Tevis Links

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It’s that time of year again — in a little under 3 weeks, riders will be saddling in the wee hours of the morning, and riding late into the night and the wee hours of the following morning. Yep, Tevis is just around the corner, August 17th this year, moved to a later-than-usual date after concerns of heavy snowpack in the Sierras and trail accessibility.

I’ll once again be donning my crew hat — this year marks the 10th time I’ll have crewed Tevis, so I guess that makes me Decade Crew. This time, I’ll be crewing for my friend Cathy, whose horses I rode at the Tevis Ed Ride in 2017.

My previous crewing and riding Tevis stories that I’ve blogged about:

2018 Ride

2017 Crewing
2016 Crewing
2015 Crewing
2014 Crewing Part A / Part B

Other links:

Main Tevis site
This will also be where to go for the live webcast link on Ride Day.

Tevis Cup on Facebook

Someone on YouTube put together a very comprehensive playlist of Tevis-related media.

“Inside Information” Tevis video

Tevis Ride stories blog (and if you Google “Tevis ride story” you’ll also get a ton of stuff showing up)

Endurance.net almost always has annual Tevis coverage on their Events page

For everyone riding, good luck and I’ll see you up there. For those following along from home…enjoy the air conditioning and a cold drink for me.

Riding Log Corral

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It’s not very often I get a chance to ride mid-week — a self-imposed reality, since if I’m not working, I’m not making $. But when Stephanie asked if I might be available to come ride her horse Ash on a training ride at the Log Corral trail, I didn’t have to think about that very long. I’ve been taking on some extra work of late (by choice) in the form of some weekend jobs with my dad in his carpet cleaning business, and then working on my Masterson Method fieldwork and subsequent session write-ups “homework.” And my mental state was telling me I really needed to take a day, or at least part of a day.

The Log Corral trail is also one I’ve been wanting to ride for a really long time now — it’s a popular training spot for a number of people I know, and for good reason. It’s an 18-mile round trip, an out-and-back that starts at a trailhead/parking area just off a highway, and follows a 4×4 road all the way to the east side of Bartlett Lake…a gradual 5 mile climb to the high point, and then a 4-mile descent down to the lake…then turn around and reverse that. The first mile or so out from the trailhead is a bit rocky, as it winds through a creek bed, but once on the actual Log Corral Trail, it’s lovely, decomposed granite footing the whole way to the lake. So the chance to finally ride that trail (and get the all-important GPS tracks of it for future reference) was something I really didn’t want to pass up.

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Ash, meet Ash. That sure simplifies things when you and the horse share a name.

It’s a fabulous trail, a hidden gem and oasis in the desert, with the bonus of having the lake as the turnaround point. Apparently that part of the lake is also swimmable, so word on the street is “bring swimwear” next time.

Ash was a lovely ride — super experienced, and very well trained (dressage background), so it was really fun to figure out all the buttons he has installed. (Methinks dressage lessons will be in the cards with any future ponies, because I am loving riding these horses that have previous dressage training. Leg yields and half halts all day long.)

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Skeptical of the lake. It was breezy, and creating tiny little waves coming at us, which he wasn’t wild about. Not exactly uncommon when it comes to horses vs waves.

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Go on, tell me my desert is dry, brown, and boring. Oh, and that “Arizona doesn’t have trees.”

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Desert Oasis. There were a couple of stream crossings, plus the lake, so lots of opportunities for the horses to drink.

I was really glad I broke my usual routine and took advantage of the offered opportunity. Great ride with good friends on a good horse…that was exactly the mental health day I needed this past week.

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Happy 26th, Mimi + Coon Bluff Ride

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Happy 26th birthday, baby girl!

I seriously can’t believe my little pony is 26. She really doesn’t act like it, especially mentally, and physically, she still seems like she’s doing quite well. We just puttered around today, and mostly treated it as an excuse to overindulge her in carrots and apples and cookies.

But last weekend was her “pre-birthday” ride, and we explored a brand-new-to-us location: Coon Bluff out at the Salt River. I’ve ridden around several different areas at the Salt River over the years, including Bulldog Canyon, Blue Point, Stewart Mtn, Phon D Sutton…half a dozen staging areas all within a few mile radius of the same intersection. But Coon Bluff was a first, and we saw all new-to-us trails, and had probably one of the best rides we’ve had in several years.

