Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Is it Autumn Yet?

That's about how I'm feeling about summer at this point. That is to say, its been a great and productive summer and I've absolutely loved going to an endurance ride each and every month, but I am READY for fall. Sure we haven't had horrendous heat waves or anything particularly dramatic, its just the ready-steady 90+ degrees every single day, on and and on unendingly. My taste of crisp air and sweatshirt weather on the coast really fried me on valley summer, too. I love everything about the fall, the air, the weather, the sweatshirts, the coziness and fires in the woodstove. Fuzzy horses..okay that's not as much my favorite part but they sure look cute especially my tiny Blaze man. He really looks like a little fuzzy toy in his thick winter coat. Oh man here I am dreaming on winter weather as I sit my oven-like house waiting for the sun to go down enough to make being outside tolerable. I'll try to justify my extreme whiny-ness with the fact that my skin is just not made for all this sun. I do pretty well with applying sunscreen every day, a few times a day, and my sun rash has only made an appearance once this summer which is great. My sunburns this summer have also been pretty minimal and for the most part only in small patches where my sunscreen application failed. But at the end of the day I just can't take the beating sun the way my husband can and my natural inclination to be out and about and busy, whether its playing with the horses or just working around the place, is much at odds with my ability to realistically function in the summer heat. So anyway, this is just my long-winded way of saying, is it autumn yet??!! The acorns are falling, the acorns are falling. Sign of an early fall? Sure, I'll believe any old wives tale at this point!
Blaze and I did go for an early morning ridge ride yesterday morning with some good hill sprints and I ran a mile on the way back down. So I don't feel like a total horse-slacker. Tomorrow my *plan* is to ride at the Lake for hopefully at least 10 miles, maybe more if I am ambitious, but to do so I have to drop my husband off at 4 am to meet the fishing boat he is working on to help out a buddy. Then go to the lake and start riding in the dark? Or drive home and pick up the horse and trailer and go back out to the lake. Probably the latter, but it sounds so very early...well we'll see! Tomorrow is supposed to have a high of 87 last I checked so lets just hope that is still the case and there is some truth to that forecast.
Found a barefoot trimmer to call to consult on Desire's feet etc..just have to call her...the heat makes even picking up the phone sound like too much work...good grief. I'll need a wedge of cheese to go with all this whine!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Embarking on the Easyboot Adventure

Desire in her new Easyboot Gloves

Its official, I own my first pair of Easyboot Gloves! This morning was my first time putting them on Desire; her trim is just over two weeks old and not done by a barefoot trimmer, so the fit could have been better but I did get them on and off successfully which was my first triumph. I am considering looking up a barefoot trimmer to look after Desire's feet as opposed to my farrier I am currently using, since I know that the trimming philosophies can be quite different. I have ZERO experience using Easyboots so I'm going to be feeling my way along in the dark on this whole journey but I know I have a wonderful resource in the folks at GETC, where I bought Desire. Christoph Schork, partners with Dian Woodward at GETC, just won the 100 mile National Championship in Easyboots--I'd say you don't get a more knowledgeable resource on Easysboots than that! Anyhow I am glad to see how easy the Gloves are to get on and off and Desire didn't mind my amateurish application of them.
Today is the raffle drawing for a year of free shoeing that my farrier is doing. I have 25 tickets in the raffle and really hope to win! I've decided to keep Blaze in front shoes at least for the foreseeable future since they are working for him and learning with one horse in Easyboots is enough for me for the moment--so come on raffle, lets get a year of free front shoes for Blaze!

Oh and Sheza is 5 months old this week!! Weaning time before we know it!

Sheza, 5 months old this week!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

We're Home!

An endurance ride, first beach ride, week, and 500 miles later Georgia, Blaze, and I are home! It was a great trip made better by getting to camp and ride the endurance ride with old friends, a great FREE boarding spot for Blaze..oh yeah and a new saddle! The Free n' Easy from E came home with me and is now hanging on the main "boss" saddle rack. Its so much lighter than my other saddle! And such a relief that I can continue our conditioning and finish the ride season without any further damage to Blaze's back (he got a small rub spot on each side of his back from the other saddle).
The timing was also good as I was around to help my mom all week after she took a spill in a dusting hole in the chicken yard and had to be on crutches. As of yesterday she said she was off the crutches but she is such a go-getter, I hope she doesn't get too buck wild before she goes to see her foot doctor again Monday. I don't think I mentioned that on Tuesday night on my way home from riding at the beach my right rear horse trailer tire exploded! I have honestly never had a flat tire even on a car, let alone had a tire explode on the trailer while hauling my horse!! Luckily it happened a couple of hundred yards from my parent's driveway so I pulled over and ran in a blind panic to find my step-dad (did I mention this had never happened to me before, LOL). He has seen it all and wasn't very worried, just told me to limp into the yard and back the trailer in front of the shop so it could be repaired. Fortunately my backing skills were feeling up to par and I cranked it right in there the first try, then pulled Blaze out of the trailer and jumped on him bareback and rode him over to his boarding spot next door. I got a new tire and had it mounted on the wheel the next day for $120 (seemed cheap, last time we put tires on our car it was $700 for 4!) then my brother helped me put it back on the trailer that night. It would have been really unfortunate if that all had happened while out on the highway though not the end of the world since my brother was all ready to jump in his truck and come rescue me before he realized it had happened right next to our parent's house. Its nice to have men with every conceivable tool and skill set around, I have to send my husband off for training on that ;) My step-dad and brother are loggers and truck drivers so that all falls into their area of expertise.
Anyhoo we are home to the hot hot heat of August in the valley. I cannot WAIT until fall. My favorite season and such a relief after sweltering for 3 or 4 months. My Sheza filly is bigger than ever, she can barely reach down to nurse and I swear is not much shorter than her mom already!! Please don't turn into a 16 hander, filly!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Successful First Ride at the Beach

