Carr Lake Trailhead

With temperatures still hitting triple-digits, and a laughable attempt at a monsoon season, it was time to head up to the high country for some elevation, fresh air, and cooler weather.

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waiting to load up and head out

Destination: Carr Lake Trailhead near Woods Canyon Lake on the Mogollon Rim, about half an hour east of Payson. Elevation: 6700′. Temperature: Blissful. (I don’t know what the temps were exactly, but I think probably in the high-70s.)

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Rim Lakes Recreation Area. Woods Canyon Lake is one of the most popular camping spots in AZ, and there are a ton of camping spots, trailheads, and trails up here — most of which I didn’t know about until this weekend.

It’s only about a 2-1/2 hour drive from the barn, and really, not too bad of a drive. Your rig needs to be able to handle hills, since there are a few climbs that will make a vehicle work, but the route is a State Route highway versus major interstate, so it is most commonly used by passenger vehicles and a handful of semis, compared to the non-stop trucker stream of I-10 and I-17.

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Unlikely boot color combo (burgundy/green) actually works. Kind of. If you like bright colors. And “unique” combinations.

We had a group of 6 all riding together, and this was one of the best group rides I’ve been on. Lots of switching out of who-was-where in the line-up, so Mimi got to spend a good amount of time leading, and only had to suffer being in the middle or back for small amounts of time.

She was definitely in Endurance Pony mode, and despite being the smallest one there, out-walked everyone.

The trails were lovely — a lot of smooth single-track interspersed with sections that were rockier or more technical (short clamber through a creekbed, for example). Previous trips to the Rim area have netted some really great trail-riding trails, but not great for any kind of endurance conditioning since most are too technical to allow for much by way of moving out. This area, though, showed a lot of promise for return trips of the conditioning variety, and apparently we just barely scratched the surface of available trails.

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EZ On Up Ranch “Club Grey” (with small, medium, and large representatives)

Mimi was so happy to be out on trail again. Even her snarky mare faces were fairly minimal, and she actually liked 2/5 other horses (her EZ On Up Ranch herdmates), tolerated 2 of the other horses, and only actively disliked 1 of them. Not bad in the world of Mare-ville.

It will definitely be worth a return trip up here…easy enough of a drive for a day trip, fun and pretty trails, and a great break from the hot summer weather.

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Move over, Disney. This is *my* Happiest Place On Earth.

Tevis Vacation 2016

This year was a little bit different…plans got sufficiently gremlinized that I ended up not crewing for any one specific person, but rather ran around doing some Tevis webcast photography, and catch-crewing (aka “throwing ice cubes at people”) down at the Chicken Hawk (mile 64) vet check.

I also got in some excellent riding time and trail exposure, and a much-needed confidence boost and self-validation.

To start, I flew in to Sacramento on Wednesday afternoon. Lucy picked me up and we headed straight to Auburn for the pre-Tevis barbecue. Kaity met us there, and we did our annual round of “eat food, catch up with people, and tour the barns.” I’ve been existing in a somewhat introverted, hermit-y stage of life right now, with the majority of my human contact being via email or over the phone…and the in-person contact with friends and people of my endurance tribe was exactly what I needed. Nothing like the therapy of good friends and some saddle time.

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Tevis moon from the back porch of Tevis Low Camp (Lucy’s)

Since we didn’t have a significant amount of pre-ride prep to do, Kaity and I were able to do things like get in a morning run:

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good practice for our plan to run the Crown King 50k together next year. pleased to report we have similar pacing and running strategies, so this just might work after all.

It was a pleasant surprise to realize that I didn’t completely die tackling the rolling hills after doing nothing but flat surfaces for the past several months, and very little by way of running. Small victories, right?

And then we got to go ride. Since I’m slated to take Lucy’s Roo (aka “my favorite little grey Arabian gelding”) to the Tahoe Rim Ride next month, I wanted to get as much saddle time in with him as I could during this trip. So we loaded up and headed down to Auburn, with the plan to ride from the Tevis finish at the fairgrounds up the trail to the Lower Quarry check and back, about 12 miles round trip. I’ve ridden from the finish to just past No-Hands Bridge before, but never crossing Hwy 49 and going up to Quarry.

