Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Oak Leaf Run 2018



So if you recall (or if you're a new reader), Oak Leaf Run 2017 was a cold mess of a rainy weekend where I significantly regretted my decision to not sleep in my trailer but stuck it out in my truck tent.

This year, the forecast was SIGNIFICANTLY better, if  a bit colder. Colder I can deal with so long as I stay dry.

It was still a ridiculous shit show and things tried to go wrong everywhere, hahah.

My goal was to be packed and leave home by 11 am.

You should be laughing. I did not leave by 11 am. In fact, at 1230 I received a text from my daughter's school saying this:

Parents - please come pick up your (JK-8) child from the lower campus immediately. An email with more details will be out soon.
Cue panic mode. I was just about to hook the truck to the trailer ( soooo close to leaving) so I busted ass in the truck heading to her school. This was their version of a lockdown, unfired bullets had apparently been found on the upper school campus and they were evacuating so they could search the grounds. WTF. 

I dropped the kid off at daycare, called the spouse to inform him the kid was taken care of and safe, and then went home to finally hook up and load. It was at this point that Saffron snuck through the open stall door while I was haltering Gwyn and bolted for the green grass of freedom. She is much more wily than Gwyn and easily escaped under the single strand of not hot electrobraid I use as a 'load up quickly Gwyn' pen. This effectively showed Gwyn exactly how to defeat the pen and she also promptly escaped.
Not how I wanted this day to go, lol

Thankfully, a bucket of a  handful of grain caught Gwyn and Saffron usually follows Gwyn so I got them back, reset the fence a bit lower so Gwyn couldn't repeat the performance and Gwyn loaded right up.

I was finally on the road by 1:30. But panicked because I couldn't remember exactly how to get to the park from the highway and google maps makes my phone auto turn off. So I had to have my husband send me directions (which he sent using a link to... wait for it... google maps) but I was able to screenshot the directions before my phone shut off again.

Then we were finally off! And I could feel a cold coming on...

The drive itself was uneventful, thankfully. It was cold, mid 40s, so I had a cooler on Gwyn in the trailer. It started to rain as I reached the west side of the state. Thankfully, it was never a huge downpour, and by that measure alone I was amped for the weekend. Plus I had much better rain gear this year, lol.

Alicia was already there when I arrived. We had adjoining campsites so it was like a great, big commune of camping. She'd invited an extra person as well, so the three of us had a blast. I didn't get many pictures. But it was a pretty neat set up.

Silver Creek County Park has great equestrian camping facilities. Each campsite has at least two spots to high line and the posts have bucket hooks for water. They've got water pumps spread through the camp ground as well as pit toilets. It's all really wooded with tons of pine and oak trees everywhere (hence the name of the ride). The ground is very sandy and it drains well.

I spent the weekend in the tent and I was pretty toasty. I made sure to have a hat to wear to sleep and that kept me really warm. Between my down sleeping bags, my Alki thermal blanket, and some thermal pjs, I was pretty toasty despite near freezing temperatures.

Gwyn did come off the trailer with a bit of blood on her nose, but when I had the vet check her out (thanks Mary!) she deemed her fine, just probably from a bonk in the trailer. Phew!

Saturday dawned cold but clear and I settled in for my timing duties for the day. No one was riding the 75 this year, so it was just 50s, 30s and a 15. Alicia rode the 30.   There was also a 25 LD offered at night, 5pm start. It was a long day! I was timing from 7:15 in the morning to 9:30 at night!

The weather was great, but people really had to be mindful of cooling their horses just right so they wouldn't tie up.

We did have some drama when one of the comp riders fell off RIGHT before they came into camp for their first hold. The lady's chin met her horse's knee and it split open. The woman had to be convinced to go to the ER where she received a ton of stitches. We had a bunch of nurses helping (fortunately) and they took one look at the lady and went "we can see INSIDE your chin. That's bone. You need to go".   Amanda, Alicia's friend, drove her to the ER. She came back in time for the potluck and was fine. But hoo boy, that woman wanted to go out and do another 15 miles.

