Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sun Rain Sun Rain

This spring has some interesting weather! Last year it rained last as well but I know we had had some actual heat by now as well. And I remember last year being more BAM big storm and then moving on, as opposed to this month which is lots of gray and cold, with intermittent rain, and no heat. I can, and will, ride in the cool gray, in fact that's better than riding in 100 degrees, its just a little strange and the garden isn't loving it. I wonder how its affecting first hay cuttings etc, I know last year it rained and hailed late and ruined the first crop but this year has been more sedate and spread out rain, so maybe its not so bad? Who knows. I'm no hay farmer.
Yesterday we got the hot fence working! After everything it turned out it was the box, again. I have no idea why a 3 month old 20 mile fence box would be not working again, already, but we busted a 10 mile box out of the package (woohoo for having a random spare!) and plugged it in and man does that baby have power! It clicks really loudly like it means business. The horses definitely got shocked some time between last night's feeding and this morning, because Blaze wouldn't even come near the hot wire to see me this morning and the filly ran from me like I was the devil and it took me about 10 minutes to get her to let me touch her. She was very wild and scared and Josh said he heard thundering hooves earlier so I'm thinking she got zapped and is still freaked out.
No sun in the forecast and a new endurance friend got injured coming off her horse last night. Come on, rally spirits, is it spring or what is happening here?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Lovely Sunday

Today was beautiful, if a little chilly. We planted the rest of our veggie garden so we will be expecting quite a bounty (including LOTS of watermelons!) this summer. Next year we really have to get our stuff together and put some more fruit trees in as well, I can't wait to grow my own peaches! Ahhh peaches off the tree are the most amazing thing in the world, not to mention the mere smell of them growing on the trees. There is a straightaway on Hwy 70 towards Marysville that is peach tree orchards on both sides of the road, it is absolutely divine to drive that stretch in the summer with the peaches ripening. Anyhow our veggies are now in the ground and will hopefully get off to a good start. Unfortunately tomorrow is cool and sunny but the rest of the week is a chance of rain. Very very cool weather! We haven't had a hot spell yet. In fact I think the hottest its been was that week or two in January! The avg temperature this time of year in the valley is 90 and this year the avg temp is 70. We are a little different being in the foothills, but the same general idea. A cool wet spring for sure.
After cleaning paddocks and doing some other work around the place I was taking a break and reading my book in the chair in the front driveway (I like to sit there as I get a view of everything and can watch the horses) and Blaze started trotting and cantering around his paddock. He was really showing off and looking lively so I figured he was inviting me for a ride! Lol. Maybe not but he did walk right up to me, nickering, to be haltered. He seems to really enjoy going out these days, his codependent "run away with my herd!" thing has definitely gone away..of course he is currently in his own paddock so he doesn't have a herd technically. But he still used to trot to the far end with his next door neighbor. I think the piglet mare and foal who are so people friendly and looking for treats are a good influence on him, he doesn't want to miss out on whatever they are getting, and they are getting lots of human attention. Anyhow I put my Garmin on for the arena session just to see how long I actually ride in the arena (I always forget to check the time and then can't tell if I've been 10 minutes or 40) and it turns out I worked Blaze 40 minutes and went 2.6 miles! I was actually pretty surprised I went that far just going round and round our little arena. I did leave the arena (he is getting better at opening and closing gates) and walked down to the bottom of the big pasture and trotted back up, just for fun. The mini lost us in the tall grass and was squealing like a stuck pig until he located us again. He sounded like he was going to keel over dead after running all the way to the top of the hill! I don't even give him hay and he is just a fat little tick. Lively little bugger though.
Blaze did pretty well in the arena, he tried to push the pace of course but making him circle every time he tries to break gait eventually got the point across. I did get really sick of doing the circles but had to stay consistent. I got him to do a fairly slow collected trot without too much trouble, but the canter was like wweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee lets haul ass around this little arena! I got him to his working point when he finally uses his brain and starts to round and collect, he always starts snorting softly on each stride like he is really working hard.
I tried another method of wrapping his interference cut tonight, well really its the same method I just wrapped the vet wrap way higher than I have, at least 5 or 6 inches above the mark itself to try to keep it from sliding down. It survived the arena workout which no previous wrapping job has survived so that is a good sign. I just want to get this thing healing and looking better before Hat Creek Hustle in a few weeks.
Hmm, time to figure out whats for dinner!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

