Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Snug Bug

It's hard to tell in the picture, but it's been snow/raining all day. I didn't want Dixie to get soaked and cold, so I put her spiffy new purple blanket on her. She's annoyed about being in the pen, and that picture is actually mid-paw. I love my evil mare!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Where's my lamb?

We have some huge weird weather front rolling in. It's drizzling rain and so grey you can't see any of the mountains, and possible snow tomorrow. It was so nice and springlike for almost all of March, and now, at the very end, this weirdness!

I went out and handwalked Dixie today. It was way too windy to ride - gusts of probably 50 mph and sustained winds of 25 or 30 mph. I wanted her to have a chance to get out of the pen though. She is still shedding. I don't think she'll ever stop; I think she eats just to have the energy to grow long white hair and have it fall out all over me. I guess that's good if it does snow on her tomorrow.

I rode Saturday, our first ride after RoM, and I forgot to post it. It feels like we've crossed the Rubicon - now we both know what we're capable of, when before we'd thought maybe we could do it. And even beyond our changed expectations, her fitness level has noticeably improved! We have a little section of the trail where I let her canter as far as she wants, and she went 3x as far as usual - then walked a bit and asked to rack again. Hell yeah!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

A new adventure!

So Dixie is moving to Lemmon Valley at the beginning of the month. She'll have her own pen with a three-sided shelter, and I supply the feed, so she can have all the hay she will eat, yay! It's a couple blocks from BLM land, and a couple miles from the arena - I can ride in the arena when I want to work on dressagey stuff. There's two rides in the summer nearby. It'll be fun; I'm looking forward to exploring the new area with her.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Rides of March 2

So, non endurance people, here's what happens at lunch. You come into camp, and someone notes your time. Your horse has to pulse at 60 bpm before your 1 hour hold starts, so that's the first thing you concentrate on. After you pulse and before you head out, you have to pass a vet check.

I am really terrible at taking pulses - it confuses me greatly to count beats while looking at numbers on a watch. But even I can figure out if a pulse is above or below 60 - that's one beat per second, or 10 in 10 seconds. I checked as soon as we got in and she was pretty high, so we headed to the trailer. I stripped her tack, let her drink water, and let her munch hay and calm down.

She was pretty gross.
Mud horse!

Then I noticed she was shivering and realized that she was probably cold, poor thing, and I blanketed her and kept checking her pulse. She was very close - maybe 64 - and we moseyed slowly back over to the water, then to the P&R people, and she was down. I took her back by the water, then back to the hay to stuff her gut a bit before we vet checked. (I have no idea if this is a good theory or not, but I figured if you'd just eaten something, your stomach would make more happy sounds.) She passed the vet check - IIRC, she got B's in skin tenting and gut sounds. Skin tenting was no surprise - she didn't drink til we got back to camp, but she did start then.

I changed clothes completely. Somebody, probably Mel, talked about how amazingly good it feels to put on fresh clothes, and I wanted to get out of my early morning cold weather clothes anyway. Fresh underwear! Dry socks! Jogging pants! It was heavenly.

I ate too - a bag of Fritos, a ham sandwich, and a whole bottle of gatorade. Dixie wasn't eating as much as I'd like - our hay and grain were all stupid and horrible and nasty. I kept shoving apple slices between her lips and waiting for her to slowly eat them, and I snuck her back over to P&R for their super-tasty bright green alfalfa. Still, at the end of the hour she looked pretty perky and I realized there was no good reason to not go on, so we did.

We happened to start right behind some different people - a lady and a junior on greenies. We followed them down a pretty nice road along the tops of some hills, and I realized that I should take some pictures. The iPhone is pretty awesome in general, but it takes uninspiring pictures :(

Here's a decent one. Boulder sculpture things, hills, valleys, and huge walls of mountains.

The road goes on forever (and the party never ends)

Red rocks! In Red Rocks, NV!

I managed to ration my horse pretty well on the first half of the last loop. We trotted (yes, TROTTED) the flats and downhills and walked the uphills. She didn't have a bit of pace or rack left in her - it was all hard trot the whole rest of the ride.

Eventually we walked down off the hills, 1000' down in a mile and a half. An industrious girl in full English gear caught up by jogging her horse on foot. And right as the trail leveled out, the first two 50s passed us - I admit, that was really depressing.

