Sunday, February 25, 2018

7.5 miles on Saturday!

I'll get the video in a separate post, but I finally trailered out this year! And boy was that an adventure... Ahem.

In short, I do not trust Gwyn to load without some form of protest at home. And lately it's been minor protest that happens once and then she self loads with a point and a 'STEP!'. Before her antics would result in me losing the lead rope and then she'd go gallivanting across the property, sending Saffron into a tizzy that would only exacerbate matters.  I've remedied that by creating a pen around the horse trailer to keep her contained.

Saturday was not that kind of day. I should have figured something was up when she saw me coming and went tearing through the pasture while bucking. I got the pen set up and loaded my stuff into the trailer then grabbed Gwyn and pulled her sheet off and took her out to my mini pen and let her graze while I curried her and took out her mud knot.

Shedding season has commenced. Thank FSM.

FLOOFY! Note: I'm not sure I'll do the mud knot again? I'm a more low maintenance horse owner and banging it off a bit high and letting it grow should be fine. This horse does not lack for hair.

Acting all sweet like she wasn't plotting how to get out of getting on the trailer.
I went to load her and she just.. was not having it. She tore away and started bucking and leaping in this SUPER TINY about the size of a round pen area. I caught her, tried loading again, she tore away and went bucking everywhere and then wouldn't let me catch her. She finally went back into the barn (lol) where I snagged her, grabbed a lunge whip and took her to the arena.

Because if assface wants to run all over the place she's gonna effin' RUN.  And I didn't let her break to walk until I was good and ready and she was ready to stand because DAMMIT I control her feet.

She will do this trot under saddle. It's... fun.

Gwyn. Your feet. What. 


Gwyn, your feet, again. What.
So, I made her do that for a while. Then I stopped her and she was just HEAVING and out of breath and I calmly walked up, reattached her lead and walked her to the trailer (with a stop for a drink of water because I'm not THAT mean) and pointed her at it. She thought about it, I clucked and said "Step UP" and on she went and just stood while I put up the butt bar.


I made sure I had a cooler and we pulled out to make the ridiculously short drive to the trailhead for the ride. (5 mins) She unloaded calmly, looked around, and stood nicely at the trailer while I cactus clothed the sweat she already had, lol, and tacked up.

I'm not a monster tho so she got a back on track blanket so her muscles would stay nice and warm after her lovely warm up HAHAHAHAHA

OH! And the first ride using the gift I got in the blogger gift exchange! I'm a fan of the water bottle holders! Plus that saddle pad I made is still going strong. *flex*

Still loving that quick change bridle too. Need to make my purple rope halter. I've got enough paracord....
She was quite nice for mounting, and I finally got hte hang of using my grab strap for mounting so it was quite smooth. I also lowered my stirrups a hole which I think I'll keep for endurance stuff. I felt much more secure with the longer leg. Because it's been so wet lately I didn't want to ride through the grass of the park and leave divots so we took the road as I'm not sure the new connector trail is ready for horses yet. The first bridge I can see from the parking lot still only has one railing and it's bloody narrow.

As soon as we hit the road I heard a vehicle approaching us from behind. Okay, yet another one of Gwyn's hang ups. I waved at the driver and turned Gwyn to face the truck. They were quite polite and slowed down. Gwyn was fine.

WTF Mare?!

We didn't see any other cars before reaching the trail itself, which is non-motorized traffic only. After that it was great aside from me feeling REALLY bad about my memory of how large the gravel is on the trail. (larger than I remembered).  We did not have a lot of stretches where I felt Gwyn was comfortable enough moving out on the rocks. I'm still waiting on my Megasus, but with some worrisome cracks in her hooves I've decided to order either Scoot Boots or Renegades. They're basically two shoeing cycles cost wise but will last WAY longer for me than iron shoes. Anyway.

