Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Sometimes the smartest plan is to know your limitations...or "Welcome to a Texas summer!"

The plan was to have this update with photos, stats, information on our first week of our workout. 

We were DILIGENT about our workouts.  We stuck to my workout plan.  I was even getting in a good workout lunging them.  I was learning about how Karma moves.  Watching Strider who's already on to me, but tolerating my crap.

I built in rest days around my own life schedule. 

And then Sunday happened (103 degrees at 7:30 pm).

And then Monday happened (107 degrees at 7:30 pm).

*sigh*

So, 4 workouts in, and already my calendar is shot.

Monday-Workout
Tuesday-Workout
Wednesday-Rest day
Thursday-Workout
Friday-Workout
Saturday-Rest day

So, at least THAT went according to plan.

It was THEN supposed to read:

Sunday-Workout
Monday-Workout
Tuesday-Workout
Wednesday-Rest day
Thursday-Workout
Friday-Workout
Saturday-Rest day

Instead it is now reading:
Sunday-Rest day
Monday- Rest day
Tuesday-Workout
Wednesday-Workout
Thursday-Workout
Friday-Rest day
Saturday-Workout
Sunday-Rest day

I'm frustrated at the situation.  But, this is part of living in Texas I guess.  And tonight might be a scratch depending on the temperature at 7:30pm.  I topped off every single water trough last night and put out 3 buckets full of rice bran water to continue to encourage drinking.

Here's our stats from the first week.

Karma                                                                        Strider
Week 1 - Day 1                                                          Week 1 - Day 1
Distance: 3.06 miles                                                  Distance:  2.43 miles
Time:  24:58                                                              Time:  23:05
Average Speed:  7.3 mph                                          Average Speed:  6.3 mph
Max Speed:  13.5 mph                                              Max Speed:  13.5 mph
Temperature:  95 degrees                                          Temperature:  91 degrees

Karma                                                                       Strider
Week 1 - Day 2                                                         Week 1 - Day 2
Distance:  3.74 miles                                                 Distance:  2.53 miles
Time:  28:14                                                              Time:  25:22
Average Speed:  8.0 mph                                          Average Speed:  6.0 mph
Max Speed:  11.4 mph                                              Max Speed:  7.6 mph
Temperature:  91 degrees                                          Temperature:  91 degrees

Karma                                                                       Strider
Week 1 - Day 3                                                         Week 1 - Day 3
Distance:  3.78 miles                                                 Distance:  3.14 miles
Time:  27:35                                                              Time:  31:07
Average Speed:  8.2 mph                                          Average Speed:  6.1 mph 
Max Speed:  15.6 mph                                              Max Speed:  9.1 mph
Temperature:  93 degrees                                          Temperature:  93 degrees

Karma                                                                       Strider
Week 1 - Day 4                                                         Week 1 - Day 4
Distance:  3.07 miles                                                 Distance:  2.78 miles
Time:  27:19                                                              Time:  26:52
Average Speed:  6.7 mph                                           Average Speed:  6.2 mph
Max Speed:  8.7 mph                                                Max Speed:  7.8 mph
Temperature:  97 degrees                                          Temperature:  93 degrees


And, while I don't have any photos of the horses after their week of working out, I'm relatively pleased with these stats.  Day 4, Karma started slowing down.  I never once in the previous 3 days had to ask for her to go.  Day 4, I "kissed" at her twice, and she voluntarily took 2 brief walk breaks (5 steps or so) within the 27 minutes of working out.

Strider who understands what is going on, is conserving his energy.  Day 4, he was barely moist on his neck.  Not that Karma was ever lathered or dripping sweat, but he is bored, and he's doing his "gym" workout simply because I'm making him.

I am hoping that the temperatures drop enough for me to get back to work again.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Summer vacation is over....or "Back to work kids!"

Let me assure you, I am NOT a fan of this "lunging for fitness" for my horses.  Not because there's anything inherently wrong with it, per se, but because I can see how we're ALL going to get bored with it. 

Things went smoothly though, so for that I am grateful.  Karma is 'sticky' when asked to go to the right, but she quickly figured it out.

I attached my Garmin to the halter last night to just get an idea of how far they went, and their overall average speed.

Now, the PLAN was to lunge Strider first, let Karma have her dinner, then pull her and work her.

Except, our cow turned into an escape artist and went visiting next door.  She came to the gate that separates our properties, and followed me through for dinner, but that kind of threw things off kilter. 

So, instead, it was work Karma first and Strider second.

I went out with the target goal of a 25 minute workout for each horse.  I was pretty much on the money for Karma, but about 2 minutes short for Strider.

Also, I remembered to take pictures last night of each horse so that I can make a weekly comparison and see how things are tightening up on them.

Initial observations before I post the Garmin's results?

Karma is just, naturally, faster than Strider.  What seemed to be her "traveling speed" is about 1 mph faster than Strider's traveling speed last night.  Strider, though, to his credit, knew what was up, and I feel he knew he needed to conserve his energy.  So, that might have been a factor that played in to this whole thing.

So, here we go.

The link to Karma's work out is here.

Here's the stats breakdown




Time   Cumulative Time Moving Time


Avg Speed Avg Moving Speed Max Speed
1 7:04.6    7:04.6 6:45


8.5 8.9 13.5
2 6:05.6    13:10 6:04


9.8 9.9 13.3
3 10:27    23:38 10:10


5.7 5.9 9.1
4 1:20.6    24:58 1:10


2.5 2.8 3.0











And, just for a starting point of reference; pictures of her from last night pre-workout.

Don't look at me.

If I don't look at you, are you really here?

Did you just take a picture of my butt?!!
Initial thoughts regarding Karma?

