Tuesday, August 28, 2012

10,000 thanks & giveaway

Holy crap, y'all!  Sometime during last night my blog surpassed 10K views!  That is absolutely crazy! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I never thought I'd see such a # - especially in less than two years of blogging. I guess its about time for another giveaway; this time in thanks. What say you to a hand made halter like my horses wear in a color of your choosing for your own horse? Or, for the non-horse followers, a hand-knitted hat for you or a member of your family - winter is coming after all! The winner can choose which they would prefer.

Stripey hat (I can do designs, too, but nothing crazy, please!)
Fat yarn hat.
Q in her purple halter.

To enter: 
  1. Leave a comment on this post.
  2. Include your email in this comment - I will announce the winner on the blog and email that person.
  3. State whether you would prefer a hat for yourself or a halter for your horse and what color you want your hat/the noseband on the halter to be  (and why if you want to entertain me with a story). 
  4. Optional: Tell me your favorite story/anecdote you've read in the time you've been "following" me. (I put follow in quotations as I don't follow mos of you via blogger but instead have subscribed in Google reader. I loyally read though!)

I will close the giveaway and announce the winner next SATURday, September 8, 2012.

Thanks again to everyone who has been reading and following along. Many of you have become good friends and are a constant source of great advice and encouragement.

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In line with the "great advice and encouragement", I have decided I will do the 50 mile race at the Kentucky Stampede in October. I never want to be a crazy front-runner racer; my career with my horses in endurance will likely be one of beating previous races vet scores, beating the clock, beating personal bests, and conquering things that proved to be challenging before. The 50 mile distance sounds ideal to me, and to complete it with a happy, healthy, sound horse is all I'm really looking to do. I'm not in it for the prizes or the placing so much.  I just love working in tandem with my animals, seeing some of the most beautiful country in the process, and meeting some really incredible people along the way. So thanks to those of you who commented and helped cement my decision. =)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

25 or 50?

I'm headed to the KY Stampede in October. Sonya was going to ride with me, we were planning to do the 25. Sonya told me the other day that it will likely just be me riding and not her (I think (hope) she found a buyer for her horse). This means I should have a crew of at least two.

There are 51 days to go until this race. Plenty of time to keep conditioning.

Q completed 39 training miles in this past week alone. She is doing remarkably well with what she is given and exceeding my expectations and then some.

Since I only have myself to worry about on this ride now - not another horse and rider to also think about - I am stuck with a bit of a dilemma. 25 or 50? I could do a FAST 25 - Q is to the point where she could ROCK that, or I could do a slow 50 - Q should be able to handle this just fine.

So, endurance blogger friends, I ask you - even if you have never in your life commented on one of my posts but have read them - please comment and let me know what you would advise I do? You've been following along enough (hopefully) to see where we've been and what we've done and how she's coming along and how I'm coming along to be able to advise us fairly well. What say you?

Yes, this photo again because I love it.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Spruce Knob ride

I had a long weekend last weekend and I went with the ladies for an end-of-summer riding trip. We rode 25 miles over two days and had an additional 8-10 miles planned for the last day, but un-predicted rain struck us down. 

We rode around Spruce Knob – the highest point in WV and many other surrounding states. This area has been near and dear to me since I was a kid. I absolutely love it up there and it is one of two places in WV that I’ve always dreamed of riding. It was so, so nice to finally have the opportunity to ride there. It was so beautiful! It was also very nice to get to see parts of the area that I haven’t seen before.

My go-to kit lens that I take riding with me on my DSLR is on the outs though – so I didn’t get too many photos. I did however take a bajillion videos! As I find the time over the next month or so I plan to incorporate these clips into a DVD with music for the ladies who went to have for Christmas.

I wish I’d had the opportunity to ride up there pre-Smokies trip. While the amount of drop-offs along the single-track were very minimal compared to the Smokies, the rocky nature of the trails and the single-track would have been beneficial to experience ahead of time. Seeing and experiencing them all post-Smokies made them seem like cake though.

