Thoughts on “Endurance Prospects”

I can’t tell you how to win, BC, or even rack up a whopping lot of competition miles at this point. I am not the first, last, most or least impressive. I’m just someone who’s spent 6+ years and a lot of time, money, research, and heartache on trying to succeed at endurance and if I can leave you with only one message let it be:

Do this for the bond. Do it with a horse that fills you with joy from first glimpse in the field to last mile on the trail. Realistically, you will struggle, strive, and have to work at improvement and growth with your horse, but if you aren’t starting with a deep Like, let’s hope Love, of your horse, just don’t bother. The papers won’t make it, the competition records won’t make it, the right color, height, build, or saddle won’t make it.

I’ve tried to do it all ways, starting early on with non-Arabian Craigslist specials who didn’t like the training mileage (+the many misrepresented CL specials I saw/rode/never bought–wow). They showed me that not every decently built horse out of the field wants to/can do an LD+. Next I bought a high end, well bred, middle aged Arabian mare that I liked that had an AERC start and the bloodlines: she gave me filly Sheza and she showed me the joy of Going and riding a rocket ship–and was retired with arthritis/hock issues after one season. With Desire retired in my field and Sheza growing up, I next tried a calmer, easier going, more proven ride in a 100 mile Rushcreek gelding. He had the bloodlines, the bone, the level head, the record, the everything–except the desire to do endurance or much interest in me, for that matter. Boy does 50 miles feel long that way.

Recently I listed my other filly, Rushcreek Aurora, for sale. Big, well bred, well built, a steady disposition, a legacy of performance at her back. Heads are turned, then scratched, by my claims of wanting to do endurance but my behavior of selling a great prospect in favor of recently arrived Kenny–a 14 hh, toed out, crooked legged Morgan cross plucked from the slaughter truck  a few years ago. All I can say is, with full acknowledgement of continued risk and effort, I want to endure this life, this world, this sport, with people and critters that bring smiles and evoke a feeling of brotherhood. In my world, Kenny brings me a ridiculous smile and effusive glow when I see, handle, or ride him–and Rory is a Fabulous Endurance Prospect on paper.

As Melinda said: “Step one of endurance. Find a horse that you actually enjoy being with for 50 or hundred miles.”

What a notion.

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Merry Christmas from RHE

My favorite part of the holidays? Memorable times with those you love.

A Surprise hike with the husband & my 14 hh boy wonders, Apache &Kenny

A Coastal Visit to family

Knowing the herd is getting along and well watched by the husband

 

A  safe drive home, a lake hike with the husband and dogs between winter storms

A cozy Christmas eve morning, horses well rugged and fed in the storm outside 

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Wishing you all a safe and merry holiday, wherever you are and however you celebrate it.

Thank you as ever for reading and have a wonderful New Year!

Why? Because Horses!

I’ve used that…reason? justification? expletive? a number of times over the years. You know, when these beloved critters of ours do that perplexing thing, at that wrong time, and you question yourself Why, Why…Because Horses. That’s why. Up, and down, year round, because horses.

First, there was a ride!  Kenny and I picked up our stallion buddy Aqua and his human W last week, and Kenny had a successful first tour of Sycamore Hill and the old train tunnel.

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tunnel time

We also had some fun discussions about being a non nose-up tail solo unit

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Noooo

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Oh okay!

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Kenny digs the gastric perks of playing endurance pony

On the weekend, I eagerly headed out to take Kenny for a solo jaunt..

 

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Because horses.  A few superficial cuts, but enough to stymie a ride, better safe than sorry after all. Blaze and I went for a frustration zoom, and I felt better.

This week Rory had a nastily yellow ring of snot around her foreleg where she’d clearly removed it from her nose. She seemed a bit quiet, but was EDPP religiously and her temperature remained steady. I spoke to my vet and in passing he mentioned wetting hay, to bring down any possible dust levels. Well that rang a bell, as my new semi load of hay is gorgeous Oregon grassy alfalfa–and very dusty. Because Horses. 

As I obsessed over her health, Rory had a fine gallop the next morning..

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Trrrrot!

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Just looking epic, nbd

Meanwhile the wettest and windiest storm of the year was inbound, so I suffered every horse but woolly mammoth descendent Blaze to wear a rain jacket. Because you know, I care. The fillies proceeded to try to strip themselves and each other. Because you know…horses.

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pictures of false innocence

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Rory dons her first blanket at 2.5 years old–a 72″!