I Love Cantering

Seriously, the feeling of a smooth, collected, rocking-horse canter is THE best. I like to keep Blaze on his toes with my transitions into cantering so I go into it from stop to canter, walk to canter, trot to canter depending how I feel. It seems to keep Blaze a little more in his brain thinking "ok, what does she want?" then when I used to just always transition walk, trot, canter. I couldn't get him to trot without trying to move on into canter. Now I have to ask him to get there, which is nice. Breaking from walk right into canter is really fun, on the odd occasion I do it I can really feel Blaze gather him and then quickly, but surprisingly smoothly, power himself right into a nice canter. At least he has some some nice gaits considering his trot can be pretty deadly. There are moments of perfection but for the most part its ROUGH. When he is being silly about something and is all high headed and alert while trotting I feel like I am going two feet straight up in the air and then back down, but not going very far forward. He really throws you out of the saddle. Encouraging him forward usually snaps his attention back to the business at hand and he lengthens out to a better gait, though still fairly rough. I do love his extended trot, however. He really stretches out and goes for it and it feels like flying! I'm being pushed up out of the saddle but also going so far forward at a time it balances out. It would probably be a riot to try an extended trot on a big Arab who really covered ground! Blaze gives it all he's got and still gets easily trotted by with the longer-legged horses (which is like, everybody). I sure love his steady, wonderful little self though! I feel so bad about his interference mark on his left hind that just is not healing. I can't believe vet wrap doesn't stay up! Isn't that the point?! Am I really that crappy at putting it on? I admittedly started out wrapping it way too loose because I was paranoid but even my snug wraps can't stay up while I'm riding him. They last longer when he is just in his paddock but still. Today I tried Vetericyn, a big bandaid (lol), about an inch of gauze padding and then a snug vet wrap. We'll see how long it lasts...
I should clean the mare paddock and I should mow the last of the lawn but I think I'll read my book in the sun for a while instead!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Almost Free Again?

Well it seems that the EHV-1/EHM is getting under control and quarantined here in California. I am still a little nervous to haul out even though its probably fine..I just love my herd so much I hate to risk it. Of course then there's the neighbor horses who are constantly loose, running the county roads, touching noses with my horses over the fence..not that I think they have the virus but seriously, its frustrating. They get out SO often and its a miracle they haven't been hit by cars yet. Anyhow I may be hitting the trails at the lake again soon. Of course today its raining. Monday it rained. Yesterday was beautiful, cool, and sunny and I took Desire for another spin in the arena with Sheza loose with us. Sheza has definitely figured out that she can hang out and graze while mom trots around in circles (being lunged) but as soon as I get on Desire the filly and Blaze both get completely wild and gallop around. The filly cuts in front of us and bucks and kicks at the mare and Blaze gallops mad circles around his paddock. I'm not sure why its so disturbing to them when I ride Desire! Maybe the filly objects to her milk-bar being something else. As for Blaze he is in love with any and all mares so he is probably just objecting to "his" mare being too far away. I tried a little bigger trot on Desire and even one circuit around the arena in each direction at the canter. She really feels like a big fat out of shape mare under me! My panel saddle isn't fitting her very well at the moment because she is so round but I know that will change as she sheds the lbs. I'm definitely planning on asking for a treeless saddle for Christmas, I love my deep comfy Ameri-Flex but it is SO heavy. Anyhow Desire at the trot is pretty funny, she doesn't seem to have any stomach muscles to speak of and sort of jogs along with her belly stuck out and her nose in the air. We definitely have a ways to go but she is a pretty willing girl and a cool customer being under saddle again after 6 months off and with the nutty baby and Blaze always having a shit fit when I ride her.
Well, twiddling my thumbs today in the rain. I'm currently reading yet another Philippa Gregory novel, I'm such a sucker for historical fiction. Back to it!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Momma Mare = Desire the saddle horse

Yep, its true, Momma D is well on her way to getting back to her old self, Desire the riding horse. I have to imagine that laying off work and becoming a mother w/ foal 100% of the time is a big adjustment! I certainly can't imagine doing it. But I guess she has the instincts that all kicked in just right for her to be a good mom and now, back under saddle! I fitted the blue/wine bridle on her with a D ring snaffle and it looks very nice on her of course. I had to use my big girth I had for Tango, the 16 hand Foxtrotter, on her, haha! 14.3 hand Arab uses the same as a 16 hand tank Foxtrotter..well not for long I'm sure, we'll find her girlish figure again. Anyhow I lunged her and filly was much quicker to figure out that she could just eat grass and relax and watch mom run around in circles instead of galloping around herself at mach 10. I used the mounting block and got on Desire very slowly and she pretty much gave me the yawn, whatever, reaction to being mounted. She is SUPER responsive on leg and voice which is pretty nice. I mostly just walked and changed directions a bunch and the filly went completely nutty and was galloping around, zooming in front of us, bucking and kicking at mom, while Blaze and the mini ran around their pastures and bucked and kicked. It was all very exciting for the herd, it seemed! They really got amped up once I was riding her. I tried a slow jog because she was a little distracted and I didn't want to push my luck, but it was a very smooth jog and easy to sit. Very nice! Looking forward to trying a proper trot but we aren't there yet. She is so very out of shape, she has no belly muscles right now and I could definitely feel it in her carriage. She did great though! She tried trotting off when the filly zoomed by a few times but was quickly and easily corrected. I wanted to take a photo of her with the bridle and my endurance saddle on but I didn't want to leave Sheza tied unattended so I will bring my camera out with me first thing next time and capture all the excitement. Man, I'm relieved the first re-ride is over! I'll still be a little nervous getting on the next time but after that I'll be fine and I can't wait to be hitting the trails with Desire some day soon!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

