Friday, February 23, 2018

That Quick

Honestly I was a good bit nervous coming into Pacific Crest. I had heard it was supposed to be a harder ride, Tevis-esque. We had just come off of two non completions, the following year at Santiam due to Quick giving me whiplash and I rode off balance causing him to interfere behind; and then at Mt. Adams where he came up lame.(most likely due to the wet winter/spring we had) Both were 100 mile rides, Santiam we were at mile 60 and Mt. Adams we were at mile 87. They were just not our rides. (I broke my collarbone in between those and no one would let me do another endurance ride on Quick last season.)

I went with my friend, Cindy who had done some rides in the past but really wanted to get back into it. Apparently we made camping out of my truck look like something we did all the time! We got comments on how organized we were. I felt like we had just thrown everything in the back of my truck to make it up there!

While we were at the ride meeting that evening Cindy's mare's breeder was there. I will call her DM for short. I have had some dealings with her as well, as she owns Diesel's dam and his full sister. (Diesel's breeder leased the mare and payment was her being bred back to Kuwwat) I wanted Diesel registered Half Arabian as well as Akhal-teke Sporthorse, and so Diesel's breeder had to get the dam's paperwork from DM for this to happen. Originally I was told the mare hadn't been transferred to DM in AHA records. Diesel's breeder worked with her to get the paperwork in order and get the mare transferred so I could register Diesel. Well after I sent nearly $400 in for Diesel's half Arabian registration, to cover his aged horse fee, Dam's DNA test fee (luckily they had blood on file so I didn't need a hair sample!) and transfer of owner fee(since it goes by Dam owner) etc; I got paperwork back from AHA saying the dam's owner wasn't correct!! The paperwork had been dated in 2013 for the mare's transfer, not 2009 or before when Diesel was born! I got very lucky that AHA was able to track down a former endurance rider that no one had talked to recently and she was willing to sign the paperwork so Diesel could be registered. In the process DM lied straight to my face that she had transferred it when she got the mare. Which both the AHA records and Diesel's breeder said otherwise. So that is our backstory on how I met DM.

The next morning I am warming Quick up, milling around with other riders when DM rides up and said loudly, "You're riding THAT?!"


We milled around and moved across the road to the start. I made my way to the front of the pack, trail was open and we were one of the first couple out. Quick was ready to go and pulling hard. He wanted nothing to do with waiting. A few miles in another rider cantered past the gal I was following. So I pulled Quick out to the side and let him go. 

I was actually surprised with how much road riding there was. I think they had to reroute the normal trails due to trees down and the bad winter we had. We had left the other horses behind by the point we turned onto the Pacific Crest Trail. We crossed the road and came into the vet check. Quick easily pulsed down, I believe first but I could be wrong. We were back out on the trail after our hold as other riders started coming in. I was still riding with the same guy. He was riding a gaited horse, I was surprised that his horse was keeping up with Quick on the uphillls, gaited horses are usually more downhill horses than uphill. And for sure the downhill part was the case. Or perhaps he was more willing to push his horse cantering downhill than I was. We were on a lollipop loop, we went out than looped around  back to the vet check. There was more downhill road riding. And the other rider was cantering most of it. Quick has become a competitive horse, a stark contrast from the meek I-will-not-pass- Roz horse I first met. He didn't understand why he had to trot down the hills (there were a LOT of rather large half halts going on on my part). At one point there was a herd of cows in the road. The other rider didn't slow down, and ended up chasing the cows down the road until they turned off. 

When we hit the uphill back towards the Pac Crest trail and the vet check, the Spotted Mountain Goat took over. When Quick hits a hill he powers off. And so we did. We passed other riders who were going the direction we had just come from. Not far from the vet check we passed DM. She was shocked that we had already completed our lollipop loop. Quick came into the vet check, pulsed down right away and we waited to be off again. 

This time we left by ourselves. Quick knew we were headed back, he settled into his 100 mile trot. This is his trot that stays the same no matter what the terrain is. Up or down we powered along. I amused myself by switching posting diagonals every time I saw a ribbon. This was a well ribboned trail and marked both coming and going, so I was switching a lot. It is always good to switch posting diagonals, it keeps your horse balanced so you are not always weighting one set of legs. We crossed a stream, I soaked my eventing vest in the stream, not as good as a cooling vest but it will hold water and it was cold! 

This whole time I was waiting to be caught, I knew the other rider was coming. And quite frankly I was surprised it took him so long to catch us. I had decided that I would start to pick up the pace once we crossed the main road, leaving us 5-6 miles back into camp. He did catch us before then. We were just coming over the ditch and back onto the road when he caught us. He said he had missed a turn and had to double back. At the next water his horse drank more than Quick did, and I asked if it was okay I was off. He had no problem with it. I looked at Quick compared to his horse, his horse was obviously more winded than the Spotted One was. 

