Monday, December 15, 2014

Two Left Feet

One of the most frustrating things for me is lateral work. Any sort of lateral work. On a horse like Foo, who has a good deal of western training under her girth, it is easy. I just have to figure out what buttons to press, keep her shoulders or hips in alignment and ta-da!
With everyone else... I still have trouble.
Trish was working on me with it when I was riding under her regularly, able to ride the schoolmasters she had that were already proficient at it- Jackson, Noelle, Gaelyn, H.... I still could only get it sometimes.
I have put other things on my priority list before really learning, grasping, owning lateral work; like my seat, fitness, getting the horse to relax and use themselves, starting babies....
It is a huge gaping hole in my knowledge.
If I could critique the Olney Lesson Program, the only thing I can say is that lateral work needed to be addressed. I was never really asked to do anything, haunch- forehand turns, leg yeild, shoulder fore (super baby stuff) until I was at an IHSA show. IN COLLEGE. Perhaps it was because I never got to the place where you get/ lease your own horse and start taking more specialized lessons instead of group lessons. Remember, my first horse was Journey. I got her when I was in college.

Here is the video I have, if you want to watch it. 

The clinic with Jessica Wisdom was the kick in the pants I needed. It wasn't we are going to play around with some lateral work, it was you will do this now, both you and the horse are both capable of it. So do it.

So guess what? This is going to be the focus of my winter. Everyone, everyone, yes Journey too, will be doing this.

I know it isn't something I generally have time to teach to the babies I start. When you are only working 2 maybe 3 days a week, sometimes other things get seem to take priority. I did work on this with Akilha, but I had her straight for 90 days. Out of all the horses I have started I put the most consecutive work into her. Diesel has spent more time chilling in the pasture or out on trails than actual arena time. Well I mean, he almost died before he turned 3. An all nighter colic on an underweight, unhealthy, wormy, not even 3 year old....(a story for a later date) So he has been babied. He is 5 now. I have focused more on Quick and the others that I get paid to work. Time to start focusing on him.

So, this is my early New Years resolution- OWN LATERAL WORK.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

See Spots Run

This is the third year I have been to Foothills. The first was with Quick and we did the 10 mile trail ride. The second was with Diesel, where we also did the trail ride. This was the first year I was going to do the full ride itself, not just trail riding.

Back in 2012 on a 10 mile ride
Photo by Michelle Woods

On the drive up to Molalla we were discussing what I was going to do for this ride. Looking at the times for the past two years they averaged at about 7 hours for the top 5 and the top 10 were from 6 and a half to 8+ hours. So it was decided I should shoot
for a 7 hour 50.

At the vet in I was looking at Quick's shoes thinking to myself, man they look awful. How did they get so overgrown so quickly? They hadn't looked so bad earlier in the week. I wasn't sure if it was the new shoer, or that he had done a 100 in them, either way I wasn't thrilled.

Paula had brought Roz her endurance mare to do a mother/daughter 25 mile ride with Kathleen who would be riding Molly Farkas' spotted boy Skipper. Skipper was camped next to the Crow's Nest, Molly's trailer and Roz and Quick were next to each other.

It was nice not to have to get up at the crack of dawn to feed ponies and get ready to go. The ground was slick so there was really no chance to warm him up before we got going. I walked around a little bit, then stood next to a gentleman with a nice chestnut gelding. I never caught the man's name,but his horse was Dusty. We followed Mary on the quad out and down the road. I was next to the gentleman with Dusty and ended up following him out once Mary let us go. The controlled start down the road gave us a nice opportunity to get a little warm up before we took off. I had seen a horse slip and fall at the trot out for vetting in, so I wasn't too keen on trying to warm up there.

Dusty turned out to be a bit of a better downhill horse than Quick, he would really open his stride up. They lead for a bit and he let us go ahead on a fun single track up hill when he walked (I think he was tailing) Dusty up the hill. They caught us again and we lead for a bit, then Dusty decided we went too slow downhill and they passed us. We were going about the same speed and going nicely. The gentleman was telling me that he was planning on taking Dusty to Tevis next year.

We crossed the road and were headed downhill when Aura and Fairy caught us. Fairy was flying down the hill with a big trot to rival a standardbred. Quick decided that he was going to follow her. We left the gentleman and Dusty. We had ridden with Aura and Fairy a couple of times at Mt. Pisgah so the two horses knew each other. It is because of riding with them that Quick has learned how to open his stride up going downhill. Before I had to really collect him up or otherwise he would roll down the hill. The two of them were racing each other, Fairy would beat us on the downhill but Quick would catch her on the uphill. They were opposites, Quick was better at the uphill and Fairy at the downhill. And apparently neither of them are great at walking. Once we had crossed the road after catching some of th e LD riders, both ponies wanted to walk. Actually they both wanted the other to lead, one would lead for a bit and then let the other pass, then walk.

Photo by Jala Neufeld

We caught a group of LD riders, one was an appy with a big black spot on his rump and passed them on the way into camp. I wasn't worried about bringing Quick in hot. He had generally been pulsing down quickly and we hadn't gone as fast as we did at Fireworks/ANCER when he took 20 minutes to pulse down. Quick was down and we vetted through. Paula and Kathleen were there with Roz and Skipper. I saw Fairy hadn't pulsed down yet as we went back to camp.

It was only a 30 minute hold, I got some electrolytes in Quick. He was chowing down on his food, he has finally learned to eat. Before he wouldn't eat for the first couple loops. I changed clothes because I was too hot in my rain jacket. It had rained a little on part of the last loop but the sky was clearing up. I was going to let Aura go ahead of me if they had pulsed down at the same time as Quick, but since it took Fairy a little longer than Quick, I went out ahead when my hold was over. Paula and Kathleen were leaving not far behind me. I expected Aura and Fairy to catch me at some point.

Quick just ate up the trails. He was on cruise control. We flew through the first 5 miles of the green loop and then I heard Roz whinny, Quick called back and some choice words were said by both parties. Roz and Skipper were in the woods on the orange loop, I was on common trail with the orange and green loops. There was no way I was going to stop. I needed Quick to focus and we were going a LOT faster than they were. Heck, we left at the same time and I know I did about 5 miles before meeting the common trail. (the orange loop was 15 miles and the green was 20) I put my leg on Quick and we kept going. He didn't even think about wanting to go back and be with Roz. As we continued on, I kept expecting the trail to split, and thought I had missed a turn at one point when there was just and orange white ribbon. So I turned around and trotted to the previous ribbon, which had orange and green. So I figured I was on the right trail, turned around again and continued on the way I had been going. After Fireworks and getting lost twice, I have become very watchful of those darn ribbons. At least Oregon rides mark their trails really well, put big signs out for turns or big arrows like Sharke had for OR 100.

