Monday, January 30, 2012

Hooves, smarts, cabinets

Front left:
Front left

Front right:
Front right

They could do with a little more trimming, but not bad. Her frogs are all tattered because they shed off a layer when the snow came. I've been smearing goo up in the sulcus every other day for about a week, and they're opening up very nicely. Heels are still a bit high, but I'm just taking them down as the dead stuff scrapes out.

Side shot, fronts:

Left rear, juuuust starting to lift off (she was in NO MOOD to stand still for pictures):

Fronts from the front:

Compared with a week and a half ago, we're making great progress.

Now, GLOVES! You want Original Mud Gloves. The latex dip stuff COVERS YOUR KNUCKLES. I dunno about you, but I'm constantly rasping holes in my normal gardening glove knuckles, or just rasping holes in my actual knuckles. If you can't find them locally, I got mine from these resellers on Amazon. Yes, they're fifteen freakin' dollars with shipping, but they're totally worth it if you're a knuckle-rasper.

I usually wear M gloves, and that's what I ordered this time. I think these gloves run a tiny bit bigger than normal mesh-dipped gardening gloves, and the next pair I get will be S.

I also saw a moment of unusual Dixie intelligence, I think.

Dixie doesn't like to be groomed. I've tried everything from the softest of brushes to the stiffest of currycombs, from gentle short strokes to really firm long strokes, and she just doesn't like it. She's got a couple of itchy spots she wants me to scratch, but she really doesn't like to have her entire coat brushed out, and she's a terrible wiggleworm when I do brush her.

When I clipped her neck Friday, I gave her a couple treats for being brave about the scary clippers, and she eventually relaxed and started chowing down on her haybag and I just clipped as best I could while her neck moved. That's as good as it gets with Dixie - she's eating and standing still and letting me do whatever to her.

Today I got the clippers back out and she had another snorting wild-eyed "oh god scary monster" moment, but when she got over that she stood absolutely rock-still while I worked on her neck a little more and clipped the front half of her belly. I spent probably 15 minutes clipping, flipping her mane, clipping the other side, flipping her mane back, clipping between her front legs, clipping her belly, looking at what I'd done, and touching up extra-scraggly bits. She did not move a muscle - she didn't drop her head and eat, she didn't fidget, NOTHING. There's only two possible explanations I can think of: either the warm vibrating clippers just feel nice, or she realized that I clipped off some hair which kept her cooler and she likes to be cool. I really think it was the latter.

My poor horse:

Yes, I'm storing the clippers in a Crown Royal bag.
More clipping!

Inside news: I got the last set of cabinets scrubbed, sanded, and caulked today - tomorrow I can paint them. And I peeled off the last bit of ugly wallpaper border and almost half the dark green checkered wallpaper on the long wall! Woohoo! The end is in sight.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Seven weeks til the season starts!

I decided, when I ordered the clippers, that I had to shake off the January doldrums and seriously make and stick to a conditioning schedule. Dixie's about ready for a slow 30, but I'm shooting to get her fit for a 50 - either RoM or the Derby or High Desert, if they are putting it on this year. I busted out my awesome new horse calendar I got from a friend for Christmas and marked it up.

I'll do hills on Wednesdays - hopefully we'll progress to charging all the way over into the next valley and then turning around and climbing it again to head home. I've got two NEDA rides before ROM (February 12 and March 10) so those will be my long rides for those weekends. I've written down some other conditioning distances/days, but I'm somewhat flexible in the hopes of riding with some of my friends on the weekends. It's looking like 25-35 miles a week right now, in 3-4 days of riding.

Endurance buddies!

My everyday hill is 3 miles to the top and 800' of climb. That's a lot or not much at all, depending on your terrain - what's your go-to conditioning hill look like?

And while I'm asking questions: What's your first ride going to be? Do you have a conditioning schedule you're trying to stick to, and do you think mine's too ambitious or not nearly enough for a second-year horse? We endurance bloggers seem to range from "oh I ride whenever my friends ride" to "I have a spreadsheet and we ride the schedule unless there's more than 1" of ice on the roads."

