Monday, December 25, 2017

Endurance 2018....or "Plans? We don't need no stinking plans!...or do we?"

As I'm sure you can gather, this is a scheduled post.  I'll reveal the info about Sunday at River Run (did I or didn't I ride?  If I rode, who got to go out?!  I'm sure you're really just dying...LOL!).

Instead, as I sit in the quiet of my office before my shift begins, most of the people already out on holiday break, I got to reflecting on this past endurance year, and what my 2018 endurance year will look like.

Perhaps this is an early New Year's post.  Not sure. 

So, 2017 has been rough and fun as well!!

Let's take a look at our AERC break down and see, stats-wise, where we ended up this year.

Horses competed at endurance rides:
3 (Strider, Dakini, Socks)

Miles each horse got credit for:
Strider: 50 endurance / 60 LD
Dakini: 30 LD
Socks: 0

Miles rider got credit for:
50 endurance / 90 LD

Miles attempted: 100 endurance / 170 LD

So, as you can see, my stats this year....pretty bad.

Reasons for non-completion:

2 Lameness
2 Rider Option

Disappointingly, in September, Strider took a very bad tumble.  We were lunging on the line in the front yard.  It's flat.  There was nothing happening that was out of the ordinary.  He was cantering as he was acting like a fool, but not out of control, when all of a sudden, he stumbled and went crashing down on both front legs, his head making contact with the ground as he skidded a few feet.  When he regained his feet, he was non-weight bearing on his left hind (LH).

I managed to convince him to cross the yard where I cold hosed him, then gave him a small dose of bute and left him out.  The constant motion is good for him.

But, as time dragged on and on...he just...wasn't getting better.

Well, I THOUGHT he was better until I took him to my trimmer for a touch up trim before taking him to a clinic.  She saw immediately when I led him off and had him pivot left that he was BAD. 

So, since then, he's been off.  And his LH has been swollen.  It's FINALLY gone down, around the beginning of December, but...he's still not quite right.

I've had Jodi Brassard of Brassard Equine Acupressure ( come out now to start doing acupressure on him.  We started doing that in October, and he's now had 3 appointments. 

All of that to say this; I'm not sure where my 2018 ride season is going. 

Dakini was given back to H, who finds her a MARVELOUS fit for her bad back.  So, while I sure do miss that sweet face, I'm beyond pleased that she's able to help someone who has helped me so much.

Socks is Socks.  He is always game to try whatever I wish to try.  And he may occasionally get to go to easy LDs.

And now there's Tilly.  Tilly needs a conditioning program.  And to be ridden more.  Joe and I gauged the road we live on and determined that one route is better than another for me to road ride, so, that's the plan.  It's not a LONG stretch of road (less than 2 miles, unless I get adventurous and tack on some of the more "main" road), but it's got wide shoulders, not as "curvy" where drivers wouldn't see us, and the shoulder looks fairly flat, not INCREDIBLY rocky, but hopefully enough to help keep toughening up soles. 

Now, on my calendar, I've written down ALL the rides I'm currently HOPING that somehow I can attend.

That list includes:
High Roller at 7iL
Old Glory at Trace Trails
Shanghai Trails at the Shanghai Pierce Ranch (and I'm on the fence...there's so much bad juju..that I should go to get rid of that!)
Racing Stripes at the Priefert Ranch
Last Hoorah at the Six0 Ranch
Quitaque Climb at the Pole Canyon Ranch
Armadillo Run at the Davy Crockett National Forest (this one isn't posted yet, but it's an annual thing!)

One ride not listed is Heart of the Hills in Bandera.  I've yet to be able to have a horse with reliable foot protection to make that ride.  It's on my "to ride" list, but not this year again.

So, as I'm looking at that list...I'm trying to decide, which will I REALLY go to?  And which ones could I potentially have a horse ready for?

High Roller?  I could take Socks for an LD.  He's completed one there already with gas in the tank when he finished.  But, he'll need to wear bell boots, and there's a LOT of sand there, which could cause irritation and rubs.  BUT, I did buy 2 pair of bell boots, so I can change them out between loops.  Decisions, decisions....

I'll spill the beans about what, if anything, I'll be doing for High Roller later.

That brings me to Old Glory at Trace Trails.  Again, I can take Socks.  It's technical trail.  I went overtime there with Strider when we first started endurance.  So, my DREAM was to return there with Strider and defeat those trails.  However, unless something magical happens when Jodi touches him again in January, that's not going to happen.  So, take Socks again? 

Shanghai Trails next.  I could, in theory have Tilly legged up for a SLOW LD.  Or Strider might be just fine to go by this point, definately for an LD.  And, part of me thinks I need to just avoid this ride after all of the bad juju from last year.  And then part of me thinks I need to return to shake off that bad juju.  I'm really REALLY not sure what I will be doing about this ride.  And it may be that I won't decide until a few days before the ride.  We'll see.

Racing Stripes.  I've already promised my friend J.L. (Cowboy and Jett's mommy) that I would be there.  And I WILL be there.  Now, this ride is in April.  Assuming Strider has been given the green light in January (I'm also looking into doing an ultrasound and perhaps a lameness evaluation), I should have him legged back up again for an LD for sure.  Perhaps back in 50 fighting shape.  Well, SLOW 50 fighting shape.  This ride would be my pick of all the currently posted rides for Strider and I to aim for to try and get year 3 towards our Decade Team done.  ASSUMING he's okay.  And, if nothing else, perhaps by this point Tilly will be ready for back to back LDs.  Any which way, I may only be there and doing Intros, but I'm going.

