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A blog by an endurance rider riding in endurance horse rides. Endurance riding consists of a single rider riding a single horse over 50, 75 or 100 miles. There is a time limit (6 hours per 25 miles) and several veterinary checks throughout the ride. It is

Last Build Date: Wed, 14 Feb 2018 22:50:34 +0000


Rhino Wug First Impressions

Sat, 10 Feb 2018 02:03:00 +0000

We've been having rain and snow and sleet and all manner of fun weather here in Northeast Tennessee. We have a very nice 4 stall barn, but only one shelter. This means all 4 horses have been making use of their rain sheets and heavier coats this winter.I definitely use the barn when the weather is particularly nasty and the 2 geldings are put into stalls every night for Tanna's good. I try to leave the mares out when it's not too bad. They are very energetic, especially 5 year old Dia, and do well with room to move around. Besides, 2 more stalls to clean does not make for fun morning chores.Earlier this week, I put out a plea on my Facebook page for suggestions on a high neck rain sheet. Last week, both mares ended up with wet shoulders and chests from their Schneiders rain sheets. It's possible the sheets are a size too big for my small Arabian mares and I'm still willing to entertain that possibility, but I wasn't convinced.My absolute favorite front-runner was the Rambo Wug. I have a heavy weight Rambo Wug for Sasha and I just love it! It's amazing quality, fits her great, keeps her warm and dry in the nastiest sleet storm or 0 degree weather. But it was expensive at $360. The 0 fill Rambo Wug is also expensive at $320.I saw the Rhino Wug on sale at SmartPak for $150. It was even a cute color, green and blue plaid. I'm not a big fan of the brown/beige plaid of the "normal" Rhino Wug. With free return shipping and half the price of the Rambo Wug, I decided to give it a try. It is similar to the Rambo Wug, but my friends warned me it was cheaper because it's made out of cheaper materials and just is cheaper overall.I was lucky to receive my Rhino Wug just in time for promised rainy weather over the weekend. So I got Sasha up to the barn during supper to try on the Rhino. I brushed her carefully and put it on.It's definitely cheaper than the Rambo Wug. It feels more flimsy. Now, granted, this is a 0 fill and my Rambo is a 400g fill, so there's definitely a difference there. But it just felt cheaper over all. I had been warned.At the end of the day, I decided to keep the Rhino Wug. Sasha will wear it this weekend and we'll see how it does. I don't think I would pay the normal $200 price tag for a Rhino over paying $320 for a Rambo. And if I ever see a Rambo Wug Lite on sale, I might just trample my own mother to get one.Now for several pictures and my thoughts on each.This is just the general blanket on her. This is size 69". She's an Arab mare, about 14.2 or 14.3 hands, around 825 pounds. It fits her fairly well from chest to butt. You can see how high up her neck it goes. That's ok by me as long as it doesn't just crumple from its own height. The cut around the front leg concerns me a little bit. Seems like it would inhibit motion and/or rub her shoulder while she's out running around. Standing still like that, it looks adorable though. No concerns with the cut around the rear legs.Close up of the blanket straps. This is definitely different from the Rambo Wug. Next time I put the Rambo on her, I'll have to get comparable pictures to show the difference. The Rambo has 3 belly straps and is contoured differently. I kinda wish the Rhino had kept that. But...price difference.This is the tail strap. The Rambo and the Rhino just have a tail strap instead of leg straps. The Rambo came with a really nice heavy plastic covered (read easy to wipe clean) tail strap. The Rhino is just your run of the mill cheap strap. I sorta wish they gave the option to use leg straps, but neither the Rambo nor the Rhino have the inner ring for leg straps. On the Rambo, I just removed the tail strap and it does just fine. But because the Rhino is much lighter weight all around, I decided to try leaving the strap on for now. If I decide to leave it on all the time, I'll see if I can find the Rambo tail strap to put on instead.The other side of the blanket. Cause. Honestly, it drives me nuts sometimes to see blanket pics, even on manufacturer's sites with just one or two pictures and usually of the same side of the horse.The front closure is pretty[...]

Retiring Tanna

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 22:55:00 +0000

It's been many months since I blogged on my endurance blog. There's a good reason for that. I haven't been doing much endurance riding.2017 Endurance Rides So FarI managed to make it to Biltmore in early May 2017. I entered Sasha in the 50. She was doing amazing, but I missed a short stretch of trail in the middle of the second loop.The rules allow for missed trail to be made up to be able to still get completion miles (but not top 10 or points). In my opinion, the best way to make up the trail was to go back to the point where I missed trail, do the 2 miles I missed, and then return to camp. But I wasn't about to go do that as it would have been about 12 miles in total to go get the actual trail I missed.I could possibly have talked to ride management to come up with another solution to allow me to make up 2 miles without the extra 10 to get to the actual trail I missed. However, Biltmore is an incredibly popular ride. This was the first of 2 days of rides. So ride management was dealing with all the competitors on trail, as well as checking in and vetting in all the Saturday competitors. This means ride management was taking care of some 300 horse and rider teams!Missing trail was entirely my fault (the trail was marked, I just missed it) and I didn't feel that it warranted putting something else onto ride management to figure out how to make it so I could complete. I bring this up so that other competitors that read this might think about whether it's worth bringing an issue to busy ride management. Not that RMs don't want to hear from me, but since it was my fault and not an emergency, I decided it wasn't worth their time.So I did a rider option pull. Sasha was perfectly ok and got 30+ miles of great conditioning on her. No sign of tie up or any other issues.My other ride was Powwow Summer Slam. This was a hot and sweaty ride and wasn't all roses. After our completion, Sasha was sore and off as well as had harder time expelling heat after the ride. She was ok, but I wasn't happy with the 36 hours post ride. I definitely reached with her on that one.Back to TannaTanna had a rough 2016. He started off in January/February with 2 abscesses in 2 different feet. One popped up just as the first one was healing. So his spring conditioning didn't go well.Tanna at the 2016 Alabama Yellowhammer ride.Photo by: Unbridled ImageryWe did a 25 mile ride at the March Yellowhammer ride and Tanna was full of himself and ready to go! He was such a maniac, we went out and ran a 4 mile trail after his 25 mile completion; just to take the edge off! He was frustrating, but so much fun and he loved every minute on trail.By the time Biltmore 2016 rolled around in early May, I decided he was ready for a 50, so we entered the 50. We started the ride with Tanna's best endurance buddy, Kit. These two horses have had so many miles together. They did their first 50 together at the one-time Rendezvous with Destiny ride in 2005. Right from the beginning, these two were buddies and fed off each other's energy and personality. Over the years, usually Kit's rider and I were able to manage their craziness when they were together.Tanna flying at Biltmore 2016Photo by: Becky PearmanBut Biltmore 2016 was unusual. Tanna and Kit were so crazy and almost run-aways. For 35+ miles. Finally, I had to separate for the final loop. Unfortunately, damage had already been done. Tanna had some very intermittent off steps during the final loop. I thought we could get through it, but ended up pulled at the finish for right front lameness.Summer of 2016 was a lazy summer for Tanna. Mostly rehabbing his right front ankle. He had a few vet appointments, some stall rest, gradual pasture turnout and then short (< 3 mile) rides. Tanna had fun. He enjoyed the rides, but also enjoyed being turned out on pasture.October 8 was a very bad day. I went out to feed and do horse chores. Serts and Sasha came up immediately. Tanna did not. Short story, he had laid open his right front knee. You can read my previous blog post for more info on that. That [...]