The trail is lovely — lots of single-track, plenty of shade, and even some water crossings. Roo was in a bit of a spooky mood (he always has to test me) so I was doing some pretty engaged, active riding…but for whatever reason, even with his spooks and shenanigans, I’m very comfortable riding him. He reminds me very much of a just slightly larger, spookier, gelding version of Mimi, and 98% of the time, his spooks either make me laugh or swear, but rarely scared.

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Kaity and Ani leading across No Hands Bridge — this is heading out in the opposite direction of the way the ride goes

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me-n-Roo

On the river road heading to Quarry, Roo gave me a very impressive hard-stop-and-partial-spin spook…the kind that I was pretty much resigned to not being able to save…and then my knee ran into the pommel of the Specialized saddle I was trying, and all was well, and Roo didn’t get the inglorious title of my first catch-ride to offload me. Normally I really like my English saddles, but the little extra security of the Western-style endurance saddles may be a good thing right now (and maybe always on something that may be a little more spooky and/or unknown).

The river road is wide (albeit with a drop-off edge on one side, but everything has a drop-off of some sort around here), and is a good trail to be able to “let down” mentally, provided you have a horse that isn’t fresh and looking for things to spook at. :P (Translation: On ride day, this is a good “mental break” section for you and the horse, since it’s in the dark, and they’re probably not interested in spooking after 94 miles.) Since it was hot, with no shade, we trotted all the way to Quarry, then rode past the check a short ways to the now-closed Mountain Quarries Mine.

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Kaity reading about the mine history

There was a nice cool breeze blowing through, so we hung out in the shade and breeze for about 15 minutes, getting a snack and cooling off, before heading back down the trail. It was a repeat of heading out — moving out when we could, random Arab spooks, and committing as much of the trail and specific turns and intersections to memory as possible.

It was sufficiently warm when we got done, and a quick stop in to the 7-11 on the way home netted me heaven in a cup — a Coca-Cola slurpee, which I haven’t had for years…but sounded perfect at the moment. Logistics for how to obtain one and still keep it slurpee-esque for a vet check might have also been discussed. ;)

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Finish line trough…a fun, successful 12+ miles done

Swimming, grocery shopping, and dinner and drinks on the back porch while discussing the who’s who on the Tevis rider list rounded out the day.

Friday morning, Lucy and I headed up to Robie Park to watch the vet-ins and for me to do my usual “connect with the Renegade riders.” I got some photos, remembered how hard it is to breathe at 7200′, and obtained an impressive Robie Park dirt tan-line on my legs after tromping around for just a couple of hours.

Friday evening, half a dozen of us that would be doing various and sundry webcast and/or crewing/hanging-out duties the next day gathered for Mexican food and margaritas. Half a dozen endurance ladies do not need margaritas to have a good time, and much hilarity was had before we packed it up and headed out to the Squaw Valley area to truck camp for the night. The plan was to be at the Hwy 89 crossing when the riders went through (roughly 6 miles into the ride) and get video of them going by. (I did this in 2012 as well, and this year, the normal video-taker, Crysta, was riding!)

The bench seats in the cab of crew cab Chevy Silverado are not designed to promote comfortable sleeping. Just saying. I was actually glad for 5AM to roll around and for an excuse to finally just fully wake up and get on with the day. A corner 7-11 took care of the immediate morning coffee needs, and we made a beeline down Hwy 89 to the point where the trail comes down the side, crosses under the highway next to a bike path, then comes up and runs along the overpass bridge (concrete barrier between the vehicles and the trail) before picking up the single-track trail that climbs up and away from the highway.

The first riders were there just before 6:00, and the field was through by 6:30. Once we wrapped up there, we headed to Auburn, with a brief stop at Starbucks for more coffee and breakfast, then onward to Robinson Flat.

I circulated around RF, taking pictures of riders coming in, and vetting, and leaving. It was interesting to stand and watch continuous vetting and a number of different horses going through, not just the extreme focus and concentration that comes from crewing a specific rider and concentrating on just getting them through the ride.

We stayed until most of the riders had left, and then gathered our things and headed back down for a brief stop in Foresthill to gather some things (a few people had asked us to haul ice in to Chicken Hawk for cooling), and then we headed back out to the Chicken Hawk check. At this particular check, you have to park about a mile out and then walk in to minimize traffic.

