Monday, July 17, 2017

Good Morning Llano Estacado!!!...or "How I need to remember to ride my own ride"

So, while at ride meeting, I was hanging around and a lady who was still new to the sport was looking for someone to go out towards the back of the pack (check!!) with her.  I said that I didn't mind doing that as I usually go out back of the pack anyway.  Then she said she wanted to wait 5 minutes.

My stomach dropped, but I realized, well, that's not so bad. 

So, I said I'd come to her trailer in the morning and we could go out together. 

She was such a sweetheart.  But I start spiraling with anxiety when I know trail is fixing to open and you're not yet in the saddle.  However, she managed to get in the saddle and we headed out at 5 minutes after trail was open. 

Now, first loop was supposed to be a 21 mile loop according to two different GPS devices from Ride Management.  So, I knew we needed to move when we could. 

The start of the ride was gorgeous.  This would be the only time the LD riders did this loop, which was both a shame, and for which I was grateful.

The trail was beautifully marked, and I'll never forget as the horses made the first climb as we looked down into a valley beneath us that was adrift in morning fog, how blessed I felt, and what a miracle it is that I get to do what I do, with a strong horse, and to see such beauty as the world beholds.  However, no pictures because I'd managed to crack my phone's screen on Wednesday night (had it on the dash of the truck, and think I tossed a metal ring and carabiners on it while I was trying to stretch out across the front seat...all I know for sure is it wasn't cracked when I went to bed, but it was cracked in the morning).  So, while I'd PLANNED to carry my phone all weekend for pictures, I opted to leave it in camp so it wouldn't get further damaged.  Trust me though when I say, the view was AMAZING and one everyone commented on all weekend. 

So, we keep on going, and we were told that at least at one point we'd go by a bathroom.  So, maybe 5 or 6 miles in, we pulled over so my riding companion could stop and go.  After my fiasco at Last Hoorah, I'm not going to begrudge the use of a REAL bathroom. 

Now, we had to go down into some washes, which was both interesting...and kind of creepy.  You're down in an area where the grasses are higher than your head.  At this point in the ride, Strider was happy to lead (guess who was on the hunt?).  However, ride management had had to saw a tree in half, but, due to the sheer size, were unable to get it off the trail.  Now, I -thought- Strider would move over enough and step OVER the damn log laying IN the middle of the trail.  But I guess because it was laying at an angle...well...he didn't.  Damn near took my leg off.  Instead, I ended up with a REALLY bad shin bruise that I SWORE tore most of the skin off my leg (only took a good sized patch off).  I wasn't the only one who almost lost a leg to the tree. It was painful!!!

Anyway, so we're leapfrogging at the back of the pack, and I can tell by my Garmin, we're not going fast enough to get this done.

At this point, we stop again as my companion needs to go potty.  My anxiety is almost through the roof at this point, but, and here is where my inner voice starts warring.

I want my companion to have a good and successful ride.  I want to earn my own completion.  I'm not willing to ditch her out there, so I keep telling that voice of anxiety to shut up, somehow, we're going to get through it.

Up and down hills.  Walk and trot.  Keep moving.  Move and pick up time when and where we can.  We'd leapfrogged again at some point and were ahead of the last 2 riders, but we'd needed to pull over after clearing some of the dramatic ups and downs.  I opted to stop again.  I was making sure I was diligent about my water intake this ride and using my NUUN tablets in my water.

I mention, after this last potty stop, we really need to pick up the pace some.  So, if the trail is open, let's trot.  At this point, we're about 14 miles in according to my Garmin, and the day is wearing on. 

And then, a miracle.  A sign that says we're 2 miles out from camp.  "That can't be right" my brain screams.  "But, if it is...then we're back in the game" the other part of my brain screams.

We manage to get that wrapped up and boogie in to camp.  Takes me a few minutes to get Strider to come down.  I attempt it with the tack on (apparently, I haven't learned from Last Hoorah, he comes down faster if I strip his tack off...especially in the heat....I can leave tack on for cooler temperature rides).  Scoop and scoop and scoop water on him.  Then I strip off his tack.  And, we're down.

First Loop; Llano Estacado on Day 1 (Garmin stats) (started it about half a mile into the ride, so it's definitely off)

I will say, I love that at this ride, all of the big troughs were FULL with big, pre-made scoops for our horses!!  I loved that!!

I pulse down about 3 minutes before my companion. 

Now, to come in to camp, we had had to go through this nasty, sucking muddy area.  And, that's how you had to exit camp as well.  With Strider, I wasn't worried because he was shod, but even on day 1, my mind started to grind out about how on earth I could manage that with Dakini in her boots for day 2.  Urgh.

So, I get through the hold, and realize I have GOT to leave on time.

The ladies we had been leap frogging with had left a few minutes before me, so I knew they were out on trail.  I told my companion that I was going to go ahead and get out of camp.  One, because I KNEW I needed to use it as a training moment with my horse (true...he hates going out alone, so when I can have the chance to leave solo, I NEED to do it), and two, I felt she could easily catch us once she hit trail.

So, out of camp I go.  We cross through the nasty mud and as we start walking out of camp, Strider is balking and stopping.  I'm putting on my leg.  I'm thumping him with my legs.  Nothing.

Not out of anger, but as a "Yeah, we're GOING", I swatted him hard on the ass.  And he gaited off.  And didn't stop gaiting.  Never again did he ask to stop or question me.