More Miles from Home

I wish those times next to my under 10 mile rides were lower but the fact is there is about 25 minutes of walking on pavement on the way out and back. So really 50 minutes of the hr and 30 minutes is just walking for safety on pavement. The 40+ other minutes are trotting/cantering uphill. This evening I went out around 6:15 and I did about a quarter mile sprint at the top of the hill where the road is open and we can see everything safely, which was exhilarating. It was a nice evening ride with a cool breeze and not too many cars. We got back just before dark and I made Blaze a mash and fed everyone. Tomorrow I plan to ride the mare. Its supposed to be cooler which will be nice for. She and the baby get SO sweaty doing our little 15 minute sessions in the arena. I bought 12 bales of 3 grain forage mix hay today and the Bar Ale Distance feed I ordered after the last race was finally in. I guess I should use up all the other stuff I mix individually before I Start using the master mixed stuff but I am dying to try it and see if Blaze likes it as much as he did at the race. I will start gradually mixing it in, its just rice bran, beet pulp, all the stuff he is already getting so it shouldn't be a big adjustment.
The husband just BBQ'ed the most divine rib eye steaks...must be time to sign off!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Riding, Lunging, Washing, AND De-worming!

Blaze's new gear

String it all together and it sounds like a whole lot of fun, don't it?! Rather a lot of pushing, pulling, rearranging, posting, lead rope juggling, and paste and water all over me. But damn it, I love it.
Yesterday the sun graced us with its presence again and though I wasn't feeling completely up to par (I'm still not, have a cough and a little congestion) I had to get back in the saddle. Blaze hadn't been out in 5 days and that was quite enough, thank you very much. Due to this equine herpes outbreak I am trying to be good and stay home (I'm used to trailering out 4 times a week!) so I rode on the dirt road above our property. I only did 6.5 miles because after a while of some shade trees and niceness the road turns into a big open dirt path in direct sunlight with nowhere to hide so I turned right around at that point. Also just wanted Blaze to get a little leg stretch before anything too serious. I don't think I'll be able to do many miles a day for the next week or so due to staying home but I figure getting a lower and varied (one road is hills, one is pretty much flat) mileage every day still counts. I'm really having an issue with that interference cut on his left hind. That big bulb he must have gotten from interfering badly in the past sticks out a good inch so its pretty much impossible for him not to hit it with his right hind, considering how sloppy he can be with his feet. Anyhow, I am trying ointment, gauze, then vet wrap, then a splint boot to try to keep it clean and unharmed. He hits it even loose in his paddock so just not riding him won't help. He isn't lame at all from it but I know it hurts when he smacks that open sore! I am nervous to wrap the vet wrap too tightly because it compresses and I don't want cut off his circulation just trying to keep a cut clean. Soooooo. Right now he just has gauze and vet wrap on coz I had a theory the splint boot was helping the vet wrap wiggle down out of place. I don't know. Its just in such a shitty spot.
Yesterday morning I picked up grain and Safeguard dewormer before I rode Blaze. So yesterday evening was time for baby's first de-worming. I had more trouble with mom than with the filly, of course. Desire is highly suspicious of the tube and snorts and flares her nostrils and generally acts like I'm going to murder her with a small plastic tube. I Jedi mind tricked her pretty good though, I rubbed her face with the tube getting closer and closer to her mouth and talked to her; she was calming down and starting to like it then BAM I slipped the tube into her mouth, pushed the plunger, and had it back out and stroking her face before she even knew what happened. I was pretty proud of my sleight of hand. Better than the wrestling match I had with her last time. Filly of course has curiosity on her side so it wasn't too hard for her to try nibbling on the end of the tube. She didn't have a CLUE what was coming so I was able to get the wormer in there and then watch her face register "woah! Something in my MOUTH!" and start chewing away at it. Pretty cute. She wasn't too bothered by it, I scratched her and she just sort of gulped it down, slightly bewildered. Of course mom and baby managed to wipe their mouths on me.
This morning I managed to get out the driveway on Blaze by 9. It seemed uncompromisingly WARM for 9 am in the spring, especially considering it was cold and rainy two days ago. Luckily the first part of the road is well shaded. If there is just a breath of a breeze I can handle it but the dead still warmth (I won't call it heat yet) is what gets to me. I headed up the road which is about 1.3 mile of pavement (ah slippery madness) with lots of barking dogs, then it turns to dirt. The entire thing is UPhill. A pretty steep ascent at some points. Once we got to the safety of the dirt road we started jamming. Blaze can trot/canter about 3/4 of the way from bottom, start of the dirt road, to top, way up high with a view, before he stops to walk. I start at a trot and let him naturally break to a canter, then when he slows back to a trot I push him a little more to maintain it and then let him break to a walk when he's ready. I figure being stuck riding around here will at least give me some concentrated hill work and get to where we are trotting/cantering up the whole thing. He doesn't stop to rest on it at all, by the way, just slows to a walk and finishes the hill at the walk. Anyhow we did 8 miles up and back in an hour 40, slightly slower than I intended because I had to re wrap his interference sore and dither walking a bit (arg). Plenty more sun in the forecast though! It was a nice morning ride as well, a big black and white butterfly followed us for at least a couple of miles and there was a breeze at the top of the hill and lots of birds singing.
When I got back our friend Jason was around so I enlisted his help to hold the filly while I tacked momma D up in the cross ties. There just isn't a safe spot to hard tie the filly at the tack area and she is too small for the cross ties. I saddled momma with western saddle just in the off chance she did something silly I didn't want to risk my endurance saddle. Our jaunt down to the arena was pretty comical as filly was zipping back and forth on her lead line like a little nutter. She never hits the end of the rope hard she puts a hard stop just in time and the goes the other way, but only for a minute. It seems like uncontrollable happy baby energy and she comes back into her manners quickly. Mom did great lunging under saddle, she responded to stopping and changing directions better this time and walk trot cantered off my voice. Filly ran around like a nut job so at the end of fifteen minutes she was absolutely slathered in sweat. Momma was sweaty as well but nowhere near like filly! Jason was around to help again when I was done so after I sprayed off momma D I decided the sweaty filly needed her first bath. We had rather a lot of squirming and silliness but in the end she did get a full light hosing. Two big firsts in two days! Now I'm already tired and not even 2 in the afternoon!

