2019 Year-in-Review

Well, 2019 has been kind of a weird year. I didn’t end up doing much by way of endurance rides, although I was still really involved peripherally in the sport. I got Mimi out more this year than I have in the last several years, and we were both all the happier for it. It also seemed like there was an unusual number of horse injuries, people injuries, and/or horse losses among my circle of friends and the periphery. Most of them aren’t my stories to tell…but some very good horses unexpectedly crossed the Rainbow Bridge this year, and my heart still hurts for those friends.

Much of 2019 was more ride-lite for me, although I did manage to get in a couple rides by the end of the year, and involved a few “plans gone awry.” I’ve probably learned more about flexibility, going with the flow, not getting my hopes set too high on something happening, having back-up plans…and then ultimately rolling my eyes, laughing, and doing something else entirely. Such is the nature of horses in general, and even moreso when you’re catch riding and relying on not only your life falling into place, but the lives of other people and other horses.

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This, more than anything, sums up the greatest part of this year. I have some truly amazing friends in my endurance tribe that have become like family to me.

There was quite a bit that didn’t end up getting blogged about this year, for no other reason than “I got lazy and put it on social media but couldn’t be bothered to sit down and write out a whole post about it.” I’ve gotten a little lax with my writing and motivation to blog, although I still managed to continue my “at least one post per month” streak. We’re still a few days out from annual inebriated declarations of good intent (aka “New Years Resolutions”)…which I don’t do anyway…so I won’t make any promises as to that changing in 2020. The “one post a month” bar has been a relatively easy standard for me to maintain without putting too much pressure on myself for something that is supposed to be fun. In the meantime, there’s always social media. My Facebook is ‘friends only’ and run on a slightly more personal level, but my Instagram is public (it’s also over on the sidebar of this blog).

It also seemed like this year went by really fast. Each month, I felt like I was saying, “How is it such-and-such-month already?” And now, at the end of year, I find myself sitting and saying, “How am I looking at 2020 already? Especially when the 90’s was only like 10 years ago?” (One of these years, my brain will eventually stop living a decade+ behind…)

January

I was able to get Mimi out on trail several times, including a ride out at Picket Post. She was really happy to get out on a semi-regular basis again (which we continued to do through the spring), and to that end, I busted out the clippers for the first time in almost a decade and relieved her of some of her excess fluff.

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AZ Cowgirl Photography, Susan Kordish photo

I volunteered at the Tonto Twist ride, working one of the away checkpoints/water stops. That was a fun day, with a great turnout and a really well-run ride that is rapidly becoming one of my favorite rides, either to ride or volunteer. Also nice that it’s in my backyard, being only half an hour away from both home and the barn.

February

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We got quite a bit of rain this month, and the arena started looking like beachfront property, so we did quite a few excursions around the neighborhood on the dry streets (and some inadvertent off-roading through the mud a couple times).

I also hung out with friends at the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show…and completely failed to get any pics…this is why I blog for fun and low expectations.

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My biggest accomplishment was completing the 5-Day Advanced Course towards my  Masterson Method equine bodywork certification. It was a ton of fun and a major positive learning experience. Pretty much everything I’ve done with horses has not come naturally or easily, and I’ve felt like I’ve really had to work at it, second-guessing myself along the way the entire time. So of course I brought that mindset and those inherent self-doubts along with me, and to have my instructor finish the course and my evaluation by saying I had a natural gift and feel for the methodology was an enormous confidence boost.

March

I had a few days of downtime after the Masterson clinic, and then scooted up to Reno for the AERC Convention. That was a really fun weekend spent with good friends, the annual sushi binge, shopping, and one of the few times of the year I wear a dress and high heels (national awards dinner…because every so often it’s fun to wear something other than riding tights or jeans).

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Thanks to the rain earlier, we had a delightful flower season, both in the backyard and on the trails.

April

I got approved to start the fieldwork potion of the Masterson Method certification, and jumped into that.

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Working on Lilly, a Mustang mare. She was fascinating in terms of learning her very subtle releases and body language.