I'm going to pause here and say I felt guilty for a few minutes about popping him.  Except I believe now that all those times he's been a shit leaving camp solo, it's not because he's tired.  He's being a brat.  And, I spoke with my mentor about it when I got done with my ride.  She said it didn't sound like I'd hurt him, and that he probably needed that. 

I know people will judge you if they think you're "abusing" your horse.  And I spent a while in agony someone saw me and would report me for abuse.  I worry, often, about how people will perceive me.  However, one firm "Yes, I really DO mean it." isn't going to break our relationship.  And I am hoping that we can begin to put his balking behind us.

So, we're gaiting along merrily at a nice clip, and I'm having a good time.  I manage to catch up to the two riders who had left camp before me, and I asked if they wouldn't mind if I tagged along.  They said they didn't mind at all!!

We had a great time as we chewed through the last 7.5 miles of trail.  Lots of laughing and just general merriment. 

Pausing again; look, I'm socially awkward.  But for some reason, at endurance rides, I meet people and strike up friendships.  It probably helps that we have a few things in common (most obviously horses and endurance), but somehow, my circle of friends grows and grows.  And I'm so blessed by that.

We get through the last section of trail, and back in to camp.

As we're at P&R, my companion drives by with her truck and trailer.  She'd lost her boot at the muddy section so decided to call it a day.  I was bummed for her, but so glad she was still smiling as she left.  I do hope to see her again at another ride!!

My final vet card for day 1 with Strider?
All A's except an A- for skin tenting.
Ride time total was 6:37

Second Loop; Llano Estacado on Day 1 (Garmin stats)

Day 1 Done!  Looking good!


I keep checking in with my mentor about my teammate out on trail (they were doing the 55).  She said that they were still doing great, looked and acting great. 

I enjoy the rest of the day back at my trailer.  Until late afternoon....the clouds begin to form.  Rumbles of thunder. 

And, yes, we get a torrential downpour.  I manage to get my alfalfa stashed in the trailer, my square bales beneath tarps and anything that needed to be protected put away.  So, I take a few moments to just stand in the rain and let the water rinse away the sweat and grime from the trail.  Think about the people out on trail for a few moments before I duck in to my trailer to get out of the rain, dry off, change in to clean clothes and read.

The rain lasted in camp for quite a while.  It was glorious to listen to it on my trailer as my little fan just blew on me.  It wasn't hot in my trailer (shade, it makes a difference!!!), and I was quite happy to enjoy a few hours respite to relax and read (the Anne of Green Gables series).


Of course, after the rain blew through, I stepped outside to check on the decimation that the ponies caused.  What was a perfectly nice area for their pen was now a mushy, gookie mess.

Well, that WAS their pen. 

Thankfully, my neighbor told me to move my pen closer to her trailer and on to firm footing.  So, I got my pen set up all over again.  From the lights zip tied to my step in poles (all corners and 1 on almost every other step in around the perimeter) and my flashing fairy lights around their pen.  AND, the ponies all had glow sticks tied to their halters before I went to bed every single night AND they each have their name tags on their halters with my address and phone number.  I'm not messing around with that any more.
 
Nice, fresh grass.  Space to move and lay down if they wanted.

Professionals at conserving their energy!!
During a break in riders, I went and vetted in Dakini for my day 2 ride, and then just kept burning time while waiting for dinner.

You're on deck Dakini!!  Tomorrow, it's you and me kid!!


After a nice ride meeting, headed back to camp, switched out breast collars, made sure everything was packed and ready for my day 2 ride, then went and TRIED to go to sleep.  I never sleep well, so I think I stayed up until about 1 am reading (what can I say, the Anne series is SO GOOD).  And even then I was still wide awake, so I forced myself to turn off my book (what an odd, funny and yet true phrase) and go to sleep.

Day 2 was coming!!!

Monday, July 03, 2017

An interruption...or "Interlude"

I'm currently still working on a write up for Day 1 of the Llano Estacado ride (I know, I'm slow...).

There's a reason that I'm not exactly cranking them out though.

One, I feel like I've constantly been playing "catch up" at work since the first weekend of June.  I can't believe it's already been a full month since the Llano ride!!  CRAZY!! 

Strider has been in training for almost a month.  We've had some issues which I'll discuss in greater detail, but I'll briefly summarize here in case you happen to care.

I've fired the shoer I was using.  Strider, as I think I mentioned, ripped off 3 out of 4 of his shoes and pads, never to be seen again on the trails at Lake Merideth.  However, when I dropped him off with the trainer (who happens to also be a trimmer AND is the son of my trimmer), he noticed that Strider was lame, lame, lame.  Abscesses EVERYWHERE.  He blew 3 or 4 different abscesses.  Holly (my trimmer) also noticed that the shoer wacked off Strider's heels AND left him with long toes.  This leads to tendon issues with Strider.  And I had SPECIFICALLY told him to back Strider's toes WAY up.  So, the first two weeks of training for Strider was all ground work and patience exercise.  Which was good for him.  But I was pissed.  My trimmer was pissed.  I'm NOT giving up completely on shoes if he needs them, but Holly is now committed to helping me find a shoer who can work WITH my horse and who's honest.  AND she's had me join a Facebook page on trimming using the Apex method, so I'll be working on that as well as trimming and keeping all 3 of my horses trimmed up.  Holly said she'll help me remotely if needs be.

Now, remember how I said I've been spending the entire month playing catch up at work?  Some of that is because I've had to take a few additional days off here and there for things. 

And because, completely inadvertently, and through a sheer fluke of fate, Joe and I just bought a house (mobile home) on 10 acres.  Soooo, house hunting has consumed any and all of my free time over this past month.

