Wednesday, August 14, 2013

TRR wrapup

I guess I'll start with (new) gear.

  • Liz made me some new reins!  They're old climbing rope, cause she's a badass rock climber, and they're super extra long so I can (theoretically) tail with them.  The rope is quite stiff and coils nicely and I love the way it feels in my hands.  With my old beta biothane reins, I always needed gloves because they got slippery if my hands were sweaty, and the reins were just a little too short - I had to lean forward to let Dixie graze, and that gets old fast.  I can sit up straight while D gets a snack, and the rope just wants to fold itself in a neat little circle when we're trotting along and I need to take up the slack.  Love them.  A++.
  • Lucy convinced me to buy a Salamander helmet visor a couple months ago, and no, I never bothered to put it on until this ride.  It rocks!  I didn't need sunglasses, it didn't obstruct my view, and I didn't look dorkier than usual.  
  • I hit a sporting goods store last month and bought a bunch of new purple running shirts - tanks, tees, and long-sleeved technical fabric, plus two new sports bras.  They are comfortable.  The girls are well contained.  They're supposed to be heat gear, but I don't know how well they keep me cool because it wasn't a hot ride and Oakland is never hot.  (God, yall, it was 81 yesterday and I was dying.  I got in the truck and drove to REI in Berkeley where it was 69 to cool off.)
  • Fleece velcro stirrup leather covers.  OMG, they're wonderful.  I am no longer scared of my leathers and my seat is so much better - even with half-chaps, I'd been unconsciously flinching my legs away from the risk of getting pinched or rubbed on the leathers, and I didn't even know it.  Now my legs wrap gracefully around D's barrel and everything is just so much better.  (Also, running is way easier without half-chaps.) 
  • Riding fly mask.  That bitch of a horse has developed a head-slinging habit that's worthy of its own post, and one of the things I'm trying is a fly mask.  I don't want to punish/prevent the behavior if it's a physical problem, so I'm trying a bunch of little fixes to rule out any physical discomfort.  Anyway I can slap that fly mask on from the saddle at a walk and she can see just fine, so there's not much more to say about its performance.  
Old gear:
  • I have made my peace with my beloved Griffin's pommel bags.  With the old saddle, they hung directly over the pommel and worked fine.  I tried to hang them the same way on the new saddle, but the bags sat too far back and I banged into them and got that horrid bruise at Washoe.  At TRR, I hung them forward of the pommel, where the strap joining the two bags is resting on Dixie's neck, instead of on the pommel.  They worked fine that way.  No rubs on the horse (YMMV), no bruises on me, tons of room to carry junk.
  • I used my ATG breastcollar and crupper, but honestly, I don't think I ever needed the crupper.  Every time I checked, it was floppy loose back there, and we did nothing but hills.  That leads me to...
  • OMG, I love my Specialized saddle.  I can't get really good pics on a white horse, but her back muscles are filling out.  I need to check the fit again and maybe her right side doesn't need the shim anymore - but it ain't no thing, no need to call a saddle fitter or nothin'.  Specialized + fleeces = happy horse and rider.
  • My shit-ass $30 Garmin 205 is almost entirely useless at this point.  The battery lasts 10 hours max, and of course I turned it on when I saddled up at 7:30 so it was dead before Marlette Lake. (Tracks here.) Instead of upgrading to a touchscreen Garmin, I'm switching to a Spot Gen3 tracker - G can track me in real time on a web app, and it's got an oh-shit button to summon the medivac helicopters if it all goes really sideways.  
  • Everything else was unchanged or not used.  
Things I didn't do:  I didn't electrolyte, at all.  It just wasn't a hot ride, and the more I learn about equine physiology, the less often I give electrolytes.  I'm not anti-electrolyte, but it just wasn't necessary.  I didn't even braid her mane - I put pigtails in at 18 miles, but no aggressive cooling.  

Dixie didn't drink at 10 miles, but I think she started drinking at 12 miles, and she took good care of herself all day.  She wasn't interested in water at Red House at 32 miles or Marlette Lake at 42 miles, but she was grazing at both spots and she drank every other time it was available.  

