Monday, August 29, 2016

The Adventure Never Ends

What a weekend...where to begin?

I'll start with the big question, how did it feel to be back at IMJ?  Well, I was glad to be distracted and busy volunteering. I'm sure it would have been different if I had been riding the trails, but it wasn't as emotionally hard as I thought it would be to just BE at the ride. I had Traveler with me at all times, wearing his horsehair bracelet, and in my trailer at night was my pillow to remember my boys.

From the beginning....
loaded up!
My goal was to be on the road about 9, and I almost made that.  I got to the barn about 8, took about 45 min to finish up my packing and set up. Then went to grab Prophecy.  I gave him a few turns around the round pen, still looked a little off going CCW to me.  We then had a small discussion about the trailer until he realized "Yes, I am saying get on now!"  While checking one last thing I saw he pooped...Ok, small detour to the vet as he was due for a fecal count recheck.  He was not thrilled at the stop there and started pawing/kicking he escape door.   We officially left about 920.

After that it was pretty much smooth sailing and we arrived around 1pm to Ivanhoe. He unloaded a little unruly, yelled a bit while I got his pen set up, but within 30min was quiet and content to look around.

I took him for a mock vet-in, at which he was unphased.  We trotted out, the vet saying if he was truly off we'd see it as the ground was very hard in there. Nope, he's fine. Faking it? Or circles too tight in the round pen??  We'll try lunging in the regular arena tonight to warm up.

Amy & Ricky vetting in together after their 30
My Rockin' Mountain Monstas teammates that came to the ride were all riding Friday, Ricky in LD (with his wife Amy), Jaime & Kristen in the 50.  Jaime's friend Susan came along to crew. She has gotten a little bit of the endurance bug riding Jaime's horse Faygo :) I got done with checking in and getting into my volunteer shirt to hear Ricky & Amy were back. I helped cool off, sponge and scrape their horses. Then got to watch as they did their final vet in together. I think it is so awesome they got to ride together this time!  We took the horses down to the river and I grabbed a few fun shots for them.

I spent the rest of the afternoon/evening being a scribe at the final vet check for our wonderful vets. After dinner & the awards Prophecy was a bit wound up with all the horses being walked around and head lamps galore. So I grabbed my head lamp and we went walking.  That seemed to settle him a bit and we turned in for the night around 10.  I tried to use my rope slow feed hay net, but he would throw it into my trailer! argh...about 5 min of that and I went out to dump it.
I still didn't get much sleep...he talked a lot!  Either calling out to other horses, or soft nickers to them - even to ME; He'd come up to my window to chat :)

The day began with the usual commotion of riders getting ready and leaving for their rides, Prophecy handled it pretty well. We went walking a bunch, and then hung out while the rest of the team packed up to head out. He held it together pretty well for that, and even the neighbors heading out to trail ride. I had a few people around who knew that I'd be up at the vet check area just in case I was needed, but he was a good sport :)
He did have one "time out" where I tied him to the trailer for being very antsy and pushy against the panels as Jaime was packing up her horse, but after about 15min of that he settled back down.

I did taken him down to play in the river some, to which he put his nose under the water and threw it at me several times...I think he liked the nice cool spot, and did pretty well with the kids killer whale float that was around!

I spent my day from lunch to dinner as a scribe again. I love being a scribe.  Ok, I got my workout in too over the weekend trotting out horses for people who needed it, but the best is the vets always have something interesting and never hold back from sharing knowledge. Much discussion was had about "thumps" and grading of lameness. There was really only one group of riders that came through that weren't exactly 'nice' to the vets or volunteers at the final check.

We visited with the ride farrier to check on his feet, and found out what size Easy Boots I need to find for his fronts.

I moved his pen to get at some grass towards the back of my trailer, and it turns out I slept well Saturday night!  He talked a few times, but not much.

I was up about 615 and decided I wasn't really hungry to stay for breakfast. I packed up, we walked, then decided to hit the road about 8. He loaded very easily with no discussion this time. I think he was ready to go home too.

Everything in 3's right?  Then I'm done!