The front-runners came in about 3. At 64 miles in, and the two largest canyons behind them, the horses all look pretty tired at this point. Front, middle, or back of the pack…I saw very few that were perky and sparkly at this stage…but they’re also only 4 miles away from another hour-long hold at Foresthill and the revival of nightfall. (Even the front-runners will end up spending at least a few hours in the dark.)

I ended up helping probably half a dozen friends and acquaintances at this check — we had lots of ice, so were able to generously dole it out and create buckets of ice water for sponging. When the time comes for me to do this ride, I will definitely be sending a crew member in with ice at this point, because it makes such a huge difference in cooling. The water at the check isn’t always cold, especially the later the day gets and the longer it sits out, and I’m shocked by how much body heat horses can hold/generate, so the ability to cool them down quickly and have them stay cooled down is invaluable.

We stayed at CH until about 7:15, then went back to FH to drop off people’s coolers, hang out for a few minutes, and then decided that the need for dinner, after munching on snack food all day long, overruled everything else. A stop in to the McDonald’s drive-through (because trust me, after a day of Tevis, you are not fit to actually go anywhere that would be considered “in polite company” since you have horse mash on your shirt, sunburn spots where you obviously missed with the sunscreen, your legs are the color of red Sierra foothills dirt from the knees down, and your socks are filthy enough to stand on their own power) netted us dinner, and the Kaity and Renee headed to the fairgrounds to watch the finish while Lucy and I went down to No Hands Bridge.

That was quite exciting to watch the front-runners come through at that point. Karen Donley came through within 5 minutes of us getting there. She had a bright headlamp that lit up the trail, and the came trotting down the trail, around the turn, and then tore off at a gallop across the bridge.

Not 3 minutes later, the Fords come down…no lights on their horses, no headlamps on themselves. There was a brief pause to slosh water on their horses, then they too went galloping across the bridge, and we all waited to see what the outcome was…would they catch Karen in those last 4 miles?

Ultimately, no, they wouldn’t, and Karen would end up coming in 19 minutes ahead of them.

I actually had cell service at that point, and had texted Kaity and Renee with a heads up of what was happening and to let us know the second someone crossed the finish line. We stayed for the first 6 horses to get to the bridge, then headed back to the finish to watch the rest of the top ten come in before finally wrapping things up around midnight and heading back to Lucy’s.

It was really sweet to get a real shower, a real bed, and a solid 6 hours of sleep before going to watch Haggin Cup Sunday morning. This year, all of the Top Ten horses showed for it (there have been years where a couple of them have elected not to show) and the Haggin Cup ended up going to Lisa Ford’s horse GE Cyclone.

Final results were 165 starts and 87 finishers.

Monday rolled around…and this was the day I had been waiting for. I was going to get to see the California Loop, or “Cal Loop”, the trail after Foresthill. (Known for its narrowness, switchbacks, and drop-off trails above the American River…most of which ends up being done in the dark. Fun times.) I’ve been wanting to see the trail for a while now…but at the same time, I was also quite nervous, as I’ve not exactly been the bravest and most confident soul of late. Thursday’s ride had helped in that department, but this has been somewhat of a slow, insidious process of demoralization and loss of confidence…it probably won’t all come back overnight.

However, I was riding a horse who has ridden it multiple times, being escorted by two other horses and riders who have ridden it multiple times, both in training and in the ride.

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group photo, L-R: Lucy, me, Kaity; this is the first time all three of us have ridden together

Since, despite the name, Cal Loop is a one-way thing, (well, you can make it a loop, but it ends up being something like 38 miles) Lucy’s hubby Patrick was our trailer shuttle driver, dropping a car at the end, driving the trailer up to the start, waiting for us to head out, then dropping the trailer at the end and taking his car home.

We started off pretty much right in town, outside the Foresthill cemetery, versus further down at the mill site (which is private property and only open/accessible on Tevis events), and I was treated to the “full Foresthill experience” including trotting down the road to get to California Street and the trail access.

