— John Adams, 1826
— John Adams, 1826
The first triple-digit temperatures are looming this upcoming weekend, the mosquitoes are using me as an all-you-can-eat buffet line, and the flies are out. Which means it’s time to bust out the new annual fly sheet, aka “embarrass the pony” time.
Her face really says it all. Never mind that she doesn’t hate it enough to try to actively remove it, and that last year, the wide bellyband kept her midline from getting its usual seasonal bug attack and subsequent itch-mania, and also kept her from having to get bathed in a gallon of fly spray every day. But she remains totally unimpressed with my silly antics.
I liked the one I got last year (even though it only survived the one season, and quite frankly, “survived” is a loose term…that thing was toast and went straight to the garbage bin after cooler weather hit, since I’m pretty sure there were more holes than actual fabric involved by the end) but admittedly it wasn’t the most durable thing, and the sizing was also awkward, hanging down past her knees.
Sizing Mimi for blankets has always been tricky. When she was younger, 70″ blanket, no problem. And then we found distance riding and she widened out to approximately that of a 55-gallon drum, and all of a sudden, her butt end was sticking out of the back of her blankets. But 72″ is a bit too big. As above, there’s some extra there (72″), but historically, every time I’ve tried to go back down to a 69″/70″ (Euro or stock cut, depending on the blanket), it’s been too small. <sigh> This pony. Never easy, even at almost-27.
Anyway, I had won a Riding Warehouse gift card at the AERC Convention, so this ended up being a good use for that. It’s one of the Saxon models, and it was half the price of the one I got last year, so
if when she trashes it, it will be slightly less tragic. For all the different choices in fly sheets they offer, I had a couple of specific things I was looking for that narrowed down the selection: it has to have a wide bellyband (for the aforementioned midline itch), and ideally would like a neck cover, because it helps keep her from rubbing out her mane when she sticks her head through the stall panels to grab every last scrap of hay.
So we’ll see how long this one lasts…and how disgusted she remains with me for imposing yet another sartorial indignity upon her.
“Start as you mean to continue.”
I generally try to avoid being too superstitious…but that is one I try to adhere to every year — the idea that what you do on New Year’s Day is what you’ll do the rest of the year.
So I took my pony on a ride.
And hopefully that translates into “get to go do plenty of endurance rides” for the rest of year. But in the meantime, I enjoyed a beautiful, Arizona winter day, on my spitfire of a pony who was two handfuls’ worth of sass and spirit, acting not at all like her turning-27-years-old-this-year age.
We’ve ridden Arnett Canyon before (shortly after Ney Year’s last year, in fact), and it’s a really fun trail. Some technical stuff, both manmade waterbars/steps in and out of the water crossings, and natural rock ledges and outcroppings to be navigated…and depending on the time of year, lots of water crossings. I lost track of how many water crossings we ended up doing, including a couple that were deep enough to be past Mimi’s knees, and my feet and lower legs got splashed a number of times.
It was a good, 8-mile stretch, and Mimi was still being a fire-breathing dragon at the end. She is still so strong, I forget how much of a workout it is when she’s that on and in bulldozer mode, when I have to really work to not let her plow through on her forehand through all of the technical, tricky bits. I’m pretty sure the catch-ride Arabs are actually an easier ride than her. Love her, though, and she’s certainly made me a better rider and has made me work for it along the way.
Well, if all goes according to plan, I should be kept rather busy and out of trouble for at least the first few months on the 2020 ride season.
Back in the fall, Cristina asked me if I would be willing to take Atti to 20 Mule Team and do his first 100 there. After contemplating it a bit, I agreed, and we hatched a plan that involved her keeping Atti down here at the same place Mimi is boarded so that I can give him some more “desert-type” of conditioning with more sand and long-trotting work.
Yesterday, Atti arrived at “winter training camp.” Most of the herd was like, “oh, new horse? Ok, cool, whatever.” Mimi, however, is quite curious about him, which is fairly rare for my normally-antisocial pony. We’ll see how long the honeymoon lasts before she starts sneering at him, but given that she is so jealous and possessive of me working other horses that it would help if she does like him.