It was a properly wet and windy night and they were all still clothed this morning, ungrateful wretches. Our land is now already greener and soggier than it ever made it to last year, with mushrooms sprouting in the horse poo and standing land puddles. At last. The massive tarp I hung off the roof to cover the protruding end of one of the hay stacks came off overnight, and some of my precious hay got err….pre-soaked, for Rory!  Ahh, horses.

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rain gives way to fog, greeeeeeen ❤

Grateful, and the New Guy

I hope you all had wonderful Thanksgivings, near and far. My husband and I spent the day together, taking our crew of dogs up to the snow and cooking a full Turkey and all the trimmings (he cooked..I clean).

 

Nailed it! Thanksgivings human and pony

It was a week of giving Thanks, entirely. In addition to Scrappy leaving and settling into his new home, Kenny settling in here, the holiday, and my mom’s birthday–the hay man came!! There was some organized chaos, a lot of heavy lifting, standard tarp shenanigans, and then there was a year’s supply of hay stored. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, rather!

When things are going swimmingly and you’ve brought home a new pony there’s only one thing to be done: go forth and ride solo, just see if you can bring it all crashing down about your ears. That may sound dramatic but then you may not have been life flighted to a bone rebuild after bringing home a new horse before. I’ve learned a few things since that incident years back but no one is immune from gravity, nor repeat incidents, so with 80% confidence I caught up Kenny boy last weekend, let a neighbor know I was headed out alone and my timeline, and off we went to the lake.

suppppp

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Well first, we had discussions on loading. We did on the way back as well, that time including a well meaning audience who offered raised eyebrows and cookies (you’ve probably never tried to coax a Morgan-headed beastie into a trailer before if you’re offering that). None of that bothers me, partially because after loading animals in an 80s Miley 2 horse straight for 6 years nothing will, but also because I truly see trailer loading as the introductory place to an entire horse relationship, and I have absolutely gone about it the wrong way before.

If you think about it, trailering a horse home is your first big bonding moment. This includes your driving, and if you haven’t been tossed into a large trailer and driven about like a horse, you really should for the reality check. But back to the loading, unless the old owner does it, which I’ve never gone for, this is your first chance to work with the horse.

Here little horsey, get into my nice strange dark death box, you don’t know me from Adam but I swear it’s safe! 

Sure, maybe the horse has been trailered for years, in different conveyances, etc. It’s still a new person with a new death box–and how will the new person go about it? In the past I have expected a horse to load because they know better etc. Now I truly see the first trailerings as an incredibly valuable training opportunity, where first you can let them take dominance, impose your will without compromise, or lay out a path that you two can travel together.

I can’t be as naturally soft with Kenny as the Arabs, yet anyway. He’s clever, and not spooky, and his first attempts at going *through* me promptly reminded me of the first Morgan I ever rode–a gelding back in Maine who regularly flattened my tiny self into the wall on his way to doing what he wanted. Kenny, being both Morgan AND pony, has notions enough to be an interesting gelding, but is also pretty adorable and looking to partner up. His riding experience of late has been with other horses and/or in the arena so being a solo trail horse out with a partner was clearly a bit confusing for him.  I have the impression that, had he the current fitness, mentally Kenny would follow a horse right through a 50, for the herd quality of it. On his own? It was a confusing 6 miles for him, but with a few NopeNopes and OverHeres from me we had a great little intro ride overall, including bridge crossings, trots, EDPP, and minimal tantrums when other horses came and went in the lot.

when you gotta go…little Morgan feet, troll doll hair, adorable!

My husband is still trying to get used to the fact that Kenny doesn’t spook at every whisper on the breeze, or tractor scraping by. I’m still getting used to Kenny’s high pitched voice, which makes me grin every time. Kenny? Well he’s still getting used to us–and I think we’re all doing fine.

 

Another One??

This weekend I brought home a horse.

It’s okay, don’t worry–you, me, my mom, and the guy down the street all just thought the same thing:

Another One?

For me, that question immediately flips open the personal Rolodex of Failures.  Or, erm, let’s say The Book of Learning. It’s a bit of novelette at this point.

Briefly?

Introduced to endurance as a barely-teen. College. Life. Non Arabs who simply didn’t want to go the distance. Human injury and recovery. An Arab who’s  happy with LDs. An Arab who wanted to go the distance but their body wasn’t sure it did. An Arab who didn’t want to go the distance and his body was undecided too.

And here we are. My last great notion, a proven 100 miler Rushcreek, leaves today to be a beloved light use trail horse, and I am happy for him.  I am happy and grateful to have the opportunity to have a little pool of Hopefuls. And I will be very happy if this all pans out, someday.