Endurance riders are crazy. ;)

Sunday I planned to ride the novice, 15 miles. When I got up my cold was even worse, but I figured I could push through. I got Gwyn ready and hopped on for the start. We blasted through the first mile. She was spicy and just really wanted to move out on the trail.

Then we crossed the creek and hit more twisty trail and my lungs were on fire. I couldn't catch my breath and my right calf was immediately cramping. It was so painful to have my foot in the stirrup. There was one other rider with me and I told her to go. Between the cold air, the cold in my chest, and the cramping calf in the first two miles? I was done. There was no way I'd be able to keep up a decent pace to finish reasonably.

Instead, I strategized a way to have a nice trail ride, lol. The trails at Silver Creek are fairly well marked and I was able to navigate off of the ribbon marked path and get back to camp and Rider Option. I have no regrets about the decision.

Gwyn felt great. She was tackling the trail like a beast but she also wanted to go far faster in the deep sand than I was comfortable with. I felt like shit and would not have been riding my best. Given my asthma is triggered by being sick and being in cold air AND being exercise induced... it was like a formula for dying.

We moseyed our way back after spending a very beautiful October morning in the woods. I packed up camp and really eyed my cot before packing it up as a nap was super tempting. But I also wanted to get home at this point. I was not feeling well.

I got home around 4:30. I unloaded the necessities, prepped Gwyn's mash for dinner and went inside to shower.

Then I crawled into bed and passed out until 8pm. No joke. I helped put kids to bed, took some nyquil and was out again by 10pm and slept until my alarm for work on Monday. I'm still sick so obviously I needed the rest. I'm glad I chose to stop. Super super glad.

I got everything I wanted out of the weekend. I had a beautiful fall trail ride. I got to go camping with my horse and my friends. The weather was on point. We had lots of laughs and adventures. It was a great end to the competition season for me.

Modeling a sidepull from Two Horse Tack that we were sent to try. I rode her bareback through ride camp in this on Saturday! It seems to work well, though I definitely want to get some more rides in with it for a more thorough review. 

I was sent the sidepull to try in exchange for promoting their products, and if you're interested in purchasing anything from them, you can get $10 off with the code Ambassador17

Rye at the finish

Saturday, October 6, 2018

We came, we rode, we got soaking wet, we had a blast

What did not occur until we were done with our ride
I've mellowed considerably since my last post. Mainly because I went for a ride. Though politics are quickly intruding on my equine chill.

The weather reports for this weekend were awful, the Hunt Pace that I had planned on going to got delayed to next weekend, so I'm really not going to it because I'll be at Oak Leaf Run. And suddenly that's fine.

I instead thought I'd do Brighton to Pinckney. But that got moved to next weekend and I'll be at Oak Leaf (seeing a pattern?)

Suddenly not having anything I was looking forward to doing more than Oak Leaf has made life okay. Instead, I pestered Alicia (ok, not really, she's an easy sell) to see if she wanted to ride Saturday. The weather report showed a small break in the percentage chance of rain starting at 9am and I was damned if I was going to miss that window.

We ultimately decided on meeting at Ortonville Rec Area, which would be nice and wooded. And with the weather cooling off, the bugs would be gone (but not mosquitoes). I had to drive my Mom down to Brighton early that morning so I pretty much drove down there and back, then immediately hooked the truck and trailer up and worked on loading Gwyn.

Gwyn, was a jerk.

She found the ONE spot where my 'load up quick' fence was not fully blocked (and honestly I didn't realize it wasn't fully connected) and escaped to gallivant across the property. I had been forward thinking and was wearing my rain boots so I didn't get too wet. Eric noticed I was having trouble and came out just in time to see me finally get Gwyn loaded and standing still. He was highly amused at her ability to turn around in my straight load. She's ridiculously flexible for how large she is. I was not nearly as amused because my ramp was starting to get slick from poop skids and I had fallen.

I finally got on the road and it started to rain in earnest. I met Alicia at the camping lot and we both got out and went... 'Um... is that thunder?'