Dixie drank from every water trough we came across and she kept up with the other 30s til about mile 21. She was clearly tired. It was a tough bit of trail, too - we gained that 1000' of elevation back in a steady slow rise over seven miles. It was like being on an inclined treadmill, and I think it's way harder than just slogging up a really steep hill.

I alternated trotting and walking for another 15 or 20 or 30 miles. It was endless. I lost my patience and vowed to sell my horse if we ever made it back to camp. Or maybe I'd just get off and leave her to die in the desert. Or maybe we'd die together and become Dead Horse and Human Flat for future riders to see.

I think I needed some sugar.

Anyway, there was absolutely nothing to do but keep riding forward, so we did. Eventually we made it to the crossroads and I knew we were close. Three more 50s had passed us, cheerfully trotting along like they were having fun or something. I didn't want to go through all this and not complete, so I knew we had to vet in, so I got off and walked the last half mile.

I did the same thing when we got back - stripped tack, blanketed, and even poured water on her neck - and I got her pulse down in 10 minutes. Hey, we're getting better! She passed her vet check again - I think her Bs were skin tenting and mucous membranes? But I was too busy eating The Best Candy Bar Of My Life to pay much attention.

After the vet check, we were... done. Finished. Completed. I bought the ride pictures (I do look like I was having fun, so the big smile worked), got my tee-shirt, and started slowly sorting my stuff. Dixie had come in almost too tired to eat again, but once she pulsed down she started munching.

I got everything stowed, loaded the horse, and got back on the road. It took another two hours to get home. I had to feed all the horses when I got back to S's - Dixie looked very bright eyed and perky by then. I had to literally pull everything out of the truck to find the other set of keys to get in the tack room - pretty frustrating. Then I stowed all my horse gear, drove down to south Reno and dropped the trailer, and drove back to north Reno.

Today I feel like a truck ran over me. My knees are Not So Good and all my muscles hurt. I can't wait to do it again - aside from Mile 21 where I wanted to suicide pact with my horse, that was super total hella fun and I can't imagine why anybody wouldn't want to do that, over and over again.

Rides of March

First, a big thank you to everybody who Made This Possible. (I know, I sound like I won an Oscar!) First, to ~C, who convinced me I could do this, then let me borrow her trailer when she couldn't go as well. A big thank you to my bemused husband, who has no idea why I'd want to do this, but loves me enough to let me go do it without protest. And of course to all of yall, especially the distance riders, who so patiently held my virtual hand through my little panic attacks. :D

I feel like I should say thank you to my poor horse, too. She is really hard to get along with in some ways, but she is a fantastic partner. Obviously she's integral to this whole story.

AareneX asked how I could've gotten home so fast. Amazingly, ridecamp was only 16 miles from my house. I think that's about as close as a ride could possibly be, and that's one of the reasons I wanted to do RoM. Support my local rides indeed! Still, it took me about 100 miles of driving to GET there - down into Reno to pick up the trailer, back north to pick up Dixie, south then west then north again to the ride.

Hey, look! Lots of other people are similarly deranged and have come to the middle of nowhere to ride their horses way too far.
Ride camp

I think the country out here is just beautiful, but I understand it's not to everyone's taste. When you look at these pictures, either you see vast expanses of sky and mountains and rolling hills of sagebrush, or you see some sort of dead moonscape of grey stuff without any people to keep you company. Just remember that I'm showing you pictures because I think it's beautiful out here. :)


The rest of the day was pretty uneventful. I got Dixie settled in, checked in, went to the ride meeting, ate some cold dinner, and got snuggled up in my sleeping bag in the back seat of the truck. Dixie ate a bucket of LMF Gold and two fat flakes of hay overnight - I was very pleased that she tanked up so well.

Sunrise was kind of pretty!

It was also very very cold. I refilled Dixie's hay bag and grain bucket and climbed back in the truck. I had two whole hours to get her tacked up and braid her mane, so no need to freeze my fingers in the twilight, right? It got a bit lighter and warmer, I got out of the truck and grabbed the brush and elastics, and... the 50s left. Dixie lost her mind - horses! Horses leaving camp! Running away! We should run away too - untie me, human, we need to flee! She was pacing at the end of her rope, pawing holes in the ground, completely unable to stand still. So much for braiding. It was almost so much for getting her tacked up - she was that nuts.

