Velocity

Velocity equals Distance over Time. Yes, that is massively simplified down, but the only thing I’m worse at than chemistry is math and physics. So that would be velocity, as I understand it.

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What is the landspeed velocity of a frustrated-but-persistent endurance rider?

This summer will be 15 years since I’ve been involved in endurance riding. A few years of competitive trail prior to that, but the summer of 2004 was what officially kicked off my love affair with endurance, starting with a trip down to Australia, where my dad and I got to gallop endurance Arabians on the beach and ride through the rainforest; then I came back home and crewed Tevis for the first time.

From that point forward, I was hooked. Competitive trail was fine, but I had been introduced to the idea and the world of “further, faster.” I scoured the internet, sniffed out every information resource I could find, ramped up my pony’s conditioning. The endurance fire had well and truly been lit…and it’s pretty much been ups and down ever since.

This may be one of the most honest posts I write when I say endurance has been amazing, exhilarating, fulfilling, an invaluable learning experience, and has left me on top of the world. It has also been the most disappointing, frustrating, disheartening experience that has left me a demoralized, crumpled heap. I know I’m not unique in that, and it’s definitely helped in the past to talk to other people and find out some of the “behind the scenes” where they haven’t had an entirely smooth go at it either.

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This photo of Roo and me at Tevis last year showed up in this month’s issue of Endurance News. I was quite surprised to see it, and I’ll admit, I started crying after I read the quote.

“There is in every true woman’s heart a spark of heavenly fire, which lies dormant in the board daylight of prosperity; but which kindles up, and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity.” — Washington Irving, The Sketch Book, 1820

I’ve had so many ups and downs in this sport that sometimes it’s hard not to feel like it’s a constant uphill battle in trying to reach my goals. And there’s many times I don’t feel like I’m particularly strong or resilient in dealing with it. But I guess the fact that I still persistently keep on chipping away at it, or refuse to throw my hands up and walk away in disgust, speaks to a certain amount of…whatever you want to call it. Fire. Stubbornness. Tenacity. Optimism. Reincarnated Whack-A-Mole.

And I’ll admit I have some big dreams and lofty, some might even say slightly ludicrous, goals, especially given the fact I have one mostly-retired pony and am currently at the mercy of relying on catch rides. But that also provides some great motivation to get out there and do something about it. It’s currently small steps…small steps like finishing my online equine anatomy course, one of the requirements for Masterson Method bodywork certification.

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I still have many more small steps towards that final certification, but each one completed is still one step closer towards my end goals.

It can be altogether frustrating at times, but I’m not ready to hang up those big dreams. I’ve held on to them for too long, and worked too hard to get to this point, to give up on the ideas that make me sparkly-eyed. Things like:

  • Pioneer ride finish (on the same horse). I’ve never done three days in a row, let alone on the same horse. I’ve done a few back-to-back days, but on different horses, and one back-to-back on the same horse…but we didn’t finish the first day.
  • Tevis finish. Last year was good in that it really knocked some of the edge off the slightly-obsessive view and pedestal I had put this ride on…but it’s still my Original Endurance Goal. I will happily aim for multiple finishes…at some point…but for starters, I’d just be happy with one buckle.
  • Virginia City 100. More unfinished business. And I just adore this ride. The history, the atmosphere, the challenge…but it’s also way less intense of an environment than Tevis, and a little more doable on a regular basis since it doesn’t need quite the level of crew personnel and involvement.
  • Big Horn 100. Another one of the “big 100” rides, at least in my book. Wilderness, self-sufficiency, amazing scenery, challenging trail.
  • I love 100s, or at least the idea of them. We’ll talk more when I can actually finish one. But having a couple of horses going, to where I’m able to chase a few 100s a year, would be my idea of awesome.
  • This is really far out there, especially at this point, but…going down to Australia and doing the Quilty. I would love to someday be in a position to do a horse trade of a Tevis (or other 100) ride for a Quilty ride…or do a horse lease or something for the Quilty. But some of my initial fascination with and introduction to endurance came about down in Australia, so it kind of just seems fitting.