I will do a couple of local rides with him — 50 miles at Dashing Through the Trails at Estrella Mountain Park this upcoming weekend, and the Tonto Twist 50 in Apache Junction in January — with some conditioning rides in-between, as well as some cross-training arena work, leading up to the 20 Mule Team 100 in February.
If you’ve followed the blog for a while, you’ll recognize Atti from the McDowell 75 in 2017, and the Man Against Horse 50 in 2019. I’ve had a couple of good rides, and good training rides, on him. He’s a fun little horse, and I’m very honored and flattered that Cristina is putting this level of faith and trust in me with her heart pony.
I recently saw a friend use the hashtag #2020Vision on an Instagram story about future plans/goals. I think that’s particularly clever, and I have it written down as my theme for this upcoming year. It’s nice to start the season and year with some early goals, and then stay pretty flexible and open-ended beyond that point.
As always, things I’ve previously posted still are relevant and applicable, but I figure some things are worth highlighting again, or there are other things I’ve since stumbled upon in the last two years.
This time, the format is going to pull from that of “my favorite things” that may be applicable to gift ideas, things I’ve been buying or using this year, or things that are on my own wish list.
PerformaRide: My current all-around favorites. They are super-comfortable, fit really well, have a wide non-elasticized waistband, pocket!, and everything from plain black to really fun prints.
Bare Equestrian: I haven’t put as many miles on these, but I love the fabric. It’s a little bit silky, slightly compressive, and really comfortable. The stick on them is *really* sticky, and they do offer a non-stick option I want to try.
Ride Boldly: I love the wild prints, and the fact they are totally custom-sized. Super comfortable, fit great, and the sky is pretty much the limit for options and creativity.
Taylored Tack: Love my TT set. So well made, pretty, and the overlay really makes it unique-looking.
Hought: I’ve had really good luck with my Hought stuff as well. I’ve actually scored most of it on resale for really good prices, but as well-made and long-lasting as it is, it’s worth the price.
Zilco: My old standby that I started distance riding with, and have recently been re-acquiring some pieces. Because sometimes I really good want the simple, classic black look. Hard to beat Zilco for really lightweight and streamlined.
Fager: My newest bit obsession, I love everything they make. Mimi slurps them up and actually has the start of foamy pony spit, which never happens. Some of the styles are made of titanium, so they are really, really lightweight. They’re all handmade, and every centimeter is just pure quality, combined with some very innovative design that’s really on the forward edge of anatomical knowledge and understanding of bit function.
Bombers: I’ve only tried their Happy Tongue mouthpiece, but it’s another Mimi-approved bit. They also have a lot of really interesting designs and innovation, and have done a lot of study of equine mouth anatomy.
Aluminum S-Hack: My old standby. I still have the original hack I got from Wind Rider at Tevis 2005, and it’s still going strong. I also really like the anodized option as well, especially for horses light enough to get aluminum marks showing up on their coats. I love how lightweight it is, and very sporty-looking.
Wild West Endurance: I love Elicia’s mohair reins, rump rugs, fleece coolers, and “pony pockets” saddle packs.
Flik Equestrian: Training Journals and Limited Edition shirts. Updated in a smaller, more portable size, as well as the ability to select options for different numbers of horses (1, 2, 4, or 6- horse editions).
I’ve been using my Hylofit since earlier in the year, and my inner data-geek just loves it. It also provides good enough GPS data on mileage and speed that I typically don’t end up wearing a separate GPS anymore.
This was #1 on my Christmas wish list this year. When we went down to Australia, the place we rode at had these lovely saddle pads that were rather unlike anything I was familiar with at the time. They were fairly low profile, but dense, and had a lovely shape and drape to them without being bulky. And the wool was soft and almost silky. I’ve never been able to find anything like that here, and after a lot of internet searching, I believe I ended up finding them. (And, #SpoilerAlert, I do know Santa has one of these on its way to me.)
Okay, armed with that info…happy shopping, all!