2013 Tevis Educational Ride, Foresthill to Auburn

…or, Only One Day?  You Wuss!

Apparently they tweak the Ed Ride a little bit every year.  This year, there was a bike race on the upper part of the trail on Saturday, so we were scheduled to ride the trail out of order.  Saturday was Foresthill (60some miles) to Auburn (100 miles), and Sunday was Robinson Flat (30some) to Foresthill (60some).

It’s pretty crucial to preride FH to Auburn.  Yes, Tevis is held during the full moon, but it’s black as tar under the trees.  You have to believe that your horse knows the trail and trust her to move down it fast enough to finish, and your horse deserves to know where the end is.

The logistics of Tevis are mindblowing, but the logistics of the Ed Ride are even more amazing to me.  You must have crew for Tevis, and your crew moves your rig from point to point to meet you.  You don’t have to have crew for the Ed Ride – the outstanding volunteers will move your rig for you.  I’d signed up to have ~someone~ move my trailer, but Wayne talked his friend into coming and we ended up having Dean move my trailer to haul both horses around.

So here’s D the day before.  She’s just a tiny bit thinner than I’d like, but not too bad.

This year, they did a staggered start.  Mentor-rider teams left every five minutes, so we wouldn’t get caught up in that “fresh horse racing with the pack”thing.  The three of us left at 6:30 on the dot.

We rode through the tiny town of Foresthill, which was oddly deserted – on race day, everyone in town brings lawn chairs and coolers and sits by the trail/road, cheering the riders along.  Bill Gore was there taking pics, and of course he got some beautiful shots of Dixie.

About a mile outside of town the first disaster started to unfold.  My Pretty Princess started slinging her head.  That was the fourth time she’s done that – once at Washoe ’12, when the flies came out by the lake. Once at Rides of March ’13, when the old saddle was pinching and I was sick and riding like shit.  Once at Washoe ’13, when the sleet came in sideways.  And once at TevEd, and I didn’t know why.  I wasn’t riding like shit!  The saddle and tack fit perfectly at Washoe a month previously!  I couldn’t see any flies!  What the hell, horse!

And she wasn’t just flipping her nose up and down.  When she does this shit, she will drop her head between her knees and toss her head so hard the reins will go over her ears.  She’ll thrash her head back to my toes.  She is paying no attention to her feet when she’s doing this, and I knew if she tripped we’d go over the damn cliff and it’d be a bad scene.  I got off at one point and tightened up her girth and crupper – maybe the saddle was sliding forward and hurting her shoulders?  Obviously I took no pics at all, but trust me, it’s a gorgeous trail.  Just wide enough for one horse to comfortably trot, lots of natural water and small rock pools, very nicely maintained trail.  Lots of gentle up and down but nothing too killer.  Dixie started drinking at 12 miles, maybe, and kept drinking great all day.

I just chocked up the reins as short as I could and booted her forward every time she tried to toss her head and toughed it out.  By the time (10 am) we got to the first vet check at Francisco’s, I was ready to pull.  I came in and the volunteers asked how my ride was going and I blurted out my woes.  A volunteer immediately knew what was wrong.

“Oh, it’s flies!  I live out here and my gelding does the same thing.  There are hordes of teeny tiny biting gnats out right now.  Slather on some fly spray and see if that helps.”

So I did.  I got her pulsed down and vetted, borrowed some fly spray, and just coated her head in it.  If you’re one of the four people who’s been reading this thing all along, you’ll remember that back in ’09 the spray bottle was our biggest nemesis.  Dixie used to absolutely panic if you went anywhere near her with a spray bottle – like galloping around the round pen til she was completely lathered.  Well, it’s 2013 and she’s learned to tolerate all kinds of previously-intolerable bullshit from me, so I just yanked her head down and squirted her all over with fly spray and she was a big girl about it.

She’d rolled in the red dust at FH the day before and she was just manky with it.

