Thursday, September 27, 2012

Ride Bear 25: We remember how to do a proper LD!

I know, I'm such an absentee landlord blogger.

So last weekend, Dixie and I went to a local ride, Ride Bear, to do an LD with a brand-new endurance pair! M has an adorable opinionated Haflinger named Fetti, and last weekend was their debut ride. Dixie'd had several weeks totally off, with nothing to do but eat tons of hay, hay pellets, and beet pulp. She was looking much less like a greyhound, and I was hoping she would be feeling good.

Dixie was SO excited to see the trailer! She loaded great, hauled quietly (ridecamp, in Gilroy, was maybe an hour away), came off the trailer and had a quick look around, then started eating.

Camp, before it filled up.

Majestic. Fastidious. Immaculate.

In the morning, Dixie had a tiny meltdown when the 50s left, but not too bad. There were maybe 15 LD riders, so we just let the first 4-6 leave then we headed out. Our ride strategy, such as it was, was to make the mares walk for the first couple miles. The only real hills of the LD were in the first couple miles, and we didn't want them to get frothy and go insane at the start. We hopscotched for a bit with Julie Suhr (on a very green chestnut) and her friend, but eventually we got in front and stayed that way. A guy on a cute spindly little Arab passed us and towed us along for a mile or so, then we fetched up on Pete and Leslie and rode the rest of the day with them.


Pete and Leslie are gaited riders. Pete was working on his homebred SSH/Arab gelding's first AERC completion, and he'd wheedled his wife into keeping him company on their good TWH mare Ladyhawke. Sadly, Ladyhawke took an instant dislike to my precious angel Dixie, so Leslie and I had to stay pretty far apart, but other than that, everybody got along great and seemed to pace well.


We had one away vet check. Everybody pulsed down right away and vetted through with no problems. Some awesome volunteers offered us food and held horses while we headed to the porta potty. If my horse develops superpowers, it's from this mutant carrot I fed her at the vet check:


M and I were a few minutes late leaving the check and we had to put the pedal down to catch our friends, but the mares were in great shape and we just plowed along for a couple miles and caught up to P & L.


We saw a whole family of mule deer. They were super cute :) but I don't think I'll ever get used to these spookily tame California animals. Are there really so few hunters? I mean we rode down a trail less than 50' from three adults and two bambis and they didn't even bother to wander away. You can see a deer silhouetted under the tree:


And just a couple miles from the finish, I saw a boar! My very first pig sighting ever. I've seen deer in every state I've ever lived in, but this is my first boar sighting. I was very glad that he was across the ravine looking for acorns - boar can be pretty scary.


Dixie and I were in at 12:05 and pulsed down at 12:07. She had a great CRI (56/48) and generally spent all day trying to pull my arms out of their sockets. I was, as always, incredibly proud of her!

After we vetted out and visited with our friends, I took Dixie to the hose (a hose! LUXURY!) and washed her off, then let her roll a couple times. I packed the trailer, talked some more, and realized I was totally completely done at 2 pm. There wasn't any food for hours and hours yet, and it was 90+ degrees, and my house was just a couple hours away. So we totally skipped the dinner and awards ceremony and headed home.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Hoof improvement

Let's recap! Here's how nasty Dixie's hooves looked a week ago, when the packed-in sole came out:

Sept 8 - sole flaking out

On Tuesday, I trimmed.

Sept 11 trim

Sept 11 trim

By Thursday, her heels were opening up.
Sept 13 - heels opening

And today, they look really nice. I could take the heels down a bit more, but her frogs look way better - the deep black crevices on either side of the frog have filled in.

Sept 16 front sole

Sept 16 front heel


The white things you see in a few of the pics are teeny-weeny gauze squares, dipped in tea tree oil, crammed in the cracks of her frogs. I've been picking her feet out every day or every other day and replacing the gauze. If she wasn't in such a barefoot-unfriendly situation - in a tiny paddock, bedded with shavings - I might not worry about it. But the thing is, when I put her feet down and walk away, she waits like 3.4 seconds before she goes and stands in poop. I think the tea tree gauze is a physical barrier that keeps the manure out of her frogs and gives them time to heal.

Gotta go ride tomorrow. We're doing the 25 on Saturday at Ride Bear - she should be just fine, but we need to get out and blow the cobwebs off.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The ugly

One of the things I try hard to do is share the fuckups, disappointments, accidents, etc. in my horse life. When my shit goes wrong and I think "god maybe I shouldn't blog this," that's when I make sure to blog it. So, first, please click through (if you're looking at this in Reader) and watch this video.

Dixie trotting, Sept 2012 from Funder on Vimeo.

Man, that is a fine moving horse. Unfortunately she's, like, the polar opposite of how a gaited horse should move! No flashy high action, just a real businesslike smooth easy trot. So already I'm kinda cringing - look, look at my amazing TWH endurance horse's super efficient trot. You're doin' it wrong, Funder.

(She's still so skinny. Gotta get those ribs covered - but it's only been a week of the Fat Camp plan.)

So I've watched the clip over and over, in slow motion even, and that mare is absolutely landing flat/heel-first. She's not toeing it at all. She's just flowing along perfectly.

And look at this hoof! It's a little long, yeah, and a little underrun at the heels, but that's a fine looking hoof.

Earlier this week, Tuesday or Wednesday, I checked on Miss D and that sole was looking like it was maybe ready to come out. Then I was laid very low indeed by some minor food poisoning and I wasn't able to get back out til this weekend. On Saturday I arose from my deathbed and went and shot that video - plus picked up Dixie's feet and had a look-see.