I went ahead and filled out the rest of the calendar too.

I wrote in all the NEDA rides, even though I don't think I'll make it back to Reno for all of them. I really want to come back in August for the Frenchmans' Lake two-day ride - that was just a ton of fun last year. And there's a two-day NEDA in Austin, NV in October that I might make it to as well. Austin is the geographical center of Nevada, and it has the darkest skies in the nation so the stargazing is supposed to be superb. I'm not a very good stargazer (hello Orion! Dipper, where'd you go??) but I really enjoy looking at the stars, even if I don't have a clue what I'm looking at.

I also wrote in Reno area rides until July, and Bay Area rides from June to November. If I had two horses and an unlimited budget I couldn't hit ALL these rides, but I find it helps me to decide if I know what else is going on. I haven't really considered PS, and I don't have the scoop on what rides in Oregon are like totally worth the 8-10 hour drive dude! PNW friends, tell me what you love in OR (50s only this year please) and I'll add it to the Big Master List of Rides.

That's more like it!

I took Dixie out for a really lovely 10 mile ride this afternoon. Here's the Strava:

It doesn't look like the Strava shows up in google reader, so if you're interested, click on over to the actual blog to look at it. I do all my reading, right up until the point where I decide I have a meaningful comment to make, in Reader, so I thought I'd warn you too :)

This is the ride I was planning on doing last Wednesday. There's a one-mile segment that Strava is automatically tracking - the mid part of the hill climb - and it took 17:30 to slog up that damn hill Wednesday, and she flew up it in 11:30 today. That's an astronomical improvement. Still, she was dripping wet by the time we made it to the top - I think I will sponge her chest and belly tomorrow and do a bit more clipping. I'm leaving it quite long - it looks like a 3-month-old clip job - so I think she won't freeze.

At about 4 miles we'd worked our way along the top of the hill and there was a very steep long downhill stretch, so I got off and jogged down. My poor Big Leftie complained about it - I don't think I blogged it but I hit it so hard I thought I broke it earlier this month, and it's still bruised - but it felt nice to "trot" downhill on foot. And my faith was rewarded - I found a perfect tree stump (very rare!) at the bottom of the hill.

I worked mostly on keeping Dixie at a consistent speed, and I also didn't check my speed on the GPS once. My watch band is broken so it lives clipped to my saddle - it's not as easy as lifting my wrist up. I am amazed that we were rolling along at 10 mph - it felt like 7-8. She did a lot of gaiting :)

All the erratic stops were from gawking - it was a lovely weekend day and there were a ton of dirt bikes, off-road trucks, and people out target shooting. We often had to slam on the brakes and stare in utter amazement, exactly like she'd never seen a dirt bike/truck/person before.

Dixie was what my riding buddy back in Memphis would've called "spicy." Totally on, sproingy flashy gaits, gawking at everything, just a blast to ride.

You can see she was still PLENTY sweaty. Sorry for the crappy cam-phone pics; they really don't do well at high altitude.

I trimmed her feet after the ride - they look excellent if I do say so myself. I think I've got most of the false sole out and the bars look good and I've been treating her frog cracks with goo and they're opening up pretty well. And I got new gloves! Highly recommended cheap gloves! But I'll take hoof pics and do a post about them tomorrow. I might even take the REAL CAMERA so you can see her feet in the correct colors. ;)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

"...everything looks like a nail."

You know that saying: "To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail"? Well, I am a woman with clippers, and everything looks very hairy. I am exercising great restraint though. The dog doesn't even have racing stripes yet.

Let me back up some.

So I guess two weekends ago, I rode with C and S out at Fort Churchill. It was a really nice ride, but Dixie sweated a LOT and I didn't electrolyte her enough. (How do I know? She was too tired to eat when we got back to the trailer. I gave her another couple ounces of applesauce elytes, and 10 minutes later she perked up and started noshing on her hay.) Then we had the windstorms (and the fire down south), then icy rain and a bit of much-needed snow.

