Sunday, October 3, 2010

Busy weekend

Nothing really exciting happened til Thursday, when I picked up our two baby Nigerian goats. They are ridiculously cute. They had nice normal human names, but I have taken to calling the larger one The Former Queen of Nigeria and the smaller one The Humble Christian Missionary.

The Former Queen of Nigeria

Former Queen and The Christian Missionary

We left them in the most useful piece of farm equipment, the large dog crate, til Friday afternoon. I set them free Friday afternoon and they promptly ran through my fence. I lured the Queen to me with the most useful animal treats, Frosted Mini-Wheats, and stuck her back in the crate. The Missionary ran in the crate on her own after that, and I shrugged and went off to get ready for the Comstock ride on Saturday.

Mel and ~C came over - C for dinner, and Mel to spend the night before Comstock. Mel and I rode over and vetted in, then rode back to the house and got the mares settled in.

My awesome husband fixed dinner (fajitas) while we horse nerds talked nonstop all night. It went very well - Mel is as cool as I thought she'd be, and of course I know C rocks.

I think my weird cat spent all night staring at Mel. Fortunately she also has a weird cat that likes to stare, so she wasn't too creeped out.

Our rides Saturday went quite well. I opted to do the LD, and I'm pretty glad I did - it was HOT, not very windy, and not at all a short ride. Mel said it wasn't an easy ride - I have so little experience that I can't judge. I mean, it's where I train, but it's no TEVIS or anything.

I rode over in the morning with Mel, then after the 50s were well gone I got on and slowly worked Dixie down til I totally had her attention. We had our best start yet. I am beginning to figure out how to pace at a ride, and our first loop (15 miles, mostly good hard sand with a couple of great hills) was really steady. And I fell in with some awesome people! It makes me so sad when I hear about new riders who deal with jerks, especially jerks on LDs. Everybody I rode with just wanted to ride a wonderful horse all morning and finish the miles.

The first loop went way up the valley to the north, then off into the west hills (toward my house). We went up and down a bit - a couple of the downs were breathtaking. Dixie just tucked her legs and inched/slid down the hills. I have a hard time believing this is the same horse I bought three years ago. Surefooted, confident, GREAT down hills.

When we got back to camp for the hour hold, I let Dixie start eating before she pulsed down. I had to drag her off the hay and sponge her good to get her to pulse down. She has completely forgotten how to trot out and had to be chased by the vet scribe (B's for attitude and impulsion), and her gut sounds weren't great (C), but otherwise she was good to go. She didn't start drinking til we got back to camp, and she was tucking in to her hay like no tomorrow, so I wasn't too worried about her. I did my usual halfhearted attempt at taking care of myself and watched her eat til our time was up.

We'd pulsed down late, so I was afraid I'd lose my friends after the check. But the French Lady on the Friesan had come in just behind me, so I started out with her, and we caught right up to The Two From Tahoe - they'd futzed around and started late after the check. I was SO glad to have buddies - Dixie was very unenthusiastic about heading out again in the wrong direction in the middle of the day, and I was pretty sure she had enough gas but I didn't want to go it alone.

We headed off north up the valley again, then turned east into the hills. I knew this was going to be the rocky loop, and I really did think about putting boots on her... but I knew we could finish fine if we just went slow over the rocks and made time on the flats. Lucky for me, the Lady from Tahoe on the Khemosabe son also wanted to go slow through the rocks. She's in her first year of endurance, on a stunning 20 yo grey gelding. She had a junior with her, a new rider on a really firey bay mare who wanted to kick our teeth in. (Yes, ribbons in the tail, and they warned everybody well in advance - no complaints from me!) Anyway, the junior went off a bit ahead with the French lady and I picked my way through the rocks chatting with my new friend. Dixie was hot and tired and uninspired, but she was SOUND on hardpacked DG studded with jagged tennis ball sized rocks. In retrospect, it was rockier than I remembered. Barefoot did seem like a good idea at the time, and it worked out fine, but not my best idea.

We came upon a bunch of dudes who'd somehow driven to the top of the hills and were drinking beer and target shooting, and a few more guys unloading their dirt bikes. And the frontrunner for the 50 passed us - it was that woman who rode John Crandall's other horse at Tevis! She really seems nice. (And I swear to god, I think I saw her in Whole Foods today - does she live in the area??)

Eventually, after slogging through the horrible rocky hills forever, we came down onto the flat near the model airplane airport. The Friesan and the junior were waiting for us, and everybody tanked up at the water. Then... well... it was a beautiful day, with beautiful flat trails to fly down to the finish, and, uh, we all kind of cantered in. For about 4 miles, to the finish line, a mile from camp. Not because we're competitive, but because we're DUMB. Then the four of us had to frantically splash handfuls of water on our horses and try to get them to pulse down in 30 minutes, BEFORE we could go back to camp, strip tack, sponge, or relax. That was no fun at all.

