On the Journey

“It is easy to overburden yourself out of habit, necessity, or both. To bring the best of yourself to your horse… you have to intentionally care for yourself the way you would for your favorite horses. You have to take care of yourself.” —Nahshon Cook

Not long ago I found myself in church, on trail with my favorite little chestnut adventure buddy Kenny– and I found no peace. Horses have always been where I go to let the baggage from the rest of the world slump to the ground for a few minutes or hours or if I’m really lucky days, chasing that carefree kid riding bareback to the river feeling as long as I can before the cell service kicks back in and the bills and lists and the which things aren’t you telling which people for their own good or otherwise all descends again.

That day, no dice. I rode, I hiked, I was mad. It wasn’t Kenny’s fault and I probably went a mile farther than I should have before I acknowledged the blackness of my mood. If you follow Warwick Schiller at all then you may have heard of his “rabbit threshold” story about a query regarding a horse who, seemingly exploding out of the blue on the 13th spooky rabbit after “being fine” with 12, is merely finally showing his true feelings about all of the accumulated stress after keeping it together for 12 rabbits. We can all maintain a game face for some number of rabbits but at some point, the threshold is reached.

I hardly need to explain 2020 to anyone who might happen to read this. For my own part, I’m an “essential worker;” I worked masked all of last year with the exception of the first month of Covid shutdowns. I am still busy as the animal industry has flourished if anything, with more people at home, many bored, and some with income to spend in different ways with travel and many forms of entertainment so limited.

Aside from the national and international crises, I didn’t get a job I was excited about, went from zero to permit signing and then had to Covid-cancel a brand new endurance ride, did not visit my all older and out of town family from January on, had to evacuate myself and husband and animals in the middle of the night due to wildfire in the autumn, and came across a private crisis or two on the home front in both the beginning and end of the year. Overall I spent much of the year in a dark funk; I can’t overstate how much my horses and a deep podcast library helped me through it. I barely rode for most of the year but the daily upkeep tasks of the many-crittered are always welcome and necessary.

Home

All this to say? Hello, I suppose. Checking in. Hoping all is well, and if it isn’t, I hope that you can find some steps toward figuring out why or find someone who can help you to. Personally I spent some of my younger years in counseling and hadn’t been back since but am now almost done with my first month of online therapy through BetterHelp.* I highly recommend the podcasts Last Day and In Recovery, as well as Warwick Schiller’s Journey On for many hours listening to thoughtful, quality people on serious journeys in life who express themselves in relatable and often humorous ways.

I’m happy to say that a few days after that rough day on trail I got a message asking if I wanted to help on a small local cattle drive and I couldn’t say yes quickly enough. Kenny and I had done it once before, helping a neighbor drive his cows home for winter from leased pasture and it was an absolute blast that time, and this.

December 2020
Happy place
Yes, the only helmet and English saddle there!

Needless to say I did not make it to any endurance rides in 2020. As I reflected on what I actually missed about the events throughout the seemingly endless non-adventurous year I realized that a large part of it was the efficiency with which I operated while on the road. I’ve ridden a large number of horses in a number of states and a handful of countries. I have been on some proper larks with Kenny in particular over the last few years, from breaking down on I-5, overnighting in a razor wire lined junkyard in Bakersfield, California, and riding through the Taco Bell Drive Thru while awaiting a replacement truck which would take us on into the desert for a 150 mile event completion, to Kenny punching through June snow in Washington state 50 miles into a 55 miler with reckless abandon, all 14.1 hh of us, established paths be damned, finishing dragging me to the finish line, crooked leg and all, already pulsed down, lower than the Arabs for that matter. Those are the moments that give me oxygen, even typing them I feel the thrill run through me, me and my buddy, against the odds. Some of our success amongst the shenanigans has been thanks to my toolbox, mental and physical, and that toolbox is filling with every experience, ride, and year. I’ve recently consciously decided to open that toolbox to my every day life, optimizing my daily experiences as if I were my favorite horse with limited hold times, i.e. figuring out how to fulfill the most important needs with the best possible resources and preparation. It sounds stupid but it actually really takes doing, DOING, not just reacting, but thinking and rethinking, and taking accountability, and listening to things that you’ve been firmly sitting on for years.