We were off. He caught us again not too long off and Quick was more than wanting to race the other horse hard. We were cruising along. At one point, I was behind and noticed the horse's hind shoe coming off. It was swinging to the inside without fully leaving the hoof. I told the rider and we both stopped. His horse was panting, covered in sweat. Once again I asked if it was okay that I left. And he said yes. He had to pull the shoe and his horse wasn't going to move a muscle until asked. 

Quick took off, and once he told me the they were catching up again, he took off again. He cantered up a twisty single track, making me laugh. When had Quick become this competitive? 
They caught us and followed us to the last water. There were two riders there who asked if we were racing in. I knew Quick was still rather fresh, he was coming off of an 87 mile training ride at Mt. Adams, and being 100 mile fit I had plenty of horse. The problem was that the trail wasn't made for a race to the finish. Mostly single track at the end, and a turn from the road to the single track made it not really doable. 
I told the other rider if he wanted ot race in it was up to him. That being said, if I was that rider I would have said you know what, my horse is a little tired. I will follow you in and call it a day. 

Instead he took off at a dead gallop. 

It was only a half mile, Quick took off after him. I held him to a canter. There was only one place that I felt I could make a pass. I tried, but the other rider kicked his horse on. So I sat back and let Quick canter in. The other rider nearly went down when it came to turning onto the single track. I had been setting Quick up for the turn so he never missed a beat. 

At the finish we pulled up, and I looked around my boot bag (where I keep my vet card) for my vet card. I couldn't find it. Of course I started to mildly freak out. The timer told me to look again. I found it. It had been jostled to the bottom of the bag. 

We walked across the road to the vet in area. It was weird, there was absolutely no one around. Most of the 25s should have been in by then. No volunteers, and only one in timer. As we walked up the In timer yelled "GET WATER ON THAT HORSE BEFORE IT DROPS!!" to the other rider. 

I dropped Quick's tack in a pile and started sponging him down. I realized that I had dropped my vet card, I guess it didn't like me! I asked the timer to hold Quick, since she was holding the other horse. I found my card not far from the where we crossed the road and walked back. It was very interesting to see the two horses standing side by side. Quick looked like he hadn't just done 50 miles. He wasn't breathing hard, he was alert as if he was ready to go for another loop or two. The other horse, in contrast, was still breathing hard and held its head down. I wondered if the horse would pulse down in time. 

We went to the vet for our 10 minute CRI. Quick had his best CRI. He was a little sore on his right front at the trot out, not enough to be pulled or anything. I decided to show for Best Condition anyway. I was sure he probably just smacked his leg from the canter in. I took him back to the corral and wrapped his front legs, cleaned him up and let him chow down and relax. Then I went and waited for my friend. 

When I saw her coming in I was standing by the tables and was yelling "Yeah! Way to turtle the LD!!" Becuase I was super happy that she was out here riding. She checked in with the person across the creek and then came up. All the while I was yelling praise. 

We both figured she had checked in with the timer for the LD across the creek. As THERE WAS ABSOLUTELY NO ONE AROUND. I helped her cool off her horse and went through to the vet to vet her horse through. The vet didn't write anything on her card and handed it back to her. We brought her mare back and settled her in. 

I showed Quick for the 1 hour check, he was completely sound. I think only one other rider had come in and had been pulled. There was still no one around. 

We put both horses up to wait until later that day. 

Quick getting a back scratch. 

At one point, some hours later, the ride manager comes running around frantically looking for a missing horse and rider. It was my friend. Apparently the person she checked in with at the creek didn't record that she checked in?! Neither my friend nor myself realized that we were supposed to go hunt down people to tell them that she had come in, we both thought that since she checked in at the creek AND vetted through that she was good to go. I mean, they managed to miss me screaming "Way to turtle the LD!"

At the awards dinner DM came and sat down next to us. She kept trying to get me to talk about "the Handsome Diesel." All the while I am just trying to eat. I really don't want to strike up a conversation. So she talked with Cindy. 

Well the awards were called out, the rider who raced us in did get a completion and a first place. Only one other rider showed for Best Condition. The third place rider finished nearly an hour behind us!

And the winner for Best Condition? QUICK!!!!! 

The Spookaloosa won his first Best Condition! I had been practicing our trot outs and asking advice from other endurance riders on how to improve how he shows. All of our hard work paid off. 2nd Place and Best Condition. 

