Thursday, March 24, 2011

She's back

Dixie's been quiet and tired since the ride. I knew she'd bounce back and I've been watching for it. This morning was the first time she did the full head-twirling, rolling aggressively in the sand, cantering around routine, so I now pronounce her Completely Recovered.

The unofficial and rough rule of thumb seems to be to give the horse a day off per 5 days ridden. (Obviously, at a certain point a really peak horse doesn't need it - that's how they trot happily through 5-day pioneers or weeks of XP rides.) Dixie did right at 35 miles, so I was expecting her to recover to her usual uppity self no later than Sunday. Seeing her back to normal today makes me happy :)

She's so funny. I don't think she's really disrespectful to me (yeah, still contemplating the leadership thing - I'm not nearly so sulky about it, just critically thinking about our interactions for a while). She just needs to let the whole world know that she's the bomb-diggity. She trots and canters around her paddock, twirling her head so vigorously that I'm really surprised she doesn't get dizzy and fall down. Sometimes she'll come prancing over to me and toss her head, and I'll wave my arms (or even just flick my fingers) at her and she spins and bolts away, tossing her head at everything else. When she tosses her head at the goat, he runs. Tragically, the chickens are unimpressed and the neighbor horses just watch her quietly. I'm sure if she could make everything in sight flee from her majestic posturing she'd be content. ;)

A head-flinging happy horse is one of the deepest pleasures of my life. I'm so lucky!

G is coming in for the weekend, so I probably won't post much. Maybe I can finally get caught up on all yall's blogs (or maybe I won't even get online). No promises! Stay warm and dry, if you're in one of the benighted parts of the world still getting snow. And keep your trap shut about your beautiful weather if you're not getting snowed on! :P

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


I've been thinking about our ride for almost a week. I think we have a lot of little issues to work out and one big one.

The little ones:
* more hill work
* better electrolyte protocol
* put the damn boots on the night before
* get up earlier because there's something else I forgot I guarantee it
* learn to pace better

The big one:
DRINKING. I think the heart of the not-drinking problem is that Dixie only goes on short trips. The trailer is like a mobile tie rack, not a home away from home. She knows that pretty soon now we'll load up and go home, and home water is evidently way better than away water, so ugh, why drink gross away water?

I've had a couple people suggest that we do 2 25s in a row. I know she can power through the first day in good shape even if she just drinks a minimum amount, and the second day might really impress on her that she should conserve some strength and drink when she gets the chance. I've also thought about just trying another 50 - the weather sucked, but we made it further than we've ever gone before. With better weather she might finish fine.

But I think I'll just wait. I think the heart of the problem is that the trailer isn't home, and it can't be home til we have one of our very own. It's a hole in our training and I think I should back up and fill it in the right way. I'll just wait til I can get a trailer, and then I'll start hauling Dixie for short trips. There's at least 4 different places I can go within 20 miles. I'll take her for a couple hours' ride, tie her to the trailer with a water bucket (of glorious home water), and sit down and read a book til she drinks. I can haul her to local AERC rides and local NEDA rides, and either ride her or just leave her tied while I volunteer... then sit down and read a book til she drinks. I don't think it'll take forever to get her trained to drink at the trailer if she's remotely thirsty. If Dixie would just tank up at the trailer, I wouldn't mind if she didn't want to drink on the trail - 20 miles without a drink isn't ideal but it's acceptable to start.

So until then I guess we'll do a longer ride once a week to keep her in shape, then work on hill cardio stuff or flat dressage stuff the other times I ride. I'll go back to applesaucing her at night, to cut down on the snarly-face giraffe-neck at the sight of the syringe. She trotted-out well (well, aside from both trotting and pacing) so I can drop that to once a week or so, just to keep the concept alive. I don't have any other plan or timeline for the year. :)

Anyway, as a reward for reading this far, here is Banders being weird on the fence.

FenceCat from Funder on Vimeo.

Monday, March 21, 2011

And the RNG says...

Stacey Stearns! You don't have your email in your profile, so shoot me an email (funder, at gmail) with your address and I'll get it in the mail tomorrow. Or maybe Wednesday.

Everybody else - if you're heartbroken about the journal, you can send 25 smackeroos to Steph and buy your own. I might have to buy a replacement myself!

(If I don't hear from Stacey in a week I'll reroll the dice and pick a new winner, but I bet she'll come on down and claim her prize!)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Rides of March 2011: A Novel, by Funder

Let's start with the weather!

Forecast before ROM

That's the forecast as of 9:30 am on Friday. (Mel - 2-6" of snow Friday night, cloudy with a chance of snow showers Saturday, winds 10-20 gusts of 35.)

Sounds delightful! The ride had about 40 pre entries, but a lot of those were Californians who wussed out had serious concerns about driving over the Sierras. There were 15 intrepid riders at the start of the ride meeting, but a couple more rigs came in that night. But back to the beginning.

I packed about 3/4 of everything I own for my epic hours-long journey into the wilderness 15 miles from my house. You can't quite see the duffle bag of human clothes behind the blue bucket, and the saddle is deeply shadowed to the left of the grey tote. (Who fans: the tote now has a sticker that says "the angels have the phone box." It rocks!)
So much crap

I got Dixie braided up in super-cute viking war pony braids. I am sorry in advance for any pain this picture causes dressage riders, hunters, eventers, or any other weird English discipline, but she has SO MUCH HAIR that I alternated them on each side of her neck.
Viking braids

While we waited for ~C, we watched the storm blow in.
Bye bye mountain

Dixie loaded very well for C! We crammed my stuff in on top of C's stuff, tossed the food and not overly horsey bits of gear in the camper, and hit the road. I took this pic for G, and it probably won't make much sense to yall, but there's supposed to be a mountain behind those foothills.
No mountain available

By the time we got to camp, it was spitting snow pretty hard and the wind wasn't much better. We got the horses settled in. (There's supposed to be a whole mountain range behind the hill in this one!)
Dixie and Dig

Dixie settled in to munching hay at a decent rate (considering she'd been munching hay for hours, interrupted by a 30 minute trailer ride). She ate her e-lyted grain but didn't want to drink. We went to the ride meeting - she still didn't drink. C's friend S showed up and we all ate dinner together, then Dixie... still wouldn't drink. So not a good start.
  • Should I have given her more electrolytes then? I've read so many people pushing elytes the night before. And a bunch of studies about how too much sodium actually depresses the thirst instinct and makes the blood thicker and causes ulcers.

