Spring fever

I went out Friday and had a ride on my crazy mare. It was very windy – a storm front was blowing in – and Dixie has come into that first raging spring heat. She had completely forgotten all of her ground manners – she kept trying to run over me as I groomed her, and she tried to yank her feet away. The first mile had a lot of stopping to stare and hope a stallion came charging out of nowhere for some sweet lovin. We did the scenic hills and the mines – a pretty short ride.

Garmin – we did 6.99 in 1:40, average of 4.2 mph.

The full mines trail – what we did Friday – has a lot of very twisty singletrack. One day we’ll be able to trot it or rack it, and I suppose I should go ahead and push Dixie to try it, but it’s not the easiest trail in the world to head down at speed. More importantly, I wasn’t pushing her too hard. I was very happy to just be back on my horse, back in these mountains I’ve come to love so much, watching a storm front roll in. She’s just starting to shed seriously, and it was surprisingly warm (mid 50s) but with sustained winds of maybe 40 mph. Just didn’t seem like the kind of day where you should push your horse to work hard, and I wasn’t in the mood to work her hard.

Anyway! Comparing today’s ride with one month ago, I see some nice improvement. (Oddly, one month ago was almost the same pace/time/distance.) Dixie’s walk is improving – once she hit her groove / became resigned to her fate, she kept up a very businesslike walk above 4 mph. Her mid speed and her canter are improving in duration, too. The middle speed is switching around quite a bit – seems like it’s trot maybe 1/3 of the time and something else more comfortable the other 2/3ds, probably a bit of RW and a lot of step pace.

Digression: sometimes I get incredibly discouraged that we’ll never finish a 50 on time because she isn’t making heroic gains in her cardio fitness / middle speed duration. It’s cause I’m fat, or maybe cause she has cancer, or cause she’s a gangly Walker and not a teeny narrow Arab. Then I breathe slowly and deeply, back away from the ledge, and talk sensibly – she IS making reasonable progress. That’s why I have the blog and the GPS, so I can look back and see how she’s improving. The winter coat will fall off, and she’ll cool off faster, and I’ll lose some weight now that the bar’s over, and if she does have cancer that’s just shitty luck, but she doesn’t look in any way unhealthy. (If you’re a somewhat new reader, I lost my heart-buddy gelding to fucking liver cancer, of all things, almost a year ago.)

Anyway. I don’t know of any other endurance wannabes, much less non-arab endurance wannabes, who have posted GPS info as they first legged up a horse. If I had someone else’s progress to compare to, I might feel better (or worse). But we’ll muddle on through.

Today was stormy, and hopefully tomorrow will be clearer. I am going to rig up some cross ties and try to get off the loose winter hair, whether she likes it or not! Then we’ll head out for a long ride, maybe 15 miles?

Home!

Made it back home safe. The bar was pretty brain-melting – the multiple choice MBE is really long and tough, really a brain endurance race thing. The essays went ok, I think, so it all depends on how well I did on the MBE.

I only have to wait til May 9 to get my scores. MAY NINTH. This is so absurd. I will just do my best to put it out of my mind til then.

Vegas really kind of sucks if you don’t gamble, you’re all alone, you’re in a second-tier locals casino, and you’re taking a stressful exam. Glad to be home in snowy Reno!

I thought Cersei was going to explode with happiness when she saw me. :3 Can’t wait to go see Dixie tomorrow – I doubt she’ll be quite so delighted to see me, but I will be happy to see her!

I only have 67 new posts from my horse friends to catch up on. Eeek!

Convention loot!

So I went to the convention yesterday! Just the vendor hall; I didn’t think I could pay enough attention to the speakers to justify the cost. There were three people I already knew there (Hi C, Zach, J!) and they introduced me to people who were in fact perfectly nice and friendly. Whew. We looked at all the stuff, then ate lunch, then looked at more stuff and finally started shopping. Except at lunch I started to get a migraine – I guess some of the flashy lights on the damn slot machines triggered it. It wasn’t the most excruciatingly painful one I’ve ever had, but it made me seriously stupid. It feels like my brain is short-circuiting and it’s very, very hard to think. About anything.

But I’d figured out a plan at lunch, and I was determined to do all the shopping I meant to do. It took a lot of looking, partially cause I’m picky and partially because I have a big-headed Walker, but I got the tack I wanted. A purple rope halter, with extra knots and rings to convert to a sidepull. A black biothane horse-sized snap-on headstall. 8′ purple biothane reins. And a black horse beatin’ rope.

Yes, I know, I just bought biothane reins, but they’re too short! I love the snaps and like the material, but they’re 6 footers and they make my shoulder blades knot up if I ride more than an hour with them. I will save the short brown reins as emergency backup reins, but I’m going to be much happier with slightly longer reins.

I got a black headstall because I really don’t think the purple biothane is vibrant enough. The rope halter is that shocking royal purple I love so much, and the slightly faded violet of the “purple” biothane doesn’t look fantastic with it. Black looks pretty fantastic though!

The horse beatin rope (technically called an over ‘n under) is to replace the lead rope I no longer need to carry. Previously, I rode with leather reins that tied on to the bit with slobber straps, so I needed a lead rope if I had to tie or walk out with my horse. I carried a lead rope snapped to the breastcollar and draped across her neck – it was also handy to have if I needed to whack her in the neck to persuade her to walk past a killer rock or garbage can or something. I hate to kick like a 5 year old on a pony, I don’t wear cowboy boots with spurs anymore, and I like having something to encourage the horse if I need to. Thus, the horse-beater. I’m going to clip it to a carabiner and sling it across her neck, exactly where the lead rope used to live.

Anyway, I made it home yesterday, took an immitrex, and fell out on the couch. Today I feel much better, and I got my husband to take pictures of Dixie in her new headgear.

She thought maybe he had some food?
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I think it all fits ok!
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Somehow she stopped playing with the reins long enough for this picture. (I think the halter knot was too loose here.)
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Now it’s snowing, so if I don’t die in a firey plane crash tomorrow, I will try to blog something weird or amusing from Vegas next week. Hope everybody has good weather and happy rides!

Progress!

We hit 4.9 mph today! 8.95 miles in 1:50. It’s hard for me to justify spending more than 2 hours riding my horse for fun, so I think we’ll stick with 2 hours and just try to cram more and more miles in. If I can get an endurance buddy out and do more miles on the weekends, great, but if not, 2 hours should be enough.

One of the things it’s hard to tell with any of the tools I have is how her intermediate stamina is progressing – can she trot/rack/pace/whatever at, say, 8-10 mph for a longer distance than last week? The Garmin site graphs our speed, but the length of the graph is static so the results are skewed. I have a couple of spots where I always ask her to move out at an intermediate speed for as long as she can, and she’s definitely going a little further every time. Today she did every intermediate gait, sort of at her whim. I’m very happy.

Today we went about halfway along the trail into Palomino Valley. There’s a house with two loose pit bulls at the halfway point, so we went til I saw the house and turned around. We made a friend, too – a Great Pyr came trotting up from its house and joined us. I thought it was all going to go horribly wrong – visions of this enormous white dog eating my little yellow dog and Dixie bolting and me flying into a tree were flashing through my head. But Cers got along great with the GP, and the GP is apparently imprinted on guarding horses. She (I think it was a she) went about 5 miles with us. Dixie did not approve, but she never approves.

Tomorrow I’m going to the convention. I am so nervous. I’m a yahoo from Mississippi, and I haven’t even completed an AERC ride, and it’s full of strangers. Oh well, it’s a small nervous in the grand scale of things – taking the bar will be much, much worse.