I was glad for having that to keep me fairly occupied, because so far, spring had been very light on the endurance front, and any plans made didn’t seem to ever end up coming together. It was a little bit frustrating, and I took a stab at exploring the multitude of emotions that accompany endurance in my ‘Velocity‘ post. I’m also pretty sure that my spirit animal, at least as far as endurance goes, is a Whack-A-Mole.

May

The month in which I proved just how obsessed I am with a horse aside from my own pony.

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Flash fractured a front P1 (long pastern bone), and the vet clinic where he had his surgery and recovery was only a few miles from my house, so I went down every day to visit him. I haven’t spent that much time hanging out with a horse “just because” since the years that Mimi was boarded 5 minutes away from my house, and it was really special. I spent a lot of time talking to him, scratching all of his itchy spots, and taking a truly obnoxious number of selfies with him. (This is what happens when my own pony loathes selfies, and I had access to a horse that loves them…I make up for it in one condensed period of time. Mimi might love the camera on the trail/in the arena, but I think Flash loves all cameras, all the time. What a ham and show-off.)

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Mimi turned 26, and we did quite a bit of riding, including new-to-us trails at Coon’s Bluff.

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She has also *not* outgrown her Destructo-Pony indiscretions of youth.

Every summer, Mimi tends to get really itchy along her midline, so this year, I experimented with a super lightweight, soft mesh fly sheet. It did the job, and she made it through the summer without the typical itchy, irritated midline, or having to be slathered in some kind of topical goo or ointment. However, that sheet basically had the life expectancy of “one summer of pony use,” and is now in tatters. It did the job, though, and I saved $$$ on fly spray and topical ointments and treatments. It was super light-weight, and never rubbed or heated her up…so that’s an experiment I will likely repeat this upcoming year.

June

I helped launch the Arizona Endurance Riders Club, and the club put on its first event, an Endurance 101 clinic. This year has seen several 101 clinics, some endurance ride potlucks and social time, and some smaller “mini-clinics” covering more in-depth information on a couple of specific topics at a time pertaining to endurance.

I finally rode the Log Corral trail on Stephanie’s horse Ash. Great 18-mile-roundtrip training ride, and with enough water along the way to make it do-able in the summer.

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Smoke from the Woodbury Fire seen from the barn arena

The Woodbury Fire started in the Superstition Mountain Wilderness, and by the time it was all said and done, burned over 123,000 acres and became the 5th-largest wildfire in AZ history.

July

Mimi comes alive during the summer. She absolutely loves the heat, and I ended up hacking her out around the barn quite a bit. I also had my new Hylofit heart rate monitor to play with and make my data-loving little brain quite happy.

August

Crewing Tevis for my decade year of crewing was a big part of this month. There were a lot of people that I know riding this year…some finished, some didn’t. I crewed for my friend Cathy, and she and her mare finished just after 5am…the horse’s first 100.

September

The end of August is my birthday, and it happened to run into Labor Day weekend this year…so I celebrated by heading up to Utah for a visit with my long-time best friend. It was a fun getaway with an overnight trip down to Cedar City for the Shakespeare Festival, and a side trip to the Cedar Breaks National Monument on the way back.

 

I also helped put on another Endurance 101 clinic, mused on heart horses, and finally, wrapped up the month with a training ride in Prescott on Atti in prep for attending Man Against Horse.

September is also Artemis’s birthday — she turned 6 this year!

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October

I finished the 50-miler at Man Against Horse on Atti.

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It’s Sofie’s birthday (8 years old!) and “Gotcha” month (4 years!).

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It’s also Mimi’s “Gotcha” month — 23 years together!

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As I wrote on Facebook: “She never gets any less special, or less significant in my life. She’s the bar and the standard against which I match all other horses. She’s my original schoolmaster and life lesson-giver. My mane to cry in, and spotty nose to smooch. My original heart horse. Happy Gotcha Day, Mimi…23 years of memories, tears, laughter, success. You still delight my heart.

November

Artemis’s Gotcha month (6 years); I wrapped up my first block of Fieldwork for Masterson Method certification with a “coaching day” evaluation down in Sierra Vista (and a visit afterwards to nearby Tombstone); and ended the month with a family trip up to Idaho for Thanksgiving.

