Thursday, December 25, 2014

Always learning!

Hope everyone has had a great Christmas - no matter what you celebrate or did!

My little family started our day out with pancakes and gifts (99% of them to the kids)... Then I got to go ride with some friends after lunch :)

I am always learning with Tesla that is for sure!
He hadn't been really messed with in almost 2 weeks...Totally a mudball with a wind knot I didn't even have time to deal with today.  We got most of the mud off, and most everything else brushed out nice!
I was honestly was expecting much worse - being he had almost 2 weeks off and it was a windy day at that!

So...recanting things I learned today:
1.  Someone is a bit antsy standing tied in the wind.  Patience post work in our future?!
2.  That said someone does not like straight load trailers!!! Thankfully I foresaw this being a possible issue and asked my riding buddy and mentor to come by before our meet up and be there to help load.
3.  The same horse does not know how to back off a trailer and tried to turn himself around.  Makes this loading and unloading as a 1 person job even harder!!!
4.  Once settled in, he doesn't mind being mid or back of the group.  In the beginning he was itching to get up front.
5. Not sure if it is the need for a trim (getting it scheduled for next week), or he got lazy...he started clipping himself on the left side with his back hoof. No cuts found, just could hear the hooves hit. Bell boots may be in our future...
6. We need to work on downward crossings into muddy areas...He is not a fan.  Got a few interesting jumps out of him instead :P
7.  Overall not a spook in the wind :)  Had to get used to Bear (our trail dog buddy) running up behind us but then we were good.
8. We REALLY need to work on trailer loading and unloading.  I think he was worse getting on to come back home than heading out!

It was a good 2.5hr ride with friends, away from the barn enjoying the dry sunny day! ride is planned in a week for New Years Day unless I manage to get out there for a bit Mon, Tues or Wed while kids are out of the way :)  I will be getting picked up in a slant load, so we'll see if the loading is easier, plus there will be other horses.

Sporting Christmas socks :)

almost ready to head out

One of the better views in life

Selfie on horseback!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

2015 is just around the corner

So...No riding time this past weekend.  I did get my trailer back though :)  So now we are free to move about! Still more work to do on it to get ready for ride camp season...

We closed on our new place on the 15th so this past weekend began the work, hence my confinement to crazy kids and no horsey time :(  Then of course Mon & Tues while kids were being watched we got rain rain rain.  Our cars are now a greenish - gray color as the new place is off a gravel road!  Must wash them when the rain is done this week.

The good news is I get to ride Christmas day with friends! :)  It supposed to be pretty nice here, just will have a more mud to contend with instead.

With 2015 around the corner, I have some goals for Tesla and me. 
We have joined a Green Bean Endurance Team for a little competition in 2015.  A group of 5 of us racking up miles all season long :)
I might just be crazy enough to jump right into the 50...  Tesla has completed (2) 25's prior to me purchasing him, so he is probably ready. We will get some long training rides in with friends before hand to make sure and I'll be hanging back of the pack with friends/mentors to help us through :) What's one more loop right? :P

My season is planned to start in April, and just 1 ride a month.  Makes some months really tough to decide which to go to!  Hoping to do all 50s, but we'll see.

Hope everyone has a Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Mud, creeks, rivers OH MY!

Saturday - 12/13/14 - my plans changed for a variety of reasons we can't even call a comedy of errors.
The plan for the last month was to go to state park for a group of us "local" endurance riders (all within a few of hours of said park) for a day ride. A bunch of us with new partners at that.  But, in the end, I rode with a 3 other boarders at the barn around our trails for about 2 hours. 
Tesla learned that is OK not to be in the front, and not trotting all the time :)  He was a good boy, not caring if anyone was right behind him, so that is good to know for the future!  The mare we rode with wasn't particularly fond of him, so we steered clear!  His buddy Blue from the field was our leader, and Tesla had a hard time not surging ahead but the field dynamic (and me) held him back.

Fairly uneventful ride of sorts.  We went over the muddy ditch from the other direction this time (the one he sat down in before), and there was a lot more wetness to it. We had a little debate over the correct way to get across, and finally followed another horse thru it without leaping.
We crossed several creeks, and even went across the river to some more trails.  Tesla really had fun in the water it seemed. Splashing a bit, then finally following Blue on over. It was low, but moving fast.  The kind that makes you dizzy if you watch it while you are moving against it!

The one thing I discovered with our saddle set up using the Equipedic is even that lets the Bandos slide on it!  Argh... but, the thing that was easier was that it has loops on the my handy zip ties came to the rescue as soon as we got back for our next ride!

Oh - Tesla had his teeth floated this week.  So now I'm sure his bit 'issue' is the size and style of bit... On the hunt for the right one!