When I arrived Friday I found my cap to the roof vent in my sleeping area G O N E! Umm? It was there and down when I left the barn...sigh.  Caught wind of some impeding rain in the forecast and enlisted some help duct taping plastic over it.  It didn't end up raining till after dinner, but I was covered! So that is Trailer issue #1.

Trailer issue #2 - I had just scanned my side view mirrors and all looked good.  Not a minute or so later, I notice the panels on my drivers side not strapped how they should be!  Fortunately I was close to an exit and crept my off and over to a good safe spot to get out and fix.  Precariously close to having it all come down and shatter :(  I found the weld had broken on the brackets that were made for it. So I moved those 4 into the trailer in my 2nd stall and hit the road again. I hate blocking the horse in, but I was kind of out options.

Shortly after, seriously like 20 min or so after, came Trailer issue #3!  We were moving through a fairly slow area due to upcoming road work and something felt wrong.  I knew I had a tire issue somewhere, so again I managed to get off the interstate - oddly enough the same exit I had stopped for gas on the way down - and headed over to the Food Lion parking lot to inspect.  It took me a few minutes to find it, but the driver's side back tire had started to de-tread.
I got on the phone with USRider and parked us with sun on the passenger side.  They were very helpful, found one company that said it would be a few hours and I said I couldn't do that with a horse on the trailer and he obliged and kept looking for me.  Small town, Salem VA, and not many places open on a Sunday morning!  They found someone who got to me much quicker.  I had already pulled off my spare under the nose and was debating starting to change it myself with my Tire-Aid, but once I got the text he would be there in 15 min I just waited :P  Prophecy was OK for about the first 45min of the ordeal, then the pawing and kicking at escape door began. All in all I think I lost 1.5hrs, but it wasn't blazing hot yet and I was able to keep him calm with some treats.  Time to get some quotes on new tires I guess...these were on it when I bought the trailer last year and had been checked then, and again this March.

Definitely glad I did not drive home Saturday night as I had been debating... Not issues I would have wanted to deal with in the dark!!

We arrived back to the barn about 1pm, without further issue (thankfully!).  Prophecy was much better about unloading this time, letting me get the panels out from the second stall and then backing nicely off. I turned him out and he promptly went strolling to find a good rolling spot.

Oh, and I took him to the scale at the ride... 1015 lbs!  This week we start on our new riding schedule; Watch out Prophecy - time to work!  I have my sights set on the LD at Fort Valley, but only if he's ready. If not, we just go volunteer again and wait till next year.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Darkness and Light

Here it comes again...the week in August I dread.

The day is approaching... the day I lost Traveler.

2 years have gone by, yet such pain still exists for me over losing him. The memory of that day and what happened, forever ingrained in my mind like it was yesterday.  Magnified this year by the loss of Tesla as well. And this summer, seeing other losing their trail partners to freak accidents and Colic. I know I am not alone, but it sucks regardless.

I cherish knowing that Traveler was doing what he loved, and that he knew he was loved. I was his, he protected me in that fall. I know he will watch over me always and he is forever in my heart and part of my soul.

Now here I am, having ridden probably a dozen times or so total this year. I had my heart broken again with the sudden loss of Tesla in April, questioning my will and desire to put myself through it again. But a familiar face drew me back in and I find comfort in that he and Traveler shared pasture years ago.

Prophecy is a light for me and helping me heal, with a bit of character like both Traveler and Tesla. The playfulness, the kind eye...the stubbornness, and even the wild eye!  He is a teacher, just like every horse is. He is a teammate, a partner, a friend.  He has another piece of my heart and soul as we head on this journey together.

My year has not gone as planned...But there is light that shines in the darkness.

I am returning to Iron Mountain this year. I am filled with many emotions about this, but I feel very disconnected from my endurance community and I want to get out and volunteer. I'm bringing Prophecy along for exposure and maybe some river swimming.  I'm a bundle of nerves about how this will go for him, and we aren't even competing!

My riding plans have been foiled all week by weather, today with both of us ending up soaked.  I learned he gets "explosive" when there is fear, but not to the point of running me over or the like. It took some convincing to get him to calm long enough to pull the saddle off once we went to a stall for cover, but I didn't feel in danger.  I have enjoyed grooming him, seeing the progress in mane and tail condition...and the giraffe in him that comes out when I scratch his belly - the favorite spot.  He turns to me for guidance and comfort when upset (like in today's stormy downpour), I know we creating a good relationship.