Last Hoorah.  My favorite ride, but the ride that kicked MY ass last year.  I've yet to earn a completion at this ride.  Now I SWORE to the RM last year I was giving up the 50 mile division last year....and yet....and yet...I just can't seem to quit it.  IF Strider is ready and IF I have proper foot protection...we'll aim for a 50 again.  If we don't have foot protection and he still isn't ready...then LD it is.  And at that point, I'm not sure who would go.  If foot protection is covered, I'll take Tilly.  Or Socks with Hoof Armor (his feet are pretty tough). 

Quitaque Climb in October.  By this point, oh PLEASE Strider has to be better!!  We'll do a 50.  I'll take Tilly as well.  She'll certainly do an LD.  If I'm going to dream big, she'll also do a 50.

Armadillo Run.  This one would be about 2 weeks after Quitaque.  So who knows who I'll take or what distance I'll do., realizing that this is the PLAN (as scattered and all over the place as it is), the odds are quite good I will have more not-ridden miles than ridden miles again this year.  I make plans, and invariably, something happens.  Such is the way of both horses and endurance.

But, for me, as each year goes by, my goals change a little bit.  I learn a little bit more.  And stretch myself to grow. 
Endurance 2018 holds wonderful things for me.  Once again I am riding with the Green Bean Team of "May the Horse Be With You".  I was invited to ride with the Texas Endurance Riders Association (TERA) team as well.  And now I get to bring Tilly along to start learning endurance!  And I'll re-start Strider.  So two, potentially 3 horses to fit up to go play with me!!  Looks like the name of the game is "Ride one/Pony one" this year!

Endurance 2018, I'm not sure what lessons you have in store for me this year.  But, as long as you leave me with healthy horses, I'll take whatever lessons it is you want to give to me.

Friday, December 22, 2017

River Run, Year 3....or "Having Fun with Dezzie!"

Let me start this off by saying that, while I took Tilly and Socks to ride camp (one to SEE what ride camp is like, the other to be the "familiar babysitter" and I was planning on doing the Intro on Tilly on Sunday), it is distinctly WEIRD to go to ride camp and NOT take care of a horse. 

Now, I offered to help as much as I could with Dez, but, I also understand sometimes having someone underfoot is a hindrance, and many people have their routines down pat, and can just get things done faster if they do it themselves. for River Run this year, I was invited to crash on the couch in what we affectionately dubbed "The Land Yacht"; C.B.'s beautifully large Trail Hand.  So, while I initially yielded the couch to L.B.'s use, she decided to try camping in her own trailer, so I happily flopped on the couch for the weekend.

I got Tilly and Socks set up in their pens and then moved in to the "Land Yacht", and waited for D.C. and R.C. to show up. 

When they did, the people doing parking THANKFULLY put them about 2 trailers over from ours, which made things VERY easy.  I kept offering to come and help, and did they need me to do ANYTHING at all?  Nope, they had things in hand.  I did come over in the afternoon once they were settled in and braided Dez's mane.

As an homage to Strider, Dez had to wear the rainbow rubber bands.  He looked completely disgusted with me, and R.C. laughed about it.  What can I say?  I love my "skittles" look, and I wanted that small piece of Strider with me.

Dez vetted in just fine (I had been warned he could be a stinker for the vets.  Instead, for ONCE I had a horse who was better behaved than Strider about standing still!).  All A's down the board.

Ride meeting was uneventful, and we gals (C.B., T.M. and L.B. and I) sat around B.S'ing at the Land Yacht that afternoon and evening.  It was one of the few times where I've sat around, talking horses AT ride camp.  And about life...equine of those "campfire" moments endurance riders talk about?  Sure.  I'll take it.

So, up early on Saturday, and once again, I was at a loss.  No horse to run through all the protocols. I didn't need to get up at 3 or 4 am to electrolyte and toss more hay and check water buckets and feed a wet mash to. 

I did, as is normal, ALMOST forget to feed myself.  I can't seem to escape that aspect of endurancing.  I wolfed down my grub, grabbed my hip belt and then raced over to R.C and D.C's trailer to help get Dez dressed for the day. 

The original plan was to ride with D.C, but R.C said she woke up with a horrible migraine, so she wasn't going out.  He and I got Dez dressed before he had to head out for his 50.  Wished him and Tivio a safe ride, then I waited a little bit.

I opted to walk over to check in as I was a little worried about this impending "pulling" and "blisters" I was warned about. 

Once that was over, I headed back and begged L.B. to help me mount up, which she graciously did (THANK YOU!). 

At that point, I was planning to ride out with C.B. on "Naughty Pony" (his real name is Sugar), T.M. on Sunny and then myself, on Dez.

(L to R; C.B. on Sugar, T.M. on Sunny and myself on Dez)
Photo courtesy of L.B. (THANK YOU!!)

That was the PLAN.

So, Dez wasn't BAD, but he definitely knew something was up.  The fog was a blessing in disguise as, when we were leaving camp, 2 people asked to pass us, and Dez could see them, and wanted to catch them, instead, I insisted on circles, turning and standing still, basically "No, listen to me" moves to refocus and redirect him.  Once they were lost in the fog, he didn't fuss AS much, but he was "up" and ready to go. 

The loop for this year took out out of camp and up to "Skyline" at the Land Heritage Institute.  As we went up, Sugar started being a bit naughty, and we thought perhaps Dez and Sugar were feeding energy into one another, so I decided it was safer for C.B. if I peeled off and went on. 

I mean, is it any WONDER with THIS face of impatience to "GO FAST NOW!!" would be inspiring another horse to want to go fast now, too?

NOT happy at NOT getting to dictate our speed!
Photo courtesy of John Nowell (purchased)

And, if you happen to be eagle eyed, you'll notice I brought along another homage to Strider.

His rainbow reins.

