Friday, May 29, 2009

McDowell Results

Valley of the Sun (McDowell) results are up...apparently I came in 26th, with a 9:42 ride time. I guess it was a slower ride for me than I thought. Keep in mind that 40 of those minutes were "extra time" spent at the vet check, getting my Renegades straightened out, but I thought for sure I was going faster than that. A little disconcerting to be trot-trot-trotting everywhere and have a 5.5 mph average speed.

EDIT: Forgot to add...36/36 people finished the 50.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Memorial Day & Mimi's "Birthday" Ride

Well, it wasn't quite like last year's unseasonable Memorial Day, but the weekend temps did dip to the high 80s and low 90s, which made for a pleasant riding weekend. We didn't ride Saturday, as the truck battery died overnight...waht a thing to discover at 5:30 in the morning. Morning was spent getting that fixed, and by the time that was done, the clouds and rain from the previous day had left behind a blanket of humidity, combined with bright sun...not my kind of riding weather.

Sunday helped make up for it -- warm, but not unbearable, and much lower humidity. We spent some time exploring around the San Tans -- rode to the south park entrance and then rode out of the park and around some of the dirt roads and surrounding houses. The ponies really liked getting out into new turf. Mimi was very cheerful, and after patiently trailing behind Beamer for the first half of the ride, she took advantage of the very wide dirt roa and outwalked him into the lead, and lead through the rest of the explorations.

Monday -- Memorial Day -- was more of the same warm-but-functional temps. We did the big loop at the San Tans, and leapfrogged with friend Donna, a local trail rider who lives next to the park and is the one responsible for 98% of the trails there. We rode with her for a bit out of the trailhead, then moved out ahead of her, then she took a different trail and got in front of us, then veered off to do some trail blazing, so we got in front of her and "blitzed" (yeah, 8-9mph...speed demons, us) through the back sand wash. She caught us after we got through the wash and stated one our way back, and then rode with us the rest of the way back to the trailers.

It was a great ride -- Mimi hates Donna's mare Nackatee (I know I spelled that wrong...) so we put her up front, Beamer in the middle, and Nackatee in the back. Mimi was happy as a clam with this arrangement, and really hustled, lest the hated mare creep up too close to her. It was really nice to get her 4.5mph ride walk on a training ride.

We did the 14 mile loop in 2 hours, 45 minutes, and that includes two stops of about 15 minutes each time to give-ponies-a-breather and for Dad to fix his rear Renegade straps -- the Velcro is beyond dead on them, but we were trying to get as much wear out of them as possible. Not bad, considering they're still from McDowell, and Beamer drags his back toes, especially in the sand.

Some of the new trails they've put in at the San Tans are really conducive for uphill trotting, especially the one that leads out of the back sand wash. It's probably about 3/4 of a mile of gradual uphill (my GPS died on me a couple months ago, so don't have any concrete data as to elevation change), with a few twists and turns. Mimi led up that section and trotted the whole thing. She's a little trotting metronome when it comes to that kind of trail. She just motors up, a nice steady little trot the entire way. I think her heart rate peaked at the top of the hill at 110, then dropped to 60 within three or four minutes.

We've been doing a lot more hill trotting, and the ponies are loving it. Beamer is learning to be more consistent in going at speed uphill. He likes to walk up at 2 mph, but then he can zoom down and walk out at 4-5mph on the downhill. The plan, should we ever manage to make it to Tevis, is to send him down the canyons first, since Mimi will hustle to keep up with him, and then send Mimi up the canyons first since she just chugs up hills, and Beamer stops to mope as soon as his heart rate goes over 80. Good combination...she's a bit too careful on downhills sometimes (is that possible?) and needs another horse in front of her to speed her up, otherwise she'll waste time carefully examining every millimeter of trail she's going to put her hoof down on.

I was quite thrilled with how Mimi felt on Monday's ride -- very light, collected, and forward. She handled some very slight downhill trotting really well, without me having to do anything. She's built slightly downhill, so downhill trotting, even very slight downhill grades, often results in her being very heavy on the forehand, and me having to really hold her together. She did so well this time, though, carrying herself really well in her back, and really using her hind end. And because she was balanced and even, it was really easy for me to stay balanced myself.

School started back up again for me this week, so we're confined to the weekend thing now for the rest of the summer, but at least I have Fridays off, so we're going to go horse camping at least once.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Happy Birthday, Mimi!

My wonderful pony turns 16 today! I've been so blessed to have had twelve and half wonderful years with her, and God willing, am looking forward to many more!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Blue Point

Dad and I took the ponies to the Salt River today and rode around Bulldog Canyon at the Blue Point Recreation Area. It was hot out there, even with getting an early start, so the ponies greatly enjoyed the chance to play in the river. Both went in up to their knees, and would have gone further had we let them.

I got the chance to harass Mimi with a sponge; her snorts of indignation were hilarious when I dropped the sponge in the river and started pulling it along, and then had the nerve to touch her with it. Can you tell we don't get much of a chance for sponging practice in the desert?

We didn't do a super-long ride, maybe ten miles, and went pretty slow. A lot of the trails around there are either really hard-packed old jeep and 4-wheeler roads, or deep sand wash. There are better trails if you ride west from the trailhead, but we wanted to stick close to the river where it was a little bit cooler and let the ponies play in the water.

The most excitement was generated by the large trees that served as a nesting spot for several dozen blue herons. Mimi took great offense every time one took off and would fly within her range of vision, especially behind her. She just knew one of them was going to use her butt as a landing platform. :)

And we saw a rather large rattlesnake, less than half a mile out from the trailhead. He was laying across the road sunning himself and looking very comfortable. He didn't see the need to move, so we detoured around him.

Photo album of shots taken during the ride, including some amusing ones down at the river, can be found here: I also put the same one on Facebook.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Things Ashley is Not Allowed to do at Tevis

I'm theoretically on a two-week break from school right now, although it's been anything but a break. My computer once again crashed on Tuesday night, for reason still unbeknownst, other than the vague, "bad hard drive." So much for warranty work.

Fortunately, I was able to get it fixed with overnight service Wednesday, and one new hard drive later, I got my computer back this morning. But by yesterday evening, I was drained from all the stress and trauma associated with yet another computer crash (at least I managed to keep about 85% of my data this time). Dinner was an interesting affair, with me chattering on and on (I babble when I'm tired), and this time, the topic was the impending crewing at Tevis this summer. My long-suffering parents humor me with listening ears and bemused grins. My father, too, wants to ride Tevis, but he doesn't have the same depth of obsession that I possess.

All of those elements combined to produce, in good humor, the following list:

Things Ashley is Not Allowed to do at Tevis This Summer Whilst Crewing:

- Max out credit cards on tack and gear.
- Bring back more suitcases than I left with.
- Buy a horse.
- Enter the ride last minute. (Like this would happen, since I don't have my qualifying mileage.)
- Move to Auburn.
- Buy anything too large to fit in my suitcase and thus have to ship it home.
- Buy a new saddle.

In my mother's words, "Are you there to crew or shop?"

All of this was in good humor, but it is true. I'm somewhat prone to impulse buys as it is, and tend to get caught up in the excitement of Tevis fever. To give myself credit, the largest impulse purchase during the two times I've been up there was an aluminum S-hack. Besides, that what shopping lists are for, right? Just stick to the list...