Her working gait is just faster than Strider's.  There's no getting around that.  Once I can figure out how to attach my heart-rate monitor to her when she's not tacked up, I'll start tracking that as well.  I'm dying to know what it is (was).  Based on the physical response, she could probably rock a LD right now as she is.  She was a little sweaty, but her breathing wasn't hard or labored. 

Once she hit her stride and settled in after squirting around some, her gait is big and ground covering.  And, I was just looking at the picture of Dez and I from River Run, and I can see the familial similarities in them.  And, with that being the case, she's going to be a powerhouse.  Now to make sure she's a powerhouse who can take good care of herself!!!

Now, on to Strider.

The link to his workout is here.

Strider's workout breakdown stats.

I tried to get him squared up.  He refused my instance.  So, fine.  I'll work with what he gave me.


Why?  Just, why Mom.

I already know what's up mom, and this is bullshit.

I refuse to stand squarely.  Kiss my Paso ass.

Time Cumulative Time Moving Time


Avg Speed Avg Moving Speed Max Speed
5:59.7       5:59.7 5:59


10.0 10.0 13.5
10:46       16:45 10:31


5.6 5.7 7.6
6:19.5       23:05 6:15


4.0 4.1 5.4
23:05      23:0522:49


6.36.413.5



Thoughts?

He knows what's up.  He was doing his best to conserve his energy through this entire exercise.  Smart of him.  Very smart.  He was utterly disgusted with it.  He HATES mindless work and circles.  So do I.  But...I don't really have much choice.  First ride is in October.  I LITERALLY have 79 days from today to get them both legged up and ready to rock and roll.  They will be lunged 5 days a week (or 4 if life interferes).  Once my truck is back up and running, I plan to ride once a week and then maybe drop the lunging to 3 or 4 days a week. 

I understand the value of rest, which is why I'm fluctuating between the days of lunging and work I'll be doing. 



































































Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Lessons in learning to roll with it....or "Don't worry, I've gots this!!!"

So, Karma has now officially been on my property for almost 6 weeks.  In those 6 weeks, I have hauled her off-site and ridden her twice.

Each time, I have been nothing but impressed with her.  I opted to just go ahead and ride her in the rope halter like Strider does, and, she has taken to it with ease.  She gaits, has a BIG walk, is forward and eager, and polite.  Doesn't seem spooky, but does NOT like to stand still (that's actually a pet peeve of mine, and one Strider isn't great at either). 

I had forgotten that she doesn't know the "Come Pick Me Up" cue, so the second time I went to get on, I couldn't figure out why I had this spinning top going around and around the mounting block for a few moments.  I won't lie, that is the most USEFUL thing I've ever taught any of my horses.  Mounting is the one point in time where I have major anxiety getting on a horse (no idea why, nothing bad has ever happened to me), so one that will stand still and come TO me is nice. 

Guess what I'll be teaching Karma ASAP?

So, I wanted to spend the first month or so getting to know her, bonding with her on the ground and just seeing who she is.  So far, I am impressed with her.  She is an aloof mare, and not at ALL affectionate, but she IS inquisitive, and she is crystal clear about her desires and wants.  I knew that she liked to be scratched, and one evening I took some treats outside with me, then scratched at her left shoulder.  She looked at me, whipped her head around and touched her right shoulder.  I thought "Oh, bug."

Wrong.

I kept on scratching, and she again looked at me, whipped her head around and touched her right shoulder.

"Oh, do you want me to scratch you there?"

Which I promptly did...and was rewarded with her curling her neck around me as she looked me in the eye.

I then spent over 30 minutes finding out where she liked to be scratched.  I would stop, and she would move herself and wait until I started scratching whatever body part was presented. 

She literally backed her butt in to me, so I reached up and started itching her hindquarters.  She almost fell over she was in such bliss.  I stepped away, and she backed in to me again.  She's like Strider and likes right beneath her tail itched. 

I did ask her to please be kind and not kick me.  And she was a lady.  Her owner actually told me she likes her udders scratched (which I found to be true a few days ago in a separate scratching session...she seems to like that BEST).

After about 25 minutes of scratching, I needed to go inside, so I offered her a hug, which just seemed to offend her, and she walked away from me.  I made a mental note, we do NOT give Karma hugs.

She was staring off in to the distance (looking at the cows in the pasture across the road from us perhaps?) and I walked about 100 yards from her and I called out her name and crooked my finger and said "Come here Karma."

She paused for a moment...and then did.  Where we resumed our scratching session for another 10 or so minutes before I finally told her I HAD to go inside.

She is now the one to come greet me (she thinks I have treats, and about 8 times out of 10, I do).  When we drive up after work, she'll walk over to the gate and nose me for treats.

So, it was a HUGE disappointment that, after a GREAT ride with her on July 4th (with my friend C.B. [Decker's mom]), my truck started acting funky on the way home.  I initially wrote it off to the roads being wet and slick (it RAINED, a TORRENTIAL downpour! In TEXAS!!!  DURING THE SUMMER!!!)...except...I knew it wasn't. 

First symptom; my cruise control, which had worked on the way to where I was hauling, stopped working.

Second symptom; when put in to Tow/Haul it didn't have a lot of "go", and would "shudder".

Third symptom; not in Tow/Haul, occasionally it would shudder/have no "go".

We took both vehicles in for oil changes a few days later and asked the mechanic to pull the codes off the truck as, when Joe went to start him up that morning, the "Check Engine" light came on (and it was NOT on when I shut the truck off on Wednesday).

Well, could be anything from the fuel pump, to a wiring issue, to a multitude of other things.