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pre-ride napping against the trailer

Most of our group rides lately have been group ride, which are fine…it’s certainly better than not getting out at all. But they’ve never been our favorite thing, for many reasons. Mimi is competitive…she likes to lead, or be very close to the front. I am a chronic overly responsible worrier, which means I am always listening for every indication of possible equine shenanigans or trouble. In a group ride, I don’t always know the people and horses, or know their capabilities, so I have a hard time relaxing when I’m constantly on alert for how everyone else is doing. Historically, I’ve had the most enjoyment either on our own, or with one other horse/rider.

This time, wish granted, since it was just barn owner Chris and myself riding, and Mimi and Chris’s mare Tuudy are buds, but not excessively so. Tuudy also likes to lead, but they’re a good trail team in that they are actually able to trade off leading-following fairly happily, with neither of them really setting the other off or devolving into jigging fits. Which meant we both had a really good ride.

Chris had been to Coon Bluff a few times before, so she navigated, showing us access pints to the river, crossing points when it’s low enough, and a great mix of trails. The area is also host to the multiple mini bands of the Salt River Wild Horses. And they were out in droves that day. Super-proud of Mimi…she was curious, but happy to keep trucking by at a healthy distance away.

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In fact, I was super-proud of her all day. My arms and hands were feeling pretty sore, and a firm grip wasn’t happening after a 12+ hour carpet and tile cleaning job the previous day, so I was riding with a loose/soft rein…big change of pace for me, the chronic “when in doubt, shorten the reins and grab harder” control freak. :/ And you know what? She did fabulous, including through some spooks and moment that rightly should have set her off (rattling truck with kayaks on top, off-roading through some rough stuff right beside the horses)m and then later meeting kayaks down in the river.

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The last time she saw kayaks, about 10 years ago, she was not this amused…and I was not on her back.

Kind of hard to believe that even at age 16, she was generating reactions to things like kayaks, enough to make me not want to be on her back at the time…bombproof, she certainly is not. And the funny thing is, even after what will be 23 years together this fall, I’m still learning how to be better…for her, with her. But this was probably one of the first times I’ve had that relaxed of a ride on her, that I didn’t micromanage every one of her reactions, and finally just trusted all of the work, training, and years together…to trust that she wouldn’t jig if I gave her a loose rein, that her spook at a plastic bag would be contained and in-place, that just looking at something meant that’s all she was going to do…just look.

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This footing!!! I want to put a ride on out here someday. Pretty sure I can get 50 miles of trail. And a lot of it looks like this. A few sections of rock, but it wouldn’t be AZ without at least a few obligatory curses at rocks along the way.

The last year or so of catch rides I’ve done and horses I’ve ridden have done light years for my confidence and competence again. I mean, yeah, I still have plenty of self-doubts, and moments of wondering about myself and the sport of endurance, but it’s gotten better, at least.

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wild lantana…it loved the really soft sand areas

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The kind of trails that made me long to be back in endurance mode with her.

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River-side trails…that’s the Salt River just below us.

Now, the whole Salt River area is one of those spots that doesn’t have much by way of marked, “official” trails. Some marked Forest Service roads (it’s all Tonto National Forest back in there), and a handful of short signed trails…and a whole spaghetti-tangle of rider-made trails and wild horse trails (that go under the mesquite trails that are tall enough to clear the back of a little 14hh wild horse…but not so accommodating of a mounted rider). So it helps to have a good sense of direction, and someone who has been there before. And even they, you might end up detoured and getting in some “bonus miles” because you have to keep detouring around the herds, and getting a little off track…

But the bonus miles meant we ended up logging a nice 7-mile ride.

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It’s a jungle out there…

And whoever says Arizona is a dry desert with no trees??? Liars. This whole area is mesquite forest, cottonwoods, and other shrubby vegetation stuff that is more than happy to grow near the river. It was an absolutely delightful little jewel of an area to discover, and I’m still amazed I hadn’t been to it before.

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The one official trail sign I saw out there…

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Keeping up her “endurance pony who will drink from any water source” credentials

 

 

 

Velocity

Velocity equals Distance over Time. Yes, that is massively simplified down, but the only thing I’m worse at than chemistry is math and physics. So that would be velocity, as I understand it.

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What is the landspeed velocity of a frustrated-but-persistent endurance rider?

This summer will be 15 years since I’ve been involved in endurance riding. A few years of competitive trail prior to that, but the summer of 2004 was what officially kicked off my love affair with endurance, starting with a trip down to Australia, where my dad and I got to gallop endurance Arabians on the beach and ride through the rainforest; then I came back home and crewed Tevis for the first time.

From that point forward, I was hooked. Competitive trail was fine, but I had been introduced to the idea and the world of “further, faster.” I scoured the internet, sniffed out every information resource I could find, ramped up my pony’s conditioning. The endurance fire had well and truly been lit…and it’s pretty much been ups and down ever since.

