100-Mile Musings

I don’t spend a ton of time on Facebook discussion groups, endurance-related or otherwise. I tend to “lurk” — I read and pay attention, but don’t often chime in, mostly because I’ve always tended to keep a fairly low public profile and social media, and use it more for direct interaction with friends and people I know. But I digress. Long story short, a thread on one of the endurance groups popped up in my newsfeed this afternoon and caught my attention.

The gist of the topic? What is stopping people from doing 100s?

Good question. Wish I knew the answer. Especially because I could probably be the poster child for a skeptical eyebrow raise of “Why do you keep doing this?” with all of the ups and downs I’ve experienced along the way. Maybe I’m just a slow learner, because I still have a love affair with wanting to try 100s. I got into endurance with the specific wish and desire to do 100s. Especially Tevis, but all of the 100s (particularly the “buckle” 100s) have appeal to me and are on my “I hope I don’t have to wait until the unforeseeable future to get to do them” list. With my current set-up as a catch-rider, the 100-mile goal becomes that much more elusive, but it doesn’t stop me from hoping/wishing/scheming.

Virginia City…my #1 “must return” 100-miler…because where else do you start in the dark in front of a saloon? And 76 miles gave me a serious taste of, “oh, so close.”

Both of my 100 attempts have just left me wanting a finish (at those rides, and at any 100, really) that much more. Pulls at 50s and LDs tend to bum me out, and yes, while I really  wanted finishes at the 100s, I feel like even starting those rides was an accomplishment.

Just like there’s a phrase about “horses who can do 100 miles” and “100-mile horses,” I think the same probably applies to people. There are people who can and will do 100s…and others who eat/sleep/breathe 100s. Although I haven’t completed one yet, I’m pretty sure I fall in the latter category. It’s difficult to describe why, or the personal appeal. I do this sport for fun, and there are elements of 100s that are most definitely not always fun. But I guess for me, those times when you think, “this is stupid” or “what was I thinking?” are outweighed by the satisfaction of conquering and accomplishing something supremely challenging.

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I got to see the start banner from more than just the window of the crew vehicle…so I at least got my “Tevis start” experience under my belt. Now I need the buckle ON my belt.

Besides, there is something magical that happens after 50 miles. I have absolutely loved starting in the dark, and being out riding in the dark. There’s a bit of a dichotomy that occurs…a desire to get as far down the trail as possible before losing the light…but also a part of me that wants to linger, to not be in too much of a rush and miss that opportunity to be out, watching as the stars appear.

Even when riding with other people, there’s a connection that happens between you and the horse in the dark. They can see — you can’t. You have to be willing to put a lot of faith and trust in their hooves to carry you through that trail safely…and I can tell you from experience, you feel pretty darn bonded to the horse after that.

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On the trail at dusk, racing the fading light.

I don’t really know where I was necessarily going with all of that, aside from my own random musings, and if it really had a point other than to illustrate that I really think those people who want to do 100s will find a way to make it happen (eventually, one way or another), and those that really don’t find it their particular cup of tea won’t. That is one of the benefits of endurance in that if does offer so many options…I just hope there are enough people that like and continue to like and support 100s to keep them around long enough for me to jump in and participate more as the opportunity arises.

Fall Photos

It’s alliterated, although I couldn’t bring myself to do “Phall Photos” or “Fall Fotos” without my inner grammar geek dying a little bit inside.

I know it’s only partway through fall (or what passes for “fall” in Arizona), but the past month has just been jammed full of a bunch of random stuff that’s kind of easier to just lump into one post. (Some of this stuff is over on Instagram as well, which is my go-to for quick, random updates and pics.)

My “Seasonal Job”

This fall season has been incredibly busy for my dad in his carpet cleaning business, to where there’s not enough days in the week/hours in the day to necessarily get some of the jobs that were coming in all taken care of, so I offered up my weekends to go out in the field with him and help get some of the time-sensitive jobs taken care of. I love the extra income, it’s a good physical workout, and there’s something very gratifying about the power to turn filthy floors into something presentable.

There have been several times now in the last several weeks we’ve been out both really early in the morning and late into the evening, so I’ve gotten some phenomenal views of the desert sunrises and sunsets.