But, the more Joe and I talked about it, we're PRETTY sure we have a fuel leak.

Truck has been leaking SOME fluid, but we couldn't figure out WHAT (we checked EVERY fluid level monthly, but none of them were dropping).
My fuel economy hauling has gotten worse.
My fuel economy NOT hauling has gotten worse.
(I wrote that off to the truck needing shocks)

But...a fuel leak could be why my cruise control stopped working (it works off the pressure).
Why in Tow/Haul he shudders and now, when not in Tow/Haul as well.
And, it would explain this fluid that it's dropping.

Now, the problem is that I was going to go to LHI this weekend to start the official kick-off to prepping Karma for her debut in October.  But, no tow vehicle means she's not going anywhere.

Alrighty then...so, what CAN I do to leg her up at home?

And thus was the "Lunging for fitness" plan  that I dreamed up and then ran by one of my mentors, D.C. (wife to R.C. and owners of Tivio and Dez).  She agreed that, while it isn't ideal, it IS a working solution until the truck is up and running. 

PLAN is:  Lunge 4 to 5 times a week.  I'll start at 20 minutes and build to 30 to 35 minutes. 

I will also be doing this for Strider as well...I have some plans for him this fall...

CURRENT PLANS:
Quitaque Climb; Karma will make her debut doing an LD.  Strider will be doing an as-of-yet undetermined distance...and I may not make that call until the day before...but...in the back of my mind is tickling that we haven't yet gotten a 50 done this ride season.

Armadillo Run:  Unsure who is going.  Joe is HOPING to take Ranger and, as such, we'll do an Intro.  If that goes according to plan, Strider will go to earn some additional points towards his Pleasure Long Distance PFHA goal this year.  However, if Joe and Ranger don't go, then Karma is on deck for another LD.

NATRC Ride at Bell Cow Lake in Oklahoma:  Joe and I are talking about doing this together.  I'm planning on going and taking Strider.  If Joe doesn't go, then I might aim Strider to do the Open division.  OR Karma in the Open division.  If Joe goes, we'll ride together in the Novice division, and I'll take Strider. 

River Run:  This is in December.  D.C. and I talked about this, and, while ultimately Karma will tell me what she can handle, and if she even enjoys this...I have BIG plans for her.  Obviously it will be another 50 mile attempt for Strider.  And...well...it might just be a slow 50 for Karma as well.

So, I have plans in mind. 

Which means, it's time to get back to work with my ponies.  And with Joe's pony.

Summer break is over!!! 

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Sometimes, you just need a little bit of good Karma....or "Good adventure gone south"

So, back in late March/early April, for whatever reason, I was chatting with Strider's breeder (I believe I was showing her that 2 horses from her breeding program were horses 1 and 2 for the Paso Fino Horse Association "Pleasure Long Distance Trail Horse").  I mentioned that when I think about the day I will need to retire Strider, how I'm dreading it.  And that I feel bad because now I'm back down to just the 1 endurance horse, and so Strider is ALWAYS on deck for competitions. 

"Would you consider free leasing my mare, Karma?" 

My jaw fell open in shock.

Karma's registered name is Primadonna de Vez.  If you do endurance Pasos at all, you'll recognize the "de Vez" part of her name.  She's a Coral LaCE mare.  Which means she's got speed.  And a largo to die for.  And usually horses with her breeding are out of my price range.  I can't afford most "de Vez" horses just because they're such quality animals.


"Let me talk to Joe, and I'll get back to you about it."

Now, Joe understands my "need" to have a main horse and a back-up competition horse.  I give him a LOT of credit for that.  He's said it a few times that he has no problems at all with me having 2 horses.

However, to take on Karma would put my herd at 6. 

At which point, he said he was okay allowing Elvis to find another home (which I've already found, he just hasn't left yet).  Which puts me down to 5, but he would really rather see us at 4.  Which just isn't going to happen.  :)  I'm happy with 5. 

Ultimately though, Joe and I discussed things, and he agreed to me taking on a free lease if Elvis leaves.

I'll be honest, I'd only seen this mare in pictures.  Old pictures.  I didn't know much about her EXCEPT her bloodlines, and that I'd seen pictures of her under saddle and some videos.

Strider's breeder also asked if I could also transport another mare down with Karma to return her to her previous owner.  OF COURSE I COULD!!

We communicated, and I worked out to come them Memorial Day weekend.

I drove Hannibal and my friend H.D.'s stock trailer up to the bus terminal on Friday morning, with the plan being to run Kaylee to my parent's house on my way up to B.R.'s house outside of Hillsboro, where the plan was to overnight Friday night.  Drive up to Oklahoma Saturday and return Saturday evening.  Overnight at B.R.'s house Saturday night with the 2 horses, and then drop the one mare off with her owner and take Karma home.

Now, I borrowed H.D.'s trailer because we weren't sure if these 2 mares would load in to my straight load trailer.  H.D. warned me to glance over the tires on the trailer, and maybe toss in my spare from Red Draggin, which I did.  Bolt pattern was a match, so I heaved it into the trailer.

Friday evening went off without a hitch.  Got to B.R.'s house later than I planned (ended up eating dinner with my parents and chit chatting), and she and I sat up talking and talking and talking.  I finally went out to bed around midnight, maybe later (they always let me crash in their LQ when I come visit, so I've taken to just calling it my "apartment").  I slept in a little bit on Saturday, maybe until about 7 or so, got up, dressed and hit the road.  Grabbed breakfast and kept on going. 

The drive up was pretty uneventful.  Oklahoma actually has some REALLY pretty parts.  And, LOTS of land for sale there.  LOTS. 

As I got closer and closer, my GPS took me down some random road...and...speed bump number one.