The packed-in sole was definitely ready to come out, and her frogs were absolutely eaten up by thrush. I don't know how much you can see from these shots, but here goes...



That was midway through the prying session. I got some more sole and bar out of all four feet, but I only took those shots. Then I scrubbed purple thrush stuff all up in her feet. This is a terrible photograph, but I think you can see how deep the crevices are.


Today I went back and packed those crevices with tea tree oil gauze.


Now that the sole is coming out, her heels are hugely long.


This is the bit where you might disagree with me: I'm leaving the walls alone for a couple days. My first instinct was to scrape out the crumbly sole, treat the thrush, and trim to live sole as normal, but I'm going to wait. I kinda think that the walls are protecting her poor frogs. I know they need to get back to ground contact and start doing their job, but I also think it's a good idea to let them heal up for a short time first.

Also, I think that my horse has no nerves in her feet or something.


You remember my sweet tack trunk I made out of a vertical tool chest from Home Depot? Yeah, it didn't work out so well. I mean, it worked fine on perfectly flat indoor surfaces, but it was almost impossible to accordion open the chest on bumpy outdoor ground. It's been demoted to living in the garage holding "stuff I might one day need," and I'm trying something new for in-trailer storage.

It's another tool chest from Home Depot - this one is like a trunk, with a telescoping handle, wheels, and a lift-off lid. Fits in the back under the saddle rack.

Holds the "I might need this on the road" stuff.

BIG removable top tray comfortably holds all my trimming junk.

Mr. September's a big handsome fellow, but his human appears to have misplaced his clothes!

And finally, I stole a couple of Tahoe Rim ribbons ;)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Moving, rides, reviews

This weekend I moved Dixie to a "stall" at the same stable she's been at. What everybody out here calls a stall is what I'd call a tiny paddock with a run-in shelter. So, ugh, my horse is in a stall, but it's not like a 10x12 no-turnout stall inside a barn.

Yes, there was a tiny bit of drama, but you know rehashing drama is not my thing. Let's just say that the other owners in the field - all of whom had been there longer - wanted to feed alfalfa, and Dixie's allergic to alfalfa. A stall costs $120 more a month (with cleaning), but at least I can set up a slow feeder (like irish horse's!) and she can nibble 24/7. And she IS a super lazy horse who prefers to stand around all day - she wasn't doing a very good job of utilizing a traditional pasture setup.

So here's the view through the feeding window at the back of the run-in. You can see that even though she's plumped back up from her dehydrated post-ride state, she's still a little thin - hopefully I can fix that in September.

Kinda artsy :) Since then, I've printed and laminated a better stall sign, but all I had to work with that day was a manilla envelope, a sharpie, and some duct tape.

From the front.

Next ride: I think I'm going to do Tami's new ride, the Red Rocks Rumble (pdf ride flyer). It's October 6th, so that'll give Miss Dee six weeks off. I know the whole Red Rocks area, and I've ridden the first 30 mile loop with ~C earlier this year. God willing it don't snow early, I'm going to my home stomping grounds!

Before that: I'm hoping to do an LD with a newbie at Ride Bear (pdf flyer). It's super-local - if M can't make it, I think I will go volunteer anyway. I feel kinda guilty, because Red Rock Rumble is the same weekend as Quicksilver Fall Classic. But I get so excited when I think about Red Rocks!

Tack Review: This endurance thing is getting easier and easier, and I don't think my tack musings deserve their own post-ride blog anymore. :o

  • Cooling: I forgot my $2 helmet liner cooler in the trailer, but luckily the trailer followed me to the vet check.  ;)  The ride was far from hot, but the helmet cooler works great and it was nice to have.  Sadly, I left my cheapo cooling vest at Foresthill, and I thought I ordered another vest but perhaps I have dreamt it?  Anyway, I didn't really need extra cooling on that ride.  
  • Boots: I taped them on because they're getting pretty easy to apply, but then because I'd taped them on I couldn't pull them on the trail to check for gravel.  I had to fold down the gaiters and scrape the gravel out with my fingers - if they hadn't been taped, I could've pulled the whole boot off, banged the junk out on a rock, then reapplied the boot.  I don't know!  Like stall vs. pasture, it's another question with no easy answer.  But the bottom line is:  the Gloves continue to work perfectly.
  • Accommodations:  I slept on an eggcrate and two sleeping bags in the back seat of the truck.  I have become a camping minimalist and who needs fancy-schmancy shit like tents?  Just give me somewhere mostly flat to lay a bag.
  • Chow:  Miss Thing hates beet pulp again.  Also, she eats more than one half-bale-bag full of hay on a one-day ride.  I need to call Henry and get another half-bale-bag before he runs out!
  • People Chow:  I think most of my pre- and post-lunch "why did I pay money to do this to myself" blahs are carb related.  I actually don't eat super low carb day-to-day, but when I'm out volunteering or riding a ride, I have noticed that when I eat a lot of carbs all at once (sandwich, sugary energy bar, handful of fruit) I get the sugar crash a lot more frequently.  So this time I tried a smoothie made from coconut milk, whey protein powder, and a little hot chocolate mix.  Surprisingly not vile, tons of calories of fat and protein, worked GREAT.  I couldn't find my other can of coconut milk at the second check so I just drank beer instead.  This may be the silliest substitution in the history of the sport.

In other n=1 personal experimentation news: I gave up dairy and had no zits. Then on the way to Tahoe Rim I drank a Starbucks, and another on the way home from the ride. I got three zits that weekend. A week back on the no-dairy bandwagon and I have no zits again. I can't say that I'll never drink milk again - a really good latte is totally worth it - but my daily coffee is lightened with coconut milk these days.