On the way up the road to the out and back on that loop there was a black horse that had been injured, I saw the horse way back and expected Quick to have seen it too. But then he hadn't seen Gabriela and her horse until we were right on them at OR 100, so I shouldn't have been surprised. He is a gelding, not a mare. When the rider walked around the horse he saw them, that is for sure. We ended up facing the other direction. At least I had been prepared for that one, no eating of dirt involved. Although it would have been gravel which is a lot harder than sagebrush.... We went on, there was a car coming down the road who was going to see if he could go for help for the injured horse. Away from the water trough at the out and back I thought Quick's shoes sounded loose. I couldn't tell which one it was, but it was a back shoe. I checked them at the water through, they were all there. On we went.

Hey look no rain!!

The sights were beautiful, we passed a gal with a pony who looked like an icy on the downhill. Then we went on to 'Rags Mile Hill' was the sign. No joke, you went down a little bit and the trail was muddy in places. Up the hill we went, it wasn't steep but gradual. And never-ending. Finally at eh top we went a ways, Quick sniffed at a puddle and then stopped at the white barrels to drink. The trail coming back down was a muddy single track. It was quite beautiful. I tried to take some pictures, but they didn't turn out. The little video did.

Once we got back onto the gravel road I knew something was up. Quick had lost a right hind shoe and the left one was loose too. I was walking him in cursing myself for leaving ALL the boots at home. Quick thought I was walking WAY TOO SLOW and was dragging me down the trail. He had a job to do and he was going to catch those LD horses in front of us and we were headed towards camp. We were passed by two LD riders, I asked them if they had a boot and they didn't. Luckily Karen Leiman came up and I asked her the same question. She was extremely generous to loan me her EasyBoot, a roll of vet wrap, hoof pick and electric tape. The boot was a size 1 and Quick had been wearing 0s. She told me not to lose it and I told her if I did, I would buy her a brand new one to replace it. The LD riders had left right in front of us and Quick was pissed. He was going to go beat them and I was being stupid and dancing around trying to get his back hoof. I had every intention of wrapping the entire roll of vet wrap around his hoof. I didn't see any other way of making a bigger boot fit especially going at speed on muddy and rocky trail. I was afraid to tie him, since he is the master of untying himself, and if he got away it would be a long horseless walk into camp. So we danced. He settled a bit when the gal with the pony came up. But then when I had most of the roll of vet wrap on his hoof he jerked it away and planted it square on my foot and danced some more. I finally got after him, I had enough with the dancing, yes I knew he had a job to do, but if I could get the boot on we could be off. And I thought with another horse there, he would have settled enough so I could get it on. I think it surprised him enough that I was able to finish vet wrapping, shove the boot on and adjust the cables without much incident. I put the tape on like Karen had told me over the clamp and crossed my fingers that it would stay.

I don't think my butt was in the saddle before Quick took off. I don't remember if I had thanked the girl for waiting for me, but if I didn't THANK YOU!!!!! I still had the hoof pick and tape in my hand and had to stuff them in my bag on a moving horse.

Quick made up our lost time, flying along. He was hunting the two LD horses. We found them when we reached the open trail through a clear cut. It looked like a pretty new trail and Quick, multiple times thought he was going to make a new one cross country straight at them. I had to really steer him and stop him to keep him on trail. Usually on single track he is quite handy and takes corners on one hoof. Nope, he was hunting. We caught and passed them. The trail next to the barbwire fence was muddy and deep in spots. I kept checking the boot. At one point I saw someone I didn't recognize behind us, I thought it was a 50 miler. I asked Quick for a little more and off we went. I still have no idea who that was.

Karen's boot is on his right hind!!
Photos by Jala Neufeld

The boot staid on and camp was a welcome relief. I asked if anyone had a boot or if there was a farrier. DeWayne was pulsing us and thought we were done, I told him I still had 10 miles to go and needed a farrier, we weren't done yet! I wanted to be the winning Appy, but if we were going to win, we needed to get through that last loop. I wasn't sure how much time I had lost on with walking and the boot. I doubted Fairy would have made good time up that hill, we certainly didn't and Quick is an uphill horse.
Molly Farkas commanding the in gate
Photo by Jala Neufeld

Luckily there was a farrier there. I pulled the boot and ended up cutting the vet wrap off with the farrier's hoof knife, cutting my finger in the process. It was sharp!! Quick munched on the hay that someone else had left and the green grass while he got his new shoe put on. The farrier said he believed that the other hind had as good of chance at staying on as the rest. He tightened the clinches and off we went to vet through.

On a side note, I am buying a boot bag and putting a boot in it just for rides, with vet wrap and a hoof pick!! I put Karen's boot in Paula's boot bag and put it on my saddle. I had about 10 minutes to get myself some water, I hadn't remembered to refill my water bottles and had lost one so I had only a half of a bottle to drink on that green loop. I gave Quick more electrolytes and changed into a t shirt. Paula and Kathleen had come in by this point.

Off we went on the last loop. I think I saw Aura and Fairy in the vet line when I left, but I wasn't paying attention. The footing on the blue loop wasn't the best. It was common trail with the pink loop for about 5 miles. I think it was closer to 4 since the second half seemed longer. About halfway through I kept hearing voices, before we crossed the road and after. Quick told me there was someone behind us too. I did hear a car, but I we wasn't about to let someone pass us this close to the end. Even though I doubted with the mud they could make time, but you never know. There were a bunch of people in this ride that had WAY more experience than I do. I did push Quick. We could have easily puttered around for that loop and still done well. There were some places with big rock where we had to walk. I was so happy when we crossed back over the road I knew we were almost done. And I could stop checking for three shoes. I knew the new one would stay put, but it was the other 3 I was worried about. Especially that back one. Quick hadn't wanted to drink at any of the tanks, but really slurpped a big puddle at eh bottom of the hill before you come up towards camp. When we hit the single track back into camp he knew where we were and wasn't about to slow down. Even though I thought we should walk in since some of that trail was kind of muddy. He had other ideas.