Now, I REMEMBER what the road is like once I turn off the main road to get to her place.  You drive down a little ways, and turn left.  I REMEMBER.  I've been to her place about 4 or 5 times.  Granted, over 12 years ago, but I REMEMBER.  And as soon as I took a left turn on the road I was on, I KNEW it wasn't right.

Here I am, in the middle of nowhere, Oklahoma, on a dirt road.  I don't know where this road is going to take me, but I can attempt to maneuver my rig by swinging wide in this driveway and flip it on this road....as LONG as I stay off the dirt/muddy shoulder.

Things never play out as I need them to play out.  I was working on my two point, backing the trailer some, maneuvering as best as I could, when the shit hit the fan.  My truck rolled, ever so slightly forward, so that the front two tires were now in the mud.  And then I try backing.  Trailer slips, truck slips.  Jackknifed the entire damn thing.

Great.  And now I'm stuck.

I message my friend and try to figure out where I am, and let her know I'm stuck.  She tries to figure out where I am, and mentions if we can puzzle out my location, she could bring their 4x4 to pull me out of the mud.

She gets to work looking at the screen shots I send her, while I work on rocking my entire rig back and forth until I get one front tire on the firm packed road.

And then I just step on it.  Back and forth.  Rock it some more.  Rock some more.

Keep stepping on it.

FINALLY I break my rig free and we're rolling.  I'm shaking like a leaf from the adrenaline and the fact I managed to get it done.

My friend and I figure out where I am, and where I need to go, so I get my rig set to rights, and meet up with her and follow her to her house.

We chit chat, get caught up some, and head inside to sign paperwork to make this lease official (contract states she's on a 2 year lease that we will evaluate at the end of those 2 years).  She's going to file that with the PFHA so everyone is protected and it shows Karma as my lease.  Got the health certificates, Coggins and all the other pertinent paperwork for Karma and the other mare and load that up in the truck.

We stuff hay bags for the horses, catch the two mares, and then I turn the rig around and both girls easily load up.

I felt so awful because my friend was crying.  She has said over and over she knows that this is best for Karma; to fulfill her destiny and for her to actually be ridden and used.  And I told her, I completely understood the heartbreak to watch a beloved horse being hauled off, KNOWING it's right for the HORSE, even though it's hard for us.  And I reminded her, at any time, Karma can come home if she wants her home.  But, she said no...this is for Karma.  She patted her nose, reminded her to be a good girl and waved good-bye as we left. 

Let me say that...Oklahoma is weird.  I stopped for fuel soon after I left my friend's house.  Mostly because I hate stopping, but, I was thirsty and needed a bathroom break. 

I stop at a gas station that must have been on a reservation because there was a little casino attached to it, and the gas station smelled like smoke.  So, I think smoking must be allowed inside of buildings in Oklahoma?  Or maybe just the casino area?

Any which way, detour and break over, I hopped back in the truck and kept on moving.

B.R. messaged me and let me know that she was at a BBQ with her family for Memorial Day, but to feel free to drop the mares off in the side yard (they have an area that guest horses and/or quarantine horses can stay in...it's AMAZING) and to go relax in my apartment when I got back.  So, while I hadn't eaten since breakfast, the plan was to drive to Hillsboro, grab some McDonald's, get the girls set up, grab a chair and relax watching the girls and reading.

Ohhhhh fate.  Why?  Why are you like this?!!!

I'm on IH-35 at about mile marker 27 or 24 heading southbound, and thinking to myself "Man, these roads in Oklahoma sure are rough!  I'd forgotten just how bad..." when I realized "No...nope...that's not the road, it's worse now.  Shit, I've had a blow out."

Blinker on, pull to the side of the road, hazards on, let's get out and evaluate what the hell's happened and how bad the damage is.

So, damage isn't AWFUL.  Tire didn't blow, just shredded.  Other 3 tires are okay though.  Hmmm, okay then.  Let's get the jack and change to the spare I'm so glad I threw in and get rolling again.

What then proceeded to happen was one of the longest 8 hours of my life ever with horses in a trailer.

Joe had removed the jack from the bed of the truck.

I already knew that the jack that's supposed to come with the truck was gone.

Try and get someone on the horn for roadside assistance.  I JUST NEED A JACK PEOPLE!!!

Eventually I get the Oklahoma State Troopers on the phone (you actually dial 911 for a non-emergency), and was told that they only had 1 trooper on duty at the moment and he was on his way to the scene of an accident, but they'd see what they could do for me.

*bury face in my hands and try not to sob*

While I'm waiting, I go ahead and break all the bolts free on the tire.  Then go sit in the truck and try to figure out what to do as I message B.R. for ideas.  She and I are scrambling to see if we can find assistance...ANYTHING.  Nothing at all.

I'm literally on the side of IH-35, trucks, cars, other horse trailers BLASTING down the road for well over an hour...not a single soul stops.  And I'm in a mild case of panic because it's hot out, and this stock trailer is painted...ALL BLACK. 

As I'm in the truck, messaging Joe about what has happened, I almost jump out of my skin when I hear a cough and a "Ma'am...?"

I turn to see a  young Sheriff's officer there. 

I jump out of the truck, so relieved to see him and we start talking.  And I am SURE this poor young man thought I was the biggest moron, and I apologized and actually told him I'm sure he thought I was stupid.