C and I crawled in bed under a truly heavenly down comforter and I got warm for the first time since about noon. It was glorious. I slept really well, except I had this crazy dream about AareneX's beautiful boarding facility. Aarene, it has hundreds of acres of lush green pastures, all crossfenced with white three-rail wood fencing. Except you were very wishywashy about this guy and his entourage and his reanimated Percheron stallion-zombie, and we boarders were trying to convince you to kick him off the property, and I had to keep moving my mare to different pastures because she was in heat and dear god the last thing I need is a half Perch zombie TWH foal.

Anyway. It snowed all night! Only about an inch, but it was still snowing and very windy when we got up at 5:30. Dixie drank! Not as much as I'd like, but it's a start. She ate most of a flake of hay overnight too. We are kind and conscientious riders, so we fixed our horses a hot mash for breakfast. Except Dixie still hates all soggy food, even when it's her favorite grain and it's pleasantly warm and soggy. Oh well. I ate breakfast, as part of the Great Master Plan to Keep Funder Fueled - a giant slice of the quiche we had for dinner.

Out into the snow. I slung Dixie's tack on. She kicked AT ME when I looped the latigo through the girth. I smacked her in the neck and went at her screaming like I was going to kill her, and she backed up real fast and hit the end of the lead rope and stared at me. She stood like a sulky rock after that. People started mounting up and heading to the start. She got antsy. I tried to boot her. She just could not keep a foot up long enough and I cussed myself for not booting her the night before like I'd thought about. To hell with it, she can go barefoot for the first loop.

Tossed her rump rug on her butt. One of the little strings was missing. I borrowed a strap thing from C and tied the rug on both of the back.. mini-D rings? Those back rings behind the cantle of the saddle, where you tie a rump rug!

Ok! It's 7 am! Where did the time go?

I remembered my camelbak, then realized the tube had frozen overnight, so I ripped through my two boxes and found the spare camelbak liner and dumped my 2 liters of elyted water in there and shoved it all in the backpack and slung that on and ran around to my horse. Helmet. I ran back around and dug out my helmet.

Helmet on. Hood up. Other hood up. Ski jacket zipped up completely. Hand warmers in pockets. Two pairs of gloves. Horse has a saddle and a breastcollar and a bridle on. Let's roll. I go to unsnap the lead rope and... it's broken. When she hit the end of the rope she somehow broke the little spring that makes the slide go down. Oh my god, why me.

I untied the rope, slung it across her withers, hopped on, and off we went.
  • I didn't ride with C and S. They finished, I didn't; well duh maybe I should've. C always starts off walking. Dixie and I don't walk well. Of course from the saddle she walks faster than any human, and on foot she's a horrible horrible creature to lead when she's hyped up. She steps on my heels til I yell and then she rolls her eyes up in her head and dances around, then she tries to pass me and shoulderblock me out of the way. I am a worthless horse trainer, yall. Worthless.

Well, away we went. Somehow I managed to keep her at a rack/pace with the reins in my teeth while I tied the end of the lead rope on to the saddlebag in some way that wouldn't drag the ground. She listened pretty well - she stayed at a moderate speed, she slowed down for the tricky downhills and the unintentional jogger trying to catch up to her friends who'd caught her horse, she passed well but followed well too when we caught up to the mid-pack.

I smiled big for the ride photographer. Dixie step-paced, because we were headed downhill. We're adorable and out-of-focus in the thick styrofoam-ball snow.

I let her canter once, for maybe 100 yards, on a dirt road with no one else nearby, and when I asked her to rate she slowed right down for me.

  • I am totally second-guessing everything now because I just got a "you're not a very good leader" comment on an email list. She's probably right. I'm not a very good leader. This is me sulking in the commentary.

About then I decided things were going quite well and I should hydrate myself. The new camelbak thing... did not work. I spent a while banging it on the pommel and blowing in it and sucking real hard and yanking and gnawing. Nothing. We fell in on a bit of singletrack cow trail / dry creek bed, then a couple more riders piled in behind us.

The nice lady behind me asked if I knew my rump rug was dangling? Crap, no, of course I didn't know. I looked back and sure enough, the new strap had come unstrapped and it was dangling off Dixie's off side dragging the ground. At least she didn't buck me off and run away. I yanked it up and into the seat with me and decided I'd fix it soon. Then I spent the next 15 miles periodically grabbing the rump rug and sticking it back under my rump and riding til it slithered out again.

We got sorted out after the cow trail dumped us back on the jeep road, and I ended up riding with the nice lady who pointed out my rump rug. Turns out it was Vicki on Robin Hood, a gorgeous big mustang with, oh, 10,000 miles. He decided that Dixie needed a buddy and appointed himself her chaperone. (shout out: C told me who he was the night before.) No matter what Vicki did, if Dixie fell too far behind, Hood was just going to walk til she was ready to trot/gait with him. It was adorable. And Vicki was fun to talk to, when we felt like talking.

The first 20 mile loop headed down the foothills, then straight northeast across the valley floor (the Bedell Flats, C?) and up into the next range of foothills, then turned and came southwest back across the valley, up into the hills, and back to camp. The view should've been awesome but visibility was a couple hundred yards. The trip out was not so bad. There was water everywhere, either existing stock tanks for the range cows or ROM water tanks put out just for the horses. Dixie didn't really want to drink, but it was early and Hood wasn't drinking either, so I wasn't too concerned.