I finally got her tacked up and mounted. We walked some very sedate and polite circles near the gate, and I felt pretty good about my horsemanship skills. The gate opened for the 30s, the front runners cantered out, and the mid pack riders started trotting out. We moved out at the back of the mid-pack people, and as soon as Dixie hit the trail, she completely lost her mind.

The Number One Thing No One Told Me:
The horse you condition is not the horse you ride at the event.

She wanted to bolt, and we had a huge fight about it and settled for racking flats and downhills and cantering up hills. She kept up that pace for three miles - past two ride photographers (smile like you're having fun!), down some ridiculously steep hills, over a dry creek bed (she jumped it), past numerous stiles for the foxhunters (she spooked at every. single. one.). Finally, on a long steep climb up a hill, she ran out of juice and let me drive again.

We got to the first water trough, and I knew she wouldn't drink, but I stopped her anyway. A single rider, then three riders, caught up with us, and we tagged along with them for most of the rest of the loop. One person was doing her first ride, and I think two of the other three were on green horses.

We went zooming off through some absolutely glorious scenery. Up the side of a hill, on some very twisty singletrack carved into the side of the hill. The view at the top showed the valley with houses and horses and even green fields, then down the other side. It was too steep to go fast down parts, but where it wasn't so steep we trotted (or racked). At the bottom of the hill, we had to wait a few minutes while the Red Rock Hounds stable moved their horses from one pasture to another, then we trotted (racked) through their pastures. Their land is at the bottom of a valley, with natural springs (or snowmelt?) irrigating things - the pastures were pretty mucky. Dixie had mud splashed up to her belly.

When we got out of the pastures and headed up Dead Horse Canyon (complete with real skeleton), Dixie was pretty tired. I slowed her down enough for the others to get out of sight, then kept her walking up the trail out of the canyon. The saddle had slipped back a bit, so I got off and fixed that then walked with her. I got back on, briefly, then we came over a little hill and I could see ridecamp, so I got back off and walked her in.


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Fait accompli

We did it! Somewhere towards the back of the LD pack, but not dead last. I only got lapped by the top five 50s, hahah About 6 hours all together - 4:44 in the saddle. I am totally exhausted so I will write up the story tomorrow. I am so proud of my evil mare :) Thank you so much ~C!!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Here we go!

Ok, I'm off to the ride! Well, not quite off to the ride yet, but off to start hauling my mounds of crap to the truck, the truck to the trailer, the trailer to the horse, etc.

My husband started laughing uncontrollably when I told him I had actually made a LIST of stuff to take. He knows just how disorganized I really am - this is the equivalent of a control freak saying "Oh, it'll all work out, let's just wing it." But I really do have a list, and I really have used it.

I will try to remember to take some pictures, and hopefully we'll be a smashing success, and I'll post a recap / thank you story when I get back!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

6 days

I still haven't freaked out or chickened out about Rides of March, although I've seriously come close a few times. I'm not sure we'll finish in time but we're going anyway.

I've been not riding, mainly. I have come to the conclusion that all those "How to Condition for Endurance" articles are bullshit, and if you do ride 4 or 5 times a week you end up with a very tired horse. I gave Dixie a whole week off, then Thursday we had a badass ride - 5.5 mph for 7.5 miles.

Today we had a slower longer ride, with a lot more hills and boots on her feet. Checked out Calle de Mariposa, which leads to a hill overlooking PV and a locked gate. :( I am pretty close to deciding that the best way to get to PV involves a trailer ride ;) I've got one more hill trail to check out first.

Soooo tired. More later.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Easyboot trial - do these fit?

I got J's boots on today! They're old-style classic Easyboots, size 0. I would never in a million years have guessed that this horse would end up a size 0! But these certainly aren't too small. I don't think.

I got them on and strapped down TIGHT, just like the directions say, then we headed out for a hand walk around the pueblo house. There's one section of road with new gravel, that stuff the size of a ping pong ball that horses hate to walk on, and I've always let her go around it. I insisted that she walk with me over the big gravel, and she wasn't sure about it for a couple of steps, then realized the boots protected her feet and started striding out heel-first. Yay! We went through some pretty deep sand, over hard road with teeny bits of gravel loose on top, over a bit of pea sized gravel, and even got the boots wet. She wanted to drink out of a puddle and got one boot wet and full of sand.

