazy horse with a saddle under it's belly running around on the trails. AND that this horse was at some point actually caught and almost got the saddle removed.....except it jerked away fom the person, who had attached a lunge line to it....and now there was a carzy out of control horse with a saddle underneath it's belly running around the trails, dragging a lunge line.


There are other little details about the situation that have more twists than the best than any country song.... but we will leave that part of the story to the imagination and focus on the little trio of riders currently pictured here.

(Yes, Farley is eating. Again. Oink oink!)

Early into our ride we end up on the side of the trail, in poke-y long grass that hid deep furrows in the ground, sandwiched between barbed wire and a trail that contained ATV's involved in the "rescue" effort passing by.

Medusa, Kim's horse, did a valiant impression of a Lipizzaner, bouncing around in a circle on her hind legs to express her displeasure, while Kim did her best to earn the title of rodeo queen and ride those 8 seconds.

The situation finally gets under control and we start down the trail again. The horses are hyped, Medusa and Stashi (my friends' horses) who are long time riding partners are feeding off of eachother, and I'm taking deep breathes to try to keep my anxiety about riding in a group situation with drama from bleeding over to Farley.

As we are tiptoeing down the trail expecting to see a crazed horse running towards us +/- finding the bloody wreckage of the rider around the corner, Michele makes the comment about feeling like there is a serial killer on the loose.

That was the last straw. I started hysterically pleading for a reset button for the ride, Stashi started rearing and the 3 riders were reduced to 2 as Michele elected NOT to fight a losing battle with Stashi. After assuring us that we should go on, me and Kim continue on.

I've written about Stashi here on this blog before during my ride and tie experience. Stashi is an incredible horse. Who, like the girl with the curl (right in the middle of her forehead!) can be very very good, BUT when he is very very bad!

Unlike Farley who disperses her naughtiness over time - a threatening head toss here, a little harmless, half-hearted buck there - Stashi saves it up, and when the moment of his chosing is right, releases the naughty side contained in that double whorl on his forehead.

After reassuring us that she was going to lead Stashi back to camp (1-2 miles) and would be absolutely fine doing so by herself, me and Kim continued down the trail. We tried to reassure ourselves that Michele's style was to enjoy a glass of wine and not to plan her revenge on the 2 friends that decided to finish the trail ride instead of joining her in camp.

At the top of a big hill with a fabulous view, Kim and I decided to head back and made the trek back down the hill and rode into find that Michele had made friends with the other campers that had a portable shade set up in the middle of the tree-less, windy, extremely sunny camp, and had decided to enjoy a glass of wine. Good job Michele!

In retrospect, Kim and I continuing on was exactly the reset button that Medusa (Kim's horse) needed. Stashi and Medusa stopped feeding off of each other, and the crazy loose horse situation was resolved shortly afterwards. Later that day Michele and I got out in the afore mentioned evening ride which allowed Stashi to get his head screwed on right. AND because I got to go on 2 rides that day, I got more mileage and saddle time than probably either Kim or Michele wanted. The next morning the 3 of us were able to have a VERY nice enjoyable ride.

And the bomb reference? On the second day Michele was leading us through a pretty little hill trail and suddenly yells "look it's a bomb". And then proceeds to prance around this object. "A bomb?" I thought, "that's a little weird that we are hanging around, letting our horses step dangrously close to the dark colored object". Apparently she was trying to say bong. Which it was not (apparently none of us are up on our drug paraphanelia lingo) - but instead a pipe that had been (carefully?) placed on a rock on the trail.


Camping tips to be ignored - II

Tip: being prepared is overrated (the more you know the less you need right?)