I headed north on the trail toward town. I got there faster than I remembered the trail being long (though to be fair, the last time I rode it I was pregnant and just walked) and decided that I was going to bite the bullet and cross north of town to explore new trail and to see how Gwyn was doing. She had been pretty level headed (Huh, guess 10 minutes of constant trot/canter work will do that) the whole time I was on her so I didn't think it would be an issue. It wasn't.

The trail north of town had NO gravel and was actually very wet in places. The complete opposite of what we had just down. I went a mile north of town to the next road crossing and turned back at that point. At that road it would have been faster to just ride home than go back to the trailer, lol.

Coming back to the main road in town.

It feels weird riding through that park across the street even though it's part of the trail. It's just really nice, lol.

We had to wait for lots of cars before it was clear to cross and she was SO good. No dancing around, just waiting patiently. We got lots of waves. :D 

Happy Goober Mare Ears

Happy Me!  It was above freezing and not windy. I didn't need a neckwarmer or gloves! 

Bridge crossing!
We got back to the road that we entered the trail on and I took Gwyn further south to the next road before turning back. This is where we encountered REALLY bad gravel and the tire pile of doom. I also tried to get her into the stream to drink but she wasn't a fan of the footing and I was letting her make that choice.

Then it was cooler time and some grazing!

We got back with everything intact. I wore my new ovation winter paddock boots that I thought didn't fit but do and I'm really not a fan of them for long periods in the saddle. I think for the occasional 30 minute ride it would be fine, but several hours is just not feasible. My foot was sliding around too much, especially my right one and I couldn't get secure purchase even though the outer boot was definitely not moving in the stirrup. It was causing me a lot of pain in my calf trying to compensate. My left foot/calf was fine.

All in all it was a very fine day for a ride!

Also, slower than I wanted but I blame boot complications and the gravel. I like to aim for an average 10 min/mile. But, this is early season, so I'll give it a pass :) 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Way Back Machine: Mount Spokane Endurance Ride, September 2014: PART 2

Where last we left our intrepid heroes...

Due to the pull, we decided to start our trail ride earlier. Cortney was going to ride Major (Randy pays her to train his horses), Randy was on Asaad (who was also going stir crazy from being cooped up and needed the exercise), I rode Gwyn, and Trudy and Alexis rode Snoopy and Tiger. 

Most of us with two in the distance.

We did the 15 mile, which was gorgeous trails all over the mountain on the nordic trails that are used by cross country skiiers in the winter. The footing was amazing with minimal rocks. The views were spectacular across the countryside. 

Water stop!

Idaho in the distance.

Meeeeee!  RIP that awesome pink jacket. And the camera I used. All lost to time. But not on that ride.

Gwyn was an idiot leaving ride camp but settled down once we were moving. She really liked leading. We eventually split the group, Gwyn and the two Arabians, Asaad and Major, left Snoopy and Tiger at the second water stop. The horses did really well. Cortney and I decided to both do a slow 25 on Sunday. Cortney would ride Major, who had only been in training a month, and I would take Gwyn. 

On the trail we saw 5 deer, a horse eating puddle, a horse eating chipmunk smaller than Gwyn's spots and Idaho. 

Mileage markers back to camp.

We got back to camp and vetted in. Everyone got good scores (Asaad did not do an official trail ride due to the previous colic) Gwyn pulsed in super low at 48 bpm. We did 15 miles in 4 hr, so about 4 mi/hr. While we were up at camp, we vetted in for the 25 the next day. 

We skipped the provided dinner and had tacos at camp with more family friends, then headed back up for ride meeting. Sunday's 25 had a change in course from Saturday's 25. The 15 mile loop was first for Sunday, and running clockwise on the path we'd ridden today. Then we were going back out on the same trail, but counterclockwise, and taking two different trails that would cut 5 miles off. This meant that Sunday's 25 would be easier than Saturday, because the more technical 10 was now only for the 50s. 

