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.

2017 Endurance Rider Gift Guide

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Do I look like one of Santa’s $%^& reindeer to you?!?

Endurance riders. We’re an interesting breed to shop for. We don’t follow trends or fashions the way the show ring does; once we find something that is functional and works well, we tend to stick with it. That said, we still manage to accumulate a lot of gear along the way…some of it necessary, some of it a fun indulgence.

That being said, gift cards are always a safe bet. Places like Riding Warehouse and The Distance Depot specialize in tack and gear for distance riders, so there’s a good chance that whatever esoteric items we have on our own personal wish lists can be found at one of those places. Gift cards are an especially good option if you don’t know details like size and color.

My favorite sources for tack are Taylored Tack and Hought Tack; both offer gift certificates. (Tack or a gift cert from either of these places is an insta-swoon in my book.)

A lot of my 2015 gift guide still would be applicable…and here’s my miscellaneous round-up for 2017 ideas.

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Tubtrugs buckets. Super-versatile, and come in a huge array of sizes and colors. They’ve got everything from vet check-sized feed pans to huge tubs suitable for water or as a muck bucket. I’ve got one of the medium-sized ones that gets used for everything from tack washing to a laundry basket. They’re easy to find on Amazon. I’m partial to this funky “Jelly Bean” pattern in particular but they’ve got just about every color imaginable to match whatever the horse’s barn colors are.

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On that same note, this Tubtrugs Cesto strainer bin would be great for things like washing tack or washing and storing hoof boots.

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Renegade Hoof Boots, naturally. ;) (Psstt…follow our Facebook page and Instagram account for our first-ever Black Friday sale!)

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German Horse Muffins look like an intriguing offering for spoiled ponies. I’m just about out of horse cookies, so these might end up being a special treat under the Christmas tree this year. (Yes, I buy my animals presents. Doesn’t everybody? ;))

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Tucked Away Ranch “Mai Packs” are the successor to SnugPax of old, with the same materials, designs, and quality. They have numerous styles designed for a variety of saddle types, and a wide array of colors.

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I really like my Kerrits gear. Especially when the tights have pockets. #PocketObsessed And I’ve worn IceFil shirts at every ride/event I’ve done this year.

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As soon as the weather starts getting cooler, I immediately start grabbing for these quarter-zip shirts. This particular one is Kerrits but I’ve got a variety of them that I like. Good example of “doesn’t have to be horse-specific to work for a horse person” such as this Under Armour one.

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Hydration packs. Popular with bikers, hikers, and trail runners, hydration packs are starting to see a little more use with horseback riders. And they’ve come a long way from the basic Camelbak of old. The one pictured above is the Ultimate Direction Ultra Vesta, and is my pack of choice for running and riding. With as much catch riding as I’ve been doing, I don’t always know what the saddle set-up will be like, so this allows me to carry all my water and stuff directly on my person, and not have to worry about if the saddle set-up will allow me to bring enough water, etc. As a bonus, I drink way better when I don’t have to rummage for a water bottle.

Starging_Gate_4_edited-1_1024x1024So I’m a bit weird. I love grooming stuff. Especially high-quality brushes. Call it a throwback to my show ring days, but I can’t not do a thorough grooming job before I ride. Plus, I love pony pampering/spa days.

 

Leg wraps. Everything from the basic Toklat neoprene splint and ankle boots above to the fancy Majyk Equipe type. There’s a certain sentimentality value for me, because my very first Christmas with Mimi, my trainer got me a pair of purple Toklat splint boots, and I still have them. (Those Majyk Equipes in purple, though… *drool*)

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SOCKS!!! Maybe socks for Christmas suck when you’re a kid, but as an adult, I love riding and running socks. Balega and Feetures are my favorites for running and riding; Smartwool for general wear.

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Ride entries. While it’s one of the less expensive equine sports out there, endurance rides aren’t free. A little card saying “I will cover the entry for such-and-such ride” would likely be very well received.

Finally, horses and horse care always need time invested in them. If you’re looking to do something for someone, but maybe a little strapped for cash? A gift certificate offering to do something like mucking, feeding, or an overnight of house/barn-sitting. Offer to Crew for them at a ride.

And, of course, there’s the ever-popular “Dear Santa, I want a pony” wish that we never grow out of. In addition to the more grown-up-centric wish list items of trucks, trailers, horse properties, etc. So, uh, Santa..hint, hint. Hit me up for my laundry list of requirements if you’re so inclined. ;)

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November 10 Questions

Feeling really “content-lite” right now guys…sorry, not a whole lot happening in horsey-ville or running life at the moment.

So I poached Liz Stout‘s “10 Questions” post so there’s at least something on here for November.

