Sunday, February 28, 2010

Bliss, EEEEEK, bliss

Man, today was just amazingly nice. After yesterday's rainy windy blah, today was warm and sunny with calm winds. The high was near 60! For some reason, I thought that Rides of March was two weekends away - it's actually 3 weeks off. Anyway, I figured I should do half the race distance today, then do hill work or short rides until maybe 4 days before the ride, then let Dixie rest up. (Is that a good plan? I only ride every other day or every two days, to give her recovery time.) So today's plan was 15 miles, as fast as possible, hopefully in 3 hours.

First, I had to clean my nasty nasty sheddy beast.

I sort of faux cross tied her and set to work. She pinned her ears the whole time, but she stood like a rock while I got her mostly cleaned up. (Look how long her mane is getting! She's such a My Little Pony.)

Dixie never pawed until I started futzing around with the saddle. She seems unhappily resigned to her fate when I'm just brushing her, and ready to GO already when I start tacking up. I am taking this as a good sign that she's happy with her work.

We did part of the mines, all of Palomino Valley, and part of the canyon. We managed 13.51 miles in 3:05, which is 4.4 mph. Garmin. It was pretty hilly, though - 1,925 feet of elevation gain! I am very pleased with how well she moves out even when she doesn't want to. That's a "both of us" accomplishment - I have raised my expectations for her, and stuck to them, and she's lived up to them. She doesn't dawdle along like a WP QH - she walks out when I tell her to walk.

I took Cersei, of course. Remember how I've been turning around halfway down the Palomino Valley roads, because of the pit bulls? Yeah, they were loose today. They are the stupidest-looking backyard bred "tough" pit bulls I've ever seen in person. Anyway, these two clowndogs came running up to us right as I noticed a pack of dirt bikes and quads tearing down the hill in front of us at about 40 mph. I briefly considered that maybe I was going to die, then I gathered up my (PURPLE!) reins and rode it out. The dogs came charging up, I yelled "GO HOME!", Cersei thought about circling around to sniff one, I started calling her back, and the bikes went ROARING by. One of the pits had to go chase the bikes and Dixie leapt and spun and I lost a stirrup. I jammed my foot back in quick as anything, calmed my horse, checked to make sure my dog was ok, and decided it was time to walk. Dixie was a snorting retard for about half a mile, then she calmed down. I snapped the reins back on the bit and she started pawing for me to get back on her already. Awww :)

We trotted a bit and step-paced a bit down the last flat stretch, then very slowly climbed a very large hill. It looks like it was about 800' of ascent in a mile and a half. A 10% grade, if I'm figuring it right? Pretty steep, regardless. Dixie was only managing about 3 mph, but she was very game. Good heart in that mare. We found a few clumps of fresh green grass on the way up, and those perked her up considerably. Found a clean puddle at 7 or 8 miles, but she didn't want a drink.

On the downhill side, the road was sloppy sandy mud, and I just wasn't comfortable letting her trot or gait down that steep slope on that slick footing, so I insisted she walk. But Dixie had figured out that she was close to home - she'd turned the "magic corner" - and she really stretched out and rolled down that hill at 5 to 5.5 mph. It was awesome! Then once we hit flat ground again, she took off in a beautiful easy step pace. A little taste of the future, I hope - I could ride that walk and that pace for 50 miles, sure!

The PV loop is only 10 miles, so I thought I'd finish off with the Canyon trail - it's about 6 miles out-and-back. We headed down the hill to the canyon and made it a couple miles down the trail before I executed a strategic withdrawal. The canyon trail is very pretty, but it's hard to make any time. You'll get 50 feet of good trail then a small section of rocks, then maybe another 20 feet, then more rocks. They're not pointy gravel rocks - either big rounded river rocks or big broken up river rocks. Slippy or jagged. I wouldn't ask any horse to trot/gait over them without boots or shoes and pads. It's just asking for a slip and a pulled tendon, or a bad footfall and a stone bruise. Not worth it.