On the evening of the first night, I decided to go out at dusk and get some additional mileage. Michele decided to go out with me, as she had to turn back earlier in the day due to Stashi's naughty behavior, and hadn't gotten a ride in earlier. (more on that later)
I blame our mis-interpretation of the above phrase (is it the LESS you know, the LESS you need? I can't quite remember....) on the fact that the decision to go out and ride was made after afternoon refreshments. We left at dusk with no maps, no headlamps, and no water, with some vague impression that we would be out for about 1 1/2 hours.
Yep. Between the 2 of us, we probably have more years in school than anyone should have to admit to, and that's exactly how it went down.
The first half of the ride was spent PROMISING each other that we would turn back at 8pm sharp if it wasn't obvious that the trail we were on made a loop back to camp. In reality? Neither one of us was planning on doing any repeat trail and it was FORWARD ON!
At 8pm we decided on the following truths
1. Our horses, both experienced endurance horses, one of which probably remembered this trail from years ago, both were acting like the trail went back to camp. Thus it HAD to be a loop right?
2. The mapmyrun app on my phone CLEARLY showed that we had come in a "C" shape from camp and thus most likely we were half way back to camp since the trail mostly likely made another "C" on it's way to camp the other direction, thus making a complete circle. (I know, sitting here reading this, it doesn't make any sense to me either....).
3. The trail was very nicely groomed with great footing - soft dirt with some rocks. There's a 50 on this trail in another 2 weeks and someone had obviously been putting in some work - and so it was definitely rideable at night.
4. Nothing had gone after my dog food sitting on the picnic table that day, so it was unlikely anything was going to eat us (dog food is much tastier than human with a side of equine right?)
5. Riding at night is fun.
6. There was a full moon. Theoritically. In fact, I got to enjoy it at 4:30a that night from my sleeping bag --> meaning it was NOT illuminating the trail when I was actually ON the trail. But that was a small detail that I immediately banished from my mind as soon as it surfaced - the truth that the lovely moon was not going to show it's face did not make it onto the acknowledged "truths" list......
With these 6 things in mind it was onward and forward!
We periodically checked our direction and progress by screaming at the horses "where's camp!!!!!!" while throwing the reins at them and observing their willingness to gallop in the direction we were heading.
And yes, there WAS a loop. A nice little 8 mile loop. We did much of it again the next morning, and it wasn't nearly as exciting - I guess actually KNOWING where you are, and being able to SEE your trail markers, and not having to make decisions based on the sum of an amorphous mapmyrun route and attitude of your mount just take some of the fun out of it.....
Tip: Apparently wild pigs won't evicerate your horse and revel in your still warm blood as matter of course
I am not fond pigs. Their squinty little eyes, their big 'ole teeth, and their oh so cuddly (NOT) personalities. For those of you that have pet pigs - I'm sorry, I just don't understand. When talking about medicating pigs we talk about the effectiveness of pig medications based on giving them in the "IP" route. Now, you small rodent people may think that IP stands for intraperitonium. On the Contrary!!!! It stands for "intra-pig". Thus my piggy drug protocols are based on whether the medication is potent enough that the dose needed is small enough that it fits into my long range sticker thingy and still be able to put that porker into some reasonable state of immobility.
I am even LESS fond of wild pigs. Mostly because there's not usually a pig proof (if there's even such a thing....) fence between me and it.
Now Michele apparently is WILD about pigs. Especially the wild ones. I found this out when I pointed out a "sow" (sounder?) running down the hill with a ton of little piglets, and Michele took off at a dead run screaming her head off, calling to the piggy's in some secret piggie language.
To my horror the sow(nder?) switched direction and started heading UP the hill towards the trail in response to Michele acting like a complete maniac. I followed at a sedate speed expressing my worry that at any time the sow was going to bust out of the brush in front of me, and then, in a flood of gore and blood worthy of a supernatural episode, I was going to die a horrible and painful death. Due to pig.
Michele laughed (LAUGHED!!!!!!) at me and said that that was not going to happen (She's worked with them a lot for various studies)
My response was "that's why you are in front....." :). Because that's how much I trust my ride and tie partner. Enough to follow her into certain death, but not lead the charge.
Moments later Michele squeals and points down the hill - THERE THEY ARE.
Me, instantly sobered by the thought of immenent death, quickly assessed the situation and an escape route.
Until I realized that she was pointing to a large bush and several small bushes. LOL. In her defense it was dusk.....The piggies were long gone. Bummer for Michele, thank goodness for my blood pressure.
We did the last mile in the dark - a successful completion to Michele's first night ride.
Speaking of being prepared......Michele found out that night that she had managed to leave all her bedding at home. Oops. More sad for me and Kim was the cherry pie that had apparently decided to keep the bedding company and not attend the camping trip :(


Camping tips to be ignored - I

Presented in no particular to make YOUR next camping trip a success! Part 1

Tip: Get permission to use your friends' real names BEFORE the trip gets crazy.

