Sunday, June 21, 2009

Steps in the right direction

Success! Today, for the first time ever, we were able to do a proper training ride going barefoot in the back! 9 miles, walking and trotting, only having to slow down over the worst of the rocky sections. Apparently the combination of using Renegades and doing my own trimming in between farrier visits is working.

In the past, the most I've managed is a couple miles before Mimi started acting flinchy. Today, she didn't flinch once, and did a great job of maneuvering around the rocky sections of trail. If I can start going bare in the back for rides at the San Tans, that'll really extend the life of my boots even more.

It was also trimming day after riding, so Mimi's feet are nice and pretty again. She only got one tiny chip on her hind feet from going bare today, which was excellent.

It was hot, hot, hot both days this weekend, which was excellent for heat conditioning. Fortunately, there was a very nice breeze yesterday. Today was warmer, but I wore the CoolMedics vest and that made it a lot more bearable. Yesterday was an excellent ride. We did the 14 mile big training loop in just over 2 hours, doing a nice trot for a good part of the way. Some of the time, Mimi was happy to do her relaxed, 6.5-7mph "100-miler trot" and then other times she was much more eager to move out at her 9-10mph "power trot." She's feeling so good right now, which is encouraging and motivating enough to really keep up a religious training schedule during the brutal summer temperatures.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Because I'm Not Insane Enough

For your consideration and considerable amusement, I present to you the following Facebook conversation:

A: Perfect weather for a morning run...pony fitness is good, so time to work on the rider.

K: Ahhhhhhhh!!!! Ashley's running!!!!!! YES! I'm already thinking of the San Diego rideNtie possibilities. Can't help it, it's what I do.... ;)

A: That would be awesome! And Mimi's the perfect RnT height...easy to get on! We'd have to do something about the vastly different stirrup lengths...

K: No big - are you riding in an english or endurance right now? How's mimiers at being tied to a bush and left as other horses ride by?

A: English saddle -- Duett. I have no idea how she'll do, I've never tried it. The idea would be to try to find a RnT practice session and/or mentor before signing up for a race. do know you'll have to be the stronger runner of the two of us, right?

K: Consider it COVERED woman! i'm training for the calico 30k this jan and the goal is to eventually be THAT PERSON who people remember at rides because she runs WITH her horse. ;) If it's english and I'm not spending more than a couple miles in the saddle at one time it shouldn't need adjusting. Just a fleece cover :) Your legs will love you for it. I'm thinking about the Manzanita and Descanso RnT's that concurrently happen with the endurance ride...but later, when you're in SD and don't have to pay for coggins/HT's. ;)

A: Already got the full sheepskin cover after Descanso NATRC in 07...can't imagine riding without it now!

K: For sure - i love those things though i rarely use mine due to the cholla and creosote that seem to be magnetically attracted to it!

A is, obviously, me. K is friend Kaity. We've sort of grown up together, despite living in two different states. We both used to show in POA, showed against each other for years (and we're still best friends), both started riding NATRC, then both switched over to endurance.

She used to ride a POA gelding, Sonny. He and Mimi are cousins, same grandsire on their POA half -- he's POA/Morgan cross, Mimi is POA/QH cross. Sonny is 21 now, I believe, and retired from competition, and Kaity is starting a new horse - a 5 year old (I think...4 or 5 now) Arabian/Appaloosa gelding named Kody.

Kaity and Sonny at Descanso NATRC 2007. We rode together all day, with Dad and Beamer happily sandwiched between the two Bad Ponies.

Kaity loves runing, and is fortunate enough to live right up against trails she can run and ride on. As evidenced from the above conversation, this translates into a want to try Ride N Tie, and I have to admit, her enthusiasm is contagious. I've wanted to try RnT, but have lacked a willing partner...Dad is having trouble generating any sort of interest in the sport, as he really hates running. Also, the complete lack of any RnT activity in AZ makes it all sort of a moot point.

I'm not that great at running, but I enjoy the feeling I get afterwards. Yesterday, I got a couple-mile run in...which consisted of "run about a 1/4 mile, then walk pathetically for a bit, then run a bit, then walk a bit." The idea behind this is to get fit enough to get off and keep up with Mimi for short periods of time while jogging, thus giving her a break while still making time.

And I think Mimi's got a solid enough brain to handle being tied off while others pass. I think. The advantage of using her is, she is short. The disadvantage -- her saddle rolls when you mount, so you have to tie off next to a bank or rock or some elevated surface with which to swring from. Also, Kaity is about 5'9" or so. I am (barely) 5'5". She can vault onto a pony no problem, probably without stirrups. I tend to pathetically slither and scramble on.

