Monday, April 23, 2018

Brighton CTR 2018 (Warning: LONG, Image heavy)

What a weekend!


I got the kiddos ready and out the door as if it were a normal day. I had it off work but I still sent Hazel to daycare and Kaylee to school. I love these goofballs but it's sometimes really nice to have some time away to recharge and be a better Mom when I get back.

She's gonna be TWO on wednesday, WTF where did the time go?

I was trying to use the bathroom. Ride weekends also give me bathroom privacy, lol

Once kids were in someone else's care, I did my final grocery shopping and then started packing everything up. My goal was to leave just after lunch so I would get to the campground around check in (3 pm) and have time to set up camp and ride as well.
First order of business: Fill up the water tank. The water was not going to be on yet because night lows were still freezing and below.

I got pretty much everything together easily. I have several totes dedicated specifically to camping so all I have to do is grab them when packing up and stick them in the bed of the truck. So I always have a roll of paper towels, some trash bags, soap, pots, plates, utensils, etc. And all in that cheap plastic that I don't care about if it gets ruined, it's easy to replace but not immediately disposable. At the end of each trip I make a note of what I'm low on and stock up. For ADD me, this system really works, even if it means I have duplicates of a lot of stuff.
Someone was VERY interested in what I was doing.
Per usual I prepped the back of the trailer to prevent wild gallivanting across the property and was REALLY prepared to head straight to the arena to do some lunging should Gwyn prove to be stubborn but the Goober just hopped on. She backed off once but went right back and stood nicely. I turned the electric fence back on because Saffron is more likely to try to escape while we're gone and drove around to the house to grab the one thing I left (trash bags)

Someone also hopped RIGHT onto the trailer. No hesitation! Good girl!
I left just after 2pm with just over an hour of driving. The traffic was minimal, which is awesome, and I hung out in the right lane, only passing the semis who were going a tad slower than me. We arrived and I expertly backed into the camp site that I was sharing with Alicia. She was already there.

First order of business was stringing the high line and then attaching horses. Gwyn is an old hat at the hi line and made sure she knew where her hay and water was before going to try and harass Archer.

Archer, poor dear, thought he was still tied to just the pole. He never really figured out that he had some space to move and walk. He did great camping though and just accepted stuff.

I also learned that Gwyn was in heat (she's rather mellow and even keeled behaviorally and I don't notice her heats). She turned into a major hussy and kept presenting her backside to poor Archer who didn't know what to do with her. But still, they were best friends and there was no scuffling or squealing. Just heavy flirting on her part.

First picture with the new rope halter and the nose band I added!

We got signed in with the ride management and went to vet in as well. Gwyn passed but Archer was considered grade 3 lame by the ride vet. The horse was totally happy to bomb around the trails and at least to me he didn't seem lame. But ride vet word is final. So Archer would not be competing. She was allowed to just ride him unofficially so the weekend wasn't a HUGE loss but it was a downer at the very start. Poor Alicia. I felt really bad and offered her Gwyn for Saturday since I would not be riding that day but she didn't take me up. She did decide, though, to 'audit' the competition and hang out with me and the vet and scribe on Saturday for some learning, something I highly recommend!

So 4.18 miles on Friday!

I set up my cot and sleeping stuff. Having a cot makes for SUCH better sleep, oh my goodness. Many thanks to my Mom who bought this for us a long time ago for an entirely different reason, LOL. I have an outdoor rug that I lay down and it's so cozy!
Given the freezing overnight temperatures I opted to not use the tent and instead set up shop in horse trailer on the side Gwyn doesn't stand in, lol. 

On the high line.

She's got the process down. Totally chill and relaxed.

Eating dinner before the Rider Meeting and layered up for warmth.
The ride meeting was good, the usual faces were present, though some were not there due to other conflicts. It was nice to see the people who got me cheered up when we first moved to Michigan.  After the ride meeting Alicia and I did dinner horse chores and then sat around the campfire and talked about stuff. Oh my goodness, adult conversation was had and it was glorious.

Then the fire died down adn we realized we were freezing so we scampered to our respective trailers to try and get some sleep.
Time to sleep selfie. Check out my solar powered LED lantern. I've got a ridiculous amount of layers and it wasn't enough. My fingers and toes were still numb.

Low of 32F.  But check out that Sunday forecast!

I woke up with still cold feet but ready to get going. I was volunteering today as the timer. So I track when people are supposed to leave in their designated time slot (for CTR, competitive trail riding, the riders don't go out all at once. Since they have a target time to come back you stagger groups of them so you don't get overwhelmed) Then I track their In Time, P/R time and out time if they were in the 25 or 35 mile group.