Tights Collector

Cavaliere Couture, Ride Boldly, and Performaride have all benefited from my business lately. The CC’s are filling the need for plain black tights — and I love that she’s a small, AZ-based business. Still haven’t put them through the long ride test, but they’re insanely comfortable for just hanging around the house. The feather prints above are Performarides and as soon as I saw that pattern, I did flaily, “must-have” grabby-hands, because I love all things feathers, plus the purple and pink. And the newest RB’s that are on their way to me? Four words…”Christmas-colors leopard print.” These are going to demand an epic Christmas pony photo. (And Riding Warehouse has some hilarious equine Christmas accessories like hats, leg wraps, rein covers, quarter sheets…and this antler hat. Mimi is going to kill me.)

Mimi, Vosal Work, and The Irrigation Ditch

The only bad thing about being so busy was pony time suffered…which I feel bad about. Although I honestly don’t know if she really minds, one way or the other, anymore…I think she’s perfectly content to tootle around a couple times a month and otherwise live the retired life of luxury.

But yesterday I got to do barn catch-up and pony playtime. I just got new biothane straps made for a vosal I had laying around (one of my insane tack deal steals) — the original straps were leather that had gotten very dry and cracked, and I wasn’t comfortable using it in that condition, so had Amanda at Taylored Tack work me up some replacement straps.

Mimi was originally bosal trained way back when as a youngster, but that quickly went by the wayside after she came home with me and we promptly realized my pint-size personage was much better off with using a bit on her. The vosal is more of a mechanical take on the bosal, but she worked very well in it — I was able to ride on a pretty loose rein and more leg, and she was very responsive. (Granted, she was also not in Fire Breathing Dragon Mode.)

We’re both bored with working in the arena, so I took her out to stroll along the streets around the barn. One of the streets has a huge dirt shoulder that parallels one of the small irrigation canals, and that’s one of our go-to routes. The whole Phoenix valley has an excellent system of irrigation ditches and canals, most of which have paths that serve as “trails” of sorts, so I’ve spent my life riding alongside these canals and ditches. Most of the time, the small ditches are dry, unless irrigation is actively being diverted to properties, but occasionally around the house when I’m out with the dogs, I will manage to catch the initial irrigation release and watch it rush down the dry canal.

Well, this weekend, for the first time ever, my ride ended up coinciding with an irrigation release. I wasn’t sure how it was going to go — many horses have issues with water rushing at them (such as waves on the beach) — and Mimi has never been to the beach or seen water moving at her in that kind of fashion. As it turns out, she was absolutely fascinated. She stopped and just stared at the water, watching as it moved past up, and then continued to watch as the water level in the canal slowly rose. She was so curious, in fact she wanted to keep moving closer, and I was afraid she was going to do a tail-over-teakettle move in an effort to get even closer to the low ditch.

So they can be 25 years old and still have new life experiences.

The Girlies

The girlies are excellent. Fall is my “gotcha season” apparently, since Mimi, Artemis, and Sofie all came into my life in Oct/Nov. And both Artemis and Sofie have fall birthdays (Sept and Oct, respectively). So things get a little busy around here, trying to keep track of all the relevant dates, and I finally gave up and put them in as annual holidays on my Google calendar.

As the weather cools down, our daily walk/run mileage increases, which makes for very happy terriers. The activity on the canal behind the house also increases, which means they spend quite a bit of time running in the backyard, taking care of their house and yard. Yay for self-exercising.

Pacific Hoofcare Practitioners Conference

I went up to Reno a couple of weekends ago for the PHCP conference as a trade show vendor for work. Nice thing about this particular conference was the trade show only ran for specified hours of the day, to allow the vendors to attend the seminars. I really enjoyed the very specific audience, and being able to engage at that technical of a level of discussion in terms of boots, performance, hooves, and barefoot horses.

Yes, those are pink/purple/blue boots. No, they are not on the website. Yes, you can order them. They’re a special order — size has to be verified first, either by dealer fitting, previous ordered size/existing customer, or photos sent in for size evaluation. They’re going to be limited stock at least for right now, and made to order, so expect 7-10 day turnaround time before shipping. I’ve been using the pink and purple on Mimi this summer and I love them.

Reno in the fall was beautiful. I hadn’t realized there were so many trees in Reno proper, having only been there in late winter/early spring when there’s often still snow on the mountains and nothing growing. I got a small taste of fall and changing leaves, and the hotel was right along the Truckee River and the riverwalk. The hotel was also super-nice, with no smoking and no casino on the premises, so I didn’t come home with my usual post-Reno need to fumigate myself and all my belongings.