These things were already swirling in the brain mists, therapy was signed up for, and then I heard, read, and read again the quote at the beginning of this post. Yes. Yes. This is me, busy busy, mentally busy, solving everyone else’s problems, sometimes my own, sorta kinda, just, always moving. I like to be alone, I seek it out, but then I fill the silence with problems to solve and things to read and watch and podcasts to listen to. I know exactly how loud my head can be and exactly how fast I have to run on the hamster wheel to drown it out. And now I am learning how to rebalance all the levels.

Wishing you happy trails in 2021✌️ 

*I have a BetterHelp referral code with attached discount if anyone is interested in trying online therapy

What’s the Best Hoof Boot For My Horse?

Unequivocally: the best boot for your horse is the boot that stays on your horse that you are mentally and physically prepared to deal with.

I know. You were hoping for one brand, the It Item, the single answer that would take away some of the endlessly appearing question marks on this endurance trail called horse ownership. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, horses are fantastically non linear and endurance is full of grey areas.😀

▪️▪️▪️

I did my first distance ride at 14 on my fully shod Appendix mare; I was fortunate enough to live in an endurance-heavy area and my first farrier is still shoeing at the local AERC ride to this day. I continued with a blissful lack of hoof knowledge, using steel shoes, until 2011 when I bought a barefoot and pregnant Arabian mare from Global Endurance Training Center in Utah.

1912133_745552514896_885087959_n

Blaze in Steel, 2011, Credit Baylor/Gore

I hired a barefoot trimmer so that I could keep the mare as she had been and raise the foal barefoot and quickly realized that rapidly growing barefoot hooves + getting more horses = time to learn how to trim. My trimmer kindly taught me the basics and I took over my horse’s feet by 2012; I spent 2012 trying to keep Easyboot Gloves on my torquey, fast moving, ground pounder mare, then found sweet relief in Renegade Hoof Boots in 2013.

1797500_745552769386_1803048344_n

Desire in Easyboot Gloves, 2012, credit Lynne Glazer

I became an official Renegade dealer in January of 2015 and enjoyed doing it but after 2 years it became clear that the competition between hoof boot companies was resulting in their desire for me to only use/talk about their products. While that is understandable from a business perspective, my gelding Kenny was busy refusing to wear Renegades (and everything, mostly) and I was perfectly willing to talk about it.

23130480_10100203276968396_1308597328589477760_n.jpg

Kenny, barefoot & snarky about it, 2017, credit Baylor/Gore

It being this: every horse is different. Every leg, every hoof, on that horse can be different. Of course there are cookie cutter horses out there, that’s where a lot of the big numbers, sales and successful product use, come from–but amongst those there are plenty of Kennys: a narrow built horse, front legs nearly coming out of the same hole, with a crooked foreleg that wings inward and a very deep over stride. Or, zooming out: differently shaped/moving critters have different needs.

▪️▪️▪️

A Few Broad Guidelines:

•Renegade Vipers: Round hooves •Renegade Classics: Oval Hooves

–I had great success with Renegades of both models on quite a number of horses. They were easy to use for me and had the best mileage longevity of boots that I tried. They are the heaviest hoof boot in my experience & caused interference & forging in Kenny. Tucking the ends of the Velcro through the keepers and adjusting the cables via the toe button can be challenging for some people’s vision and dexterity.

•Easyboot Gloves: If you can athletic tape and cram ’em on, they will probably stay on. That said, if you can “Easy” apply these boots, they won’t. Retention requires a tight fit. These boots fit Kenny’s slimline, non- bulky needs but he still rips gaiters in half due to his over stride. Application requires a deft hand & usually a mallet. Reapplication on trail can be a bear.