The trip back... ouch. The wind was blowing snow sideways to the northeast, so when we turned to head back we were riding straight into the wind. I ducked my face down behind the collar of my jacket and practiced enduring for a while. I had my eyes mostly shut and still kept getting frozen ice wads in my eyeballs, so I gave up and put my sunglasses on. It was really dim, and the sunglasses iced over immediately, but it's not like I could see before. At least I could peacefully open my eyes in my little half-blind prison. Dixie was locked on to Hood's butt and I could see enough to keep my balance.

We came back into camp in good but not exceptional time. The 20 mile first loop took right at 3 hours. Dixie vetted fine - I think she got a B for mucous membranes. The hold was only 15 minutes due to the horrid weather. I took her to water tank (no) and the trailer (no, ewww, this soggy half frozen crap grain is horrible but I guess I'll eat hay). I put her crupper on, then fixed the rump rug - swapped the defective strap for a D-ring! Hooray! then I tried to fix my camelbak. I discovered that there was no logical reason for it not to work, but if I just unscrewed the tip I could suck water out of the tube then screw the tip back on. Fine. Time's up.

I didn't even try to boot, because this was the one loop I didn't want to do wearing boots - lots of narrow switchback down the sides of canyons.

  • I could've stayed longer. But Dixie was only halfheartedly eating, it was very cold and windy, and her new BFF was ready to go. Riding would keep both of us warm(er) and Vicki was religious about stopping at every single tank and trying to let them drink.

After we headed out on Loop #2, the first 15 mile loop, the snow finally stopped. It was windy and very cold when the sun was behind a cloud, but decent enough when it was shining. I managed to eat a powerbar thing and a bag of absolutely delicious potato chips, and, over the course of the loop, drink all my water.

The "good" tie on the damn rump rug gave out and it started dangling off the other side of my horse, dragging the ground. I managed to unclip it, drag it around, and velcro it to the pommel at a trot. Then the clip thing fell out of the lead rope and it dragged the ground for a mile and Dixie kept tripping on it and I couldn't figure out what that very strange intermittent hitch in her gait was, but eventually I figured that out and added it to the pile of velcro'd withers crap.

About 3 miles in to that loop, Dixie took her first ride drink. So did Hood. They drank moderately, but at least they drank. I thought surely it was the start of a glorious day of drinking. The humans did a lot more talking, and the loop was gorgeous. We wound up a peak, past a horse-eating tanker car incongruously perched on the side of a hill, then down canyonsides and up canyonsides with just breathtaking views. The first couple miles had a view of the empty valley to the NE, then we crossed a saddle of the mountain and had views of the little community and the foxhounds.

Hood is a fantastic downhill horse. Dixie, I think, will also be a good one - she could keep up with him pretty easily (although I don't think he was trying very hard!) Hood powers on uphill and Dixie... dies on uphills. In tandem with the "you must drink" plan I must also do more uphills. The second major canyon going uphill on the west side of the peak, around 30 miles, Dixie started fading hard and I knew deep down that our ride was over. A bunch of other riders caught us and passed us, and Hood left with them. Dixie plodded along, slower and slower. When she was walking slower than I could walk, I hopped off. We meandered on up. We'd been letting the horses graze when they saw tasty grass, so I kept doing that. I marched us along smartly*, trying to get her to the next water tank before she really lost heart. Dixie followed me willingly and politely, but her affect was pretty flat. Eventually she perked up a bit and we came to a steep uphill section, so I found a rock and climbed back on and had her lug me to the top. The water tank wasn't far from there, and we stayed about 10 minutes. There was a lovely flake of mixed hay that hadn't blown away, and a tank full of water that Dixie politely sipped at. I left her alone to eat, and whenever she'd start to stare off in the distance and worry about being alone I'd get her attention back on me and tell her to graze.

*please note that my version of "smartly" is much much slower than a normal Dixie EVER walks.

I rode maybe a mile further, til I could see ridecamp way off in the distance. Then I hopped off and walked her in. We pulsed down right away and I let her eat and drink a bit. Eventually there was nobody else holding a horse anywhere near the vet, and the vet yelled "come on over!" I told her that I thought we were done but she might as well vet us. :)

We got a very charitable B for impulsion, a B for mucous membranes, I think A's for everything else... and she bombed her CRI. The vet told me she'd need a recheck, and I said I wanted to see if she'd eat and drink and perk up. She agreed that was a good idea and reminded me that I didn't have to leave in an hour. I agreed that I didn't have to leave til 3:30 or 4, but if she was still tired and listless by then I was going to pull. A t-shirt's not worth it. She consoled me by pointing out we were the 4th or 5th team she'd had to recheck, and that nobody was drinking well today. I decided to keep my spirits up.

We hung out at the vet check for a while, then went to the trailer. Dixie nibbled hay pretty consistently at the vet check, but all she wanted to do at the trailer was doze in the sun. I puttered around, drinking more elyte water and eating a sandwich. I stripped her tack and blanketed her, and every 10 minutes or so I'd lead her to the water troughs and the "good" vet hay and shove carrots in her face, then take her back to the trailer to nap.

C and S showed up and I decided I was done. They were definitely going to turtle, and their horses looked a million times better than Dixie. The ride staff and vet said I could probably vet her through and finish, but... I can't think of anything worse than pushing a tired horse and getting a t-shirt and some IV bags. I pulled. I cried. Everybody hugged me and consoled me - she'll learn to drink eventually, and if she doesn't we can have a lot of fun at LDs and NEDA rides. This is all true.

Sleepy girl

That's how my afternoon went. Dixie would wake up long enough to eat at most two handfuls of grain or one carrot while she was at the trailer, and she'd consistently nibble hay at the vet check. She sipped a little more water. She napped. Her legs were cold and tight, her feet were beautiful, her muscles were jello-y and loose. She let me scratch her itchy sweaty face - a sure sign that she's not mad at me.