Dealing with a knee wound

Wed, 21 Dec 2016 04:16:00 +0000

When last I put fingers to keyboard on this blog, Sasha was on rest from her tie-up. Tanna was still on rest from his fetlock issue from Biltmore in May. And Serts was still the grumpy old man (which he's been since he was 12, btw) who was firmly in retirement.Sasha is still on rest, but through no fault of her own. She has shown no side effects of her tie-up episode, but she's just been chilling in the pasture for the most part. I have ridden her a couple times for short distances and she is feisty and ready to go. I just haven't had the time.I run a good amount and am currently in training for my 2nd marathon. So that takes up a good bit of my time these days.But I have another issue. Another time-sink that is keeping me from conditioning my endurance horses. And that is Tanna.On October 8, 2016, I went out to feed the horses. Serts and Sasha came flying and I gave them their breakfast. Tanna did not come right away. That's not entirely unusual. Some days he comes up at his own pace. So I continued doing chores and Tanna still didn't come. I went to fill the water trough. I could see Tanna in the lower pasture, standing, facing away from me. I hollered at him to come in. He looked over his shoulder and hollered back. He did not turn to face me. Red flag.I ran into the house, told Daniel something was wrong with Tanna, and ran to get a halter and lead rope. Daniel headed toward Tanna. First thing to notice was his front right knee. Sliced open with a pretty good flap. Next was a chunk of flesh gone from his right rear stifle area. Tanna would not move. (Don't worry, I won't show gross pictures on this post.)I called the vet hospital and the answering service took my message and said I'd get a call back. I was in a bad area for cell service, so 30 minutes after not hearing, I called again, stressing that Tanna wouldn't move. I was scared of joint involvement or broken bones. With him refusing to move, I didn't think it wise to move him without a vet looking at him or I would have loaded him and taken him to the hospital immediately.Dr. N called and got through to me. He was pretty close and got there, evaluated the leg, gave Tanna some drugs, bandaged up the knee and we loaded him on the trailer. Daniel positioned the trailer to give as little a step up as possible and Tanna loaded without much issue.I'll skip the long drawn out posts I would have written if I'd written posts all along.Turns out, no broken bones, no joint involvement! Praise God. We were really lucky. Not as lucky as it not happening, but, you know.So we started wound treatment. Tanna was in a splint for awhile. He pouted about it for days before finally dealing and learning to swing his leg without bending it. He graduated to a long bandage with no splint, then a smaller bandage and a small paddock attached to his stall.Finally, the wound progressed so there was no bandage at all. Things seemed to be healing well and going great. The wound on his rear leg healed with only cold hosing.And then, on December 11, I let Tanna into a little bigger paddock. I was watching him. I wasn't concerned about him. He seemed to be smart and calm.  While mildly trotting around, doing his head toss, he just slipped and fell. Right on the right front knee. He came up favoring the leg. I ran and got him, started to hose the wound and realized it had busted open as bad as the first day.Daniel was home and helped me bandage the knee and get Tanna into a trailer and off to the vet. It was a Sunday, so I called the answering service for the vet and told them I was bringing Tanna in.Dr. C saw him and treated him, cleaning and bandaging up the wound. Tanna stayed in the hospital.On Monday, Dr L and Dr M and Dr C and Dr N and Dr K and a few interns and I all stood around Tanna and discussed options. Option 1) do what we did before; splint, bandage, etc. Option 2) Surgery to close the wound as much as possible, add some skin grafts and put the leg in a cast. Option 3) Standing sedation to try to do as much as possibl[...]

AHA Distance Nationals 2016 - The 100 That Wasn't

Mon, 03 Oct 2016 01:02:00 +0000

This year, the AHA Distance Nationals were held near Vinita, OK. The 100 mile championship was on Sunday, September 25, 2016. They traditionally hold an open division, meaning anybody can come and ride the 100, they just don't have to be qualified for the championship division. So this was my opportunity to ride Sasha in her first 100.I picked her up in September 2014 and every training ride and every competition for the last two years was to get her ready for a 100 mile ride. To get her to this ride and through it to her first completion.Loaded up to head to OK.We loaded up early Thursday morning and 12 hours later, pulled into camp. We set up on the small ridge, putting Sasha on her high tie.Camp.Daniel discovered our truck had a shot wheel bearing on the right front tire, so called a repair shop about that.Friday morning, the repair shop showed up to get our truck. It was fixed by 1 PM and Daniel bummed a ride into town to pick it up.Our truck loaded up to get repaired.Meanwhile, I worked some, since I had a deadline looming at work. I also took Sasha for many walks throughout the day.It was really hot, so I took advantage of the shade of the trailer and ran the generator to run a good fan on me and the dogs.I spent a good amount of time pulling out all the stuff I would need for the vet checks and packing it carefully where I could find it. We had hoped we could spend our hold times at the trailer, but we were about 1/4 mile from the vet check area and decided that was too far.I also pulled out Sasha's saddle, emptied the saddle pack and repacked that. I checked the saddle over for failure points. And made electrolytes.Electrolyte syringes. One pre, one post, one for each vet check and one spare.Sabbath I spent trying to rest as much as possible. I took Sasha for many walks throughout the day. It was still really hot, but the forecast promised rain and cooler temps for Sunday.Watching riders on other events during one of our walks.Saturday night, I impatiently waited for the 100 mile ride briefing. Then walked Sasha and the dogs and headed for bed for 5 hours of sleep before the alarm rang at 3:30 AM. Start at 5 AM.I got ready as normal. We walked Sasha to the water trough to see if she'd drink before saddling her and then finished saddling. I was mounted 15 minutes before the start and did a normal warm up.When 5 AM came and the trail was open, a couple riders went and then a couple more. Then I left by myself at a mild pace. Sasha was a bit confused as to whether we were going or not. She's used to the wild starts of our SE rides with 25-50 riders in a single distance. There were 8 riders entered in the 100.About a mile out, I began to think Sasha was not right. She just wasn't moving right. Her steps were choppy and not fluid. She didn't want to really move out. She wasn't pulling at me anymore. I asked her to walk and she did without a fuss. This was a big red flag to me. Her heart rate didn't show too much of a concern. 85 at a walk.I pulled out my Oregon GPS unit and looked at the maps of the trails I'd added to it. As I thought, we were just at the back of camp. I made the decision to go back and have the vets look at her.I hopped off to lead Sasha and was again concerned when she didn't try to run past me or dance at the end of her lead rope. She's not horrible, but she can be quite animated and she just wasn't.I walked up to the vets and told them I thought she was tying up. They checked her rump muscles, but nothing there. We pulled the saddle and immediately found her back muscles were very very hard and tight. Yep, tie up.I ran and got her wool cooler from the vet check area. I discussed the situation with the vets and decided to have her treated with fluids. Poor Sasha could barely walk and I had to drag her a few feet to get to where they could hang the fluids.Sasha getting fluids. She ate a good amount of hay while standing there.Tying up, for my non-horse friends, is like having really severe muscle cramps for a very lon[...]

Big South Fork Endurance Ride 2016

Sun, 18 Sep 2016 01:03:00 +0000

This blog post is a little later than I would normally intend, but this past week has been so busy at work trying to make up for being gone to the Big South Fork Endurance ride, this is the first chance I've had to sit down and write about it.Earlier this year, I made the decision to volunteer at Big South Fork instead of entering the 50. I offered to mark trails and hoped to have 3 horses to help me do that.The HorsesTanna did something to his right front at Biltmore in May. He's progressed from stall rest and pasture rest to being worked lightly 2-3 times a week (which I haven't had time for the last 3 weeks...), but he still wasn't up to the mileage required for trail marking. So I left him at home to hang out in the pasture.Serts is my 27-year-old retired Arabian. He taught my nieces how to ride and did a few LDs. I retired him a few years ago, but was hoping to bring him into condition enough to help me mark 8-10 miles of trails each day I was at Big South Fork. Alas, after getting him going a bit, he dropped too much weight being ridden twice a week at 6 miles each. So I decided he really is retired and left him at home with Tanna to hang out in the pasture.So that left me Sasha. She has had her challenges this year, but she was fit and sound and ready to go!The BeginningThe dogs after we arrived at camp. Notice the dog on the cushion is the smallest at 3.5 lbs!So Tuesday morning, I loaded Sasha in the trailer and Daniel drove off with her. I hopped into our smaller truck and followed. My job this week: mark trail. Daniel's job: camp water & trail water.We arrived and set up camp where Sasha would get the most shade. The forecast was for the high 80s, low 90s all week. Pretty hot and humid for this ride.I saddled up and headed out for several hours to mark a 16 mile loop that would be used on Friday and in the 100.Trail Marking PhilosophySasha during a break with her trail marking gear on.My trail marking philosophy is pretty simple and based on a priority system.Mark the turns with 3 ribbons on the side of the turn. Try to mark enough before the turn to get a cantering horse to shift gears and direction in time for the turn without ending up in a heap.Confidence ribbon after the turn. Hang a ribbon down the trail that is visible from the turn.2nd confidence ribbon. Hang a ribbon down the trail visible from the last confidence ribbon.Confidence ribbon if a trail goes off to the right or left, but the trail goes straight. Hang the confidence ribbon just after the intersection to get the eye going that way. If really confusing, use a second confidence ribbon.Otherwise, put a ribbon up every 1/4 mile even if you think there's nowhere to go.Using this philosophy, the slower riders should see a ribbon at least every 5 minutes as long as they're moving. The mid-pack riders will see a ribbon every 2-3 minutes and the front runners will only see every other one. There are other techniques, like, what to do if there are no trees where you want your ribbon. Or if we're allowed to use signs stapled to the trees (X pie plates are my favorite) or if multiple trails come and go through a single 5, 6 or 7 trail intersection. Those are super fun to figure out. I've missed trail marking and was very happy to have the opportunity to do it again. WednesdaySasha and me ready to go out and mark trail!Sasha isn't used to being ridden every day. Generally I give her a day off between training rides. But Wednesday morning, I got up, grabbed some breakfast and saddled her again. She was not amused during the saddling process, but once I was mounted, she perked her ears and settled to her job.Laurel Creek crossing at the bottom of the hill from Jack's Ridge loop.We headed down the Jack's Ridge straight-away and dropped down to Laurel Creek, marking the black and red trail for Friday and the yellow trail for Saturday. We continued on to the river crossing, then I started marking blue for the Saturday ride and continued with red a[...]