And she did not toss her head again.  Lesson learned #1.

So we headed out again.  The river crossing was lovely and not too deep.  There’s a dam higher up the American River, and on Tevis Day they hold the water back so the flow is very low.  But they won’t hold it for the Ed Ride, and the river gets pretty high after 1:30.  We got there well before and the water was only up to the horses’ bellies.  I knew I shouldn’t, but when the water touched my feet it felt so good and cool that I let my feet get wet and it felt amazing.  Bill was there again, taking more gorgeous pics of my gorgeous girl.

\m/

The climb up after the river.  Don’t we just look like we know what we’re doing?  😉

The second section wound along above the American River, and we started to see other trail users.  Two guys had fishing poles and those floating chairs, and Dixie was like, oh that’s NBD and walked right past them.  She has the best brain :)  The river was just gorgeous below us.  The day was starting to heat up, but I was drinking and eating and I felt fine.  The last section of road into the Lower Quarry was pretty hot and rocky, and the horses were all hot coming into the second check, but they made it.

“I hate you, human.  Are we ever going to turn around?”

Dixie took a little while to pulse down, but once she did she stayed near 50.  A lot of hot-and-tired B’s on her card, but she was eating and drinking and we only had six miles to go.  We headed out along the river again.  We worked up the canyon, away from the big Hwy 49 Foresthill bridge (it’s like 700+ feet high above the river) and popped out at No Hands Bridge, which is much lower and shorter and used to be a railroad bridge.  It’s not infinitely wide, but it’s easily wide enough for a car and it’s got some little guard rails and well it’s called No Hands Bridge so when I saw the photographer I had to do it.

Just beautiful.

A selfie.

 Look, Mom, no hands!

And then the evaporative cooler on the back of my helmet dried out.  I got hot.  I went from “huh I’m kinda hot” to crushing heat headache & making bad decisions in about 20 minutes.  I was out of water for Dixie, I was almost out of water for me, it was blindingly hot, and Dixie was huffing along at about 100 breaths per minute.  I got off and started walking her and that just got me hotter, but I’ll be damned if I hurt my horse when I can possibly spare her.  I walked uphill in the heat, which isn’t something I can do, but Dixie was so hot and we were only two miles from the finish and I was just terrified that I’d colic/thump/tie-up her.  Finally Wayne and Becky convinced me to get back on – I probably looked half-dead – and we dragged ass into the fairgrounds.  I took my helmet off because it was SO HOT and I didn’t care if I fell off and died.  
There’s a big rock tank of cool water just at the border of the fairgrounds.  I yanked D’s bridle off and she went in up to her nostrils and drank, and I soaked my helmet and stuck it back on and the cold water running down my back was better than drugs, dude, it felt SO GOOD.  I yanked all of Dixie’s tack, hung it on the fence, and walked her up to the hoses.  She was probably at 120 when we came in. I sprayed her down for a few minutes – somebody was talking to me so I don’t really know how long it was, less than five minutes – and checked her pulse.  She was down.  I took her over to Melissa Ribley and she vetted out perfectly.  We did the thirty-whatever miles in 7:15, a completely respectable pace.

It was Dixie’s first point-to-point ride, and I think she just lost heart toward the end.  She can be directionally challenged, but she knew that we were nowhere near the trailer and she couldn’t understand why we hadn’t turned around yet.  But when I yanked the saddle at the fairgrounds she knew we were done, before she even saw her trailer.

Here she is back at Foresthill.  I really think she looks almost exactly as good as she did the day before. I know it’s not the same angle but I was doing real good to take a post-ride pic, period.

I fought that crushing headache til after 6, but I did manage to do one extremely smart and productive thing:  I trimmed her hooves.

