Home sick on HORSE SLAUGHTER DAY!

Finally, a topical hot-button post.

First, cause I know yall care deeply about my wellbeing, it’s just a cold and hopefully I’ll sleep it off tonight.

I’ve been watching my horse related social media all day, and here’s what I think (cause I know yall care deeply about my not very humble opinions):

Horse slaughter and consumption of horse meat are two separate issues that get conflated in almost everything I’ve read.

I am deeply opposed to inhumane horse slaughter, just like I’m deeply opposed to the inhumane death of any other living thing. I am also opposed to eating horsemeat – that shit ain’t safe, yall. But I wouldn’t mind a well-designed and run horse slaughter plant. (I think we should ship the humanely-slaughtered, bute and dewormer laden horse meat to China.)

If those rednecks in Wyoming or wherever actually build and run a truly humane slaughterhouse for horses, fine. If they don’t, I’ll rail against the deplorable conditions there, just like I rail against the deplorable conditions in Mexico, where all the unwanted horses get shipped today. (I am not sure if the conditions in Canadian slaughterhouses are deplorable, but I think the double-decker rides to get there are probably pretty hellish, so I don’t like our northern friends’ plants either.)

I still think you’re an asshole if you take a horse to auction, especially if it’s older, unsound, or not dead broke. I know that shit happens and sometimes you can’t keep your animals, but if you can’t find your horse a decent home, euthanize it. That’s what credit cards are for: vet bills.

Retrospective numbers

This is something I always wished I could’ve seen when I started endurance training. How do you actually develop a consistent trot, starting from a horse that isn’t fit and can’t mentally handle trotting down a trail? Well, I still can’t explain it, but I can show you my results.

Here’s our first 20 mile NEDA ride in February of ’10. All the stuff I mentioned in the comments of my last post were very scary indeed – attack mini horses, scary yard art, dangerous people lurking in their yards. I think that ride even went past the ultimate nightmare of any horse: the alpaca.

The points just below the 5 mph marker were her walk speed – under 4 mph, about 3.8. The pointy bits were her surging into a trot or a rack (I really can’t remember if she gaited or not) at 7.5 or so.

Here’s our first AERC LD, at Rides of March ’10.

She was very excited for the first 10 miles, staying mostly in a 10 mph rack. At about 11 miles I finally got her to slow the hell down and we headed into the check (just about the middle of the graph). She came out of the hold really strong, but tired – you can see the peaks get further and further apart as she walks more and racks less. At 21 miles, about 2/3 of the way along, she got really tired and the whole thing became a slog for us. I didn’t want to spend three more hours out there so I started literally kicking her into a trot for a minute, then walking for a minute. Her “oh god I’m soooo tired” trot was between 5-8 mph, depending on the incline and whether or not she could see another horse in the distance.

Here’s Nevada Moonshine ’10.

The vet check was at 20 miles, about 2/3 of the way along the graph. I was really pretty happy with her performance. It was DARK up in the hills, and the full moon didn’t help as much as you’d think – it was behind the hills for an hour, then it was so low that it made crazy shadows and didn’t help much. She still wasn’t very consistent – she’d leap into a trot then slow on down til she needed to walk again.

After Moonshine, we bought the house. I don’t think I managed another distance ride, either NEDA or AERC, til ROM ’11.

It was a debacle. I let Dixie try to keep up with a horse that was going just a bit faster than she could manage. (“Ride your own ride” is so hard!) The weather was atrocious, blowing snow for the first part of the morning then warming up quite a bit. She wouldn’t drink (I didn’t electrolyte) and she was very hairy indeed. She got really tired about 10 miles in and we walked into the first check at the halfway point. The second loop was even worse – she didn’t recover at the hold because she wasn’t drinking, so she kept trying to lunge into a trot, but she was too tired to keep it going and fell back to a walk. Bad management on my part, but this is how you learn how to manage. We got pulled at the second check – not that I would’ve asked her to continue in her state.

At the beginning of April we did the Derby.