Filly after first bath

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Rain finally Ending, Still Sick

It rained solidly all night and stopped around 7 this morning. Everything is SOGGY. Partly sunny now but supposed to get to sunny and 70-something tomorrow. My tack came Monday, its pretty sweet. The heart shaped silver conchos on the bridle are a lot bigger than I thought they would be but they will be cute on little Blaze. I will fit it and take Blaze out tomorrow, but maybe just around here. There is an outbreak of Equine Herpes that originated at a show in Utah and there are 10 confirmed cases in counties around us here in Ca already. I tend to take things like this with a grain of salt but with the mare and foal and everything--I just don't want to risk my horses. Already cancelled plans to do a trail ride with a couple of people this weekend and think I'll just ride out from here on the dirt roads for a little while. Better safe than sorry. Anyhow, I still can't breath through my nose and am a green-snot monster but once again, hoping to be good to go tomorrow. A little warmth and sunshine will certainly help!
Oh the mare must have banged her eye on something this morning, when I went out to feed she looked ROUGH--left eye swollen almost shut, boogers in her eyes, runny nose, dread-locked mane...I was like goooodddd grief! I called my vet just because I have no idea how a horse with a cold (my first guess on what her deal was) affects a nursing foal, but she isn't keen to travel between farms because of the equine herpes so she said keep an eye on her and call the vet later to update. I went out an hour later and the eye was already almost un-swollen and her nose wasn't running anymore. I think she must have banged it and I came out right after because her lower eye lid was hugely swollen but was already almost normal after an hour. She ate all her grain and most of her hay, went out and rolled in the mud (lovely), and was trotting around with her tail flagged. So I'm thinking she is fine, just banged her eye and was looking a little the worse for wear this morning. She has lots of loose hair under her blanket, I thought she had fully shed out but there is lots more white hair to cover myself in, apparently.
Can't wait to feel fine, have some good weather, and be out on the trail again!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Rain & A Cold

Well I was going strong Saturday working around the place, working with the mare and filly and BAM wake up Sunday to pouring rain and a raging head cold. Usually I feel colds sneaking up on me but I went from fully functional and working hard to flat on my back and green snot galore. Well, it happens. Last year, I believe around this time, I got a cold but it was 90+ degrees. Now THAT is not fun. I'd much rather be sick, wet, sloppy when its wet and sloppy outside. Today is only 30% rain (100% for tonight and tomorrow) so I *might* bundle up and go for a leg stretcher on Blaze down the dirt road from home, but we'll see. His new green tack should be in today as well as the pelleted Bar Ale Distance Plus feed I ordered after the last race so I will probably just do a town run and not push my luck. Its supposed to be sunny and warm by Wednesday so I must be healthy by then and get riding again!!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Desire & Sheza Go (back) to Lunge School

Of course Desire already knows how to lunge. But she hadn't been worked in months. Today was the day! Cool with a breeze, not too hot. Which is good because after 15 minutes of walk/trot transitions on the lunge line the mare and filly were sweaty! I left Sheza in a halter but at liberty and she zoomed around the inside perimeter of the arena the first few minutes but eventually realized mom was doing much smaller circles and started just cantering along on the outside of mom, who was trotting. I could see Desire's (big) belly contracting up as she used her muscles--woo bet that was something! She still looks pretty pregnant, haha! Desire did well, she had a little trouble focusing on me and missed some stop cues but I can't really blame her since the filly was being a little rocket for the first while and getting out of her vision occasionally. I put the mare on smaller slow circles to get her more attentive to me asking for stops and change directions and that helped. The baby cut in front of her and she had to stop dead a couple of times which was a little alarming but over all it went really well. The walk down into the big pasture where the arena was, with the mini loose, went better than expected. Sheza is leading really well and trooped down the hill to the arena. The mini was following us but not too closely luckily. Desire has been charging the fence at the mini lately so I think he had a healthy respect for her. I was pretty surprised how sweaty the filly got but she was being a little spazz and galloping around the arena for the first five minutes at least. Fifteen minutes was definitely enough for both! Tonight and tomorrow its supposed to rain so they will have time to rest those sore muscles. I may put them up in a stall if the weather gets really nasty but we'll see. Glad I took the first step on the road to riding the mare again!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Sheza is 1 month old & Learning To Tie