Morgan/Welsh Kenny tries some Rennys before coming home on Lease 

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Autumn Lately

*log monster!!!*

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Betcha thought that was Sheza ^^. Nope, a nearby endurance riding buddy, C, is raising a chestnut filly of her own, and Blaze, Sheza, a friend and I joined them for a quite entertaining cruise at the lake last weekend. We had some hesitation in loading from Sheza and a dramatic high speed reverse exit from the trailer at the lake, which prompted re loading and polite unloading practice, but otherwise it was a grand outing.

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Sheza youngster face

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C and I both hiked a warm up, rode a few walking miles along the river,and hand walked our girls through the awesomely terrifying train tunnel on the way out and back. My friend piloted Blaze as our calming influence for the fillies and it worked perfectly. The girls were pretty tense in the cold echoey, graffiti covered tunnel on the way out, but noticeably more businesslike in their march back through a few miles later.

rider up!

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weary working filly 😉

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Amongst trim and boots appointments the next week, our Shepherd pup Jazzy got spayed and microchipped. It was a very smooth transaction all the way around and she has healed beautifully. I’m always relieved to tick that bit of young dog business off the list!

woe is Jazzy

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some dignity restored a few days later

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Seeing a friend and boot client’s steed move out beautifully in all 4 boots recently gave me an itch to experiment with hind hoof protection on Blaze again, and so I did. For background, Blaze is a bit base narrow and has an old what I can only surmise is interference scar on the inside of his left hind fetlock. I always found that he interfered, shod or booted, in the past, so I ride him up to LD distance bare in the hinds with splint boots, as I have noticed that even bare if he starts to tire he’ll whack that spot.

Bootwise, the Viper model of Renegades is slightly more streamlined than the Originals and I had used a credit to get Sheza some Vipers recently that I thought just might fit Blaze’s hinds. After a quick trim, sure enough the two sizes I had bought her were just right for him and with a quick cable adjustment, I booted Blaze on all 4, with splints, and went for a 10 mile solo cruise.

children in the woods! And humans say there aren’t critters in the shadows

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While 4 boots did not magically make Blaze a stellar walker, nor fix his distracted, somewhat graceless way of going in said walk–they did put rocket fuel up his butt for the first hill we approached! He trotted out nicely in them on a few warm up stretches but when we reached the fairly substantial Visitor Center hill he literally leaped from a walk to a canter and, with some encouragement in carriage from me, speedily ate up a hill that he usually trudges up.

xmas booties..hah!

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We had a great ride, but I did notice that he chewed up the lower part of his splint boots pretty thoroughly. No marks on the Vipers, just the protective boots. Hmmm. Food for thought for a few days.

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We did finally get some real October weather, and aside from a day or two bump, are luxuriating in it still. We had some sprinkles last week and there’s a whisper of rain in the coming forecast, shh, don’t scare it away. Hoof trimming is a bit more fun again with some moisture, let’s be honest, summer hooves are merciless!

momma Desire enjoying a trim spa12115549_891376886686_8679461741406624979_n

RC Aurora, 2 yrs 3 months..

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..and not overly concerned with table manners

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Because things come in 3s or so I hear, I had yet one more tire drama this past week. I took my trusty old Orange diesel Ford in to a previously helpful Big O Tires for front tires and alignment and got back front tires and–a $3500 estimate on repairs that “must” happen for safety and to even be able to align the truck. Eyebrows were raised and the truck was transferred to our usual mechanic, who returned the truck driving safely and nicely the next day for $400. Second opinions are clearly worth it these days!  *headshake*

Now we find ourselves back to the Blaze and hind hoof protection experiment. One of my trimming mentors shared a theory on Blaze’s interference online, based on her experience with a gelding who would appear balanced in a trim but then walk away landing more to the outside on a hind hoof, and would then interfere until that was corrected. I hit on that theory with interest because I had noticed Blaze walk away from what I thought was a balanced trim landing more to the outside just the day before. His fronts needed a clean up anyway so I went after his hooves pretty thoroughly before our next outing with trail buddies W and Aqua.

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a solid conditioning ride for the boys

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I didn’t solve the interfering issue, unfortunately, and with a brisk 14 mile ride including cantering sets, Blaze had interfered thoroughly enough to make his scarred leg a bit ouchy to the touch at the end. Humm. I can’t swear I nailed the trim theory, and will be working at it again, but I also probably won’t be subjecting him to hind boots very often in the meantime! He had a thorough warm bath and some Sore No More on his legs after that ride and is having a few days off. His back seems great with the Solstice still, though I’m having my chiro out for a herd check today so we’ll see if that reveals anything in anyone.

That’s about it for now. I hope that those who are graced with it are enjoying this fabulous weather.

sunset

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sunrise

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