Thursday, August 30, 2012

Solo Joy Ride & Back Adjustment, Arabian Style

Desire doesn't roll very often and I've been riding her so much lately that she's getting lots of baths and fly spray with coat conditioner in it applied liberally. On her down time, she's been pretty "white" and snazzy looking lately! Apparently she feels the need to compensate and muss herself up the only way she can--mane, tail, and forelock constantly full of stickers. Like, she pretty much must itch her head and butt in sticker bushes to get as many as she does, as often as she does:

a mild case of Sticker Forelock..sometimes it's a solid horn

I had a pointless 80 mile journey yesterday and schedule kerfluffle, and this morning was suddenly open and agenda-less. I knew just what to do. Into the trailer went Desire and away we went for some solo miles at the lake.
 I hadn't bothered to check the forecast but was hoping/assuming it would be in the mid to high 80s like the last few days. Once out on the trail I quickly discovered it was feeling much more like 90, or even higher. I was really glad I had frozen my water bottles and brought my Cool Medics vest, though I hadn't thought I would really need it. I submerged and "charged" the vest at the first water trough a mile out on the trail and we headed off up to the ridge and over down the other side of the dam.

Berries are getting ripe...Desire had carrot bites and I sampled some berries
 We ended up riding the same mileage as on Monday, 16.5 miles, but from the opposite end of the trails. We didn't do Sycamore Hill but we did descend and ascend the dam, which is a significant grade, and we worked the trails almost a full hour faster than we did on Monday. Desire grazed and drank and pooped a bunch and I knew she needed to pee again but she held it until back at the trailer for the second ride in a row. She used to pee indiscriminately but I guess my rides are consistent and/or short enough that she thinks she can just hold it til we get back to the trailer. These last two longer rides she has stopped a lot but wouldn't stretch out and pee, even when I dismounted. And then peed a ton back at the trailer both times. Silly mare. I guess I need to ride longer at a time so she has no choice but to get back in the trail-peeing habit?

Tanking up at the Visitor's Center after climbing the dam
 My boots stayed on wonderfully today, I didn't touch a one. We crossed water and some mucky spots and climbed hills and moved out,even cantering a couple straightaways. I am still getting used to how much louder the Renegades are than Easyboots, they really slap along especially with Desire's decisive gait. They are funny to listen to both on and off the horse. I've been walking all the downhills with Desire lately and I did some extra footwork today just to burn some calories so I probably got about 3 miles on foot in there.

Boots Post ride
 It was about 95 degrees by the time we were heading back to the trailer, pretty warm after enjoying a few days in the 80s. My back adjustment, Arabian style, came within about a mile of the trailer, headed back. We trotted up the last hill nice and loose and then right at the top Desire saw a rock in the bushes on her left, slammed on the brakes and jumped about 5 feet to the right, all in one go. Back, consider yourself adjusted! Or un-adjusted, as the case may be.

Back at the trailer Desire had a long pee and was lazily eating hay and the rest of the carrots I had packed, but was pretty much sleepy and tuckered out.
She was even quiet in the cross ties at home but of course gave the hose it's usual heavy eyeballing. About a 1/3 of her breakfast hay was left and she dove right in while I fended off the mini and filly with carrot bites.

I think I'll give Desire the weekend off, we cranked out about 50 miles in the last 9 days and there was some serious hill work in there, too. Time to get Blaze and Joey out!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Arab Tribe on the Trail

3 very different examples of the Arabian breed hit the trails together this fine morning. Here's Launi, a CMK gelding bred, raised, and trained by his rider, my trimmer and friend, D. 

How did I get up here? She wonders   ;-)

Then there's Willow, N's fine boned, major blonde of an Arabian mare. She's a lovely sprite of a thing but a bit of a space case--though also known for very business-like, strong performances at actual rides.

With my shadow, all 3 of us are in the pic

 Then there's Desire, and we all know what she looks like. She falls in between, certainly built more stout than Willow but nowhere near Launi's height or mass. She was *very* business-like this morning, leading the way and tackling Sycamore Hill with her usual steady dog-trot. She really is getting good at hills, after not having the wind for it at all when I started riding her last fall. The giant hill in the Wildlife area we've been riding is a doozy for conditioning, N and Willow are going to trailer over to have a go at it soon.