The firey bay mare pulsed down first, then the black tank of a Friesan, then the 20 yo gelding, then, eventually, Dixie. It probably took 20 minutes to get her down. I am really not thrilled about her cardio recovery. Even though it was hot as hell, she should ideally recover much better. How do I train to improve this?

My new friends all waited for Dixie to pulse, which was just a really sweet move on their parts. Eventually we all walked in together, then waited for the 50s to vet out, then vetted and got our completions. We stayed at B's for attitude and impulsion (oddly, her trot-out hadn't improved at all, roll eyes) and got A's for everything else. Dixie's feet looked picture perfect amazing. I think there was only one rider in front of my group, so I think I came in 5th, but no big deal. Our total time was around 5:30, so ride time was just under 4 hours - just over 6 mph, which seems like a good average. I won't have better stats til they upload the results to AERC, because my GPS was out of battery. Sigh.

My husband came and picked up my Box of Crew Junk and bought the ride pics while I was waiting in the vet line. Somehow I got the damn saddle back on the damn horse one more time and rode home. Dixie didn't want to leave camp, the Land of Alfalfa and Carrots, but when she realized we were going home she was willing enough.

I am really looking forward to Lake Almanor. It'll be a 35, somewhere different, and if my companions from Comstock make it, I'll be in very good company. I am not going to compete at Lemmon Valley til Moonshine next year - I think it's not doing her any favors to keep riding at races where we train. I need to figure out a workable plan to get her recoveries down for next year. One of my feet went numb and I never could get balanced perfectly to keep it from happening - I need to figure out what's happening there and fix it. And by the time we galloped to the finish, I was so tired I kept my free hand on the saddle like a total noob. But the hills weren't too hard for me to ride, and I didn't get the knots in my shoulders. I am pretty happy with my gear.

Check back tomorrow for More Mel and Nigerian Prisoner updates.


  1. Love the new goats - they're darling.

    Your ride sounds like a lot of fun.

  2. Sounds like you had a good overall experience on the ride--and a successful completion. Hurray!

    Every since we inherited three goats when we took over caretaking a dude ranch in Montana, my opinion has been that goats are incredibly cute, and totally worthless!

  3. Woo hoo! Another good finish under your belts :)

    My personal misery is a cramp in the muscle over my right kidney which makes me I gonna make it? Everytime I ride over 20 miles it happens and is agony. My right foot also goes numb so if you figure that out, let me know.

    Phebes has slow recovery at the checks and it is not because shes over ridden, it is because she is freaked about all the horses and activity. I usually hand walk her in the last 1/2 mile, it feels good to get off by then, and we are walking anyway so that helps her overall recovery as she is below criteria UNTIL SHE SEE'S RIDE CAMP. ~E.G.

  4. Good for you, I am inpressed that you take on these challenges and do well.
    The goats are adorable. We have a goat at our barn. He's huge, chubby that is, from everyone feeding him goodies. I should get a pic of him and post it sometime.

  5. Congrads on a fun, fabulous ride! It sounds like you and Dixie had a great time. Did you take any pictures during the ride that you can share?

  6. Wow, I'm really impressed with your ride. You and Dixie are tough cookies! Glad you made some new friends, although I'm having trouble picturing a Friesian doing endurance, only because of the body mass, and being black can't help with the heat.

    The goats are adorable.

  7. Funder: sometimes a "hanging" heartrate is a result of cooling issues rather than fitness issues, especially in the more bulky-muscled gaited horses.

    Try dumping/scraping water on your horse every 15-20 minutes as you ride (I carry water bottles for this express purpose, and refill them in puddles and tanks along the way). (um, the "swamp bottles" are a different color than the bottles I drink from, just so you know). I make it a point to empty the last bottle of water on my horse as we walk into the vet check.

    Endurance G: I sometimes get a cramp above MY kidney as well--my chiropractor identified it as a POSTURE problem. When the spot hurts, put that arm behind your back and grab the opposite-side elbow if you can. If you and I have the same problem, the "cramp" will disappear! I rode 30 miles at the Klickitat ride this summer with my hand behind my back--looks odd, but it works!

  8. Man, I love the goats. I would like to breed them to have delicious goat's milk to drink (it really is delicious, and when it's super fresh it tastes exactly like cow's milk), but if not, they're entertaining anyway. God knows everything else around here is useless yet entertaining!

    jenj, I took absolutely no pictures. I am pretty terrible about taking pics during a ride. I am doing good to follow ribbons and not fall off ;)

    EG, the foot thing has to be a balance issue for me. Whenever one foot goes numb, I also feel slightly off-balance and I can't get situated right. Very frustrating :(

    Aarene, bringing water bottles is a good idea! People in the desert don't sponge much, because it took a lot of effort for RM to get the troughs out on the trail, but nobody would mind if I filled up bottles and squirted her.

    Next ride I will definitely get a picture of the Friesan. He's amazing, and he is an unstoppable LSD machine on the trail.


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