I, oh so innocently, asked my friends as we were setting up camp whether they perferred to be "M-asterisk and K-asterisk", OR did they want the HONOR of having their REAL names used on the blog (evil laugh BAWHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!).

Of COURSE they agreed, not knowing that it seems that when I'm around on a trip, there's ALWAYS something to blog about.

Tip: Color crazy distracts

Want to distract someone from noticing your tack, horse, riding ability, or anything else identifying about you? Wear color. Lots of color.
May I introduce.....the 2013 tights.
When Michele told me that my metallic-highlighted-blue-white-shaded-awesome tights clashed with my patterned F.I.T.S shirt, I told her to squash her inner hunter jumper and join the kolor krazy sport called endurance!

(yes those are crocs that you see peeking out in the above picture, more on those later)

Below are my 2012 tights. Michele approved, saying that my color coordination definitely improved on the second day.
Notice the mail box that says "maps". That's me standing at the road kill cafe at the end of the second day picking up our trail maps!!!!!! Which brings me to my next point.
Tip: maps are optional
Upon arriving we discovered that none of us actually had maps of the trails or any real idea of where we were going (Michele, who had ridden these trails a long time ago, spent the trip alternating between denying all knowledge of where we were at any particular moment, and epiphanies of what trail went where.....). So, I took a picture of the map posted at the trail head with my camera, with the idea that if we got lost I could just kinda zoom in on it and magically find our way back. But really, how likely is it that the situation would present itself? We were riding animals that despite having a brain the size of a largish walnut, ALWAYS know the direction of home.
As pictured above, we did eventually get maps at the road kill cafe (but honestly, even after 2 days of riding the trails before getting the map, I looked at it and it was spactacularly unhelpful).
The menu was posted in the back corner of the road kill cafe and there were appropriate props.
It looked like a nice lunch spot.


Monday, April 29, 2013

Cool stuff!

I have a long day ahead of me and can't do justice to my camping story this morning, so instead I wanted to share two new pieces of equipment that I used at the camping trip.

Although there was a creek near by, the camp itself was dry of both livestock and human water. The thought of hauling buckets of water so that my horse could drink to her hearts content at the trailer did NOT amuse me, so I needed to figure out a way to carry 20-25 gallons of water.

I've played with the idea of getting a water container for the trailer, but I've always balked at the price. At least a $100! I've always been sure that I could rig up something for that kind of cost.

The day before I left was the day of reckoning. I visited way more stores than I care to list, looking for something that would hold water that was affordable. Rain containers were the same price as buying a trailer water container, and those 50 gallon blue barrels were no where to be found. Finally I saw this:


"It's a trashcan" you say. Yes, but it was a brand and type I recognized from working at the plant at Fosters. Most trashcans won't reliably hold their volume in water - the container just isn't designed for the weight and pressure that acts on it when filled with water, and if they do hold water, they usually don't hold up well to being moved or bounced around.


This particular brand and model (a Rubbermaid Brute with the FLAT lid) we regularly filled with water or sanitizer and then pushed them around the plant on little wheels by the sides and handles YES!!!!!!!!! For $35 I had a 32 gallon container that I could put close to 30 gallons in.


I had some time to kill before leaving town to meet up with my compadres so I tried to find some weather stripping that would adhere to the inside of the lid where it met the lip of the container. Unfortunately the only weather stripping I could find (limited to the stores that had parking lots suitable for my trailer....) was tiny tiny tiny. Pipe insulation, however, was a mere 99 cents on sale. Bingo. What I didn't use I could throw in my trailer and use it to cover any sharp edges I might have that I haven't bothered to address.


To get the water out of the trash can I used a short section of hose and used suction to fill buckets on the ground by my truck. Another option would be to use my battery powered shower, or to dip a clean bucket in the top.


I was very very happy with the system. I used the water for sponging, animal water, and wash water and had plenty left over. Probably sufficient for up to 2 nights, as long was there was water on the trail that could do some supplementation when the horse is working hard.


Item number 2:

When the boyfriend brought these home from work I knew IMMEDIATELY I must have one. He refused to give one to me (even though he had 2 and they were free), so I "borrowed" one for this weekend and it was WONDERFUL. And it fits my color scheme. Technically it's they are for hard hats, but helmets are similar enough that I didnt have any problems with it budging, and there was no tape that was melting off in the middle of the day. I guess the handkerhief + velcro works nearly as well, but I liked this better since there was no glue or sticky on my helmet - just the elastic band with small pastic hooks that hooked on the edge of the plastic shell (although it seemed to stay well even without being hooked).

