Thursday, November 12, 2009

Going Solo

Circumstances are such that it looks as though I will be going to the upcoming McDowell Mountain Turkey Trot by myself.  Beamer has been marginally off in the right shoulder for the past three weeks, and it's only this week that he's no longer showing signs of discomfort when the area is being massaged, and Dad isn't entirely comfortable with taking him to a ride that involves a lot of hardpack trail and gradual downhill trotting so soon after having the last three weeks off.

I totally respect and admire his decision.  It's not easy saying 'no' to a ride, especially one in our own backyard.  And I'll definitely miss my trail partner out there, and I'm pretty sure Mimi will miss her "brother."  Maybe.

But seeing as Beamer was on hiatus, and Mimi needed exercise, our last two rides have been hitting the trails by ourselves...something we haven't done for quite some time.  Dad came along and hiked while I rode, and we met up at one point along the trail, where he was able to snap a few shots of us.

She did fabulous by herself, zooming through 13 miles in two hours on Sunday.  It was definitely a good cardio workout, which she will need for McDowell.

I was so proud of how brave she was.  She starts out slow, offering up her little 5-6mph trot, and then gradually warms up into her 7-8mph trot that is her mainstay.  I'm actually pleased to see this, as it gives her a chance to properly warm up before blasting off at full tilt.

She's also showing quite a bit of maturity and responsibility out there by herself.  She's much more aware of her surroundings, but actually less spooky.  On several occasions, she would slow down from a trot to a walk, and moments later, there would be hikers or a biker coming in the opposite direction. 

She also showed some amazingly good judgement when it came to negotiating around some blind turns.  We'd trot nearly to the turn, then she would slow to a walk, wait for me to look around the corner, and once I told her it was okay, she would start trotting again.  She also would stop and walk down steeper inclines on her own, and while she was very forward and eager to go, anytime I would ask she her to come back down, she willingly would.

I'm looking forward to seeing how she does on her own for 50 miles.  Chances are we'll have a riding buddy, but it won't be a horse she's familiar with, so essentially, it'll be her and me out there.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Man Against Horse Official Results

20 L 10:27 Wingert, Ashley on Skip Me Gold 55/50
21 M 10:27 Wingert, G. Vern on Brahma PFF 125/50

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Afterthoughts: Man Against Horse 2009

So, I've only been cogitating on this for a month, post-ride. before finally deciding there wasn't much to add to it, and that I should just post it already.

A Combination of What Didn’t Work/ What I’d Do Different/What Worked:

- The worst part of the ride was the fact I had an agonizing pressure point on my right shin from the stirrup leather. I don’t know if it was caused from all the downhill trotting, or it I have too much padding (ski sock, tights, half chaps), or if my stirrup leathers are too short. My stirrups have been making a slow, downward migration in the two and a half years since I’ve had this saddle, and it might be time for another change. I had to stop trotting a few times and walk for a few moments, just to let the pain ease before continuing.  (A Month Later: I dropped my stirrups about half an inch, and it's really comfortable.  The true test will be the next 50, of course, but they feel better already, and I feel like it's easier to relax with them a touch longer.)

I also had some pressure on the inside of my thighs from the top buckles, but just about any stirrup leathers I try will do that – one of the compromises I have to make in riding Mimi in an English saddle. In order for stirrup bars not to put pressure on her flat back, they can’t be recessed at all, hence the buckles will out pressure on my legs instead. I’ve tried the Wintec Webbers, but they’re so thin, they feel flimsy, like I don’t have as much leg support.
- Still working on the saddle packs arrangement. I like the larger front packs, with very little on the back end of the saddle. However, I still think I’m going to make a separate little bag, long and narrow, to carry electrolyte syringes in that will tuck behind my leg or something.  (A Month Later: Am contemplating seeing if I can get a custom Snugpax front pommel bags, with the larger camera bag added to the top of the same style packs as I already have, which are the packs, with the water bottle holders.  Haven't gotten anywhere with designing and making an e'lyte-holding bag.)

- This is one of the first times she’s come up with a slightly sore back at the end of the ride, and I don’t know if it’s just because it’s such a difficult ride, or what. I know at VC2, I had to adjust my pad where it had slipped back under the saddle too far, and instead of properly loosening everything, lifting the saddle and pad, and sliding everything back into place, I just loosened the girth, yanked the front edges of the pad forward, and re-girthed her. It’s possible this rubbed against the grain of the hair and could have set up a sore spot, I suppose. I’d really like to get another pad, one that’s shaped to the saddle and has either front ties or billet straps.  (A Month Later: I'm also starting to poke around the treeless saddle department, so all new purchases are temporarily on hold until I decide what I want to do and what I can afford.)

- I maybe could have done better in the food department. I ate decently, and felt really good all day, so maybe I didn’t do as bad as I thought. I just didn’t think I ate very much out on trail. Looking back, maybe it was pretty good. Food count (that I can remember):

Friday dinner: chicken/cheese ravioli w/ marinara sauce, Caesar salad
Breakfast: hard-boiled egg, slice of peanut butter toast, orange juice, coffee
Between camp and VC1: two slices dried fruit leather
VC1: peanut butter sandwich
Between VC1 and VC2: half a Luna bar, grapes
VC2: chicken lunchmeat slices, half a banana, half a PB sandwich
Between VC2 and camp: energy gel
Dinner: (YUM!) ribs, brisket, coleslaw, beans, peach cobbler, white wine
- What helped is that I drank well – I drained my 44 oz. Camelbak twice during the ride, and a bottle and half of the Succeed Amino sports drink throughout the ride. I took one OverDrive, three Motrin, and several electrolytes.
- This was definitely Mimi’s and my best ride yet. We didn’t have a single moment of disagreement or argument the entire ride, and neither one of us hit a mental wall. We both did a great job of staying chipper and perky the entire ride, and during the long section of road around the mountain, we maintained our cheer through song. (All: “She sings?” Yes, I do. Badly.)

- My rump rug irritated the hell out of me during the ride, because it kept blowing off Mimi's butt and would dangle uselessly at her flank as we'd trot along, and I had to nearly dislocate ribs several time trying to turn around, straighten it out, hold it in place, and keep trotting.  (A Month Later: New rump rug made last night, my own custom design.  We'll see how it was too hot today to try it without melting the pony.  80* is not rump rug-appropriate weather.)