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“I see dead people”

As for Cal Loop? I loved it. It’s an active ride, and there’s a few parts that made me make sure I was really sitting up and staying balanced, and Roo made me squeak a few times when he was tailgating too close and would trip on a rock <scowl>, but overall, I thought it was amazingly gorgeous, and I have every confidence that by the time I get to Tevis with my own horse that I’ve put a lot of training and ride time and miles on, I will not have a problem with trusting that horse and trotting onward through the dark.

 

Apparently I’m in quite the habit of leaning to the right…which doesn’t actually help when the dropoff is to your left. ;) I’m very strongly right-side dominant, but this has gotten to the point where if I’m centered, I actually feel like I’m sitting off to the left. Riding with others and having it pointed out was quite helpful, and something I need to concentrate on addressing.

All told, we did about 22 miles. We didn’t follow the ride route exactly, since there’s no way to safely cross the river without it being lowered. So we went about a mile down the trail towards the river before turning around and heading up Driver’s Flat road to where the trail was parked. Roo impressed me to no end with his very grown-up marching up the road…which is about an 1800′ elevation gain in 3 miles, all uphill, and I’m feeling really good about tackling Tahoe Rim with him next month.

Sadly, even Tevis vacation has to end sometime, and I wrapped things up and headed back home on Tuesday. Sad to go, but I was also missing the dogs, and my very own pony. It was a fabulous trip, I learned quite a bit, added to my own personal “notes for Tevis” file, and got some much-needed saddle time in…and some very good downtime and time spent with my friends and endurance “tribe.” Sometimes it’s really, really tough to live such a distance away from so many of my really good friends, so I have to make the most of the times I do get to see them…and be thankful that there’s easy communication via things like texting and Facebook.

And that’s a wrap on Tevis…until next year…

Groom Creek Camping: Gear Assessment

A little late, since this happened back in April…but more for my own records and information purposes than anything.

While it wasn’t a ride weekend, we did manage to get 26 miles in over the course of three days, and a good array of different stuff used.

Saddle
I used the Frank Baines Reflex all three days and loved it. No back soreness for Liberty (with lots of walking, and some technical trail including a lot of step-downs), and very minimal soreness for me, which is good given I’m not in tip-top riding shape currently.

The second day I put my full sheepskin cover on it for a few reasons: a little extra cushion never hurt; I get a little more grip from it; protection of the saddle itself after a near-miss encounter with a boulder the previous day that scraped the heck out of my stirrup and barely avoided the saddle flap. My sheepskin isn’t new and super-fluffy anymore, so I didn’t notice a negative impact on the fit of the saddle for me.

The FB seems to fit Liberty well, although our technical downhills of day three had it sliding forward and hugging her neck…but given her low withers, I suspect that any saddle would have probably done that on that kind of trail. But crupper training and use will be on the menu in the future.

Saddle Pads
Day one, I used the Toklat Matrix Woolback with the Pro-Impact inserts. I’m still very agnostic about this pad…don’t love it, don’t hate it. Still hate how matted it gets after cleaning.

Day two and three, I switched to a sheepskin Fleeceworks pad. Oh, this thing is a cushioned luxury. I would sleep with it if I could. I love how the natural sheepskin repels the dirt, and it’s really easy to just brush off in-between days. It doesn’t have any extra inserts in it, but the sheepskin is a dense 1″ layer, and on a well-fitting saddle, I don’t know how much an additional foam insert layer is needed.

Stirrups
Used my Clouds on day one and two…love them, but they’re just so big and bulky. Switched back to the old standby EZ-Rides on day three and they were reliably fine. Might just end up sticking with them.

Girth
26″ is definitely the right length for her. I had one made from Hooves N Whiskers, custom colors of a black/natural twist mohair with orange mohair accents. My only complaint was the single d-ring for the breastcollar clip versus two rings, which meant I had to pay closer attention to making sure the ring was facing forward. Minor problem, but I’ll probably see about ordering future ones with two rings. I liked the felt backing behind the buckles — nice and flexible and breathable.

Boots
Liberty wore Renegade Vipers the whole time; size 140×135 on the front and 140×130 on the hinds. Day one, I used front boots only. Day two, I booted her all around, and day three, went back to just front boots — I’ve found that on an over-eager young horse, pulling boots off and forcing them to pay attention to their feet and the terrain can be a useful training tool. Day two and three, we crossed water/mud, and never had any problems.