•Scoot Boots: Never tried them. Looked like rubbing potential+ more bits to fall apart to me, as do the new Easyboot models. Don’t let my assumptions prevent you from trying anything though!!

▪️▪️▪️

The other key component to hoof boot use success is the human involved. Know thyself. Being able is important, being willing perhaps more so.

–Are you willing to keep your horse on a approx. 4 week trim cycle?

Renegades are more forgiving than Gloves here

–Are you willing to touch up trims in between for those nitpicky boots?

Looking at you, Gloves

–Are you willing to factor in potential terrain issues and adjust accordingly?

Water + hills =goodbye strap-on boots. A lot of boot users walk after crossings to hopefully let their boots resettle before taking off. Be patient or consider alternatives like glue-ons (or shoes, or barefoot entirely.)

Are you willing to do All The Work?

Sure, Sally Successful barely smooshes on her Easyboots and never cleans them and hasn’t ever had an issue–bubble bursting here, your odds of being Sally aren’t that high. Most of us have to try a little and things like proper application, cleaning your boots after use, proper maintenance, every little bit adds up to that sought after sum of keeping something temporarily on relatively rapidly moving feet for long distances over varied terrain.

15895280_10100105863141486_5375264303194150388_n.jpg

doing the work on my home raised filly

So what’s my favorite hoof protection product in the end?

The answer is different for every single horse in my herd.

C’ est la vie.
And happy trails, whatever your chosen form of hoof protection!

40882622_10100279643539176_8848396442448953344_n.jpg

Kenny at his happiest, barefoot with Hoof Armor, Death Valley Day 3, 150 miles ❤ Credit Steve Bradley

Not all those who Wander are Lost

25552287_10100216367295276_8390674894191721338_n

Death Valley XP 2016

“There are no safe paths in this part of the world. Remember you are over the Edge of the Wild now, and in for all sorts of fun wherever you go.” *

At some point in our riding career, we are over the edge. The sun baked afternoons of childhood, Breyer models pushed through the grass, the Black Beauty VHS watched until the tape falls out, the ever present imagined horse galloping alongside the car–meet high school, (maybe) college, (a) job(s)(hopefully), bills, and a whole lot of other things that don’t end up seeming like much fun. Still, somehow, eventually, we find a way to have a horse (or 2,3,4…), and still, moreadventures” crop up: accidents, flukes, truck and trailer hiccups, tack problems, I don’t need to tell you. What I would like to encourage you to do is to hang onto that wild haired youngster who dreamed, who knit blankets for the model horses when they were it–and saved odd job money and bought a bridle and a real blanket for the neighbors’ mare as soon as Permission To Touch was established.

10153804_752604772116_2028563901_n.jpg

with neighbors’ mare Pretty Lady, late 90s

◊◊◊

“There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something. You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after.”

◊◊◊

If you had asked me about my endurance goals a decade ago I would have said to have one, maybe two horses going and to have miles and miles and years riding just them.  I have now had the pleasure of riding 13 horses in AERC events. A dozen times I paired successfully to Completions and the thirteenth, a Rider Option, is a dear memory unto itself: my first 100 miler, attempted on the first stallion that I ever rode, on his first 100 miler. It takes a truly special horse to put your boot in the stirrup for that after being life flighted from a horse related accident previously; I’ll never forget Whitney West’s Aur Aquavit getting stronger and stronger throughout the day and into the inky desert night at 20 Mule Team 100. We were dead last and ran out of glow-sticks which forced us to back track and call it a day after 75 miles but I KNEW we could have finished and that hunger will drive me back to the 100 mile starting line.