Now, at the awards ceremony they called up all riders who started to come get a shirt even if they didn't complete. She called up my friend and made a public spectacle about how she didn't hunt them down and tell them she was back in camp. I am disappointed in myself that I didn't stand up and argue some more with them about their lack of time keeping which lead to this issue in the first place. (I had already beaten that proverbial dead horse and they wouldn't listen. It was easier to blame a new person then to see where the problem actually was)  

Despite that here are my two cents: If you want to draw new or returning riders to the sport or YOUR RIDE, DO NOT PUBLICLY HUMILIATE THEM. People make mistakes (the MIA in timer for one, or the person at the creek should have checked her in OR the Vet should have held taken her ride card). Think of the take away for a brand new rider if the Ride Manager had shamed them infront of the entire group of riders? Do you think that this rider would return to this sport after such a horrible experience? Instead the rider manager should be looking at what happened as to why the rider was "lost". Where was the in timer? Who was at the creek taking numbers? Why didn't the vet take her card? Any of these things would have resulted in less stress for the ride manager. I do hope she reads this blog, I doubt I will return to this ride after how this was handled. I know we are all human, but an apology is in order to Cindy. 

The best part of this whole experience was at the next shoeing appointment for Quick. I had tried the Blue Pegasoas shoes on him after the vets suggested 24-7 hoof protection to compensate for the extra super duper wet spring we had. Colby, my farrier, came up and set down his tools and asked, "So what did you do to DM to make her so butthurt?" As he had just come from doing her horses. 

First of all, 'butthurt' is not a term I thought he knew. I said, "well That," and I gestured to Quick, "got second place and BC and she turtled the ride. I didn't do anything actually." 

The most recent thing I heard from another friend, who is also riding an Appaloosa, and uses Colby as well is that DM said Appaloosas shouldn't do endurance! 

 I spent a half hour laughing about this.  

Dominique Cognee was the photographer and I bought one of the
 photos he took of us at Tevis in 2015!

Viva Quick!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Diesel's Journey

Most people know me now as an endurance rider, although I have always wanted to event after growing up riding at an eventing barn. I met Diesel as a two year old, and for some reason I couldn't get him out of my head. I wasn't even looking for another horse. He wasn't much to look at at the time, he was going through an ugly stage. His head looked too big for his body, partially because his neck was so short which made his back look even longer than it is, but despite that he was put together well. I decided he would be an endurance and or event prospect. Diesel was bred by Erin Heatherstone. His sire is Kuwwat bred by Akhal- Teke EST. His dam is an Arabian, Isabella Islam.

Baby Diesel the first time I met him 

When I brought him home, a barely halter broke long two year old, I noted that he would be a handful, and that at times has been an understatement. Diesel is head strong and opinionated, he is also highly intelligent and does not suffer fools. Training him has been a slow and careful process, he is not the kind of horse you can force or take shortcuts with. Instead you have to persuade him that how you want to do things is the way they should be done, without offending him. There was a time when I felt we were far behind where other horses his age were, but we are exploring areas I have never been and doing things I have never done. I still do not know where our journey will take us, but we are having fun along the way.

 May 12, 2012; I hadn't had him a month yet

I started Diesel as a three year old, very lightly. When he turned four I began his long slow distance work. We slowly built up from 'baby' hill work to summiting Mt. Pisgah. I figured whichever direction we would go, a strong foundation of long slow distance work would build the correct muscle, give him a base level of fitness and strengthen and harden his legs would be the most beneficial. He has done more long slow work throughout his training than anything else. We spent most of his fourth and fifth years doing long slow distance work. We did dabble in dressage shows. I have never done much fast work with him because, to put it lightly, forward isn't a problem for Diesel.

First Intro Event at Inavale!
Photo by Steve Storm Photography

At six years of age I started him over fences. It wasn't because I didn't want to jump him, but rather because I wanted him to be sound into his later years. At three I watched him jump out of a four foot gate, bounce equally as high blackberry bushes and jump out of numerous fences and gates. I knew the talent was there. That year I took him to his first little Horse Trial at Inavale farm and did the intro division. We continued to do local dressage shows and jumper schooling shows. As a six year old we moved up to Beginner Novice and we did our first USEA recognized Horse Trial at Inavale Farm placing 6th.
Photo by Irina Kuzmina, Diesel didn't refuse the water 
at his first Recognized Event!

My goal was to move up to Novice this year, I spent much of the winter working on our dressage work. A fellow trainer encouraged me to try to show at First level in the Spring. Seeing as Diesel dislikes being told where to put his body, dressage is difficult. He also always gets marked down for submission. I do not force him into a headset or frame, that comes from when he is correctly using himself. Multiple people have told me he is difficult after giving us a lesson, not that he doesn't have talent or potential, but unlocking it is more of a challenge than with other horses.Yes he isn't an easy horse but then it wouldn't be as much fun, now would it? Dressage is a long road for us, starting with rhythm, which Diesel lacks naturally. Faster is his response to everything. We also began jumping higher and attending as many jumper schooling shows as we could.