I was forced to socialize with people, which is A Good Thing. I'm pretty good one on one, but big bunches of people make me very quiet. I tend toward the listening side more than the talking side - this blog is the only place I really truly ramble on - so I end up looking like the weirdo on the outskirts listening to you and your friends talk. I cleaned up all our hay and manure and packed all my stuff for a prompt getaway.

C and S finished with glorious looking horses at about 6:30. I had taken over the Very Important Job of feeding the bonfire by the time they got back. :) They vetted through fine, had their completion awards shoved in their arms, and away we went for home.

I unloaded the horse first and turned her loose still wearing her cooler. Bad idea! I thought as I untied the halter. You're just going to have to catch her in the dark and get that thing off. Then we carried all 700 individual pieces of crap I'd brought with me out of the trailer tack room and camper floor, seat, bed, and bathroom. As far as I can tell, I actually managed to get all my stuff!

I staggered in, greeted the very happy dog and very happy cats, heated up the last chunk of quiche, and gobbled it down. Then, in a fantastic show of good horsemanship, I went out in the dark and convinced the horse to hold still for me to take the cooler off. She was unimpressed and went off to roll. I went to bed.

I woke up to an inch of snow with more coming down. And a horse that I could not catch to blanket. Oh well. If she won't let me catch her to blanket her, she must be healthy enough to go without, right? It only snowed til noon. Happy spring, yall!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Puttin' the RO in ROM

Yep, we pulled! (Non e-people: RO is "rider option," when the horse is deemed fit to continue but the rider thinks there's trouble brewing and opts to pull. Technically you can RO if you are hurting too bad to go on, but that's pretty rare.)

I really really wanted to finish. I cried when I pulled. I'm crying now. But more than anything I want to not hurt my horse. The shortest possible story, because I'm totally exhausted and can't type up the whole thing tonight, is that it was very cold, windy, and snowy, and Ms. I Don't Like To Drink didn't drink, and she ran out of gas. By the 35 mile check, she was too tired to eat like a pig and her eyes were exhausted.

Debatably I rode a little too fast for the first loop - 20 miles in 3 hours, about 8 mph for the first hour then 6 mph the other two, but I think she'd have only made it a little further before she crashed if we'd gone slower. She didn't drink for 23 miles!

I don't know if they gave me RO or RO-M* - she had a high CRI at lunch, and I could've rechecked and probably gotten cleared to go on, but it doesn't really matter. :)

More tomorrow! Thanks so much for all your well-wishes - I checked my email a couple times today and the comments made me smile. lytha, I promise you didn't miss much this time! Sideways ice-snow, yuck.

(rider option metabolic, as opposed to rider option lame or just plain rider option.)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

... some days you're the bug.

I hope tomorrow I'm back to being the windshield.

So Mel and I have been talking about handy websites / apps over in her comments on Buzz, and one that I particularly love right now is Remember the Milk.

Remember the Milk just sends you reminders about stuff. Any stuff that you can fit in one line. Just type it in - "trimmer on April 25 at 9 am." "take trash out every Tuesday at 6 pm." "get chimney cleaned on July 1 at 10 am." You tell it how often you want reminders - I have mine emailed to me every day that one is due, at 9 am, then again at the time it's due. I bought the $25/yr pro account to get it hooked up to my iPhone/iPad, so they bleep and pop up a message, too. It's kind of annoying when I'm holding the horse for the trimmer when my phone reminds me to hold the horse for the trimmer - but it's GREAT when I'm doing something else extremely important (reading yall's blogs) on Tuesdays at 6 pm and I've already forgotten to take the trash out.

(The following events are in no way Remember the Milk's fault. I just thought yall might like to know about it, if you are at all as absentminded as me, lord love you if you are.)

Anyway! The last time the little mini goats were in heat was March 1. By the time I realized it, it was too late. I checked with the breeder and they come in every 18-21 days for 1-2 days, so I set a RTM and didn't think about it again. This week I was checking my upcoming tasks and lo and behold, I should take the goats to K on the 18th to get bred. Wait, the 18th is Friday and I'll be at ridecamp. I emailed her and we decided I'd bring the goats today and (hopefully!) pick up pregnant goats on Sunday.

So. About 4 I knocked off painting trim and fed the horse and locked the goats in the goat stall with some alfalfa and fed the dog and fed the cats. Then I found the dog crate and the base of the dog crate and dragged them out by the paddock. I went back in the house and found my wallet and the truck keys. Then I went back out and the chickens screamed bloody murder at me so I fed them. Then I went through the side yard into the people door to the garage and got in the truck. The whole time I was thinking about what to do.

should I put the crate in the truck then carry one goat at a time
or should I crate them and drag the crate to the truck? but I probably can't lift the crate and wedge it into the truck with 100 lbs of goats

Unlock truck.

more like 80 but still 80 lbs of live weight plus crate weight plus it's not that easy to wedge the crate in the backseat of the truck

Hit the garage door opener button.

I don't think I can even lift 80+ lbs of squirming goat crate into the bed of the truck the stupid truck bed is like 4' off the ground ugh

Start the truck.

so I should carry them one at a time? can I hold a 40 lb squirming angry goat and work both gate latches because they're locked in the run-in then I have to get the paddock gate open and closed

Put it in reverse. Roll into the still-half-open garage door.


All goat logistics flee my mind. Pull forward again a foot. Get out. Survey damage. Bottom section of door is seriously dented and off the track. Opener light is flashing angrily.

I push the button again. Door tries to shut. No, stupid! Open! I push the button, then when nothing happens instantaneously I push the button again. Door belatedly tries to open then tries to shut. I sigh, control my emotions, and push the button a fourth time. The door opens, most of the way. I glare at the dangling dented bottom piece of the door and the top of my stupidly tall truck roof. I carefully back up most of the way, get out, glare some more. The door should still clear the truck roof, by like an inch.