Definitely rode some of the muddiest, muckiest, over-used trails ever while we were up there. I was very impressed with my Renegades and even the EasyBoot gloves as they stayed on through all the muck. I did very minimal trotting/cantering, but at a walk (which one should take through such nastiness) the boots performed phenomenally. I can’t wait to order Renegades for Q’s hinds next month though – I hate having to worry about the gloves coming off. It’s a pain to have to check or ask others to look repeatedly. While I may trust the gloves a little more now than I did, I still have zero faith in them at a faster pace. They’ve come off every other time.

Q seems to be holding her conditioning very well. This was the first I’d ridden her since the race. After a 13-mile first day she was rearin’ to go the second day. I had to hold her back to the point where my arms hurt for the first half of the second day. And even after the ride was nearly over, she still pushed forward. I wish I’d had my Endomondo app turned on to record our speed for the last mile of the ride that day (there is no cell service up there so despite GPS capabilities with my phone I just didn’t even consider having it on).

When we hit the gravel road back to camp for that last little bit she popped into this INCREDIBLE trot. Like 8-10 mph trot. I know this because I rode a horse that has a trot like that back in July. Flippin’ incredible. She extended so far and covered soooo much ground so quickly. The TWH - a daughter of The Pusher - we were riding with could NOT keep up. (After listening to the gaited horse community in the Smokies whine about how ungaited horses can never keep up, I find this very amusing. Nothing against anyone with gaited horses – Funder, Dixie is wonderful. J)

Aspen, the Pusher baby

All in all, a great trip. Thankful to have been invited. Scored a killer new margarita recipe (called "Knock You Naked Margaritas") from the experience, and I had a blast riding with folks who are so knowledgeable of our backcountry. Definitely want to get up there again!
Nomming and breaking in a high elevation meadow; Love my girl!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

New Experiences

Life has been a whirlwind these past few weeks. I’ve been gone so much and playing catch-up the days I was home. All is well and good though, nothing crazy.

Last weekend was a long one for me, and it was wonderful. Once I get the time to edit the few photos I got I will post more about it. A group of ladies and our horses headed up to the Spruce Knob area (WV's highest point) for 3½ days of riding. So nice to get away. It was even chilly enough to ride in long sleeves! Autumn weather seems to have really sunk in. Typical to this region of the Appalachians, our mornings are cool (in the 50s) with fog, and our afternoons are warm (in the upper 70s/low 80s), blue sky beautiful with a slight breeze. Oh and that humidity thing? GONE. THIS is why autumn is my favorite season. This is the kind of weather I LIVE for!

The upcoming weeks look good for lots of horse activity for me. The weather has become autumn-like in a hurry around here and I LOVE it. PERFECT trail riding/being outside weather. I’m excited to get out and enjoy it as much as possible. 

: : : : :

Tuesday night both horses got to experience some new things - and they both exceeded my expectations.

Griffin was up first: After putting the bridle on him a week-ish ago, letting him stand with it on, then driving him with it, he has really begun to accept it. I decided to give things a go with him in full tack (sans flopping stirrups). On went the saddle pad, saddle, and girth. NBD. In with the bit and on with the bridle. NBD. He handled the bridling like an old pro. 

I left his halter on underneath to attach the lunge line to and put him through a bit of work. No bucking, no crow hopping, no nothing. Sure, kid has had a saddle on before, but its been AGES. He's a champ (and a dog hater. Speaking of dog, Kenai has reached a new level of horse bullying...biting at horses' hocks. This will be stopped in short order. Little snot thinks he can get away with murder while I'm working a horse. No more, no more. Zapping will occur next week. That's a promise.)

After a short lunging session with Griffin I wanted to see how he would do with flexing with pressure from the bit. He did a few circles before he realized that all I was asking him to do was flex to the side and not move his feet. Once that clicked he did it again and again with the slightest pressure. I hope he stays this soft!

Coming to see me in the field per his norm
He's a lover
And he ignores me sometimes

Ending on a positive note with Griffin, I moved on to Q: While my CoolBak girth has greatly helped with the saddle sliding situation, its still not 100% if we have an extended time on a downhill. The ride last weekend really proved that. Sure, it was something I could have walked down and not had this issue, but frankly, at as slow a pace with as many breaks as we took, Q wasn't in dire risk of injury. And, frankly, she's much more sure-footed than I!! I tend to be a clutz.