I got some leads on extra trail, though. The big hill is crisscrossed with jeep trails of varying quality, and I took a couple short doglegs down a few nice looking trails, just to get them marked on the GPS. None of them look like they're actually driveways, so maybe we'll go explore around there this week. And I found an offshoot mini-canyon off of the big canyon - the sat photos look like it's a couple miles of trail. I will have to go out there with S and Summer - she'll really like that.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Spring fever

I went out Friday and had a ride on my crazy mare. It was very windy - a storm front was blowing in - and Dixie has come into that first raging spring heat. She had completely forgotten all of her ground manners - she kept trying to run over me as I groomed her, and she tried to yank her feet away. The first mile had a lot of stopping to stare and hope a stallion came charging out of nowhere for some sweet lovin. We did the scenic hills and the mines - a pretty short ride.

Garmin - we did 6.99 in 1:40, average of 4.2 mph.

The full mines trail - what we did Friday - has a lot of very twisty singletrack. One day we'll be able to trot it or rack it, and I suppose I should go ahead and push Dixie to try it, but it's not the easiest trail in the world to head down at speed. More importantly, I wasn't pushing her too hard. I was very happy to just be back on my horse, back in these mountains I've come to love so much, watching a storm front roll in. She's just starting to shed seriously, and it was surprisingly warm (mid 50s) but with sustained winds of maybe 40 mph. Just didn't seem like the kind of day where you should push your horse to work hard, and I wasn't in the mood to work her hard.

Anyway! Comparing today's ride with one month ago, I see some nice improvement. (Oddly, one month ago was almost the same pace/time/distance.) Dixie's walk is improving - once she hit her groove / became resigned to her fate, she kept up a very businesslike walk above 4 mph. Her mid speed and her canter are improving in duration, too. The middle speed is switching around quite a bit - seems like it's trot maybe 1/3 of the time and something else more comfortable the other 2/3ds, probably a bit of RW and a lot of step pace.

Digression: sometimes I get incredibly discouraged that we'll never finish a 50 on time because she isn't making heroic gains in her cardio fitness / middle speed duration. It's cause I'm fat, or maybe cause she has cancer, or cause she's a gangly Walker and not a teeny narrow Arab. Then I breathe slowly and deeply, back away from the ledge, and talk sensibly - she IS making reasonable progress. That's why I have the blog and the GPS, so I can look back and see how she's improving. The winter coat will fall off, and she'll cool off faster, and I'll lose some weight now that the bar's over, and if she does have cancer that's just shitty luck, but she doesn't look in any way unhealthy. (If you're a somewhat new reader, I lost my heart-buddy gelding to fucking liver cancer, of all things, almost a year ago.)

Anyway. I don't know of any other endurance wannabes, much less non-arab endurance wannabes, who have posted GPS info as they first legged up a horse. If I had someone else's progress to compare to, I might feel better (or worse). But we'll muddle on through.

Today was stormy, and hopefully tomorrow will be clearer. I am going to rig up some cross ties and try to get off the loose winter hair, whether she likes it or not! Then we'll head out for a long ride, maybe 15 miles?

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Made it back home safe. The bar was pretty brain-melting - the multiple choice MBE is really long and tough, really a brain endurance race thing. The essays went ok, I think, so it all depends on how well I did on the MBE.

I only have to wait til May 9 to get my scores. MAY NINTH. This is so absurd. I will just do my best to put it out of my mind til then.

Vegas really kind of sucks if you don't gamble, you're all alone, you're in a second-tier locals casino, and you're taking a stressful exam. Glad to be home in snowy Reno!

I thought Cersei was going to explode with happiness when she saw me. :3 Can't wait to go see Dixie tomorrow - I doubt she'll be quite so delighted to see me, but I will be happy to see her!

I only have 67 new posts from my horse friends to catch up on. Eeek!

Sunday, February 21, 2010


You know how I mentioned it was snowing? Yeah, it's still snowing.

Snow Pix

The airport's open, so we're headed out soon.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Convention loot!

So I went to the convention yesterday! Just the vendor hall; I didn't think I could pay enough attention to the speakers to justify the cost. There were three people I already knew there (Hi C, Zach, J!) and they introduced me to people who were in fact perfectly nice and friendly. Whew. We looked at all the stuff, then ate lunch, then looked at more stuff and finally started shopping. Except at lunch I started to get a migraine - I guess some of the flashy lights on the damn slot machines triggered it. It wasn't the most excruciatingly painful one I've ever had, but it made me seriously stupid. It feels like my brain is short-circuiting and it's very, very hard to think. About anything.