I get back in and veerrrry slowwwly back out, waiting for the horrible scraping noise of the formerly unmarred paint job peeling off. Nothing happens! I've escaped the garage!

I push the button. The door obediently closes. The dented panel is off the tracks on the inside, so it crashes into the little kid-safety sensors and sets them off and the opener starts flashing wildly and the door starts to open again. I very calmly press the button, once. The door grinds to a halt, open about 2'. Oh well.

I back up the hill to the paddock. Load the crate. Catch the skittish Missionary, crate her. Catch the super friendly Queen, crate her. Drive 45 minutes to K's house without hitting a single person or inanimate object. Yay me!

We have a lovely visit. She teaches me a little more hands-on stuff about goat conformation and gives me some tips to improve my goat husbandry. (Wifery? Goat ownership skills?) My little ones don't look terrible, but they're not as nice looking as hers - I'll get there though.

I drive home! Again, I fail to hit anything. I stopped along the way - I spent all day thinking about how I need to make a potluck contribution for ridecamp tomorrow. I decided on quiche. All I need from the store is pie crust and half and half.

Maybe ham, but I have bacon, bacon is better than ham. Maybe swiss cheese, but if I use bacon and the mushrooms I already have, I could use the good cheddar I already have, and cheddar > swiss. So all I need is pie crust.

I go buy pie crust. I get back in the truck and get halfway home and remember the damn half and half.


Oh well. I also didn't buy the human electrolytes I want. I have to go out tomorrow first thing in the morning so I'll get the damn half and half then.

I get home. The half-shut garage door taunts me. I push the button and open it. It doesn't look like it opens very far. I spent 5 minutes slowly pulling the truck forward, putting it in park, leaping out, and checking the clearance, then pulling forward another inch. (I am kind of amazed that I remembered to put it in park every time I got out.) Halfway through this I notice the emergency manual door opening cord thing so I yank on that and pull the door open another 3". Sweet! I let go of the cord and the door sags back to where it was. Shit.

I say screw the paint job and drive in to the garage. The truck clears the door by at least an inch. I get out and push the evil button. The opener makes a lot of noise and the door doesn't go up. I push it again and it makes the "door going up" noise and the door doesn't move. Clearly, I have broken or dislocated something by messing with that damn cord. I slap the button again to stop it, sigh, and get my stupid pie crusts and get out of the truck.

Somehow, I roll a critical failure while shutting the truck door and manage to slam the keys in the door so thoroughly that I dented the damn truck key.

Deep breathing.

In the house. Put the stupid pie crust in the freezer. Find the stupid spare key to the stupid hateful truck. Pour a drink. Post about it.

I'm afraid to do anything else at all tonight.

Monday, March 14, 2011

I hurt Dixie's feelings!

Obviously I felt bad about it as soon as I did it, but the corollary is that she has feelings, for me, and they are usually positive! How about that! I know yall are gonna be all "Of course she loves you! She's a sweet horse and she tries so hard for you of course she loves you!" but really, she is one of the least demonstrative horses I've ever met. She's incredibly... self-sufficient.

So this morning I fed her early then walked her down to M's for her trim. She seems to stand better for my poor patient trimmer at M's house, and it's a good excuse to go visit, so I've been taking her down there for trims. She was really quite good for the trim! Then I tied Dixie to Jim's truck while he trimmed M's mare. She pawed and I yelled. Repeat about 5 times. She pawed and I threw a tiny piece of gravel near her and she looked indignant and quit for a minute. Then she pawed again and I popped her in the butt with an even tinier piece of gravel and she got so upset! I fed her some of M's hay cubes and she promptly forgave me.

I planted stuff all day, then tonight at feeding time I measured Dixie's hooves and tried to get the boots on again. I think the red 1's fit her front hooves, but the gold 0's definitely do not fit her rear hooves. Dixie was seriously not thrilled about picking up her feet again - she clearly thought that since she stood nicely for the trimmer and picked up her feet once today, she was off the hook for picking them up again tonight. She was utterly wretched - threatened to fall down on me, rocked back and forth, yanked, snatched her feet away and sidestepped as far as possible from me. About the fifth time she wrenched a foot away and skittered as far as possible from me, I got mad and threw the tape measure kinda-sorta at her. It didn't even hit her - it hit the fence behind her - but it hurt her feelings. I apologized and got my tape measure and got my last measurement, but she was still sulking. Tight lips, tight little muscles around her eyes, very much not looking at me.

I apologized again, very sincerely, and scratched her neck. She stayed tense and glared at me for a couple minutes, but then her lip started flopping and she forgave me. I scritched up her neck to her head and she ducked her head and shoved the itchy spots under my wonderful fingernails. I untied her and took her back to her paddock, then untied the halter, but she didn't leave. She stood very close to me and gave me this soft hopeful look, and of course I scratched her again. I probably spent 15 minutes scratching all the itchy spots I could find.

When I "groom" Dixie, she likes to have a hand to air-groom back. Not an arm or a shoulder, a bare hand. She wiggles her lips and you can just tell that she's trying so hard to not politely bite my hand. Sometimes she can't stand it anymore and she licks my hand while I scratch scratch scratch with the other. Tonight, she curled her neck around in an almost-hug and didn't even look indignant when I gave her a kiss. Just once, very quickly. :)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Around the bend

Yall know that Banders is just not quite right in the head. Well, tonight he visibly went off the deep end. I had the den curtains open and after it got dark he saw an enemy. Yes! Another cat! A white and grey one that was mirroring his every move!

Yall, he growled at that cat and crept gradually closer for 30 straight minutes. I have tons of hysterical but boring video, so I'll just give you one short clip.

Cat ain't right from Funder on Vimeo.