The title of this post really says it all but... yesterday evening I loaded up Blaze and took him up to 10 mile beach to meet my good friend and former Ricochet co-worker R for a ride. R boards her horse just up the road from Ricochet so she rode down and met me at my parking spot and we headed out together through the short woods trail, out onto the old logging haul road, and then down onto 10 mile beach itself. Blaze was wonderfully calm as usual and gamely followed R's beautiful bay Arab down onto the sands. As one might expect, riding in the deep sand on a 14 hand horse feels pretty different, folks! Its a whole lot of work for a little fellow like Blaze to slog through that sand but he did wonderfully and even went right down to the waterline and gave the wet sand and bull kelp a hearty sniff. He did the usual horse speed-reverse when the waves came lapping at his toesies but that was the extent of his "wild Arab" reaction to his first beach ride. Hooray for sound minds!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Hills, Fun, & More Hills: Mendocino Magic 2011

disclaimer: my faithful crew-husband didn't come to this ride so the usual fantastic photo evidence is somewhat missing..I did my best but could really use the "shaky hand on moving horse" camera setting!!

Another successful AERC LD ride in the books for Blaze and I. This ride was a different experience for me in a couple of ways. First of all my dearly beloved crew-husband couldn't come along so setting up camp, photos, and looking after myself was all up to me..hey, that last one is more difficult than it sounds! Reminding myself to be calm and eat--these things usually fall under the husbands purview. The other huge difference was that I was essentially back on "home turf" since I grew up in Mendocino and worked for Lari Shea at Ricochet Ridge Ranch for a couple of years; the ride was based at Lari's beautiful sea-side ranch Simcha and held on trails that I used to guide trail rides on when working for her. Since I was going to this race alone it was really nice to know exactly where I was going and have at least a vague notion of the trails (its been about 5 years since I rode there). I didn't remember exactly how steep and non-stop hilly the terrain was but thanks to the cool weather that wasn't too much of an issue. Little Blaze certainly worked his butt off up those hills though!
To begin from the beginning: Blaze, Georgia, and I set off Friday morning and a relatively uneventful, if long, drive over to the coast. It takes 4 hours in a car, took me about 6 hours all told. I had to make a couple of stops along the way (Wal-mart for a new Igloo marine cooler since ours finally gave up the ghost, gas, food supplies etc) but there was also road construction, a car accident on Hwy 20, and just when I was really on edge and ready to get to ride camp already the Skunk Train pulled through Fort Bragg. Hwy 20 between Willits and Fort Bragg was a long slow stretch as well, I don't know how loaded log trucks fly through that stretch so quickly but then they don't have live cargo in the back so that probably helps. I pulled over at least 10 times and reminded myself that Friday is really not the day to be getting to the coast as there is endless traffic. We finally got into ride camp around 2:30 in the afternoon and it was already packed with rigs of all sizes. They had it pretty well organized with signage directing large, medium, and small rigs to go to their respective spots.

Ride Camp

I pulled into the small rig area which was in Lari's large stallion paddock...on a hill. Not that great for those of us looking to set up tents and of course I was having a bit of an anxiety attack about backing my trailer into whatever small hilly spot I ended up choosing. The only flat place I could see for my tent was next to the water trough with a rather abrupt drop in terrain and I thought my trailer hitch might grind on the ground if I backed in so I just pulled in (phew). It wasn't ideal but I thought I could make it work until the guy parked next to me brought his horse back to his porta corral and informed me that the one and only flat spot was his gate in and out of his corral, then proceeded to open the corral panel out and tie his horse half in, half out so that every time I went in and out of my truck I had a horse butt swinging around next to me. I admit I'm kind of a push-over about these things so I figured I would just be sleeping in my truck and screw the tent. Georgia and I headed over to get our ride packet and find out times for everything and luckily enough I found my friend, former schoolmate, former co-worker E who was riding but also being an assistant to the ride managers (who own my mare Desire's full brother Blazunhaat Pico, btw). E is a high energy problem solver and when I told her about my camping situation she swung right into gear trying to figure out how to cram me in next to her rig behind Lari's barn in the "VIP" section. We got the okay from the ride manager for me to pull in and E took pity on my frazzled nerves and backed my truck out of the ghetto hill spot and then backed it in next to her rig. Her gorgeous black Arab/mustang (you would never guess that, he is over 16 hands and built more like a rangy Tennessee Walker w/ an Arab head) was in porta corrals next to her trailer and Blaze got to hang out right next to him when tied to my trailer. There was ample flat space for my tent and I got to camp among friends! Thanks again to E for making my camping experience a much better one with the relocation.

new improved camp site, thanks E

faithful G testing out my mattress inflation skills

I had assumed E would be riding the 50 miler but turns out she was riding one of the ride manager's horses in the 30 on Sunday and her young friend, A, was coming down from Eureka to ride E's horse in the 30 for her first ever endurance ride. Saturday was also going to be extremely crowded with something like 150 riders and a 30, 50, and 75 miler happening. Apparently people showed up without calling or entering the ride and expected to be able to ride so the ride manager was calling around looking for an extra vet, volunteers, etc. I quickly decided switching to Sunday would be much more fun since I could ride with E and A and things would be calmer with much fewer riders that day (I believe there were only 60 or so total riders on Sunday, with a 30 and a 50 happening). E got the go-ahead for me to switch days and got me a new vet card and easy as that we were entered in Sunday's 30 miler. I got camp set up pretty quickly, luckily our tent literally only takes two poles and its up so I survived that situation, though never had great luck inflating the matress with our ghetto little blower machine. Needless to say the husband usually sets up camp...Friday evening E, A, and I took a little ride up the hill to keep the horses loose and then pulled together a mini potluck for us and A's dad from our respective coolers.