But I'd figured out a plan at lunch, and I was determined to do all the shopping I meant to do. It took a lot of looking, partially cause I'm picky and partially because I have a big-headed Walker, but I got the tack I wanted. A purple rope halter, with extra knots and rings to convert to a sidepull. A black biothane horse-sized snap-on headstall. 8' purple biothane reins. And a black horse beatin' rope.

Yes, I know, I just bought biothane reins, but they're too short! I love the snaps and like the material, but they're 6 footers and they make my shoulder blades knot up if I ride more than an hour with them. I will save the short brown reins as emergency backup reins, but I'm going to be much happier with slightly longer reins.

I got a black headstall because I really don't think the purple biothane is vibrant enough. The rope halter is that shocking royal purple I love so much, and the slightly faded violet of the "purple" biothane doesn't look fantastic with it. Black looks pretty fantastic though!

The horse beatin rope (technically called an over 'n under) is to replace the lead rope I no longer need to carry. Previously, I rode with leather reins that tied on to the bit with slobber straps, so I needed a lead rope if I had to tie or walk out with my horse. I carried a lead rope snapped to the breastcollar and draped across her neck - it was also handy to have if I needed to whack her in the neck to persuade her to walk past a killer rock or garbage can or something. I hate to kick like a 5 year old on a pony, I don't wear cowboy boots with spurs anymore, and I like having something to encourage the horse if I need to. Thus, the horse-beater. I'm going to clip it to a carabiner and sling it across her neck, exactly where the lead rope used to live.

Anyway, I made it home yesterday, took an immitrex, and fell out on the couch. Today I feel much better, and I got my husband to take pictures of Dixie in her new headgear.

She thought maybe he had some food?

I think it all fits ok!

Somehow she stopped playing with the reins long enough for this picture. (I think the halter knot was too loose here.)

Now it's snowing, so if I don't die in a firey plane crash tomorrow, I will try to blog something weird or amusing from Vegas next week. Hope everybody has good weather and happy rides!

Thursday, February 18, 2010


We hit 4.9 mph today! 8.95 miles in 1:50. It's hard for me to justify spending more than 2 hours riding my horse for fun, so I think we'll stick with 2 hours and just try to cram more and more miles in. If I can get an endurance buddy out and do more miles on the weekends, great, but if not, 2 hours should be enough.

One of the things it's hard to tell with any of the tools I have is how her intermediate stamina is progressing - can she trot/rack/pace/whatever at, say, 8-10 mph for a longer distance than last week? The Garmin site graphs our speed, but the length of the graph is static so the results are skewed. I have a couple of spots where I always ask her to move out at an intermediate speed for as long as she can, and she's definitely going a little further every time. Today she did every intermediate gait, sort of at her whim. I'm very happy.

Today we went about halfway along the trail into Palomino Valley. There's a house with two loose pit bulls at the halfway point, so we went til I saw the house and turned around. We made a friend, too - a Great Pyr came trotting up from its house and joined us. I thought it was all going to go horribly wrong - visions of this enormous white dog eating my little yellow dog and Dixie bolting and me flying into a tree were flashing through my head. But Cers got along great with the GP, and the GP is apparently imprinted on guarding horses. She (I think it was a she) went about 5 miles with us. Dixie did not approve, but she never approves.

Tomorrow I'm going to the convention. I am so nervous. I'm a yahoo from Mississippi, and I haven't even completed an AERC ride, and it's full of strangers. Oh well, it's a small nervous in the grand scale of things - taking the bar will be much, much worse.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Better living through science

Today I deliberately learned two new things and accidentally learned another!

I ran two little pseudo-science experiments on my mare. I don't think it's really following the scientific method if you only have one experimental subject, so I can't announce this as the reproducible truth, but it's good enough for me.

I've been intermittently confining Dixie's mane on our rides, and I thought that it does make her sweatier to have that thick wad of hair on both sides of her neck. For Saturday's ride, I braided her mane on one side, and she really didn't get very sweaty at all, despite about 15 miles of intermittent trotting. So today I left her mane loose, flopped down on both sides of her neck, and rode 7.78 miles at an average of 4.3 mph. That's .1 mph faster than the NEDA ride, and less than half as far - and she was drenched when we were done. Sweat all over her neck and chest, on her back, even her flanks were sweaty. That's good enough for me - ponytailing/braiding her mane does make a big difference in her comfort, so I'll start doing it all the time.