Iron Mountain Jubilee 2016

Sun, 28 Aug 2016 20:16:00 +0000

Over the last several weeks, I have been able to ride Sasha consistently longer and faster. Never any hint of heat or swelling on her right front (the cause of her pull at Black Sheep Boogie in June).So Wednesday morning, Daniel and I loaded up and headed to Ivanhoe, VA, to participate in the Iron Mountain Jubilee ride. Sasha and I entered the Friday 50 mile ride.Loading up!This ride is put on by Nancy Sluys, et al, and is a great ride. Last year, we went for the first time and I did the 30 with Sasha.This year, we arrived and Daniel quickly decided to park where we had last year. We set up camp and I took Sasha with me on a run along the New River Trail, which the horse camp borders.Home away from home.I don't often get to take Sasha with me on a run. I wasn't sure how it would go as I was just going to jog slowly. Much slower than her preferred trot, but faster than she can walk. I used a rope with a loop at the end rather than hardware so a snap wouldn't smack her under the chin and off we went.A trail head just north of the Ivanhoe Horse Show Grounds.Sasha followed me very well. It took her awhile to figure out what I was doing, but I tried hard to maintain as even a pace as I could. Sasha jogged along behind, then would walk for several steps until she got almost to the end of the lead rope, then would jog some more. I did not have to tug on her or otherwise keep her going. She adjusted to me quite well.We turned around after a mile and a quarter and headed back the way we came. Sasha came up by my shoulder now that we were headed back to camp and she was more sure of what we were doing. She still adjusted to my pace and didn't tug on me to get back to camp faster. But I did play a bit with matching steps with her and we would run (no longer jogging) together. It was great fun. I can see how it would be beneficial to run with her for my speed work.Me and Sasha on our run!Back at camp, I settled Sasha, took a quick shower and ate some supper. Then we headed over to the early arrivals party for some good talk and music. I am in the middle of training for a half marathon and am craving a lot of sleep, so we left just before 9 PM to finish up chores and go to bed.ThursdayAbout 8:30 AM, Daniel dropped me off in Fries, VA, at one end of the New River Trail. I headed north back to Ivanhoe along the trail. I ended up with 12.5 working miles and 13.1 miles overall. It was a beautiful run and I enjoyed it quite a bit.For a recap of my run with lots of pictures, please go to my running blog and check out the New River Trail - Fries to Ivanhoe post.One of the views along my run.After my run, I showered (boy, I'm spoiled!) and sat around chatting with Joe and Daniel until we ate lunch. I was being lazy and finally managed to go to registration. I had already sent in my pre-entry and a deposit, but I had to show Sasha's coggins papers and pay the balance before getting a map, crew directions for the away vet check, a schedule of events and the ever important ride card.Next came the vet in. I got Sasha and took her up to vet in. She was good to go with a 36 pulse, but A- on Skin Tenting. She'd been drinking well and eating. She's gotten comments on her skin tenting before, so I'm starting to think this is just her, like Tanna's quieter gut sounds almost always get a B (back before they started using that +/- quadrant stuff).Playing in the water after vet in. We should have done this after the ride, but didn't have time.Next came the fun chore of deciding what to go to the away vet check. Daniel was going to crew for me. I got to ride with Joe, a good friend of mine, so Daniel agreed to crew for both of us. We piled a lot of stuff by the truck for Daniel to load up. Did I mention I'm spoiled? :-)After supper, we went to the ride meeting. Pulse 64, holds 38 minutes and 120 seconds (Ask Dr. Nick about that one...) and of course tack off at the vet checks. It was scheduled to be in the upper 80s, so [...]

Rehab Rides

Mon, 01 Aug 2016 00:04:00 +0000

Well, not all my rides the last couple of weeks have been rehab rides. Serts isn't really rehabbing, but he is coming back into shape after 3 years of being a complete pasture ornament.SertsSerts ready for a rideSo let's start with Serts. I've been able to ride him several times in the last 4 weeks. We started with about 3 working miles (walk/trot) and have worked up to 6.5 miles today with a 5.4 mph average! Yay, Serts!He has always been rather hard to condition because he gets bored really easily. He loves trails and hates the road where I condition from the house. So it's kinda hard to gauge sometimes if he's old and creaky or just bored to tears. I've had him since he was 12 years old (he's 27 now) and his nickname, even back then, was "Old Man." He's been an old man since he was at least 12. If he could yell at kids to get off his lawn, he would.So I started riding Serts in a saddle instead of bareback (oh, sad day) so I could use the heart rate monitor on him and keep an eye on his heart rate. Of course, that doesn't tell the entire story, so I try to keep an eye on his breathing also. Really, his breathing is probably the most telling thing right now if he's working very hard or not.I'll continue to condition Serts. I'm not looking to get him into competition again. That ship sailed a long time ago, but it's nice that he looks more fit and when my other 2 were not rideable, that gave me something to do.TannaTanna ready to ride!I've been riding Tanna for almost 3 weeks now. Right now, we're doing about 60% walking and 40% trotting over 2.75 miles. Slowly adding distance every week.  And I mean SLOWLY. Like 1/4 mile a week. I aim for an overall average of about 4.5 - 4.7 mph, but less is ok. I get a little concerned when it's over 5.Tanna likes these rehab rides. We can mosey and eat grass!!Tanna pulled a shoe on his Friday outing, so he's on the bench until my farrier comes out and puts it back on. I'm not terribly concerned. Right now, rest and babying is what Tanna needs. Although, when I rode Serts and then took Sasha out without taking him today, Tanna followed me around as if he was asking when it was his turn! Awwww.SashaMe and my Sasha girl!I started riding Sasha exactly 4 weeks after her pull at Black Sheep Boogie. I've ridden her 4 times so far, ranging from 4.4 miles to 6.8 miles in length and in average speed from 4.8 mph to 5.9 mph. She has remained sound under saddle and in the field with no evidence of heat, swelling or any issue on that right front.Sasha enjoys the premium hay she gets during saddling and unsaddling.Sasha is the hardest of my 3 to keep to a reasonable speed. She sees no reason to walk. It's beneath her and quite frankly boring. So she has to liven it up with spooks and leaps with double barrel kicks and feigned attempts to bolt when a car passes. And this is my JR horse, folks...I swear she knows the difference, though, and is much more of an angel with Lillie.My 3 wondering which one I'm "after"I'm so excited to be able to ride all 3 of my horses. I'm a bit tired and I have the weirdest tan lines from wearing various sleeve and tight lengths, but I'm very happy that right now, all 3 horses seem to be doing well.[...]