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AERC Director-At-Large Elections

Okay, I kind of buried the lead on that one. I’m running for the position of AERC Director-At-Large this year. I love this sport, and want to give back to it, and also would like to try to have some kind of input as to the direction it is taking. This isn’t the same sport I joined 14 years ago, and I haven’t been thrilled with some of what I’ve been seeing in the more recent past. Ballots are due in to the counting office by Nov 30, and results announced in the January ‘Endurance News.’ It’s been interesting, and campaigning has been a good experience thus far. At the very least, I have learned a ton, both about myself as well as the organization, and made some new connections along the way.

Miscellaneous Wrap-Up

I’ve been doing more cooking recently, or chipping in on “joint-effort” meals. These “checkerboard potatoes” were my answer to what to do when you have a tub of leftover mashed potatoes and a tub of leftover mashed sweet potatoes, but not enough of each to be individual sides. Scoop in checkerboard pattern into casserole dish, pop in oven @ 375* (I think) for about 30 mins, and they come out with a lovely crispy top.

One of my cousins got married in early October. The wedding was at a winery (two words: ‘open bar’) with cocktail attire as the dress code. Ummm…pretty sure I’ve never owned a cocktail dress in my life. But I do now, and my plan is to take it to the AERC Convention in March for the awards dinner night and find out exactly how many single, available guys under the age of 40 are actually in endurance. ;)))

And finally, I’m growing a plant. It’s one of those almost-impossible-to-kill air fern thingies that I got on a whim at Trader Joe’s at the beginning of October. I mostly wanted it for the cool skull, but 5 weeks later, “Yorrick” (y’know, Shakespeare? Hamlet? “Alas, poor Yorrick…” as a nod to my poor history of plant-keeping and the fact I was likely to be left with a plantless skull in short order) is still going strong and growing.

Okay, so, that’s that, I think. The McDowell ride is this weekend, and I’ll be up there volunteering. On Friday, I offered to serve as the “new rider concierge” during check-in, an idea that percolated after a discussion on new riders at rides, and how, from a new rider perspective, it can be a very difficult sport to break into — “cliquey” being the exact term used — or not knowing who to go to with questions, and not wanting to take up the time of the busy ride manager/secretary with a line of people all wanting to register. So my purpose will be to hang around and be available for anyone who wants to ask questions.

25 Questions

I’ve got very little going on by way of bloggable content right now, so a blog hop sounded like just the thing to get a post up that wasn’t just a whole bunch of inane rambling. So thanks to The $900 Facebook Pony for spearheading this one.

  1. Why horses? Why not a sane sport, like soccer or softball or curling?My parents allowed me to try just about any activity I wanted as a kid, with the only caveat that I had to finish whatever I started, whatever that looked like (a season or sport or block of time, however the particular activity delineated out periods of time). I tried ballet, gymnastics, t-ball, girl scouts…and horses. I hated gym class and was pretty hopeless at every sport except racquetball. I’ve dabbled in trail running and go back to it off and on. Horses have been the only constant in my life, and the only thing I keep coming back to, time and again, no matter how many disappointments, failures, and frustrations.
  2. What was your riding “career” like as a kid?I started riding when I was 7, and started showing when I was 10. From 10 until 17, I was heavily involved in the show ring with the Pony Of the Americas organization. Since the whole point of the POA is versatility, I grew up with a well-rounded exposure to a wide variety of disciplines — equitation and pleasure flat classes in both English and Western, jumping, reining, trail, in-hand halter and showmanship, gymkhana, and all of the off-season shenanigans a barnful of teenagers can manage to invent with their ponies.
  3. If you could go back to your past and buy ONE horse, which would it be?The very first true endurance horse I rode was during a trip to Australia, when Dad and I spent several days with a couple of Aussie endurance riders, getting a “beach and bush” horseback adventure tour on a couple of their endurance Arabians. The mare I rode, Rain, was 7/8ths Arab, 14.2, bay…and to this day, probably one of the most amazing horses I’ve ever ridden. She was bold, super-sane, sensible, and ridiculously fast. She fulfilled my dream of galloping on the beach, and I don’t know if I’ve ever felt as confident in the saddle of any horse as I did with her on those days. That was 14 years ago, and I still remember those rides with absolute clarity. If I could have afforded to ship her home, I would have bought her on the spot. Later that same year, she went on to finish first in Australia’s 5-day “Shazada” marathon (like our multi-days, only in order to finish, you have to ride/finish every single day), and also finish the 100-mile Quilty (Australia’s Tevis equivalent). My experience with her has left me with a certain affinity for cute little bay Arabian mares.

