Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Sometimes, even I, home repair juryrigger extraordinaire, call a professional.

Our front room has a built-in woodstove. It's a long skinny room (20'x10') with one of those 70s flagstone fireplace walls on the short end. That'd be kinda horrible (fireplaces are really inefficient ways to heat anything), but it's got a stove insert in it! When we bought the house we decided it was some obscure heatolator, and due to air quality stuff it was sold as-is, so we didn't really know much about it.

I suffered through a truly horrible winter with $4/gallon propane (like $15/day in winter) and the tiny woodstove in the den, then last fall I got the front stove cleaned and inspected. My chimney dude said it appeared to be in good shape, but it was totally homemade. But the fan came on when you plugged it in and flipped the switch, so that's what I ran this winter. And dude, it might be homemade and woefully inefficient compared to modern stoves, but it seriously put out some heat!

Back in January or February the thermostat quit working. A male person who resides here part time fiddled with it, and after he'd fiddled with it, it didn't work anymore. We googled but couldn't figure out what model it was, much less what we could comparably replace it with, so I just turned the blower on manually when I lit a fire and turned it off in the morning. No big deal.

Then I went to Rides of March and came home victorious and sat on the couch all day Sunday. I built a roaring fire that night and slept toasty warm on Sunday night, except that I had this really weird (even for me) dream about a zombie washing machine detaching itself from the wall and coming to kill me. I woke up a little and thought, in that half-asleep way, that it wasn't a zombie washing machine, it was the dryer, with rocks in it. Then I woke up more and realized (a) there were no rocks in the dryer and (b) the dryer wasn't running at 3 am. I staggered up and investigated the very real very loud noise and determined that one of the ball bearings had gone out in the stove fan and it was killing itself. The fire was almost out, so I flipped the switch and went back to sleep.

When I got up I sort of wondered if I'd dreamed the whole thing, but when I turned the fan on it made a very sad sound and turned half a rotation and died completely. Well, hell.

I unscrewed the grill, just to see if I could get the fan out of the firebox somehow, and the fan fell down inside the box and I threw up my hands in despair. I'd just gotten a new tank of propane, and it wasn't very cold, so I kind of ignored the problem. For a whole week. But eventually I started feeling really guilty when I turned the thermostat up to 70, and really cold when I left it at 65, so I broke down and called for help.

I've used Morin since we moved to Reno, and he's just a great guy. He's a full-time firefighter / part-time chimney sweep. He laughed at my stoves the first time he came out, but he did it in a "laugh with me, we'll get through this" way, not a "you idiot!" way. He told me how to get the most out of what I've got, and promised that if it can be fixed, he can fix it. So when I called and said "I don't know if you remember me, but I live in Lemmon Valley and I've got that homemade ancient Heatolator..." he knew right who I was.

He's fixed me up better than new. (Which, admittedly, isn't a high standard...) He pulled out the old fan:

and mounted a modern new blower fan on the outside:

(See the switch? that's the switch to turn the fan off and on. Totally homemade, dude.)

There was a fan on the other side of the box, too, but it didn't work when we bought the place. We didn't know why, and we didn't really investigate. While Morin was out here, he did investigate, and this is what he found. Looks kinda like a fan...

A sad fan. With totally melted blades.

Looks like long ago it seized up, and after it quit working the heat of the fires melted the plastic bits. Classy.

He mounted the new blower on the first opening and bolted some metal over the second opening to close it off. The new blower is slightly quieter than the old fan and pushes even more warm air out, so I'm just thrilled.

I asked about the thermostat - it's a 40 year old dealie from an oil furnace. We're just not touching it. Flip the fan on when you build a fire, flip it off when it goes out. Good enough.


I have gone red again

and I got a new shirt

That's all I got!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Comments (subscribe by email, direct replies)

This is actually not something clever I discovered, I just lucked into it in Google's last round of changes.

Remember how you used to be able to click "subscribe to replies by email" on any blog? Well, they took that button out when they went to the two-word verification, but they left the link in for "embedded comments."

And embedded comments have the nifty little "reply" button under each comment - so you know that I'm replying TO YOU, and you can reply to one of my comments if you want.

Here's some screenshots of how to turn on embedded comments. If you have the new Blogger interface, it's under Settings -> Posts and Comments.

If you're still using the old interface, go to the Settings tab, Comments, click the Embedded below post button.

I gotta admit, I didn't always click to subscribe to comments. If I was just saying "yay for you / looks great!" I didn't need to see everybody else say the same thing. But if my comment had substance, you know, like "try clipping your horse you tard," I'd subscribe to see if the poster replied to me. I figure most people are the same way, and I don't assume yall subscribe to my comments. But I like the embedded comments because at least you can, if you wanted to see if I replied.

Dag, y'all, we look so good! plus hills

Yall have got to click over and look at these pictures of us. I'm not gonna imageleech them, you have to click to the photographer's site. I am definitely buying several of these. And framing them. I might get a digital copy of one and use it for my profile pic on every website known to man, too.

Picture 1 - I can ride!

Picture 2 - S's favorite of us.

Picture 3 - Look at that backdrop. I love this one.

Picture 4 - Or how about lake + mountain?

Picture 5 - She doesn't melt!

Picture 6 - I think this is my favorite of the group ones. Looks like so much possibility, like we're all going to ride off together and never come back to real life.

Meanwhile, in real life!

I communed with the couch all morning, then finally dragged myself up and took Dixie up the hill for our short hill workout. She wailed on that hill, too. It was overcast, windy, and about 50 (so perfect weather for a hairy beast).

I took Cersei, and my knees have been feeling creaky, so I didn't want to run. (I was experimenting with not taking glucosamine - I started taking it seriously about a year ago, and my knees/joints felt better, but then I've never stopped taking it so was I just imagining things? After a week off glucosamine, I can tell you that it definitely makes my joints feel better.)

Dixie went ballin' up that hill. Steady 7 mph trot/foxtrot, and she only slowed to a walk twice. On the less-steep bits headed out, she reluctantly trotted very steadily at 8 mph, and on the downhills coming home she zipped along at 9-10.

I know a lot of my current readers are not and will never be endurance riders, but there are a couple of yall who are considering it, and I suppose more wannabe e-riders will stumble upon my good idea in the years to come, so I try to give the mph info for those people. We started out two years ago barely able to trot 6 mph for 100 feet before Dixie would slam on the brakes, leap sideways, or spin and try to bolt. You can start from very unpromising beginnings and eventually get a steady 6.5 mph trip up and down a hill - it just takes a lot of miles.