You are going to LOVE the camping story, so stay tuned!

No idea where you are going to find yours, but it made a significant difference in how cool (both in temperature AND in my degree of colorfulness!) I felt on the trail.


Saturday, April 27, 2013

The first event of the year is a bit rough....

Going horse camping with my ride and tie partner (M*) and her friend (K*).

M* assured me that I was going to like K* and when K* posted on facebook this morning that she was excited to go, and while the horses were going to behave we were NOT, my response to my phone was "M* you are right, I AM going to like her!". And I finished packing with a smile on my face.

Packing. Where do I even begin....

Packing out the horse trailer on Thursday went well. I've downsized to the point that everything goes from my tack barn at the ranch, into my trailer. Since I don't use my trailer as a tack room on a daily basis anymore, it stays neater and more organized and has less little things crammed into corners.

Friday was a bit rougher.

Since moving, I've only gone backpacking. Which means my backpacking stuff has managed to filter out of boxes and various outbuildings. My base camping stuff has NOT. The game was "What do I bring and where is it?"

I have enough backpacking trips planned in the near future I feel like I'm going to get that full experience and for this trip I wanted to use a REAL stove. And sleep on a REAL air mattress. And eat REAL food that has to be like....refrigerated or something.

Remember the adage of the more you know the less you need? It's been so long since I've been base camping that I pretty much need EVERYTHING.

As you read on, keep in mind that this is a ONE night trip. With ONE horse. And I'm only feeding and clothing ME.

I decided the best strategy was to make piles of gear in whatever location it happened to be. Thus, by this morning I had a pile of gear here:

and here (yes, there is some duplicate gear in ths picture)


And here

And here..... (behind the sunbeam next to yet another outbuilding)

And here (inside the car....)

I then took my truck and drove in a huge loop around the property, loading piles of gear into the bed.
And yes, there is a kitchen sink in that pile of gear. Literally - a camping kitchen sink.
Because I know that you are asking out of concern that I might go on this trip sink-less, not because you are making fun of me or anything.
And I did find that air mattress even though it took a full 12 hours of me looking and thinking where it might be.
And since I had a migraine last night, I'll be spending the morning after I load up my horse searching out a liquor store that is both open at 9am and stocks my favorite beer since I couldn't last night.
Did I mention that I have an anethesia take home exam that was given Friday at noon to be turned in by Monday at 8am?
Let's not talk about the fact I have a Fifty mile ride in two weeks. Now THAT should be interesting.......


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

1,000th post and a walk through the garden

This is my 1,000th post.  This one, right now - the one you are reading.

I had thought about doing some sort of hoopla, but honestly, I just don't have the time or energy.

So, for my 1,000th post, I'm sitting in the cafe, waiting for my anatomic path rotation to start and I'm going to post a low key post about my walk through my garden this morning.

The plant I forgot to label that is coming out of the bottom of the purple bucket is a pepper.
I'm watering the hay bale to get it to rot, and then I'll put carrots in it, and maybe some marigolds and strawberries. 
This has been my best vegetable garden so far - the more processed sugar I cut out of my diet, the better veggies taste, and now that I have a bird that I give a LOT of veggies to on a daily basis, I'm buying a lot more of them and I would love to be able to give him veggies out of my garden - and thus about 50% of these veggies I don't eat but Connor does!

 Reminiscent of a very early picture I have of Tess....
(Shown with one of her sisters at the breeders)

Friday, April 19, 2013

Earl Gray's story continues

So. Update on Earl Gray. I drove to the Les Schwab to get my tire fixed yesterday afternoon, going 50-55 mph in traffic going 55mph in the slow lane of I-80 with my emergency blinkers on. A truck 3 lanes over was suprised by the slowness of the traffic (it was rush hour....) and procedured to careen out of control across 3 lanes of traffic, ending his ping pong game by attempting to ram the front end of his 3/4 ton dodge diesel through the drivers side door and window of my corolla, the recently christened "Earl Gray".