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    Nioka Park Rain Dance

  4. What disciplines have you participated in?A little bit of almost everything, at the level of “jack of all trades, master of none.” I started riding huntseat, then picked up western. The POA versatility exposed me to dabbling in a lot of different disciplines — pleasure and equitation classes, jumping, reining, trail, gymkhana, halter and showmanship. Aside from the day-to-day riding lessons, I’ve taken specialized lessons in jumping and dressage. Once I exited the show ring, I took up distance riding, which started with competitive trail and turned into my heart-sport of endurance.
  5. What disciplines do you want to participate in some day?I would like to try Working Equitation and mounted archery, just to experiment, and because I’m curious. Maybe some Arabian sporthorse showing if I end up with the right horse for it. But I think those would all be at the “dabble” level, because I still love endurance so much and have so much within that sport to still accomplish.
  6. Have you ever bought a horse at auction or from a rescue?Mimi was bought from the POA International Sale, which is technically done in an auction format…but I hate to say that, because it is not your typical “auction” and all the stereotypes that tend to be associated with that term. It is designed to be more of a central access point for individuals looking for a good POA, and allows for the opportunity to look at multiple ponies at one location without pinballing around the country.
  7. What was your FIRST favorite horse breed – the one you loved most as a kid?I have always felt drawn to Arabians. Blame the fact that Scottsdale used to be THE premiere destination for Arabian breeding during the 80s, and being so close to Scottsdale, going up and looking at the Arabian farms was something my parents would often do with out-of-state guests. So I got exposed to them at a very young age, and I think that subconsciously influenced me.
  8. If you could live and ride in any country in the world, where would it be?It’s currently a tie between Australia and New Zealand. NZ has the most gorgeous scenery I’ve ever seen (at least in movies…thank you, Lord of the Rings) but I had such an amazing experience in Australia, I would love to go back.

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    Beach ride in Australia

  9. Do you have any horse-related regrets?I hate exploring that whole idea of looking back and nitpicking apart what I would do different, mostly because I start dwelling on it way too much, because yes, there are plenty of things I wish I could go back and do-over. I wish I had discovered distance riding earlier, and could have capitalized on Mimi’s physical capabilities when she was younger. I wish I wasn’t so inclined to be a timid/tentative rider (getting better, but it’s always there, lurking under the surface). There’s plenty of little things along the way, many of which I had no control over anyway, I can look at and go, “I wish the outcome had been different.” But the vast majority of the time, I don’t think I could have done anything different, or been in a position to do so, and so I just try not to dwell on it too much.
  10. If you could ride with any trainer in the world, ASIDE from your current trainer, who would it be?Err…I don’t have a current trainer. I’ve had some fantastic endurance mentors, and any time I get to ride with someone whose horsemanship and endurance record I respect is a great experience. So basically, more of what I’m currently doing — a wide exposure to a variety of ride strategies and experiences.
  11. What is one item on your horse-related bucket list?Just one??? Another horse.
  12. If you were never able to ride again, would you still have horses?I don’t know. Probably. There’s times now that I go through periods that I don’t ride all that much, depending on how Mimi is feeling.
  13. What is your “biggest fantasy” riding goal?I’ve got quite a few fairly lofty endurance goals, but the biggest would probably be getting the chance to go over to Australia and ride the Quilty.
  14. What horse do you feel like has taught you the most?Mimi, if just by virtue of the fact she has been in my life the longest. But she’s also been an ever-adapting creature, in that as I was ready to learn more, she always had more to teach me. She’s not only been an education in horsemanship, but a lot of physical management.
  15. If you could change one thing about your current horse/riding situation, what would it be?My finances — to be able to afford another sound competition horse, to get onto horse property, to get a trailer, to handle all the associated expenses.
  16. If you could compete at any horse show/venue in your home country, where would it be?Sticking with endurance, the “big buckle” 100-milers. I’ve been to Tevis and Virginia City, and would go back to both. Would like to do Big Horn, Spanish Peaks, and Old Dominion.

    Outside of endurance, I would like to show at the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show someday.

  17. If you could attend any competition in the world as a spectator, what would be your top choice?I’m not a good spectator. Would have to be something endurance, and I would prefer to be involved in something like volunteering or crewing.
  18. Have you ever thought about quitting horses?Many times. Endurance especially has been an uphill battle a lot of times, and I’ve found myself wondering why in the world I keep subjecting myself to all these ups and downs. Horses, and horse sports, can be such a source of heartbreak and disappointment.