We braved the Lakeland end of the trails today, a spot I haven't parked at since my truck was broken into there over a year ago. The trail head is down a few narrows roads and through a sketchy neighborhood, so leaving your vehicle out there for hours isn't ideal. D still rides there quite often and on her assurance that there was a regular Monday hiker/visitor there in the a.m. to keep an eye on the vehicles, N and I joined her at our favorite end of the trails.

Fall is in the air, the weather is perfect, can we ride all day??

Here comes the brigade

Willow star gazing

Desire and Willow are in mare-love. Here they are commiserating at the top of Sycamore Hill

After a few miles D had some old Easyboots disintegrate on Launi's hinds so she branched off and headed back for the Hill and the trailers, while N and I continued up the dam and to the Visitor Center, a nice turning around point as it's always shady and there's a sparkling clean water trough there. A friendly couple taking a break from their hike asked about the hoof boots and then took a photo of us with my camera. Miraculously, it was in focus and we all look pretty good!
16.5 miles, my highest mileage in the Renegades to date, and didn't have a single issue. Last night I replaced a few straps and tightened the cables on both hind boots as I had just been using them as they came and my studies suggested they needed tweaking for an ideal fit. They stay on great anyway but if I never have to screw with a boot again I'll be happy, so I wanted to give them every opportunity to perform correctly.The boots stayed on great today, they were filthy and covered in stickers at the end but all stayed put, no rubs, and came clean with a high power dose of hose. Happy redhead!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Seasons Turning

Fall is coming. I can feel it in my bones. My first 10 years were spent in Maine, experiencing the grandeur of a true New England autumn, and it remains my favorite season. Today's high was 88 degrees. I'm wearing a polar fleece tonight for the first time since spring! Another high in the 80s tomorrow. After 100+ 88 degrees feels like crisp fall air. I can't wait :-)

A surprise lurking behind the planter bed:

80 lb Lax mix, Tady, is hidden behind a big melon!

This six-toed cat, Paws to you, has been with my husband since before I met him. He is a very talkative, opinionated sort. 

Some dogs play with sticks. Our dog, Catahoula mix, Jay, collects firewood:

The pomegranates are starting to blush

One of our sunflowers, looking down on me

Saturday, August 25, 2012

900 Miles and a Hill

As of today I am at 900.5 miles (including training and endurance rides, mind you)-- ridden since the 2012 AERC ride season season started December 1st, 2011. I've been participating in the Big Bad Blogger's Distance Race, and by entering my rides on that blog each time, I've been able to track my cumulative miles ridden on Desire, Blaze, and Chief. Not many of the original entries in the Blog Race have stuck with adding their miles in, but as with my feelings in endurance, my competition is myself and I am proud to have ridden farther and longer on more horses than I ever have before. By the way, 500 of those miles were conditioning miles on Desire! She's a tough old bird ;-)

Here's my mileage page, if anyone is curious and doesn't want to scroll through:

As for the hill, C and Sonny met Desire and I at the nearby Wildlife Area and tackled the big hill. Both horses did really well and there was a pleasant breeze to take the edge off of the heat. 

C and Sonny at the lovely natural water crossing

Off to the County Fair this evening..carnie games and fried dough and all that! Last year I had a cool glittery green t-shirt with "Blaze 21" and a horse shoe on the back made at one of those air brushing shirt booths...I might have to get a cool glittery blue/wine shirt with "Desire" on it this time...

Friday, August 24, 2012

Miles (and water) for Joey

I ponied Joey down to the creek crossing by the Wildlife Area this morning. It was about 7 miles round trip and Joey was tired by the end of it! Probably mentally as well physically. He was a very good boy but there was *so much to see* plus when in his life has Joey ever gone 7 miles? Blaze was a very tolerant pony master (kitted out in size 2 Renegades in the front), though was spookier than normal which is just typical--when you want them to be their calmest they act silly. I got a little worried after a giant road-filling dump truck came roaring at us on a narrower stretch of road that hasn't hosted a car in the last half dozen times I've ridden it, but fortunately after that it was all pretty mellow.

Blaze and Joey meet the Donkey

Rocking the pink and hearts

 So much to look at and listen to

Green grass by the creek, yes please!