Basic summary of initial conversation:
Sheriff's Officer: "No jack?" *somehow materializes a cigarette from thin air, pops it in his mouth and starts smoking...which really detracts from his beautiful blue eyes that I'd first noticed*
Me: "Husband took it out of the bed of my truck.  He usually throws one in for me, but he was saying he was going to rotate the tires on our car at home, so I guess he took it out for that."
S.O.:  "Where's your trucks jack?"
Me:  "My husband and I have tried to find it in the past, but, as we bought the truck used, we assume the previous owner took it with him when we bought it."
S.O.:  "What's the tire for in the bed of your truck?  Trailer spare?"
Me:  "No, truck spare.  Same previous owner took the bar we need to lower the spare tire holder beneath the truck."
S.O.:  "So, you just need a jack?"
Me:  "Yes.  I have a spare I can put on it, but I need a jack to lift the trailer."
S.O.:  *wandering around my trailer*  "Well, we could put your spare on, but these other 3 tires are badly dry rotted.  You MAY make it.  You may not though."
Me:  *tries not to start crying*  "Oh no.  Really?!"
S.O.:  "Yeah.  My dad is bringing the jack though."
Me:  *mentally imagining dad pulling up in his old, beater pick up truck, and just grateful*  "I really appreciate that!"
S.O.:  "Let's look at your spare.  Uhhh, Ma'am, this spare is REALLY badly dry rotted too."
Me:  *mentally hyperventilating and having internal hysterics at this point*  "Please tell me you're kidding."
S.O.:  "No Ma'am.  Although  *inserts laugh*, this trailer was made just back up the road in Ardmore."
Me:  *wondering what in the eff that would solve for me RIGHT NOW*  "Yeah?"
S.O.:  "Sure was."

We stand there for a bit, talking for a few more minutes as the sun beats down on us.

S.O.:  "Do you mind if I go and sit in my vehicle?  It's awfully hot out here."  (note, his uniform is all black and he's got his full rig on)
Me:  "Oh my gosh, no PLEASE go sit in your truck!!!  I'm so sorry, yes, it's so hot out here!"

*we both sit in our respective vehicles as occasionally some horse paws and rattles the trailer*

Out of my peripheral vision, I see a vehicle pull up.

Another Carter County Sheriff's vehicle, this one an SUV.  I assumed it was just another one of the force who was bored.

Nope.

Older gentleman exits the vehicle, and as I look at his nameplate, it's the same last name as the other officer. 

This is his dad.

*laughs internally*

Other Sheriff's Officer:  "What do you need me for?  I see 3 tires with air in them!!"  *laughs*
S.O.:  "Yeah, but they're dry rotted.  Come look dad."
Me (to O.S.O.):  "Wow, so you keep law enforcement in the family, huh?"
O.S.O.:  "Well, yeah.  Although, I'm now just a reserve officer.  My son is full-time."

Both men agree, my tires are effed.  But, they're willing and game to throw the spare on there and let me see how far I can get.

Except...the spare won't fit. 

The tires for Red Draggin' are 15's.  H.D.'s tires are 16's.  So, while the BOLT pattern is the same, the size is just different enough that the holes won't go over the bolts on the trailer.  And we tried.  OH did we try.  Nope.  Not gonna happen.

So, I toss the blown tire into the bed of the truck, and at their suggestion, I limp onto the frontage road to get the mares into the shade and to puzzle out what on earth to do next.

Frontage road safety in the shade.

Why yes, there IS only 1 tire on that trailer.  What's so odd about that?!  >.<
At this point, it's maybe 3 in the afternoon.  The mares have been cooped up in the trailer for maybe 2 or 3 hours at this point.  THANKFULLY I had my water tank in the bed of the truck still.  The water is warm, probably doesn't taste good, but I fill up a bucket with some water and offer the mares drinks through the side of the trailer.

Karma does her best job to get a good drink.  The other mare isn't happy about it, takes one or two sips and goes back to her hay.

It is at this time when I realized that I have some of the most loving friends.  B.R. and I have been back and forth through all of this.  We try to find someone local to help get me to a tire place.  Or to bring a trailer and take the girls some place safe.  No one is responding.  No one is helping.  I don't even know what to do at this point.

B.R. says "I'm coming to get you.  I'm an hour and a half from home, but I'm going home, hooking up to the Sooner [her run around trailer], and I'll come up, we'll get the horses loaded in to my trailer, and then we'll limp yours here to the house."

Not going to lie, I cried.  And I warned her when she showed up, I would probably cry again.

At this point, it was getting out every hour, offering the girls water to drink, making sure that they still had plenty of hay, and waiting. 

I want to say this though; the entire time I was on the interstate, and the entire time I was on the frontage road NOT A SINGLE SOUL ONCE STOPPED TO OFFER ASSISTANCE.  No one.  This was discouraging and depressing.  You would think that perhaps a fellow horseman or horsewoman would stop and check in.  Nope.  Not a one. 

I had mentioned to B.R. that I really hadn't eaten all day.  I had breakfast, and the drink I grabbed after picking up the girls, but the plan really was to eat once I got back near her house.

She said she felt so bad for me, that she stopped and grabbed me food from Sonic. 

At around 10:30ish, she found us.  I knew it was her immediately when she made the swing under the overpass. 

Cue my tears.  I hugged her so tightly and tried not to sob against her as she thrust food at me and told me to go and eat.

I wolfed down some of the burger and fries as she loaded up some hay bags for the girls in her trailer.  We offloaded the girls, let them graze for a few minutes (both promptly peed after getting off the trailer) and stretch their legs, then...in the dark, with cars and 18-wheelers driving by, both girls quickly hopped into B's trailer, and then away we went.  Mobile once again.

I had a massive knot in my stomach.  Anytime the trailer moved funny, I held my breath.

B and I had planned that if the tire on the passenger side went, we would pull one of the ones from the driver side and put it over there and limp it home on 2 tires.  And if another blew, we'd abandon the trailer for the night and come back for it.

