Got Game?

As a friend recently put, “[She] is a testament to why I love mares. They’re just so GAME.”

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the epitome of game face/war ware face

Really couldn’t put it better, or more succinctly, myself. I’ve touched on it here and there in other posts, but never directly addressed it, but I’ll come right out and say it: I prefer mares.

I won’t get into the mare versus gelding debate, and my opinion on geldings isn’t a disparaging one — I certainly like a good gelding, and if the right one crossed my path, I wouldn’t turn him down. But I have a soft spot for the girls, and given two otherwise equal horses, I would be more likely to give the nod to the mare.

“Oh, good, you can have them!” seems to be the more common refrain, especially among endurance riders, and indeed, I have a handful of friends who flat-out refuse to own mares. (In a field of 198 starters this year at Tevis, there were only 46 mares.)

a little more “goofball” than “game face” at this stage….

I really don’t know why mares have such a soft spot for me…I mean, the first lesson horse I habitually rode was a nasty witch of a mare who thought her job in life was serving riders with eviction notices, and the next two “nice” confidence-building horses were geldings.

And then there was Mimi.

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Funny thing is, she actually caught my Dad’s attention first — I was hung up on a spotty, experienced — and unfortunately lame — gelding when we went pony-searching at the POA International Sale, and it was at his urging that I shelved my disappointment over the gelding and climbed on Mimi for a test ride.

We haven’t looked back since.

It didn’t hurt that she was — and still is — one of the prettiest POAs I’ve ever seen (nope, not biased at all…;)) and basically the epitome of “little white princess pony,” who can be just as sweet and charming as anything when she wants something.

And then there’s the side of her that kicks her stall, bites you when you wake her up at o-dark-thirty in the morning, nickers and squeals at fenceposts in the spring, and pulls the nastiest faces — all the things that make you say, “Oh. Ah, yes. Mare.”

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Yep, still love my mares.

I can’t speak from the perspective of actual ownership of a gelding — just peripheral experience of riding with Dad and Beamer, and then the handful of other people’s horses I’ve ridden — so I don’t know exactly how much of this is “long-time bond that comes with working for a horse for a long time” versus “brand new horse I’m crawling aboard and asking them to work with me.” But the geldings have worked for me…the mares have poured their hearts out for me.

Of course, with Mimi, that’s definitely a long-time bond and partnership at work. But Liberty? I feel like she’s really trying, even with the limited time and rides I’ve had on her.

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showing potential for a professional game face
photo by Susan Kordish

It’s ironic, given the fact that I myself tend to be overly dramatic, more emotional, and not exactly long on patience…that I would gravitate to mares versus steady-eddy, worker-bee geldings. And especially given my worrywort tendencies, you would think I would gravitate to the ones who won’t let themselves be pushed too hard, versus the overachieving mares. (Although to be fair, it’s a 50/50 thing on the overachievers. One [Mimi], I’ve always been afraid she’ll go until she drops. The other [Libby] has already displayed self-preserving tendencies.)

So it’s not something I can really put my finger on, exactly, other than overwhelmingly positive experiences with very “game” mares. And hopefully many more still to come.

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10 Years

This upcoming weekend will mark 10 years since I’ve been participating in AERC and endurance riding — the 2005 Man Against Horse 25 was my first AERC ride.

I’m…not sure how I feel about this.

Anti-climatic? Unfulfilled? Maybe a bit disheartened that it’s been this long and I’ve done so little? It’s a bit hard not to compare myself to others when some people are fortunate enough to do in one ride season what I’ve gotten done in 10 years.

And yes, I know…everyone has different circumstances, be happy with what you have done, it could be a lot worse, blah blah blah. I know. (In my own words, “First. World. Problems.”)

On the other hand, I tend to be one stubborn PITA, especially on the subject of getting what I want, and I keep telling myself I will outlast crappy circumstances and get back at it. (Think “Whack-A-Mole”.)

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Okay. Grievances aired, I can attempt to re-focus on where I was originally going with this, and that is, endurance has been life changing. I’ve seen some beautiful areas, been to places I wouldn’t otherwise have known existed, ridden a ton of different horses, developed both physical and mental toughness, pushed myself out of my comfort zone, made new friends and formed an entire network of connections, landed my job, and generally shaped a lot of my life.

So with that, and being that a picture is worth a thousand words…

The Best of 10 Years of Endurance

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the first time
Man Against Horse 25, Oct 2005

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riding with friends
Kaity & Sonny, me & Mimi

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first Top Ten (LD) at the Las Cienegas 25/25
Dec 2006

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endurance 2008 132

first 50
Land of the Sun 2008

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Fire Mountain 30 2013
first out-of-state endurance ride (CA)

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Man Against Horse 50 2009: first completion buckle
(And Mimi’s greatest ride accomplishment)

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first ride on Liberty
Prescott Chaparral 2013

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VOTS Feb 09 Mimi-Beamer

riding with Dad

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day two of first back-to-back 50s
Old Pueblo 50, 2013

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Ride the Divide 55: first Top Ten (endurance)

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bittersweet: the first horse I’ve had to exercise the “retirement” judgement call on

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They say the first 1000 miles is the steepest learning curve…so I guess here’s to even more learning! The hiatus of the past year+ has been challenging, to say the least, but I have to keep reminding myself that “This too, shall pass” and that none of us get through this thing without a few stumbling blocks and pauses along the way…

Then and Now

From this: 
March 2001
Estrella Mtn NATRC
photo by Cristy Cumberworth
To this:
January 2014
Bumble Bee 25
photo by Susan Kordish

Coming up on 14 years of a lot of blood, sweat, tears, miles, and above all, learning. May my capacity to learn never cease, and the wisdom provided by horses keep coming.