24796390_10100212315430246_7854106099753775909_n

20 Mule100 on Aur Aquavit/Credit Baylor&Gore

Point is, my life in almost all of it’s facets has absolutely not gone to plan. Not my childhood, high school, or college plan–not my horse plan either. The more I live, the more I experience, the more I thrash and struggle and fill my toolbox, the more I see that that’s okay. Few of us live exactly as we expected to and we are none of us alone. What a host of characters, human and horse, I have come to know on my winding path of Not to Plan.

23172586_10100203276798736_1889157532067889924_n

Bandit Springs Multiday 2017/credit Cassidy Rae

◊◊◊

“Little by little, one travels far.”

◊◊◊

Yesterday I saw the first glimmers of ride camp with my new mare. I say new, come December she has been here for 2 years. I know, I know, we’re supposed to get a horse out of the field for an LD and do a first 50 in a few months of training. Or, we’re supposed to spend a year+ on Long Slow Distance and then do an Intro. Orrr, however, I think at 32 I am now really embracing that I’m just not very good at doing What I am Supposed To. I am pretty good at enjoying horses though, whatever shape or size, whatever the terrain, however long it takes. The moment when you have been saying NoNoNo while on board, trying various cues, logging the miles–and suddenly it’s there, the give and take, the understanding that The Human is herd mate and her notions actually make Horse life easier sometimes, the other horses may come and go but this Human is yours, you look for her when she gets out of sight, she is a bearer of good news–worth it, so worth it, always worth the days, months, or years.

71233009_10100369207951376_5878788657367744512_n

nothing like untouched new sprouts miles out beyond where others travel. Yesterday ❤

Whatever your goals, plans, steed, or dreams look like now, however far from where they might once have been–ride on, hike on, keep believing, work hard–ENJOY!

1622698_745552370186_1488371051_n

2011 w/ my Blazey boy. RIP little buddy ❤

 

*All quotes including title by J.R.R. Tolkien

 

Cuneo Creek 50 2019:And Then There Were Hills

Kenny and I had good fun at the inaugural running of the Nevada multi-day Torre Creek in May. We saw rain, hail, snow-capped peaks, and gorgeous flower-accented desert trails; we sponsored a junior on an LD and had a lovely time–but we didn’t get in our 50 miler for the Decade Team Goal.* Summer whipped by with a lot of work and some play, and suddenly we were looking at an ever dwindling ride calendar quickly heading towards season’s close on November 30th.  I hit on the notion of trying out Red Rock Rumble in Nevada in October as I liked the ride management and Kenny had completed his first 50 in that area previously. 

* (“The Decade Team recognizes those equine and rider teams who completed at least one endurance ride (50 miles or more) each year for 10 years. This would not have to be consecutive years, and the rider must be an AERC member each of the 10 years.”).

oroville

summer riding at Lake Oroville home trails

Then one day on a ride at newly reopened fabulous local trails with my dear riding buddy N and her Tennessee Walker, N asked why I had never been up to the Redwood Rides; simple: as 6+ hours hauls up into a rural area, I deemed them an unfair task for my 22 year old truck that is reaching for the 400,000 miles stars. N has been through an incredibly tough year that, among other things, resulted in needing to replace vehicle(s) and she wondered if I might be interested in hooking up my much larger horse trailer (she hauls a Brenderup) to her 2019 Dodge Diesel and going to September 7’s Redwood Ride Cuneo Creek together.

Why Yes. Yes I was!

pulling old Orange out of the way, Kenny know what’s up/packing with weiner assistance

N and I set up a day a week ahead of time wherein she brought the truck to my house and we made sure that the hitch drop, ball, and lights were all in compatible order with my Logan BP (recommended, we did end up using a completely different hitch than either of us usually use).  N, Josey-Walker, and N’s pups then came over and spent Thursday night of ride week so that we could piece our rig together in the evening and be ready to pull out at a reasonable hour on Friday morning. Again, recommended, as we still both managed to feel slightly stressed even with our provided lead time–it would have been a lot less fun to try to combine rigs AND drive 6+ hours in one day. Plus, we had this hope we might make it in time to score some of the promised corrals at a ride camp said to also have bathrooms and showers–ooo, la la!