First level test 1! 
Photo by Alise Lamoreaux 
All of our hard work began to show at the end of April. We went to a jumper schooling show, showing in three classes; 2'6'' to 3'/3'3''. Diesel did well in those, putting in solid rounds. Then the next day we went to a dressage schooling show, showing Training 3 and First 1. We improved our scores dramatically from the first outing at First 1. The following weekend I had been asked to accompany my friend on their horse's first 25 mile Limited Distance Endurance ride at one of my favorite rides, the Still Prineville ride. It is a difficult ride, one that I had top 10 finishes on the 50 the last 3 years with my Appaloosa.

 Jumper pony!

I was only able to do two prep rides beforehand. I knew Diesel had been 25 mile fit the end of last year, he had handled a 10 mile fun ride really well late in the season. We hadn't done much trail work while we were focusing on dressage, however he does have an extensive long slow distance base. He handled an 8 mile training ride rather well, and I figured he was closer to a slow 50 mile fit. My friend ended up not being able to come so Diesel and I went alone. Off to his first 25 mile Limited Distance endurance ride at the Still Memorial ride!
As I figured he was rather forward at the beginning of the ride. They had had to move ride camp from the usual spot to out near the vet check, this meant the beginning of the trail was rather flat while the second half was the hills and technical trail. Diesel settled into his stride after a few miles, he had walked out of camp like a good boy, something I feel is very important. Once he was settled, I was able to ride him on a loose rein, using mostly my seat to guide him. We ended up in a group of other riders, leading, following and being the cream filling in between. One of the other riders gave us a huge complement, that Diesel had a nice calm relaxed way of going and that they liked how Diesel rated himself on the trail, also that I was a good rider. For a horse that had struggled with rhythm, this complement was huge. Diesel pulsed down well and went about eating. After our hold we were off again. He handled the hills well, I did hand walk him down the steep, rocky hill. I had a lot of horse left after we climbed the hills, the only issue with him wanting to be a slug as we walked. He had no problem leaving a horse after the finial hill, going out on our own again. We ended up just moments shy of a top ten placing, placing 11th.

 First LD- Still Prineville Ride 25 miles
Photo by Out of Steam Photography

The beginning of June we did our first novice level unrecognized Horse Trial, again at Inavale Farm. (it is the only one in Oregon) I was a bit worried about cross country, since we had an unusually wet winter the cross country course opened late and we only had one schooling. His dressage test was good in the first half and the second half he wasn't cooperating as much, nothing horrible but not as relaxed and using himself. The show jumping was a piece of cake for him. Out on cross country he did stare too long at the jump judge and ended up running out of the second fence because of that. He really settled into his stride and began to lock onto the jumps and jump them without hesitation. It give me a glimpse at what he is capable of once he is a bit less green over large solid fences at speed. We placed 6th in our division.

 Novice unrecognized at Inavale 
Photo by Steve Storm Photography

We did another schooling show, this time at the Oregon Horse Center on their new derby course. In contrast to the one day at Inavale, Diesel really showed just how green he is on cross country with a couple run outs. However these were jumps he had never seen before, and at least he had jumped most of the jumps at Inavale before when we went schooling.
All of our work accumulated at our first recognized Novice Horse Trail once again at Inavale Farm. It was the hottest weekend of he year so far, and surprisingly enough after completing a 25 mile ride I wasn't worried about Diesel's fitness level nor the heat.  My goal for this show was to have a good outing, we were competing in the open division against people who do this all the time.
We had a great dressage test, Diesel was softer in the bridle and steadier in his overall way of going. His canter was much rounder, he was really beginning to stretch into the bridle during our canter circles. We did have some technical issues, our walk transition and halt were a little past their mark and we picked up the wrong lead at first on our left canter circle. While I felt it was a great test for us, the judge was looking for something else. We were last after dressage.

 First Recognized Novice at Inavale
Photo by Steve Storm Photography

Diesel was a bit hot in the warm up for Show Jumping. He did come back nicely and put in a solid round, even if he ran out at the rubber ducky fence. He didn't have an issue with the fence jumping into the sun like a lot of the other riders did. No rails down for us. We moved up two placings.
I was worried about a couple fences on Cross Country, a brush log in the woods and a barn jump that had an added silo to one side. We had actually jumped the barn before but not with the silo. I was excited about the long gallop up hill with good footing, something I am sure many people were not happy about. I am after all an endurance rider, hills are kind of my thing. My goal was to stay balanced and in control, regardless if we made time or not.
Diesel had no problem at the first of the scary fences, luckily the brush log was in the woods and it funneled you into the jump with no place to run out. The barn with the silo however, got us. He gave the next fence the hairy eye, and then gave the water jump a good hard thought but went in like a good boy. There was no hesitation after that. Log to step up, no problem. Coop to ditch, no problem. We were over the last and I was super proud of him.