Friday night I’d gotten Kevin and the Easyboot people to come look at Dixie’s horrible feet and ridiculous boots – everybody who looks at the way her Gloves fit double-takes, because there’s just no way they should stay on.  But they do!  Oddly, I lost two back boots on Saturday, but the fronts stayed on.  You can kind of see how abysmal they look in the Lower Quarry pic, if you’re a boot nerd :)

Anyway, Kevin said take off a lot more toe, at the very least go back to the white line.  It’s the kind of thing I know, and if I was looking at someone else’s hoof pics I’d say “well duh, pull the toe back,” but that’s why you need outside eyes sometimes.  Dixie has incredibly thick hard feet, and I was dreading working on them.

After the ride, I thought “I should pull those wet boots off and let her feet dry out.”  I sat there for a moment in the shade, and then I thought, “… and I really should trim them while they’re soft and wet.”  It was so hard to force myself to trim – I had to do one foot, then stagger back to the shade and drink another bottle of elyted water, then do another foot, etc.  But I got it done, and soggy feet are so much easier to trim.  I think in the future on trim days I’m going to boot her, hose her legs, ride for an hour, then pull the boots and trim her soggy feet.  It was that much easier.

And ~oddly enough~, the boot fit looked much better after the trim.  :rolleyes:

Then I decided not to ride Sunday.  It wasn’t for points or miles.  I want to do Sunriver 100 in two weeks, and I really didn’t want to override her and injure her.  I live close enough, and I have wonderful friends in the area, and I can come back and ride the canyons some other weekend before we try Tevis next year.  And the consequences of getting heatstroke in the canyons are very high – there is no easy way out, if I heatstroked out down there.  I do not know if I could walk out if my horse couldn’t haul me out, and it just wasn’t worth it overall.

I was so close to doing everything perfectly, too.  I know that if I get conditioned for the heat, if I keep my neck cooler wet, and if I eat and drink regularly, I can do this.  But I wasn’t conditioned, and I really didn’t want to injure myself, so I pulled.  Partly I feel like shit for not being Tough Enough and Badass Enough, but I think that’s just pride talking and I made a good decision.  :-/

So I played trailer driver on Sunday!  We all got up at 4 am, loaded Vader and Mocha Jack in my trailer at 5:15, and headed up to Robinson Flat.  Wayne’s friend and I waved them off at 7 and headed back down at 7:30.  I packed up my camp and loaded Miss D and got on the road for home at 9.

Next: the usual post-ride gear/training stuff.

2013 Tevis Educational Ride, Foresthill to Auburn

…or, Only One Day?  You Wuss!

Apparently they tweak the Ed Ride a little bit every year.  This year, there was a bike race on the upper part of the trail on Saturday, so we were scheduled to ride the trail out of order.  Saturday was Foresthill (60some miles) to Auburn (100 miles), and Sunday was Robinson Flat (30some) to Foresthill (60some).

It’s pretty crucial to preride FH to Auburn.  Yes, Tevis is held during the full moon, but it’s black as tar under the trees.  You have to believe that your horse knows the trail and trust her to move down it fast enough to finish, and your horse deserves to know where the end is.

The logistics of Tevis are mindblowing, but the logistics of the Ed Ride are even more amazing to me.  You must have crew for Tevis, and your crew moves your rig from point to point to meet you.  You don’t have to have crew for the Ed Ride – the outstanding volunteers will move your rig for you.  I’d signed up to have ~someone~ move my trailer, but Wayne talked his friend into coming and we ended up having Dean move my trailer to haul both horses around.

So here’s D the day before.  She’s just a tiny bit thinner than I’d like, but not too bad.

This year, they did a staggered start.  Mentor-rider teams left every five minutes, so we wouldn’t get caught up in that “fresh horse racing with the pack”thing.  The three of us left at 6:30 on the dot.

We rode through the tiny town of Foresthill, which was oddly deserted – on race day, everyone in town brings lawn chairs and coolers and sits by the trail/road, cheering the riders along.  Bill Gore was there taking pics, and of course he got some beautiful shots of Dixie.