How old is the youngest/greenest horse you’ve ridden?
Mimi is the youngest…she was 3-1/2 when I got her. Greenest? Probably Beamer. He’d been to a couple of different trainers by the time we got him, but he was really inconsistent and knew the least in terms of “things beyond the very basics I had to install on him.”

How old is the oldest horse you’ve ridden?
Probably Snappy…he was in his late 20s the last time I rode him.

Were you scared of horses when you first started riding?
I wasn’t…until I got dumped within my first month of riding, and then proceeded to part ways with the same horse a number of times over the course of that first year of riding.

Would you say you’re a more nervous rider or a confident rider?
More nervous. See above. I’ve gone through cycles where I’ve felt super-confident, would climb on and ride most horses without thinking twice, and be really brave and bold. And then there’s the flip side of that, where I’m doubting everything I know, question my own capabilities, have a hard time trusting the horse, and am looking for the boogieman around every corner. I’m really trying to reclaim that confidence cycle again.

Biggest pet peeve about non-horse people around horses?
Probably bad attitudes about right-of-way and trail sharing. I understand that not everyone may be familiar with trail etiquette, and I try to give people the benefit of the doubt and educate first — “Hi there, can you slow down or stop while we pass? Can you speak up so my horse knows you’re a person? Hiding in the bushes may not be the best idea, horses might think you’re a predator.” And so on. But I’ve unfortunately run into a few pieces of work (most commonly mountain bikers and some hikers) who have a major attitude problem about trail sharing.

A time you’ve been scared for your life?
I guess it’s a good thing that I really can’t think of anything? Several times where I knew the end result was going to hurt, but if there’s anything else, I’ve done a good job of blocking it out of my mind.

Have you ever fallen off at show? What happened?
Ahahahahahahaha…multiple times. Most memorably? Parting company with the pony in the warm-up ring at the International. Oh, yes. Biggest show of my life, and the most memorable part of it was I got dumped.

What’s a breed of horse you’ve never ridden but would like to ride?
Peruvian Paso. Andalusian.

Describe the worst behaved horse you’ve ridden?
Spooky, ansty, won’t settle, explosively reactive, can’t handle contact, rears under pressure.

The most frustrating ride you’ve ever had? 
This is a hard one to answer. I’ve had a lot of frustrating times/moments along the way. You know I’ve got a passion for horses when a lot of this journey has been an uphill battle, and I still keep forging onward (mostly because the good times have been so good, it’s worth the struggle to get there). I  can think of a number of times when, if pushed, I would say “Yes, that was a frustrating moment” but I try not to dwell on those moments too much, and instead try to spend more time focusing on the positives that happened. So I don’t know if I’ve had one ride that stands out in my mind as “most frustrating time ever.” So I’m going to go with “doing everything right at a show and being under a judge who just doesn’t like your pony.” Because you can’t do anything to change that when your horse moves with impulsion and rhythm and the judge like foot-shuffling peanut-rollers.

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So, rather shockingly, I realized I have actually managed a at-least-one-post-per-month streak on this blog since August of 2011…and that a week out from the end of June, I was in danger of breaking that streak.

I just haven’t had much to blog about.

It’s been hot here…although that’s not really a newsflash, this is summer in Arizona after all. Rather amusingly, the weather “forecasters” have been doing all kinds of hand-wringing predictions of “unusually high heat waves” (no, actually, we regularly hit 115° here in June, thanks), practically salivating over the idea of us “hitting new record temps”…and then it’ll fall two to three degrees short of what they’re predicting.

(Yes, mentally, there’s a big difference between 115° and 111°.)

So when it’s this hot, I really don’t ride. Even the Go Pony prefers to hang out in her shaded stall with her fan, and the barn owner who goes through a couple times a day and sprays them with the hose, and turnout at night when the sun doesn’t bake them.

Also not too inclined to get the running miles in. I try to be up between 4:30 and 5 in the morning to get out the door with the dogs while the weather is quasi-passable (85° and the sun isn’t up high enough to start cooking us yet) but even then, it’s hard to get more than a couple of miles in.

This is called summer hibernation, and it happens pretty much every year. It makes for good endurance heat conditioning, if you have certain plans on the ride calendar that call for heat conditioning…but if not, it’s a really good excuse to stay inside, hug the air conditioning, and dream of when it was cold enough to justify wearing more clothing than just running shorts and a tank top.

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got to head up to Zion, and slightly cooler temperatures, earlier in the month

History Made

American Pharoah won the Triple Crown today. 37 years since the last Triple Crown winner.

I’d not yet experienced a Triple Crown winner in my lifetime…born in the decade after the Triple Crown winners of the 1970s. It’s something I’ve followed and hoped for ever since I figured out what horse racing was…Silver Charm’s bid for the Triple Crown in 1997 was the first one I remember actively following.

An extraordinary horse and an extraordinary accomplishment. History in the making.