    And then one good ride, or a quiet bonding moment, makes me remember why it’s all worth it. Because horses complete me, and nothing in life is ever free of ups and downs.

  19. If you could snap your fingers and change one thing about the horse industry, what would it be?I don’t know. I know it’s really naive and idealistic to say a true focus on welfare and longevity. I’m all too aware of the big business nature of any of the competitive industries, and how none of them will take the luxury of waiting for horses to fully mature, skeletally, before exposing them to the rigors of the performance sports (racing, any of the performance futurities, etc).
  20. What’s the dumbest horse-related thing you’ve done that actually turned out pretty well?Historically, putting a young, green pony and a young, green rider together is usually a Bad Idea. Fortunately I had good trainer supervision, and Mimi and I have both lived to tell the tale. I did plenty of dumb shenanigans on pony-back growing up, and while I can’t really look at them and say, “wow, that turnd ino a great thing.” none of which actually turned out bad.

    And endurance ideas tend to be more “crazy” than “dumb.” :)))

  21. As you get older, what are you becoming more and more afraid of?Getting hurt. Which is just more of the same, even from when I was younger. I’ve always been aware of my own mortality, and have never bounced well.
  22. What horse-related book impacted you the most?I grew up on any horse books I could get my hands on, so this is going to be hard. But I would probably have to give a nod to the “Misty” books and all of Marguerite Henry’s works. I read all of them until they fell apart…and then I got new copies.
  23. What personality trait do you value most in a horse and which do you dislike the most?Boldness, courage, and grit…even if it means they have a streak of PITA-ness sometimes. I cannot deal with scared, nervous, flighty, reactive, spastic ones.
  24. What do you love most about your discipline?The bond that develops with a horse when you’re out there for so many hours at a time, seeing amazing sights that might not otherwise we accessible.
  25. What are you focused on improving the most, at the moment?The state of my finances, so I might better pursue the sport I love at my own whims.

My Favorite Things: Rides

My Favorite Things: A series of my favorite things of different categories, less formal than a review and more conversational musings. Everything from rides, to tack, to food, to apparel, all following a “Top Three” format. Also, because I’m me, and I’m known for changing my perspective and opinion of such things as favorites from year to year, some of these topics may end up revisited…more than once.

It was hard for me to narrow down my favorite rides, especially limiting myself to the Top Three. I can pretty easily narrow down two…but that third one I just may have to leave as a “rotating space” for now.

Virginia City 100 (Sept 2017)
It’s probably my favorite ride to date, even with not finishing. Yes, that’s how good everything else was to basically negate the Overtime pull. It’ll always be special because it was my first 100-miler attempt. It was a leap of faith, with an uncertain outcome, and I’m still proud of myself for attempting it and taking that chance, even if all the stars didn’t align for a finish.

(FWIW, 100-mile hallucinations are real. I saw land bridges and Easter Island heads.)

VC just has the best atmosphere. Given that it was the 50th anniversary ride when I rode it, it was larger that usual, with over 70 entries…but normal years has entries usually between 40-50 people, which makes for a very laid-back, more intimate type of ride. I love that it’s a 100 only, so everyone in camp to ride is there to do that ride and that distance. Kind of hard to describe, but it gives it a different feeling than other rides.

Yeah, the rocks suck. Coming from Arizona, I’m fairly used to rocks, and many claims of areas being rocky elicit merely an eyebrow raise from me. This one earned the double eyebrows and a few colorful words at opportune moments. That said, I also has the fortune (?) to ride it during “one of the worst footing years to date” thanks to some epic rain/snow earlier in the year that decided to rearrange most of the trail footing and rocks.

But the scenery is gorgeous, and I love how different the Nevada high desert is from my own. The multiple, but not excessive, loop format (50, 26, 24) isn’t as intimidating (or hard to coordinate) as a point-to-point trail, but the loops aren’t so short/frequent that you feel like you’re just doing a merry-go-round of repeat loops around camp. There’s also very little shared trail (and you’re usually in the dark most of the times you’re on it, so does that even count?), and the sections that are shared are the ones you’re happy with because they’re of the “back to camp” variety that makes for happy horses who know where they’re going.

Plus, they feed you well (steak for breakfast, cookies at one of the water stops), and you can get finisher’s buckles. I really want one of those pretty buckles, darn it. One of these years…

Strawberry Fields Forever (June 2018)
Well, Flash, for starters. Hard not to enjoy any ride I’ve done on him. The Strawberry ride had been on my “must do” ride bucket list since I started endurance, so I was super excited to finally get to experience it. The scenery is out of this world amazing. Think “Sound of music” minus the singing nuns. Grass, aspens, an amazing array of micro-climates and vegetation. It’s so different from everything I know that I felt like I was living in a small slice of high elevation, green tree paradise for a few days.