So, Tuesday night was the night to see how she would react to a crupper. *Joy* On went the saddle and girth with a bit more jigging than her norm. I figured with her being this cued up (the reason she got her name), if she would have an issue with a crupper, I would definitely know it.

I put the crupper on and adjusted it (I need to read up on this more to be certain) and she clamped her tail down, but nothing more. Okay.... She took a startled step or two while I went to get the lunge line, but nothing more. Hmm.... Onto the lunge line and out away from me. Her only response was first a clamped tail, then an awkwardly curved tail flag, and then she proceeded to flag her tail 85% normal with a slightly awkward curl. Well then.... Excellent. Lets go take a 10 minute ride and see what comes of this.

On went my helmet and off we went. She scooted around a little more than normal, but we never left the far field that she can still see home from, so its hard to say what the reason was for her excessive jigging. I got enough of a preview with the crupper on to trust her to not kill me if we do a steep trail ride with it - so that will come next week. Quite pleased with the little girl's reaction.

: : : : :

Wednesday night I wanted to get in at least 10 miles on Q. I decided to do the rail trail and my mom joined me on her bike. Neither of us had someone to ride with and we travel at about the same pace. 

It was a BUSY night on the rail trail - a beautiful night, so its no wonder. Would have made for great promotional photos, too. Multiple bikes, some walkers, runners, and a horse all at the same point on the trail. Coexisting in happiness...but only because Q is such a champ and doesn't get freaked by all these things. 

She's lost most of her cresty neck, HURRAH! (post ride)

She got so used to mom on her bike that she started using her to pace off. Mom would get ahead, Q would canter faster to catch up and then slow into a wonderful rocking canter while she paced beside mom's bike. The only things she was startled/scared by on the trail were rocks (stationary), logs (stationary), and contrasting colors on the ground (i.e., dark soil [stationary]). So moving things in bright ass neon colors? NBD.

We ended up doing 14 miles and pulsing down to 60 bpm in 1h:34m. That's an average of 8.93 mph! So proud of this little horse!! In less than a week we have put in 39 miles. Tre bien, Q!

: : : : : 

And now, hoof photos!  Because everyone loves those! Okay, well, no, but SOME of you do!  

I took these post ride on Wednesday. What do you think? The horn of her hoof is still shit, but its getting better. She was really tender tonight on the pea gravel she used to be sound on. I think the Equine Senior I'm slipping into her alfalfa and other pelleted grain is potentially to blame. The sugars aren't high, but they're apparently high enough to make her tender.  Hmmm...  Please let me know what you think!!

Orange Rennies that look red from ipod photo editing
Left front
 Right front
Right hind
Left hind
Left front
Right front
Left hind
Right hind

Mumford and Sons!

I've been beyond absent on my blog these past few weeks - I didn't realize until just now that its been >10 days since I posted last. Odd for me. But c'est la vie when there is so much going on! I've barely been home. I've had two weekends away and a week of travel for work. Oi vey, how time flies when one is busy!

Two weekends ago I went to Bristol, TN/VA to see Mumford and Sons at the Gentlemen of the Road Stopover tour. This tour features Mumford and several other bands they "hand picked" and its making several stopovers across the US. I was mostly excited to get to see Mumford as I LOVE LOVE LOVE them, but it was really awesome to see [and fall in love with] some other bands, too (i.e., The Apache Relay, Justin Townes Earle, Dawes, Simone Felice).

Coolest ticket ever

Chacos and Birks and Sperrys - we're hipsters

Abby and myself

Entrance to the concert venue

Schedule of events

Mumford and Sons are from London, so the fact that I was going to gain the opportunity to see them in the US for next to nothing and get to see several other artists thrilled me. I've been absolutely in love with this band since February of 2011 when a friend introduced them to me. Since the 2011 Grammy's they have gained a lot of popularity in the US.

Stage 1 of 2 - all artists we were interested in performed on this one


Campfire post-show

Their performance was absolutely incredible. The concert venue made for limited viewing for a short person like myself, but as far as their sound and stage presence - wonderful. We got to hear a lot of their new album (releasing on Sept. 24) and the icing on the cake was their final number of the night. They had all the bands from the day come on stage with them and they all covered Old Crow Medicine Show's "Wagon Wheel". To say I was ecstatic would be an understatement. It was INCREDIBLE. Multiple harmonies intertwined as they went through one of my favorite songs ever. Love, love, love.