Thankfully, after dealing with the idiots and morons that you inevitably see on the road while hauling horses, we made it back to B's home.  Her husband was still awake at about 1 a.m.  As we pulled in he told us that he'd put out fresh hay and water for the horses, hooked the water up to my "apartment" so I could take a shower after the day and he started up the a.c. so it was nice and cold.  And for us to just go to bed and get some sleep.

B had to go pick up her dog that had surgery from Texas A&M early the next morning, so she told me just to sleep in, rest and we'll figure out what to do in the morning.

So, I slept in, but I could hear her husband, J, up and about at around 7.  I laid around until 7:30, and then realized I should get up and check on the girls and start figuring out how on earth to get these two horses moved now.

As I stepped out of the trailer, I see J on the ground, trying to break tires free from the trailer.  He and I talk some, and we weigh our options on what I can do.  And ultimately, he opts to loan me 4 tires off their stock trailer to help get me home without a big cost out of my pocket. 

Once again, almost broke into tears of gratitude.  So, he went and got the tires off their trailer, then we set to work on breaking the bolts loose on the other 3 tires.  And, let me say this; I am GRATEFUL that the tire that shredded was the one that did.  It took J getting a big leverage bar to break the other bolts lose (and that was even trying to use his impact gun). 

As he and I get to wrapping up, B gets home with her dog, and I realize it's almost noon.  So, we manage to catch both mares, get them loaded up and I hit the road.  And then I start wrestling with myself.

Should I head for my home and put the other mare on MY trailer and take her?  And if so, do I take her today or tomorrow?  What if she gets hurt on my property?  Can I REALLY convince myself to get back in the truck again and haul? 

OR

Should I just take the mare to her new home and be DONE with this adventure gone awry?  I'm aware that I'm putting miles on B and J's tires, and I feel badly, but I cannot convince myself to get back in the truck again tomorrow, and I can't trust that this mare won't hurt herself at my place overnight.

So, I stop briefly in West at Slovacek's for brunch, then proceed south.  I stop at some point for a potty break, and as I get in the truck again, I look out on the interstate and see a bad wreck and realize; I'm glad I stopped.  I'm now able to get ahead of it, and I wasn't involved in it.

I'll take the blessing when and where I can.

Continue my trip south.  My first stop is outside of Luling.  I manage to get the other mare dropped off, then spend some time trying to wrangle my rig back out.  Which, I eventually manage to do...and then make the final push for home.

I stop and get us dinner from Dairy Queen, and with an audible sigh of relief, I FINALLY pull in to our driveway at after 9 pm.

It's dark.  I'm exhausted, and I don't want to just turn Karma loose with my herd in the dark.  Strider will terrorize her, and while we have lots of room for them to run, she hasn't seen the fencelines.  No, I can't just turn her loose.  Not up front and not out back.  So, what do I do?

AH!!  I'll put her in our catch pens for now!  That way the herd can meet her safely through them, and I can spend a few days getting to know her since I was told she's a hard to catch horse.  Win/Win!!!

So, I go to the trailer and go to off-load.  Except, I can't get the one divider moved over far enough, so it swings, pinches her sides just enough for her to panic, so she rams in to me, throwing me off balance and flinging me out of the back of the trailer where I land on my knee wrong, wrenching it.  I scream in pain and fear, while maintaining a firm hold of her lead rope.  It hurts, but there's nothing to be done.  Grab my buckets from the trailer and take them and Karma to the back pasture and get her in the catch pens.  As I'm hobbling back up I call Joe and ask for him to please blow the tires up on my garden cart as I still need to haul some hay nets to Karma.  No can do.  So, I just keep limping back and forth from the front to the back of our property. 

Eventually I get her settled in with 2 stuffed to the brim hay nets, and 2 large tubs of fresh water. 

And FINALLY hobble back into the house, the adventure over.

However, look at this mare, and tell me that the adventure won't ultimately be worth it?

Karmalita!!! 


Look at that butt!  Look at her hip!!  GIRL IS STOUT!!!
Thank you for the fresh hay human.  Anything else?

Cookies?  Treats?  Noms?  I am wary, but hopeful!


LOOK AT THIS RIDICULOUS FORELOCK!!!

So majestic.  Very much magical. 
(Doing her trick; you tell her to "touch" and hold
out your hand, and she touches it with her nose)


Monday, June 25, 2018

Last Hoorah!!!....or "Sometimes it's just nice to go ride with no pressure"

Really no excuses to not have this done sooner.  Well, I've been busy....and it just keeps getting busier!!!

Anyway...

I woke up Friday morning, trailer and truck were already packed.  I'd looked at the map, and I was only about 2.5 hours from the ride site.

Not going to lie, I lounged around.  Slept in.  Took a leisurely shower.  Basically I fiddle-farted around at home until it was about 11, and I realized that I needed to get moving. 

Grabbed my horse, put him in the trailer, and away we went.

This is my 3rd time doing "Last Hoorah!", but I got to take a new route this time since the move, so I got to see an entirely new part of Texas as I drove through Lampasas, Hamilton, etc. until I got to Cleburne.

When I see the sign for the Six O Ranch, I just start smiling like an idiot.  This is a place where I feel so at peace and just so damn happy.

Sign to the Six O Ranch.
Credit to Jim Edmondson with Optical Harmonics, 12/2010.
I followed a larger rig in, waited while they manuvered around in the big field...and I almost parked close to where I was last year...but realized I was kind of in the road there, so I just "Eff this", pulled over behind some other larger rigs near the fence, and called it good.

Quickly got Strider set up, and then I just went back in to lazy mode.