20190908_174009

NonArabs ready for an endurance adventure!

I was eager to drive the 2019 and N was happy to be driven so I donned my chauffeur cap and proceeded to have the smoothest haul that I can remember. Everyone except Butte County is repaving their roads and there was no traffic or road construction so once we flew the coop it was just smooooth sailing 6.5 hours up to Cuneo Creek Horse Camp near Honeydew, CA. We found camp easily, were warmly greeted by ride management, and shown to what I’m calling the best camp site in the place: under a huge shade tree, with our own picnic tables, close to the water spigot and bathrooms(Showers!), a mostly level trailer spot for sleeping, gazing down a gentle slope at our steeds enthroned in lovely safe corrals.

possibly the best ride camp I’ve ever been to, with perks like corrals that don’t share fence lines

My phone camera has decided to only take videos lately so every photo that I have from the ride is a screenshot taken off of a video and I missed some of my usual quick snaps like Vet Card pics, le sigh. You’ll just have to take my word for it that Kenny got his usual 44 pulse and all A’s at vet in–and a body score of 6(buahah). Ride meeting was mercifully brief and well conducted and I made sure to apply the second coat of Hoof Armor to Kenny’s bare hooves as well as load up my vet card, drinks, and snacks for the morning.

20190908_212706

first photo of the morning, after a few miles of switchbacks

We tried to choose a quiet-ish pocket and hit the trail with 50ish(?) other 50 milers at 7 am in glorious cool, breezy, redhead weather. I want to speak carefully here because I don’t intend criticism, merely to share my experiences; asking people ahead of time who had done the ride previously, the trail was said to be very doable on lovely winding forested trails with a few climbs. At ride meeting, the only trail described was a lot of road that has been recently redone, with new culverts covered in large rocks. Also, a bridge with dodgy planks to get carefully over. I confess by ride time I really wasn’t sure what sort of 50 miles I was actually in for.

20190908_212806

trit trot, one ear on the tunes

In a word: Hills. Hills up, hills down, and then some more hills for dessert. There was a lot more road than I expected, but the footing was still all pretty pleasant; Kenny cruised nonchalantly barefoot with Hoof Armor throughout which was a true joy, especially considering the many many water crossings lying in wait for boots.

20190905_1138541.jpg

Yes, I will tighten my helmet strap…

Kenny didn’t drink for most of the first 25 mile loop but that didn’t concern me as he was well tanked up, the weather was cool, and I knew he would start drinking when he needed to. He is no speed demon and I may be “always walking” as another rider apparently said of me, but this little pony boy knows how to take care of himself day after day, and you can’t put a dollar value on that in my opinion. I do walk, all of the downhills and this ride, some of the uphills too! I’ve always been willing to hoof it down while expecting my horse to carry me up, but the thing about a partnership and trying new things is that sometimes you have to shake up expectations to get ‘er done. Kenny’s self care intelligence also means that miles into endless hills, alone on trail, there is a good chance he is going to stop and turn and look at me and say “Right, Your Turn.” And I cannot blame him, not one bit.

20190908_211532

I was also advised to remove my rump rug during this ride and I would heartily recommend to folks that they go ahead and ride their own ride on their own horse. I have seen and experienced some OhCRAP situations where a crucial rump rug really could have helped, and I am pretty liberal with my use of them, while not feeling like that is something others must do as well.