It all began because I was a little bored at work one day so started doing what I usually do; I pulled up land and homes for sale and started perusing the pages.  Flip.  Flip.  Flip through the pages and dream as I looked at the homes and dreamed about what could be. 

I had flipped on to page 7 when my brain said "Hey, hold up there.  Did the ad at the bottom of that previous page REALLY say what I thought it said?"

So, I went back to page 6 and looked at the bottom.

I didn't imagine things.

It was 10 acres with a mobile home for $113,000 in Temple.  Okay, what's wrong with it?

Open the listing and start reading.  It's a HUD auction home.  The pictures of the inside of the house really aren't bad.  The pictures of the property also aren't really bad either.  Has a creek at the back of the property.  Is REALLY far from work, although we could look at working in Waco at some point.  Is close to my parents. 

I send the listing to Joe and we discuss it some.  The auction closes in less than a week.  And we have NO IDEA what we need to do.  So, I start making phone calls.  Find a lender who lends for HUD homes and mobile homes.  We secure financing in time. 

Joe and I look at each other in a state of shock.  Shrug and think "Yeah, bet we can't see this house before the auction closes."

Joe reaches out to the listing agent and lines it up for us to see it on June 10th at 9 am.  We go up and we both can see the potential in the house.  Someone really loved it.  We're iffy because we're not sure if the A/C works, but overall, the house doesn't need a LOT of work, though it does need some work. 

We place a bid that day.  We start to draw castles in the air.  We hire the listing agent to list our current home for sale.

He then calls us and tells us about another home we might be interested in, would we like to go see it?

SURE!!

So on Tuesday June 13th we look at another home which is a straight sale.  Joe loves it.  I only love the land it's on.  I hated everything about the house.  It was advertised as a 4/2.  No, it was a 3/2. They'd knocked down a partial wall between two bedrooms which we would need to put back up.  Just a lot of things I didn't like.  But Joe BADLY wanted it...so, we rescinded our bid on the house in Temple (which, we find out later we could have won) and placed a bid on this other house.

The sellers drag their feet, while the selling agent tells our agent that he's confident that his clients will accept our bid.  This drags on for an entire week.  Finally on Saturday the 17th, the word comes back that the sellers have a full price offer on their home from a neighbor.  We think this is a load of bullshit, and I tell Joe the sellers can go eff themselves if they think we're going to bid higher on their home with all the work it needs.

So we walk away.  No home. 

But, our seller tells us that at the beginning of July another home near was going to be listed.  He couldn't tell us anything about it except the town it was in.  I filed the information away.

However, our home was on the market on June 14th.  It was only to be listed as for sale.  The house wasn't prepped at ALL for viewings.  I took the day off (Josh had knee surgery, so I was going to stay home and work on cleaning it up so on Friday our agent could get photos and get it listed with pictures) and got a phone call at 9:30am from our agent.  People wanted to come view it immediately.  At 11 am, in fact.  Could they come see it?  Inside, I'm dying.  Our house is in that horrible shape of a mess you make while you're cleaning and tossing things out.  Austin's room is in horrible shape.  But, fine, I say.  I'll get the 2 dogs and 2 cats out of the house.  The lizards have to stay. 

So, that's how Wednesday the 14th was spent.  The house in Buda had back to back to back showings.  It was insane.  The WHOLE DAY was spent out of the house until after 7pm, and we still had people wanting to come after that!!  We had bids on the house sight unseen.  Full asking price bids.  And the price kept climbing on our house.  Joe was shocked.  I was only mildly surprised.  I knew the market in Buda was a hot one, and I knew our house would go, but I didn't think it would turn into a bidding war. 

I believe at the end of day 1 we had 11 offers on our home.  And by the end of day 2 we had the offer we ultimately accepted because of all the perks that it came with (over asking, a cash offer, and since they're investors they weren't in a rush to close, so we had until August to find something for us OR if we needed, we could move that closing date up, they're very flexible...PLUS we walk away with the most cash in our pockets and once the home inspection was done, they asked for, get this, only $500 off the sale price.  DONE!!!!). 

So, the house in Buda was sold in less than a week from the day we looked at the Temple home.

And now the rush was on for us to find a place to go.

Joe and I sat our parameters for what we wanted. 

Well, I'll be honest, I set the parameters.  Joe was okay with less than what I wanted, except, I'm the one with the horses.  ;) 

Parameters?

Less than 75 miles from downtown Austin (where we both work).
More than 7 acres.
A MINIMUM 3/2 home.
Larger than 1600 sq ft.

And we ended up adding to our parameters list as we started viewing homes.
It couldn't be on a long dirt road (less than a mile so Joe could ride his motorcycle to work).
DEFINITELY no shared wells!
My personal parameter was NO WELLS!!  City or municipal water.  Joe was okay with a well.
SOME fencing.  Either fully fenced around the perimeter, or a large enough area for me to move the horses on to immediately.

June 16th I started a part time job of house hunting online.  Honestly, I spent at least 4 hours a day looking at land and properties.  I dug through every website I could lay my hands on.  Forward them to Joe to look at the ones that interested me.  He'd then pick out the ones he liked and forward them on to our agent.  Some of the listings on some websites are old and the property is already sold. 

But, we found a few homes we liked, and on June 17th we took a drive to just look at some homes from the road to see if we wanted to go look inside.  One we ruled out immediately due to how far down the dirt roads it was in Harwood.  We drove and looked at one in Seguin that was a stick and beam home, so we had our agent contact the listing agent for a viewing on Monday the 19th. 