Photo by Jala Neufeld

I know I had a big grin on my face as we came through the gait and back into camp. I got off and hugged Molly. Paula was there and tack came off and Quick got sponged down. I asked DeWayne to pulse him, since he had been excited about an appy winning it earlier. Quick was down. We did our 10 minute CRI which wasn't great but wasn't bad. We finished at 3:43, pulsed down within 3 minutes. So 7 hours and 13 minutes for 50 miles. Second place came in at 7 hours and 52 minutes, which was Aura and Fairy.

Here Quick is convinced that he has another loop
 to go out on so he should eat while he can. 
Photo by Jala Neufeld

Quick went back to his corral and chowed down on his bucket and alfalfa. I sat down and tried to drink and eat something. And Leigh, my little blonde dog, was happy to see me, then he was mad at me for leaving him. Apparently he ran away from Paula earlier. This is only his 5th ride, he doesn't quite have it down yet. He went and pouted up on the bed once he was sure I was staying put.

Photo by Jala Neufeld

Quick is not good at trotting out, just as he is not good at lounging. He is actually a pretty lazy horse oddly enough. So you kind of have to get after him to make him move, otherwise he drags. So our hour CRI wasn't great at all, but two things happened at the vet put his stethoscope up to Quick's side. Roz called and a peacock walked right by the fence. I saw Quick's head go up, but I didn't realize what he was looking at, I thought it was Roz. So we lost points on the CRI, plus the fact that with all the gear I weighed 172 lbs. Aura and Fairy ended up winning the BC! CONGRATULATIONS!!

We had the advantage that this is the type of stuff we train on, this was the type of terrain that I was cantering and galloping on getting him fit for the 100. While the Still Memorial Ride and Fireworks were tough, they don't come close to the elevation change of this ride. You were going up or down and if it seemed flat, it really wasn't. It still hasn't sunk in that Quick and I won the ride, and won it by almost 40 minutes! This is the horse I have said multiple times that he isn't a front runner, that he wouldn't do well being out alone by himself. I guess I was wrong! I remember a Tamarack Hill Farm post about “build a beast”, that is the only phrase that has stuck with me, I don't remember the rest of the post. I do know it was talking about a cross country horse, one that is bold and attacks fences. Probably something about building confidence with little steps, then suddenly you have your horse jumping big jumps and not blinking an eye. It is the same with Quick, the horse that lacked confidence, the one that couldn't go out in front without having a meltdown, the one that was dumping people right and left.... that horse just led 30 miles without any trouble and won his first 50!

Viva Quick!!!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Don't mind me, I'm riding a Spookaloosa

Or Our First 100

Each ride I go to brings on different challenges, new learning experiences and not to mention, a horse that is growing and changing with each endurance ride. Quick is not an easy horse, there is far more to riding him than just going down the trail. I have to be constantly aware of his mental state, when to push and allow him and when to just say screw it and walk it out. Sometimes Quick has three gaits, walk-spook-canter. Canter by far is the easiest to sit any spook he has to throw out. He has yet to master the art of spooking and cantering as professionally as he has at the other two gaits. When Quick is focused we can go down the trail nicely, by ourselves without much issue. These moments are starting to happen more and more often. When we reach the spook mode, there are a couple options; walk or canter. Walk gets us nowhere fast, and the spooks can still catch me off guard. Canter however, tires him out faster and there are still spooks, but they usually result in a lead change and jumping to the other side of the trail. And there is a fair amount of warning, since the brakes are not as efficient at slamming on and coming to a screeching halt with some amazing burst of movement sideways.
Quick still lacks a lot of confidence, and the confidence he has, he draws from me. I noticed this about two weeks before the ride, we had gone to visit Kat and Digger and go riding with them and Paula on Roz. Kat and I switched horses briefly. Quick's eyes nearly popped out of his head and were on me the entire time. He was completely upset that I had gotten on Digger and was no longer riding him. This is the horse I had just been working on a nice sitting trot, engaged, back up, soft light contact going down the trail. As well as a nice canter up a technical hill trail where shifting my weight was all I needed to dance us around trees. Seeing his reaction to Kat getting on him reminded me of just how much growing this horse still has to do. I have been his sole rider since February of last year, and the one who had been putting many miles (spooks included) on him before that.
Quick was already pretty fit coming off of ANCER/Fireworks 50 in July. I had hoped to take him to Bare Bones, but it wasn't in the stars for us, other things got in the way. Paula told me how many miles I needed to put on him each week leading up to this ride, I did approximately 143 miles in the weeks leading up to OR 100, then let him rest for two weeks. I conditioned him harder than I knew I would be riding. OR 100 is a pretty flat ride, especially to the 7,000 ft of elevation change that Fireworks boasted. I pushed Quick hard during our training rides, mentally and physically. We went faster than I planned to ride the 100, instead of short fast work with lots of walking in between, I switched it to long fast rides with minimal walking. This was both for him and myself, I put my stirrups up to allow me to get out of the saddle, getting my knees ready. At the 75 last year, it was my knees that did me in.

On the left, an example of a slightly worn shoe. 
And on the right, what was left of one of Quick's shoes.

I was stressing leading up to this ride, we wore through out steel shoes and our usual farrier was having back surgery so he couldn't put new shoes on. I started conditioning Quick in a set of EasyBoots that I had, luckily his hooves and Diesel's are about the same size. I put a lot of miles on those, nearly wearing them out as well. Since I have been trimming Journey's hooves myself, I have become super picky about what I see from different farriers. So finding a new farrier to put shoes on right before this ride was awful. I found a young man who does a really nice job, quite the perfectionist when it comes to his work. There isn't much I could complain about his work.
Quick gave me quite a scare, he got shoes on on Tuesday and when I took him for a ride on Saturday, he was lame. It was intermittent, but there. So Sunday, he got lunged in the arena. No sign of lameness, whatsoever. I think he must have stepped on a rock, that is the only answer I have. He has been sound since and was before.

All of my stress left when we got there. Well I did get horribly nauseous with a bad headache when we got into Bend. It was really all I could do to set up Quick's corral and everything before I crawled into bed with a damp towel over my eyes.
Quick was focused as well. By this time, he knows what coming into Ride Camp means. He trotted out sound and vetted in well. Once I got over my headache, I was also focused.

After we vetted in, we went for a short ride. Quick wanted to go back to camp, but listened well. We trotted and canter a short ways down the trail, all I was checking was his mindset. Then we walked back into camp on a loose rein. We walked around camp a bit, there were a lot of Appy fans there. Apparently Quick has good Appy bloodlines, everyone seemed to really like them. (if you are curious he is on AllBreedPedigree under Viva Sozar)

Quick wanted to go shopping!