Big dreams, yes…but also big motivators, and something to keep me buckled down and going during this certification process. Just don’t ask me to even think about velocity calculations.

SBS: Flik Equestrian

Small Business Saturday is a (mostly) monthly segment of the blog, featuring a small business that I would like to promote. Those chosen are ones I have directly done business with, have been very satisfied with the outcome, and would like to spread the word about and drive more business their way. I love supporting small businesses and creative entrepreneurs, and promoting ones I believe in are a just a small way of saying ‘thank you’ and encouraging them. 

This first SBS segment features an Australian company, Flik Equestrian. Currently, they offer equestrian record journals (a general one and an endurance-specific one), and limited edition apparel.

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From the Flik Equestrian Facebook page:

In 2011, Mindy Davies started Endurance Horse riding knowing nothing about the sport. She quickly became engrossed in its challenges, deciding to aim for a National Championship, the Tom Quilty 160km Gold Cup. She wrote about her journey through the qualifying process through to the Quilty in fortnightly blogs which gathered a following of readers. When she finished the Quilty she self-published the blogs into a book called “Chasing A Quilty” which was read and loved by many who became inspired to start their own journeys. In 2016 Mindy started training 7 horses and made herself a Journal to track and record everything to do with the horses maintenance, training and competition preparations. She wanted to keep everything in the one place and give the Journal to the horses owner at the end of the year with everything in it.
People noticed Mindy using the Journal and started asking for one too. Before long, the Endurance Journal was released for sale on Quilty Quests Facebook page, in version one and soon after came version two. Mindy donated 100% of the small profits back to Endurance through sponsorship encouragement prizes at events.
The Endurance Journal gathered a great deal of positive feedback and requests for additional features and improvements, such as cheaper shipping than that offered by the publisher. Mindy, being determined to help her readers in their own journeys, embarked on a mission to deliver an all new Journal packed full of features.
From what started as Mindy telling her story, to helping others in getting started and telling their own stories has now evolved into Flik Equestrian.
Exciting times lie ahead. Stay tuned.

As far as how I found Flik? Rewind back several years to around the end of 2014/early 2015. I was pretty well in the thick of catch riding, and through the world of the blogosphere and endurance, found my way to a blog titled “To Complete Is To Win.” Australian endurance rider Mindy Davies had been chronicling her own endurance journey, one that included plenty of ups and downs, towards her goal of getting her first Tom Quilty buckle. Not only did I find her a very entertaining writer, I could relate to what she was writing so well, and often found myself nodding along in agreement as I was reading the blog posts. I had found a kindred spirit — the endurance thing isn’t “all beer and skittles” as one post said — and I took a lot of encouragement from the “average endurance rider just telling her story” as she puts it.

I was bummed when the blog closed down, but last year, I was finally able to get my hands on a copy of “Chasing A Quilty” (currently out of print, but from a recent FB post, it looks like more are planning to be restocked again), re-read it, and this time, reach out to Mindy to thank her for the inspiration as I’ve gone along on my own very twisted, very up-and-down path. I was also inspired enough to order one of each journal…the general equestrian one for now, to attempt to set better record-keeping habits with the pony…and an endurance one, with the hopes that I will again have my own competition horse (better yet, horses…I’m an optimist…) to keep records for.

The journals are absolutely beautiful. Hardcover, with a hard protective storage sleeve. Beautiful photography. Lots of space to write/record — I would rather have something that takes up a little more space, but has adequate room for detailed journaling, than something compact that I have to attempt to write in size 6 font in order to fit everything in. Sections are broken down into parts like Owner Info, Horse Info, Training Logs, Travel Logs, Goal Setting, Event Log, and there’s even more little tidbits tucked away in there, but I’m not going to spoil all of the goodies and thoughtful additions. Each journal has space to keep records on two horses.