Overall it was a really incredible (& cheap!!) weekend. Bristol is a great little city with a lot of good eats. A great escape.

Friday, August 10, 2012


I really wanted to do a "Film Friday" with some of my GoPro footage from the race, but as I've been busy with other things and haven't had time to edit the video, so that will have to wait for another time in the future.

In other news, Griffin is back to work. He's not overly thrilled with the fact that he doesn't get grain like he used to - he's quite the Fatty McFatterson lately - but he DOES still come to me in the field and then lingers around the gate after I let him out. We've done two 20 minute lunging sessions this week and he is sweaty all over afterwards. I can't wait to work that belly off him!

We've been working on a lot of inside turns to really make him move in different ways. He used to be squealy and offended when I asked this of him, doing a half-assed charge at me and then throwing his head around in a dominance stance. He's even tossed some kicks my way in recent weeks when we'd have a session or two. Needless to say, he's VERY full of himself lately. But with the last two sessions he mellowed a lot. Now he'll roll back and pivot almost like a cow horse will do without any crankiness at all. Good horse.

Griffin's other issue of late is dog aggression/chasing. Kenai doesn't help the issue by barking at him and I can only do so much with the lunge line, whip, and my lack of 3 arms/hands. I would love for someone to be there with me who could deliver a shock reminder to Kenai when I'm working a horse on the ground so he wouldn't get in there and bark - but people willing to shock my dog are few and far between. And no, if I have someone else work the horses Kenai won't bark. He knows better than to test me. But until I can fix this issue with Kenai I have to focus on breaking Griffin of his must-chase-annoying-dog tendency. He's getting there...

I took a short little jaunt on Q yesterday. Her neck swelling from the kick has gone down slightly, but she's not tender on it at all like she was - so I figured a 20-30 minute hack wouldn't hurt her. I tossed on bareback pad and left off her boots and we just explored around. She wasn't AS bad leaving the barn this time as she was pre-race. She still challenges me for the first 100 yds. or so until we get onto a legit TRAIL where she says, "Okay, its work time." and moves out.

I am excited for our next ride in Kentucky in October. I have ample time to get her ready for it and its only a 25, 5 miles less than our race last week. I'm sure that this ride will be pretty hilly, but it can't be as bad as RBTR, so I hope we can really push through it...and I hope she isn't afraid of bugling elk since the ride flier mentions we may come across those?!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Learning to surf

You can't stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.  - Swami Satchitananda

That's the quote pushing me forward day to day lately. My horse life is wonderful.  Brilliant, really. And as it's what I tend to write about most on my blog of late, the rest of life seems to get lost in the jumble.  And currently, life outside my horses and my pup is not so stupendous.

I'm at a point in life where I just feel stuck. I'm doing my best to not be such a planner of my future like I used to be. I'm really trying to just go with the flow. And I'm better at doing that, truly. But I feel so stuck lately.

I'm beyond ready to get out of my hometown, get my own place and nest in it and decorate, explore a new place, make new friends, and *hopefully* explore new trails with the animals. But despite applying for 23 jobs since December within my agency, I'm still here. I haven't quit trying, but this whole "trying" thing is getting frustrating with every "eligible, but not referred" notice I receive. I'm being persistent and trying my damndest to be patient. I'm busying myself with a million other things in the mean time, but I'm really beginning to lose hope.

There are a series of other issues within my relationship (or lack thereof), my current job, and more or less this funk I seem to be stuck in that are really beginning to get to me. Its likely just "this time of year" with everyone going back to school. I miss college, but the next step for me with school would be to get my MS, and frankly, I'm just not ready to do that. If the perfect opportunity came up, sure, but I haven't seen any opportunities that blow my mind yet.

All of these things are all just part of life and the stresses we all experience at one time or another. They're like waves. Little and big stressors constantly coming that we can either flounder around in or learn to surf.

I'm learning to surf.

I'm learning to read the waves to pick the best ones and ignore the small ones. I'm learning to work over and through them. I'm doing my best to be more present in what I'm doing, appreciate what I have going for me right now, in this moment. I'm trying to make the best of what I have going for me. And I'm really hoping a really incredible wave is going to come my way soon...