I need a Go Pro! Really hard to take pictures while riding.  Colder weather = gloves and phone buried in a jacket, just some post ride rolling pics!
Rolling, with Blue (the painted draft cross) photo-bombing
 for attention as his roll was complete


Daisy & Patrick wondering what Tesla is up to

Monday, December 8, 2014

A horse of a different color...

Saturday 12/6 - It was barely raining at home, but 10min away at my barn it was raining, I drove out there to find myself just watching the group of 5 buried in the hay and left well enough alone.

Sunday afternoon I took off during nap time with the intent to ride.
I went to get Tesla who is definitely no longer black, but the lovely color of mud!
Spent a while brushing and getting the mud out.  Not very successfully, oh the joys of wet winters.

One thing I treats! I had some in my pocket and therefore we spent the time tacking up dancing around...trying to get at the treats.  He was kind of cute though, as while I took a glove off to de-tangle a wind knot he grabbed it from between my knees and played with it.  Also, grabbed at my zipper pull playing with my jacket.

Once we were past all that, I took him out to the arena to work do some ground work.  "Sending" to walk around me in a circle is very difficult for him.  After a few tries we moved on to just working on trotting out together, me changing directions and just kind of playing in the arena.  I let him off and he still continued to follow me around and stick by me while I ran around silly. 

And since no one else was around, we went back out to get tacked up.  I do need to find a bit that fits better I think, but he isn't overly mad about it.  We will try a few out, we have time before the spring rides to iron it all out!

I changed pads to an Equipedic with inserts and we rode around the arena a bit.  We worked a lot to the right, which is his "less strong" direction and I worked on learning his rhythm.  Which felt harder to do in the arena than out on the trail! 

Post work out, new pad is blue

Cool sun spot post work out shot
 Next weekend, the plan is to go riding with a group of local endurance friends at a park about an hour haul away :) 

Drive #1

Sunday after Thanksgiving... I have my tack fitted to him and planning to ride!  Whether just in the arena or on the trails around the barn; I. am. getting. on.

I was lucky enough to run into some of our other boarders and asked to tag along their trail ride.  After all, I have to relearn our barn trails... I hadn't been on them since August, and now everything has changed without leaves!!

A bit windy that day so we had a few stubborn moments starting out... sideways spooks... but nothing big as we danced around the scary picnic table and firepit to the trail.

Tesla did great and wanted to lead once in the woods.  A few stop and stares at the funny noises in the trees while doing so, but generally happily interested in the trail ahead.

One funny moment - we were leading across an area I know to be a mud ditch.  I ask him not to jump, but to walk...  as I feel he is trying to ball up and pounce across, he is in fact sliding to the point where he ended up sitting down in the mud.  I hopped off at that point with all of us laughing that he literally was sitting on the ditch.  Remounted and followed the other horses across no problem :P

I got proof of being on him at the end of the ride back at the barn...
Shadow selfie

Our first ride at home complete

Motoring with Tesla

Tesla...a unit of energy ... CHECK!  He is an Arabian after all :)
Motoring? well that comes from ultra high class cool Tesla vehicles :)  Tesla is "my new ride"

And what comes with a new ride?  New TACK!
Thanksgiving weekend, Saturday I spent trying out all the tack on him to get proper fit and see what might need to change.

The breast collar and Ride & Tie halter/bridle from Taylored Tack are new.
My saddle is a Bandos Treeless with a sheepskin cover on the seat only and that is a HAF pad.

Looking sharp!

A new partner


I wasn't sure how quickly I wanted another horse, but being without Traveler to spend my weekends with while kids napped and the first few times out on friend's horses made me realize I needed the bond of owning again.  I had no shortage of offers to lease horses, free leases, free horses...  But I was searching for my match.

I grew up on The Black Stallion and Black Beauty... I've always wanted a black horse, and now I was partial to geldings... and so the search began!
Eventually I found my way to KY to visit a barn and try out several horses. One of which at the top of the list was black, AA Knight Moves, a 2007 gelding, AKA Tesla.

On Sunday Nov 23, with the help of several friends, I got to pick up Tesla in West Virginia and bring him home :)

Settled into his new field on his own a for a few days

A good rollll

I only was able to get out at 8pm a few nights...

Thanksgiving day - got to hang out munching on grass

Handsome fella

Iron Mountain...Traveler's final resting place.

Here I am, just turned 35 going to my first endurance ride!  Granted, only for the LD but my goal was to complete and move on from there...25, 50 or more, to Finish is to Win!

I was a nervous wreck about IMJ.  My first time camping in years, tent camping too, but I had been prepped well by my mentor Roberta.  I was not alone - she rode the day before and was working the final vet check our day, and another friend and her daughter let me join up with them for our LD.  Here is a picture of our riding trio as we crossed the range land on the way into the vet check (thanks to the ride manager, Nancy Sluys)

Traveler vetted in well - pulsed down in time, A's except for Gut sounds (B) and was ready to go out on the last loop after a bit of munching grass and stealing oat mix that he found yummy.