Because we were starting so late, I waited til the morning to put her boots on, and they did not budge all day.  TRR isn't the biggest challenge to boots - I think slogging through mud is the hardest - but it was a lot of rock climbing.  Per Kevin's advice, I've gotten really aggressive about keeping her toes pulled back to the white line and her heels as low as I dare to take them, and her feet look better than ever.  I've gone from 0.5 Gloves (that never looked quite right, but never came off either) to 0 Gloves on her fronts.  Getting the gaiters done up is a challenge, and I have to walk her around for like a quarter mile before they will close, but I sure love them.

Oddly, she had one rub, on her back right pastern.  Never had a rear gaiter rub before.  Maybe a rock got caught in there for a few miles?  

I have a badass new hoof stand and I need to take pics of how beautiful her feet look, so try to contain your excitement - a Hoof Post is coming soon.


So we're going to tackle the Virginia City 100 in 5.5 weeks.  It's hard, but I think we have a good shot at finishing it.  Dixie's really evened out into a slow, steady horse who just chugs along for hours and hours, and I'm fitter than I've ever been in my life.  I feel like I've got our gear and nutrition under control.  I have good crew (Mel!) and good riding friends (Nevada!) and we're going for it.

I really want to do a hundred, and if you have to ask why I just can't explain it to you.  :)  My husband and I have the most rewarding & trusting relationship of my life, but Dixie and I are a very close second.  Me and her?  We can do things together I never imagined she could do, that I never imagined I could do.  


  1. Wishing you much good fortune at Virginia City. I never tackled endurance, but I recognize that emotion of wanting to do something that others might find inexplicable. Living alone at a lake in the Sierras, competing at various big cutting events (with all the money, time and trouble it took) and taking a two week horse packing trip on our own horses over the spine of the Sierras were similar goals for me, and I feel great satisfaction and content to this day that I actually did those things (and no desire to repeat them). Go team Fixie!

  2. SQUEE so happy you like the reins. Bethabiothane is great, but I don't like the slickness either. I want something cheap and functional that I can use and abuse. When you want more reins like that take them to your local REI and say you want so many feet of rope like that. I can't remember if its static or dynamic (sometimes gym rope is static, all outdoors rope is dynamic, but our gym sometimes just bought whateverthefuckwewanted).

    HURRAH for your second 100 attempt. You girls got dis. Kick 100 miles of ass. Boom.

  3. great post! i love my salamandar visor but often hit my head on branches that i don't see.

    i'm so happy for you that you're living your dream.

  4. The folks that sold me Scrappy keep trying to get me to do VC on him this year, as he did it last year. But I'm waayyyyy too conservative for that, will be doing our first 50 about that time instead! BUT I would like to try it next year, so blog your heart out about it please!!

    1. He's Rushcreek Tracer, right? I've been staring at the 2012 ride chart all morning, looking at fast/average/slow times between checks. Go Scrappy! He went Dixie-speed!

  5. I started using rope reins this year - a big improvement. It's got to be wetter here than where you live too. Mine are made of yachting rope, perhaps because the sea is closer than the mountains.

    I am thrilled that you are doing so well with these long rides.

  6. Do you happen to have pics of those new reins? Or could you take pics? Sorry, I'm a rein junkie. Always looking for that "perfect" pair.

    Your closing bit reminds me of way back when Pie & I first got married... he asked me if I loved him or Cessa (my mare at the time - RIP Cessa) and I just kinda smiled and said "Weeeelll, I've known her longer" and left it at that.

    As for VC - GO Team Fixie!!

  7. You go girl. I love rope reins too, for the trail, and I use the yachting rope, it has a great feel.

  8. VIRGINIA CITY! I'm so excited for you!!!!! sounds like you have everything on track. I think that's the same weekend as the NCs, but I will be watching for your updates!!!!!! good luck!!!!!!
    - The Equestrian Vagabond

  9. Go Team Fixie!!!

    Absolutely incredible how far you two have come and I am so excited for you!!!


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