Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Nothing to report

Oh, how I pity the people who will never know the sweet relief of a completely uneventful endurance ride.

I have had enough eventful rides:
  • The one where the trailer got a flat tire.
  • The one when my horse ended up in the ICU in Yakima.
  • The one where my truck died on the way home.
  • The one where my horse snapped his lead rope and went on walkabout.
  • The one where my horse was lame at completion.
  • The other one where my horse was lame.
  • The one where I fell off... twice.
  • The other one where I fell off twice.
The list could go on.

None of those things happened at Mt. Adams last weekend.

Kara did the driving, so I didn’t have to worry about my truck or trailer. I mentioned that the Bad Idea Fairy has been maintaining my trailer. That (very expensive) fix is still on my credit card, but another is already brewing. It turns out that the Bad Idea Fairy is also maintaining my truck. It needs a transmission service before we will be attempting any mountain passes.

Blue stayed in his new, improved corral and the corral itself didn’t budge. It was a real hassle to load in Kara’s trailer with the mesh, but it got many admiring looks, comments and questions from the neighbors. Most important, even in a grassy field, Blue didn’t try to reach through it or push it around.

Photo by Monica.

Speaking of not budging: Blue started and finished with the same four boots. Granted, they were a battle to put on. The hoofjack I was borrowing to do maintenance rasping is gone from the barn, so Blue’s feet were a little overgrown. I muscled them into the boots with the help of a rubber mallet and prayed they would stay on so I wouldn’t have to repeat the process on the trail without any tools. We trotted and cantered on loose and steep volcanic soil both up and down and never had any issues. After we finished, I had to pry them off him with a pick, but there were no rubs. (The contrast of this booting experience with my days of booting Otto is growing ever starker. Blue has been a breeze to transition so far.)

We walked out of camp on a [mostly] loose rein. Blue was cool as a cucumber at the start, which is how we got such a nice picture. Of course, once we got past the photographer, there was a little screen of trees and a corner to turn. Around the corner we found a very bouncy, upset horse that temporarily tweaked Blue’s attitude and left him hyped up for the first few miles. Luckily, the start this year was one of the easiest—mostly level, mostly enclosed trail. He had nowhere to go but forward, which is just the way I like it.

About a minute into the ride, and Blue is wide awake. Me, not so much. Photo by Jessica Anderson.

Example of the start from the 50-milers. Note the very sharp turn and controlled chaos.

Naughtiness was kept at a dull roar. Blue is the smartest horse I have ever known. More than that, he is the most human. I often tell people that if I believed in reincarnation, this horse must be my grandpa Jerry. He’s stubborn, determined, irascible… and at the same time a total softy who looks after both of us. I know that Blue and I are family because while I love him completely, there are days when I really don’t like him very much. I understand this horse, which makes it easy to predict what will set him off. On Saturday, what set him off was remembering the trails from last year.

It was the second half of the yellow loop. Last year, this stretch of trail was basically the last couple miles before the finish. Blue remembered every tree and turn perfectly, and cranked up the afterburners to get us back to camp. Only, this year camp wasn’t in the same place as last year.

So when we came to the crossroads where last year we would have walked back to the trailer, to food, to rest… and instead I turned him back toward the forest, he was so very sure that I was wrong. He tried all his usual shenanigans to communicate that he disagreed. First, he went as slow as he possibly could. When that didn’t work, he started ducking off the trail and weaving around like a drunken sailor. When that didn’t work, he performed a couple elegant rollbacks to get us headed in the “right” direction.

All of this happened over the course of half a mile. After that, he gave a heavy sigh (and probably an eye-roll) and got back to work. If that’s as bad as he ever gets, then I will take the bad days gladly.

Coming in after the first loop. Photo by Monica.

The ride was over before I knew it. There was no “death march” phase in this ride. It went by so fast that I forgot to get out my camera. We chugged along at a reasonable pace, a 75-miler came along to drag us up the last big hill, and we were done. No muss, no fuss.

Except it was flippin' cold outside afterward.

I’m not sure that Blue will be ready for a 50 on our next outing, but after this weekend’s performance, I can see that he has it in him this year. He understood what we were there to do, and he did it. I think he’s finally ready to be an endurance horse.

Aargh! That "C" on skin tenting! Don't even get me started.

Monday, May 13, 2013

When life gives you lemons, write a hoof update

Well, I was planning to write a fun recap of my ride last Sunday with Kara and Nicole. We did a trail at Silver Falls that I’d never done before and may never do again. Hello, vertigo.

Blue also had his first acupressure treatment this week. I am not a believer at all in this modality, but Sarah is working on getting her certification and needed case studies to work on. She picked various horses from our barn, and we got a free session out of it. She showed me a couple points that may encourage relaxation and a drop in heart rate. That’s something I’m willing to try!

Anyway, I was planning to write that recap too, but work was beyond busy last week as we prepped for our big annual women’s event at the convention center. There was a lot of last-minute hubbub. Things needing written, confirmed, proofed and prepped. And this week I’ll be doing all thing things I’d been begging off with promise: “I can’t do it now, but I’m sure I’ll have time after the event.” Ha.

And then Brian landed in the ER for the second time this year with severe chest pain. He’s fine, but a couple nights at the hospital really thoroughly derailed my riding schedule and will probably be weighing down my finances for the foreseeable future.

Nevertheless, I still intend to go to Mt. Adams this weekend. I will take many pictures.

But to make for the dearth of pics in this post (No trail photos with Kara and Nicole?! No acupressure photos with Sarah?!) I’ll plop a few pictures down here so you can see how much nicer Blue’s hooves are today than they were in November.

I'm excited to see what his new feet will do for his performance this weekend. We're shooting for mid-pack, top 20 if we can.

November 2012

May 2013

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Help L get back in the saddle

Dear friends, I don't want you to feel any obligation, but if you are able to spare a few dollars, I know it would make a big difference to Laurie.

She and I had a long talk this afternoon about how things are going and how hard it is to ask for this kind of help. I really don't feel comfortable blabbing the details all over the internet, but trust me when I say that at this point, every single dollar will make a difference. Laurie is selling off her horses (and everything else that isn't nailed down) as fast as she can, but she still isn't able to work.

I was lucky that my best endurance friends, Heather and Shana, were happy to volunteer their time to deliver some hay and grain to Laurie last weekend just as she was running out. Sending money for hay feels insufficient for the loss, though.

Anyway, here is the link to donate:

Updates and pictures of L have been encouraging. She's at home now and is mostly able to do the basic things herself. Sadly, she's out of school for the year. They had thought she might be able to go in a wheelchair but it turns out the school was concerned about liability in case she was re-injured. And since there are only a few weeks left in the school year anyway, well, they'll welcome her back in the fall.

Finally, if any of you know of programs in Washington state that I can point her to for more official assistance, please post them in the comments so I can pass them along.

Let's hope we can get back to happy, horse-related posts soon!