Headgear
We started in her standard aluminum s-hackamore on day one and two. Day one she was great, day two was when she had her behavioral meltdown, and I re-assessed our methods of communication.

She really is very green still, and doesn’t have a firm grasp on flexion and giving to the bit. She has no idea what neck reining is, and tends to brace against a direct rein on the hackamore versus giving to it. She’s also apt to go behind the vertical, and has been fussy in the past about chain curb straps and “too much pressure.”

Given all of that, I opted for a fresh start on day three with a snaffle — specifically, a Myler loose ring, mouthpiece MB04, which is their answer to a three-piece snaffle, and designed to be a really good bit for green or inexperienced horses. I had consulted with her trainers at a prior ride on some of her early training history, and she had indeed been started in a snaffle and understood all of the direct rein basics.

Sure enough, with the bit installed, she was very responsive, was seeking out an active connection/contact (oh that’s what true contact versus leaning on the bit feels like…I’m looking at you, Mimi), very responsive, and I had a lot more effective communication with her. She might start a circle rigid, but then she would relax and give.

At the same time, she wasn’t this super-sensitive, flinchy, can’t-stand-contact, “don’t touch my mouth” kind of horse — I wasn’t afraid to pick up the reins and give her a correction as needed.

With both the s-hack and the bit, I used her Taylored Tack Convert-A-Bridle over her rope halter. I absolutely love the pieces of Taylored Tack I have acquired, and am slowly replacing old tack with new TT pieces.

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need to do something about the clashing oranges, though. time for a black rope halter.

Misc
I used front and rear Snugpax, which allowed me to carry three bottles of water plus plenty of snacks. After epic failing on day one to do much by way of taking care of myself (it’s only 10 miles, I don’t need to bother…), Kaity tasked me with getting back on track with regularly eating and drinking — “if you don’t built the habit during short rides, how are you supposed to remember about it on long rides?” — and I did much better on subsequent days.

Rider Gear
Love my Irideon Synergy tights and my FITS Techtread tights. Both are really comfortable, didn’t overheat, and durable. Like the full seat grip dots on the FITS, and the fact they’re a little less bulky than the kneepatches on the Irideons.

First long riding sessions with my Ariat MaxTrak boots. At first I wasn’t sure how I felt about them, but I swapped out the insoles for a pair of my running ones with more arch support, messed around with the laces, and ultimately was quite happy with how they felt. I like that they finally have more tread on them than the Terrains.

Dogs
Overall, the pups did great. They stayed on long high-lines/cable tie-outs in camp, and in the back of Kaity’s trailer in the shade when we were riding. They had their bed, their favorite red blanket from home, and I tried to stick to their feeding schedule/routine from home as much as possible.

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This was Artemis’s fourth camping trip, and Sofie’s first with me, although Sofie has been to endurance riders with her previous owners.

I would have liked to see both of them eat a little better — may have to experiment with finding something “special” to add to their kibble (wet food) for occasions like this. I always add fresh cooked chicken pieces to their kibble, but they did a marvelous job of picking out the chicken and leaving most of their kibble. So at least they were getting something. It’s not like they were doing high mileage or massive activity, though.

They got to do some on-leash exploring around the campground — massive granite boulder piles for them to climb and scamper around on.

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Foodstuffs
As I mentioned in my write-up, we ate well. Both Kaity and I like to cook and love food. Breakfasts were things like breakfast burritos, pancakes, sausage, chia pudding, and fresh fruit salad. Lunches were on-the-go snacking in the saddle, the usual suspects of protein bars, energy gels, fruit squeezies, energy chews, and similar.

I figured out that Huma Chia energy gels are the best. They’re made with real fruit puree + chia seeds, so don’t have the cooked-in-a-chemistry-lab taste that many of the gels have. ClifFood and Fuel for Fire squeeze pouches are both excellent. Trader Joe’s Apple-Coconut bars are very palatable and inoffensive just about any time.