Lame Update

Sun, 17 Jul 2016 23:27:00 +0000

This week I had a follow-up visit for Tanna and Sasha for a lameness evaluation.At the vetTanna has had 9 1/2 weeks of downtime after his pull at Biltmore. Some of that was stall-bound or in a small paddock, but the last 30 days were out on pasture. He showed brilliantly for the vet. Very free and easy trot. Very fluid, not a hint of an issue. Cleared for light riding! Yay!!!Riding Tanna for the first time in 9.5 weeks!!So this week, I rode him 3 times. 3 miles (45-50 minutes) each time. Mostly walking. About 10-15 minutes of light trotting spread out through each workout. Today I rode him for the 3rd time and I decided to back off and only ride him once more this week. He is still sound and looked fine, but I felt like he did too much trotting today with too much animation, so I'm going to be safe and let him rest it out.Tanna dozing before a ride this week.I am so happy to be riding Tanna again. I've missed the rhythm of his steps!Sasha is just now 3 weeks post pull at Black Sheep Boogie. We saw the vet earlier this week and she looked good. Nothing really to see, but we decided to give her 2 more weeks of pasture rest before starting her back to work. So that means another week of rest and back to work for her.Serts waiting for a ride, decked out in Tanna's saddle.Serts has been back to work for a bit. I'm slowly giving him more speed. We're still doing about 5 miles at each outing, but we're bumping up the speed and the number of times he gets ridden. He's on the calendar for 2-3 rides each week. I want him in shape for some general trail riding. And it's just good for him to have a job.I'm cautiously optimistic. With my new training schedule for running a half marathon this fall and working Serts and Tanna and soon Sasha, I'll be a busy, active person.[...]

Endurance Blues (my rendition)

Mon, 27 Jun 2016 21:24:00 +0000

This season has been fraught with challenges. I ended last season with 2 50 miles horses. Fit and happy. I pulled their shoes and gave them approximately 6-8 weeks off before bringing them back. And the trouble started.Tanna blew an abscess right before the Camp Osborn Boy Scout Powwow ride in early February. This left me with Sasha only to take to do a 50. I had planned to do a 50 there with me on Tanna and Lillie on Sasha. With only Sasha available, I went by myself. We finished that 50, but she was short-striding on the right rear and we managed to squeak out the completion.Next up was Yellowhammer in mid-March. Should have been plenty of time to work on Sasha and get Tanna legged up after his blown abscess. I planned a 55 and a 50 on Tanna and Sasha respectively. (No, I wasn't leaving Lillie out, she had school obligations and couldn't come!)Tanna got better from his first abscess and not a week later blew another abscess on another foot! Well, fiddlesticks. I altered his ride from a 50 to a 25 and we went to Yellowhammer anyway.Sasha started the 55 well, but 16 miles into the first loop came up lame. Right hind. I walked her into the vet check and we were pulled. Some rest and diagnostic work and we ended up injecting her hocks. This kept her out of Biltmore.Sasha waiting to see our vet after the Yellowhammer pull.Back to Tanna and Yellowhammer. He was a complete jerk at Yellowhammer and finished the 25 in fine style. I took him out and ran him another 4.5 mile loop to get the willies out. A fine, fit horse, ready to go again. Yahoo. Even with Sasha out, I felt good about Tanna.Since I was messing about with Sasha and figuring out her issues, I entered Tanna in the 50 at Biltmore. I teamed up with a great friend. We've ridden hundreds, if not thousands, of miles together on these 2 horses. But this time was way different. They were talking, communicating, egging each other on. And on and on. We were not going fast! The horses were just being silly and forward and fighting us. Finally, after two loops, we had to split up and I stayed back at the vet check for an extra 20 minutes to let them go along. Halfway through the last loop, Tanna became intermittently lame and was consistent by the final trot out.Tanna at the vet, prepping for x-rays on the right front.Lots of things I could have/should have changed about the Biltmore ride, but I didn't and who knows if it would have changed the outcome. Tanna is still lame from that and is in the middle of a 30 day pasture rest period. The suspect at this point is a collateral ligament injury, but without an MRI, we can't specifically tell. The initial treatment (rest) is the same, so we're doing rest now. The MRI may come later. We'll see.So, back to Sasha!! She had been on rest and then her hocks injected. Her first big training ride after that was at Biltmore, where we did a 15 mile loop in fine style. She looked and felt great with no hint of lameness or discomfort. Yahoo. Since Tanna was on the disabled list, back to focusing on Sasha.The next ride was Summer Slam, the same camp and trails as the Powwow ride. So I took Sasha down there and did a really hot 50 on her. She finished really well. A little issue with the heat, but overall, fine style. No hint of lameness. Good to GO! Yay, got my girl back!!So this past weekend, we headed up to Ohio for the Black Sheep Boogie and entered the 50. Things were going really well. We were riding our own ride, walking the mud, trotting the good terrain. Walking the hills. Settling in for a long, hot day. And 8.5 miles in. Head bob. Hmmm. Really? Maybe just a mis-step. Another 1/4 mile, another few head bobs. Hop off, pick out hooves. Rock in left hind (lame on right front). Didn't think that would be the cause, but maybe, so hopped back on. Head bob. Sigh. We're done. No more. We walk back into camp and pull.Daniel an[...]

Spring rides

Sun, 22 May 2016 20:01:00 +0000

I've done only 2 rides this spring besides the Pow Wow ride. I've had some challenges along the way that I should have been blogging about, but haven't. So I'll try to get some of that out today.SashaDuring the Pow Wow ride in February, I mentioned that Sasha had some trouble with her right hind during her 50 there. She completed and was fit to continue, but was progressing to the point that if we'd been on a 75 or 100, I don't think she would have completed that. I gave her some time off, conditioned her some more and then we went to Yellowhammer in mid-March to do the 55 there.Sasha before a recent training ride.At the 55, Sasha came up lame about 16 miles into the first loop. I walked her back into camp and sure enough, right hind again. We pulled, of course, and that was the end of my day.I got an appointment with my local vet first thing Tuesday morning. He went over her with a fine tooth comb, but by then she was not showing anything specific to her right hind. She was, however, showing signs of hock soreness in both left and right. About the same level of soreness.I took her home and rested her and lightly worked her, but she never was quite right. One thing I had noticed about Sasha and finally came to the forefront of my mind. She wasn't walking right. Not just short-striding on the trot, but she was short striding at the walk. She normally has a slight over-stride where her hind hoof lands just in front of the hoof print of the front hoof on the same side. As I thought about it, she hadn't been over-striding since before the Pow Wow ride in February.At the next lameness checkup with my vet, Sasha was still showing hock soreness about the same level as before, so we chose to inject both hocks. After 3 more days of rest, I put her into light work. She was much better. Over-striding again at the walk and much more comfortable under saddle and looking well after each conditioning ride.Beautiful views at the Biltmore estate. I got to ride Sasha in a training ride the day before I rode Tanna in the 50.I'm going to try another 50 with Sasha soon, but this time, we are going to go very slow. Harkening back to my early days where I was always the last or in the last 3 to finish. Walk a lot, trot some, a bit of cantering. Enjoy the day and get my money's worth.TannaTanna ended up having 2 abscesses back to back that kept him out of conditioning too late to get him into a 50 at Yellowhammer in mid-March. So after my pull with Sasha, I did the 25 mile ride on him the next day. Tanna was an absolute maniac. Very, very forward. He wanted to run the entire time. I managed to keep him to a 4 hour ride time, but after the completion exam, I saddled him back up and we went and ran another 4.5 mile loop until he was more pliable. He wasn't tired, but he was also more ready to pay attention and listen.We continued conditioning and I took him to Biltmore in early May for a 50. Again, he was very very forward and would not pay much attention to me. It was worse because we rode with a horse that also had very forward energy and they fed off one another. Tanna and I have ridden many miles beside, behind or in front of that horse and this was by far the worst they've ever fed off one another. Finally, after 35 miles, we separated.Tanna was still very forward, but more controllable on the last loop. Halfway through the loop, I felt him go off on the right front every now and again. I thought he was a little foot sore, so walked more and stayed on the softer ground. Unfortunately, by the time we finished that loop, he was fairly consistently lame on the right front. We got pulled at the finish.Tanna resting in his stall during his enforced downtime.I thought abscess, again! But when I took him to my vet, it was not an abscess. He was stalled for 10 days and then was much better. Still off a littl[...]

Time to focus on riding!!

Fri, 11 Mar 2016 22:30:00 +0000

Over the past several months, I've been focused on my own fitness and my goal of finishing a marathon.