When our agent heard back from the listing agent who told him that the house was either a demolition house or an entire gut the inside of the house, we opted to not even look at it.  So our agent set it up for us to look at 2 homes in Lockhart that I'd sent him that interested us some.

The first was on 8.5 acres, a 4/2 mobile home on a shared well.  Again, down LONG dirt roads.  The property wasn't set up in a way that we liked.  The home was cute, but not really what we wanted.  And, when I pressed the listing agent about the shared well and how it worked if things went wrong with it...the answers we got didn't inspire confidence in us.  Hard pass.

So, we went to look at a second one. 10 acres and a 2100 sq ft mobile home.  We actually REALLY liked the house.  If we could pick it up and put it on a different piece of property.  Again, down a shorter dirt road (not awful, but not great).  The driveway down the house was very long and VERY sloped and also gravel/dirt.  The property was overgrown with mesquite and sunflowers so we couldn't immediately move the horses on to it.  And, again, listing said shared well.  It was also at the top end of our budget.  We dropped it on the "maybe" list. 

After looking at that, our agent again broached the idea of us doing a land/home package.  I narrowed down what price ranges I could look in and then started hunting for raw land and looking at floor plans on various homes.  While continuing to look at other properties. 

And then our agent sent us a listing on a house I'd seen, and had BADLY wanted; almost 13 acres in Bertram with a 1600 sq ft home that was a 3/2 that had a small hay barn.  Already had an agricultural exemption in place on wide open pasture fertile for grazing.  And, while at the top end of our price range, it was almost turn key.  I BEGGED Joe to go look at it.  So, we set up a viewing on June 21st.  We fell in love immediately.  It was exactly what we wanted.  And the house had been on and off the market for over a year, so we dropped in our offer and then waited.  Already dreaming what we wanted to do.

Sellers countered.

We countered back.

And another counter.

It was just a little more than we were comfortable with.  But, we left our final offer out there with a reminder that their home's been on the market for a year, and the longer it sits, the worse it looks.

And we continued with our search as we kept hoping that the seller would come down to our price.

I stumbled on a home that was listed as a "For Sale By Owner" (FSBO).  I sent it to Joe, but the description didn't exactly instill confidence in me.

"You are in for a treat. This is the most desirable lot that has been put on the market!
10 Acres! $XXX,XXX!!! Priced to Sale
These acres include a private drive way with 2 entry gates. 1st gate leads you into the property where you are greeted all the way down on both sides by a path of beautiful trees. 2nd gate enters into the upfront pastor that is approx. 2 acres. It is fenced in with a brand new 5 strand barbed wire fence. Most of the land is still wooded which gives excellent privacy for those who want to sit back and enjoy the time with nature. Though it still has just enough that has been cleared for maybe a few horses up front and partially cleared in the back for your smaller animals that you can fence off. It also has a custom built duck/chicken coop located in the back that isn't even a year old and has a ten roof.
The home was built in 2003 and is a MANUFACTURED Palm Harbor Double Wide, it is 2,041 sqft. It is a 3 bedroom 2 bath. The current owners have been remodeling and have fallen into health issues and had to stop the remodeling on the home. The home is partially sheet rocked - living room, master bedroom, and dinning room all are sheet rocked.
HOME HAS SOME REMODELING WILL UPDATE PICTURES ONCE COMPELETED
When you come into the house you are immediately greeted by lovely large windows that look out into the back acreage. It has a built in dinning room class cabinet that separates the living room and dinning room. The dinning room has a drop down chandelier that lights up the entire room, with windows that look out into the property. The kitchen is large enough to dine the entire family and friends, with much room to set some chairs in. While washing dishes you can look out onto your front pasture and watch your horses graze or better yet watch deer come roaming through your property!
When it comes to the heart of the house everything has been replaced. This house just had put in not even two months ago a brand new a/c unit inside and out. All air ducts have been replaced with the best that money can buy and comes with a manufacture warranty. All paper work will be included. A/C unit is the most top of the line that is out on the market now. So even when it is super hot out side, you'll be the blessed with the cold air inside. Brand new water heater as well.
The master bedroom has two separate doors leading into the room, in which when you enter your are surrounded by windows that look out onto the property. The master bathroom has double doors leading you into the bathroom with a his and her sink, large garden tub and double closet door openings, enough space even for the clothe fanatic!
The house is in need of some TLC we will say that, but not something that isn't too hard. Slap on some paint that you'll love to have in all the rooms, put some fresh carpet down or even put down some wood. What ever you like! This house is a great canvas to work on and you can make it yours. Other than that this house is completely livable, as we said just needs paint, and carpet. If you are interested in a view or want more info please contact us directly! You must schedule a viewing.
Best part is you won't have to deal with a realtor you can deal with owner directly.
WHAT HAS BEEN DONE!
Interior Compeltely Repainted
Cabinets Repainted
New Master Bedroom Door
New Exterior Doors
New Flooring and Carpet through entire home
New 30x30 Covered carport made from Steel and has a Tin Roof
Pictures will come soon once competed.
NO OWNER FINANCING.
If you'd like to view the home before the Open House Please contact. You may see the home under construction. You must call in order to get a viewing though."

On Zillow, you can write what EVER you want to write.  People can inflate and make things better than they really are.  As I learned from the first house we'd put an offer in on. 

Now, the listing said it had open house viewings on Friday June 23rd and it was to be put on the MLS on Monday Jun 26th.

