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 ❤

Salvage It

Most of this week did not go according to plan. I won’t bore you with the full extent of the sideways, but suffice it to say a close family friend lost their life, and Scrappy was Scrappy. There’s not much to say about the former except please, please, if you work in a dangerous trade, *never* let your guard down on the job. As to the latter, Scrappy “keeps finding himself in these Scrappy situations,” as one Facebook friend put it, which elicited rueful acknowledging laughter from me.

Briefly: a round of Dreamhorse/CL advertisement prompted immediate response from a friend recommending a potential great home for Scrappy and said home saw the ad independently and also contacted me. I set up to meet D Wednesday morning at the lake trails for her to try Scrappy out and pulled Scrappy Tuesday afternoon to wash his tail, be sure his hooves were as tidy as I wanted, and give him a mash. He was his usual stoic cooperative self.

Wednesday morning? The brush touched his neck and his head tilted like any itchy spot, but not quite. I moved farther down the neck with my hand and when I reached midway up, just in front of the scapula, he folded in half away from pressure. Strong reaction on the left side, 1/3 as strong right side. There was a maybe bite but didn’t seem to be a truly obvious reason for it but it was undeniable and I couldn’t reach the buyer on her cell phone. I didn’t want to leave her hanging and Scrappy was otherwise quite his usual self so with much head shaking I loaded him and went to the lake to meet her.

“He’s a bit of a hot mess, isn’t he?”  Yes, that about summed it up, between the neck and the back history, which I have in the adverts and showed her as well, down to the ultrasounds. Horse people being as we are, she quite liked him regardless, and is keeping tabs on him to come see as soon as he’s feeling better. I separated him from the admittedly bossy Apache that day and the soreness improved daily. I’m happy to say as of this morning Scrappy is non reactive to pressure on either side, though still a bit knotted feeling in front of the scapula, so I’ll give him some more Sore No More massages and days off before we schedule with the potential new home again.

And then, some spirit lifting occurrences to really salvage the week!

We have 9 young bantams a friend gifted to us this summer, 5 roosters unfortunately, but among the few and barely laying hens, there’s a broody hen. As of yesterday, as Funder said–broody hen is a teen mom! A quite industrious one I must say, to the tune of 8 chicks in the last 24 hours. In November no less.

do you hear peeping? errr–sure do! yesterday

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this a.m.

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born to be a mama

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Another big big grin moment came yesterday, when buddy T who took me riding on her horse’s last weekend came down to Lake Oroville to play with my ponies. Her trail dog joined us and the first grins of the ride were prompted by Blaze, who T was ponying her dog off of in populated areas. Blaze got a look in his eye and an arch to his neck that I haven’t seen since our brief foray into team sorting, surely that dog needs herding! He thought so the whole ride, leashed or not.

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culvert contemplation

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T trotting on Blaze 🙂

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Sheza did wonderfully on the ride, leading most of the way, crossing bridges, trying one snarky dash at the dog instead of spooking at her (woot!), EDP and finally, after some stopping and hesitancy, peeing.

marching at the first bridge

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2nd bridge crossing

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a fun note, Sheza is wearing her momma Desire’s saddle pad, pommel pack, and head gear, and the Trailmaster saddle on her is one I bought from Desire’s old owner and Sheza’s breeder years ago 

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The best part though? Trotting, briefly, but long enough to really feel what sort of trot my home raised filly girl actually has. And you guys!!! It’s SMOOTH. Low kneed, efficient, solid, smoooooth. When you have to try to post instead of are being forced to post–ooh!! I am so excited. She doesn’t get to know what she’s capable of for a long time yet, but that taste was glorious!! A long time coming.

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doing some epic-pose mash eating back home, Georgia on scrap patrol

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It was a solid mini course on life this week, ups and downs, all arounds. Critters and natural beauty and connecting with good friends and family are my way of salvaging it. What’s yours?

this morning before the rain

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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!

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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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Catching up at RHE

With Tevis done, Sparky sold, and Scrappy out on trial at a wonderful home within the family, a few boxes were feeling ticked. So clearly it was time to play with my big red filly!

so grown up in the face these days, if not the voice

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Orange adventure crew hiking at Lake Oroville

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stuck between a rock and a wet place..

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this is a lot of work..snack break?

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my home born dreamgirl and the get er done rig! 

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ok just one more picture of her… 🙂

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Fires continue to rage across California, particularly in the north state. Lately if it’s not us it’s someone else we know far too close to the paths of these sudden and terrifying blazes. I volunteer for the county fire scanner breaking news pages when I can and am continually in a state of awe and gratitude to all the firefighters and folks out there protecting us. THANK YOU!

smoky skies do make epic sunsets

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In pink nosed pony news, I’ve been in the market for a full nose fly mask for Apache this summer. First I bought an Arab sized Cashel full nose mask which was quite entertaining but belongs on a Warmblood (literally, a friend uses an Arab sized mask on hers), then a local boot client recommended Equine Sun Visor.  I ordered one up and it arrived in about a week; the mask is beautifully made to specs (choose color/mesh/pattern, with free embroidery) and seems to be a great fit! 95% UV protection and the little fella hasn’t shed it in the 4 days he’s worn it, despite apparently sticking his head in various sticker bushes.

the snoz to protect (pear eating derrpp)..and the snoz protected!

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stole an afternoon on the water with the pups & husband

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pretty much..

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Jazzy is 4 months+ and busily doubling in size. We’re really happy with her brain and nature as well as her obvious protection and patrol instinct. What a dog she will be!

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Enjoying the cooler weather we’ve had in the last week, Blaze has to taken to lurking in the shadows at morning feeding then erupting in a flurry of feet and dust and taking triumphant laps around his domain as his surprised human watches. So I put him to work! 🙂  A nice young gal who’s eager to be around horses came up and helped with some dirty work around the place and had a good ride on Blaze. The mighty bouncy trot teaches posting like no other, buahah.

cooling down

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Tack Side note: the wide tree Solstice I bought from my Tevis rider fits Sheza–and Blaze?? Apache is next to try. This saddle must be magic! Also trying a Nurtural bitless bridle on Blaze, he seems to like it

I find myself at an interesting transition period in my herd with no saddle horse to focus on endurance with and absolutely no desire to look for one.  I’ve got a whole lot of interest and enthusiasm and at least some knowledge to apply to this Make Your Own Endurance Horse thing, and with 10 year old project Apache and 4 year old up and comer Sheza I feel like I’ve got some good prospects. The rest, the becoming, is all up to us together!

p.s.  Scrappy’s latest adventures  😀  ❤

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