Happy New (Ride Season) Year

So the AERC ride year actually runs Dec 1 – Nov 30, rather than following the calendar year…I have no idea why. But I actually renewed on time this year, and am all set for 2017.

At the end of last year, I made some goal and vague plans for my 2016 season. Let’s see how those worked out, shall we?

  • Learn to properly ride a sitting trot. Fail. Not helped by the fact I didn’t clock very much riding time in with the pony. However, given the fact I tried and discovered I can sit Liberty’s trot, I’m inclined to chalk this one up to “very difficult to attain on the pony.”
  • Get to at least one endurance ride. Success. Actually got to three rides: Bumble Bee, Wickenburg, Tahoe Rim. And a weekend horse camping trip.
  • Finish (and not overtime) at least one endurance ride. Success. Tahoe Rim. Thank you, Roo.
  • Further my hoof trimming education. Sort of. Didn’t spend as much time on this or go an in depth as I wanted.
  • Do a better job of tracking training rides/mileage. Sort of. Started out the year well, and then about halfway through, got lazy and stopped tracking stuff again. Try again next year.

What’s on the horizon for 2017? I really have no clue at this point. I’ve got my truck up and running again, so my mobility and freedom has once again greatly increased, thus opening up the possibility of doing some more catch riding. Aside from that, AERC Convention in February (Dallas, TX), some running plans, most likely Tevis crewing, and from there, I’ll just see how it goes.

13265903_10209971314185742_3494223410935121276_n

clsoe-crop

As always, hoping for more saddle time with these two, and whatever other four-hooves enablers of fun I can wrangle up along the way.

Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, all! May the turkey be moist, the gravy non-lumpy, the pie plentiful, and the alcohol readily available. Said with affection, good humor, and tongue firmly in cheek. ;)

My pies are done and packed up, ready to head over to the family gathering later this afternoon.

15202600_10107057219198051_2109147883595422189_n

pumpkin and apple…both homemade from scratch, including crust. I have a soft spot for pie baking.

This morning, the pups and I headed out bright and early for the unofficial Aravaipa Thanksgiving Trail Turkey Trot. We did the 5(ish)k…which turned into 4.3 miles, with some extra bonus miles in there when I sorta missed a turn, headed down a parallel track, decided I didn’t actually know for sure if that parallel track ended up where we needed to be (it did), turned around, and backtracked to the trail split where I had gone the wrong way. Yay, bonus miles! 4.3 miles in 1 hour exactly.

15095520_10154401306562659_5097701131435578692_n

The girls loved getting out on trail again, and although they can be a bit exasperating to run with in trying to get a good rhythm, they are an awful lot of fun, and their enthusiasm is contagious.

This is the second time I’ve done a Thanksgiving morning run (skipped last year, but went with Artemis in 2014, which was the first year for the unofficial race mentioned above), so I guess that now makes it a tradition…can’t say it’s a bad one.

Nothing like catching the most perfect sunrise to start off the morning, and the time out on trail for reflection and thankfulness. Life may not be perfect, but then, it’s not meant to be. It’s fun, it’s messy, it’s a rollercoaster of goods and bads, ups and downs. And it generates an awful lot of stories.

14533723_1945326942419397_2579364750169210880_n

 

November 10 Questions

Feeling really “content-lite” right now guys…sorry, not a whole lot happening in horsey-ville or running life at the moment.

So I poached Liz Stout‘s “10 Questions” post so there’s at least something on here for November.

How old is the youngest/greenest horse you’ve ridden?
Mimi is the youngest…she was 3-1/2 when I got her. Greenest? Probably Beamer. He’d been to a couple of different trainers by the time we got him, but he was really inconsistent and knew the least in terms of “things beyond the very basics I had to install on him.”

How old is the oldest horse you’ve ridden?
Probably Snappy…he was in his late 20s the last time I rode him.

Were you scared of horses when you first started riding?
I wasn’t…until I got dumped within my first month of riding, and then proceeded to part ways with the same horse a number of times over the course of that first year of riding.

Would you say you’re a more nervous rider or a confident rider?
More nervous. See above. I’ve gone through cycles where I’ve felt super-confident, would climb on and ride most horses without thinking twice, and be really brave and bold. And then there’s the flip side of that, where I’m doubting everything I know, question my own capabilities, have a hard time trusting the horse, and am looking for the boogieman around every corner. I’m really trying to reclaim that confidence cycle again.

Biggest pet peeve about non-horse people around horses?
Probably bad attitudes about right-of-way and trail sharing. I understand that not everyone may be familiar with trail etiquette, and I try to give people the benefit of the doubt and educate first — “Hi there, can you slow down or stop while we pass? Can you speak up so my horse knows you’re a person? Hiding in the bushes may not be the best idea, horses might think you’re a predator.” And so on. But I’ve unfortunately run into a few pieces of work (most commonly mountain bikers and some hikers) who have a major attitude problem about trail sharing.