Yes, my little girl is growing up quickly! Every day is so full of lawns to mow and maintenance and riding and! I do work with her in some way each and every day though and think she is right on track for age and knowledge. She is picking up her hooves consistently, working upward on time holding them up. Yesterday was her first time hard tying. Our pasture has been weed whacked so I could suddenly see very using tying trees with safe footing because we only have cross ties. I took mom and baby out for some 1 month old photos and then down into the pasture. I tied baby, first with just a wrap in case she really freaked. Josh stood nearby with the mare, who was eating as fast she could move her jaw, completely ignoring the baby. She sure is a piggy pig! I like it. But its pretty funny. Sheza tried backing and immediately yielded to the halter pressure. She tested it a few times but nothing dramatic happened. I tied her in a release knot and had Josh walk the mare a ways away, and the filly got more nervous. She started trotting back and forth in the little space on her rope, but every time she came to the end she yielded without hitting hard. She stopped after about two minutes and when she was standing quietly and licking the tree (lol) I untied her and headed back to the paddock. She got pretty frisky and was squirting forward in front of me and trying to trot on the lead rope so we had a few little circles. She tried to dash into the paddock in front of me and slipped and fell on her ass and jumped back up again just as quick. Another little walk and we entered the paddock nice and politely.
Momma D is definitely ready to get back into some light work. She still has QUITE the belly and is definitely a food guzzler. Time to get those muscles back into shape! First some lungings then into short rides in the arena with filly at liberty. Ooh, its always a new adventure with a foal!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Happy Birthday to Meeeee & I Love My Horse!

Isn't that a good ole fashioned selfish post title? I couldn't resist! I'm 24 today..yes, I know, that's still very young, but when reflecting on my life--wow, time flies and things change! I've been married for a year too! Oh, our wedding anniversary is tomorrow, May 12th, not Saturday. Somehow my math went like this: "well, my birthday is Wednesday the 11th, we got married the day after, that must mean our anniversary is Saturday" Hmmmm..I never was a star at math!
Anyhow, took Blaze out for a stretch of the ole legs today, just a approx. 4 mile walk out and back from home. He was using his very RARE speedwalk and god, it was divine! I so wish he walked out like that all the time! I wish my Garmin did mph simply, but it does it by time per mile, as in his normal slow walk is a 20 minute mile, and today for whatever reason he was walking a 16.5 minute mile. Neither of those are particularly fast but we must remember he is only 14 hands! That little fellow sure does work hard for me. What a wonderful wonderful score he was! I wish I knew his history or at least his birthday, but I don't. The vets seem to agree he is around 14. I just dug into the photo archives and looks like I brought Blaze home June 18th, 2009. Going on 2 years of loving this fantastic little gelding of mine!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Sheza Training Update

I better use this spare minute to update on the filly's progress--this week of celebration is going to get away from me I can tell. Its my 24th birthday Wednesday and our wedding anniversary Saturday. But, the filly! I have been working with her leading almost every day. Yesterday and today she led beautifully at first and then went into rebellion mode and fought me every step of the way. She tried throwing little rears but quickly found that was a no-no and tried just bracing her legs and refusing to budge. Luckily at this point I'm still stronger than her, or maybe not and she is just giving in, but as of now I am winning these brief tug of wars. I have a feeling that won't last forever so I am really trying to be consistent and get her leading solidly before she is too big and strong! She picks up her hoofs pretty well and my farrier said he will start familiarizing her with the process when she is a couple of months old. Speaking of, I can't believe she is a month old this week, too! A big week, indeed.
Now, for a couple of bumps and bruises--she seems to be a VERY itchy filly and has actually rubbed a patch of hair off her neck from itching with her hind hooves. She is also losing significant hair around her eyes and nose. At first I thought she was just shedding out, which I'm sure she partially is, but she seems unusually itchy and the bald patch on her neck certainly isn't normal shedding. I have been cleaning her and putting Vetericyn on the seemingly irritated areas as of yesterday, 4/8, so we'll see what, if anything happens. Certainly I am keeping a very close eye on it. I played with her a little earlier today and then just now the husband said she was "limping and tore herself up" so I rushed out there. She wasn't limping at all and has three tiny scrapes on her fore leg where she bit the dust running full tilt around her paddock. I did the ole Vetericyn spray on it but am really not worried about it. The husband is touchingly concerned for her bumps and bruises she accumulates in her scrappy little filly life style.
Anyhow, working on leading (consistently!) and picking up hooves and watching her itchy spots is where I am at with Sheza at the moment. I plan to start mom back into work this week, or next if this one gets too hectic. Take momma D and Sheza down to the arena and lunge the mare with the filly loose, gradually working towards riding D again. I'm excited! And a little nervous. Its all new to me! But getting on a fresh horse isn't...*sigh*
Happy birthday to me, happy 1 month to Sheza, and happy anniversary to the husband and I! :)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Cache Creek Ridge Ride 25 mile Summary