Cersei has not yet puked water in the house. I am somewhat hopeful that she's going to keep it all inside her. Fingers crossed!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Unmentionables, Washoe Lake, hooves

So the other day I went and bought quite expensive undies. (Well, expensive for me - I usually just buy six packs of garishly colored Hanes.) I hit REI and found a pair of seamless Patagonias (HT to Liz Stout for recommending them), and a pair of REI brand seamless panties inexplicably marked down to $4.87. All the rest of the purple REI panties were $16.50, but these were $4.87 - and they actually rang up at that price! A 20% off coupon and my dividend made it a very reasonable purchase. I ordered two more pairs of seamless panties from amazon, but those haven't even shown up yet. I wore the Patagonias on today's ride, and they're quite nice. They won't get my official Seal Of Approval until I do at least an LD in them, but so far I really like them.

My friends are putting on a new ride this summer, the Tahoe Rim Ride. They've got a new photographer - not new to photography, but new to endurance photographs. A small group of us met up at Washoe Lake this morning to help her get some practice. We walked, trotted, cantered, and gaited past her in various combinations along a couple of scenic spots in the park.

The taller one with the ski slopes is Slide Mountain. Lake Tahoe is lurking up there just behind that line of mountains.

In preparation, I washed my horse on Thursday! From stinky yellow beast:

To shiny and white:

Ok, to be totally honest, I only washed her mane and tail. It was in the mid-50s, and my well water is also in the mid-50s, and I just couldn't scrub her torso, poor thing. She glared at me and went to sleep while she was drying and getting Cowboy Magic'd, then took off bucking and cantering around when I turned her loose. And she rolled. She rolled FOUR TIMES. Poor put-upon mare.

But it was all for naught! She was still fluffy and white this morning.

She'd just shaken her head - I love the floppy ears.

The pro pics should be up by tomorrow, but I'll spoiler you now: I wore the black tights. I KNOW! But the smileys are very much summerweight, and it was just too cold for that nonsense. I promise, the smileys are going to be worn at the very next warm ride.

My GPS says we went 10.8 miles in 1:45 (moving time - it subtracts out the standing around talking parts). 7 miles of that was dinking around with the photographer. Good practice at being a broke horse - lots of letting others go first, going first, waiting for others, etc. We went in the lake up to her fetlocks and gaited and cantered up and down the shoreline.

Then S and I took off for a little speed work before lunch. S lives down that a way and trains her fabulous racer at the park, so she took me up a seriously winding singletrack through the sagebrush at Mach 10. Well, ok, more like 10 MPH, but it was a blast. It reminded me of exactly why I got a horse to begin with, and how much fun it is to open up on a twisty trail. Dixie racked a bit, but she just couldn't gait quite that fast, so we cantered most of the 4 miles. She wasn't too winded at the turnaround, and she wasn't worn out when we got back to the trailer. This is not the world's most amazing accomplishment, but I'm proud anyway :)

A little sweaty, but not dripping:

We had a very pleasant lunch together - I brought beer and mooched off of everybody else's food. (Sorry I ate all your celery and most of your hummus, M! It was really tasty.) When the wind came up, we all decided it was definitely time to go.

I touched up Dixie's trim yesterday and snapped some pics today, after the barefoot ride cleaned her feet up very nicely. Here's a post from 6 weeks ago to compare photos.

Front left. I guess I could roll the toe back a smidge further. I think (wishfully?) that her heels are a bit wider, and I can't decide if her frogs look better or worse.
Front left

Front right.
Front right

Rear left.
Rear left

I will continue on with the purple thrush stuff. Most of her hooves look/smell/feel good, but that one pocket on the outside of the front left is still there. I am pretty tempted to go at her frog with the knife, just to cut back that flap of frog that flops over and covers up the thrush pocket. I knooooow, it's bad and wrong to trim frogs, but maybe this is the equivalent of a hangnail. Hmmm.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A pleasure ride; more nutrition stuff

I like to take a little time off, mentally, after a Big Ride. Today was the nicest day all week (high in the 70s!), so I put on my neon smiley tights and took Dixie and Cers out for a pleasure ride. We went 5-6 miles, out at a walk and back at a lovely gait, and it was just what I needed.


Dixie still makes me feel like the Queen of the World. I bought her on a whim - my biggest impulse purchase ever - because I loved the "screw you" look in her eye, and because she made me feel like the Queen of the World when I was racking down the barn driveway on my test ride. She had that never-give-up look in her eyes, even after what she'd been through, and it's like riding a unicorn (what with the gaiting and all the white hair flapping around).

Today, Dixie moved out away from home pretty well, with a few extra-looky moments at deadly trash alongside the trail, and she was a raging dragon turned for home. She was extra-spicy. It was hella fun. If I insisted, she'd slow down to a running walk, but mostly she did some fast gait going home. Wheeeee! I know, I know, usually I don't let her barge off home at top speed, but like I said - pleasure ride.

Cersei went with us, with much excited barking at the beginning and much tongue-dragging at the end. She likes to drink too much water after a ride, then wait til I let her in the house to barf it on the floor. Today I kept her outside for at least 30 minutes, while I curried a blizzard of white hair off of Dixie, but she managed to barf foamy water three times on the floor. She puked, and I thought "at least it's not carpet" and by the time I made it in the kitchen to get the paper towels she barfed AGAIN, and I thought "well surely she's done" and while I cleaned up the first mess she barfed YET AGAIN and I evicted her. She barfed a fourth time on the patio, but eventually I let her back in and she kept her innards under control. Dogs are the best pets. You must keep repeating that or you'll cry and go insane. Dogs are the best pets.

Sadly, the cheap caged stirrups DEFINITELY make my feet go numb. I think I'll put the uncaged easytread stirrups back on, just to double-check that it's not the barefoot shoes making my feet go numb, then at some point real soon I'll spend the $90 on Easycare's caged stirrups. (I did also get a coupon for free shipping from Action Rider with my top-ten hoofpick!)

My smiley face tights are super comfortable. I may be a convert! But... A couple women lately have talked about boob containment - Bird and Ashley off the top of my head - but I'd like to talk about panties. My panties are all old and rather uncomfortable, and I'm thinking about seeing what REI or Sierra Trading Post has to offer. Maybe - gasp! - those heinous looking boy cut hipster brief things. Something that gets the elastic away from my crotch? Any suggestions?

Before we left, I put a double handful of beet pulp to soak in a bucket. When we got back, I dumped the BP in her feed bucket and went to get her vitamin supplement / Vit E / salt, and by the time I got back out to her, she'd eaten half the BP. She's like a damn cat, novelty is terrible until she decides it was her idea in the first place. I guess beet pulp is now an Acceptable Horse Food. Mission accomplished!