December

Project Ridgecrest” starts and Atti comes to stay at the barn where I keep Mimi. The goal is 20 Mule Team 100 in February, with plenty of conditioning, training, and a couple of competitions between now and then, starting with the LD at Dashing Through the Trails.

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The rest of the month has involved some fun Christmas stuff like cookie baking (when your gingerbread cracks or loses limbs, give them icing stitches and call them gingerbread endurance riders) and catching light displays, and some more training rides for Atti.

As we head into 2020, and the start of a new decade (!!!), I don’t know what will be in store. It’s nice to have some early plans and goals to shoot for, but beyond that point, it remains to be seen what will happen and what the year will bring.

 

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.

2015 Year-In-Review

Well, this is one year I am not sorry to put in the rearview mirror.

There’s this little anecdote, the details of which I’m probably horribly butchering, but the gist is, a kid asks for a pony for Christmas, and wakes up to a pile of horse poop. Instead of being all depressed, the kid grabs a shovel and starts digging, and when the parents ask why, the kid’s response is “With all of this manure, there’s bound to be a pony buried in here!”

2015 = manure pile, and I’m still digging.

Granted, it wasn’t all bad…had some fun times interspersed with some other more trying, disheartening times…still not entirely sure how the balance between the two ended up shaking out.

Running

I had one good trail race, and then it all went downhill from there, culminating in an injury-induced pull at my first attempt at an ultra (50k).

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San Tan Scramble 26k on my home trails. Probably my best trail race ever.

I’ve basically sat out of doing any real running since April, and have now gotten totally out of the habit and will have to start almost back to the beginning in terms of fitness and cardio to pick it back up again.

Endurance

FAAAAAAIIIIIIIILLLLLLLLLLLLL.

One big ol’ pile of NOPE for the year in terms of riding, and one more  round of Tevis crewing. (I am seriously starting to develop an “always the bridesmaid” complex in regards to Tevis.)

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Travel

This would be the carbon offset to the other areas of fail, since travelling pretty much rocked my year.

It started with a New Years Day trip to Catalina:

 

And then there was a day-trip to Prescott in January:

 

A weekend in Portland in February for my best friend’s birthday:

 

The AERC Convention in Reno in March:

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And then a Grand Canyon backpacking trip in April:

 

Camping trip to Big Lake in July:

 

Tevis in August:

 

And then another camping trip, this time up on the Mogollon Rim, for my birthday in August:

 

And finally, Moab in October to pick up Sofie:

 

Eyes to the Future

I honestly don’t know at this point. There’s a whole universe of things I want to/hope will happen…but planning and getting hopes up too much didn’t do me any favors this past year, so I just might try for a round of ambiguity and winging it with regards to 2016. (And see how long it takes the lack of planning to drive my Type A self absolutely crazy.)

Meet Sofie

Two weekends ago, I made a very last-minute road trip up to Moab, UT, to go pick up the newest addition to the family.

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Meet BriarBey Sofie. She’s a 4-year-old Decker Rat Terrier — and the mother of Artemis.

She’s a very sweet, snuggly girl who really loves to go for walks, tolerates Artemis’s overabundance of enthusiasm, and has been a fabulous addition to the household in the week that she’s been here.

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picking up a dog and sneaking in a ride

We’ve most often had two dogs at one time in the household, and I think the addition of a second dog will ultimately be really good for Artemis to have the canine company. (Currently going through some growing pains as the spoiled child is adjusting to having to share her world…fortunately Sofie is really uncomplicated.)

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Artemis at left, Sofie at right

It’s an interesting dynamic, bringing the mother dog into a household where the daughter has been the only dog…I’m still not quite sure how everything will play out with the pecking order. But I’ve definitely been guilty of spoiling Artemis, so the good thing about all of this is it is making me readjust my approach to dog handling and to start correcting some of the misbehaviors and indiscretions I’ve allowed to happen.

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old saddle pad = excellent dog bed

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pretty Sofie

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“play with me!”
They look very similar, but easy enough to tell apart: Artemis has a black back, Sofie has more white and spots.

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a girl and her Deckers

Catalina camping trip

Holiday shenanigans abounded this weekend when I loaded up the Go Pony, the puppy, and myself and headed down to Catalina State Park for an overnight camping trip. It was the puppy’s first camping trip, and since my plan for her is to be my ridecamp and travelling companion, it only made sense to get her started early on the whole idea.