During the ride meeting I presented Diana from American Trail Gear with a thank you gift. American Trail Gear graciously donated a breastcollar/bridle set to raffle off to raise money for our trip to ANCER. I raised $500 towards my trip, which was the only reason I was able to go. The money paid for the gas to get there, the ride entry and helped with his Health Certificate and Coggins needed to get into California.

It is always right when I fall asleep that my alarm goes off. 4:30 am to feed Quick and get myself something to eat. Quick was eating well. We got everything together and headed over to the start. Quick was really up, I tried to warm him up, but soon gave that up because his head was so high in the air. We milled about quietly waiting for the start. 9 started the 100, 1 on the 75 who then elevated to the 100.
Spookaloosa out by himself!

3 riders were out ahead of us, I tried to keep Quick slow, but as I have learned fighting him at the beginning is somewhat pointless, it just wastes energy. After a little bit, I let him go. I never saw the 3 riders in front of me. Becky and Marie were not far behind me, and that is how we staid through the first loop. Quick was going nicely, trotting and cantering most of the loop. We spooked into the outcheck where we just had a trot by. Cassie remarked on his goofiness. Yup, just a Spookaloosa!
Off we went again.
I never really thought I would be riding my first 100 mile ride on Quick and not worried at all about going out by ourselves. Last year, the thought was mildly terrifying only because I knew Quick couldn't handle it. This year we had done majority of our conditioning by ourselves, mentally and physically Quick was in a far different place than he was last year.

Riding into Ride Camp was another show of the Spookaloosa.
“Hey its a gray horse, is that Lois?”
Horse spooks 6 ft sideways to the other side of the road repeatedly.
“Nope, that is Quick.”

We cantered into camp, impressing a couple people that I staid on during those spooks. Quick pulsed down nicely and vetted through. We rested and were ready to go back out again.

Photos by Rebecca Vitus

The next loop was 20 miles. It was the longest 20 miles of the whole day. I was surprised I had seen a chestnut horse in front of me a couple times. We were more than half way done with that loop when I caught up with them. I saw them long before Quick did. When he finally saw them, we couldn't have been 30 feet from them. His head was up high, expecting that the horse was a mirage.
It was Garbiella Blakely and her horse was a bit stiff and off. I was walking with her for a little bit, when Lois caught up with us.

Desert as far as the eye can see.

I followed Lois off. Her and Mocha kept up a good pace, slightly faster than Quick and I were going. But he never asked to walk. If we had been at the beginning of the loop I wouldn't have tried to keep up. Mocha is a much taller and way more experienced horse than Quick, (he has 8 100 mile completions) and not to mention Lois has a million more miles than I do. But since I figured that the out check wasn't too far away, I let Quick tag along.
Quick took 5 minutes to pulse down at the out check. We vetted through and waited it out. A couple of the riders behind us came in and Lois was off before I was. Off Quick and I went.
It was 16 miles back to Ride Camp, another long 16 miles. It was during the heat of the day and Quick was on a walk a bit and then trot a bit agenda. It wasn't long before Becky and Marie caught up to us. I had been letting Quick save some energy. Quick wanted to follow them. I could tell they really didn't want me tagging along, but even picking up a canter didn't loose us. It made the miles pass quickly. We went up a hill their horses walked and Quick wanted past. So away we went. We stopped at the next water, and when they caught up asked if it was alright to go on ahead. They said it was and we made our way back into camp.
Of course, as we were coming up the last 100 yards into camp, Quick started spooking at every rock, weird shape on the ground etc. So we were cantering in and spooking from side to side. I got some more comments on good riding that Spookaloosa.

When you give up and walk the Spookaloosa into camp... 
Photo by Rebecca Vitus

At this point there were 3 loops left, two 12 mile loops and the final 16 mile loop.

I purposefully waiting until Becky and Marie had gone on ahead, they have way more miles and experience than I do and I was done with the leap frog bit we had been doing. We walked out of camp, and were soon caught by Heather and her nice Standardbred mare Bunny. Bunny is a nice mare, I really liked her build and attitude, very work-man like. We rode together, both of us on our first 100 mile ride. This loop was pretty uneventful. Heather and I got to know each other more and agreed to ride the last two loops together if at all possible. We talked a lot about dressage and training horses, as well as what we have been doing as far as endurance.

Sun setting coming into camp.

We came back in around 6:30 or so, we would be heading out in the dark for the final two loops. I have ridden horses in the dark before, but never like this. Never at more than a walk on a place I knew. As we set out, Bunny and Heather lead the way. There were lots of ups and downs on this loop, as in hills. The light had faded from the sky, leaving the pink hues until tomorrow to show themselves. The stars began to come out.

Since neither Heather nor I had much experience night riding, it was something to figure out. Just what was working for us. Since it was a late rising moon, and a waning one at that, there was no moonlight to guide our way. We were almost to the canyon trail back into camp, we had just left a barb wire fence to the left of us, and I came up so we were riding side by side. (didn't quite trust him in the dark with the fence to the side)

Did I mention I was riding a Spookaloosa?

Passenger ejection! Flying unscheduled dismount!

And I met the closest sagebrush. Of course I hung on to the reins, but seeing this was my first ejection from the saddle in, oh what, over a year?? (that can't be right) Quick was shocked back into reality. He pulled away.
It scared me half to death, mostly because we had just been discussing lost horses, and those who had not met a kind fate. I scrambled to my feet and grabbed Quick's reins, and hopped back on.
I think it really surprised Heather, she got to see the Spookaloosa in action. Quick got to be a dressage horse again, instead of having a loose rein. Upon our arival back in camp, my flying dismount was undoubtedly caused by not wearing my eventing vest on that loop. (so they say)

Quick's head is in there somewhere. 