It was a smaller group than usual for Saturday. I think the weather scared people off and our reluctant spring has made conditioning difficult for a lot of people. Only two people rode the 35. Most did the 25 or novice 15. There was a large group in the tutored 15 mile, which is awesome!
Opened up in the morning. I think in the summer I would leave everything open and just hang a sheet to deter buggies. 

So I discovered that there are toilet seats that fit on 5 gallon buckets. Add a trash bag liner and toss some kitty litter in the bag and you have a portable porta-potty. Having one made just before bed pee trips so much nicer. Though as you can see below, I choose my campsites to be close to the pit toilets anyway for those urgent "I don't have a gall bladder anymore" poops. This campground also has a manure pit to dump your horse trash in. It's SO nice! This loop is JUST for horse campers. Human only campers are across the road.

Also, scooping manure is a GREAT way to get the blood flowing when you wake up freezing.

So loaded up with breakfast (You can buy overnight oat single serving breakfast cups at the grocery store now, super convenient!) Alicia and I headed down to the main vet area to start the day. I brought my nice camera to grab photos of camp. 

The two riders from Ohio who took advantage of the OAATS sanctioning

Aunna is also a vet but decided to scribe today so she could learn from Maureen, the ride vet. 

After all the riders were back in Aunna offered me and Alicia a lift back to our campsite. We came back to find Gwyn taking a nap.

She is beauty, she is grace...
After that it was time for the potluck and awards! I ate entirely too much delicious food (someone brought BBQ pulled pork!) and back up to camp we went. Alicia and I went on a bareback ride through camp. We stopped to chat with friends and then made our way back to our site for another fireside chat. 

Saturday night I changed things up a bit. I made sure my queen size Alki blanket was more secure on top of me (it had slid off) so that all my radiant heat was going to be reflected back at me. I had my twin on the cot mattress itself so that wasn't a worry. I also stuck hand warmers in my second pair of wool socks that I wore over my first AND stuffed a blanket into the feet of my sleeping bags (our REI mummy bags can zip together so I prefer to do that when camping solo. I get too claustrophobic in my single. I also wore my wool leggings over my cotton ones, instead of just my wool. I also kept handwarmers right by my sleeves of my sweatshirt.

I was MUCH toastier, lol. And fell asleep pretty much immediately and slept through the night, unlike the night before.


Sunday was my day to ride! I planned on getting up by 8 since I wasn't due out until 9:30. But other horses were whinnying in camp by 7 so I stayed snug in my cocoon for half an hour and fiddled on the internet then begrudgingly got out of bed. I toodled around packing up half heartedly since we had to go home that day.

Gwyn was fine tacking up but then as we walked away from her new boyfriend Archer, she couldn't stop calling. When we got to main camp she was a fucking kite and actually reared! Seriously, never done that before. I hopped on quickly and she settled down a little bit and at least kept all four feet on the ground. I did my pre-ride trot out for the vet and the damn horse cantered on this tiny 10m circle.

Okay, I think she's figured out the game, lol. Vet told me she hoped I brought my velcro saddle, LOL.  At 9:30 I was given the go ahead to hit the trail and the one other person in my time slot told me she was planning to wait a few minutes to have a quieter start than yesterday. I'm not sure if that was a subtle dig at Gwyn's behavior or just because she wanted to try leaving alone, but honestly I don't blame her since we hit that first trail out of camp and it pretty much goes straight up in deep sand and takes a sharp left turn.

Gwyn kept going straight at the turn. So note to self, 2ft banks in cross country will be totally fine going up and down. Totally. Fine.

Okay, so the stat breakdown. Pretty much exactly what I was aiming for, but I don't think the mileage is correct this was a VERY hilly course. Also, I needed this to be a 2hr and 40 minute ride and I came in early which netted me points off.
The mileage breakdown
Mile 7 was out on the lollipop loop and the footing was just fantastic for cantering so we let loose, as did my bladder a few drops at a time. Curse you childbirth. I really need to see a pelvic floor therapist... Mile 10 was where I finally got hot enough to want my jacket off and Gwyn had just seen riders heading back the way we came but we were over halfway at that point and was insisting that we not stay on the trail. So I was not nearly efficient removing my jacket and stuffing it into my hydration pack since I had to keep redirecting the Goober. 