About a mile outside of town the first disaster started to unfold.  My Pretty Princess started slinging her head.  That was the fourth time she’s done that – once at Washoe ’12, when the flies came out by the lake. Once at Rides of March ’13, when the old saddle was pinching and I was sick and riding like shit.  Once at Washoe ’13, when the sleet came in sideways.  And once at TevEd, and I didn’t know why.  I wasn’t riding like shit!  The saddle and tack fit perfectly at Washoe a month previously!  I couldn’t see any flies!  What the hell, horse!

And she wasn’t just flipping her nose up and down.  When she does this shit, she will drop her head between her knees and toss her head so hard the reins will go over her ears.  She’ll thrash her head back to my toes.  She is paying no attention to her feet when she’s doing this, and I knew if she tripped we’d go over the damn cliff and it’d be a bad scene.  I got off at one point and tightened up her girth and crupper – maybe the saddle was sliding forward and hurting her shoulders?  Obviously I took no pics at all, but trust me, it’s a gorgeous trail.  Just wide enough for one horse to comfortably trot, lots of natural water and small rock pools, very nicely maintained trail.  Lots of gentle up and down but nothing too killer.  Dixie started drinking at 12 miles, maybe, and kept drinking great all day.

I just chocked up the reins as short as I could and booted her forward every time she tried to toss her head and toughed it out.  By the time (10 am) we got to the first vet check at Francisco’s, I was ready to pull.  I came in and the volunteers asked how my ride was going and I blurted out my woes.  A volunteer immediately knew what was wrong.

“Oh, it’s flies!  I live out here and my gelding does the same thing.  There are hordes of teeny tiny biting gnats out right now.  Slather on some fly spray and see if that helps.”

So I did.  I got her pulsed down and vetted, borrowed some fly spray, and just coated her head in it.  If you’re one of the four people who’s been reading this thing all along, you’ll remember that back in ’09 the spray bottle was our biggest nemesis.  Dixie used to absolutely panic if you went anywhere near her with a spray bottle – like galloping around the round pen til she was completely lathered.  Well, it’s 2013 and she’s learned to tolerate all kinds of previously-intolerable bullshit from me, so I just yanked her head down and squirted her all over with fly spray and she was a big girl about it.

She’d rolled in the red dust at FH the day before and she was just manky with it.

And she did not toss her head again.  Lesson learned #1.

So we headed out again.  The river crossing was lovely and not too deep.  There’s a dam higher up the American River, and on Tevis Day they hold the water back so the flow is very low.  But they won’t hold it for the Ed Ride, and the river gets pretty high after 1:30.  We got there well before and the water was only up to the horses’ bellies.  I knew I shouldn’t, but when the water touched my feet it felt so good and cool that I let my feet get wet and it felt amazing.  Bill was there again, taking more gorgeous pics of my gorgeous girl.

\m/

The climb up after the river.  Don’t we just look like we know what we’re doing?  😉

The second section wound along above the American River, and we started to see other trail users.  Two guys had fishing poles and those floating chairs, and Dixie was like, oh that’s NBD and walked right past them.  She has the best brain :)  The river was just gorgeous below us.  The day was starting to heat up, but I was drinking and eating and I felt fine.  The last section of road into the Lower Quarry was pretty hot and rocky, and the horses were all hot coming into the second check, but they made it.

“I hate you, human.  Are we ever going to turn around?”

Dixie took a little while to pulse down, but once she did she stayed near 50.  A lot of hot-and-tired B’s on her card, but she was eating and drinking and we only had six miles to go.  We headed out along the river again.  We worked up the canyon, away from the big Hwy 49 Foresthill bridge (it’s like 700+ feet high above the river) and popped out at No Hands Bridge, which is much lower and shorter and used to be a railroad bridge.  It’s not infinitely wide, but it’s easily wide enough for a car and it’s got some little guard rails and well it’s called No Hands Bridge so when I saw the photographer I had to do it.

