- The Toklat Woolback is awesome and I’m so glad I got it.
- My knees didn’t hurt, but I moved my stirrups up a notch AND I took a lot of Advil. I’m not sure what to credit there.
- I never did attach a tube clip for the Camelbak. I ended up using double-sided velcro to make a loop off a D-ring and it worked just fine.
- I tried riding in the rope halter for the second loop, but Dixie hates that even worse than she hates having a sweaty headstall on her ears – I didn’t even make it out of the arena before I got off and put the headstall back on.
- The Renegades stayed on. The footing wasn’t challenging to boots, so I can’t brag about how amazing they are, but I’m still very happy with them so far. I need to work on the right rear.
- I remembered to braid a dog tag in Dixie’s mane, and it stayed on just fine.
- How the hell do people attach glowsticks? I suspect they’re just duct taping them to the breast collar. I tied one on a pommel bag ring.
- Speaking of pommel bags, Henry’s is the best possible bag. Room for a liter of water, velcro pockets for ride cards, BIG zippers that even sleep-deprived Funders can work – it’s totally awesome.
Earlier that day, I brushed my beautiful white pony and braided her mane. Then I got real frisky and spot-washed the manure stains and scrubbed her tail. It came out almost white I suppose I could’ve washed her completely, but I have gotten really sensitive to wasting water in the desert, so I didn’t. Then I bought a bale of alfalfa for a ride treat and headed home to charge my phone and hang out with my husband. I kinda feel guilty when I run off to a ride and basically leave him alone all weekend.
I rode to the ride, so I dropped off a bunch of stuff at the arena before I went to get Dixie. As it turns out I didn’t drop off the right stuff, but that’s the story of my life. 😉 Then I drove over to where Dixie stays at, got her saddled, and rode over to the ride.
Ridecamp was at the Lemmon Valley arena, with plenty of room. There were at least 40 entries – I was 319 and I think I was at the end of the LD list. Dixie vetted in just fine with all A’s. Aarene, she trotted out really really well! She’s finally figured out the ready-let’s go! trot out thing!
I tied her to ~C’s trailer and let her eat hay. She is such a peculiar and contrary beast – she didn’t want the perfectly nice alfalfa, she wanted her normal boring everyday hay. I barely remembered to boot her up before the 50s left at 7 pm, but I did.
Dixie freaked out when the 50s left, but it was only a minor freakout. I played Words with Friends til about 7:50, then managed to get on board and we headed out to the start. Apparently I pushed the start button on the garmin an hour earlier when I’d saddled her up, and I didn’t notice til a couple miles out, so my GPS start isn’t anywhere near the starting line. Anyway, here’s the Garmin info for the ride.
We started out last due to standing still to mount issues, but I let her stretch out and trot really fast to catch up to the last horses. She wasn’t nearly as out of control as at Rides of March, thank god! She spooked pretty hard at the dolomite trail markings at first, but she got used to them in a couple of miles.
The long bit headed north is pretty familiar territory, and she did really well – rateable and forward and full of energy. When the sun started to sink and we headed east, we encountered difficulties. Dixie just could not believe that I was riding her away from home in the dark. I kept her moving at a good pace until we hit the rocky part of the hills. The sun was totally down, and the moon was trying to rise behind the eastern hills, so it was amazingly dark. Plus it’s the rockier part of the trail, PLUS when the moon did rise we were riding right toward it and it wasn’t really helping.
Eventually, two people passed us and I let them “pull” us along. Dixie decided the only thing worse than being stuck pointed away from home with her evil bitch of a human was to be totally alone with her evil bitch of a human, so she tucked in with the others and headed up the hills.
Riding up the rocky pitch-dark hills was totally worth it. At the tops of a couple of ridges, you get really stunning views of Reno at night. And there was fog! I couldn’t really believe it at first, but there really was fog oozing off the hills. Dixie spooked hard at a couple of innocuous bushes at first, then settled in nicely.
I rode the trail once before (in the daytime, in the opposite direction) with ~C, so I knew about how far we had to go. I think that helped me a lot mentally. Eventually, about the time the moon was high enough to see the rocks, we came out of the rocky hills and into the sandy canyons. I saw something very strange as we were coming out of the canyons back to the subdivision – somebody a couple hills over was shining a flashlight up into a hill. It wasn’t the (awesome) ride staff, it was just Some Dude doing Something Weird at night.