So we waited out the lightning and thunder under the pavilion without unloading the horses while Alicia made reins out of rope because she'd forgotten hers (but at least not her girth...)

With the most dangerous part of the storm over but the rain still insisting on falling, we unloaded and tacked up.

And then proceeded to ride for an hour and forty minutes. LOL.  It did stop raining as soon as we got on, but the branches above us shaking dripped water the whole time. And then 40 minutes in the skies opened up again and we just embraced the rain. It was wonderful. It wasn't too cold, high 60s and I did have my rain jacket so I wasn't utterly soaked though my saddle will need some TLC for sure. We did a ton of hills, but mostly stuck to a walk because the trails had a ridiculous number of plum and baseball sized rocks. We had to pick our way carefully up and down.

Gwyn had some.. moments. One of which was her spooking at a leaf landing on her butt. Another was a small buck while walking down hill because a fallen clump of leaves touched her leg. We were laughing SO HARD.

And since it got cut off, 6.13 miles in 1h43m, 1800 calories burned

We got back and the skies cleared up, LOL.  We both immediately tossed coolers on the horses and let them graze and cool. They were both steaming.  It was a great day. I'm glad I did it. Doing this loop is GREAT for hills. It'll be good conditioning and I intend to repeat it even solo through the winter.

It was good for my soul.

And then I went home and took a nap. 

Monday, October 1, 2018


Warning: There will be whining

The farrier came out wednesday evening for the regularly scheduled trim. I had already pulled the horses in earlier since I was going to be out looking at commercial properties for my new business. He immediately told me he was concerned with Gwyn's feet and wanted me to stop riding. Period.

Let's talk about a heart dropping moment there.

I was confused, because she had been foot perfect on varied terrain the previous weekend and wasn't acting sore or off at all. There was what I considered to be her normal chipping and flaking as she naturally wore her hoof down. The farrier wanted to put her in shoes.

He told me why and it made sense at the time but the more I think on it and the more research I do, the more I really REALLY am unhappy that I agreed to shoes. I don't think it was the right choice for Gwyn. She has always had a hard time keeping shoes on and I fear that I'm just asking for more wall damage the next time she yanks them off her foot.

Well, she has aluminum shoes on now, which so far look good. But I was told to not do my 30 mile  rides I had planned for this past weekend at MetroPark Express and then in two weeks at Oak Leaf Run. Also no hunter pace on the birthday weekend.


I've been reading up. On Friday I changed up Gwyn's feeding. She's no longer going to get grain, just some timothy pellets and beet pulp pellets, soaked. I'll use up what supplements I have but from this point on she's getting moved to CA Trace (it's been ordered).  I bought some soaker boots for her feet since it looks like there's a bit of thrush so she got to soak in 1:1 water:apple cider vinegar for a bit.

Back in bell boots again too

The vet is coming out tuesday for fall shots and I'm going to ask her to test for any kind of IR. Gwyn is plump, and I want to make sure we don't go down laminitis or cushings territory. Xrays in June showed a beautiful coffin bone but thin soles. We are still, apparently, dealing with thin soles.

I'm getting a second opinion on her feet later in October, which is when the nearest barefoot trimmer around me is available. She doesn't normally come up to my area except for that weekend so I jumped on the chance. She's also a boot dealer.

My plan is to get the shoes pulled and put her in hoof boots and pads only if we're riding. She should be fine otherwise in the pasture barefoot. She's BEEN fine in the pasture barefoot.

So I'm grumpy. My fall/birthday horse plans fell apart.

A cold, foggy morning at Metropark

I did try to get a grazing muzzle on her to limit the fall grass sugar high but that was a fail. It's lying, wet, in the middle of my pasture like a giant FUCK YOU AMY. She was SO pissed when I put it on her.

I did have a great day Saturday timing at Metropark so that was great and then Alicia rode on Sunday still and got FIRST! So that's AWESOME for her and I'm super happy for her! It's only her second ride, the first was at White River with me. She's hooked, it's official.