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Ride Between the Rivers 2012

Ah, what a wonderful whirlwind of a weekend.  My ride and story will definitely be overshadowed by Tevis - since they were on the same day - but for me, this was a special weekend.  My first race with my own horse.

Q did incredible.  Let me just put that out there first thing.  She pushed harder and stronger than I thought she could/would and pulsed down like a CHAMP.  I really couldn't be much happier with her performance.

: : : : :

I rolled out of the office early Thursday to get to ride camp since D had hauled Q down earlier that morning.  I arrived to find Q happily settled in an electric corral strategically placed under a tree line that would provide her shade for 60% of the day.  She was happily nomming on the tall grass in her corral when I arrived, clearly not missing me or anyone else for that matter.

I got settled with in an hour or so, gave her some hay and her grain etc., made certain the water crew filled her tub, and went to socialize within site of her.  Only a few other rigs and riders were there Thursday - we recommend most show up Friday, though I hear many hope to come as early as TUESDAY!? next year because they love the area/trails/etc. so much.

She almost looks dappled here...odd.

Thursday night brought a potluck and low country boil dinner with the club members and I hit the sack at 9:30p just because.

I woke around sunrise on Friday after sleeping surprisingly well in my friend Tina's camper.  Really well, actually.  I fetched Q out of her corral to walk around camp and let her stretch out and eat some for awhile.  We mozied around enjoying the misty morning, dew covered grass, and quiet.

I took the morning slowly, with no major obligations on my plate.  I hid in the shade, ate two breakfasts and then decided I ought to test out those damn Easyboot gloves on her hind feet on the hill we would encounter on the second loop.  After all, I hadn't ridden her in 3 or 4 days.  So we booted up, Renegades in the front and gloves on the back and headed out for an hour.

I wrapped her hind hooves in vet wrap pre-boot application.  We had no issues going up the steep, rocky, clay hill in them.  They stayed on through slipping and sliding and crazy mud puddles.  However, on our ride back up the gravel road I let her stretch into a canter and when we stopped I noted that one boot was completely gone.  Brilliant.  We trotted back, got the boot out of the ditch, reapplied, and continued back to camp.  I figured at this point that I would vet wrap and duct tape for the next morning's race.

My two junior riders arrived with the rest of ride camp sometime Friday afternoon.  N's mom used to be my trimmer before I got comfortable doing my horses hooves myself and she offered me some Renegades for Q's back feet for the race.  YES!  No time to test them, so we'd have to hope for the best.

Q's vet-in Friday afternoon went without incident.  She got As on everything except her cap. refill where she got a B.  Vet wasn't concerned though because she'd been standing in the heat not moving and therefore not drinking for a few hours.  I noted this and filed it into my mind.

: : : : :

We had 50 riders in the 50 miler and 43 riders in the 30 miler.  Due to the prediction of a hot race day we moved the starts a half hour earlier each; the 50s would start at 6a and the 30s at 6:30a.  I got to sleep pretty early after the ride meeting and dinner in preparation.

I woke at 2:41a and decided to go ahead and give Q and Moshka (another friend's horse who would be attempting the 50) their grain and electrolytes.  I caught a little more shut eye and then awoke around 5a to start my morning.

I knew my biggest issue would be keeping myself fed and hydrated so the first thing I did was stuff two hard boiled eggs and a blueberry muffin down my gullet.  I prepped myself and all my gear/snacks etc. as I mentally prepped the order in which I would get Q ready so it would go smoothly when I got to it.


I was so flustered at time slipping by that if it weren't for Ari showing up around 6a I don't think I would have made it to the start to meet my group.  The vet I scribed for last year had three horses in the race and had arranged for me to ride out with them promising they'd be doing an easy ~6 mph pace and leaving after the front runners.

With Ari's help, we got Q ready and suited up and headed out right in the nick of time meeting my three riding buddies at the start in time to head on out.