Maybe THAT is why Dez was so upset?  LOL!!

His tack didn't match!!  POOR DEZ!!!

No, but seriously....this face....

Riding defensively.  Or is that DEZ-fensively?
Photo courtesy of John Nowell (purchased)
So, having split off from T.M. and C.B., Dez and I then spent the next 9 miles COMPLETELY alone without seeing another soul on trail.

Let me say just how magical that was.  I was on a horse who was quite happy to move out, wasn't hard to rate, and was consistent and forward, but not a freight train like I had been warned. 

Now, we DID spent the first 3.5-ish miles with him being a booger about quickly dropping his head and ripping the reins through my hands.  The first few times, I thought he was dropping to grab a bite to eat ("Grab and Go"), but I realized he wasn't taking a SINGLE bite.  So, after I figured out what he was doing, I looped the reins, and would just let him "run into" my hands when he tried it.

I think he was trying to get me to loosen up so he could set the speed.  I just wasn't going to do that.  I was very serious about NOT allowing him to run himself into the ground.  I wasn't setting out to turtle, but I wasn't adverse to the idea of taking it either if that's how things happened. 

Overall, he set about a 6.5 mph pace. 

When we finally saw someone on the trail (by the bike path before going down into the woods by the river), he was quite happy to catch them, and then leave them behind.  No tantrum, no fuss, no muss.

It was at some point in these 9 miles, while I carried on an almost steady stream of conversation with him, that he became "Dezzie" to me. 

"Easy Dezzie.  Don't go so fast down that hill please.  Dezzie, take it easy.  Come on man.  DEZZIE!!!"

We went through the "lollipop" on trail without any issues, but he wouldn't slow down (much) as we went by the bucket to grab our token.  So, I ended up with about 4 pipe cleaners, and I wasn't sure what on earth to do with them while I attempted to steer and put them some place safe.

As you can tell, my body is more relaxed, and we're chugging along happily.
Photo courtesy of John Nowell (purchased)
I couldn't get him to drink, which was concerning to me.  But, as per D.C., he got about 10 seconds per trough and the opportunity.  All he wanted to do was circle them.  Okay my friend, let's keep going then.  You'll drink when you're thirsty.

This may be one of my favorite ride photos ever. 
Look at the extension on Dezzie! 
His head isn't giraffed!
I'm smiling! 
Loose(ish) rein even!!
Photo courtesy of John Nowell (purchased)
I was pleasantly surprised at times on trail, that I was able to ride Dezzie "on the buckle" (okay, so my reins don't HAVE a buckle...but if they DID....).  He didn't bolt, didn't do anything to take advantage of that freedom.  Just kept doing his job.

So, with 13 miles down, we make our way in to camp.  I'm getting blown by as I walk behind the bunk house, so I can't really dismount safely as all of a sudden he's like "OMG!!  MUST GO NOW!! HORSES GOING FAST!!!!"  *sigh*  He'd been so VERY calm up until that point.

I hear T.M. call out as she and Sunny came in to camp behind us while I'm loosening Dezzie's girth.

We make our way over and start sponging and scooping water on them.  I left the tack on, and figured, "Well, let's just go on over to P&R."  He wasn't breathing hard, he wasn't hot nor excessively sweaty and the water coming off him was cool.

Sure enough, he was already down within parameter as we entered the box.

Vetted through with all A's EXCEPT a B on an upper quadrant (I believe.  Not totally sure as his owners have his vet card).

Took him to his trailer as D.C. came out to check on us and help get Dez set up for his hold.  Now, we had lost a LOT of time in the vet check line as there were only 2 vets and the line was stacked up, so Dez really only had about 20 minutes of a 45 minute hold to rest and relax. 

DISCLAIMER; had his scores been any worse, I would have waited and allowed him to relax and eat longer. 

So, dropped his bit, hay, mash, water and D.C. asked how our ride was going.  I made sure she was okay, asked if there was anything else I could do for her, or for Dez or for her girl before I ran back to the Land Yacht and crammed some food in my mouth.

And in a flash, our hold was over.  Once again L.B. helped hold the stirrup and Dez while I mounted up, and T.M. and I went out together.

The boys paced beautifully together, leap frogging as to who was leading and who was following.  Dezzie stayed in gait for the most part, but, when he asked to canter, I allowed it, as long as he wasn't reckless.  I know that when the muscles get tired, they will ask for a different gait, and he wasn't asking to walk, so canter it was.  Both T.M. and I flew along, laughing and having a good time, chattering happily.

T.M. and I stopped near the Corn Crib on the trail to both stop, re-hydrate ourselves, grab a snack, and allow the horses to graze. 

Now, Dezzie is a funny FUNNY guy!  As we're there, he refuses to stand still and graze.  So I'm constantly doing circles, TRYING to get him interested in the grass.  A group of riders comes around the corner (it's a bit of a blind turn), and T.M. and I made sure our horses were facing that direction as we could hear them coming, and we didn't want our boys startled.  They asked to go by, and of course, we told them to go on by.

Here's where Dezzie showed off his prankster side.  He FINALLY dropped his head, and started to "graze".  Suddenly, T.M. starts laughing hysterically. 

"What?  What's so funny?!"

Takes her a moment to catch her breath she's laughing so hard, but finally, she spits out; "HE'S FAKE EATING!!  He's hovering over the grass, his mouth is opening and closing, but he's NOT EATING it!!  He's FAKING!!!"

And we both just lose it, laughing. 

At some point, he finally snatches a mouthful of grass (probably in disgust), looks at me, the grass hanging out of his mouth as if to say "Look.  I ate.  CAN WE GET ON WITH IT NOW?!"

T.M. and Sunny are good, so we set off down the trail again.