Second, I thought that perhaps she was gaiting better when I wasn't sitting all the way back in the saddle. She racks ok on the flat, but she hit that probably-a-running-walk going up a hill when I was leaned forward in two-point. So for today's second experiment, I stayed well forward. I actually learned three things from that! One, it kills my shoulders to ride like that. Two, she possibly gaits more - I got some really smooth pacing and step-pacing. Three, it's bad for her back. She had dry spots at the front of the saddle area. Woops. I won't do that again. I poked at them and she didn't seem to care, so I don't think I did any permanent harm to her.

I took some more pictures of her hooves. And I got a decent shot of the weird toe rocker I was talking about:

Rocker - front right

Then I accidentally learned more about it! This post on the easycare blog talks about what I'd call a foxtrot, and why the author thinks it's a good thing for endurance horses. In the section Quarter and Toe Scoops, he says:

Similarly, the toe experiences increased abrasion during the break-over and the propulsive components of support phase. High-mileage barefoot (unbooted) horses often develop a toe-scoop on their front feet: a slight depression of the hoof wall and sole at the toe between (roughly) 10 and 2 o’clock. Like the quarters, this toe scoop simply reflects an area of high wear.

That's pretty much what Lytha said and what I suspected. She's just wearing her toes off in the sand/rocks.

Retro hooves

So Mel has inspired me to try to write more, in the hopes that by writing more I will actually write better. I've started using the notepad on my phone to jot down a phrase whenever a blog post occurs to me. Unfortunately, I'm going to Vegas to take the bar next week, so this whole plan will get derailed before it really starts - hopefully I can pick it back up in March.

Mel, can you see Flickr images now? I know you're commenting from free wifi places, but I don't know if work blocked Blogger or what. If it'll help, I'll rehost these on Blogger. Anybody else who can't see the pictures, let me know. Anyway, on to the content!

Horses' hooves are one of the most amazing things I've ever seen. It's perpetually amazing to me how much they change over time, with the climate, and with the workload. Dixie had really jacked up feet when I got her.

Dixie front left

The frogs were no more than an inch wide and almost completely rotted out with thrush. She was so untrusting that she'd try to fall on you if you insisted on picking her feet up, so I dared not yank a foot up and take a picture with the expensive camera. That led to me just never taking pictures of her feet, up til the middle of last year.

They really started to look more normal last summer, when we were in Ohio. Very flat, with stretched white lines - but definitely more round than oval, with healthier frogs.

Front left solar
Front right solar

When we moved to the high desert and I started riding every single day, they got nicer. That's when I first noticed the weird wear pattern and started taking pictures more frequently. Look at how much wider the frogs are! White line still stretched at the quarters, but tight at the toe. The bars are overgrown, but it looks like the whole back of the hoof is getting wider.

Left front asymmetrical
Right front solar

Then it snowed, and I noticed bruising at her toes. I think it was old bruising growing out - her toe callous has only gotten thicker, and she's not gimpy. The bars are still overgrown. The white lines look a bit tighter, too.

Egads, bruising.  LF solar.
RF sole bruising

The most recent shots look really nice. The bars look better, the white lines are pretty nice, the heels aren't as contracted, and either the toe is short or the frogs are HUGE.
Left front
RF 2

I can't decide if the snow pictures look better or worse than the newest pictures. (I think the angle of the snow picture is slightly different from the angle of the most recent picture.) I am positive the new pictures look 10x better than the Ohio pictures.

There's one weird thing I've noticed that is really hard to capture in pictures. I've kept the wonky toe evened out, but the other foot is doing the same thing, evenly. It's like she's wearing a toe rocker on both feet, but it's not just the wall - it's a slight bevel to the sole too. She seems totally comfortable, so I guess she has plenty of toe callous, and it's not like I've chopped it into her feet. Anybody seen what I'm talking about?

Monday, February 15, 2010


Meant to post yesterday. I was SO tired though! Not particularly sore anywhere, just really worn out.

Yesterday I gathered my strength and went to check on Dixie. She was absolutely 100% fine - her legs were tight and cool, she was bright-eyed and alert, she scarfed down the handful of grain I offered, and her back wasn't sore at all. My local horse forecast appears to be mostly dirty with a chance of hair showers - she's just starting to shed. I hope she doesn't freeze in a late blizzard, but I am SO looking forward to seeing my horse again, not the muddy yak. My screen saver is a random slideshow of all the pictures I've taken - I had forgotten she has such a pretty jawline til I saw a picture of it last night!