A super adorable kid did the 25 today on a tiny grey pony. She came in last for the Saturday 25 and so got the "Speed Up" award AKA the Turtle Award everywhere else I've been. 

My fit bit recorded 40,820 steps and 17.32 mi distance, and 5197 calories burned and 219 flights of stairs climbed over 268 active minutes. I had done 10k and 36 flights on foot before I ever got on a horse. That damn hill up to ride camp. 

Then, bedtime!

Day 3 - Sunday

I was up early again and helped feed horses. I tacked Gwyn up, who was confused since she was the only one getting attention and then headed up to ride camp where Cortney was getting Major ready. The 25s left at 7 am. Our plan was to mount up as the main group was leaving camp and head out after that so the horses would stay calm and not have to deal with the cluster of people finding their pace. We just wanted a successful ride for Gwyn and Major, we didn't care about placings.

No actual ride photos taken during the endurance ride. Everything on horseback was technically taken on Saturday. I was too distracted Sunday. But it's the same trail.

The ride started out well. We headed out and at Junction 2 took off on the clockwise 15 mile loop (We'd done the counterclockwise 15 mile yesterday) It was helpful being familiar with the path to have an idea of how far we were going. I was sore 5 miles in. Cortney ran her phone and app that tracked pace and distance. Oi. We were aiming for about 10 minutes per mile, which, while not fast, was definitely faster than I was used to!

Gwyn did well, and her appy was very self preserving and she regulated her own pace. This horse will never run until she drops dead. She stop if she's tired and walks, then picks up the pace again. She figured out pretty quickly that I was willing to let her trot out and pick the pace. She LOVED the low grade downhill canter we did on the logging road, even if I felt like my legs were turning to jelly and that I was one misstep away from just sliding off. At one point Gwyn leaped up the hill into a bounding canter and I lost both my stirrups and was laughing/crying from it all. 

Major had lots of go. He'd only been purchased a month prior and had come incredibly obese. But he was being ridden quite a lot and was very fit now. He and Gwyn matched strides well, however, which was good! Major preferred to canter a lot when tired, while Gwyn wanted to trot. 

The weather was chilly. The mountain was covered in clouds and we were riding through those clouds. The views of yesterday were hidden. The clouds (and elevation), sadly, irritated my asthma for the first time in years. 

Used with Purchase Ride Photos from Sunday.

Right after this photo both horses spooked.
At the quarter mile to camp mark we dismounted and handwalked in to camp for our 45 min hold. Gwyn and Major pulsed down right away, within seconds of each other. Gwyn pulses down while eating. We had beet pulp and alfalfa waiting for them, as well as lots of water. After about 20 minutes, we took them to the vet check, where both passed with As and Bs. 

Our final leg was the 10 miles, counter clockwise with some short cuts from what we'd just ridden. Gwyn was VERY confused. She thought she was done and she wanted to go back to her delicious food. She was also a bit slower to start out. 

I was numb. My period had been pretending to start since Monday and it finally came in all its glory on Friday. Fuck me, right? I had my heaviest day Saturday for the trail ride but managed it well. Today, I did not manage as well. My girly bits were being rubbed raw from the products I was using and I ended up leaking onto my underwear and riding pants. Boooooo. Thanks Aunt Flow. 

The 10 mile loop we were riding ended up being WAY easier than the 15 mile. The short cut we took at the first water stop cut out a TON of elevation change that we dealt with on the 15 mile. The grade was nice and gentle. We had a faster average pace. It was still hilarious to have Gwyn enthusiastically canter up a hill, turn around the corner and kind of double take that there was still hill and promptly drop to a walk, stretch out, then resume trotting after she'd recovered. 

The weather was a bit better, with the sun trying to come out. We had some views, but nothing like the day before. Also, not as much wildlife despite some riders having claimed to have seen a bear. 