The kitten came up alertly when he started growling. She looked at the patio door, immediately realized it was a reflection, and sat down and watched Banders vs. the invisible enemy. Then she got bored and laid down. She "went to sleep" briefly but he wouldn't quit growling so eventually she got up and stalked away. It's no fun ignoring someone who isn't even acknowledging that you're ignoring him.

Eventually I took pity on him / got tired of the incessant growling and got up and closed the drapes. I thought I'd fixed the problem, but no! Clearly the monster was hiding behind the drapes still.

He knows it's hiding behind the curtain from Funder on Vimeo.

I took Dixie her evening carrots and Banders came out with me. He is still out there on guard duty. I hope he comes in soon.

Speaking of Dixie, she's just fine today. I gave them so much hay last night that they still had a flake in the feeder this morning (and that means she was eating a normal amount; I figured they'd have about a flake left over.) She's up and walking around normally, not flat-out snoozing or god forbid limping. She ran the goats off tonight and did her usual prancing around routine.

No hoof pics. It was brilliantly sunny but fairly windy, so I stayed inside and cleaned the house. I managed to somehow clog up the central vacuum. What do I do now? Do I run a plumbing snake down the tube? Are there traps along the tubing under the house? Stupid central vac. Of course when I turned off the vacuum it barfed a bunch of sand and crap on the carpet. I have cleverly placed a door mat on top of the dirt. Oh well, I was almost done with the den...

Saturday, March 12, 2011

I think we can, I think we can!

I had a totally lovely ride today. Cersei, Dixie, and I headed out to meet Zach. Zach and I independently decided that 15 miles was plenty the week before a 50. (Thanks, ~C!) Last fall Cersei was fine on a 15 mile ride, so I figured she would be again, and she loves to go.

I'm not going to link the GPS info - after we got back, I unstrapped it from the saddle and stuck it in my pocket without turning it off, so there's an hour of bonus walking-around-the-property info in there. My best extra lap was 2.1 mph, apparently. :rolleyes:

Anyway, we headed out for just under two hours and did 8.6 miles at 5.6 moving mph. Coming back was shorter and a bit faster - 7.22 miles in 1:20 at 6.7 mph. Total distance was 15.95 miles.

I rode in a Myler curb that Dressage in Jeans loaned me. (If you haven't read her blog before, go start at the beginning - she has some great stuff in her archives.) This was actually our second ride in the Myler. The first ride went quite well, but this one, not so much. I had great brakes but no lateral steering, so if she felt like blowing through my suggestions to, say, turn right at a crossroads, it got really ugly. If anyone ever draws an endurance caricature of me and Dixie, I want it to be titled "Does all the cussing really help?" At least there was no one around to hear it :)

I also rode in front boots. I don't think they fit quite right :( and I'm pretty sure the rear boots don't fit at all anymore. How long do hooves keep changing shape?! I will take pictures & measurements tomorrow and consult Mel the boot guru, but I'm really thinking about doing two loops barefoot and just booting her for the rockiest loop. I'll probably decide last minute on that.

The weather was just glorious going out. Sunny, big puffy clouds, mid-50s, a pleasant breeze at my back. Lots of dirt bikes and quads - I saw a pirate-flag quad and thought of AareneX :) Dixie's gotten to where she doesn't really mind motorized vehicles. I always pull her off the trail/road and she stands stock-still and watches very intently as the wheeled things go by, then we follow them or ride away from them, no problem.

The bad thing about riding from home - or riding from any one spot regularly - is that no matter how far you usually ride, there's always a point where you almost always turn around. For me and Dixie, we hardly ever go past the fence in the middle of Hungry Valley, about 7 miles out. She was utterly appalled when I led her through the gate and shut it behind us. Human! Do you not see the so-called "cow" demons? Do you not hear the buzzing of the devil bikes? Can't you see how the very ground is a different color, how the sky has grown ominous??

I just waited her out. Zach was headed my way, and we'd gone about as far as I wanted to head out, so we very slowly inched further up the valley. The cows stared at us for a while then went back to eating. Cersei, who appeared to be just as energetic as ever, ran in circles around us and begged to chase the cows. Some dirt bikes went by. Eventually we evaded the Gorgon-gaze of the cows and trotted another mile up the road and found Zach.

He was freezing. I thought he was just underdressed til we turned around. I was wearing a lightweight wool long sleeved top and a puffy vest and a Camelbak, and of course my helmet covers the back of my head, and I could not feel a bit of the wind through all that. But facing the wind? Man, it was kinda cold!

We took off at a fast trot / slow canter. Dixie discovered a new low gear and managed to canter at 9.5 mph. It's so nice. She managed to rack and pace a bit with the front boots on, which is also nice. And we didn't actually go balls-to-the-wall the whole way home - we'd stop and walk fairly often, because...

Cersei ran out of gas. My poor dog! First she started lagging behind because she couldn't quite canter fast enough anymore, then she ran out of canter entirely and just trotted. Once she got that tired, we walked quite a bit.

Zach and I split up by the radio towers. His mom had trailered down to the arena to meet him, and I was going to cut home behind the sand pit. Dixie, as always, abandoned her buddy without more than a token whinny, and I faced two very slow miles with a very tired dog and a very very hot horse. I was finally really glad to be riding in the curb - I'd let Dixie walk / slow gait a hundred yards, then stop, turn, and wait for Cersei to drag on up the trail. Dixie felt like she could've galloped home at any point in the whole ride. She felt totally fresh, like she had all the gas in her tank that poor Cers was lacking.

I feel so bad for my poor dog! I had no idea she'd get so tired. She is demoted back to 8 or 10 mile buddy. She had her ears back and she looked so tired and upset, and I just kept telling her what a good dog she was and how we were almost home. When we finally got home, I tied up Dixie and sat down on the ground and just loved all over Cersei - didn't even take the saddle off first. She's such a champ, and if there'd been any way to get her home sooner I would've. I fed her dinner as soon as Dixie was taken care of, then extra dinner a couple hours after that, and she's sacked out by the fire now.