After 20ish miles, Dezzie FINALLY drank, and we're fixing to wrap
up our LD!!

So, while T.M. and I are at the troughs, we catch up again to the group who had passed us.  I try to get Dezzie to stand still enough so I can sponge out of the buckets left out for us to sponge out of (another reason I LOVE this ride is because there is so much water available on trail to use).  I manage to awkwardly get the job done. 

One of the riders mentions to me "Oh Arabs!"

"Actually, Paso Fino!"

"OH!  Really?"


We then ask, as is customary and polite, if it's okay if we ride off. 

"Sure, we'll pass you later!"

I turned to T.M. after we left and said "I don't think so.  Our boys are still bright eyed and bushy tailed.  I'm not going to push, but I suspect they're not going to pass us."

(FYI and spoiler alert.  They didn't.)

T.M and I finish our LD handily, come in, strip tack, slosh water on our boys, and head over to the pulse box.

And once again, right within parameter within 5 minutes of coming in to camp.  Wasn't a doubt in my mind!!!

We vetted through once again, smiles and cheers all around for having gotten our horses through the ride!!

AND....when Dezzie earned his completion, I earned my 250 LD mile patch!!  THANK YOU DEZZIE!!!  That makes that patch extra special.  I've had 4 amazing horses carry me through so many was a small milestone, but it felt good to FINALLY achieve it!

(Here is where I would put in our placings and time....but...AERC, despite having the ride results, STILL has not posted them....*sigh*)

I felt surprisingly good after 25 miles, considering that -I- have not been riding like I normally do to condition MY body to the ride.  Spent the rest of the afternoon at the Land Yacht, and occasionally popping in over at Dezzie's trailer to make sure he was okay, and if I could do anything to help and to check in to see how R.C. was doing on his 50.

D.C. mentioned that she and her husband would evaluate him later that evening, and if they thought he was up to it, would I like to pilot him again on Sunday through another LD?


So, we whiled away the hours, talking...and then attended the ride meeting/awards dinner.

I mention this, only to say that while we were at the dinner, we heard some people mention there were some loose horses in camp.  C.B. had the forethought to go check on all of ours, which we really had blocked in QUITE well.  However, that's all we heard about it.....

Now....I'm sure you're wondering how Sunday turned out, aren't you?

Did I take Tilly out for an Intro?

Did I ride Dezzie for another 25 miles?

Did I pack it in and head for home?

Did I stay up most of the night because I was coughing so badly and there was a "dance party" happening in what sounded like camp until 2 am? 

The answer to all these questions....on the next post.

Well, okay, ONE spoiler...

I did stay up most of the night and go wandering around camp, fully intending to bang on someone's door and tell them to turn their music down because it was SO FREAKING LOUD!!  Except...I realized it wasn't coming from anywhere in camp.

Now....what about Sunday.....?

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Guest Ride....or "Meeting Aleandro de Vez"

So, at Armadillo, while I was walking around with the sweet owner of Miss Betsy Boots, I found out she boarded with a couple who I knew as the husband is a Paso Fino endurance rider (he's the one who helped Strider and I through our first 50, in fact). 

While we were walking around, we ran into them and got to talking.  I mentioned that my Paso is currently out as he hurt himself.  They mentioned in passing that, if I was interested, I could perhaps ride their boy Aleandro de Vez ("Dez") at a ride.

Now, I thought they were kidding.  Don't ask me why.  Probably because my ride record isn't very good.  I'm still figuring things out.  And the level of TRUST to allow someone to ride your own personal horse...that's a lot.  And, how well do they KNOW me?  I mean, I could be an abusive rider for all they know (I'm not).  I could override their horse (I wouldn't).  It's very trusting to allow someone else to ride your horse.

But, I sent a message through Betsy's owner, and said if they were serious, I would be flattered.

So, it transpired that they WERE serious.  Well then, so am I!

Arrangements were made, and I tentatively planned to come out Thanksgiving weekend to at least TRIAL ride him before River Run (which was the following weekend).

Sunday morning on the 25th saw me in the car and cruising towards Huntsville for a date with a pretty bay gelding!  And a pleasant ride in the Sam Houston National Forest!

I hit the road and filled the car up...then realized I was hungry so stopped at another gas station for breakfast.  I am pretty sure I was a disappointment to the guy behind the counter.  I was dressed as I always do for riding; my Ariats, half-chaps, runners tights, and a 3/4 zip long-sleeve sun shirt with another shirt beneath it.  He asked if I was going running or going to work out.  I said, no, I was actually going horseback riding.

"OH!!  Do you have your truck and your trailer?"  *starts looking around excitedly, thinking maybe they're in my pocket?*
"Oh, well...usually I do.  But today I'm just in my car.  I'm riding someone else's horse."
"Oh.  What kind of riding do you do?"
"I like to ride long distances.  25 or 50 miles."
"OH!  Are you doing that today?"
"Uh, well, not today.  Today I'm just doing a short ride."
"Oh." *his face kind of falls* "Well, have a good ride!  Come back next time when you have your horses!"
"Sure thing!"

I didn't have the heart to say I have NEVER YET needed to go this way to go to a ride.  Oh well.

Waze took me a very convoluted way to their home (like, it took me PAST the turn off for their road, had me do a turn around on another road and then sent me back...wouldn't it have just been easier to turn down their road in the first place?!!!), but I found it and was only a few minutes late.

Their property is just gorgeous with large spaces for the horses to play, and a pretty barn.  Took a quick potty break, then we loaded up Tivio and then headed over to their other property to pick up D's horse and my ride for the day, Dez.