 Jumping the ditch!
Photo by Steve Storm Photography

We moved up to ninth out of fourteen at the end, a nice jump after being dead last after dressage. I have never shown Novice before this year, and it is only my second recognized event, I was super pleased with how well we did. We do not take regular jumping lessons, only a handful in the beginning of the year. We do take regular dressage lessons, which has helped focus Diesel.
I am not sure exactly where the rest of the year will take us. Perhaps another recognized Horse Trial, or maybe a 50 mile endurance ride. My long term goal is to compete in a classic long format event with him. Combining an endurance phase with eventing sounds right up our alley. Along with some endurance rides.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

An Endurance Rider Does Dressage

Since I broke my collarbone, eventer pony and I have been doing a lot of dressage work. Let's face it, there was no way I wasn't going to ride him and both of us need dressage work. Now Quick does a lot of dressage exercises on the trail, he works from behind, lowering his hunches, articulating his joints and coming up through the wither and telescoping his neck. We do lateral work across the trails, dance around single tracks. If you bring him into the arena he acts like a camel who cannot move. He locks up, the arena is a place of tension for him.

Diesel on the other hand, finds dressage work boring. I cannot tell you how many times we have to bring in poles or small jumps to go over to keep him happy and continuing to work with me. He is not an easy horse.

This was our beginner novice test at a show last year. I thought it was one of his better tests. I got the idea from Biz Stamm to try to move up to first level with Diesel for the Arabian show at the end of April. I may be able to ride and train a horse to do a 100 miles in less than 24 hours, but riding 5 minutes or less in the sandbox and nailing every single corner and stride is really really difficult. Then match it with Diesel, who also finds anything that has to do with you telling him what to do and not letting him do it his way, annoying and well, dressage becomes difficult quickly. We have spent the whole of last year  working on him allowing me to surround him with the aides and be more rhythmic and cooperative in his work. Difficult I know!

So we entered into a schooling show, doing first level test 1.

The venue is a beautiful facility not to far away. However what made it difficult was warming up in the same arena we were showing in. There were breaks for warm up, and then 4-5 tests and then another break for warm up. Diesel warmed up pretty well considering a bunch of horses not liking the far end of the arena by the judge. Then we waited. We did walk around the driveway, but we were the last in the group of tests to go. There was no way I could warm him up enough to bring his mind back into focus for a relaxed test. However he did fairly well. He was tense and a bit um er forward.


Overall I think it went really well. We are going to try our hand at it again this next weekend. My goal is to prepare Diesel for Novice level eventing, and first level is beyond what he needs to do for a novice dressage test. 

It wasn't until I watched the videos of us from two years ago that I really saw the improvement in his way of going. The biggest thing was that he had rhythm. Something that should be so easy wasn't. He likes to rush, and keeping him in a steady tempo used to be difficult. I am really proud of how far he has come. 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Life is Horses, Horses are Life

Day in and day out I tell myself it will all be worth it. Long days, up early, to bed late, filling my days with work and horses. Somewhere along the line I figured out that horses was what I wanted to do with my life, and it is what my life has become. My student workers and coworkers are always surprised when I tell them "Oh I rode 4 horses this morning." or "Quick and I did a 100 mile ride over the weekend." Sometimes they are surprised at my dedication. I think at times they find it weird. That is okay, I am used to it. I was always that horse crazy kid in school. I tried to be normal for a little bit, then I got my first horse. The whole being normal thing was over then.

Last year was a bad year, for so many reasons. Then to put icing on the cake I broke my collarbone when my horse fell on course. He is fine, and I think I am mostly fine now. I wasn't for a while. Yes I was back to riding as soon as I could put the saddle on him (3 days later) and never stopped working horses or riding. I wasn't able to finish my endurance season on Quick, I actually hardly rode him at all after Santiam. The training business slowed down during the holidays, my truck needed a new fuel injector pump and I had to take time off work because I was in a sling. I battled with depression. I was not myself.

A switch flipped right after my first long slow distance ride on Quick to bring him back into work. I wouldn't let myself worry about how I was going to find the money to take him to the Appaloosa National Championship Endurance Ride in October (Also Arabian Distance Nationals as he is half Arabian!) We were going to get there. I have picked out a 100 mile ride for him to do, my goal last year was to get us both to 1,000 miles. We are so close! So that is the goal for this year. Another 100 miler under our belt and the Distance Championships. If we can squeeze in another ride or two I will. My long term goals for Quick are silver level 100 mile (7 completions), we got our bronze level with 3 100s last year. And I want a decade team award. It is when you complete 10 seasons together. We have 4. We will get there.