Last ride for my Ameri-Flex saddle

E riding Pico, ponying her Sunday ride

I slept surprisingly well Friday night, the thick flannel-lined sleeping bag that is usually my nemesis at inland rides was so incredibly cozy on the chilly foggy coast! The registration table and general center of operations was behind the barn right across from where we were camping so there was some late night commotion and chatting going on but I fell asleep pretty easily and only woke up once when some mystery bird was calling reptitively and obnoxiously from about midnight to 1 am. Eventually that stopped or maybe I just fell asleep through the rest of it and I was still in my cozy sleeping bag at 7 am Saturday! That's unheard of for me as I usually sleep horribly at rides and am ready to give up attempting to sleep around 5 am. I heard the head of volunteers (a lady I used to ride with when I first got into endurance as a teenager and wife of my first-ever farrier) calling out looking for E so she could lead the brigade of vets and volunteers out to the vet check meadow so figured that was my cue to be getting up in a hurry. We were all rousted and dressed in a couple of minutes and packed into E's truck with a couple of vets following behind. The vet check meadow was a spot we often used as a lunch rest for guests when I was a trail guide so once again I was back on familiar territory. E was a vet scribe all morning and I did P&Rs with A manning the official P&R clock. It was pretty funny being on the other side of things, I had never volunteered at an endurance ride before but having ridden at plenty I knew the riders would be taking their P&Rs pretty seriously and we better be on our game. I certainly knew how to take the pulse reading with a stethescope and watch but was a little nervous that I get it all right and do so quickly. I couldn't even find the heartbeat on the first horse (now you're all rolling your eyes but after taking at least 100 pulses on Saturday there were some very very quiet heart beats and some very loud obvious ones) and my heart was in my mouth for a minute as the head-of-the-pack 75 miler rider was standing (im)patiently at his horse's head but I quickly got back on track and got him through and from there things got easier. There was some general math issues when adding the 30 minute hold time to their pulse down time which was pretty funny as well. The pressure of getting the riders through quickly got to all of us at one time or another but overall it went pretty smoothly. It truly was all about confidence, if you swaggered up to a horse and took the pulse authoratatively there were no issues even if it took you a minute (not literally) to get a good pulse reading; it was the more timid, nervous approach to doing it that seemed to irk people. There were a couple of riders who were kind of obnoxious when things didn't go as speedily as they wanted but to them I say without volunteers there is no ride, so take a chill pill or six. There's no big cash prize waiting for you at the finish line and the extra 5 seconds it takes a good hearted volunteer to do some math on your vet card isn't the end of the world. We finished up with all the riders around 11 and headed back to camp to take P&Rs for the 1 hr lunch holds, then around 2 E was being dispatched to break glow sticks for the 75 milers who would be riding after dark. I'm always up for riding some horse somewhere so I got to tag along on the ride manager's fun mare who has 3,000+ race miles. We flew along the 15 mile loop from one glow stick to another and had lots of fun and were back in camp by 5, then it was time to vet in our own horses for Sunday. Blaze gave me a good laugh when we vetted in, he did his best arch-necked, snarl-nosed, fire breathing mini endurance monster trot out and even the vet was chuckling at all that attitude packed into Blaze's 14 hand frame. Blaze's motto is definitely "I am small but I am MIGHTY!" We vetted in with all As and then went to the ride dinner with E so she could eat and put together a used Free n' Easy saddle she had for sale that I wanted to try out on Blaze. I know I know, don't try new gear on rides but I have been having an endless fruitless battle with my saddle the last couple of weeks that ended in the conclusion that one of the panels is broken. I went into this ride with a sort of blind faith that it would work out somehow as I really wasn't keen on using my saddle on him for the race itself since it already put one wear mark on Blaze's back. E was recently in England at the Free n' Easy factory (or whatever one calls it) and built her own saddle from scratch so she tore the used saddle she had apart and custom fit it to Blaze's back Saturday night, bless her heart. I did a test ride in it as it got dark and the panels left perfect even sweat marks on his back. After the saddle fitting E was well and truly beat so she headed to bed and A, A's dad, and I headed to the Purple Rose Mexican restaurant at the edge of town so we could get inside and be warm while we ate. It was very chilly and foggy Saturday evening and the promise of a warm restaurant was too lovely to resist. The food hit the spot and we all headed off to bed as soon as we got back.

evening mash

I got about 2 hours of sleep that night, there was a lot of action at ride manager headquarters into the wee hours of the morning and I started to get a headache around midnight but luckily it was curtailed by a dose of Excedrin I dug out of my first aid kit in the truck. No sleep I can deal with, a migraine on ride morning I cannot deal with. The 30 started at 7 am but I was sick of lying around awake and needed to move my pommel bag and gear onto the Free n' Easy so I was up early messing with all that. I also gave into my longtime desire to bedazzle a horse and painted hearts in green glitter on Blaze's flanks :D They weren't writing numbers on the horses so I figured I would spruce it up back there and we got lots of compliments on the glitter all day. E, A, and I set off from the start a couple minutes after 7 and were at the back of the pack with only two other riders left starting behind us which was fine since it was A's first ride and we were planning to take our time with all the steep hills.