This time we rode into camp at the end and again, Gwyn and Major pulsed down to 60 within seconds of one another. I was worried about Gwyn's fitness. Cortney kept reassuring me that I was not giving Gwyn or myself enough credit. 

We passed no one in the 25 and saw no other 25 riders. We knew we were last and didn't care. 

I took care of Gwyn and she passed her vet check. The weather was very good for cooling off after that ride and I curried the sweat away as Gwyn dried. Gwyn took a nap in the sun while Cortney and I chatted with Shari. Gwyn did not want to go back up the hill to vet, I didn't either. My legs were shot. 

We were treated to lunch in the lodge, which was nice, then headed back down to our own camp. Splendid was thrilled to see Gwyn, as she'd been left alone while Trudy, Randy and Alexis went on another trail ride. The day stayed cold and the sun never really stayed out. It was crazy windy. We socialized a bit and Trudy's cousin visited for dinner (ribs!). He lives in Spokane and was so cool. Lots of stories, very nice and funny man. 

We went back up the hill for awards. This time I got the "Speed Up" award for the 25. Cortney got 11th place, 'taking her sweet time'. And I was introduced as 'taking my sweet time with Cortney on that draft-thing' for 12th place. 

At Sunday's award night. The man in the hat is the one who wrote my last place prize book. He came in first for the 50. His wife is sitting next to him. She came in second on the 50. They had a super fast time. Apparently, they are also the Royalty of Endurance out here in the PNW, the Summers.

The award was a free ebook written by the 50s first place winner on how to speed up your endurance ride. I kind of already have an idea of what I need to do and that is 1. Lose weight 2. Do trot sets and 3. Ride LOTS MORE. We rode to my fitness, I am fully aware of that. Gwyn could have gone much faster. But I don't care for this first one, because I completed, and that is crazy to me. It always felt so much more difficult to achieve. And I'm kind of hooked. I think [profile] harnessphoto could have told me that, too.

The sky was clearing as the sun sank below the horizon and the cold just seeped into our bones. We all huddled in the camper to chat for our final night on the mountain. When we went outside again, it was perfectly clear and the stars were gorgeous. You could see the milky way stretched out across the sky, the big dipper was clearer than I'd ever seen it and I even saw a shooting star and two satellites. 

Sore and exhausted, I popped a few ibuprofen and crawled into bed. 

Day 4 - Monday

We slept in a bit, and packed up camp. We were among the last rigs to leave. Most people had been leaving on Sunday and early early Monday. One lady rode the 50, didn't complete, and her horse was on the trailer 45 minutes later on a 4 hour trip home. Poor thing :( 

This trailer has since bit the dust. They have a fancy new one now.

For us, we had a nail biting drive down the mountain hoping we'd make it to a gas station since the climb up had guzzled more diesel than anticipated. Then we made for Trudy's cousin's house. He was giving Cortney the family heirloom saddles, including one that was over 100 years old and absolutely gorgeous with hand tooled leather and mexican silver coin conchos. 

House sized boulder

Columnar Basalt in a coulee!

I really really miss this fucking state.

Then it was on the road again, headed west and eventually back over the Cascades to home. The drive was uneventful, thankfully. We dropped Gwyn off at my barn, reloaded the other horses and headed for their home in Duvall where we unpacked and separated everyone's stuff. Splendid continued on to Cortney's house in Snoqualmie and I loaded my car up with all my stuff and said my farewells. I got home well after 10pm, sore and exhausted.

Thank goodness for Desitin.

2018 Notes Looking Back:
That saddle I had was awful. As Gwyn's hair shed the next spring I found pressure point marks on her back that I directly attribute to this ride. I immediately ditched the saddle and began to ride bareback while on a saddle hunt until I found the one I have now, which was fit to her. (Note: I need to get the fit checked, it's been a while)

I've ditched the all leather gear for rides like this. It's really super nice to just dunk and go with the biothane.

I got hooked. It's such a fun sport. I'm looking forward to this year's ride season!