Sunday, November 27, 2011

What a wonderful day: NEDA Turkey Trot

G was home for a whole week, which was thoroughly awesome. I took him to the airport on Saturday, and I knew today would be quiet and sucky if I didn't do something - so I went to Silver Springs for a 20 mile NEDA ride. It was the perfect antidote to a very quiet house.

Today was one of those days that makes you really love Nevada - it's the end of November, sunny, light breezes, and almost 60. I started out with three layers on, but I finished the ride in a tank top. A tank top. In November. It's really hard to beat that. It's the kind of day that really cements my belief that distance riding is the best sport ever invented.

Miss Thing hauled like a pro and ate like a pig and even let me prettify her mane.
Ready to go!

We started a couple minutes behind the frontrunners, and I held her to a running walk for a half mile or so before I let her move out a bit. We fell in with Dyke, who I've ridden with before, and actually stuck with him for most of the ride. He was riding a very hairy 4000+ mile horse - usually Dixie cannot hang with the high-mileage horses, but he was in no hurry and we paced well together.

Jackie caught up to us near the end of the first loop. She was riding a 19 year old energizer bunny of an Arab - at 19, with god knows how many miles, he was still spooking at random stuff and bucking when he got mad. Super cute. We all rolled into the check together. Dixie pulsed in immediately, despite being dripping wet, so I gave her some more electrolytes and headed back out.

She was tired but still quite ready to go. I was just delighted with her attitude - I've had to kick her out of camp a couple times, and it always makes me feel like I'm Making A Terrible Mistake with this sport. But she'd just ripped through 9 miles and was quite happy to head back out, yay!

At 18 miles Dixie ran out of steam. It was the end of the long boring second loop, down yet another interminable gravel road, and she was clearly lost. Fortunately Meredith caught up and happily walked on in with us. The weather had gotten so warm that I took off my jacket and finished the ride in just a tank top. (A tank top! In November!)

I love that horse, even when she's covered in mudsweat.

This is the best horse sport. If you're a little intimidated by the thought of riding for a whole day, you should think about doing an LD. Dixie and I did 20.25 miles in just under 3:30 - an AERC 25 mile LD could easily take less than 5 hours in the saddle going much slower than we did. Also I got a coffee cup, a big one, with horses on it! And deep fried turkey. Life is good.


  1. I'm so jealous of your good weather that I'd kick your butt...except my boot got stuck in the mud and I can't move my foot.

    Nyahhhh, nyahhhh, your horse is beautiful even when she's wearing dirtmud. Look how buff she's become! I want muscles like that!

  2. A tank top in November! You trumped me! But so glad you are getting some good riding. I wish there were more LDs in our area. (If you build it they will come...)

    Dixie's fancy mane looks great!

  3. Dixie's mane looks so cool :)!!
    Sounds like a great outing with gorgeous weather.

  4. Sounds like you both had fun. :)

    I'd say I was jealous of your weather except - we're having the same weather! More of the same please...

    Dixie is adorable.

  5. Dixie is looking awesome! I'd LOVE to ride all day just don't know about anything like that around here. I'll keep looking.. and looking.

  6. Hey Funder...its gorgeous here on the California coast, too, and I've been riding every day--Yay! There is nothing like these warm winter days; it may be my favorite weather of the whole year.

    So, I don't mean to play devil's advocate, and I'm glad you're having fun, but explain something to me. What is so great about such things as "the long boring second loop" down an "interminable gravel road." When I ride, I plan my rides to avoid that sort of thing, cause I don't enjoy it. My three hour loop goes through beautiful scenery and I seldom see other riders or hikers, and my gravel road stretches are very brief. I'm not a real social person and I love the feeling of solitude in the hills with my horse. I'm also perfectly capable of exploring new trails and planning fun rides for myself, my son and our friend, Wally. So I'm stumped on what is better about these organized rides...of any sort. I'm not meaning to run down any one else's version of fun. I'm just puzzled.

  7. that sounds so fun! A good distance, and how nice to have that kind of ride in your area. Dixie looks lovely, love her mane like that. This weather is amazing, I did a whole ride today in a tshirt too.

  8. First thing I saw was the lovely braid job on the main... and then the still-suspiciously-blue tail. Hmmm... ;)

    Glad to hear that you had such a great ride and a fun time. Because of you, I plan to someday try an LD ride... I think there's one near here that we can go to without killing ourselves. After all, it's like foxhunting, minus the hounds and the alky-hol, right?

  9. Any day when one can be outside for nearly all the daylight hours (and in a tank top for part of it!) is a good day, in my books! Glad you enjoyed your ride.

  10. We're having that wonderful weather in Eastern WA too. It is the kind of warm that I didn't trust when I lived in the midwest—a warm, windy day in Nebraska in late November means there will be a foot of snow on the ground tomorrow. :)

    Can you explain what NEDA is? 20 miles is less than an LD, so it must not be an AERC thing...?

    Jealous of any and all "organized" riding this time of year!

  11. Laura - good question!

    The shorter answer is that it's a tradeoff. Nevada has some breathtaking trails, but they're steep and rocky. And it's got some really good footing (19 miles of yesterday's ride was flat sand!) but it's going to be more boring.

    One person's boring is another person's hair-raising adventure. Dixie has done those roads, several times, so she's used to the enormous weird yard art sculptures, the jonboat tied to the mailbox, the BYB mini horse farm, the packs of dogs that run snarling to their fences, etc. The first few times we did it, it was fabulous desensitization. Now it's just "Is that statue of a cactus new?"

    I did spend almost half the ride hanging 20' behind some other riders. I could almost follow the conversation, but I was too far back to have to talk nonstop. Dixie had friends to keep her inspired and I got to bounce along looking at the jackrabbits and eagles. (Saw four huge golden eagles!)

    The long answer really deserves its own post, but basically you have to train to get your horse in shape to do endurance, and I want to do endurance because it's such a rush to ride a horse that never runs out of impulsion. It's just easier and more fun for me and her if we train with others. :)

  12. Ruth - NEDA is a regional distance riding organization. The rides are 20-30 miles, with one pulse and go in the middle, and there are chariot drivers on the trails with you. It's similar to AERC LDs, but much cheaper and usually just a day ride. About half the NEDA riders are also AERC riders, and we use the NEDA rides to leg up new horses and keep competition horses in shape between 50s.

  13. Sounds like fun! Love those days on the trail that bring a smile to your face and can't beat the feeling that your horse is feeling fit and good! I'm hitting the trail with a friend tomorrow, can't wait. That mane style is killer and might work really well for my fine haired mare, her mane literally knots itself into dreadlocks if she even turns her head! I have to braid it for any work under saddle because it swirls up under the saddle too..where did you learn to do that braid?? :)

  14. Dixie looks gorgeous with her fancy braid.
    We are having the same warm weather, only with blow-me-down wind. And the wind's blowing in a cold front.

  15. Looks like a great time! I am awfully jealous to hear about a TANKTOP???? in the end of November??? That's just so- not- fair!!!!

  16. It really IS the best horse sport.

  17. When you talk about riding - at least with endurance - that's ALL it's about! Riding! Now "how" you ride :-) that's the long story!


Feel free to comment!