: : : : :

That whole thing about going out behind the front runners?  Yeah, BARELY.  Those who galloped out were the only ones in front of us.  It was a fast and stressful first 2 or 3 miles.  I knew the big black mare (BBM) we were with kicked, but the two paints weren't supposed to.  I still did my best to keep my distance, but then within the first mile Indy (Arab x TB x Oldenberg) mare nailed Q in the muzzle.  Greatttttt.  Her rider was very distressed and upset, but there was really nothing that could be done about it.  Q seemed okay and onward we went.

Q really handled the start well.  She handled horses around her in close quarters a helluva lot better than I'd thought she could or would.  The first 6-8 miles of the loop (18 miles total) were FAST.  6 mph pace my ass.  Canter, canter, canter, trot, canter, canter.  Q seemed okay, so we pushed on.

I checked constantly to see if our boots were all on.  Those back Rennies were SOLID.

The terrain for our ride is rough.  The vets and several riders agree about the whole 30 being like a 50 and 50 being like a 100.  We gained 3000 ft. elevation in that first 18 mile loop alone.  The terrain was rocky as all get out, muddy as hell from all the rain we've had, and interspersed with sand, clay, and deep ass mud puddles.  Keeping boots and shoes on was a challenge for everyone.

After the first half-ish of the first loop, Q seemed to be getting tired - or maybe I was paranoid.  I slowed her up and she let the group we'd been with run of and out of sight ahead of us.  Good girl.  Within seconds though, others were running up from behind.  This jazzed her up and she jigged a good bit and I had to resolve to just turn her to face them and stand still while they all passed.  We followed.

She had one "flat tire" after this where her left front boot spun off and around her pastern.  I stopped, got off, fixed it, and we continued without another issue.  We ended up finding our group of three riders from the beginning and finished the loop with them without any major incidents.

: : : : :

As Q and I arrived back at camp I slowed her to a walk for the last quarter mile.  Upon reaching the field, still several hundred feet away from the start/finish line I got off, loosened her girth, and walked her in.  We finished the first loop in 2h:45m, nearly an HOUR faster than I'd targeted.  I was in no hurry to get her pulsed down, we had 45 minutes to get her to 64 bpm and I knew she could do that easy.

Make fun of my hat, everyone does.

I handed her off to a friend and hucked my Camelbak and helmet off my head and started untacking Q as I gave direction to my first-time helpers.  We hucked all her tack into a pile and started sponging and scraping.  Tina came over to check on us, she was a pulse checker and she insisted on doing a courtesy check within 5 minutes of us getting in "just to see where we were".  Well, lo and behold, Q was at 62 bpm.  I was happy, but still not worried about getting to the vet check IMMEDIATELY.  Everyone around me however, freaked out and pushed me in that direction.

I started to get ticked off at this point. Some lady I didn't know, and still don't know who she was or why she was "helping" me was treating me like a complete and total idiot.  She was pushing me to get through the check and being a royal pain.  I went to the check quickly just to get everyone off my back.  Q passed with all As and a B for her cap refill (by the same vet as the vet in - we had 5 vets).  I got my out time and headed back to the tent to get Q settled, gave my helpers some direction, and headed off to change into non-sweaty clothes.  I stuffed a sandwich in my stomach, drank a lot of water and propel, and was tacked up and ready to go by my out time.

Ari to my right scribed for the vet Q and I used for our vet-in and hold
Feeling not so sweaty after a change of clothes

: : : :

For the second loop, 12 miles, Q and I played mother duck to 2 junior riders.  They were pretty nervous at the start, but since my first-loop group left around the same time, Q was eager to follow and we ended up galloping up the hill out of camp.  That got my junior riders jitters out in a hurry.

Parents and family friends of the girls flocked around me as I pick up my junior riders
N on Bella on the left and M on Leroy to the right
Waiting for the girls to get settled - Q got a change in pad the same as I got a change in clothes
(she had a Mattes pad for wither relief as well)

We had a mile on gravel before reaching the loop and the steep up hill.  The girls lost three boots in this time.  N's horse had 4 Easyboots and M's had Renegades in the front and Gloves in the back.  Hind boots were lost by all, with N's horse keeping one.

We made it up the steep hill without any problems, N's horse that had never crossed water crossed through all puddles unfazed.

As we got settled out on the top N's horse one of her front boots twice before we gave up and left it off (I put it in my saddle bag).