Rice bran: I was talking to Mel, and she reminded me that beet pulp is also moderately high in calcium. I mainly wanted to use the rice bran to give Dixie a slightly increased (but not too high) blood calcium level, but I think a double handful (half a pound? I should weigh it) of BP daily will give her what I want. So no rice bran for me right now.

I'm still thinking about working her onto a fat supplement in the form of liquid human-grade oil. But the problem is that we're moving, in about 7 weeks, and I don't know where we'll end up - if I find the perfect barn with great trails but they're not willing to feed oil, is it all for naught? I've heard that it's still beneficial even if the horse doesn't get the fat 7 days a week, so I might go for it anyway.

Again, Dixie is in great condition. She's not a cresty insulin resistant "easy keeper" but she's certainly not doing poorly on hay alone, so I'm not supplementing fat to keep her weight on. I know that a lot of yall have nervous feisty Arabs who need fat to keep weight up, but if I do feed oil, it'll be just to get her metabolism partially adapted to burning fat, which is the most efficient way for an aerobic endurance horse to metabolize. Do you think fat is a fad? Is it worth getting her on a skosh (1/4 to 1/2 a cup?) of vegetable oil?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Rides of March pictures

A couple of people asked for pictures, so here's all I've got. I think I only took the one picture on Saturday at the vet check, the one of Dixie at the trailer in the snow. It was too cold to take my gloves off, and my gloves were too damp to work the iPhone.


Storm coming in. This is like the worst picture ever, because you (the reader) don't know that you're barely seeing a huge range of mountains behind that storm front.

From 2010, same general view, with huge mountain range visible:
Sunset 2



Ride meeting:

One of the ride photos:

Vet check:

Nutriton and errata

So way back at the end of January, I meant to buy some beet pulp and force my horse to learn to eat the stuff, but I was busy fixing the kitchen and I forgot until "too late." It takes horses a while to develop the right gut flora to properly digest beet pulp (and sometimes, the taste buds to appreciate it), so it's not something I wanted to start feeding a couple weeks before a big ride. Toward the end of February, I remembered, but it was too late!

I've offered her BP a couple times before - when I first got her, and again when we first moved to Nevada, and both times she was like "ugh this sucks" whether I gave it to her soaked or dry. (Please go read this whole article before you tell me that dry beet pulp causes choke/dehydration/stomach explosions.) But she's an endurance horse now, and she's learned to eat wet hay and wet mashes and by god she can learn to eat wet BP!

Yesterday, the titanic struggle began. I offered her the usual one pound of LMF ration balancer, Vitamin E, and salt, with about a cup of BP and a splash of water. She was mad. I tossed in some carrots too. She was mad and stomped and pawed and glared at me and ate about 3/4 of her meal.

Today, I gave her the exact same thing as yesterday. After I threw her hay and fed the chickens, I went and checked and she'd eaten every single molecule in her bucket and licked it clean. Well. That was easy.

I've been thinking about two other nutriton topics, too: calcium and fat.

Distance horses use a lot of calcium (you run the risk of thumps or tying-up if the horse doesn't have enough calcium available), but paradoxically, if you feed a lot of calcium in the diet on a regular basis, the levels of blood calcium drop and the horse is at a greater risk of tie-up. The ideal is to feed a pound of alfalfa a day, but not "a couple flakes." The problem for me is that I can't even feed a pound of alfalfa a day, but I would like to supplement calcium just a tiny bit.

Fat is also important. Mel has a good post about the nutrition/fat talk at the convention. I can do a one-paragraph summary of alfalfa, but I'm having a hard time summarizing fat metabolism without misrepresenting it. Let's just skip the why and assume that distance riders should be feeding fat before a ride, then omitting it on ride day. Like BP, it takes a while for the horse to be able to properly utilize the feed, so you gradually ramp it up over a couple of months.

Endurance riders who feed fat (and not everyone does) often use rice bran OR liquid oil (vegetable oil, corn oil, peanut oil, etc.) top-dressed on soaked beet pulp. The problem with feeding rice bran is that the calcium/phosphorus ratio is naturally extremely inverted - so rice bran pellet manufacturers "fix" that by heavily supplementing calcium to bring the ratio back. But the pellets have a high % of calcium then.

Maybe that's what I need? I'd like the alfalfa benefits (increased calcium plasma concentrations) without the drawbacks (high protein, miserably itchy sunburn-y horse). If I start feeding pelleted rice bran, working up to maybe a pound a day, I'll get some of the fat-burning metabolic benefits, and some of the calcium benefits.

So I made a scrapbook of sorts for Dixie. It's a scrapbook only in the technical sense of the term - a purple binder, with photos glued in it - but there's no glitter or doo-dads. Here, look:

Anyway, I went back through my blog and got all the distances, times, finishes, etc., and I realized I actually do top-ten LD's, all the time. The 6th place at Rides of March was just surprising because I actually got an award. Rides don't usually give out top-ten prizes for LDs. So I guess it's "Squee I won a thing!" rather than "Squee I top-tenned!" I'm still squee about it.

And it's not like we're very fast on LDs, it's just that not many people deliberately/exclusively ride LDs out here. Some regions have hard-core LD racers, and tons of people entered in the LD, but not so much in Nevada.

My running muscles are very very sore, but my riding muscles and my joints are A-ok today. I gotta get my shit together and as soon as I get un-sore, go out and slowly jog like a half a mile or something and get MYSELF fitted up to run a bit and help Dixie. My dad was like "you have a perfectly good horse, why the hell did you get off it and run down a hill?!" and the answer is that it's almost more comfortable for me to run down hill than to ride down hill, PLUS my horse noticeably recovers better if she's only hauling herself along.