TOA Blog Hop: Worth 1k Words

Worth 1k Words.
Let’s share our favorite photos of our stud muffins.  No limit.

Oooohhh, boy…you asked for it…an excuse to plaster all of my fave photos in one place. Some will have been seen before, others may be new. Obviously, the pony garners the most of these…but with 18+ years of photo-taking together, we’ve gotten some keepers. (This doesn’t even count all of our show-ring days, all of which are hard copies that haven’t been scanned yet.)

first LD, Man Against Horse 25 2006

second LD, in which she is still pulling on me into the first check

bittersweet…our last competition (and the
one that decided her retirement)
photo by Laura Bovee

my favorite ride photo ever, Valley of the Sun 2009

ignore my position…she has much better jumping form than I do

such a stinker…this is why we didn’t use
snaffle bits at rides
photo by Jane Grey Photography

first distance ride, First of Spring NATRC 2002
photo by Jane Grey Photography

playing in the Salt River

playing in the wash at Catalina

one of my favorite ear-cam shots…playing in the pines in Flagstaff

Man Against Horse 50 2009 — best ride accomplishment ever

war mare face

Las Cienegas LD — I love the going away shot

she’s not big on cuddles usually, so I love that her ears are up
and she’s actually happy about it

first back-to-back LD, day two…thrilled with how perky she was!

love all ear-cam shots…so attentive and alert

first 50! I’m a dork and she’s like ‘whatever’
photo by Laura Bovee

And I’ve done enough rides and gotten enough good pics of her that I feel Liberty qualifies to be included here as well…

love this…another one of my favorite ride
photos
Bumble Bee 25 2014
photo by Susan Kordish
the precursor to the above awesome photo,
I’m gabbing and she’s hydrating
photo by Susan Kordish
majestic view, dorky green horse, silly rider
and granted, I had my stirrups a hole too short (green horse
security thing) but dang, she’s tall and I’m short
photo by Susan Kordish

another favorite going-away shot
photo by Susan Kordish

our first ride together and we kinda look
like we know what we’re doing
(after she spent the prior several minutes
balking at the photographer)
Prescott Chaparral 30 2013
photo by Susan Kordish

an interesting side profile shot…this mare has the most
interesting face…and yes, while the photographer is below us,
my feet are that high up on her sides
photo by Susan Kordish

Libby’s first ride, Gina riding…doing her
trademark “thing” of air-pawing whenever
she’s impatient

more ear-cam!

forcing cuddles and how-to-take-a-selfie on her

dork mare (mid-shake)

love it…can actually drop my reins on the crew bag and she
stays put!

being a twerp…post-ride, 30 miles wasn’t enough…digging to
China and sticking her tongue out about being yelled at

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2014: That’s A Wrap

I so very badly want to say “and good riddance,” but any year that sees me turned into an actual trail runner can’t be all bad.

Many things certainly did not go as planned, and I’m pretty sure I spent the least amount of time in the saddle that I have since I started riding. I think if I hadn’t had the trail running, I probably would have gone absolutely out of my mind climbing the walls, but hitting the trail with my own two feet kept me (reasonably) sane.

As far as 2014 goes, it may not have gone as planned, and I may have spent far too much time dwelling on that the past few months, but looking back, it was actually pretty decent.

Got to ride Libby again. We may not have
technically completed, since we came in
overtime, but we had a good time and got in
a good training ride.
photo by Susan Kordish

Still got some pony time in. Sensing retirement is imminent, but
will still keep taking advantage of the good days when I can and
when she says she’s feeling good.

my girls

Fun times meeting with fellow bloggers at the AERC
Convention in Atlanta. 

“Answer”
And did I ever! Some riding, and lots of
running!

Lots of time with my favorite running buddy!

Another epic Tevis crewing adventure!
(That’s Artemis’s full younger brother Spike I’m holding.)

One of my best friends got married, and I was
one of her bridesmaids. This is probably the
first and last dress pic that will grace this blog.

Seeing more of the Tevis trail!

Ran a road race (15k) — as in ran the whole
thing — and didn’t die!

But these were way more fun! Ended the year with 48 race miles
total…racked up way more run miles than ride miles. *shrug*

Semi-swimming in the Salt River.
May not have ridden much, but the
times I did, it was usually pretty fun!

I’m not one to make resolutions (“inebriated declarations of good intent”), and quite honestly, I’ve thoroughly embraced the “no battle plan survives first contact with the enemy” mentality when it comes to trying to plan things out too far in advance, since it all falls apart anyway.

I’ve got my spring roughly mapped out in terms of trail runs (which you’ll find out about as they happen, lest I alert the universe to my plans and jinx myself), and it looks like I’ll probably be doing the Bumble Bee ride again…just the fun ride this time, since my saddle muscles aren’t in shape.

Beyond that, my only immediate plans are to snore in the New Year…I generally have a rule about going out on New Year’s Eve — I don’t — and have no plans to break it this year. (Currently chuckling a bit at the all-day rain forecast, and the 29* overnight temps…that’ll put a crimp in the Fiesta Bowl and block party celebrations. And it may even put out the dog-and-pony-startling fireworks. Love fireworks, but prefer to see them in a place and environment that isn’t disturbing my animals…like Disneyland.)

Hope everyone has a fun and safe New Years Eve, whatever your plans may be, and we’ll see you in 2015!