But on a more positive note, I feel much more confident about Dixie's level of fitness. I think with any luck we'll do a fine slow first 50 next week.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Meet the new boys

May I present Bo and Luke?

They're clearly wearing bellbottoms, and there's a blonde one and a dark haired one. Hopefully the ladies will find them irresistible. Right now they back down even against the lowest-ranking bantam Leghorns, poor little guys.

They are Cochins, and they are sweet as pie. They were supposed to be pet backyard hens for a lady in the city, but unfortunately for her they grew up into roosters. They are hand-tame and I'm working on keeping them that way - a mean rooster will rapidly become dog food, but a sweet one can stay :)

G flipped his lid when I informed him via text message that I was getting new animals. I might have neglected to mention that it was just two more chickens. He's funny when he's mad :)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Today was just beautiful so I spent a lot of time outside. The highest outdoor temp I saw on our little house thermometer was 62! 62 and sunny with pretty clouds and breezy - but Mississippi breezy, not Nevada "breezy."

Here's the totally awesome mounting block. Cersei is included for scale. That's an outdoor-only tennis ball in her mouth.

Dixie's mouth is healing, but it's not well yet. I slathered more Desitin on it. She was mad about it. It had better hurry up and heal because the trails are ready!

I drove out into Hungry Valley to check, and the roads are definitely rideable. There's a ton of small new potholes, but the verges looked fine to ride at any speed. And there's some truly enormous mud puddles, but nothing you can't ride around.


Zach and I are going to do 30-35 miles this weekend. There's a NEDA ride, and his mom would probably take me too, but none of us really wants to haul all the way to Silver Springs. Zach rides faster than me, so I'm thinking I'll leave my house before he gets ready to leave his barn in Palomino Valley and I'll ride up as far as I can and meet him. Then we'll head down to LV, do the loop around the lake, and I'll go back up toward PV with him to get my mileage as high as I want. It'll be a good workout for Dixie without asking too much of her a week before RoM.

I have officially decided that horses are better than trucks. Creeping along down a potholed sand road is like sitting the trot on a halter horse that keeps tripping. It was awful. Much better to ride. :)

I made a raised bed! I think I will blog it over at Fugly to Fabulous, because having a garden in my sandpit backyard definitely qualifies as fug to fab. I tossed most of the pitiful "sod" over the fence to the hens.

Speaking of hens, one of the mini-Leghorns has gone broody. Leghorns aren't supposed to go broody, but I guess she didn't read the memo. I think I should go with it and try to get a rooster. If she can stick with it and raise some chicks, yay! I emailed two people on Craigslist with free/cheap roosters and hopefully one of them will get back to me. Baby chicks are the cutest things ever in the history of ever, but I really don't want to brood them myself. Much better to let a momma hen do it.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Things you always wanted to know, part 1

Or, maybe you just never wondered. But I did, so you shall reap the benefits of my scientific inquiry.

I trimmed Dixie's bridle path right before Comstock, in early October. I decided I wouldn't cut it again til Rides of March. Now, five months later, I have photographic evidence of her freaky ability to grow hair.

Average of 7 inches, freakish max of 9 1/2. This chunk came from the middle of the bridle path - that 9.5" was not from her forelock.

We have been diligently working on our trot-out whenever it's not excessively windy, rainy, or snowing, and she's really getting pretty good! Of course she won't jog - it's either a too-slow running walk or the kind of trot where I have to RUN to keep up, but I'll take it :)

Today I realized the steps aren't attached to the broken hot tub. I have a mounting block! They're wood, so they're not as light as a nice plastic block, but they're not hard to carry around.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Yup, alfalfa!

Just got done with the vet - she said it's almost certainly the alfalfa. She's seen it often enough out here. Desitin is fine for lips, which is the other major thing I really wanted to know - what can I put on the scabs to soften them up?

We looked her over really closely and she has one tiny scab on her nostril - another common place, because the hair is so thin - and the scabs on her eye and white lips. Her legs are fine. I'm almost certain she escaped scratches because I don't clip legs - there's no pigment, but she has so much hair on her legs that they're protected from the sun. She did check Dixie's mouth, and there's no sores inside her lips or on her tongue, which further rules out foxtail.

Dixie's face is definitely healing already - the scabs around her eye are smaller, and the innermost corner of her mouth is healed. I am going to get some desitin for the bigger scabs on her lips and hopefully they'll stay soft and fall off without bleeding. And the vet said she's seen horses that ate straight alfalfa for years and were fine, then suddenly got sensitive to it. It just comes and goes, so I don't have to stress if she grabs a bite of alfalfa at a vet check.

I threw her cooler on her while we were waiting for the vet, because she is a filthy white beast. The vet LOL'd when I admitted that I'd only blanketed her so she wouldn't see how gross Dixie is. It's ridiculous, I know! But anyway, when I took the cooler back off and turned Miss Thing out, she pranced away all full of herself. So I waved my arms and she bolted down to her rolling spot, slid to a stop, rolled, leapt up, did a lap around the pasture, slid to a stop, rolled, then got up and cantered snorting around the pasture for five minutes. So cute!

I did a lot of thinking about Dixie's history last night, and last summer was the first time she didn't burn badly all summer. I thought it was just that she finally had some sense and stood with her head in the shade, but it was also the first time she didn't have some kind of legumes in her diet on a regular basis. She had clover in the pasture the first and second summers I owned her, then ate 50% alfalfa the third summer, then last year was the first time I had 100% control over her diet. I thought alfalfa 1) caused stress lines in her hooves and 2) was unnecessary for such an easy keeper, so I started only giving her a couple bites as a treat. Her hooves got smooth and her white lines got tight - and she quit burning so bad.