Just beautiful.

A selfie.

 Look, Mom, no hands!

And then the evaporative cooler on the back of my helmet dried out.  I got hot.  I went from “huh I’m kinda hot” to crushing heat headache & making bad decisions in about 20 minutes.  I was out of water for Dixie, I was almost out of water for me, it was blindingly hot, and Dixie was huffing along at about 100 breaths per minute.  I got off and started walking her and that just got me hotter, but I’ll be damned if I hurt my horse when I can possibly spare her.  I walked uphill in the heat, which isn’t something I can do, but Dixie was so hot and we were only two miles from the finish and I was just terrified that I’d colic/thump/tie-up her.  Finally Wayne and Becky convinced me to get back on – I probably looked half-dead – and we dragged ass into the fairgrounds.  I took my helmet off because it was SO HOT and I didn’t care if I fell off and died.  
There’s a big rock tank of cool water just at the border of the fairgrounds.  I yanked D’s bridle off and she went in up to her nostrils and drank, and I soaked my helmet and stuck it back on and the cold water running down my back was better than drugs, dude, it felt SO GOOD.  I yanked all of Dixie’s tack, hung it on the fence, and walked her up to the hoses.  She was probably at 120 when we came in. I sprayed her down for a few minutes – somebody was talking to me so I don’t really know how long it was, less than five minutes – and checked her pulse.  She was down.  I took her over to Melissa Ribley and she vetted out perfectly.  We did the thirty-whatever miles in 7:15, a completely respectable pace.

It was Dixie’s first point-to-point ride, and I think she just lost heart toward the end.  She can be directionally challenged, but she knew that we were nowhere near the trailer and she couldn’t understand why we hadn’t turned around yet.  But when I yanked the saddle at the fairgrounds she knew we were done, before she even saw her trailer.

Here she is back at Foresthill.  I really think she looks almost exactly as good as she did the day before. I know it’s not the same angle but I was doing real good to take a post-ride pic, period.

I fought that crushing headache til after 6, but I did manage to do one extremely smart and productive thing:  I trimmed her hooves.

Friday night I’d gotten Kevin and the Easyboot people to come look at Dixie’s horrible feet and ridiculous boots – everybody who looks at the way her Gloves fit double-takes, because there’s just no way they should stay on.  But they do!  Oddly, I lost two back boots on Saturday, but the fronts stayed on.  You can kind of see how abysmal they look in the Lower Quarry pic, if you’re a boot nerd :)

Anyway, Kevin said take off a lot more toe, at the very least go back to the white line.  It’s the kind of thing I know, and if I was looking at someone else’s hoof pics I’d say “well duh, pull the toe back,” but that’s why you need outside eyes sometimes.  Dixie has incredibly thick hard feet, and I was dreading working on them.

After the ride, I thought “I should pull those wet boots off and let her feet dry out.”  I sat there for a moment in the shade, and then I thought, “… and I really should trim them while they’re soft and wet.”  It was so hard to force myself to trim – I had to do one foot, then stagger back to the shade and drink another bottle of elyted water, then do another foot, etc.  But I got it done, and soggy feet are so much easier to trim.  I think in the future on trim days I’m going to boot her, hose her legs, ride for an hour, then pull the boots and trim her soggy feet.  It was that much easier.

And ~oddly enough~, the boot fit looked much better after the trim.  :rolleyes:

Then I decided not to ride Sunday.  It wasn’t for points or miles.  I want to do Sunriver 100 in two weeks, and I really didn’t want to override her and injure her.  I live close enough, and I have wonderful friends in the area, and I can come back and ride the canyons some other weekend before we try Tevis next year.  And the consequences of getting heatstroke in the canyons are very high – there is no easy way out, if I heatstroked out down there.  I do not know if I could walk out if my horse couldn’t haul me out, and it just wasn’t worth it overall.

