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 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 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?


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.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Work it girl!!!...or "How all the ponies modeled new tack"


Photo heavy post.

So, a week or so before our endurance ride, I ordered a trail halter/bridle, breast collar and hackamore noseband for Dakini from Janet Grimes Stoltz of Trail Blazer Tack.  Earlier this year (maybe late last year?) she had posted this gorgeous set of wine/reflective silver and I saved it because I KNEW it would look good on Dakini.

I finally took the plunge and went all out on this set.  I upgraded everything and did what I wanted.  Because, how often do I order such things for my horses?

Padded noseband and breast collar.  Diamond cut.  Bling!  Upgraded hardware. 

And the final result looks FANTASTIC!!

I put just the halter/bridle and breastcollar on all 3 horses.  Really, looks the best on Dakini, is okay on Strider and just isn't my thing on Socks.  But, push comes to shove and someone needs to wear it, they'll wear it!!

(PS-Sorry she's so filthy!!)

And then, I tossed it on Socks!!

He didn't look over impressed with the whole thing.  And is so chill that he didn't care that I was jumping up and down and hollaring in an attempt to get his ears forward.  Crazy Arab?  No.  Not even close.

And then, Strider's turn!!

In his, I snapped more photos of the detail that Janet does which, for me, puts her stuff over the top.

Bling on the keeper loops.  Beautiful buckles.  Bling on the strap that attaches to the cinch for goodness sake!! 

And she was easy to work with.  I had the set in my hands in a little over a week from the day I ordered it to delivery to my box. 

HIGHLY recommend Trail Blazers Tack (Janet Grimes Stoltz) on Facebook!!

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 lo...