As for the pony? She was beyond thrilled to be going. It was her first camping trip in nearly four years, only lacking all of the typical pre-ride prep such as a bath. (She got to go in all of her filthy pony glory and her “sparkly whiteness” was still commented on.)

I was able to borrow a friend’s truck/trailer to go down, complete with gooseneck trailer space for sleeping. Both puppy and pony traveled well, Artemis in her crate in the truck with me, and pony happy because she was by herself. (Not exactly prone to lone travel anxiety, that one. She seems to prefer an open trailer, only bellowing once when she got in as we were leaving, and upon arrival at the campground.)

Of course, this still being 2013, the Tire Misadventures weren’t quite done with me, and I had to deal with this on the trailer before even pulling out of the barn:

better to discover it now than on the road…

At least it was on the trailer, not the truck, and I had it changed in about 15 minutes. Then the pony was loaded up, and we were on our way!

puppy goes on An Adventure

I didn’t hear so much as a peep out of the pony, and after her customary first five minutes of crying and squirming about being shut in her kennel, Artemis quieted down and slept pretty much all the way down.

Catalina State Park is about an hour and half drive from the barn, and it’s a nice, easy, smooth drive — perfect for someone hauling an unfamiliar rig. (I’m also completely sold on gooseneck trailers now.)
The whole point of the trip was to meet up with endurance friends Lucy and Patrick, who were spending their holiday horse camping at Catalina. Catalina seemed to be a super-popular designation for the weekend — fortunately, they saved me a spot to park as well as snagged a corral that morning for Mimi to stay in. (Yay for not having to listen to the pony attached to the trailer all night. Love her, but she’s active — she rolls, she boings her hi-tie, she clatters buckets, she rubs, she slings her hay manger around…)
Pony installed in her temporary weekend home

This was one of those trips where I was super-grateful to have the experienced pony along — no drama or fuss from her, being an old hand at this whole camping thing, so not having to worry about her left me free to deal with the puppy.

late afternoon sunlight on the Catalinas

morning sunrise over the Catalinas

The beauty of camping trips is the ability to kick back and not really have any pressing schedule to follow. (I’m sad to admit that the last horse camping I did for fun, and not associated with being at a ride, was back in 2009. 2014 goal: Change that.) Just doing a single-night stay meant that I didn’t have a whole lot to set up, either.

But winter in the desert does mean chilly nights, and I broke my cardinal “no dogs in bed” rule and let Artemis into my sleeping bag to stay warm. (Apparently I am a sucker for the “small, shivery puppy” routine.) I had a portable little propane heater, which was working pretty well right until the middle of the night when it ran out of propane, and I figured getting out of my warm sleeping bag nest would be more trouble than it was worth. Hindsight, maybe I should have at that point, since it got quite chilly in the next couple of hours, but I had extra sleeping bags, and managed to create quite a nest up in the gooseneck for us.
Artemis typically has me up between 5:30 and 6 to go out. This time, she poked her head out of the sleeping bag, then promptly ducked back in and snuggled closer. We both eventually dragged out of bed once the sun was peeking up over the mountains and it wasn’t quite as frigid, and went outside long enough for the puppy to relieve herself. Back inside, she requested (looked up at the goosebeck area and whined) to be put back in her nest, so I put her back up there, she dove into the sleeping bags, and stayed there for another couple of hours while I did pony chores.
(Having just seen Disney’s “Frozen” the night before I left, thoughts of eternal winters and ice and talking snowmen were at the forethought of my brain…)
“coldcoldcoldcoldcoldcoldcold…”

Mimi was warm and toasty, ensconced in her fleece and sheet. She was also quite happy about not having to be up at the crack of freezing-cold dawn for an early ride start. I thawed out slightly by doing pony chores — feeding, watering, cleaning the stall — and once that was done, puppy was ready to wake up and join the world for things like breakfast and enjoying the sunshine.