I'm going to ride on my birthday weekend. And I'm taking her to Oak Leaf but I'm not doing the 30. Probably just the Intro, so long as it's offered on Sunday.  Ugh.

So that's mainly what the radio silence has been for (aside from being totally inundated with starting my own business, but that's a WHOLE other post)

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

WEG Day 3 - Course Monitoring and Individual Grand Prix Dressage

This was another long day. I signed up to be the course monitor which was basically a glorified babysitter for the cross country jumps while the public walked the course. We were meant to keep them off the galloping lanes and off of the jumps. Fair enough. 

Sector 3 (pink) and 4 (green) map of the course.

Sector 2 map, upside down

The whole freaking thing, including how it relates to the TIEC location
Before the course opened, I decided to walk the course and get a good idea of what the rest of the jumps looked like. This was really my only opportunity to see the rest of the course until other pictures were available on social media. It was a long, hot walk, but pretty neat. I did not see it all either.
Start Box

Part of the Longines water jump, this closest jump is part of the longer route

The skinnies through the water sprayed water off the sides. Neat!

Jump 1

Bird feeder and squirrels

Bird Feeder

Course Designer Capt. Mark Phillips on the phone while surveying his course last minute

Jump 2

Jump 3

Jump 4

Jump 5

Jump 6

I really liked the variety of the water jumps that were on this course. I thought they were cleverly designed to pull in aspects of North Carolina life.
Jump 7

Jump 8

Butterflies Skinnies combination, Jump 9
I have pictures of 10 from a previous walk on a prior day.
Jump 11

Jump 12

My jump! 13
Once I got to my jump I set up camp for the day. I basically left my camp chair under the jump every night so I wouldn't have to lug back and forth out on course. Worth it. It was hot and humid and a surprising number of spectators walked the course. They were, by and large, worried about water since I was basically at the farthest point from TIEC. I didn't have anything to reassure them. I had no idea.

I had lots of questions about which route riders were likely to take, which I did know, based on what people had been walking. 13 was trickier than it first appeared because you have toadstools forcing a specific line. Plus the tables are so giant that you can't slice them diagonally without creating problems. But the direct bending line was 4 strides and change as walked by everyone. They checked and rechecked the distance.

Around 2:30 Nigel came to retrieve me and bring me back to Volunteer HQ. I was pretty toasted at this point but I definitely wanted to watch the final couple rides of the Individual GP Dressage. I also finished my shopping in vendor village and acquired a new Trauma Void helmet.

I caught the final couple minutes of Carl Hester's ride and sat in a somewhat shaded corner for everyone after him.
Edward Gal - I have been pronouncing his last name incorrectly for a LONG time

That smaller screen in the lower right was showing the test movement but it was usually behind by a couple movements

Wheee, levitating Zonik!

Patrick Kittel

Laura Graves and Verdades

Waving to the roaring crowds

Sonke Rothenberger and Cosmo

Charlotte Dujardin

Also, let's be real. I'm not skilled enough to properly nitpick. I don't have the eye yet for that. Sure the obvious bobbles I can spot, but these riders were top notch. And in general it was just a pleasure to watch some really nice horses be ridden really well. And I didn't have to worry about watching a kid or other folks getting antsy. I could take my time and do what I wanted to do. It was very enjoyable and relaxing.

Big pats for a good job

Isabell Werth

After that, with Isabell Werth doing a damn fine job to snag Gold, I bolted from the stands before the medal ceremony to grab dinner with my meal ticket and then waited forever for the bus to take me back to parking. It was a pretty great day.

And, I was forward thinking! So whoever gets paired with me at the gift exchange will get a couple souvenirs from WEG!

That night I made it back to my campsite and asked if they had a cabin available, which they did. So I grabbed that for the night. I had AC. I had my own shower and bathroom and NO ANTS. (The ants were vicious M-Fers)

It was perfect. I was able to pack up my tent items without them being super wet from the incoming Hurricane Florence and get some good quality sleep before having to be up super early for Cross Country day. I basically drove to my shift ready to be on the road, which was the way to go, ultimately.