I was so close to doing everything perfectly, too.  I know that if I get conditioned for the heat, if I keep my neck cooler wet, and if I eat and drink regularly, I can do this.  But I wasn’t conditioned, and I really didn’t want to injure myself, so I pulled.  Partly I feel like shit for not being Tough Enough and Badass Enough, but I think that’s just pride talking and I made a good decision.  :-/

So I played trailer driver on Sunday!  We all got up at 4 am, loaded Vader and Mocha Jack in my trailer at 5:15, and headed up to Robinson Flat.  Wayne’s friend and I waved them off at 7 and headed back down at 7:30.  I packed up my camp and loaded Miss D and got on the road for home at 9.

Next: the usual post-ride gear/training stuff.

Moving, rides, reviews

This weekend I moved Dixie to a “stall” at the same stable she’s been at. What everybody out here calls a stall is what I’d call a tiny paddock with a run-in shelter. So, ugh, my horse is in a stall, but it’s not like a 10×12 no-turnout stall inside a barn.

Yes, there was a tiny bit of drama, but you know rehashing drama is not my thing. Let’s just say that the other owners in the field – all of whom had been there longer – wanted to feed alfalfa, and Dixie’s allergic to alfalfa. A stall costs $120 more a month (with cleaning), but at least I can set up a slow feeder (like irish horse’s!) and she can nibble 24/7. And she IS a super lazy horse who prefers to stand around all day – she wasn’t doing a very good job of utilizing a traditional pasture setup.

So here’s the view through the feeding window at the back of the run-in. You can see that even though she’s plumped back up from her dehydrated post-ride state, she’s still a little thin – hopefully I can fix that in September.
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Kinda artsy :) Since then, I’ve printed and laminated a better stall sign, but all I had to work with that day was a manilla envelope, a sharpie, and some duct tape.
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From the front.
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Next ride: I think I’m going to do Tami’s new ride, the Red Rocks Rumble (pdf ride flyer). It’s October 6th, so that’ll give Miss Dee six weeks off. I know the whole Red Rocks area, and I’ve ridden the first 30 mile loop with ~C earlier this year. God willing it don’t snow early, I’m going to my home stomping grounds!

Before that: I’m hoping to do an LD with a newbie at Ride Bear (pdf flyer). It’s super-local – if M can’t make it, I think I will go volunteer anyway. I feel kinda guilty, because Red Rock Rumble is the same weekend as Quicksilver Fall Classic. But I get so excited when I think about Red Rocks!

Tack Review: This endurance thing is getting easier and easier, and I don’t think my tack musings deserve their own post-ride blog anymore. 😮

  • Cooling: I forgot my $2 helmet liner cooler in the trailer, but luckily the trailer followed me to the vet check.  😉  The ride was far from hot, but the helmet cooler works great and it was nice to have.  Sadly, I left my cheapo cooling vest at Foresthill, and I thought I ordered another vest but perhaps I have dreamt it?  Anyway, I didn’t really need extra cooling on that ride.  
  • Boots: I taped them on because they’re getting pretty easy to apply, but then because I’d taped them on I couldn’t pull them on the trail to check for gravel.  I had to fold down the gaiters and scrape the gravel out with my fingers – if they hadn’t been taped, I could’ve pulled the whole boot off, banged the junk out on a rock, then reapplied the boot.  I don’t know!  Like stall vs. pasture, it’s another question with no easy answer.  But the bottom line is:  the Gloves continue to work perfectly.
  • Accommodations:  I slept on an eggcrate and two sleeping bags in the back seat of the truck.  I have become a camping minimalist and who needs fancy-schmancy shit like tents?  Just give me somewhere mostly flat to lay a bag.
  • Chow:  Miss Thing hates beet pulp again.  Also, she eats more than one half-bale-bag full of hay on a one-day ride.  I need to call Henry and get another half-bale-bag before he runs out!
  • People Chow:  I think most of my pre- and post-lunch “why did I pay money to do this to myself” blahs are carb related.  I actually don’t eat super low carb day-to-day, but when I’m out volunteering or riding a ride, I have noticed that when I eat a lot of carbs all at once (sandwich, sugary energy bar, handful of fruit) I get the sugar crash a lot more frequently.  So this time I tried a smoothie made from coconut milk, whey protein powder, and a little hot chocolate mix.  Surprisingly not vile, tons of calories of fat and protein, worked GREAT.  I couldn’t find my other can of coconut milk at the second check so I just drank beer instead.  This may be the silliest substitution in the history of the sport.