Rest and return to the trail. Neither horse really wanted to trot at the beginning of the last 16 mile loop. It was getting cold out, they had already done 84 miles and gravitational pull of Ride Camp was taking hold. We walked a lot of it, a good walk but still walking. I tried to get Quick out in front, but every time I did, Bunny would start shying to the side. We decided that it was Quick's rump rug catching the light that was causing it. I could tell when we made the turn for home. Quick picked up pace, and we started doing more trotting. Even with Quick out in front. Glow sticks lighting the way.
We were about 5-6 miles out from camp when Heather started getting dizzy. She got off and I encouraged her to eat something and gave her my other water bottle to drink. She was feeling a little better, and walking on foot a bit when the last two riders caught up with us. They offered to stay, and then thought better of it since they didn't have rump rugs on their horses. Quick wanted to go with them. Part of me did too, to just get it over with. But honestly I couldn't leave Heather there. She was tired, not feeling well and desperately wanted this completion. And her and Bunny had drug Quick around the last two loops. I staid with her, holding Quick back. Once she was up for it she got back on her mare and we walked back into camp. I kept her talking as we walked, watching for familiar landmarks in the dark. I offered my crew to help vet her horse through to get her completion. Her Mom was her crew, and I figured she would need some help taking care of both Bunny and Heather.
It was a long walk back into camp, you could see it for miles, slowly getting closer and closer. It was around 2 am when we walked into camp. Heather collapsed into a chair and Kat vetted her horse through.
I was chastised on my lack of trotting out skills, something that we need to work on for sure. But we made it. Up until the last bit of walking I felt great, knees didn't bother me or anything. But as usual, in the cold my knees froze up on the last bit coming into camp.
Despite that, I felt both Quick and I would be ready to tackle another loop if need be. Quick had great vet scores all day.

Quick's vet card. You can't beat ending your first 100 miles with all As!!

There is nothing I regret or would have done differently on this ride. Nothing. That is pretty big, usually I go through all that I could have done better. It was my second attempt at a 100 mile ride, I had a fit horse, I was a fit rider and we completed. And we helped Heather complete as well. I was probably the rider out there with the least amount of endurance miles, 325 before this ride. I lack the depth of experience many of the other riders have, to know how far and fast I can push my horse. And yet I know Quick really well, his strengths and weaknesses, my own strengths and weaknesses, I can read how physically and mentally Quick is doing and act upon it. I am not out there to ride the spots off of him, bringing him back healthy is more important to me than any placing. I am out there watching, observing, and learning as I am riding. To not pay attention to those riders with more experience than I have is stupid, a waste of a great opportunity.

I just woke him up from a nap, Monday after the ride.

Viva Quick

Saturday, September 13, 2014


Training horses is like religion....
you have to BELIEVE.
-Jack Le Goff

My goal with working any horse is to leave them better off than when I started. Sometimes this is painstakingly slow baby steps but every step, every calm relaxed ride is worth it. 

When working with young horses I strive to give them a solid foundation, built on relaxation and confidence. A relaxed horse is a horse ready to learn, to understand new concepts. My goal is to not force the horse into a compressed outline for the sake of it being "in fashion". I am interested in allowing the horse the time to build and develop the muscle to correctly carry themselves along with a rider. This involves time, something most people do not want to hear. 

Americans want instant dressage the same
way they want instant coffee.
-Jack Le Goff

It is my belief that self carriage comes not from pulling on the horse's mouth, but from correct, relaxed training that builds muscles and doesn't damage the horse physically or mentally. I also work to find the cause of blockages whether it be tack related, rider related (none of us are perfect, myself included foremost) or physical such as an old injury or needing to be addressed by a chiropractor or bodyworker. 
I also believe in hacking out for fitness and cross training. Good nutrition, proper hoofcare and a good living environment are also important to me. 

Take time,time and more time, with the ones who are not brimming with confidence.
NEVER get caught up in thinking you SHOULD be doing such and such an age.
Look every day at what is in front of your eyes, and think like a TRAINER, not
like some stupid, over eager COMPETITOR......

....And what did Le Goff say, Denny?
He said: "Boldness comes from confidence. Confidence comes from success.
So it's the job of the trainer to create lots of situations that guarantee success."....

.....But it took several YEARS, not months. Never any force, never any beating,
just lots of little stuff, month after month, no time schedule except what 
Rosie "said" in terms of her responses.

"Think like a trainer. Think like a trainer. Think like a trainer." Keep saying this.

If you think like a grubby little competitor, the chances are good 
that you will screw up lots of horses in your career.

If you simply lack the patience and the temperament to be content for as long as it takes
to simply putter about with young or green horses while they learn what's what, then 
you should leave the training to real horse people, and go buy some 
broke horse who can tolerate your needs.

Maybe you will grow up some day, and maybe you won't, 
but spare the green horses your tantrums and hunger for gratification.

This is what I believe in, this is how I ride, how I work with horses. I am always on the quest of knowledge. I do not wish to cheat myself or the horses I work with by taking short cuts, using unnecessary force with my hands because I have not taken the time to learn how to effectively use my seat and legs. No I want to learn to do it, and do it correctly. What keeps me going is the people who tell me "I can tell when you have worked B, she is much calmer when I turn her out the next morning." or "I can tell when you have been riding her, she is much more consistent."
Yes there are holes in my education that I am working towards filling. I do not show, I haven't had the opportunity to have a high level horse and ride it for long enough to show upper levels and do well. Instead I am working towards making a horse, or two. This takes time, it does not happen overnight. 

I have made many mistakes, in the preparation of literally thousands of horses.
 So happy I am aware of these shortcomings, because otherwise, I would never 
have come to move forward. Be still, I have got a lot to learn and I'll be learning 
until the day I die, not only when mounting, but studying, thinking deeply and watching.
-Nuno de Oliveira;

This is the path the horses have shown me, what listening to them and allowing their voices to reach my thoughts has taught me. It is a path I have committed myself to. Blame Journey, for she has challenged me more than any other horse I have met to become a better rider. No matter your thoughts about her, remember before you utter an unkind word towards her, that if it wasn't for her I would not be the rider, trainer, horsewoman I am today. 

Thus anyone who uses too much hand influence and contracts the horse's 
neck, seriously restricts both hindquarters and back. 
- Anja Beran from 
                                                                Classical Schooling with the Horse in Mind

When I was working Diesel for the dressage show, I was stumped as to why he would not stretch down, he was stiff and wouldn't use himself. I struggled with this, trying to figure out what I was doing wrong. It was suggested to pick up the contact. When I did so all Diesel did was tense his neck and set his head. He used his front end to carry himself. Yes I did slow his tempo down (it helps when someone reminds you!), but what I was feeling I didn't like. He was not really lifting his back, which I have seen him do. Instead of was fighting me. 
I ended up putting a Back on Track pad on him for the show, it helped a lot, he was able to use his back a bit more. Yet I was never able to achieve a stretch like I knew he was capable of. 
Afterwards, I went to riding him bareback. On our second ride I got on him, and when I picked up the reins he offered a stretch. As I was riding him, I noticed how soft he was through his back, that it was not dropped, but supporting me. His gait was smooth, he was stretching down and yes I was able to take up more contact. The difference was, he was finally able to use himself, to stretch through his topline into my hand, instead of my hand holding his head in. He was able to lift his inside shoulder and weight his outside shoulder. He was able to bend through his body and when all the pieces fit, it felt like magic. It is something that cannot be forced, the feeling of a horse moving softly and correctly. 
It was not as if taking up contact wasn't the solution to the problem, it wasn't the right solution at that time, a saddle that didn't block him was the solution. 
On a side note I tried a saddle that fit on him and to put it lightly, he can really lift his back if the occasion suits him. 