Many of us have darkness to face, but we must also realize there is always a light. We just need to allow ourselves to see it and embrace it.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016


Last night was my final "test ride" in the Phoenix saddle and I guess I really did put it to the test.  A big OOPS! on my part, and we had our first tack malfunction.  Complete with a rolling saddle to his offside.  Fortunately he held it together while I got him to stop and able to hop off for a fix.  That gets your heart pumping!

Overall I would say Monday night was a good night for us and kept me laughing.

When I went out to catch him, of course in the evenings they are all at the far end of the field. I think I need late morning more often when they are hanging near the barn and easy to catch!  So I trekked out to get him, it was just him and one other gelding out for the moment...then I hear Dash come thundering out (was turned out from his stall while I was out hiking). I just stood... The other two boys come out of the woods to meet him, Prophecy trots up to me when he sees me, but just gets a head pat and takes off running to meet up with the last gelding now turned out, running into the field calling.  It was quite a sight and fun to watch the 4 of them huddle together and then play. If it wasn't for really wanting to get a ride in I would have stood and watched them play a while. I got some cute videos of two them really getting into it, but decided I needed to get him before we lost too much daylight time.

Hello huddle

Kimber watching me, but soon goes to get everyone playing

Prophecy sees me, waits there for me to catch him
Walking back in, Prophecy keeps sticking his nose on the back of my neck or nudging my shoulder.  I'm OK with that as long as he doesn't step on me, so I stop.  He stops and sticks his head on my shoulder for a quick nose kiss :)  Kimber then decides to run towards us bringing the other 2 along...OYE!.  I have to remind Prophecy is with me and to pay attention to me and walk with me. After that things were fine until Kimber tried to get Prophecy to do some "rearing play" as we were about to go down the hill. I yelled at him and chased him off and we continued on our way to the barn.

Prophecy stayed surprisingly clean for all the rain we had yesterday; actually in general his has not been much of a dirty guy so far. Sunday I had braided his mane as I was happy to find his mane and tail are feeling less coarse,  much silkier and softer to the touch.  Getting his minerals in now with the Triple Crown 30% I'm guessing has helped!  After a quick brush and good belly scratches I went to tack up.  Much less drama about the saddle. Good boy!

pre-ride, not exactly thrilled with the bonnet!

Handsome guy with a wonderful sky view

We headed out with some discussion over the direction of travel, then spent 5 min arguing over going through the mud & water spot to get the trails.  Once we concurred that I trotted him up the hill a bit, then back down to a walk. I was planning to do the same we did Sunday, except go further up before turning around and was prepared with his fly bonnet on due to bugs.  But he was intent on something up a little hill to the right so I let him go up and see - dead end.  As we argued about going back to where I wanted, we ended up sideways and somehow funkily going down the steep little incline... then I felt all sort of out of whack and realized - the saddle was rolling!  I could feel him start to bunch up and want to get away from this thing sliding on him and quickly got him to stop at the bottom so I could dismount.  Once he settled down I was able to adjust our set-up... I took me several iterations to get the girth tight, and still wasn't sure it wouldn't roll trying to mount from the ground, so we headed to that incline again and I hopped on from at least a slightly raised spot.

I guess I've just been lucky before, as the girth was set the same as it has been the past few rides! When I re-tightened while stopped we moved 2 holes each side! While it rolled a little on Sunday side to side, it never had before...Maybe he is finally losing weight?!

I think it boils down to a girth issue for us...Might have to try something other than a woolback on him.  The girth was still wet from Sunday's hosing off, but not sure that was the sole reason.

We did a little more trotting and then headed back in, with another discussion over the mud, but shorter! My tracker says we went 0.79 miles, which surprised me as we spent a lot of time in discussions!
all done!  Didn't realize I had the popper caught on his ears till I went to pull off the bridle! oops

He continued his cuteness for the evening, hanging out in the lot by the barn while I cleaned up after turning him out (during which he kept nuzzling my hand and licking it so I would scratch his ears/face).  I went back over to the fence and he nickered at me, then walked over for more loving.  I assumed he was headed back out to the field, but when I went back one last time to double check the gate as soon as the chains rattled he called out. He was answered by a buddy and took off thundering.