My warranty-replacement Kindle is on the way and should be here Wednesday and not a moment too soon. I had a physical book laying around, and I've read most of it, and while I'm enjoying the story I am just outdone with the method of delivery. It's so awkward to hold a paperback open! And if I just let it shut it doesn't automatically open to the page I was on! I feel like a savage 20th century human. I got the oil changed in the truck today and I had to read (gasp!) a women's magazine in the waiting room and that suuuucked. Trendy kitchens are all ugly and bleak and modernist. Yuck.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

ROM 30: Wrongs and rights

What went wrong:
  • My Kindle is dead.  Little horizontal and vertical black lines that won't go away.  SO SAD!  At least I got the extended warranty on it.
  • My trailer leaks.  At the "rafters," too.  It hardly matters out here but I wonder if I should seal it somehow before I move to the rainy coast.
  • My trailer is cold.  To be expected.
  • My air mattress failed me.  I knew last summer it had a slow leak, but over the winter it turned into a big one.  I blew it up three times overnight and still ended up sleeping on the egg crate alone after a couple hours.  I was so mad I threw it away as I left camp.
  • Dixie's lead rope froze to her halter, and I didn't bring the spare rope halter.  I did have a spare halter, yes, but it's a wide nylon halter - my bridle snaps wouldn't have gone around it.  I ended up tying the frozen rope to a carabiner and snapping that to my saddle.  At lunch it had thawed enough to take off, finally.
  • My feet went numb from cold, then my feet went numb from the caged stirrups.  It was my first ride in the less-padded caged stirrups, but not my longest ride in the barefoot shoes, so I blame the stirrups.  MAD FACE.
  • When I'm very cold, I skip the Bodyglide, which is suboptimal.  Ow.
  • Do not feed alfalfa to Dixie YOU IDIOT.  That poor horse was so itchy.  She's fine today - the pink around her eye/muzzle has gone, and her eye isn't weeping anymore.  
What went right:
  • The hi-tie worked perfectly.  Dixie had plenty of room to pace irritably in a big circle all night.  
  • The layers of bedding worked!  Air mattress, egg crate, busted-zipper sleeping bag, then real sleeping bag = no cold seeping up from below.
  • I drank almost enough during the ride.  I still really like my electrolytes.
  • The new Renegades performed well!  The footing wasn't terrible, but it wasn't great.  One rear pastern strap came loose, but the boot stayed on til camp and once I refastened it, everything stayed put.
  • The hay bag iced over and froze shut.  ARGH.  I'd left it in the bed of the truck.
  • The long trailer panels do not fit in the bed of the truck.  Major error.  Measure twice cut once inclues measuring where you're going to store things.  I thought it was a 6' bed; it's 5'6".  The two long panels will prop up in the back of the tack room, at least.
  • Dixie shook her right rein off the bit?!  See above, re itchy horse.  She did the full-body shake many times, and at the last water stop on the first loop she shook so hard the right rein went flying off.  Sigh.
  • Carrots in the saddlebag are adequate substitutes for grass on trail.  The secret to gut sounds isn't keeping the horse's stomach full - almost impossible to do that and make the minimum time requirements - it's keeping the horse's stomach working.  A couple of carrots at every water stop and every gate gave her A gut sounds all day.
  • Fresh gloves and socks at the vet check is A+++
  • Horse electrolytes:  I bought a tub of Enduramax electrolytes at the convention, and I like them.  They taste less intensely salty than what I'd been using.  I mixed quarter-doses with applesauce and started giving them the night before, and kept it up all day.  She drank about 7-8 liters overnight, drank lightly on the first loop, and drank really well on the second loop.  

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Rides of March 30: We done good.

Yep, the weather was about as bad as they predicted on Friday night. I was mostly dry, and mostly warm enough to sleep most of the night (thanks in no small part to Cersei - I wished I had two dogs!) At 5 am I gave up on sleep and made coffee, then climbed in the truck and cranked the heater on full-blast high heat and sat in there for a solid hour. At that point I felt ready to face the 26 degree day.

I got Dixie booted and tacked up before the 50s left at 7 - she gets super antsy when "everybody" abandons her, and it's best to be done by that point. Threw her purple waterproof blanket on top of everything and she looked oddly like a camel. At 7:45, I put Cers in the truck and hopped on Dixie for a nice long warmup. She wanted to trot; I asked her to walk, she walked like a pro. I took her cautiously down the ridecamp road and she did a Bambi on ice, so I knew to watch out for the footing. The wind, rain, and snow last night actually managed to freeze the first couple inches of the ground.

We were walking toward the gate when the RM called the trail open. I looked around and nobody looked really hotshoe ready to bolt for the lead, so... we walked out first. I kept her at a loose-rein walk for another quarter of a mile, then started asking for a trot on the good footing and a walk on the treacherous bits. I kept waiting for somebody to pass me... and waiting... and waiting. We hit the first water tank, four miles down the trail, before the next group caught us. I waited while all the horses decided not to drink, then one of the riders hopped off to fix a stirrup and I asked if it was cool if I left, and we headed out briskly again. I knew they'd catch me again, and just a mile or so later they were back.

The guy in the lead sounded really familiar. Dixie fell in pretty well with their horses. She just doesn't pace well with Arabs. Her medium "go all day" speed is always 8-9 mph, no matter what gait she uses, and her walk is bigger than most Arabs' walk, so we trot a bit faster and walk a bit faster, but we walk more often so we get passed. This was the two-track section of trail that goes up the hill past the big water tank and the bigger railroad oil tanker, so our speeds weren't a problem. We fell in talking and leapfrogging, with me on the right track and the group of three on the left track.

Eventually I realized they're the group from Susanville who sometimes ride with A, the woman I rode the Arabs with last summer. They realized who I was, and we had a laugh about it. Everybody knows me at first glance at rides because I'm the one on the big spotted TWH - but they'd never seen me on my horse. And they couldn't see my face, because I had on a ski mask and a hat. I stuck with them for the rest of the loop, and we plugged along at exactly the average speed I wanted to go - around 5.6 mph.

The first loop of the 30 (second loop of the 50) starts off with 5 miles of easy rolling hills that goes off in a weird direction, sort of like it's an afterthought, then there's a very big loop that winds along a couple of hills, tops one, then plunges down toward Lynn's place. The trail usually goes through her yard and along her property down by the river, for some guaranteed nice grazing, but we skipped that this year! The weather was just too shitty to bother. Instead of going onto Lynn's property, we hung a left at the fenceline and took a singletrack up a long canyon, then cut over into Dead Horse Canyon and on up to the plateau where ridecamp is.

Dead Horse Canyon: Used to contain a dead horse, then the bones of a dead horse, but now even the bones are gone. I think they should rename it to Country Directions Canyon, because it's so very "Ok, you just take the highway down past where the Wethers' farm was and turn left where the school used to be."

Anyway, the climb up the canyon is one of the two Big Climbs I think about when I think about ROM. In 2010 Dixie was drag-ass tired by the time we got up that canyon, but she perked up with some food and rest at the vet check and we finished. In 2011, we were trying the 50, so we'd already gone almost 30 too-fast miles when we started that climb, and she bonked hard. Everybody disappeared and she was sure she'd be the next Dead Horse to inhabit the place, and I ended up getting off and hiking with her to get her to the top. So yeah, I'd spent many hours training hills this year, and I'd watched my speed really carefully, and I picked my companions carefully, and I was still nervous going into it.