Joe and I quibbled for about 2 days over this home.  An FSBO home has some pitfalls for a buyer.  Joe and I went round and round.  I had ZERO interest in looking at it because it sounded like there weren't even walls up.  The photos were rough and not good enough to really determine what was going on.  I told Joe I wasn't going to look at it until he agreed to hiring a real estate lawyer.  When he finally agreed, then I said we could go look at it on Friday during the open house.

My parents joined us.  My mom actually called earlier in the day to make sure the open house was still going on so we didn't all drive out for no reason.  The seller said it was, and that her husband was out there continuing to do work on the home.  When my parents pulled up, apparently there was a little miscommunication between this husband and wife team.  The husband was still working on the house and thought the open house was on Monday, NOT on Friday.  But, he graciously allowed us to look at his house.  We learned why they're selling. 

And my entire family was SHOCKED by this house.  Because it was BETTER than advertised.  The seller had sheet rocked and was doing a LOT of work on the house. 

It's a 3/2 with an office built on to the master.  A MASSIVE master bath.  Huge living room.  Good sized kitchen with LOTS of storage.

New carpets.

The house inside is pretty much turnkey.  The bathrooms need work (wallpaper!  Ugh).  But, everyone fell in love with the house.  EVERYONE.

However...the FSBO meant our agent couldn't touch anything.  Except, my dad, while talking with the seller before we arrived discovered that the seller actually DID have an agent!  My ears pricked up.  That's a perk for me.

The house is on municipal water.
Down a dead end paved road.
The driveway is gravel, but has a LARGE carport.  ALL of our vehicles will fit BENEATH it (including my horse trailer!).  It has 6 poles set for the start of a barn.
Is on a septic system.
ALL appliances except the washer/drier convey.
And, the seller said that there are kids Kaylee's age on the street. 

Joe spent about 30 minutes talking one on one with the seller, who's a nice guy, but he's got serious health issues.  They're selling so he can be closer to his doctor.  And, as he was talking to Joe and I about the house, he got choked up and tears in his eyes.  He loves this home.  Said that his agent was going to be listing it on Monday, and that his agent had told him there was already a lot of interest in this home.

Joe and dad walked back to the back of the property marker (a yegua tree!) while I stayed up and talked with mom.  We thanked the seller again for showing it to us, then mom and dad headed for home.

So, Joe and I went to dinner Friday night at Guadalajara in Bastrop to talk it over.  I think we were both in agreement we were going to make an offer before we pulled out of the driveway.

As we were driving, Joe and I saw a sign for the town that our agent had mentioned that the house would be for sale at the beginning of July.  I laughed, and told Joe "I do believe we just SAW that house."

As it turns out, the house I kept mentioning and asking our agent about...it was indeed this house.

Our agent drew up the contract, but had to wait until Monday when it officially hit the MLS. 

But, there were additional things causing hiccups and anxiety.

The selling agent?  The same one who took a week on the first house we placed an offer on.  That our own agent said was squirrely.  Apparently the realty company is a family business.  And it was the son of the owner.  So, Joe and I's hearts sank.  We felt that our offer wouldn't be framed in a good light.  That the selling agent would somehow tank our offer. But, our agent fired off the contract Monday night to the seller's agent.  And then Joe and I held our breath.  We knew we wouldn't hear anything Tuesday.  But then Wednesday dragged on and on.  Late in the day I texted our agent and asked if it was normal for it to take this long.  He said not usually, but these agents seem to be slower than turtles.  I kept looking at properties all day.

Wednesday night...still nothing.  During the day on Wednesday, I'd seen a listing for a home in Milano on 20 acres with a stick and beam home that, while the inside needed a LOT of work, would work.  We contacted our agent to go look at it on Friday evening after work.  It was about 70 miles from work, so Joe and I started planning on what we needed to do and get done. 

And, as I crawled into the bath tub Wednesday night around 10 pm with my phone (to keep looking at properties), Joe and I talked as he got ready for bed.  He went to bed and I stayed in the tub, looking at land and making notes.

Then I hear Joe's phone ring at about 10:45.

It's our agent.

We have a house.

The sellers accepted our terms without a counter.

We bid $10k less than asking and said we'd pay half at closing.

It will close the day after our home in Buda closes in August.

In a mere 2.5 weeks we went from window shopping homes to selling and buying a home.

Funny how that works.

The horses should all be home by September 1st.

I cannot wait.

Kismet.

Monday, June 19, 2017

And then we were there....or "How I Simply Missed the Turn"

At 6am, I couldn't sleep any longer.  I was sore and stiff, and past ready to find camp and get settled in so the horses would have a long day of resting and eating ahead of them.

So, I rolled out of the truck, grabbed the horses and took them off for another graze while I looked around.

The view, well, not of my "campsite" was pretty.  Mesas and "mountains" and beautiful greenery as far as I could see.

I mean, just about anything looks prettier than "camp", doesn't it?

This right here, THIS is ugly.  At one point I guess this was the boat ramp parking lot?
For me, it was camp, Night One.
 
But tell me that isn't pretty?  In that "rough and rugged" beauty sort of way.

This was taken facing down towards the permanently closed boat ramp. 
More beautiful views.

The kids having made quite a mess overnight at our temporary lodgings.

What?  Wasn't us.  We're PERFECT!


Endurance ponies doing endurance pony things.  Like relaxing.  And pooping.

I have NO idea what was over there, but apparently Dakini found it fascinating.



Yep.  Messy ponies.  And no, no I didn't clean it up.

My neighbor overnight.  I think it was some kind of "honey" truck (for cleaning out bathrooms).
Anyway, after our handgraze, I put both ponies back in the trailer after breaking camp.  Which took all of 15 minutes so I was on the road by 6:30.