They are wonderful people to spend the day with.  I laughed and just had a great time.  I have such social anxiety, I wasn't sure how things would go, but it was quite smooth. 

I ended up riding in their Barefoot, and we did the pipeline trail in the forest, which was maybe a 30 minute drive.  And now I understand why their horses are so very very fit.  These hills are gentle, but they are quite a workout!  We went out and back, and then added on some distance that took us by the trailer.

Dez was quite easy to ride, though I had been warned at the ride to bring gloves as he is a puller.

His previous owner raced him, and his current owners aren't racers, they believe in a steady pace that doesn't tear the horse up.  In fact, D is like myself; fights for the turtle award!  LOL!!!

I was given permission to treat him like I treat my own horses and to not allow him to pull any antics.  For which I was glad.  I don't want to upset someone by correcting their horse, but I also don't want to get hurt either.

Really, for this initial "Hello, how are you?  Let's see how we work together," ride, Dez was fantastic!! 

"Just wait."  I was warned.

So I did.  For a little less than a week!!

Monday, December 18, 2017

Day 4, Let's Go Camping!!....or "Time to Pack It In"

Another semi-early morning.  As an endurance rider, I could get used to getting UP at 6, slowly feeding and taking time to get moving. 

Nahhhh.  LOL!!!

So, another campfire morning as we slowly ate breakfast and talked about having to break camp and head for home. 

Oh, we knew we were doing a final ride before going home.  The injured horses were all just fine, and no one wanted to do a fast trail ride anyway!  So, once again, slowly get the horses dressed.

Yes, not exactly the most flattering picture.  Tilly Pilly all dressed.
So, we all mount up and head out for our final ride.  It was some of the same trail from the day before, but in reverse.  H had some time constraints, but, after discussing it some, she figured she was still fine if we rode a little bit longer.

We took a suggestion from L and G who know the trails better than us, and took off in a different direction.  The dogs were quite happy to go charging off into the underbrush, making a ruckus.  But they were quite happy.

I made sure to take it easy on Tilly and I wouldn't allow her to gait.  I wanted her to stay at a walk and not push herself.  Rationally, I understand she's just fine, but emotionally, there's no need to push her.  Especially with a long trailer ride coming up! 

We're on a nice stretch of trail, and I can hear the dogs off behind us and to my left.  The come bounding out and Tilly squirts forward on me, very VERY unhappy.  And, all I can assume is that the dogs got a little TOO close for comfort and she fired off a shot with a rear foot.

And caught poor Kita in the face.  We all heard the yelp.

I cannot convey how badly I felt as B went back to check on her dog.  Poor Kita was so baffled that she ran from B.  FINALLY she was able to catch Kita, and rinsed her mouth out.  And told us that Kita lost a tooth.

I felt even WORSE at that point. 

B and LM kept saying not to worry.  They weren't mad.  But I still feel awful, you know?  I get it, horses are horses and dogs are dogs, but I still feel bad poor Kita got hurt.  So, that kind of soured the ride for me.

Add on to that, that Tilly started acting like an absolute heinous witch.  Wouldn't mind.  Wouldn't stop and stand still.  Ripping my arms off.  If she wasn't recovering I would have worked her butt.  The overall belief is she was coming in to heat.  Hussy.  Made me miss Dakini who never acted up in heat or not.  LOL!!

Final ride!
Anyway, we make it back to camp and start breaking things down.  H quickly pulls out as she's now running late.

We take a look at B and LM's trailer and one of their tires is basically flat.  On a Sunday, who's going to work on a trailer tire?

Apparently WalMart.  It just needed a new valve stem.  So, I opt to hang out with G and L.

And while we're hanging out, I hear some of the other campers hollaring back and forth "Do you have banamine?" and "I don't think it's colic, but he keeps laying down."

I sigh heavily...not another one?  And somehow end up involved.

Horse hadn't eaten, but the owner didn't think it was a colic because they could hear gut noises.

"Did you hear gut noises in all 4 quadrants?  Is the horse drinking?  How are his gums?  Hydration?"

*blank stares*

So, I ask if I can go in the pen, and, this horse's gums are tacky, he's dehydrated and he keeps going sternal. 

Now, thankfully they warned me before I went and put my hands in his mouth as he's missing most of his teeth.  "He's a cribber." 

I ask L to come check all the quadrents of his guts.

"Sounds like a waterfall on one side, but nothing, or very faint on the other side."

I turn to them and say "It's colic.  Let me get the number for the emergency vet, call him out.  But keep this horse on his feet and hand walk him and graze him."

They keep insisting it isn't colic.  At that point, I get them the number...had asked L if she felt comfy giving banamine, she said she wasn't (later on reflection, makes sense...she didn't want the liability...she's totally right).

Vet shows up, and for the first time ever, I get to watch being a horse tubed.

Because, what do you know?  The horse was colicing.  *sigh*

However, I now know that HYPERACTIVE guts are not good either.  This is also a colic. 

Suffice to say, I was over this whole weekend.  Too many colics.  Too many accidents. 

So, once B and LM got back, they got the tire on their trailer, and we all packed it in.

And, after briefly chasing Rango through camp one more time....we load up and hit the road once more.

He really is a great travelling companion!!
You'd think by this point my emergencies would be over, right?


I cruise through some towns on the way home, just listening to my podcast, enjoying the scenery.  I glance at my fuel gauge, but, at a quarter tank, opt to keep going.  The prices were stupidly high for diesel, so SURELY I'll find something else in the next town!

Keep on driving.  Lots and lots of hills.

Truck warns me I have 50 miles to empty.

"Oh, I'll just pull over at the next station I see!  No big deal!  I'm fine."

*narrator's voice*
"She was NOT fine and it WAS a big deal."