We're home! We were planning to spend Saturday night and come home today but around 3 yesterday the temperature started dropping and the wind really picked up and the chance of rain sent us tent-dwellers headed home! I like to give Blaze a chance to rest overnight but he probably wouldn't have had any fun standing to the trailer getting stiff in cold winds and/or rain. We were only about 2 hours from home on mostly straight roads so we went for it. It was nice to have a hot shower and sleep in my bed last night! Little sore today but not too bad.
So, the race. Just like last time, despite his complete lack of drinking or eating on training rides Blaze went right into consumption junction mode when we arrived on Friday. He ate two big flakes of oat hay just in the afternoon and grazed every time I walked. He drank from the troughs despite the water being pretty nasty. It was about 88 degrees Friday so he definitely needed to be drinking. We stopped in Yuba City on our way out of town to get ice and foodstuffs and also a canopy because we had Google Earth-ed the camp site and could see there was no shade. GOOD THING we did that or we would have been really hating life Friday. Ride camp is a big open meadow and BLM didn't mow it this year so it was knee high grass and prickers and no shade to be found. Our canopy really saved our butt and since we are both short we had it set super low to block all the sun, it was funny, it looked like Hobbits must be using the canopy we had it set so low. We brought Georgia, the chihuahua, this time so keep Josh company since there wasn't any great fishing to distract him with. She had a heck of a time wading through all that tall grass but I confess it was nice to have her along! She is my constant companion.
It cooled off nicely Friday night and we cooked up some steaks on our camp stove, yum! There was a 50 mile ride, 25 mile ride, 25 mile Ride & Tie, and 15 mile Ride & Tie, so it was a pretty busy race morning. We 25 milers didn't start til 8 am which is interesting, I've never started so late. It would have been a bummer to start that late if it were a really hot day but it wasn't too bad and there was a pretty consistent breeze throughout the day. Blaze was such a cool customer at the start of the last race I thought I would try starting in his S Hackamore..haha, bad plan! Luckily I had my snaffle on another set of bit hangers in my pack so about 100 yards past the starting line I pulled over and switched it out because he was absolutely losing his mind. It was a pretty chaotic start with people taking off, then some pulling over, some passing, and then a pretty big creek crossing only 1/4 mile after the start, so some horses wouldn't do it, people were piling up, etc. Blaze charged through that creek crossing like nothing, despite being almost up to his belly and we were off. I didn't wait til the end of the pack to go, I went towards the back but not last. I was very aware of time as I didn't want to finish over time like Whiskeytown. The first miles it was still cool and shady and pretty flat so I figured we better jam while it was nice. Blaze and I are still figuring each other out over distances (in new places, anyway) and since I didn't know the trails again I was sort of flying blind. I certainly didn't realize that essentially the whole ride is hills!! I got a little worried as the climb up just kept going and going, and then when you started to go downhill and thought you were done, it was time to go back up again! I walked B up almost all the hills and even got off and hand walked up the steepest, just to try to save as much of his energy as possible. He was fighting me pretty hard the first few miles but I eventually was able to use horses glimpsed far ahead of us as an inspiration to trot out strongly but in control. I made the mistake of using new equipment without testing it and paid the price a little bit but it worked out in the end; I have a pommel bag with two water bottle holders but knew that wasn't enough to keep me hydrated and be able to get water on B so I bought a Camel Pak but forgot to check that it had a lower strap to go under the rib cage to keep it secure. It had a snap that goes across the chest but with Blaze's "oh my god, horses in front of me! GAH!" early behavior which translated to a horrendous, pogo stick straight up and down trot, the Camel Pak was bouncing up and down on my shoulders, rubbing them raw and driving me nuts. I had an immediate genius idea that I would use my vet wrap and wrap it around the CP and then around me, thereby making my own belly strap but went to my cantle bag to get the wrap and discovered when I took out my snaffle I forgot to re-zip the bag and my hoof pick and vet wrap had fallen out. So the first loop, 15 miles, I rode with the reins in one hand and my other hand holding the bottom of the Camel Pak so it wouldn't bounce so horrendously. We jammed pretty hard that whole loop, walking uphills, trotting and cantering flats, and I ran beside B downhills. I like jogging the downhill actually because when I ride him downhill he either a) walks down them so painfully slowly I can't even tell we're moving or b) trots down them way too fast and trips and almost face plants. So jogging beside him was great as he kept a nice, safe, controlled jog next to me and we still made good time without risking him at all. I haven't done much running at all since my broken leg a year and a half ago but it went pretty well! I wore breeches and sneakers, no half chaps (thanks to Elicia for that suggestion) and it was great! Definitely wore my ankle brace and that was important. We came into the lunch time vet check in about 2 hrs and 40 minutes, pretty good for us and a 15 mile loop of pure hills! He pulsed right down which was AWESOME. Craig Brown, the vet from Oroville that we saw at Whiskeytown did our vet check and we got all As and he said Blaze was a "good, solid little horse" Agreed, Craig, agreed! We hiked up the hill to the spot where everyone was eating and Josh had brought the truck and our ice chest and Blaze's mash ingredients etc. I'm guilty of being an uptight bitch when I come into lunch checks, there is that time limit and all I care about it getting Blaze fed and watered so Josh is pretty much a very good guy to crew for me and put up with my not-so-charming moments. It will get easier as I get used to it again, get my routine ironed out, and also once I am doing rides (a few I know this year but these same rides again next year) that I am familiar with. Being unfamiliar with the terrain definitely adds a little stress! Oh, and I feed Blaze Bar Ale feeds that I hand mix into a wet mash for him but at the race they had a Bar Ale Distance Plus pelleted feed that was everything I hand mix concentrated into one pelleted feed! And Blaze ate the crap out of it. So I am calling my feed store this morning for them to order me some, luckily they are big Bar Ale customers.
We headed out of the vet check after Blaze majorly tanked up on water (yay yay yay). We had to climb the big hill we had just come down so I walked all the way up. Bonnie, the lady that ran Whiskeytown ride and loved Blaze so much, was riding her palomino on the 50 and left the lunch check at the same time so we chatted a bit on the way up to the hill. Her horse walked faster than Blaze of course so she was soon on out of sight. We trucked along the flats again, I ran down a couple of hills, and then I caught up with 3 other 25 milers and ended up riding with them the last 5 miles to the finish. They were going the same speed I was and it was nice to tuck in with someone else. We jammed down the final hill (yep, definitely like jogging next to B better than riding down them) and as we were coming to the finish other 25 milers started catching us. We fell behind our group for a minute but Blaze broke into a beautiful, collected but ground covering canter across the last big meadow and caught them again. We charged back across the stream we had crossed at the start and power trotted back to camp. Pulsing and vet check were right in camp at the Vet station so I got off Blaze and walked him the last 1/4 mile or so and then pulled his saddle and sponged him the second we got to P& R. A gal check him once and he was a little high but she checked him again about a minute later and he was pulsed down. Blaze had a big drink while we waited for final vet check, then got A's and a couple of B's on the final exam. We ended up finishing 24th out of 31 riders in about 5 hours 45 minutes (including the 1 hr lunch hold, so 4 45 riding). Blaze did so well and as usual got lots of compliments and kinds words on how cute and quiet he is. I sponged him thoroughly, gave him a mash, and put on his polar fleece as soon as the wind started getting nasty. We were going to stay for the awards but we were all packed and loaded at 5 and it was getting worse by the minute so we decided to just check what place I got and split. Oh, we were camped next to some really nice people from Humboldt county that did the Ride & Tie and got their email, they are really cool and can't wait to ride and camp with them again.
All in all, a great time!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Off to the Ride today!