I painted like a fiend in the kitchen and waited it out, because inspiration is really hard to come by in January. Then the high pressure moved back in and I took Dixie out for a spin on Wednesday.

My plan was to take her up over the hill, then come back south along the east side of the ridge - nothing very hard at all. She could barely trot up the easy part of the hill and she just bonked out on the steeper bit toward the top. Her breathing and HR never slowed down, no matter how much water I dumped on her. I kinda thought she was sick, probably dying, until I realized I'd taken off my hoodie and was perfectly comfortable in a tank top - it was near 60 and very humid from all the snow melting. DUH, she was hot.

I've been really patient, working around her coat. I don't really mind planning my rides so that she has time to cool off before the sun sets, but at this point she can't even perform in all her hair. And it won't fall out for months yet - there's no way I'll have her legged up for rides in March and April, much less be able to complete them. Time for clippers.

Amazon to the rescue! I paid for overnight shipping and had a stack of boxes waiting for me on Friday.


There's not much I love more than a shiny new power tool. Yeehah! I clipped her neck with the grain, with the 7F, and sort of feathered it out so it doesn't look so "hey I just clipped my horse in January." I got one horrendous clipper line down the left side, but the right side looks pretty good and I can live with the whole thing.

Then - because everything looked like a nail - I clipped her jawline. I think fuzzy ears are cute, and I'm perfectly willing to leave whiskers alone, but I really hate goaty looking heads.

photo (1)

I went at her bridle path next and got the off side neatened up, but the clippers up by her left ear sent poor Dixie into a panic. I think some asshole ear-twitched her when she was young, because she's always been jumpy about having the left side of her poll/ear messed with. I had a pocket full of cookies and I "spent" them all working on touching her left ear area, with my hand and with the back of the clippers, without her freaking out. We'll get there one day. For now, well, she doesn't look worse than she did with the scissors bridle path.

I'll ride today and see how she does. If I need to, I can (gleefully!) go take more off, but I know there's a sweet spot where she's not so overheated but she doesn't need blanketing. And when we move to CA, I'm just going to keep her neck/chest/belly clipped all summer, I think.

When I came in the house, I discovered one of the cats had puked on the electric lap blanket on the couch. The puker is, 99% of the time, The Fluffy One, cause he gets enormous fluffy-hairballs that upset his delicate tummy. If I'd sprung for the cordless clippers, I'd have chased him down and shaved his belly and back legs. So far he's escaped that fate by not hanging out in the bathroom near an outlet.

And I got one part of the kitchen done well enough to share. Back in December, I unclogged the clogged up right side of the kitchen sink, and while I was messing around under there I replaced the cabinet floor. It was pressboard, and it had gotten wet (from drain water from the clogged up drain, sometime before we bought it) and it was pretty warped and curled. I ripped it out and laid in two pieces of thin plywood chipboard I had on hand.


I didn't nail them down or anything - the next poor soul who has to work under there will thank me for that. When I painted under there this week, I primed the chipboard, then put some (surprisingly pretty!) contac paper on top. I think it looks completely respectable now.

(Bonus head of The Fluffy Puker investigating)

I wonder if the dog is hot? I could give her a really sharp trace clip...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Good post at Buckskin and Bay

I hardly ever link to other posts, because I figure most of us already read most of the same blogs, but if you don't read Jill's blog, this is a great post.

Buckskin and Bay

Sunday, January 22, 2012


I just spent an hour and a half looking at boarding barns on Bay Equest and freaking out. There are so many choices, and they're all so nice, and none of them look like the place for a big hairy galumph of a TWH who does (very slow) endurance. Where are my people? Who are my people?