Mile 13 was where I went "OH SHIT I'M GOING TOO FAST SLOOOOOW DOWN"  But I still second guessed the distance and pace and came in at 12:01pm instead of 12:10pm +/-5min

However, when you consider that I plan on doing majority LD/Endurance and not CTR that's a pretty damn respectable finish time. Middle of the pack worthy, IMO and on a draft cross to boot.

Stitched together map to show the full course in better detail.
I use my phone for endomondo and I find the app will crash/stop working if I try and take photos, but I did have my helmet camera running so let's get ready for some stills and a short video or two.

Okay, actually that's the only video until I have time to sit down and edit hours of footage into some of the neater stuff.  But this one shows one of the steep hills. And an obviously happy mare.

So yeah, we got back early and everyone was confused, "Aren't you early?"  I just shrugged and apparently I had a giant grin plastered across my face because the ride manager said, "just look at her, she's happy!" so there you go, lol.  Gwyn pulsed down to below criteria within the 10 minute window on arrival and while she isn't arab low, she recovers. Hahah.

"We are done, right?"

Thanks, btw, to DIY Horse Ownership for talking about those quick standing wraps. I grabbed two sets and they are awesome. I think Gwyn enjoyed the poultice too as she laid down to take a nap while I packed up the rest of my stuff.


So then, after packing up my stuff and loading everyone up (and jumping Alicia's truck that didn't want to start) I went back to see what the results were for the Sunday 15 miler group.

I was:
1st place heavyweight rider  (because I am ALSO a draft)
1st place breed (other) (because Gwyn is neither arab nor half arab)
2nd place over all 15 mile novice


I got my completion shirt, a bright green with purple screen printing to celebrate 20 years of Brighton CTR, a pale blue version of that and a horse themed towel AND A BLUE RIBBON. OMG.

I am just tickled and thrilled and everything.

Additionally, these trails have a ton of fist size rocks. The hoof armor I put on her seemed to do the trick! Gwyn had no chipping or flaring on her hooves, they looked beautiful. I did bring the kit with me and apply a coat on the outer part of her hoof where she has two long cracks (that aren't split) to kind of adhesive them together and there was no change after the three days of riding. I am totally pleased with that product and plan on continuing to use it. I'm hoping it will help her grow out the hoof and those concerning cracks without incident. I know last year after doing the 15 mile there was some damage to her hooves. This time? Nothing. I haven't otherwise changed her supplements either.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Made my own Rope Halter! (Plus ice)

After the nice weather on Thursday, Friday was cooler and I had lots of company helping me in the barn. Saffron came out and just stood in the aisle and let the girls love on her. That donkey keeps surprising me. I know I keep saying this, but it's true. She's such a mystery with her history (though the vet thinks she's young) but she's the sweetest thing with the kids even if adults make her a bit skittish.

They love loving on her too.

She also keeps a close eye on Hazel.
Kaylee wanted to ride so we tacked up Gwyn real quick so she could pop around the arena. And again, Gwyn was foot perfect. Kaylee is still very much learning how to ride and steering still eludes her. Gwyn did her very best to interpret mixed signals and was slow and careful with her movement. Every time she was confused she just came back to me.  Good mare.
Then I hopped on bareback for a quick trip around. Bad weather was incoming.

The next day, Saturday, was just cold, rainy and windy. I woke up to find Gwyn was running the front pasture fenceline whinnying. Saffron could occasionally be seen back at the barn. When I finally went outside I figured out the problem. The wind had closed the gate to the front pasture, trapping Gwyn, leaving just enough space for a tiny donkey to sneak through.

Gwyn was soaked through, as was Saffron, and raced for the barn as soon as I opened the gate. Both were shivering when I finally got a good look at them. Out came the coolers. I figured they wouldn't be going out in the weather the way it was with temperatures only supposed to drop.

Did you know that an 80 inch cooler can fit a small donkey? It's very MaGuyvered, and it worked for what I needed.

Yes, the chest straps are wrapped up and connected on the top of her neck. The belly straps shortened enough to not be a danger.

The rain was coming in from a different direction than it usually does so my flooding was manure tea. Gross.

Gwyn got her wool cooler and everyone got lots of hay.

Then on Sunday everything had finally become iced.

Icy truck

Everything was pastel and pretty though, from all the ice.

The poor silver maple buds. They just want to be leaves!
I've been meaning to make a purple rope halter for a while. I've bought a LOT of paracord in the mean while. I used the measurements from her current rope halter so that it would fit and it does! All I have to do is merge the tails of paracord and maybe add some decoration on the noseband.

I think this will look much better underneath my biothane bridle, rather than the thicker blue one I have.

It's all proper too, with a fiador knot and everything.