While I was recovering from my collarbone, Diesel and I really began to work on our dressage. I decided to shoot for first level in the spring. Next weekend we have a schooling show, our debut at 1st level. I would also like to move up to novice with him, I know he has all the jump in the world, and novice is only 3 inches higher than beginner novice. Slightly more technical on cross country but nothing he cannot handle. Our big issue is we live in Oregon. I see photos of my friends back east schooling cross country on nice dry ground. The field I use as an outdoor arena in the summer is practically under water right now. Now he does need to school water jumps, but not like that. Hopefully we can get a lot of cross country schooling in during the spring. I will save my pennies so we can do the recognized at Inavale again, even if it is just beginner novice. My long term goal for him is a long format novice. (or training level, but novice is an easier target) The only only in the area is at Rebecca Farm in Montana. I have to complete 4 Novice events (or higher) to qualify. As Inavale is the only event in Oregon, I will have to travel to Washington. If I can play my cards I can do 2 recognized this year. If not, then I will save up for next year. It may take me two or three years to qualify for the long format, but that is my goal. Why not combine eventing and endurance into one show? I think it ends up being less than 10 miles total, a walk in the park. However Diesel will need to learn how to jump steeplechase fences at speed. We will work on that later.

In the meantime I am learning more about trimming hooves and looking into learning how to nail on composite shoes. All the while running a small training business. I have been lucky this past year to have had good horses to work with. A number to start, retrain and condition. I still work a full and part time job, along with keeping my own horses fit so I can only take on a limited number of training horses. I am not sure how I manage to do everything, but I find a way.
As Denny Emmerson put it, "Life is horses, horses are life."

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Blog Hop

So I have been horrible about my blogging this year, but I will get on that. In the meantime Aarene started a blog hop so I figured I would join in.

Here we go!

Here's the directions:
  • Answer the questions (below) on your own blog, and leave a link to that post in the comments here.
  • In your post, invite readers to answer the questions on THEIR blogs, and link those blogs to yours AND to here.
  • Let's see how far this can travel!
  • Pictures!  Let's see lots of pictures of people and horses!
*  Introduce yourself!
*  Introduce your horse(s)!
*  What's your favorite horse sport?  Do you cross train in other activities?
*  Who else in your family rides?
*  What's your proudest equestrian accomplishment?
*  What was your lowest moment as a horse owner/rider?
*  What's the most important small thing you ever learned in a lesson?
*  Do you have any riding rituals or superstitions?
*  What are your short term goals for yourself/your horse?
*  Long term goals?
*  If time and money were no object, what is your dream equestrian vacation?
*  What kind of horse activities were you doing 10 years ago?
*  What kind of horse activities do you think you'll be doing 10 years from now?
*  What is the quirk about your horse that you like most?
*  Introduce yourself!
Laura, crazy horse girl, trainer at Riding Journey, photographer
*  Introduce your horse(s)!
The one and only red headed thoroughbred mare! Journey, or Rare Journey the one who started me on my journey to become a better rider. 
Diesel, my  Akhal-teke Sporthorse. My jump all the things pony

 And the infamous Spookaloosa, Quick or Viva Sozar (please do not call him Sozar, everytime someone does he spooks. ) 

*  What's your favorite horse sport?  Do you cross train in other activities?
Endurance of course, and I do really enjoy the challenge of a 100. I do a ton of dressage work with everyone, and event my jumper pony! I always wanted to event since I was little. 

*  Who else in your family rides?
My cousin and that is about it. 

*  What's your proudest equestrian accomplishment?
I have two. Completing Tevis with Quick and getting Diesel to the recognized event at Inavale this year. 

*  What was your lowest moment as a horse owner/rider?
The toughest was when Diesel coliced. It was an all night colic, he wasn't even 3 yet. I hadn't had him a month, and he had just finished a purge worming. The vet believed it was due to a worm die off. I walked him all night, (before and after the vet was out and before the vet came out again in the morning) and finally when he was able to stand without rolling I sat in a chair while he stood with all four legs splayed and we waited for the vet to come again.

 2yr old baby Diesel. He has no neck!

*  What's the most important small thing you ever learned in a lesson?
Breathe. I remember when Trish first told me she did her down transitions on a breath. I was blown away, sure that I could never be that subtle. Up and down on a breath. It is pretty amazing.
7yr old Diesel, working on stretching his neck out. 
*  Do you have any riding rituals or superstitions?
No really. Aside from checking gates, etc like crazy. 