I am not sure they fit right. Any Easycare people lurking? Anybody know how classic easyboots are supposed to fit? Here's some pictures...

She was standing like this eating a bit of grain, so the right front is way back in all the pictures.
The nose knows

Left front lateral. Is the boot supposed to gape open there at the quarters? Because the cable's on the tightest setting.
Left front lateral

Right front lateral gapes the same way.
Right front lateral view

Left front medial fits a bit tighter against her hoof.
Left front medial view

Apparently I didn't take a right front medial.

I played with the contrast a lot so you can maybe kinda see how the boots fit in the heels.

Her feet are almost "round" - not circular, but the same width as length. It's within a couple millimeters. Based on what the two sites say, she might be better off in Renegades, but I'm willing to try the Easyboots.

Thursday I'm going to go riding - back up the rocky hills - for a more comprehensive test.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Beautiful award

Ok, if I go ahead and do this I'm off the hook for future rounds of the same award, right? Cause I've gotten this three times now.

edit: crap, forgot to link back!
The blame for this rests on the shoulders of Jane, AareneX, and Mel, in that order. The longer you procrastinate, the more awards you get! Thanks, ladies, and I hope you like my random facts!

The name of this award reminds me of the plastic bag in American Beauty. I love that movie :)

1) I read a lot. I probably read more than any of yall, except maybe AareneX. (Although she might suffer from cobbler's children syndrome - surrounded by books, no time to read them.) I especially love fantasy/sci-fi. Since last week, I've worked my way through the Dresden Files again - there's a new book out in about a month, yay!

2) I have a broken sense of smell. My dad does too, so it must be genetic. It's not precisely that I can't smell stuff, it's more like my brain tunes out smells very rapidly. If I walk in a room with, say, coffee brewing, I can smell the coffee for one or two inhales, then I just don't notice it anymore. I am sure this is more of a blessing than a curse. There's a lot more bad smells out there than good ones, especially when you have pets.

3) I have prosopagnosia, or face blindness. I fake it almost all the time. I know who people are based on their hair, their body size/shape, their voices, and (most importantly) context clues. When people come up to me in the grocery story to say hi, I usually have no fucking idea who they are. (I talk to them anyway - I'm very good at faking it.) If I meet someone for lunch, I try really hard to remember what I can (hair color and size) and stand in the entrance looking for a person with the right color hair waving at me. It's just something that's not wired quite right in my brain, and it doesn't really upset me.

4) I am scared of the Psycho Killer Behind the Shower Curtain. Therefore, I always buy translucent shower curtains. If I go in someone else's bathroom, with those solid fabric curtains, I have to check behind the curtain to make sure no one is lurking, waiting to kill me.

5) One of my favorite games is Nethack. It's an incredibly nerdy text-based game, with a million stupid ways to die and no save feature. It's moderately hard to win the game, and I've done it 4 times, over about 5 years of off-and-on play.

6) I have never officially broken a bone. I think Dixie broke my foot once - it hurt for 6 months after she stomped it - and I think I broke my tailbone when I fell off last year. But I didn't go to the doctor for either of those, so I am officially neverbroken. (For that matter, I'm one of those people who doesn't go to the doctor unless my ailment refuses to go away after a month of me ignoring it.)

7) I try not to look back. I'm pretty happy most of the time, and I think that is due in large part to the fact that I don't look back and think about what I should've done different. What's done is done. You gotta make the best decisions you can at the time and not dwell on it after you do it.

Whew. Now for the not-quite-so-hard part - who hasn't had to do this yet? Must share the torture love...

~C and Diego
Zach and Sassy
E.G. and Phebes
Kacy and Wa
Evensong and the Paints
AKPG and her herd
Roxie and her typist
CheekyMare in Belize(!!)
in2paints and the lovely Lilly
GunDiva and her Estes stories

Is that enough? Surely that's enough. I do all my blogging in the edit html tab and I'm really getting tired of all those a href's. There's a bunch more people who have already done this, won't do this, or are already in line to do this, so if you're not on there, that's why. Either that or I just got tired of a href's before I got to you.