I kept watching those miles vanish.  And knowing it wasn't accurate because I'm hauling a trailer.

At 25 miles, I start to flail a little.  But, there's a sign that says only 10 miles to the next town.  I PROMISE I'll stop at any gas station there.

Except this "town" was a bump in the road.  WITHOUT A GAS STATION!!!

10 miles left in my tank.  I'm sweating.  ANY gas station will do!!  ANYTHING!!!

5 miles.  Still nothing.

I hit zero and pull over into a small, CLOSED AND ABANDONED gas station and shut off the truck.  I'm shaking.  I have ZERO cell service.  It's starting to get dark.  I weigh my options.

I could pull Tilly and ride to a gas station.  Not sure how I'll juggle the reins and a gas tank.  What about Rango?

Where am I?  I can't call for help.  Will anyone stop for me? 

I finally opt to start the truck up again and drive.  NOT my smartest move, but it was starting to get dark. 

We're still doing hills though.  My stomach is in a knot as we keep going.

I shut off EVERYTHING and talk to Hannibal the entire time.

And we come into a town!!  I KNOW WHERE I AM!!!  There's a gas station just 2 or 3 more miles.  My truck starts to hitch occasionally and I start to panic.

I beg and plead with him "PLEASE Hannibal!!  PLEASE!!  I know it's there!  COME ON BUDDY!!!"

And we make it in.  I pull up to a gas tank and shut him off and almost cry in relief.

Until I realize the tank is on the OTHER SIDE OF THE TRUCK!!!  And, of course, the hose won't reach.

And the other side's two pumps are being tied up....but people filling up with plain gas.  Because there weren't OTHER OPEN PUMPS to use!!!  FYI-This is a pet peeve of mine.  If you drive a gas vehicle and there are GAS PUMPS open, please, for the love, go fill up at one of those.  PLEASE!!!

So, I crank Hannibal up one more time, shaking.  It's a tight and busy parking lot.  I can't exactly whip it around.  So, I have to pull between some cars and attempt to back my rig without taking out a fuel pump.  I'm shivering because my truck is chugging.  And I manage to get behind the small truck pulling a UHaul trailer and wait.  Because I can't get through to the other tank.  And he takes his time.  He can TELL I'm impatient, but he just crawls into his car and stares at me in his rearview.  At that point, I start flailing my arms and cussing "MOVE IT!!  MOVE IT!!!!  COME ON!!!!"

And FINALLY he does.  And I lurch through and shut Hannibal off.  I almost weep with joy that he did it.

He gets a very full tank, before I hop back in and hit the road, thinking this is the end of the disasters.

*narrator's voice*
"It was."

I drive through sporadic rain and swing by my parent's house to get Kaylee.  And then head for home.

Joe is waiting and opens the gate, helps me unhook and let Tilly out.

Suffice to say, TOOOOO much excitement for one camping trip.

I am hoping that I never go through that much "adventure" ever again.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Day 3, Let's Go Camping!!....or "Can't we catch a break?!"

So, let me see here...where was I?

Oh yes.  Tilly.  Busted lip.  Stitches.  AJ, who had colic'd.  Okay then.

So, I had blanketed Tilly overnight as she was coming off her drugs, and was shivering some.  It was a thin sheet, no fill to it.  Just enough to provide some warmth from her own body heat. 

Once again, we all get up in the morning, and LM knows she's not riding AJ in the morning.  She mentioned she was going to just hang around camp, clean pens and relax and read.

I go and take the blanket off Tilly and start grooming her in the pen she's in.  I get one side done, then walk around to the other side....and notice immediately how tight she is near her belly.

"Hey B, can you come look at Tilly?  I think she's colicing."

The general consensus was yes, a very mild colic, but a colic nonetheless.  THANKFULLY we had the syringe of banamine for AJ, which Tilly got instead.

So, while B and H and L and her husband G all went riding, LM and I stayed back at camp, cleaned pens, and just relaxed and chit chatted.  It was really pleasant. We chatted about horses.  Enjoyed the dogs.  It wasn't too long before B and H came back (G and L opted to stay out for a long ride that day).  All the horses were fine, and we decided we'd take AJ and Tilly out for a very VERY easy evening ride.  And, we decided to try Rango out as a trail dog, paired up with B's dog Kita.

Long, leisurely lunch while the evening's dinner cooked in the crockpot in the trailer (smelled DELICIOUS!!!).  Sitting around the fire just chatting horses and about life in general with good friends...those things were wonderful about this trip.

Eventually we decided we would go ahead and start tacking up.

I decided I'd tack Tilly up at MY trailer this time though.  No point in tempting fate, right?

A very gentle ride!!

We had such a great time!  We took it nice and easy, and the dogs did GREAT!!!  Rango strayed some, but always seemed to keep an eye on the horses and came when we wanted him to.  It probably helped that he had Kita to make SURE he didn't stray too far as she was now part of his "pack"

Tilly behaved nicely, didn't seem to be hurting, and was happy to move. 

We opted to circle back though for dinner and more time around the fire.  And to start thinking about ending our camping trip the next day. 

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Day 2, Let's Go Camping!!....or "Here's where the wheels starting falling off...."

After having been reminded REPEATEDLY before bed the previous night that, no, tomorrow was NOT 'endurance hours' (get up early, get saddled up and get moving), we slowly and leisurely got moving in the morning.  

Oh, we still got up early.  But we sat around the campfire, they drank coffee (horror of horrors, I don't like coffee), we slowly ate breakfast, chit chatted, let the dogs romp and play and basically.