I have a theory about why llamas are so scary. They are shaped a bit like horses, but with a much more upright neck - like they're always on high alert. But they don't look like equines. There's two basic kinds of monsters in horror movies - ones like the Aliens, with too many arms and claws and stuff, and ones that look like us but not quite. There's a preview on TV now for some demon movie - there's an old lady with eyes that are way too big and too wide set, and another creepy human who runs up the wall and onto the ceiling like a gecko and hisses at the camera. I think llamas scare horses in the same way - like us, but not like us.

I really think I like endurance. I don't have any desire to do arena stuff - it's too much politics and too much beauty show. That leaves the trail-type horse activities, and I've read up on most of them. Endurance appeals to my horse libertarianism - ride your own damn horse, at your own speed, and don't bitch about the people around you. I've heard so many stories of "I was at a big ride and people kept passing us and my horse freaked out!" That sure sounds like a training problem, not an "other people suck" problem. I don't think it would be fun at all to go to a poker ride or a big group ride and be expected to ride at the same speed as everybody else. I'm not so rude that I'd canter through a pack of riders without any warning, but I don't want to have to do 4 hours at a walk because someone in the group won't trot.

Also, I don't really want to win. I just want to do cool stuff with my horse. It seems like endurance is one of the few sports left where people generally buy prospects and bring them on, or just compete successfully with the horse they happen to have, instead of buying a starter horse, competing, trading for a higher-level horse, competing, etc.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

We did it!

Just got home from the NEDA President's Day ride. Dixie and Diego plowed on through 20 miles like (very slow) champions. They pulsed down immediately (shouldn't be a surprise based on our pace, but it means we didn't exhaust them). We conquered rocks, lake-sized puddles, dead dogs, live dogs, chickens, pigs, kids, llamas, and a cow. They even drank water!

Here's the Garmin - 20.29 in 4:51, which is 4.2 mph. A bit slower than I'd hoped, but not bad at all for the longest ride either horse has ever done! The weather was lovely - it had to be near 60, sunny, and calm winds.

We deliberately started off slowly. Neither horse was really paying much attention to the silly humans, but we kept at it and eventually got a bit of attention. Right when we were ready to move out, a huge group of quarter horses overtook us, so we headed off to either side of the road and let them pass. Seriously, it was like 8 people, mostly on big ole halter-bred QHs. A buckskin did something - I think she tried to kick another horse? - and the rider booted her, so the buckskin bucked her off and kicked her in the hip when she was down. Owwwww. :( The rider got back on and we let that group get a bit ahead of us. After a while, we passed them - they were only doing 10 miles, so we didn't see them again.

Dead dog - We were just starting up a hill when I noticed a very freshly dead dog's head and spine. ~C called it as a pit bull, and I think she was right. We asked the RM about it when we finished, and he said it got killed overnight, probably by coyotes. (I think, alternatively, it was shot for trespassing and coyotes ate it once it was dead - but there's no way to know.) The horses, in a stunning display of obliviousness, did not notice it and in fact almost stepped on it.

There were about 50 live dogs, ranging from totally loose to behind secure fences. Both the horses did pretty well. I had to spin and glare down a Chihuahua, of all things, before the owner came to the door and hollered it back to the house. We rode down one street we dubbed the Street of Horrors - first we noticed the chickens in the road. The horses were deeply uncertain about chickens. We coaxed and booted them toward the chickens and noticed the pen full of goats. Then the dogs across the street came barrelling out and barked like the hounds of hell - they weren't fenced, just "invisible fenced" with shock collars. Eeek. Then, as we finally tentatively minced on past the chickens, we all noticed the cow in the corral. It mooed and put a little spring in the horses' steps.

Dixie ate like a pig - I gave her a bit of salted grain and some hay first thing in the morning, while I braided her mane. Then she ate while we registered and I tacked her up, then she ate again while we grabbed a bite to eat after the first loop, then as soon as we hit camp again she ate some more. She did not drink til about mile 15, when she washed her mouth out in a puddle. Then at mile 17, there was a stock tank for us and she had a pretty good drink, and when we hit camp she drank quite a bit. She dropped two little horse-poos every single mile, and she peed 7 times. You know you're a horse person when you brag in your blog about the quantity and frequency of pee and poop.