Apparently in the dark, I missed the low, brown with yellow paint signs pointing me to the equestrian area.  But, with the sun up, I was able to find it, pull in to camp and decide where I wanted to put myself.  I had almost my choice of campsites.  I opted to go beneath some trees for shade for the trailer.  And, while it was sandy next to me, the ground where I parked looked firm and solid.  So, I was in camp, offically, by 6:20ish or so.  My neighbor was like "Wow, you must have gotten up early to get here this early!"  My response?  "Something like that." 

Offloaded the kids and started to set up my pen.  I had forgotten at some point that with the hullabaloo at Shanghai, that Llano had said 1 horse per pen.  So, my neighbor came over to let me know.  No big deal, I had a jumper, so I could make it work if I cut my electric tape.  But, she said she was going to go check with ride management.

So, as I'm partially through getting posts in, she comes back, says it's okay to have 2 in one pen as AERC's new ruling seemed to come down on that side.  I was okay either way, but glad that's what happened.  So, get the kids arranged, and camp set up, and then....I sat around for the rest of the day. 

Let me say, if I ever have the time to arrive a day early to camp in the future, I'm going to take FULL advantage of that!!  It was so nice to just relax in the shade, watch my horses, read, nap, get my gear slowly set up and ready for the next day.  Take them out for hand walks and just, in general, enjoy my time off.

The ride meeting was quick and easy.  Vetting Strider in was simple as well.  I gave my Renegades to a friend who needed them for her horse.  Told her to just keep them.  It's good karma, and I asked her, if she ever had the chance, to pay the karma forward to someone else. 

Had some time to talk with my mentor, share the Doc. G electrolyte protocol and share some of my supplies so that she could try it out on their two horses.  (Fast refresher; Enduramax powdered e-lytes, kaolin-pectin [or ProCMC] and a splash of CMPK).  Spoiler Alert; My mentor said that she feels it really made a good difference in her two horses.  She uses Perform and Win, but was happy with how it worked. 

I ran into town after the ride meeting and spent some time at Braum's eating dinner, being lazy and checking up on my phone.  Ran into WalMart for more ice and some beer for my mentor's husband and headed back to camp later than intended. 

Crawled into bed around 10, but couldn't sleep.  I'm always attuned to issues or just the general "noise" of camp.  I read until I finally said I HAD to get some sleep. 

Rolled over, and attempted to get some.

Tomorrow, our first LD!!

Monday, June 12, 2017

What a rollercoaster of a day....or "Amarillo by morning...not really, 10:30pm"

The plan? 

Leave the house by 6am, run to the barn, get the horses and head up to ride camp.

The reality?

Leave the house by 6ish am, run to the grocery store, run to Discount Tire, get the horses and head up to ride camp.

So, the mechanic went over the truck with a fine toothed comb on Tuesday.  I was in a tizzy at about 1pm as they still hadn't diagnosed the problem.  At about 1:30 Joe calls and tells me what the issue is.

Apparently Discount Tire put a wrong size tire on my truck.  Just one.  They're all supposed to be 65Rs.  I had 3 65Rs and 1 70R on my truck.

This is the WRONG BLOODY SIZE!!!

This is the RIGHT size!!!
So, I called them on Tuesday afternoon and told them what they'd done.  They were apologetic and said to bring it by Wednesday morning and they'd get me fixed up.  I then spent the rest of the afternoon considering leaving work early so I could get this issue fixed and get on the road early.

But, I had things to do after work (like replace the debit card I'd LOST on Saturday!), and this wasn't one of them.

So, 7:45am, after a quick and final trip to the grocery store, I was at Discount Tire, angrily seething as I stared at my watch.  "I should already be out of the Austin area by this point.  I should already be near 2 hours on the road by this point."  And on and on the litany went in my head.

So at 8 the moment they opened their doors, I was through the door and told them "Look, I brought my truck in on Saturday, you put a wrong sized tire on and I needed to be on the road to Amarillo TWO HOURS ago and you've set me back and HORRIBLY inconvenienced me, nevermind how dangerous my truck was to DRIVE."

Apologies and "Oh how awful!" and...apparently my time, inconvenience and potentially my life was worth...$32.  *sigh*  As Joe is fond of saying "Well, it's better than a stick in the eye."  Which, I guess, is true enough.

So, at 8:17 I was out of there and on the road to the barn.  I was wondering what to do about hay as I still needed to swing by H's house to grab a fence charger (as mine stopped working at Last Hoorah for some unknown reason!).  I had forgotten that there's a place on the way to the barn that sells fairly nice square bales.  So I stopped and grabbed 2 (I almost always keep a full bale in the trailer, so figured I could get by with 3 bales and a half bale of alfalfa...in hind sight, for as long as I was gone, 4 squares would have been better.  Thank goodness for the fresh grass at ride camp!).

Now, as I drove along, I could tell there was, maybe, something still wrong with the truck.  Back end feels "wiggly".  Like it corners on glass like an ice skater.  Let me assure you, as I was to find out, for 10 and a half hours, it is nerve wracking, gut knotting and swear inducing.  Especially with a loaded trailer behind you.

My view in Goldthwaite on 183 at 1:27pm.  The turtle is one of my turtle awards...
in fact, from my very FIRST 50, which I turtled.
The drive was a drive.  I stopped a few times to offer water.  Fresh hay.  Stopped for a good 30 minutes and gave them smushes to eat while I ate at a Taco Bell (don't ask.  Geeeez.  NOT my choice, but I could get in and out and it backed up to a large parking lot....so Taco Bell it was).