20190908_212432

snacksOnSnacksOnSnacks

Somehow we came into the single one hour hold in 3 hours. I can’t say that we’ve ever done an LD that fast but we had good trail in the morning to make time and I ran a lot of dowhills, so there we were.

hiking in/carrot bandits at vet check/smart Ken in vet line

A couple of B’s on gut sounds and A’s on everything else had Kenny snarfling food and then resting in his corral for the hour, roll included, while I stared at the ground sort of eating for my self-allowed amount of time and then leaped into action near the end of the hold throwing one more coat of Hoof Armor on his front hooves as I had heard there was less friendly gravel after lunch (Pro tip: just DON’T put excess gluing/Amor’ing tips in your mouth, it’s hard to tell what’s new and what’s used and yes my tongue now has some Kevlar protection–but hey it’s food grade!).  Kenny was having a nice nap and we had whipped through the first loop so I had planned to leave the hold a few minutes late which was good because I ended up catching a loose horse in camp and being late anyway!

Loop 2 was a real mental game. We left alone, out the same trail as the morning, and did the same 2.5 mile climb UP. Kenny generally thinks leaving alone on Loop 2 is a poor idea concocted by Humans, and leaving alone UPUPUP is really not on his list of approved activities. He went about 1.5 miles up and just stopped. No encouragement from aboard would persuade him and me dragging him by the reins on foot barely did better. Uh OH? All of his parameters were good, his butt felt loose and non crampy, but he was just serving up a big steaming plate of Nope. I know Kenny very well by this time and this can be a Morgany pony game he plays, but this seemed very final, and I got nervous. I concluded that I would hike up to the water trough that I thought I knew was ahead of us and if nothing had improved horse motivation wise, I would turn around and hike my sorry ass back down to camp and RO because Kenny said so.

Right about then, I heard voices. 2 riders merrily passed me and said they hoped that their horses might encourage Kenny. Kenny glared at me, summitted the last of the 2.5 mile hill–and proceeded to drag me down the other side. Mmmmkay. After going up and down Nope Hill, there was another– even longer and steeper. Kenny and I were happily with another rider at that part and we all took it in shifts, riding, walking, leading, following, until at last we got Up, then Down, and on to some fun winding Redwood trails.

20190908_213020

lots of great trail marking, never got close to lost

 

20190908_212943

forgive the blurry..videos, man…one of many creek crossings 

20190908_213037

the fun Redwood section

20190908_213049

tritTrot through the trees

20190908_213107

doing that smart pony thing

Screenshot_20190908-163235_Video Player

Meandering on in to the finish

We leap frogged with some folks in the latter part of the ride but were on our own cruising into the finish around 5 pm (cutoff 7 pm).  I had drunk 6 bottles of water on the ride and still run out of water a few miles before (thank you amazing lady who handed me a cold water at the finish line as I babbled),  done way more hiking than anticipated, and was just Really Effin Proud of the teamwork that Kenny and I put in to get that trail done and come across the Finish line pulsed down (well he was, I probably wasn’t). On our Completion trot out the vet asked us to trot a few times as she thought she maybe saw a completely inconsistent something unidentifiable to any leg and only on the downhill sloping gravel trot out, not on the uphill return. We were given our completion and Kenny trit-trotted his smug little self over to Josey and settled in for a nap ❤  N had RO’d Josey as she had felt the first loop was entirely enough hills for what they were prepared for,  so while it wasn’t all exactly according to plan we all did have a lovely time and tucked into tri tip and all the fixings with gusto.

20190905_113840[1]

been there, done that, got the tshirt    😀 

Lest any loyal followers think that we got off entirely without vehicle shenanigans, we had a gentle 2019-truck scare when just parked safely back at home Sunday evening; N’s dogs promptly hopped on the auto locks with the keys inside the truck. Fortunately this was not my husband’s first AWCRAP rodeo and in about 10 minutes he had it unlocked. PHEW. I’ll take it, as far as vehicle scares! Kenny received a fat bite on his shoulder from Josey on the drive home, another kick in the butt for me to improve my totally lame stock dividers, but otherwise smooth sailing and a triumphant pony boy home to show off to his mares!  Mission Complete.

69858637_10100364585569666_8007274204728655872_n

Until next time Happy trails, whatever your goals or steed!