The horses were on break for the first half of that, then Tanna got an abscess, which kept him (and Lillie) away from competing at the Camp Osborn Pow Wow ride. Tanna immediately blew a second abscess on a different hoof 2 weeks after the first, which kept him out of training for a couple more weeks.

Tanna and me at a training ride a couple weeks ago.

Now that my marathon is done and Tanna seems to be ready to rock again, it's time to ride!! I have 4 rides lined up this spring, including, I hope, getting Lillie to do another 50 on Sasha.

Time changes this weekend, so I'm looking forward to lots of good training rides!

Front: Sasha and Lillie
Behind: Tanna and me
A recent training ride.

Letter to AERC Board of Directors

Tue, 01 Mar 2016 00:38:00 +0000

This is a letter I sent to the AERC Board of Directors. I decided to post it here for anybody else to read that might care to know my thoughts. Comments are welcome.In order to follow along, you might want to read the Endurance News article that prompted this letter.Dear All, This is in response to the article "The New Reality" in the February 2016 edition of the Endurance News. I would like to address each numbered point in the article.We do not need a new division for trail riders. We are a long distance competitive organization. There are plenty of organized trail rides and trail ride organizations. We do not need to fill that niche. The Intro rides offered by Ride Managers as they feel moved to offer them are enough.We are a unique organization, please let's retain our sense of who we are.If the BLM or private land owners won't allow an endurance ride to be held on their land, that's their prerogative and we don't have to hold an event there. If we (horseback riders) are in danger of losing trails for basic access, that's a different matter and we can still help that cause, even if we are never allowed to hold an event there. Please do not redefine endurance. Rides of at least 50 miles are endurance as defined by our founders and we should not abandon that. If we have a need for 40 mile rides, let them be run under the Limited Distance (Level 1, whatever you want to call it) rules, but not endurance. Let's not lower the bar. If everybody could do it, it wouldn't be an attractive goal for those of us that like to stretch ourselves while keeping our horse partners happy and healthy.A trail rating system sounds good at the outset, but there are so many variables that go into the difficulty of a trail, it would be hard to quantify. And who would decide what makes a ride hard or easy? Depending on training terrain and climate conditions, a hot, rocky, mountain ride can be easier for a particular horse than a flat, deep sand ride. I think ride managers should be encouraged to provide accurate trail descriptions (which I believe many/most do already) and leave it at that.I don't think we need a new division to take care of the gap between Limited Distance mileage and Endurance mileage. Perhaps we could extend the Limited Distance division to include 40 mile rides, but I'm not sure there is a good enough reason to have 45 mile rides. If you can do 45, you can do 50, both from a trail layout perspective and a horse perspective. However, that 40 mile ride should adhere to the same rules as the current Limited Distance rules, including the time limit. If a trail is too tough to safely complete in the time limits of our sport, perhaps that venue is not a good choice for an endurance ride. That is part of the game, balancing the time limit with the terrain and horse at hand. Part of the game for the rider as well as part of the game for the ride manager to layout/design the course with the time limits in mind.Standalone Limited Distance rides might sound good at the outset, but I don't know how well they would pan out, especially the example of a place where camping is not allowed. If people drive in the morning of an event, they have to be within a close distance of that venue and what is likely to happen is to have all the local riders that normally train that venue just come and do a training ride together. I don't see what that will solve or that it will bring in new riders. When I helped with the Trace Tribute ride in Tennessee, we had some locals show up for the Limited Distance ride the morning of, but it certainly wasn't enou[...]

First Competition of 2016

Mon, 08 Feb 2016 03:41:00 +0000

PrelimI originally signed myself up to ride the 50 on Tanna and my niece, Lillie, to ride the 50 with me on Sasha. Unfortunately, Tanna got an abscess the week before the ride and knocked him out. Without another horse for me to sponsor her on, Lillie was unable to ride.The TripDaniel and I loaded up Sasha and Tanna on Wednesday about 9 AM and headed down to south GA for the Camp Osborn Boy Scout Pow Wow. I brought Tanna along to keep an eye on his foot. He'd popped the abscess, but still needed some care for it.We had hoped to be in camp well before dark, but the traffic slowed us down by a good bit and it was after dark when we arrived. We drove into some good rain and radar showed it had been raining at ride camp a good amount (yellow and red) for a good long time before we got there.We pulled straight off the driveway and pulled in far enough to safely put the horses out on the high ties. Put out hay, water, walked the dogs and the horses and then went to bed early. It rained and rained overnight, pouring more and more water on saturated and flooded ground.The Day BeforeOn Thursday, I was scheduled for a run, a long run. As long a run as I could manage. But due to the weather, the saturated ground and the fact that I didn't want to run dirt/sand roads for miles on end, I wimped out.THE tractor!We tried to get the trailer turned around to park a bit better, but unfortunately, got stuck. Daniel immediately stopped and we waited for the TRACTOR to come pull us out. This was not a tiny little putzy tractor, but a nice, big, yummy, John Deere Green Tractor! I was in complete awe watching that thing so I forgot to video it pulling us out as I just watched.Once the trailer got parked, Daniel and I stomped down as much of the ruts as we could. Then I went back to the trailer, putting things right and getting my vet check stuff together and over to where we would vet check.Friday grazing.When Joe got there, we had a place all ready for him to park next to us. He unloaded Kit and Friday and I hand-grazed them while he and Daniel got Joe's new, shiny rig parked, set up and an electric pen set up for the horses. Both horses were very well behaved, but I insisted no rolling. I didn't want to try to handle both of them rolling at the same time in hand. I can handle my two rolling in hand at the same time, but didn't want to try it with Joe's horses.Joe's shiny trailer.Next was registration in a nice warm office. I made sure Kim had changed my horse registration to Sasha and got my ride card.Registration. Kim teaching the next generation of ride management!At vet in, I left Tanna at the trailer and took Sasha up to vet. Boy, what a pain she was! Spinning and hollering for Tanna and dancing around like she had ants all over. I apologized to the vet and was a bit embarrassed, especially when Sasha went into a buck and a canter during the trot out. I backed her several feet until she gave in and trotted the rest of the way. She still vetted in with a 48 pulse. For as idiotic as she was being, I would have thought much higher!Ride meeting was held in the Boy Scouts' dining hall. It was much nicer in there without the cold wind! 50s would do a 3.5 mile trail loop, an 11ish mile road loop, then do a trot by near camp and back out for a 12.5 mile loop before returning to camp for a 60 minute hold. Next was a repeat of the 12.5 mile loop and another 60 minute hold. Last loop was a repeat of the 11ish mile loop. Start at 7:30 AM for all riders. Around 63 total starters between the 25-mile and 50-mile distances.Ride DayBefore the rideUp at 5:30, I gave the horses their breakfast and crawled back in bed for 30 minutes to slowly wake up. Up for good at 6 AM, I got dressed and Daniel made grits for breakfast.  Sa[...]

Winter Break

Fri, 18 Dec 2015 18:00:00 +0000

Tanna and Sasha are on winter break. Time to get them out and do a few little rides if I can find the time in decent weather. They will get shoes back on the 2nd week in January and then training for them will resume in earnest.

In the meantime, I have ramped up my own training schedule and am training for a marathon! I have another blog to chronicle my running adventures. I'd be happy to have you pop over there to share in my training!