Heading for the start

up the first of many hills

A riding E's gelding

The first loop was the loop E and I had ridden Saturday afternoon breaking glow sticks but that was fine because really, does riding through the Redwoods with views of the ocean ever get old, same loop or not?? The two riders that had been behind us passed us a few miles out as we were winding down some steep narrow single track trail. We were trotting along at a good pace then got to the long downhill where we dismounted to jog down next to our horses. That went well except when A got a little tired and started to fall behind but she rallied and we made it to the bottom of the hill and continued on at a steady pace, trotting and cantering the flats and mostly walking up the hills.

Made it to the bottom of the first long downhill

Great views

We started to pass people about halfway through the first loop and by the time we came into the one hour hold back at ride camp A's dad said we weren't far back in the pack at all. We had pulled bits, loosened girths, and walked down the long hill to ride camp at the bottom and the horses pulsed right through. A and E went to pull their tack at camp but I ditched my tack at the P&R station and went right to the vet where Blaze got all As. His back was looking great and the Free n' Easy was so much lighter and smaller than my giant saddle, it was really nice to be riding in it and not obsessing every second on how his back was doing.

Blaze at lunch hold w/ Free n' Easy on
(slid forward from loose girth walking in)

G waiting for me at camp

E and A got a nasty surprise when they trotted A's mount, E's horse, out for the vet and noticed a big rub mark on the horse's back. It was well back toward his hindquarters and we all thought it couldn't be from the saddle that far back and upon investigation it turned out it was the easyboot stow bag attached to the back of the saddle that had done it! It was really nasty looking and sore but A iced it the whole hour of the hold and then got the re-check and okay from the vets to continue since it was well back from the saddle and without the pack wouldn't be irritated again. E and A were a little behind because of dealing with that so I left the hour hold a bit ahead of them and rode the last 13 mile loop alone. Blaze did really well on his own as usual, we passed five or six horses heading the other way and he trotted right by without batting an eye which was awesome.
Heading out on second loop alone

love the forest trails

He was really huffing and puffing up the steep hills but caught his breath quickly and was back to jogging the downs and trotting the flats in no time. Towards the end of the ride is the Steep Down trail which is, true to its name, an insanely steep downhill stretch. I mean so steep you get off and edge sideways down it so you don't face plant down it instead. Blaze was following me down it gamely but looking at me like I was nuts by the time we got to the bottom.

at the bottom of Steep Down, Blaze hears the other rider coming

Luckily right at that time a gal came down the hill behind us and passed us and that revved Blaze's little engine right up again. We followed her in the last five miles or so and Blaze felt as strong and fresh as he had at the beginning which was great. The gal admired our glitter and was quite friendly and when we really caught up to her in the last half mile we chatted for a minute or two. We came into the finish behind her and turns out she was 1st place on the 50. Yep she was taking first place on the 50 as I was getting 3rd place on the 30--haha! I had a great ride though and Blaze was a true champ to go out on the last loop alone and take those endless steep hills so well. It definitely helped that it was cool and gray all day, I can't imagine doing that ride if it were inland and hot. We had trotted right up to the finish line because I wasn't exactly sure how far away from it we were so it took Blaze a minute or two to pulse down but I pulled his tack right away and he took a couple long drinks and then was down below 60 bpm. The final vet check went well, for whatever reason the vet that checked him was rather secretive about what grades he was giving but when I trotted Blaze out I heard him saying a couple of As and A- s so I assume it went well. Not sure what the point of being secretive was but whatever floats the vet boat! Blaze's back did great in the Free n' Easy and I'm pretty sure it has a home in my tackroom in the future since it fits him so well, is lighter, comfortable, and a great price. What a relief!
E and A came in not long after I finished and said they had a fun last loop as well and there were no more issues with the horse that got the rub from the boot bag. I cleaned up Blaze and packed up camp and headed for my parent's house to get Blaze settled at the boarding spot next door and get myself a hot shower! Oh boy oh boy was that a great shower! My brother came and picked me up and we headed back to ride camp for the dinner and awards which was good fun and great food and we got a nifty foldable water scoop with the ride logo on it for completing. All in all it was a great time, beautiful scenery, great weather, well marked trails, and so nice to be home camping and riding among friends! Tomorrow I am taking Blaze out for an evening ride on the beach with a good friend and former co-worker--it will be Blaze's first time at the ocean (that I know of anyway) so fingers crosses it goes smoothly!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Leaving in the A.M.!

Wow this week really sped past. Suddenly its Thursday night and I am leaving tomorrow morning without my trusty crew-husband! A little nervous about it, to be honest. At least it will be trails I (mostly) know and in my home town so I can always call mommy if I have to, lol. Trying hard to convince my brother to come hang out with me at ride camp on Saturday after the ride, offering my second dinner ticket as a bribe. Brothers love free food, you know! I'll be seeing some folks I know from RRR etc so I'm sure I won't be too much of an outcast, lol. My trusty endurance dog Georgia is coming along too. She will have to snooze in the tent in the sleeping bag while I am off doing the ride--I doubt she'll object to that arrangement, particularly if its cold and foggy in the morning! Speaking of, I am really looking forward to some cooler weather, even fog would be okay for a day or two. I shouldn't even say that, that fog can really stick around and get tiresome. But seriously the heat is starting to wear on me. Right about this time every year I am ready for the relief of fall; was looking wistfully at my fuzzy boots this evening, think I might take them with me to the coast!
I just need to throw my clothes bag and bedding into the truck in the morning, clean up Blaze a bit, and we are good to go!

My Equipedic is Taunting Me...