Dixie did fine. She was slower than the rest - they can trot where she has to walk still - but she didn't run out of gas. We got to the water tanks at the top and she actually drank a bit, then I grouped back up with Susanville and we trotted briskly off. It was a two-track again, and I was in the back row, and we were all yakking away, and right about the time I started to wonder why I hadn't seen any ribbons lately we hit an intersection and realized we'd missed a turn. We turned around and saw the frontrunners for the 50 headed off down a different trail, so we had to backtrack about a quarter mile to the tank and get back on the right trail. Not too bad as far as missed trail goes - and yes, there were SEVEN ribbons indicating the turn we missed. We took turns blaming each other as we trotted on into camp. :)

I fed Dixie not one but two flakes of 40/60 alfalfa/grass hay yesterday, because she chows it down so good and I wanted her to have a full stomach. And because it's not summer, so she's got a lot of hair, so she can't get very sunburned, right? Well. She didn't burn; she itched. Normally Dixie permits me to scratch her eyes and ears when they're covered in sweat, but she never begs me to scratch her, or rubs up against me. She was scratching her face - on her legs, on immovable objects, on Funders - by the time she got off the trailer at ridecamp, and her bald-side eye was just dripping gross mucous. Poor, poor horse. Anyway, there's nothing but super-rich beautiful leafy green alfalfa at the vet check, so I bypassed the line and headed for the trailer.

(taking pictures required taking off my gloves and I was rarely willing to do THAT.)

In a few minutes, I headed over to the vet check and vetted through with all A's and a 53 CRI. I was absolutely delighted. I'd been electrolyting religiously (not heavily, but she'd had four quarter-doses by that point), I'd been feeding her carrots at every single stop in lieu of grazing, and I felt like I had done a good job pacing us. All A's made me feel like I was in fact on the right track!

I goofed around feeding the horse and the Funder and playing with the dog til my break was over. I didn't see the Susanville gang, and I was a few minutes "late" heading out, so I assumed they were already gone. I headed over to the out timer at the same time as Argh Dammit Why Can't I Remember Her Name. (She knows mine, we know a bunch of stuff about each other and our horses, hell I even kinda remember her face, but for the life of me I can't remember her name.) Anyway, we headed out together, paced very well, and stuck together for the second loop.

Argh rides a super cute uppity bay Arab mare. She's always in heat and she gets infuriated if Dixie gets too close or (gasp!) passes her, but she prefers to trot at about 7 mph so Dixie passed her quite often. The second loop (last loop for 50s) goes out across the plateau, then starts up the other Big Climb then down a small hill, then up a bigger hill, about four times. Eventually you fetch up at the top of a stunningly beautiful canyon that drops 900' in about a mile and a quarter.

I got off and ran it. HORRIBLE MISTAKE, SEEMED LIKE A GOOD IDEA AT THE TOP. I know that Dixie does recover quite well on long downhills without my weight jouncing around on her. I know that I can run a mile downhill. I was pretty sure that I could run a mile downhill at a ride, with people passing me. I kind of forgot about the arctic clothing I was wearing - let me tell you, three shirts a hoodie and a ski jacket, plus a ski mask and a helmet, gets unfuckingbelievably hot when you're trying to run down a mile of deep sand hill. Argh was patient beyond words and didn't ditch me for either of the two slightly-faster groups who passed us, and I managed to get all the way down the hill without having a heart attack.

There were no very large rocks at the bottom, but Dixie patiently lined up at a bank on the side of the road and stood very still while I flung myself on her, grabbed neck to keep from flipping over her onto my head, and got my stirrups back. Then we were OFF again - the last 8 miles or so is mostly flat or slight uphill. We ripped along a cow trail to a trough, where both horses drank really well (21 miles and she drinks like she means it!), then hit the sand road. Argh's mare was totally infuriated with this ginormous unnatural beast following her and insisted on a slow canter, and Dixie just went balling through all her gaits at about 10 mph. Big trot, rack, pace, canter, repeat. Argh was going about 10.5 mph so she kept sloooooowly drawing ahead of us, and Dixie was working hard but she felt like she had enough go to keep going, so I let her. We hit the five-mile crossroads water tank, slurped up more water (yay drink mare drink!!), and rolled on into camp.

Argh has a HRM and her mare was cruising at 120 bpm, so she didn't even slow down when camp came into view. I knew that Dixie was working harder, and I'd decided that we'd walk in once we saw the trailers, so I made her walk. Biggest fight of the day, and nicest running walk - it didn't help her heart rate, but I won the fight. I caught up when Argh got off to walk the last quarter mile in, and we walked in together. Argh pulsed in immediately and Dixie came down in about 2 minutes.

I took her to the trailer, stripped her tack and got her to eat a bit, then with my heart in my throat we headed for the vet. I let her walk shoulder-to-shoulder with me and I swear to God she took one funny step in that 100 yards and I was sure she was lame. I had her trot a few steps, then walk again, and she didn't do it again... but I wasn't sure.

And we vetted out with... a B for impulsion, A's for everything else, CRI of 52 - LOWER than at lunch. (I will link you something about CRI in the next post; lower is better.) Cool tight legs. I picked up my t-shirt and went to pack up. Dixie was furious that I kept dragging her away from the piles of glorious alfalfa, back to the trailer with its stupid grass hay.

My Susanville friends came in about that point. Somehow they'd started behind me and never quite caught up the whole time. Sigh, oh well!

I stopped on the way out to throw away my trash, and saw the RM walking around, and went to tell her THANK YOU for such a fun ride. She said, "Did you get your Top 10 prize?" and I was all "Whaaaaat we never top 10!" She assured me that yes we did and I walked over to the prize table yelling "We are the champions!"

We finished in sixth place (out of 15-20 LD riders), in about five hours, and I got a purple hoofpick and free shipping from Action Rider. WOOHOO! I also got another purple ROM t-shirt for completing, and an engraved purple carabiner for the 10-year anniversary of the ride. A victory for the best color - and for the best horse.

I am so happy with/for my mare. This shit is not easy for her, and it's a big learning curve for me, and we're rocking along, noticeably improving. I'm getting all teary-eyed thinking about it.

Next post: all the stuff that went wrong. And pictures that don't fit with this too-long ride story.