Home sweet temporary home!!!

"MAAAAA!!!  Whuzzat?!!!"

Time to take a nap.  It's hard being so sexy.

What's happening over there?

Nothing THAT important.  MORE ALFALA MA!!!
A few days prior to Last Hoorah, Zurkh inadvertently stepped on my foot (I wasn't exactly wearing appropriate shoes), and it realllly screwed my foot up.  Swollen, hurt to walk...

So, I knew trotting my horse out was going to be...well..impossible.  But I was NOT missing this ride!!!  Hurt foot or no, I'm getting on and RIDING!!!!

I begged one of the hardcore riders (K.L.; Takoda's owner) to please trot him out...and, as she's just such a sweet and cheerful kind lady, she did.  Of course.

More food stuffing for Strider after...and waiting for my friend C.B. and her TWH, Decker, to show up.

I really just enjoyed relaxing, reading, listening to some music and enjoying being in ride camp.  

View from my trailer into one of the many pastures at the Six O Ranch.

This is ultimately where C.B. would park, but this is behind my trailer at ride camp.

Look at all that space!

Have I mentioned how lovely I find this view?
I waited for her until about 10ish, and finally gave up after relaxing outside with Strider and listening to some music.

As usual, I couldn't sleep in, so when I got up around 7, there was C.B!  She had come in very late, tried to find us by looking for my flashing lights, but she couldn't see them on the off side of my trailer, so she bunked where she landed for the night, and once the sun came up, moved right near where I was.

The advantage of doing the Intro, again, is ALLLLLLLLLLLL that time in the morning to slowly get ready.  Which we did.

We got her vetted in, and then we got tacked up, and then headed over and went on out for our 12 mile loop.

We had no goals except to survive.  I opted to keep Strider completely barefoot as this loop is pretty forgiving (except towards the end, and then I let him pick his path).  We stopped a few times while C adjusted her saddle.  We got lapped by the front running 50s, so we stopped for a bit to set up a pocket again, and briefly hooked up with a lady on a green Arab until finally she felt confident enough to chug on ahead.

Really, we just wanted to have fun and get a completion for the Intro.

We ended up hooking up with a lady coming back to endurance who's done Tevis (!!!), but she's on a green horse as well, so we all finished off the last 6 or 7 miles together.  We had so much fun together.  We didn't see the ride photographer, so there's no pictures of us on the ride (we all jokingly teased him about that...he apologized and said he really thought he'd stayed out long enough to get all the Intros).

Strider, of course, did FABULOUS in his new purple rope halter!!!  I'm a complete convert to the rope halter for riding for him.

After we finished, we headed back to our trailers and lounged around some.  We helped crew here and there for friends as we saw them coming in off whatever distance they were riding.  We had one friend who ended up pulling around mile 30 with his MFT, Dan.  The rider needed electrolytes, and the horse had had booting issues, so they RO'd to do their 50 mile attempt at another ride.

So, we kind of "babysat" him until his wife came in off her loop of the 50 and we knew that both he and his horse were going to be okay. 

Then back to the trailers to talk, play with our ponies, relax and just enjoy being there.

Heaven.  A good horse.  A weekend of riding.  I love these experiences.

Okay Ma, let's get back out and do it again!
Really, it was just a very laid back ride this time for Strider and I. 

C.B. and I went to bed late Saturday night.  We slept in on Sunday morning, and this was the first thing I saw looking out of my door.

I'll never EVER get tired of this horse.

Get up Ma.  BREAKFAST!!!  I STARVED!!!
We tossed some of the saddles my friend H.D. lent to me on Strider.  Nothing was a great fit.  C.B. gave me one of her English saddles that she felt was a pretty good fit, it just needs to be reflocked.

We puttered around as ride camp quickly thinned out, and we finally got on the road around 1ish.

I was home in time for dinner.

May was just a good month...and there was more excitement waiting on the horizon for me....

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Change is a lesson to be learned...or "Bend like a willow...it's good practice for life."

This weekend was spent in preparation for Last Hoorah.

Beet pulp is soaked, triple rinsed, and then put in the freezer so I need only pull it out, add a little water and grain and give it to Strider for pre-hydration.

The kaolin-pectin, CMPK and Enduramax are all in the house, ready to be mixed for electrolyting Strider.

I pulled out all my tack and power washed and cleaned EVERYTHING (saddle pad, cinches, seat cover, breast collar and even my Da Brim with the mud dried on it).

I got out my Hoof Armor gun and made sure to pack extra gloves and the wax paper.

Sunday evening, I did the grocery shopping for the ride.  I Googled the closest "Twice the Ice" location I could drive up to for ice for my coolers on Friday morning. 

Except for throwing my bag of clothes, and my blankets into the truck and trailer, I'm....I'm actually ready and packed for the ride.

HOWEVER....

I was nervous over something with Strider, I had his accupressurist come out BEFORE Last Hoorah instead of the day after team penning in two weeks.  I could feel what I THOUGHT were splints on his fronts.  But, were they new or old?  I ran my hands down his legs; cold and tight.  I've been watching him like a hawk for weeks.  Never a single step that wasn't sound.  I made Joe trot him out for me.  Sound.  I lunged him on a circle both directions.  Sound.

In my mind, I remember (or I've created a false memory) of my trimmer saying that at one point, he has PROBABLY popped his splints, but, they've healed cold and tight.  He's fine.

But I was driving myself insane; had she REALLY said that, or had I made that memory up?

Better to change my appointment, have another set of eyes/hands on him that knows him and to either tell me he's injured, or that he's okay and I'm a freaking lunatic.  So, with all that in my mind, I had Jodi come and do a session on him. 