I'm very glad I got her a blanket - I think she would've gotten cold tied to the trailer while we were eating. My thighs are rubbed from my jeans, so I think tights are next on the list. Her bridle really annoyed her on the second loop, and I think I could've controlled her with a rope halter - I plan on getting one and trying it out. Braiding that thick mane really worked to keep her cool. I am so tired I can't think of much more to say, so hopefully ~C will fill in the blanks.

Here's my girl, post ride :)
Dixie after 20 miles

Oh! C got to see one of Dixie's Almost-Famous Enormous Spooks. She kicked sand on a bit of white plastic and it made a NOISE and she leapt sideways and back like 5 feet. I'm so glad she's mostly quit doing that.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

I take it all back

So yesterday I rode with J on her pretty little bay roan Lily. She lives just down the hill and trailered up to join me. We did part of the Palomino Valley loop, but we turned around before we headed up the mountain - the mountain is rocky and windy at the best of times, and the trail looked very cold and snowy from where we were. Stats: 7.08 miles in 1:57, which is 3.6 mph - a little slow, but it was a nice long ride and we weren't pushing.

Here's the clever Garmin page. Have you seen on the clever player? I heart playing with data.

One of our trot sets was apparently a pace set! Dixie and I were in the lead, trotting up a sandy gentle slope, and she slowed down a bit cause she's lazy. I clucked and flapped my legs around and she sighed deeply and resumed the same rate of speed. J, behind me, asked "Is she pacing?" I yelled back "I have no idea what she does!" and J said "it sure looks like a pace!" Well, whatever it was, it felt... not bad. I was gently posting, more to the beat than to the motion, and it was not very bumpy at all. You know the difference between an extended dressage trot and a western jog? Apparently there's that much variation in paces, too.

I rode a nasty hateful Walkaloosa mare a couple of times - she would pace as hard as she possibly could, because her former owner would just get off when she broke gait and paced. And Silky was pacey - it wasn't so bad at slow speeds, but the faster she went the harder the pace was. I admit, I have been prejudiced against the pace, but if Dixie's going to slow-pace that gently, that's ok with me.

Saturday ~C and I are doing another NEDA ride. Same place as the New Year's Ride, but as long as a stray blizzard doesn't dump snow in the next 48 hours, the footing should be excellent. We're planning on 20 miles - it's flat and sandy, so we should be able to drag on in with happy tired horses.

I think 7 miles on Wednesday then 20 miles on Saturday is ok. Next week I'll probably ride twice, then the week after that is the unbelievably horrible bar exam, then I'll figure out what I'm doing in March. Oh - who's going to the convention? I am planning on shopping and being shy next Friday, so if you want to meet the yahoo from Memphis, let me know. :)

Monday, February 8, 2010

I believe we found a new gear

You might've seen the fat pretty snowflakes in the video Saturday. Well, unlike the rest of the snow in the area, it kept snowing in Spanish Springs. The hills Dixie lives on got about 4" on Saturday. Sunday I went out but my feet got wet and cold and I wussed out - just groomed her and fussed over her and went back home.

Today I went back to ride. The snow was about half-melted, and Dixie was really spooky about the scary new snow. I pushed her through it for a while, going up and down a sandy trail on a hill, but I finally realized she wasn't just being bitchy and decided we'd call it a day. She does trust me enough to go charging off into the scary white unknown, but she was so nervous, poor thing.

One of the trips back up the hill was, I think, in the incredibly elusive running walk! She was walking but it was way faster than her usual 4.5 mph power walk. I was leaning forward with my weight totally off of the seat, and I guess the way I was sitting plus the invisible snow demons pushed her into a RW. YAY! I'm so happy! If she can trot and pace and rack, she should be able to running walk too - I'd always tried to sit back a tiny bit, but apparently that's not what she needs.

We practiced our drunken trot out when we got back. She's figured out that it's just a task I want her to do, and now she's trying to figure out what the cue is. The first time, she started to take off when I turned to stand parallel to her, so I just led her in a circle and tried again. I have been using the same cue all along (thanks AareneX!) - "you ready?", shake the lead, "let's go!" We did three trot outs with some walking in between trots - I don't want her to think we trot all the time. She's pretty close to figuring it out. We'll just need to get our speeds synced and maybe even work on straightness.