A time you’ve been scared for your life?
I guess it’s a good thing that I really can’t think of anything? Several times where I knew the end result was going to hurt, but if there’s anything else, I’ve done a good job of blocking it out of my mind.

Have you ever fallen off at show? What happened?
Ahahahahahahaha…multiple times. Most memorably? Parting company with the pony in the warm-up ring at the International. Oh, yes. Biggest show of my life, and the most memorable part of it was I got dumped.

What’s a breed of horse you’ve never ridden but would like to ride?
Peruvian Paso. Andalusian.

Describe the worst behaved horse you’ve ridden?
Spooky, ansty, won’t settle, explosively reactive, can’t handle contact, rears under pressure.

The most frustrating ride you’ve ever had? 
This is a hard one to answer. I’ve had a lot of frustrating times/moments along the way. You know I’ve got a passion for horses when a lot of this journey has been an uphill battle, and I still keep forging onward (mostly because the good times have been so good, it’s worth the struggle to get there). I  can think of a number of times when, if pushed, I would say “Yes, that was a frustrating moment” but I try not to dwell on those moments too much, and instead try to spend more time focusing on the positives that happened. So I don’t know if I’ve had one ride that stands out in my mind as “most frustrating time ever.” So I’m going to go with “doing everything right at a show and being under a judge who just doesn’t like your pony.” Because you can’t do anything to change that when your horse moves with impulsion and rhythm and the judge like foot-shuffling peanut-rollers.

Happy 20 Years, Mimi!

 

In terms of major milestones, 20 years is a biggie. 20 years since I got my very own My Little Pony.

img_7260

How do you even put into words the depth of the bond and partnership that forms over that long of a period of time? How many tears cried into that choppy, misshapen mane? How many confessions have those fuzzy ears heard that no other soul on this earth has heard? How much delight, frustration, fear, jubilation, learning, growing, changing have we gone through together?

I absolutely know she is my perfect heart horse and there will never be another one like her. Most people don’t get this lucky with their first horse, and I say a prayer of thanks on a regular basis that I did.

It’s hard to distill down the best of 20 years into a handful of photographs (and I’ve got a ton of photos). So many different experiences and activities, from show ring to endurance trail, and a whole bunch of everything in between. This is just a small handful…

Just a few of what amount to a lifetime of memories and experiences, learning and growing. Heartbreak, disappointment, success, joy. All wrapped up together in my best heart horse and best friend.

Javelina Jangover 7k, Redux

After taking a year and half off from any trail races after my DNF at Crown King (healing not only physical injuries, but the mental ones), I hit the “restart” button last night at the Javelina Jangover 7k. Appropriate, as it was my first trail race two years ago.

I hadn’t planned on going. My running fitness is not the strongest it has been, although my overall body fitness is better. It’s a long drive (about an hour) up to McDowell for a short race. But a friend was planning to go, and I could hitch a ride with her, so I made the impulse decision on Friday to go. And then some Saturday morning Facebook conversations resulted in another friend coming down from the Prescott area to run with me in her first trail race.

We had a blast. Finished about 2 minutes slower than I did two years ago, but felt way stronger, nothing hurt, and I could have gone further. Goal: Finish without injury and not looking like roadkill. Goal more than met.

The shorter distance meant I could be a little more minimalist (yay, just a handheld bottle!), but still gave me a good platform for things like shoes. I’m going to tentatively go with two thumbs up for the Pearl Izumis, one of the few I’ve found to have a wide forefoot, narrow heel, and a rock plate. Now to stock up on a ton of them before they discontinue them or change the style.

Nothing changed from 2014 on the course, save for no pre-race monsoon storm, which meant it was a little bit warmer. It’s even more popular than two years ago, with over 300 over the four distances offered. (125 in the 7k. And we still  managed to find a decent little space bubble for ourselves.)

Since it was night, and I wasn’t running with my phone, I have no photos…once they have race photos online, I’ll add them here.

Gear Rundown:
InkNBurn “Run or Tie Die” singlet
InkNBurn Healing Mandala shorts
– Anita DynamiXstar sports bra
Pearl Izumi EM Trail N2v2 shoes (with SuperFeet insoles)
– Keen merino wool socks
– copycat “Buff” headband + “can’t be bothered with my hair” ponytail
Black Diamond Spot headlamp
Amphipod handheld
– a couple of preventative strips of RockTape on my pesky hamstring area (that didn’t end up bothering me one bit)

No gear issues, no rubs, no chafing, no blisters. Love it when things work out.

It felt really good to be back on the run trail again, and to get the mental confidence back from a successful finish. Interestingly enough, I feel like I came off my hiatus stronger, and certainly with an appreciation of how to train smarter (and the value of cross-training), not necessarily harder.

I got another glass to add to my drinkware collection, and another race shirt…theoretically, I shouldn’t have to buy too many clothes or drinking glasses between my trail runs and endurance rides and the various completion awards.