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Historically, I’ve kept — or more accurately, tried to keep — mileage logs/records over the years, but it’s never stuck for very long. Either I get frustrated with the lack of structure (trying to write things down/do my own grids in a notebook), or they’re too complicated/involved to fill out and so I never get around to it. So far, these seem to have a good balance between giving you space to record things, and a good framework, with some built-in flexibility for how much you want to record. I’ll keep reporting back on using them, but so far, a few months in, I’m still really liking it.

In 2019, Flik launched limited edition apparel. Four times a year, a limited edition design/product will be released on a pre-order basis. This was the first one, one a polo-style shirt:

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A white endurance Arabian? Of course I had to have that one. It’s on order, and should be here sometime in April.

The second limited edition apparel piece is currently available, and will be up until April 1. The design on this one isn’t endurance-specific, but it’s a really cool hoodie. My love of hoodies is currently at war with the fact we are going to be heading into summer here, but current thought is leaning more towards, “eh, don’t care, I can always save it for next winter…or hope I do some cooler mountain rides over the summer.” Because I’m also a bit of a sucker for limited edition anything as well.

Doing business with Flik/Mindy has been delightful — she’s super-prompt on answering questions, shipped the journals out promptly, and on the pre-order apparel, sends update emails out to keep people apprised on the status. I love the level of innovation and creativity at work here, producing useful and interesting products that are also beautiful and artistic.

Flik has a rewards program, with points earned for things like following them on social media, creating an account, ordering products, and referring a friend. For blog readers, I have a 10% off discount code to share with you all (win-win, you get a discount on your order, and I get rewards points when you order): https://a.marsello.com/l/5c2d69b7811f9e06f466a012 

If you haven’t done so already, head on over to Flik Equestrian to check out the journals and limited edition apparel, and follow on Facebook and Instagram for great photography, inspirational quotes, and interactive or thought-provoking questions. Give Mindy a ‘hi’ and let her know I sent you!

Help me get the word out and support these wonderful small businesses and their owners…share this post!

Small Business Saturdays

Having grown up in an entrepreneurial household with small businesses, the fastest way to get me to open my wallet is the phrase, “support a small business.” I have a major appreciation for the courage it takes to go out on that limb, be a self-starter, and come up with your own “thing.” With that in mind, I try to do as much of my buying via small business as possible. Fortunately, the world of endurance is so small and so specialized, it’s actually a pretty easy thing to do.

Most small businesses don’t have a huge marketing budget for things like advertising, or the financial margins to be able to compete against large companies via lower price points, so they have to rely on referrals and word of mouth advertising to get their name out.

To that end, I will be introducing a series called “Small Business Saturdays” in which I feature a small business, mostly endurance related, that I have done business with and love what they offer. It probably won’t be an every-weekend thing, but my goal is to feature a new business at least every month. These will be unpaid, uncompensated reviews, and strictly based on my own personal opinions and experiences with the company.

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Just in this photo alone, the saddle fleece, the saddle pad, and the beta tack all came from very small, mom-and-pop companies. (JMS Sheepskin, Archer Equine, and Taylored Tack)

So stay tuned for Saturday, and the first SBS feature. A little preview of what I will featuring… Flik Equestrian!

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February

Here we are, at the end of February, and I find myself running out of days to squish in a post to stick to my “at least one post a month” streak that been going now for seven and a half years. That’s pretty much unheard of for me, who often has the attention span of a gnat, and difficulty seeing ideas and projects through to completion. (Ask me how many half-finished craft/creative projects I have sitting around. Better yet, don’t.)

It’s not that I don’t have anything going on — I’ve got plenty keeping me busy right now. I just don’t know how much of it is considered interesting, blog-able content. I’ve crafted this blog around my endurance shenanigans, and right now, those seem to be few and unpredictable. That said, having a ride season that, only three months into it, has already run me through the gamut of emotions, was enough to finally galvanize me into action towards making some changes and additions in my life.

This whole week, I am participating in a 5-day Advanced clinic on the Masterson massage method, and intend to finish this year what I started last summer with that first two-day intro clinic — getting my full practitioner certification in the Masterson Method.