Then at about 8:30 I was in Claude, Tx.  With my truck telling me to check my air filter.  Cue my hysterical texting to the Bishes (3 out of 4 of us have Super Duty Fords) and asking what to do.  Because, I cannot get to the air filter because of this..."thingy" (seems to be a gauge, but I'll go with the more technical term of "thingy") which blocked my ability to open the top for the air filter so I could pull it out and get a good look at it.






See how it blocks my ability to open the lid?  ANNOYING!!!  However, as the "thingy" has a blue button on it that says "Push to Reset", guess what I finally did?  Damn right, I pressed it...which took away the error code, and I said "Well, from what I can SEE of my air filter, it's not black, doesn't look clogged, let's keep going!"

So, I kept going.  I had about an hour and a half left to go, and, overly optimistic, I thought MAYBE I could pull into camp with just a sliver of light left to me.

Nope.  HAHAHAHAHAA!!!  What a laugh.

The directions I had weren't great, and like an idiot, I didn't print off the ride flier.  I had GPS coordinates someone had provided to me, so I had those plugged in to Waze.  Which, as I pulled into the Lake Merideth area, had me on "Plum Creek" road, which I followed.  Now, I eventually knew I was in the right place as I saw ribbons in trees.  But, by this time, it was dark and about 10pm.  I was tired and my nerves were shot from dealing with my "NQR" (that's "Not Quite Right") truck and I wanted to get out, and I wanted to get the horses out.

I couldn't find camp.  There wasn't a sign to point me in.  So, as I'm slowly driving, I see a large parking lot to my left and think "If I can't find camp, I'm going to just park there for tonight, offload the horses, let them graze, tie them off to the trailer and sleep in the truck."

About 500 yards later, guess what?  Yep, boat ramps and the end of the road.  So, fine, turned it around and did exactly that.

I offloaded the horses, and we hand grazed for an hour while I waited for both of them to pee and poop (which they did, much to my relief!).  I then grabbed their coil ties, tossed hay into a hay bag, filled up a big bucket of water and told them goodnight as I crawled into the cab of the truck to get some crappy sleep.

Now, I had cell reception, so I was briefly chatting with the Bishes to let them know I was AT the lake, but not in camp.  Coyotes were loud and a little disconcerting.  And getting comfortable took a while.  I mostly dozed.  Woke up cold at one point (who knew it got so COLD?!) and kept an eye on the clock waiting for the sun to come up so I could figure out where I was and how on earth to get to camp.



Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Well then...or "What a mixed bag that was..."

This is also going to be a short and sweet post, which I hope to flesh out in the coming days.  I'm a little swamped at work (gee, who would have thought that?!  4 days out of the office and I came back to a lot of things to do!).

I will simply say this; someone needs Needs NEEDS to save the Llano Estacado Pioneer ride.  I have been to some beautiful rides.  I have been to some well run rides.  I have been to rides that were well marked.  And those with water on the trail. 

This ride though.  This ride had ALL of that!!  There wasn't a single blessed thing I would have changed.  Well, except for the duration of the drive from home to there, which with a loaded trailer...and a truck that STILL wasn't quite right, took a good and solid 10.5 hours one way. 

When all is said and done, from home, to the barn, to Lake Merideth, to Dumas and back twice and then home again with a detour to Holly's to drop off Strider, I rolled over 1700 miles on Hannibal.  Yes, really.

So, here's a preview of our rides.

Day 1 with Strider.

That's right.  ALL A's baby!!  Well, except those TWO A-'s. 

Day 2 with Dakini.

It wasn't pretty, and it wasn't elegant, but baby girl got it DONE!!  On the HARDEST day!!

Day 3 with Strider.

What ISN'T on this vet card?  Our placing.  5th place!!  Out of 20-something horses.  TOP TEN FOR STRIDER!!!  You'll note that, until he stood for BC, all A's again, except those two A-'s.
This ride was a challenge to get to, literally, with a truck that wasn't quite right.  Me being unable to find camp on Wednesday night so just pulling into the boat ramp parking lot, unloading the horses and camping out there for a night.  Going out with a new rider and riding her ride and not ours, but still getting it done.  Massaging Dakini through what I honestly feel was the HARDEST day out on the trails.  And then on day 3 letting Strider leave with the hot feet, just KNOWING we would drop back at some point.  And never having that happen.  To coming in to the hold with not 1 missing shoe, and not 2 missing shoes, but 3 missing shoes.  And him still moving strong and proud for the last 7.5 miles.

Yes, that's right.  Trail opened at 6:15 and I was DONE with the entire 30 miles (according to my Garmin, it wasn't 30 miles though) at 10:49.

90 LD miles for me this weekend.  90 miles for my team.  90 miles for my amazing Paso Finos. 

And a gorgeous endurance ride to be lost.

Thank you Llano Estacado volunteers, RM and everyone else who made this ride happen.  It shall NOT be forgotten.

I will do a more extensive write up later to include all of the issues and problems.  And the aftermath and fall out for Strider, which I confess has left a very sour taste in my mouth.  Albeit, it has made me both prouder of him than I should be.  And worried that he's going to hurt himself and I won't be able to stop him from doing it.

But for now.  For this moment....this second...I shall stand up tall and proud and say "Paso Finos can do ANYTHING an Arabian can do.  And do it JUST as well.  And JUST as fast."

Tip of the hat to the Green Bean team "Wind Riders".  They let me tag along on days 1 and 2, and then on day 3 helped me prep AND stood Strider for me for BC (I was too nervous and anxious).

