Lessons Learned: Prescott Edition

Some rides are easier than others. At Sonoita, for whatever reason, everything went really smooth and I found myself wrapped up for the evening by 8PM and with time to even watch TV on Steph’s portable DVD player. Prescott, not so much, as I found myself back to my “standard operating procedure” of feeling like I had way too much stuff to do and not enough time in an evening to get it all done before the next day, then finally crawling into bed around 10PM.

No idea what the difference was, other than maybe more socialization at Prescott? Hey, if it means a slightly later night…so be it. Rides are my social life, so I’m going to enjoy that time.

I touched on it before, but the theme of this weekend was “flexibility.” So many plans ends up changing along the way, and so for a self-admitted control freak who prides herself on her planning and preparation, it was a real exercise in relaxing and going with it, especially since it was mostly stuff I had absolutely no control over anyway. This ride season has been really good in getting me to lighten up and not be quite as intense about rides. I’m still my detail-oriented self (love my lists and Post-It notes), but I’m learning it’s not necessarily the end of the world if some minor thing gets forgotten or doesn’t get done.

As with every ride, some things worked and some things didn’t. Between Sonoita and Prescott, I changed around some major elements of my saddle set-up: the seat cover and the stirrups.

First, I switched my full sheepskin cover out for a Supracor seat cover. What I liked about it: Not having the full sheepskin on the sides of the saddle made it just a little narrower and that much easier for me to put my leg on the horse; the stiffer Supracor material “filled in” some of the extra seat space and made the rise seem less steep; that Supracor is cushy.

Unfortunately, it ended up not working for 50 miles. There was just too much of an edge where the seat cover ended on the sides, and it was definitely turning into somewhat of a chaffing spot. Also, having the sides of my saddle uncovered meant that my knee patches of my tights rubbed against the leather knee blocks of my saddle, and for whatever reason, they squeaked. I hate squeaky noises like that, so that was highly annoying. Plus, my full sheepskin kept my saddle really clean and scratch-free.

Fortunately, I brought all of my “originals” of the things I’d changed out with me, so it was a fairly simple matter of switching out the seat covers between days one and two.

The other thing I changed was my stirrups. I’d been looking at the Cloud Stirrups for a while — my father used to use them, and I could never get over how big and clunky they were — but after exhausting several other options, they looked like my best shot, especially when I found a set of them advertised on the Endurance.net classifieds for a great deal.

I love them. Yes, they’re heavier than I’m used to…but it seems like they balance out the weight of my saddle. And they look less clunky in black. But looks and weight aside, they’re comfortable. I’m still kind of playing with stirrup leather length — because they’re heavier and more stable, they stay in place better and I don’t have to rely on a shorter leg position for stability — but I’m really happy with them.

I must be a real endurance rider now: I got my first actual clothing/tack rub and finally had an actual need for BodyGlide. The intersection between the stitching across the knee patches on one pair of tights + half chaps + stirrup leather was just the wrong combination and I ended up with a rub on the inside bend of my left knee, and could feel another rub starting on the same place on my right knee. Fortunately, this happened on day one when the vet hold was back in camp, so I was able to slather with BodyGlide (lazy endurance rider couldn’t be bothered to remove her half chaps and boots to change tights) and it didn’t really get much worse the rest of the day. As part of my planning, I’d brought three completely different brands of tights with me, so the tights I wore on day two didn’t have stitching in the same location. I also had my full sheepskin cover back on, and riding a completely different horse with different movement and positioning in the saddle.

irish horse had asked about the logistics of riding what was originally going to be three different horses, and how my tack set-up would change. Surprisingly, not that much. I’d tried my saddle on all but Liberty and it worked; including the same saddle pad. Rocco and Kasha both wear the same bit and their bridles are adjusted the same. Liberty wears an s-hackamore, which is the same set-up I use on Mimi, so all I have to do there is adjust size settings. Ditto on the breastcollar — just adjust settings. So far, they all like my mohair girth and it fits all of them. Liberty is the one horse my saddle ultimately won’t work on — it’s a little bit too narrow and she was slightly sore back on her loins by the time we finished. (She’s a tank, at least as wide as Mimi.)

I wish I would have had time to braid Liberty’s mane. I don’t think it made a huge difference in her cooling down, but it’s long and fine, and kept getting caught under the breastcollar/saddle pad/saddle packs/reins. I even spent the last 15 minutes at the vet check rummaging through my crew bag looking for something to use as a hair tie. (The only thing I found that might have worked was shoelaces. I figured we’d gotten that far and were still okay, so just left it. I now have a pack of braiding bands and a mane comb stuck in the crew bag.)

I did pretty good in the food department. Ride meals were outstanding, provided by a mobile catering company. Dinner Saturday night was BBQ ribs or chicken (ribs for me!), and Sunday was beef burgandy on pasta. The chocolate cupcakes with almond butter whipped cream were so good. I made my homemade meat sauce marinara with spaghetti for Friday night — always a hit — and had leftovers of that for Saturday lunch. Breakfast we discussed already, with the conclusion that “cottage cheese is good.” I still love the Succeed! electrolytes and the Clip2 energy drink: I went through three of those over the weekend. All things vanilla or orange-flavored work the best for me. Lemon-flavored GU Chomps tasted good going down, but lemon-flavored burps aren’t all that much fun later.

And the biggest thing for me in finishing a ride still feeling good? Riding good horses who don’t thrash me to bits or give me ulcer-causing worries. Thank Liberty, Rocco, Gina, and Stephanie for a great weekend and two great rides!

Thanks for reading! Comments are always welcome!

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