Well I'm up way too early but we leave today around 10 for Cache Creek Ridge Ride. The current forecast is 79 degrees for tomorrow, race day, and cooler Sunday. Considering its supposed to be 87 today, I'll take it! I've got some anxiety about the heat but off we go to do our best!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Bath for Momma D

Not a full bath, as I was holding Sheza on halter and lead rope while hosing mom. We don't really have a safe place to hard tie Sheza. We have two "stalls" (made with pipe) with cross ties. I only hard tie when I am out with the trailer. Its a conundrum! I should call the last owner and ask where she taught them to tie when she was training. Anyway Sheza was very mellow while I hosed mom. Mom stood with legs slightly straddled, breathing with great concentration as if waiting for the hose to eat her. But she didn't jump or do anything silly, just tried to remain calm and by the end of it she seemed fine and didn't mind the squeegee. Filly just sort of stood there and watched what happened. She didn't like the light spray I put on her little hooves! Definitely time to do a first bath soon. She is already so big and strong! Three weeks old tomorrow and she looks like pure muscle!
This was, by the way, the first time I had hosed Desire at all. She arrived in January and it hasn't been nice enough yet. She was very wary of the concrete cross tie area when she arrived, and with only a few exposures to it already tolerates it quite well. Today was really the acid test as I don't know the mare that well! I know her in that I spent every day scratching on her and hanging out with her, but not as a working horse. I was thinking that I may have been the last person to saddle her, back in November in Utah??? Could be...they realized she was pregnant not long after I was there. I dunno..regardless she hasn't been saddled in months and hadn't been bathed. So it was sort of thrilling that she just accepted it and sort made herself remain calm. Especially with little filly just standing there.
I have to admit, I'm nervous about riding her for the first time when its time! Thanks to my leg-breaking incident that moment of swinging up and sitting in the saddle on a new horse now makes me VERY tense. I used to love the challenge but now I have a serious moment of "OH HELL NO." So that is something to think about..maybe I will have Barbara come and at least hang out with me for the first time, talk me into, haha. Ah, to grow up and gain fears.