Also I banged her tail. I lopped it off about an inch above her fetlocks. I don't want it dragging in the mud and getting ripped up, and she and I are not the tail-bagging type. I think it looks ok - I think a banged tail is a nice cut for a very thick tail. And it's not like there's any kind of standard for endurance TWH tails!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The things I do for that horse

My husband and I went up to see Dixie, before the snow started really coming down. He took some videos of us trying to trot out in a straight line. When we got home, I figured out how to use iMovie and pasted all the relevant bits of the clips together, with titles and everything! Enjoy!

Dixie's gait pattern from Funder on Vimeo.

Yes, there's a 1/4" thick layer of cement-mud caked on her hooves. I tried to clean it off and bent my hoofpick on it. I guess when it warms up I'll soak her feet?

Yes, my horse still has issues with moving in a straight line. She's getting better though.

Yes, she trots sometimes and paces sometimes. IDFK how she decides what her legs are going to do. :rolleyes:

She's a good horse, wobbly pacey muddy mess that she is. Let me know what you see in the video!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Horse fashion

I forgot to post it, but Dixie got her first clothes earlier this week! Schneiders had some good sales on blankets, so I ordered a fleece blanket and a waterproof blanket. The waterproof one is on backorder til March, but they went ahead and shipped the fleece one. Yes, I know, it's a very tasteful color which is very unlike me - it was on sale! I have no other excuse.

They're just for when she's at rides tied to the trailer. She has more than enough hair to keep her warm in the pasture.


Showing off all that mane:

Butt shot:
Gratuitous butt shot

I think it fits perfectly. I had to go with a closed-front blanket (the buckle front fleeces were also out of stock til March, and hopefully I won't even need it by March!) and she was totally fine with me slipping a huge blue thing over her head. It seems like her personal motto has changed from "aaaaa don't touch me, you're trying to kill me!" to "oh ok." What a good girl!

Thursday, February 4, 2010


Yesterday I rode with The Other C and Mama again. We had a good time; even got a bit of canter in on the road to nowhere! 5.18 miles in 1:28, 3.5 mph, which is about as good as it gets riding with non endurance people. We did a little exploring and plotted where we'll explore next week. She's fun :)

Today I was supposed to go to the gym, but it might snow tomorrow and I'd rather drive into Reno in the snow than out to the boonies and ride in the snow, so I rode today. I was kind of in a blah mood when I got there, but I actually had a wonderful ride - just one of those zen days where Dixie and I tried really hard to understand each other and cooperate. We rambled around down in the mines. 5.44 miles in 1:14, 4.4 mph - I'm getting really close to my first baby goal of five miles in one hour with a not too tired horse! Here's the clever Garmin map.

An easy 5 mph average seems to me like it's the slowest you can reasonably go and do a limited distance endurance ride. I don't mind taking 6-7 hours to do an LD. Once we can chug on along at 5 mph, I'll start adding miles.

Her feet have changed again. They aren't snow-clean so I'm not sure if the white lines are tight everywhere, but the heel bulbs have opened up. YAY! I'm hoping her frogs keep getting wider - they still look a little narrow to me. There were a few patches of black ick, so I smeared some antifungalbiotic goo in there - that's the white stuff in a couple of pics. I trimmed after the pictures - the right foot still has a higher heel, but there's no free edge, so I just rolled the toe a bit. And the left still wears weird, so I evened up the medial toe. Anybody see anything I'm missing?

Left front:
Left front

Right front:
RF 2

The set has the heel photos and her February condition shots.

Monday, February 1, 2010

I'm back

Not that I went anywhere; I just quit posting for a couple days. I have tons of catchup to do on yall's blogs, but I figured I'd write this first.

Last Thursday, I did the mines with C on Mama. I took Cersei and my gun - I figured two people and two horses would keep the coyotes away, and if not I'd shoot one and then hike home to catch my horse. Fortunately, they'd eaten - we found two piles of feathers from slow moving birds. We didn't see anything and we had a nice ride.

Friday ~C and I trailered over to Hungry Valley and did a nice long ride. Usually you drive through a cattle gate and park off to the side of the open range and ride out from there - but there was a muddy hill down to a very small lake (or very large puddle) then a muddy hill up to the cattle grate, and we didn't think we could make it. As we were riding over to the cattle grate, a guy in a little 2x4 pickup barely made it through the puddle-lake and up the hill, so we made the right call. Buuut... we still had to get through the cattle grate.