Let us repeat once again: anyone who works correctly on the horse's 
hindquarters and back will get correct carriage of the 
neck and head as a natural consequence!
- Anja Beran from
                                                                      Classical Schooling with the Horse in Mind

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Dressage Differently

They say dressage is the basis for every riding discipline, that it in truth only means 'training'. For dressage is to train the horse so it can better carry a rider, to be more beautiful and graceful under saddle. So that when a horse is well trained it looks as if the horse is doing the movements on its own without noticeable direction from the rider.

So that is in theory anyway. 

I do not go out and tell everyone oh I am a dressage rider, there are too many negative stereotypes that go along with that label. You hear of dressage queens who never ride outside of the arena, their breeches never have a stain on them. Their horses must be expensive warmbloods, their noses strapped shut with the latest fad in crank noseband. Even without draw reins and a curb bit they are able to achieve extreme flexion of their horse'a neck while complaining of him being behind the leg.

Okay that isn't every dressage rider or trainer, but you probably know someone who fits that description or part if it.

I strive to be that rider whose horse moves effortlessly, whose aids are subtle and quiet. This isn't an easy task, back to the Denny Emmerson posts, his favorite seems to be Jack LeGoff's saying: a rider needs 3 things-
A good seat
A good seat
A good seat

To have independent hands you need a good seat, a good rider doesn't bounce in the sitting trot. (No I don't read every Tamarack Hill Farm post on Facebook, nope.) It all comes back to having a good seat. I was watching a video of someone riding, their hands were bouncing, their seat was bouncing and overall they just looked uncomfortable. (been there!) So I had to go find a video of myself riding to see if I bounce at all. (this usually happens when I watch someone riding and notice something such as hand position, bouncing etc) Then I go through and pick out everything that I need to improve on, but my hands are independent of my seat/posting so I must be doing something right.

A good friend of mine told me to stop downplaying my riding skills. We are our own worst critics. Then I have people allowing me ride their horse, out of the blue after watching me ride Journey on one of her bad days, because I have soft hands. I don't pull and yank, I allow.

My goal is to dressage differently, more classically, following what is necessary for the horse to become a high performance athlete. Dressage speaks of self carriage, self carriage is not the horse holding their head in. No, not at all. Self carriage is 40 miles into a 50 and you are riding on a loose rein with the horse working off of his hind end, relaxed and using his body correctly and effectively.  That to me anyway, is the purpose of dressage. It is far from getting the horse's head in a certain position or being able to piaffe or passage around the arena. Horses are amazing in what they do despite the factors against them. They try so hard to please and do the most they can even when it is physically detrimental to their health and well being.

No not every horse is ridden incorrectly or is used up before they are fully mature, but it by far, is the trend. We see youngsters doing advanced movements, jumping huge fences, and disappear before they are 10. There is a sad saying that 'if it was a Quarter Horse it would be lame by 5!' Five!!
Horses that are ridden behind the vertical are common in almost every barn and show out there. It is rewarded and therefore perpetuated by the next group of hungry riders and trainers. New shortcuts are devised to achieve the results faster, sell horses for more money, win more prestigious events.

Not for me. I want it done correctly, but I am not a perfectionist about it. I want to set the horse up for success, not be detrimental to it. I would rather take the long slow approach, giving the horse the ability to be calm and relaxed under saddle. This is what riding from your hands cannot teach a horse, it builds tension instead of relaxation.

Over this past weekend I took Diesel to a dressage show. I had been looking for one to take him too, but hadn't found one that worked with Quick's endurance ride schedule. When I found out this show was happening it was less than two weeks away. Diesel hadn't been in an arena in two months, he had been working on his long slow distance base. So I made arrangements to haul him into an arena and get some arena work done!!

The thing that had been bothering me most was not being able to get him to stretch, everybody I ride stretches. The 3 year old filly stretches far better than he does. (note we did have a saddle fit issue earlier this year, which took a while to resolve because nothing was WIDE enough for his shoulders. I finally found a saddle that we thought worked, had great sweat patterns out on the trail. Although I do not believe it is a perfect fit for him.) Not to mention, Diesel decided to jump out of the field he was in and into a small area with Journey, who was in raging heat. (she has been known to corner and let those heels fly....) But both were fine, much to my relief. Bad jumping pony!

Thank you Dena Stockdale for this wonderful photo!!

Diesel did fantastic, we did 3 tests. Intro B, Intro C and Training 1. Our worst test by far was probably training 1, because I still hadn't gotten him to stretch on the trot circle at A. And of course, I had to get the blue in somewhere, although I did pull out my old Charles Owen helmet, tall boots and light colored breeches. (yes, breeches not tights!) 

Intro B
Thank you Paula for the video.

Intro C
Thank you Margo for the video. 

Training 1
Thank you Margo for the video. 

I felt a lot of personal pressure, I started this horse and have done all of his training. How he does is a reflection on where I am at with my skills. Yes there are a TON of things I can work on, but I am pretty damn proud of this boy. Even with the llama, goats and minis next to the arena (I think it was the minis that bothered him most actually) he did awesome. Diesel is a 5 yr old Akhal-teke/ Arabian cross. 

This horse has been brought along slowly, with more miles on the trail than in the arena and lots of time to grow up. 

2nd in intro b, 1st in intro c and 4th in training 1

I am not saying anyone is wrong or outright condemning a training method. We are all at different places in our relationship with horses, I respect everyone even if I would never let them ride my horse. It is my choice to 'dressage differently', it is what I had learned from the horses I have worked with and the trainers and friends. It works for me, and I can only to continue to learn and grow as a rider and trainer. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Turning Point

The other day I was riding Quick, we were by ourselves on a trail that we know well. Quick was being slightly spooky, giving everything a good eyeball or two. We moseyed along, not in too much of a hurry at the moment having just started out and it was rather hot out. We got to the cross roads, we could go either direction, it didn't matter much to me being a loop so I let Quick decide. He chose to go to the right, probably because if  you go that way you can get home in less than 5 miles! We went off up the hill.