Joey's first water time, let's see what he does..

..not much! He marched right in and started drinking. Good boy, Joey.

Let's go deeper!

 This is fun!

 On the ride home Blaze had his Barn Walk on, about twice the speed of his Leaving Barn Walk, and Joey was getting tired. I hate to ever slow Blaze at a brisk walk as it so rarely happens, but Joey would only walk so fast and my arm only stretched so far. Still, we managed, and here is a plum tuckered Joey and a itchy as usual Blaze:
Ponying makes riding alone much more interesting and Joey is proving himself to be quite a sensible boy!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Renegade Clumsy Test

Yeah, I said it. Chief is a lovely and talented young guy but BOY, he is clumsy. Having survived Desire's torque and power both dry and wet, the other good test I could throw at the Renegades was Clumsy. I mean stumbling, graceless, dorky gelding clumsy. 

Aww but he's so cute-- Chief trying on some orange shoes!

"Ah shit, when the redhead shows up I gotta WORK"

Just so you know, when I met J she rode western with leather tack, cowboy/work boots, jeans, and no helmet. Do you think Redheaded Endurance rubbed off a little??? LOVE YA, J!

Imitating a horse, I think?

Up the hill we go

A coyote was stalking a baby deer who was lying in the shade of  a tree, across the valley. We rode right through the middle of nature's drama

 Chief channeling his Arab side--pretty ears!

Sedona loves the water--she will veer off the trail to head for it. Still learning to drink but loves to wade!

 Imitating..well, probably a horse again..

 Up and away! I didn't touch the reins on the way home, Chief just turbo-walked his little butt right across the creek, up the hill, and to the trailer! Fooooodddddd

 Trailer in sight, ears up!

Renegade Clumsy test results? I did indeed have a boot twist today, and a boot come off. Here's why: Chief is transitioning to barefoot after years of being shod in the front. His front hooves aren't in great shape right now, in fact they are kind of a hot mess. He has had one trim cycle with my trimmer, D, but it's going to take months for him to grow out healthy, barefoot hooves. There is some significant chipping on his fronts and he has a nasty hoof wall crack/flare that I almost couldn't get a boot over today. My rasp wasn't in my boot bucket as I thought so I had to fit a technically too-big size 1 over the cracked hoof, and a size 0, which actually fit, onto his other front hoof. The boot twist and loss came, predictably, on the size 1 boot, which ideally would have been a 0. I was still pretty impressed with the boots, we rode 10 hilly miles with multiple water crossings and the only boot loss came while charging up a steep hill after water, so pretty much the hardest situation for boot retention.

J's mare Sedona has been getting rubs from the Easyboot Epic gaiters, we corrected most of that today with copious amounts of baby powder on the gaiters and slicking down her legs. But seeing me slide on and Velcro the Renegades after powdering, slicking, banging, levering, strapping, locking, and finally pinning on her own front boots--well let's just say there might be a Dragon Fire Red order being placed in the near future. ;-) Speaking of, I passed on my snazzy red breast collar, the first endurance breast collar I ever bought (7 years ago) to Sedona. It's still in great shape and looks great with the red and blue she already has.

Just about a month until Chief and Sedona's endurance debut at Chamberlain Creek!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Renegade Water Test

I rode Desire to the Wildlife Area so I could cross water and really put the Renegades to the test. Of course that meant crossing the bee-filled boundary gates, so this time I brought along a little back up:

Cheers, bees!

See the same 2 youngsters and their mom at the same spot every early ride

 Early a.m. in the Wildlife Area

Pretty Desire

Legit water crossing, boots submerged!

After power trotting away from the water, cantering and powering up a long, steep hill, and descending: ALL FOUR BOOTS! 
 Something else rather important, and interesting, I forgot to mention about Desire's performance in the Renegades. Where in Easyboots she has always forged, sometimes constantly, clock clock clock clock, so bad we rasped and gave the boots a roll to try to help the break over, as we've worked on her break over of course...well anyway in the Renegades, she forges *rarely,* in fact only occasionally uphill. A Renegade friend mentioned noticing that the Easyboot gaiter affected her horses break over and action, which came to mind when I noticed this in Desire. Interesting.

D looking cool as a cucumber after some hillwork.