It's really easy for me to forget that Dixie's in the minority when I'm actually out riding with a bunch of Arabs. They're just horses then - more naturally gifted athletes, sure, but they're short and chunky or big and leggy and many of them are exceptionally hairy. But somehow looking at the beautiful pics on the barn websites just terrifies me. Nobody in the whole Bay Area could possibly want to ride with me! A barn that proudly boasts of seven miles of trails is right out. H/J barns are right out.

I've boarded at barns where my discipline didn't mesh at all with the rest of the boarders, and it was very lonely. If I have to, I'll do it again - lonely is ok if my horse is getting the best care - but I'd like to find a place where I'm not That One Crazy Endurance Rider.

Gotta get off this computer and quit feeling sorry for myself. I have plenty of time to look through every barn in the East Bay if I need to.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Book reviews: Girl of Fire and Thorns

I've been thinking about doing book reviews. But the thing is, I don't yearn to read book reviews, so I'm kind of hesitant to foist them on the world.

My dad is a fanatic library patron. He goes by there at least twice a week, for as long as I can remember. He visits with the librarians, drops off his plastic bags for recycling, and walks along the "new books" shelves picking up anything that looks interesting. Sometimes the librarians point out something he or my mom might like, but I think he picks most of the books based on the cover and a quick glance at the flap.

I used to be one of those kids who carefully investigated at the cover, read the flap/back, read the first chapter, and THEN decided if I wanted to read it, but as I've gotten older, I've gotten more like him. I just pick up stuff that catches my eye. If I read a review (or part of a review; I hate spoilers) I'll add it to the e-reserve list, and by the time it comes in I've probably forgotten why I wanted to read it. Sometimes I slog through bad books, sometimes I read part of them then toss them back in the pile, and sometimes I really like what I've read!

So I think I'll try to document the crap I read. I'll give you a genre, a vague summary, who might like the book, and if I remember the source, a link to a real review.

Last night I finished Girl of Fire and Thorns. It's a first novel, YA, with a fat princess and real magic/God. Lots of main character growth. It's book 1 in a series but it wraps up nicely. A very fast read. I didn't adore it as much as this review, but I did finish it without regrets.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Another one

This will probably hit the national news, so I wanted to let yall know Dixie and I are just fine.

There's another enormous fire raging south of Reno. I know several people who live there - a ton of horse people live in Pleasant Valley. I hope the livestock evac crews got all the horses to safety.

We live about 25 miles north of there, clear on the other side of Reno, so we're in no danger from it at all. Keep the other folks in your thoughts/prayers.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Hoof update: too much of a good thing...

We've had exactly an inch of snow (not even rain! snow!) since early November. It's dry. It's tragically dry. I've been riding a lot and sort of picking a hoof up, looking at it, and calling it good. I mean, they look like this (sorry about the dirty; couldn't find my pick):
Solar front right

Walls are freshly trimmed BELOW sole level! I sharpened my knife* til it cuts wood like butter and it just skipped off of the sole.

Now here's the side view, same hoof:
Front right

Definitely long. At least a quarter inch long. Hard to tell with all her glorious feathers, but I think the quarters are pushed up a bit, too.

Heel view. Pretty balanced, at least.
Heel front right

Here's the front view. You can see how sharply I rolled the toes back. My only plan of attack is a) hope it really does rain and snow starting tomorrow and b) keep the walls shorter than the "sole" and ride on the pavement at a walk/running walk.

Front right

The back right is the only hoof that's even thinking about shedding that horrible crap.
Rear right

I just can't get any purchase with any kind of tool to pry it out though.
Rear right solar

The whole set is here if you're interested in looking at all the views I got.

Don't even think about telling me to stand her in a bucket. She lets me trim her hooves quite patiently these days, but she is in no way going to stand in a bucket. One person (hi S!) suggested any kind of grease might help, so I think I will slather her feet in lard tomorrow. And I've really got my fingers crossed for a good soaking rain to soften her hooves and let the sand do its work. If not... I guess I'll have to get the hose out and water her hooves on a warm day.