Journey to a Marathon - A first-timer's journey to the marathon distance

Blackwater Boogie 2015

Sun, 15 Nov 2015 19:45:00 +0000

I finished up my 2015 endurance season this past weekend at Blackwater Boogie. Daniel and I took Sasha down on Thursday. We usually try to arrive 2 days before an event, but this time we had to leave on Thursday. We left at 5:30 AM and took our time getting down there. We only had Sasha, so we did a minimal camp set up and left it at that. We were parked close enough to vet check from the trailer and I had all my vet check stuff handily packed and ready to go. We had quite a bit of time to relax and chat.minimal camp set upRide meeting revealed that we would start at 7 AM, despite the fact that it would be light by 6 (sunrise at 6:11). Since this is after the time change, sunset would be at 4:53 PM. Further, the vet holds would be 50 minutes each instead of 40 minutes as I had expected.Sasha @ bedtime before the rideI had planned to do a slow and steady ride with Sasha. This was her first season, her 4th 50 and she just did a fantastic job of doing a 50 at Spook Run (carrying Lillie) just 2 weeks before. But with the compressed time frame, I decided I'd better bump up my expectations and try to keep a good steady 7 mph average. I had wanted a 6 mph pace originally. I figured I would see how she handled the pace and if I had to drop back and I wouldn't finish before dark, I would rider option at the second vet check.Ride morning was cool, but not too bad. After saddling Sasha, I tossed a wool blanket over her hindquarters to keep her warm. When I went to get on her, Sasha had a bucking fit!! She has never done that under saddle before. I'd forgotten to remove said wool blanket before getting on her. Well, that was fun. I did not come off and she stopped bucking after 5 or 6 good hard bucks that made sure the wool blanket was on the ground.After that excitement, Sasha turned back into my sensible girl again and we warmed up. With Tanna, in his early years, I had to go out at the back of the pack. He could not keep his brain intact in a group that early in the ride. Sasha is wonderful in a group, pays attention to me and is quiet, so I did not waste any time hanging around camp at the start.First loop, we went out at a fairly fast pace. I kept her at a trot and just under 10 mph.  The first 5 miles took us 34 minutes. Yikes, too fast. After that I was able to start getting her to walk more to bring down the average speed.I had one of my GPS watches (yes, I was wearing two...) set to auto-lap every mile. I had the screen set up to show me how long we'd been out on the loop (Timer), the current average pace for this mile, and total distance. Since it was lapping every mile, I knew if the distance said 4.54 miles, I was a bit over half way through the mile.If you're curious, my second GPS was set to show me Sasha's heart rate, current speed, average speed for the loop (not just the current mile) in mph, and again, the total distance for the loop.My goal pace for every mile was 8 minutes 34 seconds. I reset my expectations for every mile. I didn't try to slow down enough to "make up" for the faster miles we did at the start as the other horses were shaking out into their grooves. If we'd found ourselves riding with another rider, that would have been fine, but my goals were my goals and that's what I was going to do.We settled into a rhythm where Sasha trotted for a good portion of the mile and then we walked for 1-2 tenths of a mile to get the average pace for the mile back down to a reasonable level. We did the first loop in just over 2.5 hours.Sasha came into the check looking great. Her HR was immediately down. Daniel met me at the in-timer and we got her to our trailer, pulled her tack and back to pulse in just 7 minutes. 55 pulse, [...]

Sasha - 1 Year Performance Review

Sun, 20 Sep 2015 01:02:00 +0000

Monday marks 1 year since I brought Sasha home. She was a good endurance prospect out of a hunter/jumper program with a very few trail rides thrown in for good measure. When I realized this was the anniversary of a change in her life and fitness, I wanted to look back at the overall, high level view of her year.I had all Sasha's training rides and competitions in Garmin Connect. I always put the horse's name in the name of the activity, so it was an easy matter to get a list of all her rides. Then I downloaded each activity from Garmin Connect to then import into SportTracks. That was the most time consuming, but well worth the effort. So here are her stats:First up is a breakdown of her 619 miles under saddle by speed. How many miles she walked, trotted, cantered.Walk: 119 miles - 19.26% Trot: 459 miles - 74.12%Canter: 32.8 miles - 5.29%And the breakdown by time:Walk: 43:19:33 - 32.53% Trot: 71:24:23 - 53.61%Canter:  2:56:46 - 2.21%Average SpeedWalk: 2.75 mphTrot: 6.43 mphCanter: 11.1 mph WhereStopped: < 1.5 mph Walk: 1.5 - 3.5 mphTrot*: 3.5 - 10 mphCanter: 10+ mph*Trot as I've defined it here will include some fast walking and jigging, but I didn't want to add too many slices to the pie. I wanted a quick and dirty look at how Sasha's training over the last year has progressed.This includes all training rides, 2 50 mile endurance rides, 1 30 mile LD and 3 25 mile LDs. All miles were on trail or road riding. Arena/round pen work and "pasture runs" were left out.Tools used for this blog post:  Garmin Forerunner 910xt ORGarmin Forerunner 920xt Analysis Software:SportTracks 3 ($79) - Zone Five SoftwareMPH Calculator (Since ST didn't give me the averages walk/trot/canter speed I wanted) 1 awesome 12-year-old Arabian mareSasha and me at Iron Mountain Jubilee in August 2015[...]

Iron Mountain Jubilee 2015

Sun, 30 Aug 2015 19:36:00 +0000

Spoiler Alert - I had an awesome weekend!!! :)Daniel and I arrived at camp Wednesday evening in time to get settled in before dark.After a full 8 hours of sleep (unheard of for me at a ride), I headed out for a morning run. I was cold!! It was about 55 degrees out and I was dressed for 80 degree weather. It took me 2 miles to stop freezing and another 2 miles before I finally felt comfortable. I ran along the New River Trail, which is a multi-use (cycling, horses, pedestrians) trail, flat and groomed within an inch of its life. It is tiny crushed gravel, so no mud and no pavement. Nothing to trip me up or get in my way, so I could sight see as I ran.I like the run/walk method of training for events for me and the horses. On my shorter runs, I try to run longer before walking, but this was a long run, so I chose to run 4 minutes and walk 1.5 minutes. This worked well to the point that I finally glanced at my GPS and saw I'd already run 4.93 miles. At the 5 mile mark, I turned around and headed back. I finished 10 miles feeling great and ready for the rest of my day.I ate some breakfast, saddled Tanna and headed toward the VA Highlands horse trail to get a look at the trail that I was a little afraid of. I had never ridden this trail before, but had heard stories. My horses are not mountain horses. We have a few small hills to train on, but that's about it. Tanna and I took our time up the switchbacks just outside of camp and then rocked and rolled through the rolling hills, just having a good time. Then we walked for a long time until we reached what I figured was the highest point on the first loop. I hopped off and we had a 10 minute break where I stretched Tanna out, focusing on his shoulders since we'd be going down hill a lot back to camp.I remounted and we zipped back down the hill. The footing was great in a lot of places. Tanna was a maniac, ready to gallop all the way home. Course, I said no to that, but did let him move out a good bit. We had a lot of fun blasting up the roller coaster hills after we crossed the pavement, walking up some of the longer ones to make sure he didn't over do it. It was a great training ride for him. I hadn't seen all the trails, of course, but I was no longer afraid of the trail. It was a totally doable trail. I was psyched for the next day.Back at camp, I gave Tanna a snack and cleaned him up. Then it was time for registering Sasha and getting her vetted in for the 30 mile ride. I fiddled around the rest of the afternoon, doing the things one does the day before a ride. Making sure my vet check stuff was together, feeding horses, walking dogs and horses, attending ride meeting.Because I was doing the 30 miler ride, I was able to sleep in and got another full 8 hours of sleep. What a weird weekend this was turning out to be, sleep-wise!Sasha and I started the 30 mid-pack, moving quickly through the first mile and a half to the switchbacks. I was fortunate to be in a small pocket where Sasha and I were by ourselves through the switchbacks. She was quite startled to have horses directly above her and below her. I talked gently to her and she managed not to have a conniption fit on the narrow trail.When the trail widened out, we had a nice run on the wide roller coaster trail. I let her go a bit too fast here because we were both having so much fun. Near the end I had to ask her to back off and walk for a bit. After the paved road, we were on a gravel road and we moved out again to make up time before hitting the longer uphill. We just walked that. Sasha was doing great, with a great attitude and a good power walk up the hill, recovering quickly from ou[...]

Gearing up for Fall Season

Sun, 23 Aug 2015 01:47:00 +0000

We've had a fun summer around here since GERA. Lots of good conditioning rides. Bringing Sasha along slowly in the heat. She has fantastic recoveries and a great attitude. Tanna is also doing well. Both horses got adjusted by our local chiropractor vet and feel ready for the fall season.Lillie has come out to ride a few times and Rinnah even got her turn to ride Sasha on a training ride and trotted a good bit of it. They are super busy kids and we live a good hour away from each other, so they don't get to ride as often as we all would like.Some random shots from our summer fun.Training ride with TannaPandora Saddle TrialWaiting for Lillie for a training ride.Rinnah riding SashaRinnah and Sasha again. Aren't they cute??The girls cleaning up after a training ride.3 of my favorite kids!Breakfast time at homeDaniel working on clearing the fence line.Crupper training for Sasha!Sasha getting shoes.Sasha getting a pre-ride snack.Taking temps is a good idea during hot, humid training rides.Sasha (left) and Tanna in their pasture.[...]