Now, this loop is pretty rocky if you recall from my test run to clear trail on it the weekend before.  I was faced with some hard strategy decisions with all these missing boots and boots that wouldn't stay on.  I decided since I knew where the trail was relatively soft vs. rocky we would push harder over those sections (4 miles or so).  The girls kept up well and even pushed me forward through sections.  As we crested yet another small rise we came to a rider check point to find N's mom and Sonya with the girls boots they'd lost.  What luck!  They got booted back up and we headed out again.  (For the record, parent and Sonya were surprised and I think a little miffed even, that we'd picked such a fast pace. The girls' horses were doing great though and I knew we'd have to walk a lot later on.  I kept close tabs on all human and horse counterparts.  I wasn't about to run anyone into the ground.)

We conquered the steep hill and the girls weren't nearly as freaked by it as I worried they would be.  I psyched them out about it pretty bad, so it wasn't nearly as bad as they thought it would be.  We all got off and walked the last section of it for safe measure though.

By the bottom we'd run into my first loop group again.  We'd bee yo-yoing with them along the trail but had lost them when we booted back up.  I let them head off in front out of sight before we took off again.

The second half of the 12 mile loop was flat, but very slick and muddy most the way.  We were able to trot most of it, a couple cantering stretches, but mostly a fast walk.  Q was agitated as all hell by this point in time and really pulled on the reins.  She knew she was headed back to camp and had a LOT of energy in her.  I was cranky with her and with myself for my choice in reins and lack of gloves (they were soaked and had made my hands pruny - thus reins were slipping like mad thru my hands).

I had my second "flat tire" on the opposite foot on this little stretch.  It was the same as the first, just the opposite foot and I fixed it quickly and we moved on.

The rest of the loop went without incident and those back boots stayed on SOLID for the whole ride.  WIN.

We came into camp the same way as before, walking the last ¼ mile and then getting off, loosening girths, and walking in the last few hundred feet.  Once in camp, with the girls taken care of by a flock of concerned parents and their friends I let my helper from the vet check after the 18 take my horse and we went through our first routine, but faster.  I anticipated Q pulsing down quickly by this point.

I got myself and Q untacked, sponged quickly, and scraped off.  For this final vet check we had to be down to 60 within 30 minutes.  I immediately took her to get a courtesy check of her pulse after one sponging to find she was at 56.  Excellent!

Bandanas keep sweat at bay and help me to look like a trucker, weee!
Talking with my vet and scribe about Q
Hot and tired, but a successful completion of our first LD!!!

There was a slight line (we were down one vet because Bob was helping his three riders/horses who had come in 5-10 minutes ahead of me) so Q and I stood in the shade of the vet tent and waited.  The head vet freed up and came to vet us through.  All As except a B in skin tent this time, and 60/60 on her trot out.  Good girl Q!!

And with that, we'd completed our first 30!

: : : : :

I have yet to get my official ride time, but it was somewhere around 5 hours.  I know we did the first loop in ~2h:45m and the second in ~2h:15m.

Parents were beyond thrilled that I'd taken the kids.  I was proud of the girls for doing so well.  M now loves speed (she was very hesitant to even trot prior to this!).  Q was a champ and ate very well throughout the ride and drank pretty well at all water crossings (her favorite place to drink being the most disgusting of deep mud puddles).

I'm beyond thrilled that Q pulsed down so quickly, and thankful I've read enough from several of your blogs about how to go about things and knew what to expect with everything.  To the endurance riding bloggers out there: y'all were like my little crew within my head - thanks for writing about your own experiences and things you learn for me to file away in my mind.

So, so, so proud of my little mare.  Her neck is a bit swollen where that kick may have nicked her in addition to getting her in the muzzle.  I've reviewed the footage a couple times and I really don't think she got her in the neck...but she very well may have.  Updates on that will continue as the days go by.

Our next ride will be the second weekend in October (can't do the OAATS ride due to a NSP conflict) at the Kentucky Stampede.  While I can't wait to get into 50s, we will likely only be doing the 25.  I have lots more time to train her and hope to push her harder in this ride now that she's proven she's not a delicate flower.  Love my little mare!

...watch out Griffin, your time to become a fit horse has arrived.  *evil laughter*