(official ride photos to come at some unknown future date…)

Torre Creek 2019: Scenery, and Snail!

Kenny and I jumped aboard adventure pal W’s trailer last Friday morning for a journey to the new high desert multi-day endurance ride Torre Creek in north eastern Nevada. Kenny and I’s last endurance ride (complete with exciting travel issues) was in September and we had had truly minimal saddle time since the new year between life and the new job; that coupled with ride camp at 6500 ft elevation (we live at about 1200 ft) with climbs promised had me already weighing the idea of changing my planned 50 to an LD once or twice in the week leading up to the event. 

58381961_10100330483520446_1336235772566568960_n

that’s how the big dogs train, right?

Morning of departure, the weather forecast was dire and we had a long (7 hr) drive ahead of us, but a friend of W’s was putting the ride on and we had long ago committed to attending. Feeling as discombobulated as one does after not going to a ride in ages, and then not in your own rig, I scrabbled together what I thought we would need for an “arrive-Friday, ride-Saturday, home-Sunday” weekend and off we set (note to self: always pack more hay than you think you should).

61264174_686850068405712_7608817040568090624_n

rig tetris at W’s

61538881_10100337161996726_6677920769361575936_n

getting up into that green+snowy high desert, wowee

An aside: If you have followed this blog at all then you may know that trucks have a tendency to misbehave around me. Here I would like to record a BIG shout out to W’s 1997 Ford, who laid to rest all past transgressions by charging through the 14+ hours of travel like a fresh faced youth, apparently unphased by being backed into at ride camp mid weekend. Thank you, Ford!

Suffice to say that we arrived at ride camp as planned late afternoon on Friday–and that’s about where “as planned” ended for the weekend! Things got real quite quickly, as Kenny has barely made his opening tour of the grounds and taken in his ride camp spot before it started hailing– with conviction.

61970260_1161992033981648_5688588848162930688_n

Hmm, where have we come, Human?

61114045_320438028892258_2056546928212049920_n

First hail storm..of many..What have you done Human

W and I lay in the uninsulated steel trailer Friday night in all of our layers listening to the storms blow through and contemplated our life choices as the roof gently dripped on us; early Saturday morning we had an RM query if we would like to volunteer that day and ride on Sunday, as the weather looked better Sunday (and looked impossible to get back home over Donner Pass on Sunday, for that matter). That would push our return home to Monday so options were weighed, but seems to me that if the ride manager suggests something on their home ground, you go for it, and we did.

Saturday we spent volunteering. Paperwork, campsite checking, we moved camp spots when W’s rig became the rescue trailer, and I spent 5 or 6 hours outside working the Finish line. The storms continued to blow through in alternates of rain, hail, and wind, and it was a true blessing to have the large heated fairgrounds hall as a clubhouse to retreat to–indoor bathrooms and all!

61794392_772652376463376_7888715214525300736_n

just some of the fabulous awards at Torre Creek! My husband made the wooden turtle awards 🙂

60989294_10100337345928126_2934736576237797376_n

not a bad view from working the Finish line!

Kenny alternately took in ride camp smugly and glared sullenly at me during storms, while I tried not to feel too bad for dragging him about in such terrible weather. His girlfriend for the weekend was the RM’s chestnut Arabian mare, approved.

Saturday evening as everyone reheated themselves indoors, W encountered a junior who had come to camp only to find her horse lame upon arrival. W offered to pay a ride entry if the junior could find a horse and in no time a horse was offered up for Sunday’s 25 miler. All that was needed now was a sponsor to ride with, and W and I readily agreed to escort her. The weather had still not let up in the least and we all felt quite A-ok with a 25 miler at that point!

62046982_2091932637765977_5216431582801297408_n.jpg

ride camp (behind me) sunset Saturday

It was only raining lightly Sunday morning as we bundled up for the LD and had let up again by trail open. Junior B on her borrowed steed, W on the RM’s mare, and Kenny and I set off together but within a few miles W made the call to turn back. B and I continued on and had 4 out of 5 hours of solid weather on some truly beautiful high desert trails.