*I read Christoph's post right before one of my daily trips to Home Depot, so I actually remembered to buy a chainsaw sharpening file. Mine is 7/32" / 5.5 mm, and I'd recommend the next size down from that. It gets in the tip of the knife, but juuust barely. I whizzed it along the beveled side of the blade several times, til I stopped feeling rough burrs and nicks. Then I deburred the flat (convex curve) side of the blade on my ceramic knife sharpening stone. If you don't have one of those, use the little unglazed ring on the bottom of a coffee mug, or a thick flat piece of leather (like a strop). Whatever you use to deburr the outside of the knife, hold the knife almost parallel to the surface and give it a swipe or two, it doesn't take much.

I have a ton of other stuff to blog - I had a great ride with C at Fort Churchill, except Dixie stumbled pretty hard on the way back to the trailer (and that's what made me LOOK at her feet). I've painted cabinets all the way down one of the long sides of the kitchen, and my color choices are working great, and I haven't broken down in tears about the wrecked state of my kitchen yet. I painted the heinous built-in fluorescent light in the kitchen and you know what? It looks WAY BETTER for $8.

Just a reminder, if you're on Facebook you can follow the thrilling hourly "kitchen looks amazing!" / "oh god i hate painting why did i do this shoot me now" updates if you friend me. Just, like, have a horse in your profile or message me and tell me who you are cause I don't actually accept totally random requests.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Dear god, not again

That's what I thought when the water trickled to a halt as I tried to take a shower. Of course I immediately assumed the well had gone dry and/or the well pump had died, and tried to figure out if we could get a second mortgage before the horse ran out of water, and if not how long it would take to walk back and forth from the neighbors' every day with 5-gallon buckets.

I went and flipped the well pump breaker, just because that's the first thing you always try in troubleshooting. I left it alone and sulked for 10 minutes, then went and looked at the pressure gauge to discover it had shot up to 90 psi. So I thought about it for a bit, then turned on all the taps and drained the pressure down to 35, then cut the taps off and watched the pressure gauge. It refused to budge. I powercycled the pump again and it kicked back on and went up to 75 psi (still too high, but less likely to make me think it was going to explode). That amount of testing convinced me that the problem was with the pressure sensor, the little switch dealie that tells the pump when to pump more water into the pressure tank.

Fortunately those are cheap ($30) and standardized. I went and bought a new one, watched some youtubes, sulked for a while about the unfairness of it all, then got to work. I turned off the power to the pump (and to the water heater for good measure), drained the tank, took the cover off the switch and triple-checked it wasn't still electrified, and took the switch off.

The little T-pipe leading up to the switch and the switch itself were completely clogged with iron and gross black stuff. I dug around in my new white junk drawer and found a pointy stiff piece of wire and chiseled out all the iron deposits from everything I could reach. Then I rinsed everything off, teflon taped the seams, and screwed it back together. It actually worked. I'm gonna wait a couple days and make sure it doesn't break again and then I can return the unused new switch.

Every day, I appreciate the miracle of showers more and more.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What to do!

I'm sure this won't be the last time I ask yall for help.

Today I got a load of trash off of the wellhead. When I fenced the pasture, it was really hot and I just wanted to get the horse home already and I ended up tossing all the trash over on the fenced-off strip of land where the wellhead is. It's conveniently out of sight so I've been blissfully ignoring it for a year and a half, but I guess it's gotta go.

Those are 7' solid 4x12's on top. Why would you spend at least a hundred bucks on that kind of lumber and leave it to dry-rot in your back yard?! People never cease to amaze me.

Anyway, after I got that disposed of, I tackled the run-in. It's three 8x12 stalls. One of them was a pigeon coop or something, and I tried putting the chickens in there but that was a huge pain in the ass so I moved them to the chicken shack, and it's just been unused since then. I ripped off the chicken wire front, tossed all the lumber into a burn pile and a dump pile, cleaned out all the odds and ends, and now I'm stuck.