Argh, there's no way I can think of seven things that yall don't already know about me that aren't incredibly banal yet don't sound like bragging. These meme things stress me out - I promised to write the Seven Things, but I haven't thought of seven things, so I feel like it's cheating to just blog about my weekend, but stuff keeps happening!

Ok, now that I've whined I feel better. The stuff that's happened:

Saturday I did the Mines. Then Saturday night I had an attack of fingernail-biting worry that I'm overriding and/or riding the hooves off of my horse, but I firmly shoved all the worry back in a little box and ignored it.

Sunday I went on a nice ride with a pretty big group - the three QHs, plus J on her little Arab Lily and me on Dixie. I am hopefully luring J back into the delightful fun of endurance riding, aka "we paid to do this?!" Anyway, we all set off to do the PV loop (the original one that doesn't go into PV, so I don't know why they all call it PV, rrrrgh). J and I mostly stayed with the group, but we went off exploring a couple times by ourselves and got to trot and canter. Wheee! Lily and Dixie are tolerating each other very well.

I am always slightly surprised and very pleased about how well Dixie acts under saddle. She is such an evil alpha mare when she's at liberty - she pins her ears at any new human who goes in the pasture! And poor Zack's butt is covered in little bite marks. (But that's cause he's lazy - she only chases him at a walk. He must like it.) Somehow Dixie knows better than to squeal, bite, strike at, or kick at other horses when I'm around. I can't predict that she won't act badly in the future, so I take all the normal precautions, but I'm still happy with her. :)

Here's the Garmin of our ride. We made it pretty much to the very start of Amy Road, over in PV proper, but there's a damn no trespassing sign there! I think if we follow the power line road (the straight line) up past where we were, then cut to the right, we can get around the no-trespassing property. Or see the little C-shape on the right side of the map? That's the start of Calle de Mariposa, which should also lead down the mountain to the valley. We've got a couple of options left. J and I will probably go do more exploring on Friday.

After 9 miles, when we were pretty close to home, I stopped and took the bit part of the headstall off and then rode Dixie home in the rope halter. She did just fine! She doesn't really approve of the knots poking her in the nose - but if she'd turn when I asked with my legs, I wouldn't have to pull the reins and poke her in the nose. Poor baby.

Gave her part of her spring shots yesterday too. She got WNV two weeks ago when the vet came out, then rhino-flu yesterday, and the last one (4-way? I forget) probably next weekend.

Today I went and fiddled around with some borrowed boots, but I didn't get things quite right, so you'll have to wait for tomorrow for the expanded boot story.

Friday, March 5, 2010

More exploring

Today we went rambling back up in the hills, trying to find the trail down to Palomino Valley proper. I actually did consider printing out a sat map of the area, but I decided it'd be more fun to just wander, so that's what we did. We ended up at 9.76 miles in 2:12.

Dixie was exceptionally impatient this morning - I had to cross-tie her to get her brushed, then as soon as I got the saddle on she started pawing. That kind of distracted me from my Rain Man-like routine of tacking up, but I pretty much got everything done and got on and off we went. We climbed the normal hill toward PV and I took the turn I figured would lead us to PV. It was really beautiful out there - just a few houses, snow still on the north sides of the hills, a few rabbits. About 4 miles out from S's, we'd crossed the hills and were heading down. The road down was very steep and muddy and I suspected it wasn't the road I really wanted. Dixie slid carefully down it for a couple hundred yards, to a bend in the road. When we got there, I could see it was just miles more of the same steep muddy rocky stuff switchbacking the rest of the way down the hill - ick, no.

We turned around and headed back towards home. I headed a little ways down another turn I thought might be the right one (and I think it is!), then went up on a hill to look at the remains of someone's foolishness. On top of a small hill, with a For Sale - Owner Will Finance! sign, lies an RV, on its side. Some poor idiot drove this RV (CA tags, expired in '04) up to the top of this hill and it apparently didn't occur to him to TIE IT DOWN. So it blew over and he walked away.