Our two snarky little chestnut geldings cruised well together and we enjoyed mostly good footing despite what had and did fall from the sky. Kenny trucked it barefoot as it his wont and enjoyed the bunches of green grass and plentiful water along the trail.

61136510_816262515408590_7869211506041159680_n

B leading the way

We had a 30 minute hold out, complete with hot dogs, hamburgers, and all the fixings. There is truly nothing so delicious as a hot something on trail mid ride and ride management had also provided hay and mashes–there was even a bonfire!

 30 minute vet check hold, all A’s and 40 BPM 🙂 

The promised next storm was gathering quickly as our Out time approached. I had Kenny walk between bites of alfalfa as he was getting a little shivery even under his rump rug and I was quite happy to hear it was time to get moving again. We zipped up all our available layers and took to the trail back for camp, enjoying another 20 or so minutes of Totally Doable before it got Really Nasty.

61379009_2037883846310350_6486943888903766016_n

the phone wasn’t out for a while after this!

I had never ridden in snail before, never even heard of it before this weekend, but here it was. Snail in regards to weather is said to be a mix of snow, rain, and hail. And yes, yes it is. When delivered at speed sideways, it makes for quite a uniquely uncomfortable experience! I did a good job on Michelin-man layering my top half, which remained fairly comfortable but my bottom half and hands  were immediately soaked cold, like painful cold, while winds buffeted Kenny and Fritz who protected their eyes as best they could and trooped down through the storm.

Fortunately, with a few miles left to go, the storm finished with us and we trotted and cantered our way on still very doable footing in to a 1:30 pm finish, 30 minutes to spare as intended.

61877818_2409917472573256_8666590863356329984_n.jpg

post storm, ride camp in our sights

In the end B and I were last and next to last in the LD so I made sure she took home the super fun turtle awards, which included one of the decorative wooden awards made by my husband. ❤

61580984_672074539911671_8832390027049697280_n

B and hardworking RMs!

61585701_2459453220746292_1733915204049174528_n

Sunday night ride meeting

It cannot be overstated how hard the ride managers (and vets & volunteers) worked, re routing the trails every day and dealing with all of the excitement that can come from managing a ride, and a first time multi-day ride at that. Thank you all! The fairgrounds venue was solid, the heated building with bathrooms a miracle, and the countryside truly gorgeous. The weather was not at all the norm (and is on it’s way to setting a rainfall historical record) and rumor is that the ride managers intend to go for it again next year. I encourage folks to pack their warm clothes and attend!

61187337_854076654960121_7129649551060762624_n.jpg

credit Baylor/Gore photography

61431577_2086726748286659_3327193031135723520_n

congratulations and so nice to meet you, B!

After one more night of solid rain and hail we packed up and made it back home (on a much snowier drive than previously) by Monday evening. Kenny took it all in stride as usual and returned to his mares with style.

61587057_10100337843630726_2246453468459958272_n61203143_2271722242904125_3344807452225830912_n

In the end this made for a solid conditioning ride for Kenny and I, after this we will choose a 50 miler to knock out this season for our continued Decade Team goal. Til next time!

New Year!

Suddenly it’s January 2019.

2018 was a fantastic dumpster fire, to the detriment and loss of many. We said goodbye to Sheza’s dam Desire just months after we laid dear old Blaze to rest. Finances were tough, an entire town burned down, and it was just generally time for a new year.

36456984_10100264718224626_8931294856064532480_n.jpg

Run free war mare~ GE Blazun Haatdesire 1996-June 2018

So, here it is!

I spent Christmas with my husband and dogs and New Year’s Eve on the coast with my family and their dogs–and today with my ponies! May it continue, we’ll see what the year and AERC season brings.