You can see I've got the goat igloo in one part, and there's a cast-iron tub I cannot move in the middle part, and now the pigeon part is open too. I could rip out the interior walls - they're just 1/2" plywood nailed on some 2x4 strips - but maybe I should leave them? If you were buying a moderately priced small horse acreage, would you rather have three stall-lets to feed the horses - it'd be easy to gate them off - or have one big open 24x12 run-in?

People cram a hell of a lot of horses in these little half-acre and acre paddocks, but they pipe them off into individual horse areas. I'd be comfortable having two to three horses in my half acre undivided paddock.

Also there's the little decorative fence thing out front. It was blue but all the paint's peeled off. Should I paint it a) white b) green c) dark green or d) rip it out?

I am also creeping along painting the kitchen. It's much easier doing one cabinet at a time - not so overwhelming. Got two coats on the inside of the big cabinet. Tomorrow I can sand the fronts of the doors again and get them painted, then move on to the little cabinets above the fridge.


Sunday, January 8, 2012

2012 goals

Well, here we go. Better late than never, right?

1) At least one injury-free 50.

I'd prefer to do lots of 50s, but I won't feel really confident til we manage to pull off the first one, so that's what I'm planning on. Right now it looks like the LD 30 at Rides of March, so I can ride with Mel, then a 50 at the Derby at the end of March.

Nothing else looks exciting til May. Whiskeytown is a long way away and American River sounds hellish. I guess I'll do Washoe in May, but I'm obviously not too excited about it yet. I've never done it before - it's the ride I was on the way to in 2009 when Dixie freaked out and flipped in the old trailer. Last year it was only two weeks after High Desert so we skipped it. High Desert isn't calendared - I guess the RM's not doing it, which is a total shame.

2) Sell the house and move to California.

We've decided to go with the "sell the house" side of the Great Plan. A year ago when we started this crazy G-moves-to-CA thing, we worked out three plans: sell the house, rent the house, or G comes back here and works from home. It's better all around if he stays in person in SF, and I don't really want to rent the house. We can't rent it for enough profit to cover very many disasters, and it's hard enough being a local landlord. I love this house and I've had a lot of fun fixing it up, but oh well - we'll buy another one someday.

This is my goal, at least the selling part, because I have to do all the hard work. And by "hard work" I mean "keeping it all picked up and really clean." Ugh. That is so not my strong point, yall.

I'm painting the kitchen now. OMG it looks SO much better - I went with light tan for the walls and the same color family off-white for the cabinets. In February or March we'll think about replacing the crappy carpet in the kitchen/den, and in March I'll move all the random crap to the barn, clean real good, and list the house. Average days on market for the area last year was right around 5 months, so we'll see how it goes!

And that's really all I've got. It's all a big question mark after midsummer. I don't think "keep eating right" or "continue exercising" are very New Years Resolution-worthy. I'm thinking about doing mini book reviews of (some/most/all of) the books I read this year - I haven't decided to commit to that yet though.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Trailer mods 101

Caitlin asked about tools. Jonni's touched on it, but I thought I'd post pics of my MVTs.

Here's my drill. It's just a Hitachi 12v. I wouldn't recommend cheaping out with a 9.4v, but you honestly don't need an 18v either. Have two batteries, and swap as soon as you think you're losing power.

The secret weapon: a drill and tap kit.

When you think you want to hang something, go look in the nails/screws/fasteners section of the hardware store and pick out your hardware. Eyebolts, carriage bolts, and screws all come in wood (pointy tip) or metal (flat tip) versions. Get the flat tip metal kind. Then go over to the drill bit aisle and look for the right size drill and tap kit. They're on little cards, just like the drill bits. You can get fine thread or coarse thread; get what matches your fastener.

The drill bit is just a good quality metal bit. It's a tiny bit smaller than the tap bit, which is where the magic happens.