And dinner…we had fun with dinners, especially campfire cooking. Not all of it turned out perfect…the cheese bread was a little overdone in parts, and the cobbler under-done in parts, but all imminently edible and delicious. And it’s camping cooking, not a 5-star restaurant. ;)

Baby Steps

I’ve made mention here and there in some posts and touched on some of my own personal fear issues + riding, and how it’s something I’ve really battled since the very beginning of my riding days. I think it’s a cyclical thing, generally ushered in by “something bad” happening (usually a parting of the ways with the horse), and then fading away as “nothing bad” happens for a while.

As much as I would dearly love to just completely vanquish this fear and have it completely go away, I don’t know if that will ever happen…I don’t think it’s in my psychological makeup to be that ballsy and fearless about anything.

But at the same time, I’m also tired of being so careful and cautious that I’m letting that fear control me. This particular cycle seems particularly deep-seated and insidious, and I’ve had enough.

Apparently Mimi had enough, too, last weekend, when she mutinied on yet another session of nice “safe” arena work with some very clear and pointed body language that said “I’m over this.” Once we exited the arena, she took matters into her own hooves and marched us straight down the driveway to the property gate and stood there until I reached over and unlatched the gate, which she promptly shoved open, walked through, and then nudged closed again.

So riding out around the neighborhood at any place I’ve boarded at has never been my favorite thing to do in life. Some early on bad experiences such as parting ways with the pony and going skidding across the pavement left an impression (and ruined my favorite shirt) that’s been hard to shake, and I have a hard time relaxing in that setting. Give me real trail any day.

But around the neighborhood is the most feasible option right now…and what better way to start tackling the fear cycle currently set to “on” than something that historically makes me uncomfortable?

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Overall, the roads are pretty quiet around the barn, and most of them have wide dirt shoulders with lots of room to move over, and 95% of the drivers are polite and courteous. (And for the other 5%? Well, the pony isn’t phased by traffic and vehicles, fortunately.)

Last Sunday was particularly quiet. It was still early, and the skies were overcast, with slightly-lower-than-normal temperatures. With traffic non-existent, it was the perfect opportunity to move out a little bit — Mimi is far less prone to “look” at stuff when we’re trotting along. Only at one point, she got it in her head that she needed to practice to be a Top Ten Tevis horse, a la “cantering through the streets of Foresthill,” and started cantering when I wouldn’t let her power trot.

Ummmm…okay, then. Guess there’s a reason I put boots on her.

We didn’t go far — all of a couple of miles — but as the post title suggests, baby steps. Even those couple of miles served as a confidence booster.

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And today, I was willing to try it again. We didn’t even look at the arena…just went jogging in-hand straight down the driveway, mounted up outside the gate, and struck out down the street…where we made it all of 100 yards before she had to dramatically startle-and-spook-in-place because…horses in the pasture trotted over to the fence.

{sigh}

Actually, points to me because all I did was laugh. I did not turn into a clutching monkey, I did not get all control-freak rein-grabby, I did not get scared. I called her a couple of names, tapped her with my heels, and moved on down the street.

We did some nice, purposeful trotting down the street, explored a aside street we hadn’t been on in a while, chased a vulture and its precious roadkill prize, and worked on the pony power-walk.

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vulture + roadkill in the distance

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do we care about things like storm drains and flowing irrigation canals? nope. just other horses/animals.

Last weekend, I had also pulled out my old Big Horn saddle. It started life as our gymkhana/barrel saddle, then migrated over to be our initial trail saddle. After one too many “ribs meet saddle horn” incidents, I sawed off the horn, wrapped the pommel in leather, and led a much happier existence when it came to climbing hills.

Funny thing, though…I’ve never loved this saddle. I always felt like the twist was uncomfortably wide for me…never mind we managed around 200 competition miles, between NATRC and LD endurance rides, plus upteen training miles…and it’s never made Mimi sore. I was never brave enough to try a 50 in it, despite messing with things like swapping out the original fenders for more flexible biothane ones, and trying to make it as comfortable as possible for me.

But it’s also the saddle that lives down at the barn. Since the tack room is a large metal box, it gets ridiculously hot in there, and I don’t feel like storing my really nice leather saddles in that. I’m also out of room for any more saddle storage at the house, so it’s the Big Horn’s luck that it gets to live down at the barn as my “spare” saddle for when I don’t feel like toting one of the others back and forth.