Friday, March 16, 2012

What have I done

Howling 40-50 mph winds and the rain just started. About 30 intrepid fools at the ride meeting. Horse is double blanketed, dog is snug on her camping bed, I drank a lot of bourbon and am pretty snug in my nest. Wind should quit by morning and all will be well. When I checked in they asked if I wanted to bump to 50. I laughed and said 7 hours of this was plenty of fun for me. 3G comes and goes so I'll post this now. Mugwump may drink scotch. Whiskey, scotch, or bourbon all allowed at the cremation wake. Victorious post tomorrow I hope!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Well Horse Thrush Off

tl;dr: I think it's working. Try it.

So after my new boot fitting with Mel's Boot Service last weekend, I decided to really commit to getting Dixie's heels down. I've been coasting on the "bad DC's from shoes and pads so young" excuse for too long without really trying to help her get low heels. Dixie's got a little thrush in the lateral sides of her front frogs, so I went to the local feed store to look for ... something.

Rant: I know yall are going to tell me "White Lightning!" or some other hard-to-find non-copper remedy, but the most irritating thing in the world* to me is paying marked-up shipping charges. Please, small business owners, roll the handling costs into the product price and charge me SHIPPING AND A BOX to get it to me. I don't mind looking at where you're located, and where I'm located, and paying a bit more because I'm on the other side of the country. I *do* mind paying, like, $8 for a tiny box. Charge an extra $4 for the product and $4 for shipping and you've got my business. I will pay $24 plus $4 shipping way faster than I'll pay $20 plus $8 shipping.

*First-world problems, I know right :rolleyes:

Anyway, yall are going to say "White Lightning!" but everywhere I've found that sells WL wants like $8 shipping.

So to the local feed store! They had the usual Coppertox-type treatments, with big dire warning labels that say WEAR GLOVES. DO NOT BREATHE FUMES. CAUSES CANCER IN CALIFORNIA. CAUSES HAIR LOSS ON CONTACT. And they had this Well Horse brand Thrush Off stuff.

I stared at the Thrush Off for a long time. It had won some award from one of the horse magazines for "best natural thrush remedy." The disclaimer (best natural) was a little :-/ but ehhh, yknow, if I was cool with unnatural remedies I'd already own Coppertox, right? So I took it up to the ladies up front and they said they'd heard good things about it, so I bought it.

Also it's about the same shade of purple as my shiny new halter, and you know me, I'm a magpie for purple.

The directions say to clean out the frog with a hoof knife, then scrub the stuff in with a toothbrush. I settled for picking her fronts out really well with a pick, holding her feet up where the soles were level, and dumping in a lot of purple liquid. I scrubbed a bit with a toothbrush, yes, but the main thrush I'm worried about is deeper than my toothbrush bristles and way deeper than I'd ever cut with a knife.

Two days later I picked them out well again and poured in more purple stuff. Then I read the directions - apply once a week. Oh well.

Today I picked them out really well and I think it's helping. I used to hit squishy stuff, deep in the lateral sides of her frogs, and occasionally she'd flinch. Today I didn't. I think her frog crevices are still deeper than I'd like, but there's definitely a bit of improvement.

I'd really like to trim before the ride, but there's not much to do right now. There's about a millimeter of growth on the lateral (out-sides) of her hooves. I might go to town on it tomorrow, but there's not a lot to do there.

Today's weather: Overcast and 60. Tomorrow's forecast: HORRIBLE.
Friday Night

Overcast with snow and rain. Low of 27F. Winds from the SW at 10 to 15 mph with gusts to 50 mph. Chance of snow 100% with accumulations up to 3 in. possible.
Don't care. Going anyway. Hope we don't die. If we do, please cremate us on the marge of Lake LeBarge. With a wake, with bourbon. Party of the century.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

New clothes, spa day, dance practice

Yes, all the above refers to my horse.

Dixie got a new halter!

Mrs. Mom has started making Horse Paracord Stuff, in exciting colors, and I immediately signed up for a halter. I turned her loose in the backyard and got a couple of good shots (and a bunch of blurry nose pics).

It's big enough for her TWH head! I think she'll have full range of motion with her jaws, so she can comfortably eat with it on. And it is beautifully blue and purple, with nice padding on the crown and nose. Really lovely quality work. There's a tiny blue "button" on the tie end, not big enough to interfere with tying it, that I didn't take a picture of :(

And she sent me a bracelet!

It's pretty comfy as a bracelet, but I might clip it on the saddle if I feel that I need it somewhere. And the neat thing about paracord is that if I really needed some cord for some emergency, I could unravel the bracelet and have like a mile of cord.

Then - AFTER taking pictures, because I'm not too bright - I broke out the new magical shedding block and made a Dixie blizzard.

And it's Wednesday, so we went down to the street to drag the trash bin back to the house. I did a short trot-out on the road, just to make sure she hadn't forgotten how, and she trotted perfectly with no carrots or sticks.

Dixie hasn't done a trot-out in 9 months. The last time was the heartbreaking "please trot so the vet can see how lame you are" in June. :-/ But she looks great, she feels great, her attitude's great, and I'm excited to go ride Saturday.

Enclosing a stock-type trailer, or, we are *go* for ROM

First, the weather forecast has improved.

The forecast earlier this week had a low of 19 Friday night and a high of 43 on Saturday. Today's forecast calls for a low of 34 with calm winds Friday night, and a high of 46, calm winds, and a 40% chance of precip on Saturday. I would feel like an asshole having my horse hi-tied with a blanket in a blizzard, but the Friday night forecast is not bad at all.

And on the Funder Comfort Front, I have completed my latest redneck trailer modifications. Thanks for the good suggestions (especially CG and cndcowgirl, for the board idea, and AareneX for the buddy heater). I know Caitlin wanted deets on the mod, so here's what I did.

This is one of my fastest projects ever, from idea to usability, so I feel like there's a lot of little details I've missed. Here's what I thought of, though:

I wanted a solution that would fit in the bed of the truck. I wanted something that I could put up and take down, in the Nevada Wind, all by myself if need be. I did not want a dark cave, and I did not want to spend TOO much money since this was so last-minute. Of course it has to be horse-safe, and it has to be person/dog safe.

I had two problems: How to block the wind, and how to (safely) shut the trailer with me inside. I spent a good three hours slowly browsing Lowes and Home Depot, and I found one possible solution that exceeded my spur-of-the-moment budget.
You could mount u shaped aluminum channels to the top and bottom of the trailer "windows". Add some bolts at one end, slide your plywood/plexiglass in, and screw in wing nuts at the other end to hold the panels in place. The only problem is that the channels are $10 per 8', and I'd need 7 or 8 of them.

So I went with choice #2, which is not nearly as classy looking but very functional: bolts. I bought a bunch of 1/4" carriage bolts, washers, lock washers, nuts, and acorn nuts.