My thumb is covering up the end that goes in the drill. The business end is slightly tapered, and it reams the metal into threads so you can just screw the fastener in. It's a little tricky to get it going - it usually takes me a couple tries - but when you've done it right, it spins a bit then screws itself into the hole. Unscrew it, then screw in your fastener.

You can see that I label bits with blue painter's tape. Yeah, a roll of it is expensive, but it unsticks cleanly - I've reused that piece of tape on those bits several times.

I like to use a dab of Loctite too.

There's a couple different kinds. This stuff will unlock with hand tools and force - they also make a kind that won't unlock without heat, but that's way overkill for our purpose. This just keeps vibration over time from unscrewing your hard work. (Is your wheelbarrow wobbly? USE LOCTITE.)

Hope that helps! Still thinking about all the good ideas and considerations for my bucket holders. I'll post when I decide something!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Trailer advice please!

I got some bucket clips that I'm going to bolt onto my trailer, but I'm not quite sure where to put them.

Here's the off side of the trailer.

A haybag (haynet, now that I finally got a small-mesh one!) hangs from a carabiner hooked onto the U bracket. Dixie is tied by her lead to the vertical bar above the U bracket. I'm thinking about putting the bucket holder right where that bucket is now - it could sit on the fender, out of (normal) foot-reach. I like to use those 8-quart flat-back buckets, since I don't feed much concentrate - the larger 20 qt ones irritate Dixie because she can't see while she's slurping up the last grains.

I usually put her water in a 5 gallon bucket or a big muck bucket (depending on the length of our stay) at the back of the fender. She's only knocked it over a few times there, and I check on her often enough that if the silly cow does knock it over, she can just go thirsty for a couple hours. ;)

Is that a good place to bolt a bucket clip? Any better suggestions? I think when I get a hi-tie, hopefully this summer, it'll still be a convenient place to feed. I've got short bolts and cap nuts to attach it, and the capped bolts should be out of her way when she's riding normally in the trailer.

I did a few more improvements too.

I don't want to fill up the water tank, go on a day trip, come home, and drain it before it freezes. I thought about getting those 5-7 gallon camping cubes, but then I decided 5 gallon buckets with snap-fit lids would work almost as well. I tapped holes for eyebolts in the "studs" of the trailer wall and there's a bungee keeping them in place. They're pretty stable, and the lids are tight - I filled them up and rolled them around some and they didn't come loose. Plus, it's a bit more weight up front to help balance the horse in the back. In the summer when I've got the big tank full, I can put hay pellets or grain in the buckets.

Hung a paper towel holder off the doorframe. I dunno about you but I always need paper towels.

Got AERC to send me a BIG sticker with my membership renewal.

The trailer is my woman-cave, and any person-cave needs a sexy calendar. Behold my Swedish Horsemen 2012 calendar! G just rolled his eyes when that package showed up for Christmas. The silver thing is a magnet keeping it in place.

Velcro'd up a little notebook to keep track of trailer mileage / maintenance / repairs.

One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne! Just cause.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

NEDA New Years Ride, with yard art!

All I want to do is go play Skyrim but I know you, my loyal masses, are just dying to know how today's ride went, so I am making the sacrifice of my valuable time to write this.

So we went and rocked another NEDA ride. The hill work is definitely paying off.

Here's last month's ride - exact same course, except that this time we did the first loop backwards. 3:20 moving time, about 8.5 mph for the trot intervals, and she got quite tired at the end and we walked the last two miles or so. The weather was about 5 degrees warmer, and I didn't carry water for her on the trail.

Here's today's ride. 2:30 moving time (a freakin' hour faster!), her trot/gait was more like 9-9.5 mph, and she got very strong in the last mile and I had to keep fighting her to not canter in. I brought one of those little blue bags of water and squirted the crest of her neck every time we walked. I don't know if the cold water cooled her off and perked her up, or if she was just pissed I kept getting her wet, but she did recover faster.