I mean, he'd done the Intro (16 miles) and the LD (25 miles) for a total of 41 miles 3 weeks prior. 

He was being an absolute turd-asshead about not standing still.  Usually he stands and lets Jodi work on him. 

We eventually went and grabbed Zurkh for company, and he immediately settled down.  *sigh*

As Jodi touched him all over, she said he felt great.  Not a single red flag.  She said every single thing about him was a horse who was the picture of health and who definitely had the energy to do his job.

THAT all said...she said, knowing his history and KNOWING about that soft tissue injury and that we're only about 8 months out from it...she said, sure, he could do the LD...and he'd probably be GREAT at it and he'd sail through without an issue...-but-....

And that's all I needed.

"Would he be okay for an Intro or should I pull him completely?  12 to 15 miles?  I'm good either way, but be honest with me."

So, we're dropping to the Intro. 

Yes, he's fine.  And I'm sure he is.  BUT, right now, why risk it?  The Six 0 Ranch has some challenging terrain. And, he's my long-term riding buddy.  Why push for 25 miles? 

And...while I won't earn as many PFHA points...well...I'll earn some points towards this:

PFHA's Pleasure Long Distance Trail Horse standings
I'm playfully working towards it this year.  However, the first place horse currently racked up 50-odd points last season, so, if she does again...not a chance.  But, I'm having fun with this too.  I'll earn another 6 points, and we'll then take the summer off.  We'll go team pen, he'll get to rest and finish healing, and come about last July/early August, he and I will get back to work and prep for legging up for our 50 attempt.

My "Bargain Bin" Easy Boot Gloves showed up yesterday.  They're brand new in so far as I can tell.  Frankly, I'll never buy them at full price if I can order out of the BB again.  It -LOOKS- like they MIGHT fit his fronts once I trim them up and get the toes pushed back.  If not, they will PROBABLY fit his rears (they're more oval than round). 

And, we're currently in a competition to win a pair of Scoot Boots.  Which would be AWESOME and AMAZING if he did!!!  Not holding my breath (I never win anything....except that one time I won tickets to the opening season of  Sherwood Foreset Faire off the radio), but it sure would help my wallet!!

If not...I'll keep stalking the Easy Boot Bargain Bin and hope a pair of #0's pop up.  Blue would be amazing...but the red ones I got yesterday (I think that's why they're BB boots; they're an older/discontinued model) are going to be VERY visible on his feet!!!

So, that's the current plan right now.  We'll skip the LD and drop down to the Intro (extra bonuses are it's a little cheaper, and I get to ride with my friend C.B. and her horse Decker). 

It would be a lie to say I still sometimes consider just doing the LD anyway.  Who doesn't always do the "Well...what if...?" dance?  I'm human. 

And then I remind myself my horse isn't.  He doesn't understand what we're doing.  He does it simply because I ASK it of him.  He doesn't give two shits about points (PFHA, AERC or Green Bean).  He isn't asking me to go 15, 25 or 50 miles.  He does those things because, again, I am asking it of him.

So, here is where I'm learning to bend like the willow.  Because it's not about ME.  Endurance isn't, per se, about me.  It's about my team of 2.  Him and I. 

Maybe I asked too much for 41 miles.  He told me about 3 miles out of camp he was getting a little tired on day 2.  I heard him.  I listened to him.  I didn't push hard.  I'd ask nicely, and if he gave it, great.  If not, I didn't ask again. 

So, instead, we're going to go have fun at one of my favorite ride venues, and we're going to go and completely enjoy ourselves.

And then he'll get a break...and we'll come back better for it this fall.

Friday, May 04, 2018

Gearing up for the "Last Hoorah!"...or "Final ride of the spring season is coming"

And, just like that, my spring ride season is winding down again. 

1 day of a NATRC ride done.
1 intro.
1 LD.
1 LD left to go.

I'm feeling semi-confident that we can tackle the LD at Last Hoorah.  I admit to SOME anxiety because I have YET to finish a ride at the Six 0 Ranch.  But, I had promised the RM last year, after my stomach fought against me, I wouldn't try another 50 this year.

Didn't say anything about next year though! 

He isn't ready for a 50 right now anyway.

But, my current plan is to apply Hoof Armor to his feet, make time up at the beginning of the ride as it's pretty barefoot friendly there, and then take it easy over the gravel and rocks.

I did order a pair of EasyBoot Gloves from their bargain bin (hard to resist getting 2 boots for the price of 1!), but, based off the fitting kit I'd ordered, I'm not sure if this size is going to work on his fronts.  I also don't have a lot of time to trial them before the ride, so, I'm currently not planning to use them for a ride until we can do some conditioning in them.

However, I'm a little anxious about getting ready for the ride.  This weekend is currently jam packed with things I need to do, and I'm going to go ahead and pack my trailer for next weekend.  I'll pull everything out, and get my tack cleaned up and loaded up.

Speaking of tack, look what showed up in the mail yesterday!!!


My new Michael Gascon halter!!!  I reached out to Sophie (Michael's girlfriend) and asked about the possibility of getting a halter in purple.  She checked, and said that it was possible to get one tied in purple.  So, got one ordered, and it happened to arrive last night!! 

So, with our Hoof Armor, and our new halter, and all of our tack loaded up, we'll be ready to rock and roll for our Last Hoorah!

And then the weekend after that, Team Penning...and then after that...another big surprise....:) 

May is shaping up to be a busy, albeit FUN, month!!

Sometimes the smartest plan is to know your limitations...or "Welcome to a Texas summer!"

The plan was to have this update with photos, stats, information on our first week of our workout.  We were DILIGENT about our workouts.  ...