There was a tiny space on the left where a horse could probably squeeze through, between a wooden post and a steel post and over a small boulder. Crysta investigated it throughly... and Diego decided it was a trap. He was totally convinced he couldn't squeeze through it. She asked if I wanted to try it, so I hopped off and confidently led Dixie straight up to it and through it... taking the wooden post with us. It got hung on her stirrup and broke off at the base - it must've been dry rotted pretty badly. Woops.

With his buddy on the other side - and the opening enlarged - Diego came through pretty quickly. ;)

We mounted up and rode pretty slowly toward the hills on the other side of the valley. The roads through the valley were pretty sloppy - that nasty sand and silt that gets slimy when it's wet. And they were wet! At one point I was riding on the left, just off the slippy road, when Dixie decided to drift over onto the road. I cued her to please turn left and get off the road, and she did that super annoying thing where she turns her HEAD left and her FEET keep going right. I was just getting ready to kick her in the ribs when wham down she went. She turned her neck and gave me this look like "WTF just happened?" and I said "You idiot, that's entirely your fault!" Then while I was trying to decide if I should hop off she scrambled back to her feet. She seemed fine, so we kept on keeping on.

Both the horses got excited when they saw the cows. Diego got all tense and spooky and Dixie's head came straight up and she got tense. I rode Dixie in tight little circles around the sagebrush til she quit worrying so badly and we proceeded on. Most of the cows wandered off when we got to the edge of their flight zone - except for the friggin longhorn who didn't want to stop licking salt! We had to ride between her and the rest of her herd! I think we were both ready to run if she got upset, but she didn't.

We rode up a hill and took pictures. Looking south:
South to Peavine

Crysta and Diego:
C and Dig

Me and (dirty) Dixie:
Me and Dixie

The skeleton of a couch menaced Dixie on the way up - it was hiding behind a tree, waiting to eat her. I made her show no fear and walk calmly past it, and it didn't pounce. When we got to the top of the hill, we got off and walked down - it was a steep descent, still snowy, and pretty wet.

On the other side of the hill, we saw a bunch of junk. It made me feel at home! There's rednecks everywhere :) There was a modern art display of one new tire (on a rim), one old CRT computer display (with a bullet hole in it), and one 80s deep freeze. The horses didn't look twice at it, but Crysta and I both got kinda creeped out by the fridge. There could be a zombie, or a murder victim, or 400 lbs of rotten elk, or who knows what in that thing. We got by it as quickly as we could walk. A few yards down the hill, we passed a pile of dead TVs (with bullet holes in them). Near the bottom of the hill is apparently a popular place to shoot - there were hundreds of casings and broken clay skeet.

Once we got off the hill, it was back to untouched high valley. We decided the roads were too sloppy and wandered cross-country back to the truck. And Dixie got lost! You know how horses usually know where the trailer is? She lost it. We could see the truck and trailer, but she didn't notice it or something and kept wanting to head further north.

When we got back to the (broken) fence, Dixie did not want to go back through it. After all, it grabbed her last time - and we weren't even going to the trailer (according to her)! I let Crysta go first then managed to sweet-talk my brave girl through. I gave Dixie her post-ride apple as soon as she was through - I was very proud of her.

I thought it was a beautiful ride (scary chest freezers aside), and I'd love to go back when the trails dry up and we can move faster than a walk. We did 9.64 miles in 3:22 - sucky, I know, but that includes conquering the cattle gate both times, and only walking.

I gave her the weekend off, then did hill work today. Dixie rocks - I let her walk down hills and pushed her to trot or walk fast up hills, and she did 5.82 miles in 1:30, a 3.8 average. (That includes moseying the last half mile home very slowly and then forgetting to turn off the GPS til after I wormed her and fed her an apple. It's closer to 4 mph if I discard the last lap.) She was sweaty as all get out, but it was (relatively) warm and sunny and she recovered nicely. I let her trot down some slight inclines - I don't want to strain her legs, but I want her to start to figure out how to keep her balance at speed going downhill. So we trot down slight grades on sand. Our total elevation change was about 2500', so it was Serious Hill Work.

Today Crysta inspired me to get the myGarmin thingie set up. Here's today's ride and Hungry Valley. I spent way too much time playing with my data on there.