This was a good ride. I electrolyted Dixie before, during, and after the ride. She still did not drink til the vet check at 20 miles, but by god once she started drinking she tanked up. It was a much easier flatter ride, and you can see that we were finally pacing well. The jagged bits at the 1/3 mark were when we climbed the Big Hill she evened back out. Her TCB trot/gait was about 8 mph, and her recovery walk was 4.5-5 mph. The check was at 20 miles, so about 3/4 of the way along the graph.

The ride after that was our first 50, at High Desert. I’m not going to post the graph because it’s too compressed – it’s 50 miles squeezed into the same horizontal space as these 20-30 mile rides, so it’s much more jagged. It was hilly and hard, and Dave Rabe babysat us through it and he is a saint of a human.

Here’s another NEDA ride in May. Silver Springs again – look at how much she’s improved over (basically) the same course in 15 months!

9 mph trot, 4-4.5 walk. Much more trotting than walking. The right amount of electrolytes, and a weather-appropriate coat. 😉

In June I went out and broke my horse at NASTR, which pretty much torpedoed the rest of the year. Here’s the last chart, for yesterday’s ride:

Scroll up and compare it to the very first graph. She’s become really consistent – she’s way stronger, she’s learned that she has to keep moving steadily forward past the abandoned couches and evil minis, and I’m way better at holding her to a certain sustainable speed. She gets tired and starts “surging” around 15 miles – but damn, we’ve done no real training for about three months!

I don’t know if further (flat) rides of less than 15 miles will do her much good. I think climbing hills on short rides will still help, but I suspect a flat 15 mile ride won’t really do much to condition her. It’s pretty damn boring to ride north to Palomino Valley and back down to the house, but that’s what I’m going to have to do. Maybe one long ride every two weeks, weather permitting, and I’ll reevaluate in February. And I’ll try to get out and climb the hill behind our house once a week.

Retrospective numbers

This is something I always wished I could’ve seen when I started endurance training. How do you actually develop a consistent trot, starting from a horse that isn’t fit and can’t mentally handle trotting down a trail? Well, I still can’t explain it, but I can show you my results.

Here’s our first 20 mile NEDA ride in February of ’10. All the stuff I mentioned in the comments of my last post were very scary indeed – attack mini horses, scary yard art, dangerous people lurking in their yards. I think that ride even went past the ultimate nightmare of any horse: the alpaca.

The points just below the 5 mph marker were her walk speed – under 4 mph, about 3.8. The pointy bits were her surging into a trot or a rack (I really can’t remember if she gaited or not) at 7.5 or so.

Here’s our first AERC LD, at Rides of March ’10.

She was very excited for the first 10 miles, staying mostly in a 10 mph rack. At about 11 miles I finally got her to slow the hell down and we headed into the check (just about the middle of the graph). She came out of the hold really strong, but tired – you can see the peaks get further and further apart as she walks more and racks less. At 21 miles, about 2/3 of the way along, she got really tired and the whole thing became a slog for us. I didn’t want to spend three more hours out there so I started literally kicking her into a trot for a minute, then walking for a minute. Her “oh god I’m soooo tired” trot was between 5-8 mph, depending on the incline and whether or not she could see another horse in the distance.

Here’s Nevada Moonshine ’10.

The vet check was at 20 miles, about 2/3 of the way along the graph. I was really pretty happy with her performance. It was DARK up in the hills, and the full moon didn’t help as much as you’d think – it was behind the hills for an hour, then it was so low that it made crazy shadows and didn’t help much. She still wasn’t very consistent – she’d leap into a trot then slow on down til she needed to walk again.

After Moonshine, we bought the house. I don’t think I managed another distance ride, either NEDA or AERC, til ROM ’11.

It was a debacle. I let Dixie try to keep up with a horse that was going just a bit faster than she could manage. (“Ride your own ride” is so hard!) The weather was atrocious, blowing snow for the first part of the morning then warming up quite a bit. She wouldn’t drink (I didn’t electrolyte) and she was very hairy indeed. She got really tired about 10 miles in and we walked into the first check at the halfway point. The second loop was even worse – she didn’t recover at the hold because she wasn’t drinking, so she kept trying to lunge into a trot, but she was too tired to keep it going and fell back to a walk. Bad management on my part, but this is how you learn how to manage. We got pulled at the second check – not that I would’ve asked her to continue in her state.

At the beginning of April we did the Derby.