In other n=1 personal experimentation news: I gave up dairy and had no zits. Then on the way to Tahoe Rim I drank a Starbucks, and another on the way home from the ride. I got three zits that weekend. A week back on the no-dairy bandwagon and I have no zits again. I can’t say that I’ll never drink milk again – a really good latte is totally worth it – but my daily coffee is lightened with coconut milk these days.

GC analysis

So how did I end up with only an hour left to cover seven miles? It’s all in the vet checks. Most of the 50s I’ve done have had only two vet checks – the loops are 20/15/15 (or some combination thereof.) Gold Country was 12/12/18/7. Instead of stopping and pulsing my horse down twice, I had to pulse her down three times. Instead of losing an hour and a half to mandatory hold times, I lost two hours. If Dixie had pulsed down the second she walked in to each check, and I had crew to shove me back in the saddle and back out the gate the second I could leave, I would’ve had exactly 10 hours to cover 50 miles. But I lost another 45 minutes to pulsing my big thick-skinned horse down, and probably 15 more to me getting my shit together to get out the gate again. I only had 9 hours to ride 50 miles. I had to sustain 5.5 mph to get it done.

That’s not prima facie unreasonable, even in July, but it wasn’t foremost on my mind. I’ve never cut it that close before, not even at our first 50. It just never occurred to me that we’d get so out of time – especially when the vet-check cutoff times were so encouraging. Of course I didn’t take a single picture of my vet card, but I want to say that the first vet check, 12.5 miles from camp, had a cutoff time of 10 am? I got there at 8:30. I stayed an hour to an hour and a half ahead of the cutoff times. I’d have done better to completely ignore the cutoffs AND my GPS and just go by the mileage points listed on the map + the time on my phone to figure out how I was doing.

I was going to shake my fist at the heavens and say “Well I’ll just not do rides that have three vet checks,” but you know what? The ride flyer (for this year, no less) says it’s a two-check 15/15/20 ride.

I dunno. I know my horse is marginal at this sport, but she’s not dangerously marginal. She had good vet scores all day, and I rode her pretty intelligently. Maybe her recoveries will continue to improve like they have for the last couple of years. Maybe she’ll pulse down faster.

It was a tough ride. It definitely didn’t feel that hilly, but the GPS says it’s the hilliest 50 we’ve ever done. It was very hot, and I suspect the shitty smoky air didn’t help things. I’m super proud of Dixie for finding fifth gear at the very end, but I’m upset with myself that she had to find fifth. That’s not how I like to ride.

Stuff! Now that I’m really getting the hang of endurance camping, I’m getting way more lassiez-faire about everything.

I didn’t even bring the truck tent. I just threw a tarp in the back of the horse trailer and tossed my cot back there. It was fine. I brought plenty of food and ate enough of it I suppose. Some powerbar things (gross) and some nut-and-fruit trail mix (boring), plus tons of fruit at the VC’s and steak and chocolate milk at lunch. I really kinda thought the chocolate milk might make me hurl, but it looked SO GOOD when I opened the cooler and it went down GREAT.

Usually, I mix powdered electrolytes for my camelbak. Hot salty lemonade is pretty gross but I drink the hell out of it. This time, I did the whole ride with water in my camelback and electrolyte pills in my bag. I ate a handful of pills whenever I thought about it – I honestly have no idea how many or when. I did not drink as much water as usual. It didn’t seem to do me any harm. I kinda missed my hot lemon water though.

