It’s hard to tell in the picture, but it’s been snow/raining all day. I didn’t want Dixie to get soaked and cold, so I put her spiffy new purple blanket on her. She’s annoyed about being in the pen, and that picture is actually mid-paw. I love my evil mare!
We have some huge weird weather front rolling in. It’s drizzling rain and so grey you can’t see any of the mountains, and possible snow tomorrow. It was so nice and springlike for almost all of March, and now, at the very end, this weirdness!
I went out and handwalked Dixie today. It was way too windy to ride – gusts of probably 50 mph and sustained winds of 25 or 30 mph. I wanted her to have a chance to get out of the pen though. She is still shedding. I don’t think she’ll ever stop; I think she eats just to have the energy to grow long white hair and have it fall out all over me. I guess that’s good if it does snow on her tomorrow.
I rode Saturday, our first ride after RoM, and I forgot to post it. It feels like we’ve crossed the Rubicon – now we both know what we’re capable of, when before we’d thought maybe we could do it. And even beyond our changed expectations, her fitness level has noticeably improved! We have a little section of the trail where I let her canter as far as she wants, and she went 3x as far as usual – then walked a bit and asked to rack again. Hell yeah!
So Dixie is moving to Lemmon Valley at the beginning of the month. She’ll have her own pen with a three-sided shelter, and I supply the feed, so she can have all the hay she will eat, yay! It’s a couple blocks from BLM land, and a couple miles from the arena – I can ride in the arena when I want to work on dressagey stuff. There’s two rides in the summer nearby. It’ll be fun; I’m looking forward to exploring the new area with her.
So, non endurance people, here’s what happens at lunch. You come into camp, and someone notes your time. Your horse has to pulse at 60 bpm before your 1 hour hold starts, so that’s the first thing you concentrate on. After you pulse and before you head out, you have to pass a vet check.
I am really terrible at taking pulses – it confuses me greatly to count beats while looking at numbers on a watch. But even I can figure out if a pulse is above or below 60 – that’s one beat per second, or 10 in 10 seconds. I checked as soon as we got in and she was pretty high, so we headed to the trailer. I stripped her tack, let her drink water, and let her munch hay and calm down.
Then I noticed she was shivering and realized that she was probably cold, poor thing, and I blanketed her and kept checking her pulse. She was very close – maybe 64 – and we moseyed slowly back over to the water, then to the P&R people, and she was down. I took her back by the water, then back to the hay to stuff her gut a bit before we vet checked. (I have no idea if this is a good theory or not, but I figured if you’d just eaten something, your stomach would make more happy sounds.) She passed the vet check – IIRC, she got B’s in skin tenting and gut sounds. Skin tenting was no surprise – she didn’t drink til we got back to camp, but she did start then.
I changed clothes completely. Somebody, probably Mel, talked about how amazingly good it feels to put on fresh clothes, and I wanted to get out of my early morning cold weather clothes anyway. Fresh underwear! Dry socks! Jogging pants! It was heavenly.
I ate too – a bag of Fritos, a ham sandwich, and a whole bottle of gatorade. Dixie wasn’t eating as much as I’d like – our hay and grain were all stupid and horrible and nasty. I kept shoving apple slices between her lips and waiting for her to slowly eat them, and I snuck her back over to P&R for their super-tasty bright green alfalfa. Still, at the end of the hour she looked pretty perky and I realized there was no good reason to not go on, so we did.
We happened to start right behind some different people – a lady and a junior on greenies. We followed them down a pretty nice road along the tops of some hills, and I realized that I should take some pictures. The iPhone is pretty awesome in general, but it takes uninspiring pictures
I managed to ration my horse pretty well on the first half of the last loop. We trotted (yes, TROTTED) the flats and downhills and walked the uphills. She didn’t have a bit of pace or rack left in her – it was all hard trot the whole rest of the ride.
Eventually we walked down off the hills, 1000′ down in a mile and a half. An industrious girl in full English gear caught up by jogging her horse on foot. And right as the trail leveled out, the first two 50s passed us – I admit, that was really depressing.
Dixie drank from every water trough we came across and she kept up with the other 30s til about mile 21. She was clearly tired. It was a tough bit of trail, too – we gained that 1000′ of elevation back in a steady slow rise over seven miles. It was like being on an inclined treadmill, and I think it’s way harder than just slogging up a really steep hill.
I alternated trotting and walking for another 15 or 20 or 30 miles. It was endless. I lost my patience and vowed to sell my horse if we ever made it back to camp. Or maybe I’d just get off and leave her to die in the desert. Or maybe we’d die together and become Dead Horse and Human Flat for future riders to see.
I think I needed some sugar.
Anyway, there was absolutely nothing to do but keep riding forward, so we did. Eventually we made it to the crossroads and I knew we were close. Three more 50s had passed us, cheerfully trotting along like they were having fun or something. I didn’t want to go through all this and not complete, so I knew we had to vet in, so I got off and walked the last half mile.
I did the same thing when we got back – stripped tack, blanketed, and even poured water on her neck – and I got her pulse down in 10 minutes. Hey, we’re getting better! She passed her vet check again – I think her Bs were skin tenting and mucous membranes? But I was too busy eating The Best Candy Bar Of My Life to pay much attention.
After the vet check, we were… done. Finished. Completed. I bought the ride pictures (I do look like I was having fun, so the big smile worked), got my tee-shirt, and started slowly sorting my stuff. Dixie had come in almost too tired to eat again, but once she pulsed down she started munching.
I got everything stowed, loaded the horse, and got back on the road. It took another two hours to get home. I had to feed all the horses when I got back to S’s – Dixie looked very bright eyed and perky by then. I had to literally pull everything out of the truck to find the other set of keys to get in the tack room – pretty frustrating. Then I stowed all my horse gear, drove down to south Reno and dropped the trailer, and drove back to north Reno.
Today I feel like a truck ran over me. My knees are Not So Good and all my muscles hurt. I can’t wait to do it again – aside from Mile 21 where I wanted to suicide pact with my horse, that was super total hella fun and I can’t imagine why anybody wouldn’t want to do that, over and over again.