Taking Journey out for a ride after her horrible stress founder. 
 (a story for another day)
*  What are your short term goals for yourself/your horse?
Complete more 100s on Quick. Take Diesel novice next year and show in in 1st level Dressage. Have a nice normal canter on Journey... simple things in life

*  Long term goals?
Show through Training level eventing (or higher, but being realistic here) Compete in International level endurance.

*  If time and money were no object, what is your dream equestrian vacation?

*  What kind of horse activities were you doing 10 years ago?
 I had no idea what endurance was!

*  What kind of horse activities do you think you'll be doing 10 years from now?
Hopefully the same things I am doing now. Maybe making a living off of it, but doubt it. 

*  What is the quirk about your horse that you like most?

Quick likes to untie himself and has an amazing sense of humor. Diesel is highly opinionated, I've given him the motto "here hold my beer, watch this". Journey well, she is super sweet and wants to snuggle.

Monday, May 9, 2016

A Test of Training

I will be honest, there are many times that I find myself wondering if I have done a good job with a horse or is what I am doing with that horse productive, am I good enough to be training horses? Usually these thoughts are when I am falling asleep, or driving somewhere. Or after a bad ride, almost always on one of mine. (hardly ever a bad ride on Quick oddly enough) My inner critic has gotten worse, I used to not worry about that sort of thing. Now that I am upping my game it is happening more often. Sometimes I reach that moment of wanting to quit, then I look a one of the horses and know that I could never do that, that the thought itself is silly.
On Sunday I shut my inner critic up. There was not a bad thought she could pull out. Nothing. Silence.

In a last minute decision I took Foo to Grizzly on Saturday night. It was my first time hauling over the pass in my new truck! Entirely nerve racking until I was actually doing it, then I had to laugh because pulling my aluminum straight load with only one horse in it was so much easier than driving Paula's 3 horse gooseneck with two horses and all of the stuff we needed for ride camp. I love this truck. I am still horrified that my trailer was quite green, I didn't have time to clean it. I got done my lesson, and hooked up and left.

I got there as they were having the ride meeting. Set everything up for Foo, registered and vetted her through. This was not only a huge test of Foo's future as an endurance horse, but also a test of how well I had trained her. Foo loves trail work, compared to the issues I have had in clinics and shows, all of the time spent on the trail has been different. Last year at this time she could barely handle a dressage show, intro- walk trot level. Yet it was in an arena, and she is not an arena horse.

In the few short years I have been in endurance I have come to want a few things in the horse I ride. That does not mean that Quick is there yet, he had a lot of deep emotional and mental issues to work through. Foo did not.

First I want a horse that walks out of camp on a loose rein. One day she might get ot the point of racing with someone, but before that she MUST walk out on a loose rein.

Second, I want a horse that listens, that I can rate with just my seat on a loose rein. I know there are times when you need contact, but generally, loose rein and listening.

Third, I want a steady tempo. Especially with the longer distances the more consistent pace you have the better.

There are more, but that is what you can train into a horse.

Foo camped well. I wasn't sure how she would do completely alone. I braided her and dressed her for the cold evening. She kept asking for more food. Which isn't a bad thing, a good eater is awesome.

"I know you are in there, feed me!"

In the morning Foo was once again asking for more food. She said she knew I was in there and needed to hurry up with her food! She wasn't upset when the neighbor horses left. I watched the time and saddled her up. I planned to start behind everyone. 

We milled around camp, running into people I know. We stopped to talk to Brenda about Badger. I learned more about his sister Bonnie who Brenda had owned. I had to cut out conversation short! I had to leave!
We made our way over to where Anna was taking numbers. It was 7 minutes after 8. Everyone else was pretty much gone on ahead. 

Foo walked out of camp on a loose rein. 

Walked. On. A. Loose. Rein. By herself. 

At the end of the pasture where the trail heads out there is a fenced off circle that you go through with a cattle trough. Now that was terrifying. But we skittered past it giving it a snotty hairy eyeball. Off we went. It took Foo a mile or two to settle into her stride. I could tell when she was getting a little overwhelmed, her head would go up and she would start to bounce at the trot. A little leg and asking her to drop her head and she was better. She did spook a few times, which is very unlike her, but given the situation I felt she was doing really well. They only happened when she was feeling insecure.

She was quite funny when she saw horses ahead of us. Her head went way up and she stopped, as if to say I have never seen horses before!

The only time she got really forward was when we caught the two chestnuts on the first loop. She wanted to take off at a canter to catch them and try to race them. I was able to really sit and keep her slower, even if she did break into a canter. They stopped to let their horses eat and we continued on. Back to the steady pace.