So maybe Mimi will have an endurance and RnT career, or maybe she gets shuffled down to the RnT horse after I can afford to keep a second horse (right...looking at San Diego prices for horsekeeping...I'm going to have to produce a lot of transcripts...). But that's still a ways away.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Brownie Points

Instead of riding on Sunday, I got to spend 15+ hours helping my aunt pack up her house and load the moving van, as she rather spontaneously decided to move...back to her home town of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, after living on the West Coast (CA and AZ) for the last 32 years.

Lots of familial brownie points were earned in the hefting of boxes, and my ability to pack fragile things and make boxes for pictures. Never knew those years of working in the packing/shipping/mailbox center would come in so handy. This ought to get me off the hook for family obligations for a bit.

Equally spontaneous was my father's decision to jump in the moving truck with his brother, who is helping their sister (my aunt) with the move. Coincident to this is my grandparents will be moving out of their house and into a retirement community the same week their kids (my dad, aunt, and uncle) are going to be back there. Well, maybe not so coincident, as that was the hope that was how it would all play out, but very handy to have my aunt's house and grandparents' house sell at essentially the same time and to be able to time the move in such a way that they can all help each other out.

Mind you, Dad made the decision to go with them this morning. They're leaving this afternoon. So much for careful trip planning. The entire morning has been spent running around helping Dad get stuff together, clearing and reuploading music to my iPod shuffle for him to borrow, ironing, and getting the last of the newly-inherited items out of my suburban. That's why I don't mind helping people move, since I tend to acquire new things. Among the new toys accumulated: a scanner (score! don't have to go buy my own once I move), little bureau-top mirror and jewelry drawer, two picture boards (I adore these...they're the fabric kind, with ribbons stretched across to slide pictures under...I have one that is hopelessly full already). and a rusty iron display shelf. Might not be able to use a lot of stuff right away, but I'm slowly gathering it all for my own eventual move.

Fortunately, we had a good ride on Saturday. I think I have a hot-weather pony, because she has been unnaturally cheerful for the past couple months. Either she loves the weather, or she's feeling so good because her hocks aren't bothering her anymore. That in mind, I had no idea they had been bothering her for that long, if that's the case. She acts like she just turned six, not sixteen. She's power-trotting up hills and through sand washes, playfully spooking at Pony Eating Birds, asking for more speed (um, no. we're not trotting at 10mph through the sand wash) and in general, acting like a very cheerful, mischievous pony.

I can't even get aggravated about her antics, because I'm just so happy to see her feeling so good and acting so happy. Makes me believe we might actually have an enurance career that spans beyond a handful of rides. She's pretty good at telling me when she's happy or not, and I figure, as long as she's happy, sound, and healthy, we're going to keep going until she says "enough." Half of our time together has been littered with the echos of the phrase, "you can't do x." But that's a whole other topic that deserves its own post. :)

Saturday was hot, Hot, HOT. 95* by the time we were pulling out of the trailhead after the ride. Still experimenting with packs and various and sundry. This time it was trying to find a way to carry loaded elyte syringes, and if I had a little bag long and narrow enough to carry them seperately (I don't.) I have visions of applesauce/elyte-loaded syringes exploding all over my saddle packs...I might be able to put together something, but I don't know if my mom's sewing machine is strong enough to handle tough, cordura-type of material.

The other thing I was experimenting with was carrying my Camelbak waist pack. Apparently I'm a Camelbak collector and am determined to find something that works, sinceI have three of them -- two of the backpack-style, and the waist pack. The smaller backpack I'm not too fond of, as it's more of a nuissance than it's worth for the amount of water it carries. Plus, it grabs at t-shirts and pulls them up underneath it. The larger backpack carries more water, but that makes it heavier, and it doesn't shuffle around as much.

The waist pack carries about 45oz of water -- two bottles worth, essentially, and doesn't seem too heavy. It interferes a tiny bit with the cantle on downhills, until I figured out if I shifted around a bit, it rests against the cantle and I can lean back on it like a back rest going down hills. Trotting, it doesn't seem to interfere, but I have to keep tightening it as I drain the water out of it. I like that I can carry more stuff in the pack, like more food for myself, and a mini first-aid kit. And with Mimi feeling so good lately, she's been a little more "looky" and spooky...bad time of year to get dumped in the desert without water on your person.

My lower back is sore today, but I don't know if that's a function of the Camelbak, or of spending all day yesterday moving boxes. I noticed a tiny bit of muscle soreness Saturday night, but that could be just needing to acclimate my back and ab muscles to carrying more weight. All in all, definitely worth experimenting with, even if to only use it for the hot part of rides. I do drink more than if I have to fish around for bottles.