It was also a really good ride experience for me. Flash put me and my horsemanship to the test, since he was feeling very strong and forward on day one. He has his Opinions and doesn’t like to be micro-managed, so he appreciates a certain level of tact and picking one’s battles. I must have done right by him, in his mind at least, since he rewarded me with being sensible and mindful in the technical, tricky stuff.

It was also interesting to experience a pull on day one for thumps, but to be able to work through it, solve the problem, and be cleared to go out again on day two…and then finish that day with a super-strong horse (who probably would have been happy to go day three).

The day two scenery was also gorgeous, and Flash was even more settled, so we had a really enjoyable ride right from the start. He’s also a fun horse to travel with on the road. I also enjoy my road trips, so the scenic, two-day drive up there also doesn’t hurt my feelings. The weekend also involved some of my amazing endurance mentors and friends, and just a ton of fun overall.

The Third Ride
I’m having a tough time narrowing this one down. I look back at my rides and think, “Oh, that one was really fun,” or “That was a major accomplishment,” but I’m not sure one stands out above the rest. Currently in the running are:
Lead-Follow @ Bumble Bee 50 (2018)
Tahoe Rim Ride 50 (2016)
Man Against Horse 50 (2009)
Lead-Follow @ McDowell 75 (2017)

Bumble Bee was excellent because 1) Flash and 2) broke the seeming curse I had in regards to finishing, or even riding, this ride. Had some phenomenal “connected” moments with Flash, and I will never forget how he danced his way up the Black Canyon Trail, with nothing more than a whispered “go get ’em” encouragement to let him know there were horses ahead of us. It was also my first real top ten in a 50, and first time to stand for Best Condition. The only real negative of this ride was figuring out my shoes I was riding in were pretty well shot for padding, and I spent the last 10 miles or so of the ride wanting to cut my feet off at the ankles. But Flash gets a gold star for putting with with several miles of my probably-crappy riding. And the shoes got permanently retired.

Tahoe Rim was a beautiful ride, probably the prettiest I’ve done. It’s also a very challenging ride, so definitely a feather in the cap to finish with a sound, happy horse. It also followed a string of very disappointing pulls at rides, and a badly-needed confidence booster. Roo did really well for me and gave me an excellent ride overall, even if he was being a spooky snot when it came to leading, and we almost parted ways a couple times.

Man Against Horse…probably one of my proudest accomplishments with Mimi. She proved what a tough, game, big-hearted war mare she is when she finished that particular 50. Funny thing is, there were definitely things that didn’t make it an entirely wonderful ride, such as the vet thinking he “might” have seen something in her trot-out at the top of the mountain, and having to re-trot her a couple times. Heart in throat for sure. And my stirrup leathers decide to declare war on my shins, so by the time we were down to the last third of the ride, my shins felt like I had hit knives stabbing into them. But it was one of those “worth any crap along the way” rides in order to get that finisher’s buckle.

McDowell 75 last year was pretty awesome. Not only to be entrusted with a friend’s special horse, but to have it be both his and my first 75, and to finish…and finish well. I fully anticipated needing to take the full time, so to finish mid-pack, with several hours of buffer, was a very pleasant surprise. It was a day that went really smoothly, and I was really pleased with how horse management and pacing went. It was definitely a ride that helped build my own confidence in the “yes, I am a competent endurance rider” department.

So between those four rides, I have a really hard time narrowing it down. I guess I just have to wait for another outstanding ride to come along that tops those four to round out my ultimate Top Three…at least for now.

Happy Gotcha Day, Mimi

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“To many, the words love, hope, and dreams are synonymous with horses.”

On this day in 1996, a small grey mare officially came into my life, fulfilling one dream, and starting us down the path of so many more.

We’ve shared 22 years of dreams, frustrations, hope, heartbreak, teaching, and learning. (We know who’s the teacher and who’s the student. The teacher isn’t the one making a blog post, since she lacks the fingers necessary to type on a keyboard.)

And above all, love. Patience, compassion, understanding, wisdom. A soft mane to cry on, even if you really don’t like being cuddled. A tolerance for my fussing and the fact I sometimes see you as my own personal living, breathing “My Little Pony.” And it’s sometimes involved glitter.

Happy Gotcha Day, Mimi!!