I was depressed enough that my saddle pad wasn't coming until Monday and then this morning I checked the shipping status (obsessed much?) and it said the Equipedic will be delivered tomorrow "by end of day!" Ah, so close yet so far. I briefly considered waiting for it but then I know the earliest it would come would be noon and its a 4 hour drive at least to the coast. So I just can't. And I know you aren't supposed to try new things at rides anyway but..the saddle thing has me a little vexed. I need a new saddle SO badly, I think we are on the verge of discovering that the panel itself on my saddle is broken, as we get to understand the "mechanics" of it better. Auuughhhh.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Waiting for Easyboot Gloves...

I took Desire out for a birthday ride last evening, ponying Sheza. I was all ready to *finally* have a good ride out through the neighborhood after the girth rubs, fly bites on the belly, thrush, off on the right front..okay NOW we should be cleared to go! Only Desire is very sensitive on the gravel, so we only made it about a half mile out before it was clear it wasn't kind to her to continue, so now we are on hold again waiting for the Easyboot Gloves I ordered for her last night to arrive in the mail. As usual I bought them from GETC in Moab, the place I bought her. They are dealers for all the great tack and horse items they personally use so successfully in the endurance world. Someday I hope to buy a Specialized saddle from them. Anyhow its my first purchase of Easyboots as my primary mode of hoof protection so I am nervous about it and really hope they fit and all goes well. I know that the hoof needs to be freshly trimmed/maintained to fit the boots well, so I guess I better start learning that part or be calling my farrier to clean up her hooves every few weeks..I guess I'll figure all that out when I have boots in hand and know (a little more) what I am dealing with.
Heading out Friday for Mendocino Magic endurance ride, I'll be camping alone this time since I'm staying extra days over there and the crew-husband couldn't be away that long. Hopefully some of my home town friends will come visit me in the evenings at the ride. Trying to get my brother to come camp at least one night with me, especially since I bought an extra dinner ticket that will go unused otherwise. I got the okay to board Blaze at my parent's neighbor's ranch after the ride so I will be able to take Blaze down to the beach for the first time next week! It should be a very fun trip, I'm a little antsy on all the details (going it alone, boarding Blaze at a place where the formerly-crazy guy once locked my horse out of its pasture and shot the windows out of my step-dads boat..) but I'm sure it will all work out.
Now, just waiting for those Easyboot Gloves...oh and I ordered Blaze an Equipedic endurance saddle pad, hoping that will fix some of our back issues since I am having no luck with the panel adjustments..

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Happy Birthday Desire!

Happy 15th birthday to my beautiful momma mare, Blazun Haatdesire. I have only had the privilege to have her in my life since this past January when she arrived from Utah, 8 months pregnant. Now she is the big boss mare on the place with her gorgeous, ever naughty 4 month old filly Sheza Blaznhaat Xpres alongside. I can't wait to get her out on the trails and hopefully get into some endurance rides with her next season!

Some photos of Desire, from arrival to now:

Welcome to your new home Desire!

February, 9 months pregnant

March, 10 months pregnant

April 13th, day before foaling

with Sheza, 1 day old

1 month old

With Sheza, 2 months old

sweet girls

Just the other day, Sheza @ 4 months!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Time for Another Ride Already

My mom and nieces headed home yesterday after 4 fun-filled days of riding, fishing, playing at the river, roller skating, and shopping. It was a great experience for the girls to get to do all the "country" stuff they don't get to do living right in town on the coast (plus my sister is deadly allergic to horses so they never get a chance to be around them). The girls got to ride horses for the first time, catch their first fish, and the youngest had her first roller skating experience as well. I must say I am more impressed than ever with people who choose motherhood, I can't imagine having to deal with the energy level and noise of two little girls (and these are very smart, polite, well behaved little girls) let alone the third child my sister has at home--oh and the 4th is on the way!! I think entertaining kids for a day is more exhausting than any endurance ride! At least for me. My brain goes totally haywire with that much background noise and constant questions. I am a pretty quiet person in general and don't enjoy chaos of any sort so it was definitely an experience for me having them here as well! They really were pretty fun though and it was very cool to see them riding and catching fish.
Yesterday morning I was leaning slightly over Desire's head to put her fly mask over her ears as she was eating breakfast and the filly was being a total spazz and "spooking" around for fun; she managed to spook Desire doing this and D flung up her head and caught me square in the face with the top of her head. My whole face went numb and my lip was bleeding, which was unfortunate since I already kind of had a head ache. Anyway I still feel a little sore and woozy today. I got up early and trailered to the lake today but I only went about 8 miles and wasn't feeling very well so I just made an abbreviated loop and came home. Still glad I got Blaze out on the trail again before Mendocino Magic ride this weekend. I will ride him once more from home Wednesday and then Friday we'll be off again. I have to figure out if I have a place to board him after the race so I can stay in town with family and ride him on the beach for a few days. The place I was going to keep him fell through because the gal's wedding is actually this weekend so its too busy as her place, so I am hoping to be able to put Blaze at my parent's next door neighbor's place for a few days, but I need to call him.
Tomorrow is Desire's birthday, she will be 15!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Since I have a Quiet Moment..