Still rockin’ that same long sleeve runner’s shirt. It totally regulates my temperature – it keeps me slightly cooler in the heat and slightly warmer in the cold. I loves it. Still rockin’ the barefoot shoes. I laced them pretty tight to hopefully prevent blisters, but I still popped a blister on one foot. I didn’t notice til I got home so I guess that’s almost success. I’ve been going commando and not getting the panty-line chafing.

The participation award was a Cooltie, and they gave it out at sign in. It does, in fact, work. It feels kinda disgusting – it’s a warm slimy wet thing tied around your neck – but I felt cooler than I otherwise would’ve.

Last week, I got a Fitbit. It’s a little pedometer, smaller than a cigarette lighter, that clips onto your body somewhere. It tells you how many steps you walk in a day, then extrapolates how many calories you’ve burned, miles you’ve walked, etc. The hard-but-not-impossible goal for most desk job people is to walk 10,000 steps in one day. Would you care to guess how many steps the Fitbit thinks I took on Saturday? And how many calories I burned, even after I went back and told it I’d been Riding Horseback (Trotting) for 12 hours?

My quads are KILLING ME. Gonna bike a lot more around town and try to get in better shape for Tahoe Rim.

Sticking your helmet in every water trough is definitely the way to fly.

Horse stuff!!
Used Gloves again. I’ve gotta be getting near 200 miles on that set, and they’re noticeably easier to put on. I only taped the fronts – her front feet look way better, but the Gloves’ V still doesn’t stretch like it should. I actually lost a rear boot, but the gaiter kept it on. Will probably tape all four for Tahoe Rim.

So Easyboot people, is this the point where I put the powerstraps on? Now that the boots are ~easy to apply~?

My Renegade friends have been giving me vague disapproving vibes about my boot disloyalty, but the Gloves really do fit better right now. Shrug!

Totally forgot to buy applesauce. I only had four single-serves of applesauce, so I rationed them out. Turns out Dixie eats hay-and-BP mash with a half oz of Enduramax mixed in, yay! She ate a lot of her elytes and I only syringed at the first two checks.

She didn’t drink til 16 miles. She drank great all the way back to camp, then after lunch she was pissy and wouldn’t drink again til the trough at about 39 miles – but again, she drank heavily at that trough, the trough 2 miles from the last VC, the last VC, and the trailer. I have finally started to relax and trust that she’s taking care of herself. Her hydration scores were consistently good.

And speaking of that – this was the first ride where I assumed she was ok. Every AERC ride we’ve done, I have been assuming that she’s about to die and hopefully the vets would notice before she fell over. This ride, I just assumed she was ok, mechanically and metabolically, and hoped the vets would notice if I was wrong. YAY.

Dixie looked good after the ride. Her flanks got a little tucked in from the inevitable dehydration (endurance athletes, equine or human, can’t replenish their fluids completely during an event – they always finish a couple % dehydrated), but they’d improved the next morning.

All four legs had a tiny bit of fill overnight. I need to walk her more often before bed and before we load up to go home. Do poultices work, or do they just make the humans feel better about things? What about wrapping, does that work and how would I learn how to do it? Is it just disguising the problem, or does it actually help prevent future lameness?

Of course nothing rubbed her. This is the up side to having a thick skinned horse that takes 10 minutes and 10 gallons of water to pulse down. :)

Dead Renegades

These are two year old ~500 mile Renegade hoof boots.

The toes on the fronts are gone

So is the tread

The rears are in better shape. They have slightly fewer miles, and they’re still good backup boots.

I changed out the velcro toe straps once, and one of the cables frayed badly and needed to be replaced, but other than that I did no maintenance. I definitely got my money’s worth out of them!

This is just another post that someone might be interested in in the future. :)