I wondered how she would react to the water crossing. I didn't really want to be like the horse that jumped over it last year, we had done little water crossing but not something big. She was a little snorty at it, but went in with little encouragement.

 As we came back into camp I expected her to try to take off to get back to the other horses. Instead she walked in on a loose rein. She hadn't drank much the whole first loop, she had found those metal cow troughs to be a bit scary. She really tanked up at the regular rubber troughs in camp. She pulsed down right away and vetted through. Back in camp she chowed down her food and kept asking for more. Apparently Quick had told her at rides you get lots of chow.

We left for the second loop the same way we did the first. At a nice walk on a loose rein. Foo acted as if she had done this every day of her life and it was nothing new. I could hear a horse calling to Foo behind us as we went along. As we neared Lone Pine i could see signs of cows. Once we passed the huge Pine and came around the corner there they were! Right in the middle of the trail. Foo's head went up and I could tell she was a little bit upset. The cows were right in the middle of the trail and on both sides. There wasn't really a clear way to get around them. So I asked her to move towards them and then started calling out to the cows to move. I figured they have probably been herded by horses before, Foo was asking if I was crazy but wasn't resisting moving forward. Once the first cow started to move she was surprised, cows would move for her! She started moving forward more confidently then. The horse that was behind us caught up with us at that point and we both went on the way.

After we crossed the road the chestnut went on ahead at a faster pace. I had no problem rating Foo and keeping her where I wanted her. We continued on by ourselves. When we went through the next gate I noticed the gal coming back towards us, she had missed a turn. We rode together the rest of the way. At one point I heard a horse coming up fast behind us. Wait, GALLOPING to catch up. Foo was upset by this and started dancing. I had to tell the gal to SLOW DOWN THIS IS A GREEN HORSE. Even if I am riding to top ten on Quick I still slow down to pass horses, especially if these are horses on the tail end of the LD or 50 (depending on what distance I am doing). The gal apologized saying she didn't know. I mean there was a red ribbon in Foo's tail, mostly because she doesn't like to be crowded, but that doesn't mean much to some people. We were sandwiched in between the two chestnuts, and Foo didn't like it. She was fussy and hard to keep at a steady pace. So I pulled her off to the side and got behind both horses. That was much better. She drank at the water and off we went.

Mile after mile she kept up a steady pace. She averaged 5.3 mph the whole ride. I was quite impressed with how well she did. We ended up 7th out of 14 with a time of 5 hours and 41 minutes. A solid middle of the pack ride. We did show for BC, but because I had to be up for work at 4:30am the next morning, I left before getting her ride card back. So I do not know her vet score.

Overall I was very impressed with how well Foo did. All of the work I have done the past year to keep her calm, thinking and not reacting and consistent has really paid off. In many ways she is an easier ride than Quick is, well for one thing she is very obvious when she is going to spook, unlike the Spookaloosa. Quick still has things he needs to work through, plus I did train him to be a trail monster. I feel Foo is well on her way to being a long distance horse, keeping with the same quite consistency at rides would solidify it. Sadly there was no ride photographer since the two that were there last year (Jala and myself) were riding, so no ride photos!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

It's Not Easy Being.... Green?

When I saw that they were holding a Green Bean Endurance competition I jokingly told Kat that we should join. You needed to have a combined amount of miles- LD and Endurance of under 1,000.  As of the beginning of the year I had a whopping 475 endurance miles and 25 LD miles. Yet within those miles there was a 75, a 100 and a 50 mile win. We ended up being on the Turtle Trotters team. We tried to change the name to Tenacious Trotters which would suit all speeds and distances the team members planned to go but it didn't happen. Oh well. Turtle Trotters it was.

I doubt Jacke Reynolds really expected a Green Bean to go out and do what I set out to do with Quick this year- namely Tevis. Other 100s perhaps but Tevis quite frankly needs no introduction to how difficult it is.

Quick and I rocked this season. We started out with a 50 at Still Memorial, coming in 2nd. Then an 80 at Sunriver. Nothing to write home about on our 3rd place finish. And then the Spookaloosa fought me telling him to go slow all the way to Robinson Flats. We came to an agreement as we left and by the time we reached Lower Quarry he finally agreed to listen to me, begrudgingly. It is still hard to believe we finished 37th. 

My final ride was on Foo at Foothills 25. That is what clinched my 3rd place finish in my division and my 7th place overall finish. I did every distance this year! Not on the same horse. I've only done endurance rides on Quick and LDs on other peoples horses.

I don't have any exciting plans such as Tevis next year. But I only have 755 combined miles so I get to do the Green Bean competition again! And this time I joined the team Appy Inc. More fitting for the Spookaloosa!