Then we headed back toward home again - took another detour up a hill. Very steep, but mostly damp/dry sand. It looks like maybe it's someone's driveway, so I turned around. Yet another detour across a fairly level little road running along the ridgetops, and finally - good footing! I let Dixie canter a bit then settled her down into a nice rack. The road eventually dropped off the ridge and I turned around there and let her rip back to the main road. She does have good sense, and I've quit "yelling" at her to slow down at the rocky bits. She slows down when she's not comfortable on the footing, then speeds back up when it's better.

On the "real" gravel roads headed home, she shifted through all her gears and finally settled in to a really nice step pace, 8-9 mph, most of the way.

Remember how I said she was really wicked impatient this morning and my autistic checklist for tacking up was interrupted? Yeah, when I got home and slid off I noticed this.

Yes, the girth is so loose my whole hand and thumb comfortably fit between girth and horse. SHIT. And I rode 9 miles in the mountains like that! When we came down out of the hills it was riding a little further forward than usual, but it didn't seem to bother Dixie and we were almost home so I didn't check it.

Oh well. Glad she didn't spook!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Curlies! and prejudice

I fed the horses this morning. Grabbed Dixie and tied her up next to a wheelbarrow full of hay, then tossed everybody else's hay. I spent at least an hour grooming her - she's shedding, so she needs the extra attention. She does not want the extra attention - she really is the most "don't touch me, I do what I want!" beast. Her mane is a total disaster - it's so dirty it's almost impossible to brush, and it's way too cold to wash it, and I don't want to put more ShowSheen on it! I suspect the Showsheen residue makes the dirt stick better or something :( I brushed half of her mane before she got seriously outdone with me, then fingercombed half her tail. For all the good it does. :rolleyes:

It was cooooold up there! The wind was whipping and storm clouds were rolling down off all the mountains. Fun to watch them.

Eventually I released her from the torture and Cersei and I headed over to scout out that next valley. I guess it's Palomino Valley proper - where the BLM horses are, local readers? The roads are horribly washboarded sand, but they're wide with wide verges, so it'll be good riding if the pass over the hill isn't too bad.

I saw curlies! Real live curly horses. Two people were out riding their curlies on the road and I stopped and talked to them for a minute. They really are curly as all get out - pictures don't do them justice. The two I saw looked real big-boned - drafty almost.

Everybody likes blog posts where you get to say something. I was thinking about my irrational attachment to Dixie's enormous amount of hair, and I wondered what your irrational horse prejudices are?

Mine are:

Lots of hair = a better horse. Horses with short scraggly manes and tails just don't do it for me. That's part of the reason I don't like Appies - sorry Appy people, but I did admit it's totally irrational!

Blue eyes are evil. I've mentioned this before, but blue-eyed horses give me the willies. I know that this is totally contrary to most people's opinion, but they creep me out!

Spotted horses are crazy. Yes, I did think this even before I bought a spotted horse, and I still think it even in the face of all the super laid back paints I've met. Plain wrappers = saner.

What's your silly horse likes and dislikes?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


I went for a rambling ride today with C on Mama. We rode as long as we could - on the way back, the wind had picked up and when we started to untack the icy rain started. At least we got out for a while!

We explored the new offshoot of the canyon I noticed Sunday and ended up back on Encanto, then we went up another gravel trail to the top of a hill and admired the view, then went down to Capistrano and cross-country up some ravines to circle back up to Barranca. It was really nice and relaxing to ride with a friend, not pushing for time, just out exploring. Here's the Garmin.

It was only 5 miles! When I got back, I started playing with Google Earth - if I head down the hill and do the trails beside the roads, the one ~C used to ride when she boarded out there, it's a nice easy 10 mile loop. 10 miles, that's all? Hmm. What about if I went up Curnow Canyon toward Palomino Valley and took that jeep trail north... I could ride 10 miles and end up in another neighborhood - looks like it has scattered ranches and alfalfa fields.

Then I started to really realize that I can just take my horse and go exploring. She's brave enough to deal with dogs or bikes (but maybe not both at once), and she's fast enough to get us somewhere new and back in a reasonable time. We can just head out into the great beyond!

Horses are like any other hobby, I think. You get moments of "yippie this is so much fun!" separated by long slogs of "well I need to do this." For a bunch of different reasons, I haven't felt free to just head out and ride for years now. Not since I left Mississippi. So, yeah, I'm really happy. This sport rocks!