This may be one of the most honest posts I write when I say endurance has been amazing, exhilarating, fulfilling, an invaluable learning experience, and has left me on top of the world. It has also been the most disappointing, frustrating, disheartening experience that has left me a demoralized, crumpled heap. I know I’m not unique in that, and it’s definitely helped in the past to talk to other people and find out some of the “behind the scenes” where they haven’t had an entirely smooth go at it either.

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This photo of Roo and me at Tevis last year showed up in this month’s issue of Endurance News. I was quite surprised to see it, and I’ll admit, I started crying after I read the quote.

“There is in every true woman’s heart a spark of heavenly fire, which lies dormant in the board daylight of prosperity; but which kindles up, and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity.” — Washington Irving, The Sketch Book, 1820

I’ve had so many ups and downs in this sport that sometimes it’s hard not to feel like it’s a constant uphill battle in trying to reach my goals. And there’s many times I don’t feel like I’m particularly strong or resilient in dealing with it. But I guess the fact that I still persistently keep on chipping away at it, or refuse to throw my hands up and walk away in disgust, speaks to a certain amount of…whatever you want to call it. Fire. Stubbornness. Tenacity. Optimism. Reincarnated Whack-A-Mole.

And I’ll admit I have some big dreams and lofty, some might even say slightly ludicrous, goals, especially given the fact I have one mostly-retired pony and am currently at the mercy of relying on catch rides. But that also provides some great motivation to get out there and do something about it. It’s currently small steps…small steps like finishing my online equine anatomy course, one of the requirements for Masterson Method bodywork certification.

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I still have many more small steps towards that final certification, but each one completed is still one step closer towards my end goals.

It can be altogether frustrating at times, but I’m not ready to hang up those big dreams. I’ve held on to them for too long, and worked too hard to get to this point, to give up on the ideas that make me sparkly-eyed. Things like:

  • Pioneer ride finish (on the same horse). I’ve never done three days in a row, let alone on the same horse. I’ve done a few back-to-back days, but on different horses, and one back-to-back on the same horse…but we didn’t finish the first day.
  • Tevis finish. Last year was good in that it really knocked some of the edge off the slightly-obsessive view and pedestal I had put this ride on…but it’s still my Original Endurance Goal. I will happily aim for multiple finishes…at some point…but for starters, I’d just be happy with one buckle.
  • Virginia City 100. More unfinished business. And I just adore this ride. The history, the atmosphere, the challenge…but it’s also way less intense of an environment than Tevis, and a little more doable on a regular basis since it doesn’t need quite the level of crew personnel and involvement.
  • Big Horn 100. Another one of the “big 100” rides, at least in my book. Wilderness, self-sufficiency, amazing scenery, challenging trail.
  • I love 100s, or at least the idea of them. We’ll talk more when I can actually finish one. But having a couple of horses going, to where I’m able to chase a few 100s a year, would be my idea of awesome.
  • This is really far out there, especially at this point, but…going down to Australia and doing the Quilty. I would love to someday be in a position to do a horse trade of a Tevis (or other 100) ride for a Quilty ride…or do a horse lease or something for the Quilty. But some of my initial fascination with and introduction to endurance came about down in Australia, so it kind of just seems fitting.

Big dreams, yes…but also big motivators, and something to keep me buckled down and going during this certification process. Just don’t ask me to even think about velocity calculations.

SBS: Flik Equestrian

Small Business Saturday is a (mostly) monthly segment of the blog, featuring a small business that I would like to promote. Those chosen are ones I have directly done business with, have been very satisfied with the outcome, and would like to spread the word about and drive more business their way. I love supporting small businesses and creative entrepreneurs, and promoting ones I believe in are a just a small way of saying ‘thank you’ and encouraging them. 

This first SBS segment features an Australian company, Flik Equestrian. Currently, they offer equestrian record journals (a general one and an endurance-specific one), and limited edition apparel.

