After Twenty Mule Team in February, I gave Dixie ten days with me totally off her back. It rained a lot, and I got out there every day to take her for a hand-walk and graze, but I was still pretty excited to finally get back up there – even in the rain.
We did a little riding and a little running until the 12th, when the dentist came. I talked about that in an earlier post, but I didn’t mention the tattoo. It’s another two-parter, so I wanted to wait til it was finished.
At Rides of March, I had a great time vet scribing for two of my favorite vets. I was going to ride one of Angela’s mares, but I thought since it was her horse she sent in the entry, and she thought since I was the rider I sent in the entry, and the entry didn’t get sent, and the ride was full, so welp! Everybody seems to assume that I was upset or disappointed to not get to ride, but I’m not, really! I’d been planning on going over to volunteer, then I was offered a horse and that seemed like a bonus extra-fun plan. When I didn’t get to ride, I just went right back to my original plan of volunteering – it was well worth the drive just to hang out there!
I came back from RoM with a new-to-me Supracor pad to try out, and some unexpectedly good news. My barn has limited trailer parking, and I’ve been on the list to get a spot there ever since I moved in… in October 2012. Finally, a spot had opened up! I moved my trailer over on the 16th and immediately felt like I was home. All of my precious horse junk, stored in one place! This shaves an hour off of my trailering-out time, and saves me $113 a month to boot. Yay!I headed out for a Real Ride with the Supracor, and after ten miles we had dry spots. Damn. I worked on the saddle fit, but I don’t know if I did enough.
The next time I got out to the barn, I knew I needed to trim a bit. But Dixie was extra-boingy, so I had to let her get her ya-yas out before I even tried it.I did, eventually, get her to slow down long enough to trim her feet. 😉 And it wasn’t “a bit,” she needed a full trim. Stupid hundred-mile horses and their insane hoof growth!
On the 22nd, I did that nine mile run, then hooked up the trailer and went to go pick up a friend. We got back safely, and I was going to go to Briones the next day, except I’d picked up a nail on the way back. My trailer tire was flat. Swapping out the tire took just enough time to ruin my plans of hauling out that day.
Finally, even though it was supposed to rain, we got to Briones on Tuesday. It looked ominous yet beautiful!We set off in gusty sprinkles of rain, and I immediately started setting up the flowcharts in my head. If we can make it to the first gate, 3 miles away, before it really starts raining, we should have enough time to get through the next 3 miles of steep clay hills before they get too slick, and then it’s just 8 more miles in the rain, and I’ve got a raincoat and an extra powerbar, we’ve gotta push pretty hard or we’ll get soaked and it won’t be any fun and wait. Wait.
We don’t have to do this. I’m not actively building her fitness right now. She did a hundred mile ride a month ago – she’s not losing condition yet; she’s supposed to be on easy work. Why the hell am I contemplating a dash through the mud today?
So I scrapped that plan and we had fun instead. Dixie was enjoying herself, moving out at a really nice forward walk. I let her stop at all the lush green grass. We encountered two groups of hikers (a tremendously busy day at the reservoir), three flocks of turkeys, one buck, and one Scary Monster.
I haven’t written about this, because it’s just too cheesy for words, but Dixie and I really do share a profound bond now. The last time we saw turkeys, about a year ago in Redwood Park, she flipped her lid so bad I had to get off. We were on a hilly singletrack and I really thought she was going to back off the cliff. Turkeys are atavistic monsters from hell to this horse. But at Briones last week, something was different. I don’t know if she knows she’s a badass now, or if she fundamentally trusts me to keep her safe, or what, but she did not flip out. We’d come around a corner and start some turkeys on the trail, and she’d get quite large under me, but she never tried to run. I ride with barely-loose reins, just the slightest bit of contact in case she trips, and I did not even pick up the slack. I just talked to her – mainly so the stupid birds would see us and move – and she’d listen, and she’d walk forward as the birds went up and down the hill to get away. It was amazing.
We went up to the first gate at ~3 miles, grazed for a while, and turned for home in the drizzle. On the way back, we stopped at one nice patch of grass and I got off to pee, and Dixie smelled something in the woods. She was very insistent that Something Was There, and I got just a hint of a bad smell too, like whatever the olfactory equivalent of “I saw it for the blink of an eye” is. Skunk? Mountain lion? I don’t know, and I’d prefer to encounter neither.
But she was terrified, so I led her over to a rise in the trail and she stood for me to get on and we booked it out of there. If she trusts me to reassure her about turkeys, I also have to trust her when she sees something. Back near the trailer, we grazed in the drizzle until the drizzle turned to light rain, and we headed home. (The barn is on the other side of a ridge of hills, and it was pouring there, so I did have a better ride out than I’d have had at home!)
The next day, Jonah finished the tattoo. They always look better IRL, so here’s a context shot. (I used my REI dividend on a pair of running shorts. Having a badass tattoo on my calf may be the only thing that gets me over my lifelong distaste for showing my leg-skin.)And here’s a terrible photoshop collage. The bathroom has the best light, yet provides the least-attractive backdrop, blech.It’s a Joshua tree, with a crescent moon and some epic stars and there’s even a little yellow glowstick. I’m not sure if the glowstick is “right” and I may go back and get it outlined and turned into a ribbon, but I’m going to live with it for a month and see how I feel. (And the moon is a perfect arc; it’s just peeling and I didn’t notice when I took the picture.)
I think it turned out very Tolkein-esque, if Tolkein had lived in a desert instead of a green agrarian paradise. And I just love it
And that’s about it. A little more run-and-riding, and we’re headed into April!
My only horse goal for April is to get through the 50 this Saturday at the Nevada Derby with a happy and healthy horse. She’ll get a week of light duty after that, then hopefully it’ll quit raining and we can get some miles at various parks I haven’t ridden yet. Point Reyes? Maybe something with Laura Crum down by Santa Cruz? Ride Mt. Diablo? Whatever sounds like fun for the both of us that’ll keep our fitness up.
My only running goal is to do something blog-worthy at the Diablo Trails Challenge on the 19th. Mel is running the 50k, so I registered for the 10k – I’ll run that, then get a friend to help me get to the Curry Point aid station so I can pace her and threaten to laugh if she pulls. I don’t have the entire plan figured out yet, but I’ve got days and days left.