Making a sharp right turn onto the grassy shoulder of the freeway and watching the truck continue to come towards me, literally touching the glossy hide of Earl, the highly appropriate thought of "you m-ther f-ck-r I don't have collision on this f-ck-ng car" roared through my mind, I decided that risking flipping my car on the shoulder and ending up in the ditch was perferable to having this very large truck total my car and possibly take out my skull at the same time as he T-boned me at 70 mph.

In a move remincent of a horse curving its body away from a horse-eating stump as it's travelling along at top speed I bent the frame of Earl with my mind into a C shape (or so it seemed to me at the time) and did some sort of hop/spook sidewise movement while gunning the car forward and managed to get the truck behind me, keep my car upright, and bring my car to a gentle stop on the shoulder some what parellel to the road way.

When it was all said and done there were 5 cars on the side of the road and I was the only one not smashed up. A couple of superficial scratches at the level of my driver side mirror that don't even break the paint layer.

These are the things that we can conclude from this story

1. Earl doesn't care for his name. Perhaps a name change is necessary?

2. My hood ornament, taken from my family's last Toyota Corolla that randomly caught up fire in a parking lot is cursed. Earl came without one, and being the same model year as the '92 just sitting on the property, I "borrowed it" (along with some other random parts that I'm totally not admitting to because I was strictly forbidden to part that car unless I was willing to take the entire thing....). So perhaps a sacrificial burning of the toyota grill emblem is called for?

The other way to look at it is that Earl is actually blessed. After all, if it hadn't been for me going slow and being in the slow lane, I probably couldn't have gotten out of the way. And if I had been in my much higher center of gravity truck, I probably would have been hit (probably would have survived because still no bueno).

So in conclusion, I STILL didn't get to riding yesterday. Or running. :(

Thursday, April 18, 2013

CC - Earl (Grey)

Earl Grey is a 1997 model with a rather "roan" metallic coat color.

On a "ride" yesterday afternoon the owner noticed a distinct "Off-ness" in the right hind.

She pulled onto the side of the road....errrr....trail......and evaluated.

Poor Earl wasn't going ANYWHERE. 3 legged lame.

Diagnosis? (sorry - you don't get to guess - check back next week for the case of Geraldine and a chance to win a fabulously cheap prize!) Nail in the hoof (tire).

Earl is my car. He didn't have a name before yesterday, but since I needed a CC yesterday and he managed to obliterate my afternoon plans, including writing a CC post, he has been christened "Earl Grey", being a rather puke grayish/purple color, reminiscent of the color put on tea packets of the same name.

A nail can disable a horse just as quickly as a car.

Things on my "to be done list" yesterday

1. Ride my horse or at least lunge her

2. Go for a run with Tess.

3. Watch required surgery videos for tomorrows lab

4. Review material on wound healing that I missed yesterday.

Things NOT on my "to be done" list

1. Flat tire in a vehicle without a full sized spare.


For Xmas I got a aaa membership and although I'm careful about maintenance and tires, I figured with my commute it as just a matter of time until something happened. This year is the first time I've ever had roadside assistance! I decided that the nice tow truck driver could put my donut tire on since it's in dubious condition (car had a flat before I owned it and the donut is used) and I didn't want to mess with it (good thing because when the driver put the donut on, it was flat and had to be aired up). It was already after hours so why should I do it myself and risk getting fingers smashed before my first surgery lab tomorrow?

And its not like I could have driven home anyways-the donut is only good for 55 miles and home is further away from school than that (and who knows how many miles is already on it) AND theres nothing between school and home so best case scenario leaves me stranded somewhere in the middle of nowhere in the dark. If ive learned nothing else by getting old (in horse years...) its that saving a dime to spend a dollar is STUPID.

So the car stayed in Davis last night at a friends house, I had Matt pick me up from Davis, and I drove the truck to school this morning. And I didn't risk life and limb by entering some "supernatural" type tv episode by driving my car home.....

At some point between learning how to tie suture notes and scrubbing and gowning today, I'll get the tire repaired.

In the spirit of when these types of things happen....of COURSE it was on an incredibly long school day (8a-5p), on a day I had resolved to at least give my horse some exercise (after her having a week off), while having a headache (after a two hour radiology discussion interpreting radiographs I'm convinced that I am the stupidest person alive and feel like I've been trying to drive in the fog in heavy traffic for two hours...), and of course, since it was 6:20p I was starving. Time to bring out the almonds and dates I keep in the car for emergencies.