I managed to get up before the visiting family this morning so had to jot a quick entry here acknowledging Sheza as a very clever and obedient girl yesterday. The farrier came out to trim Desire and take a look at her thrush and since he is usually early and catches me unprepared I decided to be on top of the game and catch everyone ahead of time. Sheza haltered nicely and we headed for the dreaded mats. She had a somewhat bratty gleam in her eye but I kept turning her head a little side to side to keep her feet moving so she didn't lock up and go into mule mode which seemed to help. It only took two minutes tops for her to sniff at the mats and then decide the black holes aka mats were indeed safe to walk on without a fight. I was very proud of her and had her walk on and off them a few more times just for good measure. Desire was tap dancing around in her cross ties impatiently but since I pulled them about 40 minutes ahead of time they both had ample time to practice patience and relax at their respective tying spots.
When the farrier arrived he went right to work on Desire and after working on her hooves for a few minutes told me the thrush was well under control and to just keep doing what I'm doing (cleaning, spraying with Vetericyn, though now I also have the Hypozin I ordered from Utah). He also pointed out that Desire's hooves are in the process of adapting to this different, harder ground. That was a total light bulb moment for me; I have never brought a horse home from farther away than about 150 miles, and even then the ground was quite similar, so it didn't even occur to me to remember that Desire came from the deep red sands of Utah and is now on the hard-packed rock-growing ground of California. I had her trimmed 4 weeks ago and since then she had grown these sort of "pads" of hoof material over her soles which I had never seen before. My farrier pointed out that these were essentially calluses, since her hooves were used to softer ground they were adapting and growing more hoof out on the sole to protect themselves, which in turn was sort of "sealing over" whatever manure/junk might be in her hoof. Add heat and you had just enough moisture and compacted material in the hoof to start up some thrush. He trimmed and cleaned up her hooves nicely and I trotted her out for him because she had still been ever so slightly off at the trot. She trotted out well except for one odd step (which could have been coz my flat trot out space was full of awful prickly thistles that were whacking our legs) and the farrier agreed with my thought that the rock that embedded itself in her foot that I had to really pry out could have easily made her tender for a week or so. So, the thrush is getting under control and she trotted out sound, all good things! Now I can (hopefully) really start riding her consistently and ponying Sheza out through the neighborhood! Can't wait :)

first time brushing a horse!

spoiled filly

First horseback ride!

Standing on the mats like a big girl

Friday, August 12, 2011

Blaze the Wonderful

My mom and little nieces are visiting for a few days and last night they got to ride horse for the first time ever! Blaze was wonderful for them to groom and ride around the arena--what a good good boy! More later, busy busy with the family here..

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Well the title says it all after my session with Sheza this evening. I haltered mom first as usual and went back for Sheza who was ready and waiting at the gate and put her nose right in the halter again. It was so great that she haltered immediately two sessions in a row, here's hoping that behavior will stick around for a while though I won't count on it considering what she did after the nice haltering job. I don't remember if I mentioned on here previously that on Saturday I finally bought mats to put in our wash rack because the concrete is very smooth and slippery and I didn't want Sheza hurting herself when she is tap dancing around in there. Well on Sunday evening when she first haltered nicely I led her right over and onto the mats with no hesitation, into her cross ties and no big deal! This evening..not so much. I went out there at 7 pm and it took me until about 8:20 before I got her to walk on those mats again!! It was SO INCREDIBLY FRUSTRATING. I am honestly not a patient person in my every day life so I have to be very aware of that when I am working with Sheza, as these things are all foreign to her and that's fair. I think the major issue I had with it this evening is that she had just walked so blithely onto the mats the other day without batting an eye and suddenly tonight she wouldn't come within a foot of them from the get-go! What IS IT in their little horse brains that makes things acceptable one day and absolutely scary the next? I am lucky to have my steady Blaze who eyeballs rocks and stumps once in a while but is *never* dramatic about things and I am having to breathe deep and seek peace when dealing with the extreme girl drama that is Desire and Sheza. Desire isn't so bad, she reacts to things and snorts and blows but so far still does what she is asked, but Sheza and her amazing staying power when it comes to something she doesn't want to do--well, lets just say I feel like I have a long road of battles ahead of me with this one. I did finally get her on the mats and once there she sniffed them and wasn't too worried about it, then I hosed her down since she was absolutely dripping sweat from the long intense session getting onto the scary black mats...I have to say, I walked away from her a couple of times today so I didn't take out my frustration on her, and I am a little discouraged right now but that's just part of the game I guess. I just really hope that every single thing isn't a battle with her as she grows up, because its exhausting and no fun.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Saddle Ajustment

I think I mentioned in my previous post that the horse masseuse and I pulled apart my saddle yesterday after the session and realized that one panel was flexing loosely and the other was nearly rigid which was causing some wear on Blaze's back. I wanted to ride him this evening so I took a look at it this afternoon; there was a sort of spiral "bolt" for lack of a better word that seemed to control the angle of the panel so I got a pair of channel lock pliers and tried turning it. It screwed back and forth quite easily so I checked where the one on the other side that was flexing easily was sitting, which was nearly all the way screwed in, only one thread showing. I wrestled with the pliers at first but finally got it situated right and got the other bolt screwed in pretty quickly considering I'd never messed with it before. The panel that was causing the rub now flexed equally as freely as the other side. A pretty simple fix really! I rode out up the hill past our gate to the top of the ridge this evening and the saddle felt great! Its hard to explain because while it never felt particularly "un-even" before, now it just feels SO even and centered and I can feel his back muscles under me more. The one rigid panel was canting the saddle up just slightly and I know that wasn't good for either of us. Blaze seemed looser after his massage and we did some good hill gallop sprints. Unfortunately more cars than usual passed us and we got dusted out a couple of times but it was still a great ride. As we were about a mile from our front gate the moon was high in the sky and there was just a little pink light left to see bats flitting around and I think I even saw an owl. Such a wonderful time of night to be riding.
My truck is in the transmission shop getting a new clutch and u-joints so I am stuck at home for a couple more days but I am so glad there are dirt roads to ride out from and we aren't truly stuck riding on the property. My mom is bringing my little nieces over from the coast on Wednesday for the first time. They live in town and haven't had quite all the fun country experiences so I will be giving them riding lessons, or at least little rides, on Blaze and taking them fishing with the husband and all that fun country stuff. Bless Blaze for being such a patient soul that he is off top 10'ing LDs one weekend and teaching little girls to ride the next!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Horse Masseuse Visit and a VERY GOOD FILLY