Not only is it something I really enjoy doing, but it’s a way of working with horses that doesn’t involve training, or vetmed (both things I’ve considered in the past and ultimately rejected). I hesitate to say it out loud and jinx myself, but I feel like I might have actually found that niche for myself that I’ve been searching for. Not only that, but my aim is to have it be enough of a financial boost once I get going with it that it allows me to once again pick up endurance under my own power (and ponies).

So we’ll see. That’s pretty much the biggest thing on my plate right now. I’ve had some good times this past month — I’ve gotten Mimi out on trail a couple more times (which is a couple more times than last year, huzzah!), but mostly she’s enjoying being my Masterson practice pony; I’ve had a couple of days of going up to the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show and hanging out with friends; it’s rained quite a bit (which is much more like the typical rainy February that I can remember growing up); and I’m doing my typical scurry around to get ready for the AERC Convention the early part of next month.

So with that, a few photos from a ride around the neighborhood last weekend, before I scuttle of for another clinic day.

What We’re Wearing: Mimi, Jan 2019

I have to say, I really enjoy the gear acquisition and testing element of this sport. It’s become a long-standing joke around the house that I’m basically a revolving door of tack sales — find a good deal, buy it, sell something else that’s been sitting around.

I’m also constantly evaluating if what I’m using is still working. With Mimi, I’ve ended up changing saddles several times over the years as she has changed shape. I’ve also changed tack sets and played around with various colors — but this is nothing new, as the original barn color I picked when I got her and for our first couple of years was hunter green, before gradually migrating over to the current purple that it’s overall been for the past 20 years. And I change out bits all. the. time.

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The current gear line-up

As of January 2019, here’s what we’re currently using:

  • Frank Baines Reflex dressage saddle
    Ironically, this was the saddle I kept arguing with myself over why it shouldn’t work — it’s a proper dressage saddle, not an endurance saddle; it’s a 17″ seat, there’s no way that should work. But it’s wide enough to fit a 55-gallon drum, and it actually puts me in the best position of any of the saddles I own, and one of the better ones that I’ve ridden in, period.
  • JMS sheepskin cover
    Originally got to go my Duett, but it actually fits the FB really well, too. It’s almost 12 years old now, and parts of it are looking a little worse for the wear (such as the fact it doesn’t entirely cover the bottom of the saddle flaps), but the sheepskin is still pretty fluffy.
  • Stillwater mohair dressage girth
    Another piece that goes back to when I first got the Duett, and it’s still barely showing wear. I really like the sturdy neoprene-and-leather combo on the buckle backing. Never had any rubs or soreness with this girth.
  • Archer Equine saddle pad
    A score at last year’s AERC Convention, I am in love with this pad for when I want something that is plain wool with no inserts. It’s durable, washes up beautifully without clumping, and fits a bunch of different saddles. The company is based out of Australia, but they have at least one dealer here in the States that I know of.
  • Taylored Tack Zuni Halter-Bridle
    I love my TT stuff. I always wanted to get Mimi a set back when we were competing…but better late than never, especially since I was able to get a bunch of it piecemeal, here and there on used tack sales.
  • some kind of Myler bit (this is case, the MB41PB kimberwick)
    Even at coming-26-years-old, a snaffle is still not going to happen out on trail. We can school in a snaffle in the arena all day long, but as soon as we hit the trail, I need something stronger. Currently on rotation is a couple of different kimberwicks, a pelham, or a Myler combo.
  • Taylored Tack Best Beta Comfy Reins
    The current go-to. I change out my reins on a super-frequent basis, and probably have more sets of reins than any other piece of tack. Except maybe bits.
  • Taylored Tack Kickapoo Breastcollar
  • Taylored Tack S-Hackamore Set
    We alternate between this and the bit. The headstall is the TT Simple Hackamore Headstall that I added a snap-on browband to…because pretty. thumbnail_img_6033

Another angle

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Close-up of the head gear. I love the Zuni browband style…adds some interest and a touch of “different” to the look.