Hot Is As Hot Does

Sun, 21 Jun 2015 22:19:00 +0000

Hot. The GERA ride was HOT. And humid.Daniel and I picked up Lillie on Wednesday on the way to the GERA Endurance Ride.We got there and got parked and the horses settled. Then we sat around and sweated and chatted with the other riders arriving.Lillie and Sasha after getting settled at camp.Thursday, Lillie met another 10 year old, Aubrey, and they hung out whenever they could all weekend. Lillie and I set up our vet check, chatted with friends, got registered, chatted with friends, vetted the horses in, chatted with friends.Tanna being a good endurance horse!Lillie and Aubrey helping set up the vet check area.Towing the water truck back to camp.In the meantime, Daniel was out sweating and getting water for the entire ride. Usually the fire department delivers water to the camp and on trail, but they were unable to at the last minute. Sandy, the ride manager, was able to get some water delivered to camp from one friend and the loan of a large water truck from another. Daniel helped get the pump set up to pump water from the creek into the water truck and then took over running the truck. Unfortunately, right at ride meeting time, I got a call from Daniel to go get him. I left Lillie with Aubrey to listen to the ride meeting and I went to get Daniel.Turns out the water truck had quit on him. Likely a broken axle. Daniel had me drive our truck and he drove the water truck and I pulled the water truck to just outside of camp where it would be out of the way and easy to get onto a tow truck.Then, time to figure out how to get water for the next day. Fortunately, all the water troughs on trail were full and there was a good bit of water in camp. I asked Lillie to walk the dogs and the horses while Daniel and I powwowed with Sandy. Finally, it was decided to buy a big water tank.Friday, Lillie and I started in the back. This was Lillie's first competition on Sasha and we wanted to be sure we could ride our ride and Lillie could control Sasha. Sasha is great, but wants to move out right away.Lillie didn't want to get her feet wet. Image credit: The first loop went fairly well. It was warm and very, very humid. I was most worried about the river crossing, but Sasha went right in after Tanna. She even drank in the river. I wanted to sponge, but I also didn't want to give Sasha a chance to stop and decide she didn't like the river, so we pressed right on across. Right at the other side, it got a little deeper and Sasha began to lunge to get out. Fortunately, she got on the bank quickly and calmed immediately. No harm done. The first loop took us two hours and 15 minutes. I was very aware of the horses' heart rates and trying to keep their core temps down.Sasha determined to get out of the water asap. Image credit: UnbridledImagery.comSasha drinking out of the river. Image credit: UnbridledImagery.comInto the vet check, I was happy it only took us 10 minutes to get the horses stripped and cleaned up and over to the pulse box with just me and Lillie working since Daniel was out buying a water tank, filling it and delivering water. Tanna pulsed in at 52. Sasha at 60. Both horses got all As on their cards.I did scare Dr. Otis when I hollered at Lillie for letting Sasha trot through the tight turn at the far end of the trot out. She knows better and I was very surprised she did it that way. We had a chat about it during the second loop. Trot out. Stop, turn around, square up, trot back. No trotting through a tight turn where the horse might slip and hurt something. She admitted she got distracted and she would do bett[...]

Spring is really here!

Thu, 09 Apr 2015 22:55:00 +0000

We were scheduled to go to McCulley Farms last week for Sasha and me to do the 25 mile ride, but due to unavoidable issues at home, we didn't. Instead, on Sunday, I rode her out from the house and managed to get in just under 18 miles in 3 hours 30 minutes, including an extra long warm up, cool down and 4 climbs of our training hill.Around my place, I have to ride on or next to the road. If I want trails, I have to trailer out. Sasha has been learning all about traffic. She's been getting progressively better. She was doing so well, we kept going about 3 miles further than she'd gone out from the house before. Even around the scary big curve. She did really well with the traffic. Although one of the climbs of the hill she hit her running martingale when a car passed us. I think it surprised her, but she behaved and seemed much better about cars after that. Drivers were very courteous today, giving us space and most of them slowing down. Sasha was very, very forward. It was hard to rein her in and keep her to the 5 mph overall average and no more than 10 mph trot.A running martingale is new to my tack list. When Lillie rode Sasha last, Sasha had a mini bolt with her nose straight up in the air. While I can handle Sasha when she acts like that, I decided to put a running martingale on her when the kids ride her. And before that can happen, I need to ride her in it to be sure I know how she'll react. Most of the time she doesn't hit the martingale. She only hit it once on Sunday early in the ride and managed to keep her nose down the rest of the time. I have the RM adjusted as loose as it will go. One thing that surprised me is the weight of the rings. I use lightweight flat braid reins with biothane ends next to the bit. And the weight of the martingale is definitely noticeable.From Distance DepotSasha's conditioning is going very well. I'm quite pleased with her.Perky Sasha after her training rideTanna is just now getting under saddle again. He had a long hiatus after his 100 mile attempt. I rode him a few times, but he just wasn't quite right. This week, I took him to my vet and had a lameness evaluation done on him to look for pain. He wasn't lame per se. Just not quite right. After the exam indicated hock issues, we decided to go ahead and inject his hocks. Tanna is 21 and has 2400+ miles over 12 seasons. Likely just catching up to him.Today, I rode him for the first time since the injections and he was my old bouncy guy again. Energetic, happy, forward. The quality of his gait was so much better.Looking forward to getting to at least a couple AERC rides in the month of May. Hopefully, Tanna will be ready to do a ride by the end of May. Sasha may just get her first 50 in May or June.[...]

Today Was a Good Day

Mon, 23 Mar 2015 02:34:00 +0000

Today was not an idealistic day. Today was an adventure. Today I got to spend time with some of my favorite beings in the world. Ok, so maybe today was an idealistic day.Yesterday we went to an equestrian camp we've never been to. To ride on trails we'd never been on. Lillie (10) was going to ride Sasha on trail for the first time. When I made the reservations, the forecast was beautiful. 65. Sunny. What we got was anything from a drizzle to a steady rain. And about 58 degrees.This morning, we talked about just hanging around camp and then heading back home. This morning, I wanted to be a wimp. I convinced myself it would be good for the horses to camp overnight and go home without being ridden. I didn't want to ride in the rain. I asked Lillie. Answer? "I want to ride." So ride we did!We could have moved out after our customary 10 minute walking warm up. But Lillie was happy just walking on Sasha. Since this was their first trail ride together, I wanted it to be a good experience. Slow distance was just fine. After awhile, the trail turned where we had to walk anyway. Mud, rocks, twists and turns and ups and downs. And rain. Did I mention it was raining?After a good long walk, we met up with Daniel who had driven out to walk some trails. After we saw him, the going got scary.We ended up going down some cowboy trails (these were the official trails) that scared me. Deep, sucking mud and steep. Did I mention it was raining? Tanna was very solid and steady. But I was still scared. One slip and...whoops, don't think like that. Breathe. Sasha came sliding behind us. I coached Lillie on how to ask Sasha to tuck her rear end. I don't know if it worked. I couldn't spare much time to look back. Down at the bottom. Wow, up the other side. Ok, breathe, here we go. No, Tanna, you can't rush this; we have to walk. Go, baby, go. No, Lillie, don't let her past me. Make her walk. Good girl, Sasha. Whew, we made it! We agreed we did NOT want to do that again.We headed down the trail. Soon after there was another similar section, but a lot shorter. Into a creek. Tanna refused to go further down the creek due to very slippery rocks and a drop down. He does not refuse me often. He will try his hardest for me. Sometimes I fail him. Today, I listened. He said no, so I agreed.However, turning around meant going back the way we came. Back down the steep, muddy, long incline. And back up the other side. Lillie and I discussed it. We really had no option. So we took a deep breath (or several), adjusted our helmets and pointed our horses back the way we came. Did I mention it was raining? And I hate heights? Tevis (not that this compares to Tevis in any way shape or form) has never appealed to me because I hate heights. And Sasha had likely never seen this type of terrain anywhere? Protect us, Lord.Over the side we went. Down, down, down. Tuck that rear end. Control the descent. But don't stop. Come on, little mare, you can do it. (What on earth would I do if she refused to follow Tanna??) We all reached the bottom in one piece. Deep breath, just have to get up that hill, then we're fine. Ok, let's go. Don't let her blast up, but keep her moving. Grab mane, center my weight, come on, Tanna, up, up. What a good boy. Come on, Sasha, keep coming, girl. Wahoo!!! The top!! We are done! Thank you, Lord! The rest is a cakewalk compared to that.I think those hills would not be nearly as scary without the mud. Maybe I just need to go back and do them over and over until I'm no longer scared of them. Maybe in July. When[...]