Quick picked a a nice canter. My stirrups were a little long for two pointing, but I got my bum out of the saddle. I was distracted by the fact that I had just gotten him to leg yield over at a canter to avoid a blackberry bush that threatened to claw us and asked to go back the direction we just came, and he did! Then...

Quick hit the brakes, exiting stage right from where we had been. I ended up on his neck, feeling that this was happening in slow motion. I didn't loose my stirrups, but I was square on his neck, hugging his neck. He came to a halt (by the way this has happened within the span of maybe a few seconds) and I am still on his neck. Before I even start to right myself Quick lifted his head HIGHER. He didn't drop a shoulder, drop his neck, try to evade me getting righted in the saddle or just continue what he was doing regardless if I am where I am supposed to be or not. He LIFTED HIS NECK UP. I righted myself and sat there rather speechless. He was still a little frazzled from the attack of the wood, so I patted his neck and asked him to move on.

I rode the whole ride in the same kind of stunned feeling. We found a new feather to commemorate this occasion. 

Viva Quick

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Quick goes Quickly

I am nothing but thrilled at how well Quick did at the ANCER/ Fireworks 50 ride. He showed me what he is capable of and more. With each ride this little horse gets better and better. He is most definitely an endurance horse, hands down. I barely recognize the horse I am riding, he has come so far in such a short time.
This whole experience was a lot of firsts for the little spotted horse. His first California ride, his first long long haul and his first solo haul to an endurance ride. He hauled well, we got a late start because of some technical issues, but were bound for California!
Quick had the trailer to himself! And a buffet!

Paula Rasler, Kathleen Jepsom, and Molly Farkas

We spent the night at the Woodland Stallion Station, a beautiful facility with a lot of nice people. And we were on our way the next morning. Just as we got onto Hwy 17 we heard about a major accident that had occurred and it was either get off and take another route or wait it out. With how hot it was getting Molly took us down Hwy 9, which isn't much of a highway, more of a twisty turny road with lots of construction on it. Molly is a darn good driver, is all I can say.
Pretty Sunset!

We got to Santa Cruz and were one of only a few rigs there camping over Thursday night. Quick wasn't super happy about not having another horse around him. Apparently I am not a happy person when I get woken up at 3am by mules launching out of their trailer. But Quick was happy to have someone next to him.
Ride camp started to fill up, and Quick and I went out to check out the trails. We rode down the single track, over the stream and up the other side, then turned around and came back up the trail. After crossing the stream again on the way back, I asked Quick for some speed, just in case I needed to know how fast we could take this. Turns out Quick is quite handy! He took it at a canter. We met Julie and Gem close to ride camp, she said they were going out towards the river and I joined them. Gem is a really pretty dark bay with white and dark spots on her rump and not tail! She shows her TB heritage in being lighter in build. A really nice mare. I was surprised by the lack of ribbons on the trail, it was Friday and the trail wasn't marked?! I am used to rides where the trails were well marked and marked long before the Friday before the ride. Heck, Quick and I have helped mark trails, and remark trails after the Elk and or cows feasted on the ribbons. Quick wanted absolutely nothing to do with going slow and was a beast trying to get him to walk slowly, which is usually his MO. No Quick knew he had a job to do!
Quick making sure we have everything in the out check box

We vetted in, somehow managing to not wait in line forever. There was supposed to be over 60 entries in both the LD and the 50. That is a lot of horses! We walked around and met the other Appys. River, Eowyn, and Kiki and their respective owners, Becky, Becky and Jacob. The others were more of the build you tend to see with a lot of Appys, a bit heavier and built downhill. I couldn't rule any of these horses out, they all had more experience than Quick and I did! Jacob asked me if Quick was fast, my response was 'We will find out!'

All of the Appys!! Photo by Doug Smith

Photo by Doug Smith

 The next morning I was up before my alarm, fed Quick and got myself ready to go. It wasn't as misty and drizzly as it had been the day before, and Quick was the only horse wearing a rump rug. I tacked him up, sporting his blue American Trail Gear and I looked like I was in the wrong sport in my skull cap and eventing vest. And yes, I was sorely tempted to school the small XC course that they had set up, I think Paula would have KILLED me if I had!
Paula snapped this of us waiting.

I warmed Quick up, a lite walk trot canter both directions, he was really responsive. Listening to me for transitions within gaits and to different gaits. We went and milled about, waiting for the start. Quick was quiet, far different from the horse I rode at our first 50 together last year! Their was no head in the air, eyes bulging out, back dropped and running for his little life. The horses converged into a singlefile line at the start, it was a controlled start. It was amazing to see 60+ horses snaking down the trail into the ravine and up the other side. I had put Quick towards the front. After seeing a horse kick out in front of us before we even left ride camp, I was glad Quick gets along with everyone. I wouldn't have been able to do that had I been riding a horse like the Dragon, she was very protective of her space at endurance rides!

Snaking down to the creek

When the control ended I let Quick go. We settled into a nice pace, we passed a few horses and were passed. I remember watching a grey in front of us with its legs flying at the trot, it made me wonder if Quick's legs flung about like that. I don't know, I've never really ridden behind him. By the time we made it to the river we had positioned ourselves in the top 5. It wasn't long after that that we ended up behind a rider in pink on a nice bay gelding. Little did I know it was Heather Reynolds! Quick settled in behind them and off we went.

Crossing the river Photo by Bill Gore Photography

The ride manager had mentioned this ride has a history of sabotage, and we found out the hard way. At this point there was one rider in front of Heather and we were right behind her. The ribbons had been moved across the path, sending us the wrong way. We ended up in a parking lot. Heather's GPS said we ended up going 2 miles out of the way, and then 2 miles back the way we came. Quick ate up the single track, he was flying at the trot and cruising around corners. We ran into another group of riders and told them the bad news. Heather had Hadeia moving, she was out to make up time! The ribbons were now where they should have been and we went the correct direction. We were catching and passing groups of riders right and left. They were all kind and let us pass! Quick didn't want to slow down when we caught up to them. It was time to see what the spots was made of!

Quick going quickly Photo by Bill Gore Photography

 We passed the trot by vet check and off onto the yellow loop. The trail here was wider and more open, through the tall grasses heading out towards the sea. We cantered and hand galloped a lot of this loop, I hardly remember any of it. Quick settled in behind Hadeia. I questioned myself a number of times if I had conditioned Quick well enough to be able to keep up this pace.