Since I wasn't planning on making this road-worthy (it just doesn't get THAT cold here!), I went with 1/4" plywood. Well, I think I got 11/32", actually. 1/4" would work, but I'd worry that anything thinner would flex too much in the wind. I had dreams of doing the whole thing in plexiglass, but dag yall, that stuff is expensive! I got one little flimsy piece, 24x36, for like $30.

Here's how my trailer window bars are laid out:

Notice that on the sides, the horizontal bars are on the inside of the vertical bars. The gate is smooth - the horizontals and verticals on it are welded together flat. One of the problems I envisioned with hoisting a piece of plywood over my head and trying to slam it down on some bolts was that the bolts might shift back into their holes. The main reason I went with 1/4" carriage bolts was because I knew I had a 1/4" drill and tap set. For the gate, I drilled and tapped the holes (that means you drill a hole that's slightly smaller than what you need, then you use the tap bit to ream out spirals for the bolts to bolt into - it makes the hole you drilled look like the inside of a nut.) But honestly, that's a pain in the ass, so I mounted my bolts on the inner horizontal bars for the side pieces.

You can see what I did pretty well on the plexi shot:

The flat side of the bolt is inside the trailer. There's a nut securing the bolt in place against the trailer bar, then a space, then the wood/plexi, then a washer and a nut. (I ended up swapping out those bolts for some slightly shorter ones, so I don't have to use THREE nuts, just the one against the trailer and one acorn nut holding it all on.)

The easiest way to mark the holes will be to drill and place your bolts and have your helper hold the board on the outside, while you stand on the inside and mark the spots you need to drill. Should you have misplaced your helper, this is the best I came up with: drill and place your bolts, cut your wood to size, and slam it up from below so the top of the wood hits the bottom of the bolts. Mark the wood, drop it, and measure from the top of the windows down to the bolts, then transfer those measurements to the wood. That's what I did. Obviously, there are no pictures of this process.

After I got everything fitted, I primed the outsides so it wouldn't look so horrible - eventually I'll prime and paint both sides. And I routered directions on there, so I wouldn't waste my time trying to hang them upside down and so I won't suffocate.

If you don't have a router and this isn't a good enough reason to go buy one, just drill some air holes. A lot of air holes.

From the inside, it's surprisingly cozy and bright. The window is on the hi-tie side, duh, so I can stand up and glance out at Dixie.

Here's how I solved my second problem of how to shut myself inside.

I bolted some eyebolts in the plywood and "tied" them together with that double-sided camping velcro. It's plenty strong enough to hold the door closed but it would be very fast to undo if I needed out in a hurry. Since the boards won't stay up when the horse is in there, I'm not worried that she's going to put an eye out somehow.

I need to add a couple more bolts and hooks to the plywood. I want one to hang my tiny LED lantern from, and a tiny bolt to hang the carbon monoxide detector, and probably a couple more for reasons I can't think of right now.

I am pretty confident that this will work just fine. We have had Wind for the last two days - I wrestled those boards up for multiple test fittings in honest 40 mph winds. Today I put everything together in gentle 20 mph breezes and went inside with the little buddy heater, and it warmed the space up in about 5 minutes.

  • I think, instead of using the linchpin, I will padlock the door bar so I can't be accidentally locked inside by some well-meaning clueless asshole.
  • can put the panels on from the ground, but it's easier if I stand on my little stepstool/mounting block that lives in the tack room.
  • I still need to go back and drill new weep holes in the horizontal bars, just in case moisture gets in.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Cat food (or the lack thereof)

So last fall, for no apparent reason, my cats went on a hunger strike. They'd done this before once - that's when I switched from one brand of grain-free kibble to another (Wellness Core to I can't remember what). I ordered a different bag of grain-free kibble, which they ate ok for two days then they started complaining again. I spent the next three months in an ongoing battle with them - for a long time I held the line and refused to order a new, different bag til they reluctantly ate the previous bag, but they got more and more miserable (and made me more and more miserable, too).

Eventually they started trying to steal Cersei's food. I've fed her raw her whole life, and they were trying to walk into her crate and eat her chicken drumsticks with her. While I wasn't really fond of them at that point, I did not want Cersei to have murder on her soul, so I started locking her in her crate while she ate. The cats deputized one cat to sit and stare at Cersei and the other to follow me around howling miserably.

Finally I gave up and tossed a chicken leg in a bowl for them. They licked it for a long time, then wandered off looking fairly pleased. I fed it to Cers. The next day, they leapt up on that table and demanded another chicken leg, so I gave it to them. When I went back in 15 minutes later to retrieve the licked leg for Cersei, it was completely stripped of meat. (Who fans, it looked like the Vashta Nerada had gotten it.)

So I started feeding them chicken. Since they weren't eating the bones, I got thighs for them - more meat for the same price. They turned back into somewhat lovable pet cats, instead of the whiny horrid beasts they'd been. And Banders, the fluffy one, started gaining weight.

He's always been thin, under all that fur, and he'd gotten frighteningly skinny in the Battle of the Kibble. Unlimited raw chicken thighs put some much-needed flesh on his bones, and made him somehow grow even more hair than before.

So after a month of only chicken (the kibble bowl was getting dust in it), I decided I had to get them some kind of vitamin supplement, lest they die of malnutrition now that I actually like them again. I settled on this Alnutrin stuff, because it seemed the least crazy-cat-ladyish of the available supplements. About every other day, I skin and debone a pound of chicken thighs, chop them into biggish chunks, and sprinkle some powder on them. The chunks go in a glasslock container in the fridge, and I dole out a quarter cup or so whenever they're hungry. The kitten is still fat, still shiny, and very smug about getting her way. Banders is a solid 5 on the cat weight scale, with a coat that's even more glorious than usual. He doesn't seem to get hair matts anymore (I haven't had to cut one out since I started the chicken), and he doesn't get hairballs either.

Sadly, I cannot report that Banders has become more sane on the raw chicken diet. He is still weird as all get out. But he is more content, generally - there's much less of that "getting lost in the hallway and screaming for help" thing, and the "yowling at invisible monsters" has entirely ceased. He generally follows me around and purrs, unless I try to pet him, which just confuses him. He only meows for two reasons now: either he wants the door to open, or he wants more chicken.

He did flip out completely on Mel's puppy Tess. Remember the crackninja story? Full on crackninja on Tessie, who didn't really have time to get offended before I flung the cat into the bathroom to cool off. But other than that, he's doing aiiight.

Disclaimer! If you feed your cats something and they die don't blame me. And I have absolutely no advice for how to convince a cat to change its diet - mine transitioned themselves to raw. But shit, it worked for me, maybe it'll work for you.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

ROM Weather: What To Do?!