I think once her scabs heal up, I'll go back to letting her nom on a bit of alfalfa every now and then and just stay very aware of her intake. So:

yes, alfalfa can make your paint horse photosensitive, just like clover
yes, desitin or neosporin or even vaseline is fine for lips
if it's really bad, antihistamines won't work (it's not a histamine allergic reaction) but bute or steroids will reduce the inflammation - but obviously that's a big gun you'll want to save for a bad reaction.

Now you know!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Alfalfa sensitivity?

You couldn't ask for better weather, but I can't ride right now. I think Dixie's got an alfalfa photosensitivity thing going on. To make a long story much shorter, earlier this week she had quite a bit more alfalfa than usual - about a flake, as opposed to a couple of mouthfuls. Now the white parts of her face have broken out in itchy scabs, poor thing. I don't think it's a vaccine reaction, because I noticed her lips were a little chapped-looking while I was holding her for the vet. And I can't think of what else could've changed or what else it could be.

White-side lips are the worst:

Bay-side white lips are a tiny bit scabby. This is what the white side lips looked like on Thursday - "huh that's weird, they look chapped."

The inner corner of her eye is a tiny bit tearier than normal, and the outside corner has some scabs. It's also extremely itchy - I scratched her face for a minute, and she absolutely ground her eyesocket into my fingers.

I keep checking her legs and no sign of scratches, which is how alfalfa photosensitivity usually manifests, especially in alkaline Nevada sand. I feel very lucky to have hopefully dodged that bullet. I called the vet, but I don't think this is a come-out-on-Sunday emergency, so hopefully I'll get a call back and appointment for tomorrow morning. I hope she can give me something to help the itchiness, even if I have to somehow syringe Dixie with hydroxyzine.

The only benefit to having an itchy horse is that normally aloof Dixie really appreciates getting scratched. She made ridiculous faces while I scratched her withers and neck. This is a pretty awful video that only horse people will really appreciate.

Dixie is itchy from Funder on Vimeo.

To make up for the awful quality of the horse video, here are the goats.

Goats are crazy too from Funder on Vimeo.

And here's the dawg.

Cersei is crazy from Funder on Vimeo.

Friday, March 4, 2011

It Seemed Like A Good Contest

Hey yall! I went shopping for you (well, one of you) today!

I'm not sure if the AERC National Convention is always in Reno or if it's just been in Reno twice in a row now. Either way, this is my second spring in Reno and my second AERC convention. I went last year and had an interesting time - it was three days before I went to Vegas and took the bar exam (recap: I failed, wahoo well shit.) and I didn't hardly know anybody and I hadn't ever done an AERC ride. I definitely felt like I was sneaking around somewhere I didn't quite belong.

This year, I knew a few more people, met more people at the convention (hello Gaited Endurance Riders yahoo group), had a successful if short LD season, and had much more fun. I bought a bunch of raffle tickets, after I made G promise that if I won an entry to a ride I could go. Ok, I only entered West division raffles, but still - maybe I'll win an entry to something.

And I have purchased a cool thing just to give away on my blog, because 600 posts with no giveaways is shameful. I wanted to get something endurance-related, but also something that any horse person could use. I think I found it!

This is Steph Teeter's training journal. She does really cute MS Paint type cartoons on (which she also co-owns). It's a little Arab-centric, but I'm sure us non Arab people can overlook that. It's set up like a blank calendar. There's monthly and weekly calendar pages:

And generic "remember to do stuff" and "stuff I did" pages.

It's really cute, and really useful. I kinda wish I'd bought a second one for me. But I have this blog! But it's not like my tags are very useful, even to me... I may be talking myself in to going back tomorrow for a second one.

Anyway, here's the rules of the contest, shamelessly stolen from Mel.

On March 19, Dixie and I will (god willing and the creek don't rise) complete our first 50 at Rides of March. The person who comes closest to guessing my ride time, without going over, wins the awesome little training journal. Official ride time includes the holds. Our ride time will probably be influenced by the weather, so the contest doesn't close til midnight Friday, March 18. I guess I mean midnight PST, but if one of the Alaskans forgets to enter til midnight her time, that's fine too :)

If we pull, I'll use The RNG to determine the winner. If you don't get me your shipping address in like a week or something I'll go to the next best time / next random number. I swear I will mail the journal out within a couple days of getting your snail-mail address. (Since I said it on the internet I can't flake out and forget to go to the post office.)

edited to add: Please feel free to change your vote at the last minute based on our crazy Nevada weather! If I go the RNG route it'll be one entry per person so I don't care how many times you vote, the last vote is what counts. :)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A nonevent

The vet came for spring shots today and... it went perfectly smoothly. I don't even mean "smoothly for me and Dixie," I mean "perfectly smoothly." He had a great affect, very calm and unrushed and gentle, and Dixie didn't do anything wrong. She was fine for the exam, the shots, and the blood draw. I was so very pleased!

The goats were less perfect, but the haybag of goat crack alfalfa convinced them to cooperate.

I'm really amused that so many of us are closet Glee fans!

Also, this is post #600. That seems like a lot of blogging. Go me? ;)


To round out the weird themeless post, I give you a short video of The Crazy One love/hating his tail. I meant to put this up over the weekend but I forgot :)

The tail must die from Funder on Vimeo.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

... and my subscribers shall plummet

when I admit this.

I have spent the last 5 days watching Glee. I'm up to the Britney Spears episode in Season 2 and it's the best thing I've ever seen. This shit is almost as funny as Archer, except with music instead of wildly inappropriate language.

Also I am fighting with my truck's fancy sound system, and I'm pushing through the trim on the hall. If it doesn't rain tomorrow I think I'll go ride - today was very windy then rainy, then I was on a roll in the hall by the time the weather died down.

Perhaps I will have something blog-worthy tomorrow. If not, there's always the AERC convention on Friday and Saturday!