It's been a long winter!

Thu, 12 Mar 2015 01:17:00 +0000

Hoping that now that daylight saving time has come, the good weather is not far behind!

We had a period of 3 weeks or more where we were pretty much home-bound. Nashville does not do ice and snow!

Sasha, the new mare, has settled in nicely. I did a 25 mile ride with her in November at Blackwater Boogie. She did really well for being a little mare just out of the hunter/jumper arena. That was maybe her 20th trail ride ever. She ate extremely well. I'm so used to Tanna being so picky, it's refreshing to have the mare almost knock me over to get to her food.

Tanna has been resting since his 100 mile attempt and seems ready to get back to work.

2014 AERC National Championship 100 Mile Ride

Sun, 02 Nov 2014 17:00:00 +0000

Daniel and I spent all day Sunday prepping our new trailer (picked up Saturday night!) for the trip to TX. 540-some-odd miles. Destination: AERC National Championship, Priefert Ranch, Mount Pleasant, TX.Monday morning, Daniel zipped off to the tire shop to replace the trailer spare tire while I hauled hay and finished 100 little chores.The new trailer!!Finally on the road with Tanna, entered in the 100-mile championship and Sasha, my new endurance prospect, along to be Tanna's buddy horse and get some more experiences.Trailer cam had to be added before we could leave.We arrived at camp around 7 PM and were met by the ride manager and her husband and led to where we were going to camp. Being the first non-management/volunteer rig to arrive, we got our pick of the parking. Daniel parked right across from where the trails enter and leave camp.271 overpass at nightWe were able to quickly set up camp, putting out the high ties, hay bags and water buckets. We walked the horses for a good hour, scoping out the start of the trail and walking the last mile of the loops.Tuesday, I decided to ride Sasha. I attempted to pre-ride the trail, but after the 3rd gate in 1/4 mile and lots of cows in the pastures (this IS a working ranch after all!!), I decided to retrace my steps and left the pastures behind.271 overpassAll but one of the loops out of camp passed under the new highway 271 and all the loops came back that way. When I rode Sasha out that direction, I had dismounted to walk her under it. The thump-thump-thumping overhead scared her pretty badly, so I was glad to have dismounted. Since I decided to not pre-ride the trail after all, I spent 45-60 minutes getting Sasha used to the overpass. First we stood back and I let her watch the trucks and cars going overhead. And she did look. After she was bored, I moved her closer until we were under the overpass. We did leading games for a good long while under the overpass until her reactions were mild and her heart rate reasonable.Sasha and I finished up our ride by doing 4 or 5 laps around the field that made up the last mile for all trails.I got a quick shower and walked the horses before my boss showed up to see how we camp and how I spend my off time. Daniel and I showed off our new trailer and then we all headed to eat at the nearby Chili's.Sasha after her 15 mile training ride.Wednesday, I rode Sasha again. I dispensed with the idea of trying to open the gates and just stayed in the large field next to camp. Round and round and round we went...for over 15 miles. Good enough recovery and performance to make me think she might be able to try a 25 mile ride in the near future.Wednesday afternoon, we checked in for the 100 mile ride and vetted in. We zipped off to the nearby Walmart for a few last-minute things and back for the ride meeting.Thursday morning, alarm at 4:30, mounted by 5:45, start at 6 AM in the dark. I used my "nighttime" helmet that has a light mounted to it. Also had a Garmin Virb camera mounted.Loops 26 miles, 25 miles, 15, 10, 11, 11. With hold times 50, 50, 40, 30, 30.The riders all started at a walk. We soon picked up a slow trot and stayed together for awhile, but then we all begin to separate. By the time we reached the first gate into the ranch, Tanna and I had separated to the back. Tanna does much better on his own in these situations. Has a much better attitude and pays attention to his feet.I have to pause here and comment on the gates. We went through a lot of ga[...]

Playing Catch Up (Again)

Wed, 22 Oct 2014 23:00:00 +0000

Ok, so it's been a long time. I have this thought that every blog post should be insightful and wordy. I should get over that and just keep things simple and quick. Mhmm.

Well, so quickly.

This season has turned out very differently than planned.

I had planned to do Lillie's first 50 this year. Maybe even Rinnah's. Unfortunately, their horse, Rain, was not suitable for us and we returned him to his owner (he was on lease). So the girls have not been able to compete this season.

I had planned to do Snap's first AERC ride(s) this season. Instead, I woke up one day and realized that I am not a horse trainer, I do not play one on TV and I really didn't need to be breaking Snap. So I made a tough decision to sell him. So he is gone.

We are currently evaluating a mare for the new addition to the herd. If we buy her, I will do an intro later. If not, well, then I'm still looking for that perfect horse. I decided that 4 horses was a little much, so we just have the one spot in the pasture.

Tanna has had a decent season. We have completed 3 50s so far this year. We started a 4th one at Biltmore in July. He was rocking right along when he came up lame just before the 2nd vet check. It turned out to be an abscess. So I went from being disappointed to being amazed that Tanna did 29 miles with a brewing abscess. He really does give and give.

Serts is hanging out being a good retiree.

Regarding Omeprazole

Wed, 09 Apr 2014 02:51:00 +0000

The April 2014 edition of the Endurance News has an article discussing the possibility of allowing endurance horses in AERC events to compete while on Omeprazole.A common argument, I've heard: "everybody else does it." Really? I was told by my mama at a very young age that particular argument wasn't valid. The common rejoinder "if everybody jumped off a cliff…?" I'm not equating allowing omeprazole with jumping off a cliff, however, the argument "everybody does it" still isn't valid.As I thought about this issue, several questions came to mind.Will marginal horses that should have been weeded out of the sport be allowed (even encouraged) to continue to compete to their detriment and the detriment of the sport? (I can think of at least one horse that was weeded out of the sport, and rightly so, due to continued issues with ulcers. Would this rule have allowed him to keep running until something worse happened?) Should we be letting people take the easy way out by dosing their horse with a drug, rather than managing the horse better? There are management techniques to deal with horses that don't or won't eat due to stress. And keeping a full belly is a good start to managing a horse prone to ulcers. The article in the Endurance News points out this rule change is really to benefit multi-day horses and cautions that drugs are not the [only] answer. Management is still key. However, will people really try to go down the management route before putting drugs into their horse if it's sanctioned by AERC?Since Omeprazole is used for treatment and prevention of ulcers, where do we draw the line on allowing horses being treated for ulcers to compete? Is there a way to tell if the horse is being treated vs just on preventative? Will drug test levels tell us that? If so, will drug test levels tell us whether the horse is on preventative or just at the start of their treatment phase for a full blown case of ulcers?Do we really know the long-term effects of allowing Omeprazole for endurance horses? From my understanding, the drug inhibits acid production. Stomach acid is part of the digestive process and is required to help breakdown the foodstuffs the horse is eating. If not enough acid is present, then the effect could be to dump undigested food into the hind gut, which can change the PH of the hind gut and cause the death of healthy microbial population which is necessary for fiber breakdown. Is the hind gut any less important than the stomach? What's scary is we can't really check for that. I can't get a scope of my horse's hind gut. That only can happen at an autopsy.If we're going to allow Omeprazole, what about allowing Ranitidine (another ulcer treatment that also is good for hind gut ulcers) or Sucralfate (a coating agent; also reportedly good for hind gut)? Why just Omeprazole?Currently the rules allow for a full dose of Gastrogard (Omeprazole at a full tube; a treatment dose) 24 hours before the start of a ride. And a horse can be given anything they want after a completion exam. Is there really a need to allow dosage of Omeprazole during a vet check?I believe AERC as an organization needs to be comfortable with the answers to these questions before making this important decision.* A good article discussing Equine Ulcers by Kerry J. Ridgeway, DVM[...]