This was a good ride. I electrolyted Dixie before, during, and after the ride. She still did not drink til the vet check at 20 miles, but by god once she started drinking she tanked up. It was a much easier flatter ride, and you can see that we were finally pacing well. The jagged bits at the 1/3 mark were when we climbed the Big Hill she evened back out. Her TCB trot/gait was about 8 mph, and her recovery walk was 4.5-5 mph. The check was at 20 miles, so about 3/4 of the way along the graph.

The ride after that was our first 50, at High Desert. I’m not going to post the graph because it’s too compressed – it’s 50 miles squeezed into the same horizontal space as these 20-30 mile rides, so it’s much more jagged. It was hilly and hard, and Dave Rabe babysat us through it and he is a saint of a human.

Here’s another NEDA ride in May. Silver Springs again – look at how much she’s improved over (basically) the same course in 15 months!

9 mph trot, 4-4.5 walk. Much more trotting than walking. The right amount of electrolytes, and a weather-appropriate coat. 😉

In June I went out and broke my horse at NASTR, which pretty much torpedoed the rest of the year. Here’s the last chart, for yesterday’s ride:

Scroll up and compare it to the very first graph. She’s become really consistent – she’s way stronger, she’s learned that she has to keep moving steadily forward past the abandoned couches and evil minis, and I’m way better at holding her to a certain sustainable speed. She gets tired and starts “surging” around 15 miles – but damn, we’ve done no real training for about three months!

I don’t know if further (flat) rides of less than 15 miles will do her much good. I think climbing hills on short rides will still help, but I suspect a flat 15 mile ride won’t really do much to condition her. It’s pretty damn boring to ride north to Palomino Valley and back down to the house, but that’s what I’m going to have to do. Maybe one long ride every two weeks, weather permitting, and I’ll reevaluate in February. And I’ll try to get out and climb the hill behind our house once a week.

What a wonderful day: NEDA Turkey Trot

G was home for a whole week, which was thoroughly awesome. I took him to the airport on Saturday, and I knew today would be quiet and sucky if I didn’t do something – so I went to Silver Springs for a 20 mile NEDA ride. It was the perfect antidote to a very quiet house.

Today was one of those days that makes you really love Nevada – it’s the end of November, sunny, light breezes, and almost 60. I started out with three layers on, but I finished the ride in a tank top. A tank top. In November. It’s really hard to beat that. It’s the kind of day that really cements my belief that distance riding is the best sport ever invented.

Miss Thing hauled like a pro and ate like a pig and even let me prettify her mane.
Ready to go!

We started a couple minutes behind the frontrunners, and I held her to a running walk for a half mile or so before I let her move out a bit. We fell in with Dyke, who I’ve ridden with before, and actually stuck with him for most of the ride. He was riding a very hairy 4000+ mile horse – usually Dixie cannot hang with the high-mileage horses, but he was in no hurry and we paced well together.

Jackie caught up to us near the end of the first loop. She was riding a 19 year old energizer bunny of an Arab – at 19, with god knows how many miles, he was still spooking at random stuff and bucking when he got mad. Super cute. We all rolled into the check together. Dixie pulsed in immediately, despite being dripping wet, so I gave her some more electrolytes and headed back out.

She was tired but still quite ready to go. I was just delighted with her attitude – I’ve had to kick her out of camp a couple times, and it always makes me feel like I’m Making A Terrible Mistake with this sport. But she’d just ripped through 9 miles and was quite happy to head back out, yay!

At 18 miles Dixie ran out of steam. It was the end of the long boring second loop, down yet another interminable gravel road, and she was clearly lost. Fortunately Meredith caught up and happily walked on in with us. The weather had gotten so warm that I took off my jacket and finished the ride in just a tank top. (A tank top! In November!)

I love that horse, even when she’s covered in mudsweat.
Derp.

This is the best horse sport. If you’re a little intimidated by the thought of riding for a whole day, you should think about doing an LD. Dixie and I did 20.25 miles in just under 3:30 – an AERC 25 mile LD could easily take less than 5 hours in the saddle going much slower than we did. Also I got a coffee cup, a big one, with horses on it! And deep fried turkey. Life is good.