This morning the equine massage gal came out at 9:30 and worked on Blaze. I had used a horse chiropractor once last year when I thought my then-horse, a big Foxtrotter, was having some back issues. The chiropractor, also a woman interestingly, came from Redding and seemed to do some good for the Foxtrotter but said Blaze was in fine alignment. Of course I can't hold her to her word now, when Blaze and I have been riding farther and harder than ever in the last 4 or 5 months. Anyhow I was interested to see how a massage person worked on a horse versus the chiropractor. I liked her energy around Blaze and he mostly stood quietly though she found a tight spot behind his right shoulder and it took some circling for him to relax into it and relieve the knot finally. She showed me two great stretches for getting him to stretch his back upwards, like a cat stretching after a nap. One point on the sternum and two points rubbed simultaneously on his rump. I tried it lightly on the mare tonight as well and she responded instantly. We also pulled apart my saddle from all its fleecey wrappings and discovered one of the flex panels is flexing loosely while the other is nearly rigid and that rigid side is causing a slight rub/knot on Blaze's back. I'm really not sure how to adjust the panels and I have a sneaking suspicion the saddle may have originally come with the right tool to adjust it..but I have no proof of that as I bought it used. The husband was getting home this afternoon and I got distracted by other things so I will have to really turn my attention on it tomorrow and see if I can get that other panel flexing better.
This afternoon I geared up for the usual filly haltering rodeo but miracles of miracle she came right to me and let me slip the halter on with no hesitation!!! I pulled Desire first and took her to the cross ties as usual but instead of Sheza galloping around madly whinnying she saw me coming and cantered right to me, got haltered, and was out that gate and heading for momma in about 10 seconds flat. It was SO gratifying and fantastic! As a friend pointed out, who knows if she will act the same tomorrow but at least it all finally clicked in her brain again. I know she is very smart and likes to play games too but I swear I saw her little brain say "mom is out there, through the gate..here comes the lady through the gate, I gotta get in that halter and out that gate!" and out we went. She did great being groomed and picked up all her feet--she is really getting ace at that. I didn't spray her off since she didn't run around and get all sweaty for once! I am cleaning and spraying Desire's hooves with Vetericyn every day and hopefully the Hypozin thrush treatment I ordered from her former owner's will arrive soon. It makes me really unhappy having something awry with her hooves and she is still slightly off on the right front at the trot. I think I will call my farrier and have him come take a look at her too. I hate for my horses to be ailing in any way shape or form. And it adds so much more anxiety when its something I have no experience with, like thrush. Well I will just keep at it and figure it out.
My husband just walked by waving a big bag of chocolate left over from the Lake Almanor ride, I hear a Reeses cup calling my name!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Food For Thought...

I just randomly decided to add up the mileage Blaze and I have done in conditioning/LD endurance rides since I started keeping track on this blog in April. In 4 months we have gone 334.6 miles! I have no clue how that compares to other people doing what I'm doing but it sounds like a lot to me and I'm proud of us :)

Ride Results!

Got an email notification that ride results were posted from Lake Almanor (one week turn around on results with 4 different distances, impressive) and I went to check just to see how many people had completed the 25 and turns out we got 3rd rather than 4th as we were told! We barely convinced the gal at the registration table to check our results before we left so I was just grateful for an answer but I guess when the figuring was all done we were 1 place better than reported. Kinda cool! Oh and 13 ppl started the 25 and 12 finished.
Yesterday it only took me 10 minutes and an assist from my fence-line running Shepard mix top catch Sheza. Down quite significantly from the 2 hour long catching attempt just this last Tuesday! I worked on the usual stuff: grooming, lifting feet, fly spray, fly mask on and off, bath with a hose, then decided it was time for some fun so I got out an old saddle pad. She sniffed it quite thoroughly and eye balled me like I was crazy when I was rubbing it on her neck and body but in about a minute she was wearing it calmly and I led her around in it, no big deal.

I'm postponing my usual morning filly chase--I mean filly haltering--til this evening because for the second night in a row I didn't sleep well and once that happens I am essentially a very grumpy zombie. I can feel that my patience level isn't up to par for the filly's antics this morning so I will wait til the cool of the evening. Desire has a slight case of thrush, I re-checked her hooves for rocks yesterday and discovered a small amount of black discoloration and a slight smell. I've never dealt with thrush and was under the impression they only got it in damp messy conditions so my theory is having manure in her hooves and then the extreme heat made a sort of damp nasty condition in there?? I cleaned her hooves thoroughly and sprayed Vetericyn in there yesterday and ordered the thrush-busting Hypozin from the folks I bought her from, they import it and swear by it. Hopefully it will all clear up quickly.
Yesterday I FINALLY got rubber mats for the concrete wash stalls. I've been sortakinda meaning to do it since we moved in (a year and a half ago) because I know its safer but since I was only dealing with adult horses who don't prancey-dance in the cross ties I just didn't do it. Now with Sheza learning to be in cross ties and doing rather a lot of tap dancing on the slick concrete during her bath I decided it was definitely time so we got 4 mats at the feed store and put 2 in each stall. I set them up yesterday afternoon so haven't tried it out yet but I'm sure it will be better and safer. I was actually always surprised the horse trainer we bought the property from didn't have them in since the concrete in there is completely slick and smooth, but who knows.
The masseuse/body work person is coming tomorrow morning to work on Blaze so that should be interesting. Maybe they can work on my sore body too, lol. My gung-ho free weights and running sessions yesterday felt great at the time but I am definitely feeling it all this morning.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Slightly Less Naughty Filly Goes on Walk-About