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From the Flik Equestrian Facebook page:

In 2011, Mindy Davies started Endurance Horse riding knowing nothing about the sport. She quickly became engrossed in its challenges, deciding to aim for a National Championship, the Tom Quilty 160km Gold Cup. She wrote about her journey through the qualifying process through to the Quilty in fortnightly blogs which gathered a following of readers. When she finished the Quilty she self-published the blogs into a book called “Chasing A Quilty” which was read and loved by many who became inspired to start their own journeys. In 2016 Mindy started training 7 horses and made herself a Journal to track and record everything to do with the horses maintenance, training and competition preparations. She wanted to keep everything in the one place and give the Journal to the horses owner at the end of the year with everything in it.
People noticed Mindy using the Journal and started asking for one too. Before long, the Endurance Journal was released for sale on Quilty Quests Facebook page, in version one and soon after came version two. Mindy donated 100% of the small profits back to Endurance through sponsorship encouragement prizes at events.
The Endurance Journal gathered a great deal of positive feedback and requests for additional features and improvements, such as cheaper shipping than that offered by the publisher. Mindy, being determined to help her readers in their own journeys, embarked on a mission to deliver an all new Journal packed full of features.
From what started as Mindy telling her story, to helping others in getting started and telling their own stories has now evolved into Flik Equestrian.
Exciting times lie ahead. Stay tuned.

As far as how I found Flik? Rewind back several years to around the end of 2014/early 2015. I was pretty well in the thick of catch riding, and through the world of the blogosphere and endurance, found my way to a blog titled “To Complete Is To Win.” Australian endurance rider Mindy Davies had been chronicling her own endurance journey, one that included plenty of ups and downs, towards her goal of getting her first Tom Quilty buckle. Not only did I find her a very entertaining writer, I could relate to what she was writing so well, and often found myself nodding along in agreement as I was reading the blog posts. I had found a kindred spirit — the endurance thing isn’t “all beer and skittles” as one post said — and I took a lot of encouragement from the “average endurance rider just telling her story” as she puts it.

I was bummed when the blog closed down, but last year, I was finally able to get my hands on a copy of “Chasing A Quilty” (currently out of print, but from a recent FB post, it looks like more are planning to be restocked again), re-read it, and this time, reach out to Mindy to thank her for the inspiration as I’ve gone along on my own very twisted, very up-and-down path. I was also inspired enough to order one of each journal…the general equestrian one for now, to attempt to set better record-keeping habits with the pony…and an endurance one, with the hopes that I will again have my own competition horse (better yet, horses…I’m an optimist…) to keep records for.

The journals are absolutely beautiful. Hardcover, with a hard protective storage sleeve. Beautiful photography. Lots of space to write/record — I would rather have something that takes up a little more space, but has adequate room for detailed journaling, than something compact that I have to attempt to write in size 6 font in order to fit everything in. Sections are broken down into parts like Owner Info, Horse Info, Training Logs, Travel Logs, Goal Setting, Event Log, and there’s even more little tidbits tucked away in there, but I’m not going to spoil all of the goodies and thoughtful additions. Each journal has space to keep records on two horses.

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Historically, I’ve kept — or more accurately, tried to keep — mileage logs/records over the years, but it’s never stuck for very long. Either I get frustrated with the lack of structure (trying to write things down/do my own grids in a notebook), or they’re too complicated/involved to fill out and so I never get around to it. So far, these seem to have a good balance between giving you space to record things, and a good framework, with some built-in flexibility for how much you want to record. I’ll keep reporting back on using them, but so far, a few months in, I’m still really liking it.

In 2019, Flik launched limited edition apparel. Four times a year, a limited edition design/product will be released on a pre-order basis. This was the first one, one a polo-style shirt:

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A white endurance Arabian? Of course I had to have that one. It’s on order, and should be here sometime in April.

The second limited edition apparel piece is currently available, and will be up until April 1. The design on this one isn’t endurance-specific, but it’s a really cool hoodie. My love of hoodies is currently at war with the fact we are going to be heading into summer here, but current thought is leaning more towards, “eh, don’t care, I can always save it for next winter…or hope I do some cooler mountain rides over the summer.” Because I’m also a bit of a sucker for limited edition anything as well.

Doing business with Flik/Mindy has been delightful — she’s super-prompt on answering questions, shipped the journals out promptly, and on the pre-order apparel, sends update emails out to keep people apprised on the status. I love the level of innovation and creativity at work here, producing useful and interesting products that are also beautiful and artistic.

Flik has a rewards program, with points earned for things like following them on social media, creating an account, ordering products, and referring a friend. For blog readers, I have a 10% off discount code to share with you all (win-win, you get a discount on your order, and I get rewards points when you order): https://a.marsello.com/l/5c2d69b7811f9e06f466a012 

If you haven’t done so already, head on over to Flik Equestrian to check out the journals and limited edition apparel, and follow on Facebook and Instagram for great photography, inspirational quotes, and interactive or thought-provoking questions. Give Mindy a ‘hi’ and let her know I sent you!

Help me get the word out and support these wonderful small businesses and their owners…share this post!