And also to "Abbi and Abbi's dad" (sorry if I misspelled your name!) for allowing me to tag along on the last loop on Sunday.  Abbi and her father did a true pioneer ride.  All 3 days at the same distance on the same horses.  And they looked amazing at the end of the ride.

What an experience.  What a ride.  What amazing horses.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Hurry up and SLOW DOWN already!!!....or "If I don't have a nervous breakdown, it'll be a miracle"

This is going to be a record setting short post, though I have things to say.  Go figure, right?

Tomorrow I make the drive to my first, and it's final, Llano Estacado endurance ride.  This is north of Amarillo.  I'm looking forward to going.  Except for the drive.  THAT intimidates me.

However, there's some....issues.

I noticed on Thursday when I went to pick up Kaylee that the truck's front passenger side tire was a little bald on the outside.  So, I knew it needed a rotation.

Scheduled that for Saturday afternoon (we had obligations Saturday morning).

Well, so actually, it needed a new tire.  I always buy in pairs, so two new tires, the nice rear tires rotated to the front and my best front tire as my new spare (the guy at Discount Tire was pretty sure it was the original spare with the truck based on the age).

GREAT!!  In and out in an hour.  READY TO GO!!

I run into the WalMart right next door to start getting supplies and head for home around 6ish.

The instant I get on IH35, it feels like the entire rear end of the truck is fishtailing all over the place.  It's just all over the lane, and I'm white knuckle driving to get it to the gas station (needed fuel).  I KNOW I'm not hallucinating, so tell Joe I need him to test drive it because there is something VERY VERY VERY wrong!!!

He can't drive it Saturday night (well, it's a long weekend, so he's already kicked back a few drinks).  So, he takes it out Sunday morning and says "Yeah, suspension is shot."

Which, we had been told when we did the oil change/transmission flush earlier in the month, but...we thought we could wait a month or two before doing it.

Nope.  It needs to be done NOW.  Joe's words "The truck isn't even safe to drive."

So, we drive it down the street to the mechanic who did the oil change/transmission flush.  I check online, doesn't say they're closed on Monday, so I make an online appointment for it first thing Monday.

Kind of shoots my plans to get hay on Monday...but...whatever, I'll get the truck back and I can at least PACK it Monday night and have it ready.

I drive to the mechanic Monday morning to drop off the keys....and...they're closed. 

Cue my screaming and swearing and wailing.

Suffice to say, I left a key hidden on the truck this morning about an hour and half before they open.  And, fingers crossed, they'll get him fixed up today!!!  If not, well then...guess I'm leaving late tomorrow.

To add insult to injury, I managed to LOSE my bloody debit card on Saturday.  So, I have to fly out of work today and run to the bank to get a new one. 

The horses won't get their smushes and electrolytes today, but they got them Sunday and Monday. 

The way I see it, if all the disasters happen to ME and they happen PRIOR to the ride, maybe things will go my way this time?

Maybe?

See you all post-Llano Estacado!! 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Online Endurance 101 Clinic...or "How Can I Improve on What I Know?"

If you are in AERC (or even if you're not!) and are living under and rock and are unaware, Patti Stedman has an online "Endurance 101" course for about $30.  I've been meaning to take it for a month or two now, and recently it was just time for me to get signed up to take it.

If you go to "Horse Learning Online" it takes you to the page you need to go to to sign up.

Direct from the webpage:
"In short, Endurance Essentials is for aspiring and new (and maybe not so new) distance riders who prefer to take a self-paced online course, or who do not have a live local Endurance 101 clinic happening in their neighborhood, it would provide an opportunity get both INSPIRED and EDUCATED about what it takes to successfully prepare for that first competition.
As anyone knows in our sport, there can be a steep learning curve to success.
Our vision for the course was to keep the content fundamental, to focus on the basics for assisting you in preparing to make it to your first competition — whether it be an AERC ride, or a Competitive Trail Ride, or a Ride and Tie — with the building blocks in place to have a successful ride.
But we also know that sometimes learners like to delve deeper, so along with the training comes a Resources PDF, with links to in-depth information — everything from blogs to books to endurance tack websites to more information about balanced hooves and electrolytes."

There are 5 Modules:
Endurance Essentials Module 1
Duration:  46 minutes
This module contains: You Can Do This, The Different Distance Riding Sports and The Horse
Duration:  57 minutes
This module contains: The Rider and The Stuff
Duration: 52 minutes
This module contains: The Feed, The Conditioning and Camping
Duration:  42 minutes
This module contains: The First Competition, Getting to Ride Camp and Vetting In 
Duration: 53 minutes
This module contains: On Ride Day, After the Ride and Mentors and Resources 
I do not plan on giving any more details than this (maybe a brief mention of each module, but we'll see).  There is a great resource Patti has included with URLs related to each module.

If you haven't already read Patti's blog, I HIGHLY recommend it.  It shouldn't take you very long to go through the entire blog itself (I believe it took me a week and a half).

In fact, here you go, just start here; Endurance Introspection 

That takes you to the very first page of Patti's blog posts.  You can glean a LOT of useful information from there, but I am very optimistic that I will learn even more from her online resource as well.

I am looking forward to getting started, and with the length of each module being about the length of my lunch hour, I plan on going through them during that period of time each day.

Good Morning Llano Estacado!!!...or "How I need to remember to ride my own ride"

So, while at ride meeting, I was hanging around and a lady who was still new to the sport was looking for someone to go out towards the back...