We walked through the subdivision and pulsed straight in at 60, then I let her drink and eat hay for a while before we vetted in. She didn’t drink til the third tank at mile 15 – I hope she figures out drinking soon. It makes me nervous But anyway, she got a B for gut sounds and everything else was A’s.
The hour hold flew by as I staggered around in a total daze. It was 12:30 am and I was desperately tired, but we were so close to being done! I ended up drinking a bottle of electrolyte water and a cup of black coffee, then chowing down on some Advil and a fruit roll up. Midnight snack of champions, eh?
I pulled her boots for the second loop, because I knew it was short and sandy and she still goes a little weird in boots. There’s something off with the fit on the right rear boot – it was full of sand again, and an O-ring had broken, and the toe velcro was half undone. But it was still on!
We rolled out at 1:30 with the same two people I’d been riding with before. Dixie felt like I hadn’t ridden her at all, just as fresh and perky as you could hope for. Her heart broke when I made her keep going past the turn to go home, but she wasn’t really that upset. The second loop runs right past the sand pit where the dirt bike guys ride, and we rode on a little ridge past some people hanging out around a campfire in the sand. I wonder if they knew we were there?
After the sand pit, back in the BLM land, I saw a huge shooting star right over the hills to the east. Of course I can’t tell you what my wish was, but you can probably guess.
By the final vet check, Dixie was through with this trot out bullshit. She had a mouthful of hay and felt she’d done plenty of work and I kind of had to drag her up and down the line, so we got a B for impulsion. Everything else was A’s – her gut sounds were back up – so I can’t complain.
Then I tied Dixie up and watched her eat and … fell asleep in a folding chair. Because I’d failed to bring anything for me to camp in. It was unbelievably cold, but I borrowed a horse blanket and draped that over my head and got a nap for a couple hours. A million shivering years later, the sun came up and Dixie was ready to go home. I saddled her back up and made her walk home – she wanted to trot home! But I couldn’t handle any more trotting that day.
M says Dixie took a lot of naps on Sunday, but she’s none the worse for the wear. Cool tight legs, totally sound, didn’t run off too much weight, perky attitude. Yay horse!
This is plenty long, so I’ll do a gear post and publish it in the morning.
So I stayed up late Friday, but the cats woke me up early Saturday morning. Then I went off and rode all night Saturday night and got a bit of sleep sitting in a folding chair watching my horse pig out. I staggered through Sunday somehow til 6 pm, when I crashed out. Today I meant to come home and write up the ride story properly, but my other love (Dr. Who) called to me and I had to watch the season finale. No spoilers for the American viewers! Anyway, the Doctor took up all of my awake time, I’m afraid. I need another good night’s sleep. Here’s some pictures, though!
We completed our second LD! Fantastic trail in the moonlight. Dixie was strong and full of go the whole time, except when we headed up into the hills *away from home ohno!* The other LD turtles had to “pull” us along for a while.
Ride time about 4:30, total time 5:30. HR at the final vet check was 48. She didn’t drink til mile 15, but started drinking and eating nonstop after that.
The four people I was loosely riding with were nice. One BIG Champagne Gold TWH, a foxtrotter mule, and two Arabs. Dixie and the Arab mare hated each other at first sight.
A couple things went wrong on the human side, but the horse side went perfectly. More later.
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Anybody who’s ever repaired (or attempted to repair) a car knows and hates those words. Chilton’s, you’re a bunch of jerks. Whenever I take my tack apart to clean it, I always end up with a pile of parts and a sort of vague memory of how disassembly was accomplished. So far I’ve always gotten it back together, but it’s never easy.
Today was saddle cleaning day, in preparation for the Thing I Shall Not Name Lest I Jinx It. I soaped and oiled my saddle, replaced some hay string ties with pretty blue nylon cord, reburned the holes in the nylon stirrup leathers, and washed the cordura fenders… and the nylon latigos. The fenders and latigos were white and stiff with dried-on sweat, yuck.
It’s been well over a year since I rerigged the saddle to also use the back girth rings – I remember standing in that barn in Ohio, ineffectually trying to figure out how to tie the knot from the wrong side. (If you ride with an English girth, none of this makes any sense, but if you ride with a western cinch, you know what I’m talking about.) Anyway, I was dreading the reassembly of the cinch, but it was pretty painless!