Pet me!

All in all, we survived our first of what I would call not so great ride days and I think we have a saddle now to move forward with :)  Every ride has shown good sweat patterns, no pressure points, and no soreness. Just a few tweaks to make on my part as we both get fit again.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

All good, but not as planned

I have the Phoenix standard tree still, and got in one more ride before we took our family vacation.  I didn't have it sitting quite enough forward that time, so I felt a bit more "thrown" into the pommel, but easily fixable for me.  He still seemed to enjoy it, and sweat patterns looked good - even though it was only 0.60 miles of arena wandering for a bit!  I'm still getting the hang of the 3 point rigging too, but it is doing a great job of keeping his girth where it needs to be.

We left for our family vacation and had loads of fun at the pool and beach, plus other 'touristy' things in Myrtle Beach like Ripley's Aquarium, Wonder Works, Mini-golf (2x) and just not really having any solid plans :)  Traffic getting there was the worst getting OUT of VA that Saturday... We decided to try and avoid the rush of in/out and took off for home on Friday night, which worked pretty well for the kids too.

Me and kids upon arrival to our condo

After we unloaded, walked to the beach access for a view

We made it home about 11pm, got the kids settled back into bed and 3/4 of us slept in!  At least Asher didn't come wake us!  Saturday was spent getting caught up...Mail, yard, Tax-free school shopping, and went to pick the dogs &cat that evening too.  They are all pooped!

Guilty face of moved lead rope
Sunday morning we went out food shopping and then I had a "date" with a barn buddy to go for a trail ride at noon.  I got there a bit early to put the fenders on the Phoenix that Jaime sent me (of course USPS delivered a day late so I had to wait till after vacay to try them) - and I thought putting Leathers on was tough! Tight space to work with, but I got it!  Then I got a text that she would be late - OK, we'll work on feet before riding.  Prophecy had a trim while I was gone, and it looks like they didn't really open up the notches too much, just cleaned them up and round off the one on the back feet.  We got through that, then waited a bit...And he decided to remove the rope from it draping over the rail (was not tied at all, he seems to do better with most things "ground tied").

After a bit longer I decided to tack up ... We had a few more discussions about that one today than usual!  Finally once settled, I can tell I moved the too far forward to start with, but it did settle during our ride into a more natural spot, so now I where to aim for tomorrow! I got tired of waiting, and did have a timeline to be home, so hopped on and took him the arena.  He is not a fan, and I can't blame him, not much fun lol.  So I figured what the heck, we'll stroll out and see how it goes alone.  And there you have it, my first solo trail ride on Prophecy.  Not what I planned, not as long a ride as I was hoping for, but a big step for us :)  I called it quits for a few reasons: #1 - BUGS! His head shaking was getting pretty violent about them. Will have to put the ear bonnet on!  #2 - I don't know the trails all that well yet, so we just went out a bit till the bugs got too annoying and headed back.  He was pretty good  - a few squirelly moments and totally working on figuring out how to eat grass on the go with a bit. He is not a master like Tesla was!

Ok, I'm waiting patiently...

My head is just too heavy!

Post ride saddle position

I untacked, snapped some sweat pattern pictures to review and then hosed him off. I decided to grab my handheld HRM to see what is heart rate is after cooling.  45 while munching grass.  Not bad for a bit out of shape and carrying some extra pounds at the moment lol

Tomorrow is the final ride for me to decide if we are going with this saddle.  I think he likes it, just need to tweak some things for me! I kept feeling part of the rigging under my left leg today, not sure why that was...

This weekend was one of the 'close' rides to me, Ride Between the Rivers, which I have never been to but want to!  End of the month is Iron Mountain.  I'm taking Prophecy to volunteer, but will not compete.  I am psyched to get back out there again, but equally nervous about taking him for his first experience at ride camp!

So tomorrow is riding again, and probably just a hoof treatment day on Wed... Next weekend I'm hooking up and doing some loading practice.  I haven't loaded him yet, and I don't expect any issues, but I want to make sure we are good. All goes well, I'll be looking to do a haul away trail ride with a babysitter for some more exposure!