Vet check munching

It was hot and humid.  We had climbed the last hill and we were all happy to be done with those!  We were moving out with Tinkerbelle in the lead and Thunderbolt behind us.  It was a nice dry area (had rained overnight so there were mud spots around) and we were moving at a nice paced trot; Approaching the switchbacks down which we knew that was the last bit of toughness before camp.

And then, my world changed.

I noted the branch on the ground, slightly tented in one spot, laying across the whole trail; Tinkerbelle first and then we trotted over it... and suddenly, Traveler went down; scrambled to get back up and I knew something was wrong...Somehow I didn't go flying over his head, but jumped off into the woods as soon as he was standing.  It was adrenaline rush, not caring about anything but him.  He was in obvious distress. Non weight bearing on his front right, barely on his back left.  We did a quick regroup and Ann and Thunderbolt headed back to camp while Sydney and Tinkerbelle stayed with me and Traveler, keeping him as calm as possible. 
That time waiting for the ride vets was like an eternity. I was afraid to move from his side; I knew if he laid down we'd have little chance to get him home, but if he stayed up, maybe...just maybe.   His back leg improved during the wait, but the front we realized likely broken.  I was knew we were in an impossible place... 4.5miles of smaller hills and mud back to a dirt road, and just around the corner from the single track switchbacks to the main road back to camp.  I had several moments of losing it myself and Sydney held me up... 2 miles left in the ride....

The last few hours I had him with will forever be imprinted in my memory.  As will the actions of so many of my new endurance family at the ride and online.  Riders who came through after us and making sure I was ok, the vets who came up to treat Traveler and help him cross over peacefully.  The numerous hugs and offers for drinks back at camp...   The ride manager for taking care of him on the mountain and later securing his final resting place.

I cannot begin to express the gratitude to everyone during that time, and again to those who donated toward me finding a new partner.  I promise, I will be back...
Our ride photo

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Delving into this world of blogging...

While I love FB, I am thinking some of my longer training/riding posts may be better to write out here :)

About me and why I'm here Motoring down the Trails....
I love horses.  I got bit by the bug young, but wasn't able to own a horse or ride consistently.  Fast-forward many a years, every vacation and trip my husband and I took included a trail ride of some sort. July of 2007 he became "that" husband who for my birthday got me a pony! LOL
He found a barn near our house for me to lease a horse.  I chose Apache, a red roan appaloosa who put up with all sorts of riders (little kids) for lessons and was always happy to see me arrive for fun in the ring or out on the trail. 

And so it begins...
Apache taught me a lot - re-honing my skills and making me realize my love of the trail. Apache suffered a horrible kick through his hind muscle in the field one night and I helped the barn owner care for his wound and rehab him when ready.  He will always hold a special place in my heart, but I knew I needed a horse who that "love" of the trail too so in time I went horse hunting. 
For a good trail horse, maybe even to do CTR, and black...  and this is who I fell for:

I renamed him Traveler, and registered him Appendix Hardship as "Trail Traveling Rebel".  Now this guy.... Well, lets just say the horse I saw twice was not the same horse that was delivered to the barn 3 weeks later!  A little psycho that first day, underweight, severely herd bound and occasionally dangerous as such.  But, we worked on the ground for the winter months and developed a good bond before riding in the spring.  We went on our first camping ride in October 2008 and I was hooked.  It was just for fun, no speed or goal...just a bunch of women out freezing their butts off at times :)

I wanted to try a CTR, but alas, life got in the way...job changes, had major lameness from sole bruises and by the time he was good we moved and I was pregnant with my son so we were restricted to wandering.  During all this our bond still strengthened.  I didn't care if I was riding or not, he got lots of grooming when I couldn't or ground work.

The barn I happened to find through yahoo groups in TN was someone who does endurance and breeds Arabs.  This further hooked me!  I had my mind set we were going to get to an LD someday.  I trained with them when I could go with the slow group....again life laughed at me - a layoff and another kid!  And later, another move!

So here we are,  moved to Central VA Dec 2013, and I find more friends online (FB this time) who are interested in endurance and we start a plan to do LDs in 2014 - June and Aug for sure.  So our conditioning begins. We didn't make it to the June ride for various reasons, but we signed up for Iron Mountain Jubilee in Ivanhoe VA in August and gosh darn it we were going!  I found a way to condition and train despite losing both my main riding buddies...

Traveler surprised me with how well he was doing at a training ride at Graves Mill (that had me scared half to death - another story!) which ended up being 28 miles instead of the intended 20 and that convinced me to switch from the 15mi intro ride to full on 25mi LD.  Which was really a 28 mile ride at IMJ...

That ride...that day changed my life in so many ways... (see next post)