Lessons Learned: Bumble Bee edition

Had to cogitate on this one for a few days…didn’t have any major revelations after the initial writing of it, so time to post it.

And now for the ever-popular, “What Worked, What Didn’t, and Other Random Musings.” [Complete ride story here.]

What Didn’t Work

Time-keeping. Obviously. I still don’t know how we got so far behind on getting ready. The only thing I can think of is not being used to starting early on an LD, and it was cold and dark and we were slow.

Self care. More fail. Because of the whole time thing, I managed a cup of coffee and banana for breakfast. And then I ate nothing on the first loop (too busy active riding), and nothing on the second loop. I did semi-okay drinking…probably an entire 20 oz bottle on each loop. The only reason I got away with this was it was 25 miles, and the weather was cool. This is kind of a new challenge for me…I’ve been spoiled by the autopilot pony over the years.

Stirrups. A-freakin’-gain. I hate stirrups. I’ve yet to find ones I truly love. I do like my Cloud Stirrups, but they are so heavy, and on a saddle that’s already on the weighty side, it’s just that much more. So I found a pair of Gaston Mercier stirrups used on a great price, and picked them up…but after riding in them this weekend, I don’t know if there’s enough weight distribution in the footbed, at least not for how heavily I tend to weigh my stirrups when I’m actively riding. Partway through the first loop, my feet were starting to go numb just a bit. I’ll still keep messing with them…I think I also might have had my stirrups a touch short, but that’s my default security setting on a new/young horse.

Saddle. Still not 100% ideal. Liberty was a touch sore on her loins, but not as bad as after Prescott Chaparral. Still…I don’t want to see any soreness, especially after 25 miles, since distance rarely improves that condition. And I’m still so sore where I was getting slammed into the rise on her abrupt stops.

Goatheads. Bleh. Goatheads in the camping area. Still picking them out of my boots. Note to self: Invest in doggie booties and bring them to rides on the off-chance there will be goatheads. (They weren’t there last year.) There were some unhappy dogs this year, mincing their way across the ground. Note to self: Buy dog booties to just keep as part of the ride gear.

What Worked

Tack. Libby and Mimi use the same set-up, sans crupper (for now) on Libby. I just have to let everything out by a hole or two on Libby. (Note to self: Use sharpie to mark the different holes, for ahead-of-time adjusting next time.)

My clothing. The “Lady GaGa” tights are from Evelyn the Tights Lady, and they got more comments than just about any pair I’ve worn. Funky, they coordinated well, and with the full sheepskin saddle cover, not too slippery. I had a polyester tech-material tank top on under a long-sleeved denim shirt, and topped with a lightweight soft shell windbreaker for the first loop. I ditched the jacket at the lunch hold, and kept everything else the same. First ride for my fringed Just Chaps half chaps and they worked excellent. What’s nice about them is they’re short enough that they don’t run into the back of my knee at all, and the suede is super-flexible and soft.

No martingale. Libby did some head slinging at Prescott Chaparral, and I threatened to put a martingale on her the next ride. I decided to start without one, since I’m a minimalist that way, and add it if needed. I never needed it, and her worst behavior indiscretions (happy feet hopping) wouldn’t have been solved with the martingale anyway.

No leg wraps. Yay, she doesn’t interfere. As long as she doesn’t I will continue to not use any kind of splint/ankle boots.

Camera. I remembered to take more photos this time. Why I could do this, and not eat, I’m not quite sure.

Riding buddy. Gina and I always have fun when we ride together. And Libby and Wicked paced well together. Riding with Wicked helped Libby discover that she just might have a decent walk, and she started learning to stretch out her trot when she realized I wouldn’t let her canter.

Boots. Liberty’s Renegade Vipers worked perfectly. At Chaparral, we pitched a hind boot on a water crossing/uphill climb. The only difference was size. This time, we had the next-longer size of Vipers available, and that extra 5mm of length on both fronts and hinds altered the size enough to be exactly what she needed. They didn’t budge this time around.

The horse. I love this mare. She reminds me so much of Mimi. I can’t wait to do more with her.

The ride. Ride management puts on an awesome ride. I’ve been able to peripherally appreciate it, as I’ve been part of the volunteer staff for Bumble Bee and McDowell, but being able to participate in the ride and really benefit from the work management puts into it was fantastic. Well-marked trail, great volunteers, enthusiastic management, and a well-run ride. I’m just sad I didn’t get one of the cute mugs they did for completion awards.

Random Musings

– Battle of Wills: Stubborn Horse vs. Stubborn Rider. This is an interesting one, in that it both did and didn’t work. The “didn’t” part would be I would have just preferred she not pull out the “stubborn mare” card…but what worked was that I had to deal with it. At Chaparral, she pulled that and we sent Uno out in front and she happily followed. This time, she didn’t want to lead, but she started wanting to hop/pitch a fit when following. So she had to lead. She didn’t get to bow out this time. Based on how dominant she is, I fully suspect this was a test to see if I was “worthy” of leading her and whether or not I was sending her to her doom. Overall, I think I did pretty okay…ultimately, she didn’t win on the “dig heels in and refuse to move forward” front. But next time, crop. And she needs more arena time to get sensitized to leg cues. (The good thing: She’s not an over-reactive, emotional horse who goes into hysterics when she’s thumped in the side or swatted on the rear. Subtle riders ‘r us.)

No tire issues. Good start to the year, since the first ride of 2013 was the one that started all of the tire issues…

2 thoughts on “Lessons Learned: Bumble Bee edition

  1. I'm so glad things are working out with Liberty! It sounds like you had a great ride, even though a few things didn't work quite right. And I would like to request a picture of Artemis in the dog booties:)

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