Now, I had re-rigged my saddle the previous evening as well.  I'd removed the latigos and put on center fire English converters that Trail Blazers Tack had made for me (in purple, natch).  I also removed the fenders and put on biothane webbers (also purple [natch]).  My stirrups are western, but Janet included a keeper that holds them fairly securely.  So, I figured I'd give it a whirl and if I didn't like them, or the stirrups slid to much, I'd put the fenders back on.  No big deal.

I borrowed B's Total Saddle Fit girth and the cover again (bless friends who loan and give away tack to try out!) and put it on Tilly.

Now, the English converters didn't have enough holes, but it seemed tight enough, so, we all slowly got saddled up and for the first time, I got to go experience the Angelina forest at Lake Sam Rayburn.
Our motley crew leaving camp.

Yes, two big butts; hers and mine! 

Heading out of camp down one of the roads.

And after a semi-short seeming ride, THE LAKE!!!

Tilly was a VERY good girl about putting her feet in the water.

B and Little Momma on Gatlin and AJ respectively.

Now, at some point during the ride, someone looked over and said "There is like an INCH between Tilly and your girth!!"  Yeah, not tight enough.  And I already had it on the last holes.  Not a problem, I'll just stay balanced, right?  I mean, she's wearing a breastcollar, so the saddle won't slide off her butt, and if I get off the great big behemoth, I might not be able to get back on.  Best to stay where we're at.

Tilly ears.

Yes, it really is that wooded!!
Tilly has some issues with other horses.  Like whipping around and trying to bite their faces off, so she had to stay away from the group many times.  That's just entirely UNACCEPTABLE behavior!!  So, I parked her at the back of the group and that's where she had to stay.  We need to do more group rides, but I wasn't in the mood to dink with a naughty horse with such a loose girth.

She was happy to go, but a little sweaty.  Not labored.

We all kind of tooled around, played in the water, went back in the woods.  We wound around until we came back out by the water, and, it was deceptively wet, so the horses started sinking.  All I could picture was pulled tendons and lamness issues, so we all quickly attempted to find a way out of the bog.

Straight UP over a log and a hill was our route out.  Everyone asked if I was okay going with my girth, and I was like "Yes, let's get out of here before our horses get hurt.  I'll grab mane and go.  But let's get out of here."

So, we did just that.  Tilly was a champ about it.  Saddle stayed put, didn't slip, didn't move. 

We opted to head back to camp, break for lunch and then go back out later.

Well, that was the plan.

We're sitting at our camp, tack off, when we notice that B's mom's horse is laying down in his pen.  Now, he could have been napping.  And we thought so for a while.  But we got him up after a little bit.  Then he opted to lay down again.

No.  Not okay.  We scrambled to find a nearby vet, and I told B and LM to use my rig since I was still hooked up to the truck and have the smallest trailer and for them to get going.  AJ loaded right up and off they went.

H and I hung out, chit chatted and napped while we waited for news.

Finally they got back.  Yes, mild colic.  He got tubed and oiled and sent home with a syringe of banamine.  So, LM said she was going to stay back at camp, clean pens, but we should all go tack up and go ride that evening. 

So, that's what we started doing.

As my saddle and gear was over near by B's trailer, I took Tilly over there, tied her off and started tacking up.

And no one knows EXACTLY what happened, but as I went to put my saddle up on her, she blew up.  Rearing straight up and she came down hard and hit the trailer.  Just lost her damn mind.

When it was all said and done, she had split her lip.


LM called the vet and said we were racing in with another one.  Now, at this point, it was about 4 pm.  At 5 pm, the clinic is closed except for emergencies, which is a $150 fee to start before anything else.

To say that B drove like a madwoman to get us there is an understatement.  I didn't want to get lost, and I was feeling rattled. 

But, B did it.  Got us there with 5 minutes to spare!!

As I didn't know what her vaccination status was, we went ahead and did our tetanus, as well as the others (minus rabies).  She got 7 stitches in her lip and then we were sent on our way home with a very drunk horse.  And a $400 vet bill.  *sigh*

I would have taken pictures, but, I was a little traumatized at the moment (I mean, let's be real!  Strider, hurt his left rear under my watch.  Socks, jacked up his heels at Armadillo under my watch.  And now Joe's horse, hurt under my watch!!!!).

We got her back in the trailer and headed back to camp. 

She was a little sweaty, so I opted to toss a light sheet on her as the evenings were cool, and then all of us headed over to L and G's trailer for a delicious dinner and casual chit chat.  B and LM headed in to town for more ice after dinner.

We stayed up late talking around L and G's fire as it burned down.  From good horses to bad ones, gaits and bits and saddles to "Nutscaping" (do NOT look that up at work...actually, you can skip it's potentially offensive if you're not into weirdness) to religion...just the type of conversations that happen organically when you're with friends who you have no filter with.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Day 1, Let's Go Camping!!!.....or "Good day followed by not so good...."

I'm still mentally and emotionally recovering from what was, overall, a semi-disastrous camping trip.  It's been proclaimed that we need a "do over" trip, and that if we NEVER have another trip like this one, it will be FAR too soon.

So, rewind to Thursday morning.

The plan?

Get up early, load up the truck with the last few things, hook up the truck and trailer, catch the horses, get Kaylee up and dressed, load Tilly then leave and drop Kaylee off at daycare and hit the road around 7ish.

HAH!!  What a joke.  NOTHING went even REMOTELY close to plan.

The reality.

Wake up, start getting dressed, when a small, sleepy faced toddler comes walking into the bedroom. 

"I awake Mommy."

"I see that honey."

And I pitch all of my plans and do the best I can.  Get her dressed and ready for school.  Realize I cannot expect her to be calm and patient while I hook up and catch horses, so just go ahead and drive her to school, come home and finish loading up the truck with everything I MIGHT possibly need (spoiler: I didn't need ANY of the extra blankets I brought...or the portable heater...or the extension cord).