Photo by Doug Smith

Photo by Doug Smith

It was less than a mile before the vet check that Quick was tired. Unfortunately when he slowed down, and Hadeia got too far ahead of him, he would hurry to catch up. I knew we were coming in hot, and instead of fighting him and risking keeping his heart rate up that way, I asked him to stay with Heather and Hadeia. Quick tanked up at the water at the check.
Coming into the vet check Photo by Doug Smith

This was where my inexperience really bit us in the behind. It took me 20 minutes to get Quick's heart rate down and a good piddle on his part. He was tired. The vet check was a bit of a mess, horses everywhere. Crews weren't allowed out and there was supposed to be plenty of hay and kids to help. Quick picked at his food. Hadeia had pulsed right down and Heather left 15 minutes before us.
I was watching the clock and when the other Appys were leaving. Becky and Eowyn left about 10 minutes before us and Jacob and Kiki left 3 minutes before us.
And then I got lost again. The darn blue arrow was pointing in the wrong direction. At least I wasn't the only one. We looked at the map and then turned around. I sent Quick on at a good clip. We met Becky and River who had also gone the wrong direction! Once on the correct trail I made Quick go out in front, there was no way I was letting Becky in front of us! He actually didn't have a problem with it, I think he only spooked once. We led for a good deal of the way down towards the ocean. The sea breeze was nice, keeping the temps down. I was wary of the next blue arrow, but it did lead us in the right direction. We ended up getting passed by a chestnut, Rose at the big water trough, and followed her and her rider (whose name I forget!). The Enchanted forest was pretty, much like the forests here in the Willamette Valley, but with Redwoods instead of Doug Firs. There were a couple mountain bikers that we let pass. There is no way you would get me to ride down that hill on a bike; roots rocks, trees and all. I would wipe out no questions asked. We left Becky at a stream crossing, both the chestnut and Quick weren't interested in the water, while we were waiting for the others Quick was attacked by either bugs or the stinging nettle that attacked me! Dang it hurt! Becky said we were fine to leave since Quick was dancing around and about to have a mini meltdown.
Look the ocean!

Quick was starting to really recover, we were taking this loop much much slower. There was one section on the private property trails that surprised me, it was a short steep scramble. But it was obviously a freshly cut trail and the footing was loose and there was a big rock right smack dab in the middle of it. Nothing that the spots couldn't handle! But I felt bad for the new riders who had to tackle this. It would have made me think twice two years ago. My girth had gotten loose and my saddle sliding back, I ended up jumping off as we were walking, loosening the girth, adjusting the saddle and tightening it up. Another rider on a chestnut was with us at the time, she had crazy colored tights and snidely remarked about how she wished she could do that. The rider on Rose, stopped to let me get on while the crazy tights lady flew off at a trot! We kept doing this obnoxious leap frog with her, trying to lose her, only to have her catch us. We spied Jacob at a water tank, and he was just leaving as we came up to it a few minutes later. (which surprised me!) Quick drank up and we were off Appy hunting. We passed Jacob before the check, Quick had spied a grey horse and he was going to catch them!
Quick took 10 minutes to pulse down this time, again my inexperience playing a role. I should have stripped his tack. Quick ate someone else's mash, beet pulp and oats. There was just scraps of hay left, and he nibble on those after finishing the beet pulp. I left his chow that he didn't want to eat out so someone could help themselves. Someone else's dinner is always better!!

Headed out on the last 9 miles back to camp Photo by Lucie Hess

Quick was not too enthusiastic on heading out again. He knew we were headed home but he wanted to go at his pace. We were passed by a different chestnut horse and that was the motivation Quick needed! He had recovered nicely from his morning breeze. I don't know if I had pushed him here would we have caught Becky and Eowyn, but having a healthy horse at the end of the ride is more important to me than a placing or ribbon. Plus I didn't want to get lost AGAIN. On the way in we were passing a bunch of mountain bikes, good thing to note that they do not bother Quick one bit. Most were really nice, but one flew in behind us and almost cause the chestnut to dump his ride.

Jacob in front of us Photo by Doug Smith

We weren't long before the road going downhill when Jacob flew past us at a flying trot, his saddle flipped up in the back and I swore he was going over the little mare's head. I said goodbye to the gal I was riding with a sent Quick out after Kiki and let him just follow her. The chestnut ended up catching up to us, seems he is a bit like Quick, don't leave me behind!! Jacob had jumped off and was running with the mare down to the river. Somehow the chestnut was in front at the crossing with us behind, Jacob tried to cut us off but there was a big rock on the bottom that he couldn't get over. On the other bank I said goodbye to the chestnut, again and sent Quick up the hill. It was pretty much all up hill from there. I didn't see Jacob after that. Kiki was pretty tired, and a much heavier of a built mare more stocky where Quick looks more like an arab with an appy rump, spots and all.
Quick knew we were almost done, he attacked the hills, and true to form at the top would break to a walk. The chestnut caught up with us again and we rode most of the way in together. We got sucked into a group (a grey arab!! Wonder why!) going up the sand steps. The footing was deep and it was a series of banks going up the hill. Quick attacked it, maybe he might have an eventing career? There was the black saddlebred we had seen high tailing it around back at camp on thursday night and once again the lady in crazy tights.
At the observation tower there was a horse waterer, they had to press the lever to get the water. The chestnut had a bigger nose so he was able to get the water. Quick would look at him and try but only get a few slurps because he has a tiny nose and couldn't get it to work. Finally he had had enough. Quick got sucked into the group of riders ahead of us again and I said goodbye to the chestnut again, she didn't want him running through this section of the trail. Quick was ready to go again and I didn't hold him back. He leapt the stream, leaving me way behind (I think all the jumping we have done paid off on his part... questionable on mine). And we were after, you would never guess, a grey arab!
Paula snapped another of us at the the final vet check

We finished at 2:45 in 18th place. We were the 2nd place Appy!
Photo by Doug Smith

The ANCER part of the ride was a lot of fun, the Appy people were really nice and gave out nice shirts and ribbons! (I had to get something for riding 50 miles, since we didn't get completion awards for the Fireworks ride itself) I would totally do the ANCER ride again, it is nice to see people who are enthusiastic about their breed of choice. And why not? Quick is one hell of an Appy.

Quick sporting his American Trail Gear
his ANCER ribbon

The answer to Jacob's question: Quick is a fast horse.

Viva Quick