First, here's the best tights ever made:

It's protective coloration, like one of those bright neon colored Amazon frogs. At first you think "Funder, how could you even think that's a good idea?" But the secret is that no one will ever notice how big my legs are. You can't even tell if they're fatty or muscly or hell they might be skinny for all you know - you cannot focus on the leg shape because you're blinded by the smileys. It's brilliant!

Also the patches are stitched on with variegated thread. :D

Anyway, they're from Evelyn. She is looking for purple and black flames fabric for me, too! Aarene, you may also have a pair of purple flame tights if you want, but I dunno if the rest of yall are cool enough for them.

So Rides of March. The weather forecast. Is abysmal.

Yall, that is HORRIBLE weather for camping in a truck tent. It's pretty bad for sleeping in the backseat of the truck. I can't just mooch off somebody with a camper or an LQ, because I have to bring Cers with me - I can't leave her home alone, and it'd be like $100 to board her for two days and shit that's more than the ride entry. I can't sleep in the tack room, because I put in that badass cabinet and I haven't yet acquired a hammock (and I'd probably fall out and die anyway).

I really want to go, because everything else sucks (there's no way this house will sell for what we owe so we are probably going to have to rent it and fffffffff that sucks). The only thing I can think to do is sleep in the horse part of the trailer. I have a propane heater (one of those dealies that fits on a BBQ tank) and a battery powered CO detector, but I just don't think that'll work either because the dog will set us on fire. Plus, how do you cover the windows? Duct tape and tarp? Because duct tape is totally going to fail in Nevada winds.

So if I can't figure out a solution (any ideas?) I'm going to cancel on Wednesday. And I guess if I do, I'll go to the Derby at the end of the month. Last year the 25 was pretty easy (but it wasn't on the usual trail), so I'm sort of toying with the idea of riding the 25 both days. Unless it snows.

Anyway, how's the normal LD trail at the Derby? Easy enough to do both days?

Dead Renegades

These are two year old ~500 mile Renegade hoof boots.

The toes on the fronts are gone

So is the tread

The rears are in better shape. They have slightly fewer miles, and they're still good backup boots.

I changed out the velcro toe straps once, and one of the cables frayed badly and needed to be replaced, but other than that I did no maintenance. I definitely got my money's worth out of them!

This is just another post that someone might be interested in in the future. :)

Installing a Hi-Tie on a Trails West Adventure

I think this is the only possible place to mount it. I googled for a while in the hopes that someone else had put pictures up, but no luck, so this is my contribution to the collective knowledge of the internet.

There's a steel header running horizontally just above where I mounted it, but it's too thick for the stock bolts. There's thinner studs around the tack room door, but the bracket is too big (plus it'd be awful to have the horse that close to the tack room). The vertical stud I mounted it to runs from the floor to the header, so it's as good as it gets.

All you need is a corded drill with a quality 1/2" bit. Be careful for the kick when the drill first punches through - you'll be on a ladder leaning into the drill. I just tightened the bolts with channel lock slip joint pliers. Locktite wouldn't hurt. Add some cap nuts if you think your horse could possibly put an eye out. A very easy DIY!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

AERC National Convention 2012: These *are* the people you're looking for

Just got home from my third AERC Convention, and it was a ton of fun!

Yall know my slow and torturous progression in the sport of endurance. When I first got Champ, I spent a lot of time (mainly in boring law lectures) investigating all the organized sports that one could conceivably do on a gaited horse, and I settled on endurance pretty fast. I never really got to properly start training til we moved to Reno in '09, and my first convention was February 2010. I think I only knew one person at that point, and I followed her around like a lost puppy, feeling totally out of place. Last year, I knew a couple people and it wasn't so overwhelming. This year, I knew like a bazillion people and had a blast all around. I actually felt like I belonged there! I haven't felt like I had a real tribe of people in a very long time, but endurance riders are my tribe.

You can't really rank how cool your groups of friends are - at least not if you want to continue having groups of friends - so I'll say I can't decide if Nevada riders are more awesome than gaited riders. Nevada riders are, in general, the kind of people I'd call to bail me out of jail if they weren't locked up with me. The Gaited Gang was a posse of woo-hoo'ing at the awards ceremony. And I got a little one-on-one time with Mel, Merri, and ~C. (I think that's all the official bloggers...)

I got "Oh you're Funder!"'d once, which is always incredibly funny and weird.

I scored the best stuff, too - I'll take pics tomorrow. I got a hi-tie (xoxox <3 my husband!), a pair of classy black Kerrits medium weight tights, a pair of screaming neon smiley face summerweight tights from Evelyn, a big new tub of electrolytes, some unbreakable comfortable cheap purple sunglasses, four new Renegades, a pair of caged stirrups at the tack swap, and ordered custom blue and purple suede half chaps.

I took a picture of Merri taking pictures, a picture of me in the neon smiley tights, and a picture of the tiny horse toy we got at our place settings at the awards dinner. But not a damn other picture. Sometimes I just space totally out :)

I talked a little actual horse stuff with people, and I feel better about a) my training schedule in general and b) my decision to ride the 30 next weekend. Did I tell you that? I don't think I did - here's my reasoning. It's not an easy 22.5 mile flat LD; it's a respectably hard true 30. It'll actually be a really good training ride, not an "oh we're done already?" LD.

I know I bitched a lot about the NEDA last weekend, but I was seriously impressed with how well Dixie worked that ride. She was all business. She plowed steadily up and down those hills - the Arabs blew past us on the easier bits, but she outwalked them on the steep uphills and outwalked them on the steep downhills. She was really, seriously, finally pushing from her hindquarters the whole time. I think she can do that again for 30 tough miles, but I know she can't do it for 50 miles yet, and I'd rather do a 30 in really good form than have her dragging herself along on the forehand for the last 15 or 20 miles of a 50.

I've done a 50 on her. I'll do 50s again on her. I don't feel that horrible "quit dinking around" pressure I felt this time last year - I feel like I can make ROM a great training ride and pick an easy 50 to bump her up later this spring.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Den: done

Today the area rug and last floor register arrived, so it's officially completed.

It had the world's nastiest blue carpet:

Now it has cinnamon-colored wood:

I covered the step-down between the two rooms with an oak plank, routered to fit.

And here's the trim around the fireplace (minus the plastic, after the glue dried)

The dog is exceptionally pleased to have her couch back.

It's pretty bitchin.

I can't believe I've been doing this nonstop since New Years.

Tomorrow my friends start coming into town for the AERC Convention this weekend! YAY!