2 days til the race: Pants, Heat, & Neighbors

I title things like that so I remember to write everything and don't get caught in my own meandering rambling. Okay, distracted already. So. Cache Creek Ridge Ride is this weekend, Saturday May 7th. We leave day after tomorrow, Friday. I think we are a little less than two hours from ride camp. We drove by the Hwy 20 and Hwy 16 intersection last week so I have an idea where it is, which is nice. I am getting a little worried, because its suddenly very warm. We have been training in about 50-65 degree weather and suddenly today its 85. Other than today's little ride and Sunday's speedwork he hasn't worked hard in heat this year, and now its time for 25 miles. So I am going to try to be very, very cautious. He has been eating his super fiber wet mash (rice bran, beet pulp, salt/mineral supplement, handful of sweet grain to entice) morning and night for the last week and a half and seems to have a good appetite and be drinking well. I scrubbed the troughs today and I think he came to drink more often..he really does seem to prefer very fresh water. He looks GREAT! Shiny and muscular. I bought this season's fly masks today and had a little rodeo round up trying to get the mare's on. I tried to put it on her loose in the paddock and she felt it on her ear and took off. I finally haltered her and put it on and she seemed totally okay with it. So who knows. The fuzz on it is this lovely cerulean blue..ooh tack that color would be fabulous! Actually I have a spare bridle I have never used in that color. ANYWAYS. Worried about the heat. We'll see. Got my solar showers and camel pak today..water water water on the brain.
So, that's Heat. Now pants..well. Trying to figure out what I can wear and get away with for riding on hot days. Breeches and half chaps get SO hot. But my skin seems to be very sensitive and my saddle cover is already so worn and crushed its not even soft, its actually kind of rough. I don't know how a soft cover is so hard, but it is. Wish I knew a way to fluff it up or something. But I'm not supposed to wash it. So, first I tried these short bicycle shorts..about one trot circle around the arena and the shorts had rolled up and were just about flashing my yoohoo. Um. No. I tried exercise pants that stop at the knee and that seemed to work, if I wrap vet wrap around the spot on my calves that rub on the bottom of the flap of my saddle, where my half chaps rubbed my saddle cover into hard nothingness. I don't know if I should attempt this for the race. I might REALLY regret it. But its going to be really hot in my full get up. Uggghhhh. I can't decide. I just suck at dealing with heat...though I have noticed that just wiping the sweat off my fore head makes me feel waaay better. I don't know why.
Anyways..neighbors. First of all, my neighbor who is a "horse trainer." Fancy little business cards at the feed store and everything (okay, I know that isn't that hard to do). But seriously, this lady is nuts. Not only does she ride a horse and pony another down the paved roads here (narrow, windy, no shoulder, people drive like lunatics), she TROTS down the paved roads. Now, we know this isn't good for the horses legs in the long run..or at least, that's an educated guess. But I don't know HOW she does it without the horse sliding out and killing them all. Blaze literally slides like he is on ice when he walks downhill on pavement. I cannot imagine trotting down it. Anyways, there are lots of other worse stories of this woman's lunacy but I'm tired and don't feel like relating them. On to the other neighbors: Dead pony in neighbor's field! Its a big pasture with no house alongside it and just a bunch of horses, I'm assuming someone rents the space for the horses. The house across the street, no one was home. But a white pony was dead in the field. I could see its legs sticking out stiffly, there was no way it was sleeping. Very weird! And disturbing.
Okay, that's it for this post...I'm beat.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Evening Walkabout with the Girls

Leading lessons have been going well and I have noticed Sheza sticking her head out the gate more and more often and looking curious about the outside world so I decided this warm, beautiful evening would be the perfect time for a first walkabout outside the paddock on halter and lead rope. First we made some circuits around the paddock with mom just trailing behind, loose. Then we practiced picking up all four hoofs which Sheza did great aside from a couple leg thrusts which are to be expected. I haltered mom as well and we headed out of the paddock. Sheza didn't want to walk through the gateway so we reverted back to the pulling contest for a minute but she decided it wasn't worth it and came through pretty quickly. Mom went straight to mowing the grass as fast as she could which left the filly to check things out. I led them onto the concrete and into the cross tie stalls just to let them check it out. Mom has always been suspicious of the concrete and I figured Sheza should get used to it at an early age. Momma D of course was more wary than the filly! Sheza stepped right onto it like it was nothing. Then we strolled around the yard and the filly had a little sniff stand off with the dogs while mom tried to push in and was running her lips all up and down the filly. It was funny, like she was trying to make herself feel better this was still her little filly despite these new developments. A nice polite walk back to the paddock, everyone stood nicely to be unhaltered. It was a great end to a nice day!

The professional photos from Whiskeytown came!

Almost Race Time Again!

Did a speed workout with ole Blazey today. The loop that goes around the horse camp at Lake Oroville; it has taken me up to 4 hours to do this loop, when riding with a couple other people that are mostly weekend riders and like to meander. Today it took me just over one hour. I trotted and cantered the whole way except walking the first and last half mile or so. It was just over 6.5 miles. Sometimes when I am looking at my time and mileage on my wrist GPS and coming up with averages I can't quite figure how I'm going jam and complete LDs (the only rides with I'm concerned with at the moment) in any time other than the 6 hours. But I know that is just being OCD on my part, before I had the GPS to stare at and be vexed over I top 10'd 30s a couple of times and finished in the middle of the pack as well, so I have already done it multiple times and can again. Whiskeytown was just such a difficult, rocky ride. I am extremely interested in seeing how the trail, time, everything compares to it next weekend at Cache Creek Ridge Ride. Going into races never having done the trail and unfamiliar with terrain is a pretty interesting experience; sure it will be nice to be going back to these rides next year knowing what is in store but its pretty exhilarating to just pack up my gear, little horse, and husband (yay for him!), and head off to ride 25 or 30 miles competitively in an unknown spot! I know it will only get more exciting as I get more rides under my belt. And get to start riding momma D again! And and..well my horse life is just exciting and full of potential right now!