Go ahead and get Rango in the truck (he doesn't QUITE understand what I'm asking for initially so I had to pick him up and put him in).  The look of indignation Pancho gave me when he was put back in the house was funny, and a little heart breaking.  SORRY SMALL DOG!!  Maybe some other time!

Hooked up the truck quickly and then had the unpleasant task of trying to catch the horses.  This is becoming my LEAST favorite part of dealing with Tilly.  It IS on the "To Do" list, but...the time change has my life boogered up.

I get Socks caught after running a merry chase from the back pasture to the front.  He gets put in the barn as I have a mild anxiety attack about him getting hurt again, but realize I don't have another option.  Realize that the other 3 have run BACK into the back pasture, so grab the keys to the ATV and away we go, because I can NOT catch them on foot, and they're all being hellacious turds.

Drive back, walk over to see if I can catch Strider, but he's got a bee up his bonnet, and refuses.  With a huff of annoyance, I go back to the ATV and push them out of the back pasture, and shut the gate.  And away we go as they charge up to the barn.  We end up whirling around and around in the front as Socks casually nibbles the handful of grain I gave him, the other 3 flying and running.  I wince every time Strider does a pivot on that left rear, but, they all realize this isn't fun, so they go to the barn and stop.  I go and open the gate to the other feeding pen and all 3 march in.

My mind flips out thinking of all the possible disasters.  I walk in and tell Strider to NOT kick me.  And give him the "mare glare". Slip the halter on Tilly and march her over to the trailer where she just walks right on in.  She's almost on the brink of self-loading, but, that isn't a requirement of mine.  An easy load is really all I want.  And currently, all of mine are.

Anyway, I leave everyone in the pens as I drive out the front gate, and then let them all loose.  Where they all go charging off.  Realize I forgot to open the back gate, but send Joe a text to tell him it's closed.

Look over at my traveling companion and tell him "Let's go buddy!!"

I skeered Momma.  Where we go?
So, locked, loaded and away we roll.

He figured it out quickly.  And this is how he stayed for the bulk of the trip.  GREAT traveling companion.
Of course, as soon a I get in, I realize I hadn't stopped for gas, and Joe left me a 1/4 tank.  That's not going to be enough to make a 5 hour haul!!!

So, whip in to my favorite local gas station.

And take some photos of my other traveling companion.

Look at this big ass mare!!!
Hello Tilly Pilly!!  You have your happy ears on!!!
What, don't like selfies with me?  I think my feelings are hurt.
I call this one "Resting Bitch Mareface". 
For whatever reason, the gas station was having serious issues with the gas pump.  An error message when I pulled up.  So I went in, and they told me they'd reset the pump and go outside and pump.

Okay.  So, I tried that.  Didn't work.  Go BACK in and leave my card.

And then SLOWLLLLLLLLY pumped diesel into the truck.  The guy next to me said "It's a good thing no one's in a rush.  This is going to take a while."  All in all, took me probably 15 minutes to fill the truck up.  I wasn't impressed.  I've noticed these tanks usually are a little slower, but this was ridiculous!

But, in about 2 hours, I caught up with H at a TSC in some small town.  We picked up a few things, and then hit the road again.  3 more hours to go.  She falls in behind me and we make our way to Lake Sam Rayburn.

We stop at the gas station I always stop at on my way to Armadillo Run.  We let the dogs out for a second potty break, then I ran in to go potty after filling Hannibal up again. 

Rango also makes a great "truck guard dog".  My friend H came out of the store and said "You know, he LOOKS really intimidating.  NO ONE is going to mess with your rig when he's in the truck."

Good thing no one knows that even if he's barking at you, he's probably shivering in fear.  Goof.

But, we get pulled in after one missed turn (took us down some road that did NOT lead to the campground....and cell reception was bad), but I managed to get enough signal to get us to where we needed to go.

Pull in and get settled in quickly.  I let Rango out of the truck and away he runs. 

"Dammit, I think I've just lost my dog."

No, he quickly figured out where "home" was for the weekend.  Our camp. 

Get Tilly set up with water and hay, some electrolytes.  Took a look at her feet and figured since I still had sun, I'd better trim and rasp her feet.  So, I got to work on that.  Butchered them SOME, in my opinion, but they looked better than before.

Once I was done with that, we all just sat around and relaxed for a while.

As the sun sets, B, LM, H and I head in to town for groceries and dinner.  We put Rango in the back of B's LQ and head out.  Lots of laughs and fun and plans for a wonderful fire when we get back to camp.  Junk food load up and late night talking. 

I did rig Tilly up with lights though.  Glowstick on the halter and the flashy bands around her rear pasterns.  I know those pens are solid, but....just in case...(spoiler alert; never necessary, but...I don't regret it!).

I was reminded MULTIPLE times we were sleeping in, NOT rushing to get tacked up in the morning, and that we were going to take a slow, easy pace.


No.  The answer was a resounding no. 

So, I spent the rest of the evening removing the fenders from my saddle and removing the latigos to put the English converter set on my saddle.  And then begged B to borrow her "Total Saddle Fit" girth for Tilly.  Which worked like a CHARM all weekend long!!!  I love this girth.  I WILL need to get the fleece cover for it as well, because Tilly is prone to galls, but we had used a wool one for the scavenger hunt, and I liked how far back it sat that day, and this one was the same length and worked WONDERFULLY.

But more about that for Day 2.

Endurance 2018....or "Plans? We don't need no stinking plans!...or do we?"

As I'm sure you can gather, this is a scheduled post.  I'll reveal the info about Sunday at River Run (did I or didn't I ride?  ...