This morning saw another attempt at catching little miss Sheza filly. It was a cooler morning and today is only forecast to get to 88 so it was as good a time as any. Sheza decided to play catch-me-not yet again so I had to recruit the husband to help tire her out and make me and the halter area the quiet happy place again. It only took us 20 minutes this time instead of 2 hours so I guess that's an improvement. I really can't wait til she gets back to stuffing her head in the halter like her mom always does. Desire is a horse who truly sticks her head INTO the halter and says "take me with you!" Even Blaze is more like okay, yeah, catch me, whatever. And if he is out in pasture with one or more horses he will absolutely run to the far end of the field like a punk. His herd stallion tendencies come out in that situation which is why I prefer to keep him next to but separated from the other horses.
Anyhow I finally caught Sheza and had to pull stickers out of all her legs because she dashes around through the remaining thistles in the field like a nutcase during the haltering extravaganzas and ends up looking like a porcupine so I always clean her legs and cold hose them afterwards. Desire wore my flex panel saddle and her beta breastcollar and bridle today for the first time (I had been riding her in my western saddle because she is still so plump) and I put the new mohair girth on her as well. She looks downright dandy in the fully endurance set up, despite her momma belly. After some quick lunging and ponying practice in the arena I decided to head out on the road through the neighborhood for the first time. I have been holding off doing it because I didn't feel it was safe or wise to head out my first time alone but I just don't have anyone to help me and waiting around for my husband to decided to want to ride/help is rather a losing enterprise. I have been riding the mare and ponying the filly enough that I was as comfortable with it as I was going to get and I am also sick of ponying the filly around the arena and want to expand her horizons so I decided to just go for it. Sheza did quite well, she walked/trotted alongside us and was very interested in all the new sights. She does a little dance/spazz whenever car goes by but its not unmanageable from the saddle and I'm sure she will get over it with more exposure. Unfortunately Desire was slightly off in her front right so I didn't go very far at all but at least I took that first step out the gate and I can't wait to do it again. I dug a rock out of Desire's hoof that was well wedged in there and I think that's why she was slightly sore on that hoof on the gravel road. I will be keeping an eye on that but I'm fairly certain it was just the rock. We were only out in the neighborhood for maybe 10 minutes, got passed by four cars and made it home again safely so it was a good start for all involved I think. Once Desire is comfortable on that hoof again (hopefully like..tomorrow?!) we will start adventuring farther.
I am working on giving Sheza baths with the hose and she is slowly getting accustomed to it. She's so funny because her first reaction to thing is white-of-her-eyes "terror" but after about 10 seconds she just gives in and is over it. This happened again today with the hose: I hose off Desire (who has hose-fear in her family line according to her previous owners and tolerates baths but is always suspicious of said hose) and then move to the baby, starting by just spraying the ground in front of her to let her see and hear it. She snorts and tries to move away, then quiets. I start spraying her hooves and lower legs and she prancey dances and snorts and acts like she's melting, then quiets. I started moving up to her chest and she has a total filly tantrum like I'm trying to kill her for about 20 seconds, then heaves a sigh and stands quietly as I hose the rest of her body off. LOL. The drama, the drama! I had to find her discarded fly mask in the field this morning and pull about a hundred stickers out of the fuzzy parts and then stuck it back on her after her bath, gave everybody carrots and turned them back out. Whenever I put Desire and Sheza away Sheza goes to the milk bar like she just crossed a desert and has never seen anything so beautiful. She absolutely guzzles the milk and usually has it pouring on the ground and down her chin. Our 14 foot tall corn is now ripe and super delicious and they both enjoyed eating the husks off an ear I pulled; Sheza still has little teeth so she was eating the corn off the ear sideways like a person does, it was hilarious.
So another mostly successful filly session in the books. I can't wait til the day I sit down at the computer and type "Today I walked up to Sheza and haltered her with no issue." LOL!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Very Naughty Filly

Yesterday morning around 10 I got it into my head that I would go halter the filly and get her fly mask on for her first turn out with it on. I had gotten her used to it previously and she wore it in her grooming sessions but I knew she wouldn't let me just sling it on her in the pasture like the adults do. Unfortunately my "quick haltering" idea turned in a TWO HOUR LONG BATTLE. Or GAME, I should say. Sheza was clearly having a great time. She is a serious character and so full of herself. She would stick her nose in the halter but as soon as I tried to pull the crown piece over behind her ears she would squirt away from me. I removed mom and had her tied just outside the gate so the filly's focal point was fully on me, the gate, mom since they are in a big pasture and I wasn't going to just chase her around and around in circles in there. In the end that was the only thing that worked: any time she turned from me and didn't want to be haltered she had to run run run and the only quiet resting place was next to me with the halter. Once we started that method she was haltered in about five minutes. This being my first foal experience I am feeling my way along and figuring out what works with foals and Sheza in particular. The good news is she wore her fly mask out in pasture yesterday and the mask makes a great "handle" on her head so I think haltering her may just be a lot easier with that on! She is always friendly and curious and walks right up to anyone who approaches but she just has to remind us all that she is a precious, wild, untamed filly once in a while!

Naughty princess in her fly mask