Saturday morning was a chance to loll about and relax. Lucy made breakfast, we walked the dogs (they had Finn the standard poodle, who became Artemis’s new best friend), then Lucy helped me with Mimi’s hooves. I feel like I’ve gotten into a trimming rut — after a while, you either don’t see the problems or you’re not sure what to do differently to address them, and a fresh set of eyes really helps — and I like how Lucy trims, so she gave me some pointers, adjusted a couple of things, and the pony had pretty feet again. It also helped give me another good baseline to try to maintain when I trim. (Pony feet…a constant learning process.)
future ridecamp puppy watches the proceedings

Artemis watched all the goings-on from the safety of a camp chair — she’s still very leery of the horses, something I’m doing nothing to discourage at this point, since she has a strong prey drive and the last thing I want her learning is how to nip at horse hooves.

All of that done, we eventually got tacked up, stashed the dogs in Lucy’s trailer, and headed out.
Patrick on Fergus (buckskin) and Lucy on Roo (grey)

I’d never ridden the Catalina trailers before, and they’e gorgeous. A great mix of some technical bits, single-track, sand, and rocks, always with the magnificent Catalina range in view/overhead. I couldn’t tell you where exactly we went, other than it was around 11 miles, and we covered a whole range of trails, including heading back to a hidden waterfall. But I think the photos tell the story best…

rude pony showing how well she tailgates
(never mind death to any horse who tries it with her…)

gorgeous view only improved by the addition
of a cute grey pony

after seeing ‘The Hobbit’ before I left, I was getting somewhat
of a Mirkwood/Middle Earth feel…

first view of the waterfalls

Mimi and Roo could pass for twins

technical bits!
to my recollection, I don’t think I’ve ever done
steps with Mimi before…no big deal

in the lead and moving out

water!!!
the creeks were running, and we probably crossed
water half a dozen times
(did we drink? of course not)

I honestly can’t remember the last time I had such fun on my pony. She was an absolute blast, and cast some major questions as to why she was retired in the first place. She was competitive, fast, strong, and definitely showing off for her new audience. I’m pretty sure she thought she was at a ride again, and SO happy about it.

The last couple of rides with other people, she’s been testing the limits a bit with her s-hack, sticking her nose in the air and generally ignoring my requests to travel nicely. So I put a running martingale on her…and oh, boy, was I glad for it. After all, it’s not every day your coming-21-year-old pony tries to run off with you…
I think one of the biggest differences was my attitude and approach to Mimi and her enthusiasm. I’ve always treated her like she’s made of glass, always afraid I was asking her for too much, trying to protect her. Riding as many different horses as I have this year has really given me more confidence in their toughness (yes, they can be delicate, but they can also be incredibly tough) and that I need to trust her to be able to handle herself. Well, she handled herself just fine, and we only had one “discussion” when she was too busy dinking around  in speed-racer excitement to watch her footing and almost face-planted at a fast trot.
Also, she-who-doesn’t-canter gave me some gorgeous, collected canters with a ton of impulsion and enthusiasm. And while I’m sure the adrenaline probably helped, I’m thinking some of her arena reluctance has been more mental than physical, since she wasn’t at all sore or tired afterwards. We did a total of 11 miles, and while her winter coat had her looking like a sweaty yak, she pulsed down immediately, drank well, and when we got back to the barn, jumped out of the trailer and tore off across the arena and pasture, herd trailing behind her.
The trip home was without incident — I even navigated a gas station with the trailer — and she was acting like she won the Kentucky Derby, trumpeting her return to the entire herd as soon as I pulled in the gate. 
If anything, this weekend showed me she’s not quite done yet, and I’m making plans to attend an upcoming NATRC ride in January with her. We will do the 9-mile fun ride, which she should easily handle. And this showed me that I just need to make a point to get her out more. I’ve got the opportunity to borrow the same rig again and more often, so I just need to do it. Getting out = happy pony and happy rider.
Next weekend is the Bumble Bee endurance ride with Liberty…can’t wait to see and ride her again, either! Great way to kick off the 2014 ride season. We’re doing the 25…should be a fun ride!
(And in other news, I changed my weight division for 2014…dropped down to Featherweight. My saddle, stuffed to the gills with way more than what I need/want to carry was the only thing keeping me in Lightweight anymore. )