But it’s also the saddle that has never done me wrong. In all the years I’ve owned it…my butt has stayed Velcro’d to it. And right now, I could use that little bit of mental confidence.

So last week, the Big Horn got pressed back into service…with my knees reminding me the whole time of how much I hate the regular Western fenders, and Mimi not loving the Western cinch set-up. A bit of garage rummaging, plus a quick blitz through Riding Warehouse, and this weekend, the Big Horn got another makeover:

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Biothane English billets to replace the standard Western cinch set-up, which allows me to use one of her preferred mohair girths, and fenders replaced with thin, flexible Zilco English leathers covered in sheepskin fleeces were the two big changes I made. I need to remember to bring one of my fleece seat covers, though, since that seat is not particularly cushy.

Interesting to note: the twist no longer feels as wide as it used to. Theorizing that the last time I spent a significant amount of time in this saddle, I weighed about 50 pounds more than I do now. In dropping the weight, I also dropped inches…all around…so it’s entirely possible that losing a bit of the thigh spread has given me more room to more comfortably sit in the saddle.

Just changing the fenders out made for a much more comfortable ride today, and I found myself actually enjoying riding in that saddle. Yet I don’t feel too guilty leaving it down at the barn, so that’s one less thing I have to lug back and forth.

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snoozy girl

And for another “go figure” moment: turns out Mimi loves the Myler pelham with the reins set on the lower curb setting. She’s super-soft, responsive, doesn’t fight against it at all, and didn’t protest in the slightest when I asked that she not jig home when vehicles were passing us. Okay, then. Didn’t think a pelham versus kimberwick would be that big of a difference, but apparently in Pony World…it is.

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And finally, if there’s another equine on this planet that makes as much of a mess of their electrolytes as this one…I have yet to meet them. Pretty sure she got maybe 40% of the dose, and the rest ended up on her face, her legs, the ground, my hands, my hair (euw), the barn dog, the barn chickens…you get the idea.

So that’s two productive weekends. Maybe not productive in the traditional sense of “look at all the miles we rode”, etc…but productive for me, with where I’m at in life right now and some of the things I have to address. This isn’t going to happen with leaps and bounds or overnight progress…but proactively taking even baby steps in the right direction is still better than sitting around just hoping something changes on its own.

It’s funny…when I got her, Mimi was the pony I needed for me at the time…and 20 years later, she’s still being the pony I need for me right now. I am so, so fortunate to have gotten my Heart Horse right off the bat, and to have her be able to slide into whatever role I’ve needed at whatever time. She is truly my once in a lifetime horse, with a spot in my heart that is permanently hers.

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So, rather shockingly, I realized I have actually managed a at-least-one-post-per-month streak on this blog since August of 2011…and that a week out from the end of June, I was in danger of breaking that streak.

I just haven’t had much to blog about.

It’s been hot here…although that’s not really a newsflash, this is summer in Arizona after all. Rather amusingly, the weather “forecasters” have been doing all kinds of hand-wringing predictions of “unusually high heat waves” (no, actually, we regularly hit 115° here in June, thanks), practically salivating over the idea of us “hitting new record temps”…and then it’ll fall two to three degrees short of what they’re predicting.

(Yes, mentally, there’s a big difference between 115° and 111°.)

So when it’s this hot, I really don’t ride. Even the Go Pony prefers to hang out in her shaded stall with her fan, and the barn owner who goes through a couple times a day and sprays them with the hose, and turnout at night when the sun doesn’t bake them.

Also not too inclined to get the running miles in. I try to be up between 4:30 and 5 in the morning to get out the door with the dogs while the weather is quasi-passable (85° and the sun isn’t up high enough to start cooking us yet) but even then, it’s hard to get more than a couple of miles in.

This is called summer hibernation, and it happens pretty much every year. It makes for good endurance heat conditioning, if you have certain plans on the ride calendar that call for heat conditioning…but if not, it’s a really good excuse to stay inside, hug the air conditioning, and dream of when it was cold enough to justify wearing more clothing than just running shorts and a tank top.

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got to head up to Zion, and slightly cooler temperatures, earlier in the month