How to survive riding an AZ summer…

1) Ride early.

You seriously don’t want to ask me waht my wakeup time is on weekends. Here’s a hint: around the time the last 1/3 of Tevis riders cross the finish line…as in somewhere around 4:00. Urk. Sick and wrong when sunrise hasn’t even started yet and I’m awake. Coffee helps.

Mind you, some of my earliness comes from the necessity of having to drive 40 minutes to the barn, hitch up the trailer, load the ponies, and then drive 15 minutes to the park.

2) Ride short.

The less time you’re out in the heat, the better. Doing shorter loops helps, too…going out for a 6-7 mile loop, get a drink back at the trailer, then go for another loop.

3) Make your own breeze!

Trotting is *good* when it creates artificial air ciculation. Course, this doesn’t work too well when it’s hot and the ponies say “Trot? You must be joking. It’s too hot to be out here, let alone trot, so I will continue to plod at a snail’s pace.” *sigh*

4) You *can* sponge in the desert!

Well, you can if you have a water spigot at the trailhead that can be turned on from the saddle. Hold sponge under running water, loose sponge when pony leaps to the side to marvel at the sudden gush of water, retrieve sponge, sponge pony from ground to show that it is not the Killer Attack Sponge, but rather an instrument of comfort, remount, attempt to shuck sponge at running water, watch pony flail and leap because the sponge come Out Of Nowhere, slop barely damp sponge against neck, incite further leaping until pony realizes that This Feels Good, lather rinse repeat. *grin* Can you tell we haven’t been sponged from the saddle much? She’s actually not that overly dramatic, it just makes for an amusing story. And that was only the first tiem I tried that trick. Now, she’s an old pro.

5) Cotton. Cotton breathes.

Lightweight cotton t-shirts are good. So are long-sleeved lightweight cotton sunshirts over lightweight cotton tank tops. Now I need to invest in cotton tights, versus my nylon/lyrca numbers, even though they’ll get shredded on our Shrubberies of Doom and Steel Branches out here.

6) Camelbak.

My lifesaver. Because yes, you can go through 70 oz of water on a 10 mile training ride.

That being said, we braved te heat and monsoon humidity for a short ride today. It absolutely poured on Thursday night, so the ponies have been stalled up. Urgh.

The first sign that it really rained hard at the park was the fact that part of the entrance road to the park was now dirt road. The normally paved road had been covered over for about 1/4 mile with sand and dirt. Oh.

There was much redistribution of real estate at the park from the storm…some trails that were formerly beautiful footing had been worn down to the bedrock granite layer. And some of the shallow, super rocky washes were now 2′ deep with sand.

All of this meant a slow ride today because a) we needed to see how badly washed out some of our trails were and, in necessary, reblaze them, and b) we didn’t know how much some of them had chaged, especially the washes. They can be very unpredictable after a rain, and last week’s perfect trotting wash may now be soft snad up to their fetlocks. Also, c) the fact that saguaros most often fall after a storm, and the horses hate coming up on those suddenly. The fact that they’re moist and decaying makes them smell very dead and very bad. That and the sight of a fifty foot fall cactus laying on the ground with weird angles does funny things to horse imaginations…

All in all…nice ride…hot, humid, but there was a little breeze for most of the time, which was nice.

Still sulking about Tevis, and how all of my contingency plans to make up for not crewing at Tevis keep falling through. Grrr.

However, I’m happy to report my foot doesn’t hurt at all riding! A little sore still sometimes walking around, or if I sit and poke at certain spots I can make it hurt, but riding was perfectly fine. And I even managed a little in-hand trot-out back at the barn today. :)

Thanks for reading! Comments are always welcome!

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