Sunday, April 24, 2011

Well, I still think it *looks* pretty

I got Dixie out for a ride this morning. We did the short 6 mile loop around the sand pit. I wanted to take Cersei and have a fun ride, no deliberate training. Also, I put her back in the snaffle for the first time since, I think, February.

Speaking of bits, I bought my own curb! I'd been using DiJ's Myler curb, and I was very happy with it in general but wanted slightly shorter shanks. I think everybody feels guilty for not being "as good" as other individuals / disciplines, and I'm no exception - I feel guilty (among other reasons) for doing endurance with a bit. The hackamore/halter/bitless people are somewhat smug about how their horses are free to eat and drink on the trail. Oh well, Dixie and I are not the ideal team to go bitless, and she stuffs her face without seeming to care about the bit. Still, I noticed that the shanks whacked into water tanks. Yesterday I bought the same mouthpiece, same shanks, just 2" shorter shanks. I think I'll have about the same control and she'll be able to eat and drink a bit better.

Anyway, I'd rather ride in a snaffle. It was surprisingly cold and windy - the sun was shining and it looked like it was warmer than it was. We briskly headed out and when we hit the magic corner and turned for home I let her loose and we absolutely hauled ass coming home.

Dixie's not a fast horse - or at least I haven't had the nerve to let her go really fast. I need something like the Bonneville Salt Flats, some place perfectly smooth with good footing, cause I just get all wigged out about the tiny margin of error when you're really galloping. None of our trails are really smooth enough for my overactive imagination. Random boulders and ditches and wooped-out areas.

So we weren't going that fast, just 10-12 mph, but she went 10-12 mph for two solid miles and felt awesome doing it. She slowed down where I asked (going down into little gullies, coming up to trail intersections) and stayed balanced and solid the whole time. We passed some scary stuff - a lady getting into her SUV after letting her dog play in the hills, a big yellow road grader thing grading a private road, and lots of dirt bikes.

And because we were going pretty fast and it was pretty windy, her mane kept blowing all over the place and getting tangled in my hands. It's astonishing how distracting that is! I'm still not going to cut it. I guess I need to improve my braiding skills and learn to do a real fast running braid down her neck.

5.9 miles, 52 minutes, 6.7 mph. Next: I want to get her out early next week after work and do some deliberate hill work for an hour or so - maybe Tuesday, definitely Wednesday.


  1. Sounds like a fun ride! I'm with you on footing.

    Did you see the article in Equus on the extreme case of alfalfa photosensitivity? Holy cow! I thought of your Dixie and my Paj, with gratitude that we've only had crusty noses. I can scan it for you if you're interested.

  2. Riding along those salt flats...I couldn't help but think about how much fun it would be to ride horses out there...

    I need to be hitting some hills this week with my horses too. Everyone's condition kind of leveled out in the field next door. I really have to push them to get anyone to break a sweat.

    I started asking the black horse for some sprint work and he is sooo funny. He's like, OMG..I don't know which way to go...and his legs kind of go every which way.

  3. Nothing like a good gallop!!! Makes ya feel alive =)

  4. RE: bits I use whatever is necessary to get the job done. Fee prefers the french link snaffle, very mild and precise. I use it for training rides when I'm with people who know about my mare's "body bubble" issues, and are good enough riders to keep away from the rear cannons. For competition, I use a Kimberwicke, which is still pretty mild, I don't have to stomp on the brakes with this mare, which is a nice change.

    Recently, I started dropping the bit and using the sidepull rings when she and I ride alone. At first, she wanted her precise little snaffle back, amd then she realized that she could figurere out my intentions just fine without it. Ahhh, perfectionist horses!

  5. Terry - I'd love to see it! I saw some gruesome pictures when I looked it up online. Dixie ate lots of alfalfa at the ride but she's only got one dime-sized scab on the middle of her lip and a couple teeny-weeny spots on her nose. Next ride I"ll remember to Desitin her - I had it in the truck the whole time but forgot to.

    BEC - it's a shame that Black Rock is so far away and so desolate. I'd love to go ride up there! You gotta tell me how to get my nerve up to gallop.

    Aarene - I periodically try the sidepull rings on the halter, but Dixie hasn't approved yet. She blows through suggestions and she detests having her nose pulled on like that. I think she kind of likes the bit; she seems to enjoy playing with it. The snaffle squeaks, which is annoying for me and seems comforting for her - she squeaks it in time with her stride. I hope that after another couple of years of trust she'll, oh, I dunno, listen to suggestions from the halter? Stubborn beast!

  6. What a fun ride! Dixie sounds quite a lot like Brena in knowing precisely when the homeward stretch begins (even on a circular ride) and having a huge mane that gets in one's hands. Like you I do think perhaps too much about every imperfection in the trail before going fast.

  7. Sounds like a really fun ride!

    RE the mane - Fuzzypony's horse Taran has a super long, thick mane too. She does a quick french braid on it before every ride - takes her all of 5 minutes. I think it gets faster with practice!

  8. The mane tangled in hands reminds me of a time I was working as a trail guide and went out for an illicit (shh don't tell) barefoot, bareback ride in the moonlight on the beach with a coworker. We were flying back at a huge extended trot (these were endurance horses) along the park trails coming up to a sharp T turn and the long flying mane got completely tangled in my hands so I had no prayer of slowing the horse down and didn't ride him often enough to have another cue..I held onto said mane for dear life as he took the corner meticulously at mach-10 speeds. Luckily horses really do know their way home!

  9. Great ride! Wonderful description. I love to gallop, and would not gallop on uneven ground either, despite Mr. I Can Do Anything's opinion.

    He might be able to do anything, but I can't! ;)

    Running braid, super easy, with minimal practice (if not going for show braid) I was doing a draft horse's mane every day in under 3 minutes. The only thing to watch out for is not doing the top of the braid too tight, you don't want it to pull when your horse stretches out. Lotta cow people I know rope off horses in straight braids, possible option? Running braid is faster IMO.

    Can't wait to hear more!

  10. No shame in riding bitted.

  11. Great job! I am braiding deficient. I just don't have the skills to do cool braids. Besides, Molly takes her braids out when I'm not looking.

  12. nooooo! don't ever cut it! i forbid you! i'll braid it for you before a ride (if I'm there : )
    - The Equestrian Vagabond


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