We absolutely roared through the first loop. We fell in with Beth K (I think, you know I'm awful at ID'ing people and she was always 10' ahead) and her friend and just cleaned it up. Dixie was hot and tired at the pulse-and-go, so I said bye to them and stayed in camp for 20 minutes. I gave her more diluted elytes and tried to get her to eat, but she was more interested in watching horses come in and leave. I hand-fed her some grain and she ate a bit of alfalfa, and she didn't seem too tired so we headed back out.

I really thought I'd overdone it on the first loop and we'd do the second one at like 5 mph, but she picked her head up, perked up her ears, and power trotted on out of camp. There was a horse about a half mile ahead of us, traveling just a skosh slower than we were, and we gradually caught up to her over several miles.

About 12 miles in, Dixie interfered and clipped her RF heel bulb. She sort of stumbled and took one lame step, and I had just enough time to think "oh dear god no" before she was back trotting perfectly sound. She didn't take another goofy step, but I found the tiny wound (and tiny blood drops all over her back legs) after the ride, so I think that's when it happened.

We caught up to the lady on the grey at about 14 miles and walked for a half mile talking to her. She had one of those hysterically bad-tempered mares - the mare was very curious about us coming up behind her, and really wanted us to catch up, but as soon as Dixie got abreast of her it was all snarky bitey face and mad ears. (Dixie didn't make faces. She just never makes faces at other horses anymore. <3 her!) We were power trotting but I managed to get a picture of the yard-art boat for yall. Yard art boat, 2

Here's a yard art wagon:
Yard art wagon

One for my dad, who makes birdhouses (go buy one if you're in Memphis!)
Birdhouse (not in soul)

Somebody else - a guy I should know, but don't - caught up and passed us so we all started trotting again. Dixie and I hit one more mentally bad patch at about 17.5 miles - there's a quarter mile of rough gravel road and it seems like forever to camp. I just made her walk (while her buddies ran away, oh no!) and by the time we got to the end of the gravel she was recovered and ready to rock again. She sprang back into the power trot and we caught them at the hill, then they cantered the last flat mile into camp and I insisted we trot. I have a (totally justifiable!) fear of letting her canter when she's tired now.

She was soaked when we got in, so I blanketed her and feasted on deep-fried turkey. Yes, again! The ride had a crazy big turnout - 49 starters, 31 of them doing the 20 mile distance. Yay! Still, the only people I saw were the ones I mentioned. It felt very solitary out there.

She was still wet and getting cold when I was ready to leave, so I threw the waterproof on top of the cooler and got her home. I left the cooler on for an hour after we got here, but it was cold and wet, so I decided it was doing more harm than good. I'd like to have a second blanket! Gotta check and see if anything's on sale. When I went out and pulled the cooler, she was in very good spirits. I'm very happy - we are tangibly improving!

Physically, it was a really awful ride for me. I was cold the whole time, my knees and pelvis hurt, and it was one of those rides where it felt like Dixie was going to trot my uterus loose. My knees hurt because I ate quesadillas every day for a week over Christmas, and grain/wheat really does make my joints inflamed and sore. I was cold because I dressed optimistically - the November ride was just a bit warmer, but the sun was hotter and I ended up taking off my windbreaker and riding in a tank top in November. That was so much fun that I wore the same clothes this time, but I sweated and my windbreaker got clammy and then I froze. Ahh well - next time I'll wear more wool and less synthetics, and get my eating right again. It was a beautiful day to be out, and Dixie's performance was a huge boost for me.

Because she's not an Arab, I always wonder if we can do this, if we'll ever get faster than a 10 hour 50, if I'm training her right, yadda yadda. (Not to mention the tendon thing too, but I'll drive myself insane if I worry about that so I try hard not to think about it.) That's why I'm so obsessive about the GPS stats - I really can't tell if we're getting better til I go back and look over my data. Today was a big success!

I know this is the world's longest post already but I wanted to add a shot of her LF after the ride. Should I smear some thrush goo in her frog or does it look ok?
20 miles barefoot