Btw - just because we are the subject of things happening and the recent post of being prepared.....I also had 2 gallons of water in my trunk. Obviously not a huge concern yesterday, since it was a cool day and I was in the middle of town. But I'm just throwing it out there.....

Driving my truck to school this morning I was reminded just how FUN a truck is. Lots of power, totally zippy when a trailer isn't behind you, you can see for miles and miles (my truck rides high), a LOT less road noise (I guess that's what happens when your truck is 10 years newer than the car...). Too bad it costs a FORTUNE to commute in it. *sigh*.


Monday, April 15, 2013

CC - Dapht answer!

Go over to Tess's blog ( for the commentary on last week's CC.

It turned into a rather long discourse on hip dysplasia (with a few horsey references thrown in for good measure), so that information is better on kept over on the doggie blog.

Deered - if you don't get over to Tess's blog for some reason - you are the winner! Please send me your mailing info and you will get a fabulous prize!

And for the rest of you folks....from now on, if there is no correct answer posted, EVERYONE that put SOMETHING in the comments will be eligible for the prize, to determined by random drawing. So please - even if you don't have a clue, put something funny that makes me laugh :).

Friday, April 12, 2013

CC - extension

No answers have been submitted for this week's CC! (Dapht).  Thus, I am extending it until tomorrow.  :). 

If no one guesses than I get to reward myself with my fabulous prize!!!!!!! 

In other can tell that it's the end of a block and I'm faced with a final, considering all the "other" projects I'm doing. 

1. Shaving ounces off my backpacking cook kit by constructing a lightweight pot and accessories

2. Constructing more elaborate toys and a "playstation"for Connor! Video is here. Made for my cousin that wanted to see more of my set up....originally uploaded video because I thought it was of the Last minute orchastra but it wasn't!!!! Oops).
3. Researching Bear Canisters
(I want this one)

4. Organizing "Last minute Orchestra" performances
(can't find the video - this is just a small selection of the wonderful people that showed up for our rendition of the 1812 orchestra).
5. Putting things on my amazon wish list.  Like stuff for my 8 day backpacking trip in the sierras.  And random bird toy ideas. 

6. Trying to decide how much money to spend on vet bills for Farley pre-Tevis as potential preventative medical care - retest Selenium levels?  Inject hocks?  (will require me to re-xray hocks)

7. Construct a hanging tomato plant out of old feed buckets that no longer match my color scheme....

8. Make survival bracelets!

9. finish Season 1 of Mentalist.  Start season 1 of "supernatural" on urging of my brother and after spending first 2 episodes watching it between my fingers and asking him to describe what was going on....not sure it's the show for me....

10. Selling misc stuff on craigs list to finance all the above projects......because as of yet I don't actually have a JOB for the summer. (Sleeping bag anyone?  Fiddle?  big horn saddle? )

Yeah.....not so much studying going on.......

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The more you know, the less you need

We are going to consider this "Aboriginal Proverb" in the title but first.......

...what's happening with me (and more importantly, with Farley)?

1. I am NOT going to American River Ride.  I'm going horse camping instead.  In a place with LOTS of hills.

I've been concerned about the trail conditions on the trails that American river uses, in both wet and dry conditions.  There's a lot of erosion and "funkiness" that has the potential for wearing a horse out and causing subclinical injury.

All trails of course have this potential, but I just don't like the feeling of the trail and the footing.  It's a lot to ask of the horse and a lot of risk, especially if you have a big ride coming up later in the season.

I didn't like the feeling in my gut when I thought of doing AR, and after talking to some people that have ridden the trails more recently than I, I found out that the erosion has gotten even worse etc. AND heard yet another person tell me that they had a horse that after AR, has been NQR ever since with intermittent lameness that can't easily be diagnosed.

I've learned to listen to my gut over the years, and I've decided that the better plan is to get in 50 or 60 miles on hilly terrain during a camping trip over a couple of days.  I'm not avoiding AR because I don't think that Farley couldn't do it, but I think the risk/benefit of that particular ride is not high enough to include in my prep.

2. Farley is doing well.  Melinda is getting Fat. That sentence says all you need to know.  I have GOT to get my act together, which involves LESS icecream and MORE running.  Important object lesson: stress is derailing my health, but hopefully the lack of stress in Farley's routine is helping hers.

3. It's impossible to have a bullet list with less than 3 points.  It just isn't done.  But I don't have a 3rd bullet point....ummmmmm.......Widow in the boot update!  Boot has been relocated to my back porch and a plan has been formulated.  Mirrors, flashlights, and vaccum cleaners is the working plan at this point.

"The more you know, the less you need"
I came across this saying as I was doing research into ideas for an ultralight backpacking trip I'll be taking this summer.

It rings true. I think there's 3 stages to an active sport like endurance or backpacking

Stage 1. You bring a moderate amount of stuff, but it's all the wrong stuff.

Stage 2. You add a bunch of stuff to your kit and now you have way too much stuff - some of the right stuff, but some of the wrong stuff too, left over from stage 1.

Stage 3. You get rid of a bunch of stuff and now you have relatively little stuff.

In stage 3, the amount of "stuff" has been reduced either because
a). you never used it, it expired and you realized that you wouldn't know how to use it if you did have to........or
b). it was redundant or.......
c). it was totally unnecessary

Another factor at stage 3 that may contribute to being able to bring less stuff is that you are less likely to make mistakes that would require a plethora of stuff and thus you can weed out some of that gear that was there to protect you if you did something really stupid.....however, often this backfires and you enter the optional stage 4.

Stage 4. Slightly more stuff than stage 3.  Usually a result of getting yourself in trouble in a kit that was too you've added some gear back in.

You can tell what "stage" someone is in by the stories they tell when they come back from a ride or a trip.

Stage 1: OMG everything went wrong and I had to totally improvise something out of baling twine because I had everything EXCEPT an extra stirrup leather in my crew bag.

Stage 2: Nothing went wrong but I was totally prepared and had my crew haul 2 extra tack boxes to every check!!!!!!! Since I don't have a story, let me tell you how prepared and organized I was!

Stage 3: OMG you would never believe the wacky thing that went wrong!!!!  I totally used baling twine that I found on my neighbors trailer to fashion a breast collar so that I could finish the ride!  Maybe I should throw a stirrup leather back into my crew box - that particular piece of equipment can double as a breast collar, stirrup leather, rein, girth......multiuseful!

In endurance, I'm probably still transitioning from stage 2 to stage 3.  I've weeded out a lot of my necessary stuff, but I have yet to have something truly horrible to happen that requires to me rethink my kit.  On the other hand, I probably still couldn't do a cavalry ride easily (completing an endurance ride with only the equipment you have with you or you can find on the trail). 

A much more fun and obvious example of the proverb is backpacking.  

Backpacking illustrate the stages very well because the motivation to go with less is HIGH - the more you have, the more unpleasant that trek up that very long, steep hill is.....You don't stay in stage 2 for very long!

BUT the motivation for being prepared is also high, since it can be very uncomfortable (not to mention life threatening) to make a "bad" decision and leave something at home.  Thus, you ALSO quickly move from stage 1 to stage 2......... thus the combination of this and the previous paragraph means there is a strong driver to go to stage 3 quickly.

I'm not going to bore you with my stage 1 and 2 experiences backpacking - it was a predictable trajectory driven by balancing the comfort of a light weight load with the enjoyment of camp once the dang pack is off my back.  (Pillow?  light but takes up space but oh so comfy.......Camera? Book? Comfy thermarest or lighter myler blanket?)

Much more entertaining is the incident that marked my move from stage 3 to stage 4. 

By New Year's I was firmly in the stage 3 of backpacking.  I had detailed lists of what I had taken on previous backpacking trips, what was actually used, and how much was used.  With these lists I had pared down my kit until only those items that I actually needed and used were included.  I wasn't stupid - I still brought matches even though I had never used them.  Same for the emergency poncho and such......but in general I had reduced and eliminated my kit to the barest of necessities and it was gloriously light.

And then....disaster.  On a sub-freezing evening only a day or so into the trip I got up to pee.  I ummm....."misused", my FUD and dumped a certain body fluid down the inside of my pants, completely soaking my undergarments, long underwear, pants, socks.

Not a big deal, you say?  Change into your spare clothes, you say? 

So......In the interest of weight, I had no spare clothes.  Just spare socks (because afterall, this is stage 3, not stage 1 and I know enough to at least carry spare socks in a ziplock and a myler blanket in case something like this happened).  Because of the cold temperatures that evening I was wearing every single layer I had brought - each layer being perfectly planned as to not overlap eachother in function.

Thus I found myself with a dog, a 15 degree sleeping bag (that was pre EN temp ratings and was NOT a 15 degree bag) without an insulating ground pad (to reduce weight....), and dry socks.  And a single digit night.  That was followed by a single digit morning. 

I was fairly miserable.  And cold.  And pathetic.

Not dead, not dying, but uncomfortable enough that I learned my lesson.  Minimalist is nice and while it was true I "needed" less stuff than when I first started and I was prepared "enough" that my situation wasn't life threatening (extra socks etc.) much weight would it have really added to throw in an extra pair of silkweight leggings?  At the cost of a few ounces if they hadn't been needed, I could have been quite comfortable, even in the face of my stupidity.

Let's share!!!!!!!!!
I would love to hear any good stories (here in the comments, or as a guest post - feel free to email me -, or on your own blog) that illustrate your journey through the stages, but I know that writing up a story takes time.  So, here's an alternative - I thought we could swap the following sentence completions.....

I always bring ______(1)______ to a ride/trip because I always end up using it!

I used to bring ______(2)_______, but now I leave it at home because I've never needed it and in some cases, after some reflection it was kind of ridiculous anyways......

After some "interesting" experiences I've added ____(3)______ to my equipment list, even if I don't use it regularly. 


Here's some of mine.

- Spare reins (3 pairs of reins broke in my second season)
- Garbage bag (a multitude of uses including segregating nasty things from the rest of your kit, insurance in case your water bladder leaks in your pack, emergency poncho, ground cloth.  If you haven't used it by the end of the ride you can always use it for manure :))
- extra water bottles (2 rides to date where waterbottles were damaged or lost and I didn't have spares.  I'm also known for not cleaning my water bottles and then realizing that they are full of mold once I arrive at the ride.....)
- a towel.  I under valued "the towel" on both rides and backpacking trips early on, but I LOVE having one and use it almost every trip :)

- book or magazine.  I love reading but usually can't concentrate or enjoy reading anything at endurance rides or on trips. A bottle of wine is much more amusing and engaging and has the bonus of engaging other people.
- Anything more requires more cooking than simply boiling water
- Heart rate monitor
- duct tape.  It never does what I want it to do, breaks down in the heat, and doesn't stick in the cold.
- extra batteries.  I put new batteries in my headlamp at home before the trip if I think that they are going to need to be changed.  If the camera goes dead, oh well. More applicable to backpacking than endurance riding.  When possible I chose equipment that doesn't need batteries.

3. "quik clot" pack, ace bandange [all sorts of uses - mostly has been used on other people, not me :)], water treatment pills (small bottle), feminine pads for wound bandages

Post in the comments!!!!!!!!

good link

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

CC - Dapht

Dapht is your conditioning partner's, 18 month old dog who comes along on shorter conditioning rides with you and your friend.  He's a slightly annoying 60 pound mutt who poops on the hay, doesn't always get out of the way of your horse and you have (not quite on purpose) bowled him over allowed your horse to dance on him a bit during one memorable "race to the top of the hill".

On this particular ride, you notice that he's a limping a bit.  Your friend explains that he tried to leap a ditch a couple days ago, missed and had to scramble a bit.   She's pretty sure that he just strained something and he'll be ok in a day or two. She hadn't noticed him limping before the incident, but he's a clumsy dog and so it's difficult to say for 100% that he was moving sound before the incident, he's always banged up because of something.

Because you are a vet and have fancy xray equipment, you decide to radiograph Dapht in the major joints of the hind legs after the ride.  (this is called fishing and isn't the best medicine, but you decide you can use the pics of the joints that are normal for reference films in your hospital!).

What do you see and where do you see it (which joint)?  Is this traumatic/acute or a more long term/chronic injury?

And most importantly......did YOU cause this by running over the dog with your horse?  :) (I'm in a weird mood right now, so please take this CC as a bit tongue in cheek and don't take me too seriously.  :P  Look at the radiographs and tell me what you think you see.  Answers come Friday and if you comment with your guess and are right, you could win a fabulously cheap prize!)