Tuesday, May 21, 2013

ride prep? what ride prep?

So it somehow completely failed to register that I have a ride this weekend. Intellectually, I knew, since I've been texting back and forth with riding cohort Stephanie, and had given ride management a heads up that I was coming and what days I was planning to ride, and I've got a few of my infamous post-it note lists floating around on my desk...

I'm leaving Thursday morning, and the only thing I've done so far is wash my saddle pad and put a different bit on one of my headstalls.

See what I mean?

I still have to: grocery shop, pack my clothes, clean my tack, and pack my horse stuff.

And I got to spend the morning in the tire shop after one of the suburban's stem valves decided to rip and leak overnight. Yay. On the plus side: I now know how to change a tire. At least I got to learn in the relative comfort of my own front yard. I still prefer the 1-800-Roadside-Assistance option.

I've been stalking the weather reports for the weekend. Weather.com says, for Fri/Sat/Sun: 82/83/82 for highs and 43/44/44 for lows. Accuweather says: 89/90/88 and 55/53/54. Ummm. Really hoping weather.com has it right. Not looking forward to that kind of heat at 7500' elevation. (Except the twisted part of me that says, "Well, you've been wanting to get your heat conditioning in...and you're always claiming you do better at hot rides than cold ones...time to test that theory.")

And what am I doing? Blogging. :)

Although I did myself a favor by not completely unpacking from Prescott. Laundry and horse stuff, yes, but my pack with all of my sunscreen and various toiletries is still put together. One less thing to do.

Okay, time to herd cats sort clothing for the weekend.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Indian Springs Wash ride

Did a really fun ride up near Bartlett Lake on Saturday. It was my first time up there and it has some absolutely gorgeous scenery. Bonus points for being able to ride down to the lake to let the horses drink and sponge them off. (See, we do have water in Arizona...you just have to know where to look and how to get to it.)

banana yucca

first view of the lake

Barb on Junior in the lead, Clydea on Ash, me on Clydea's
horse Pepe providing the ear cam shot

And I came home to find my ducklings learning to play "king of the hill" on the rock next to the pond. Now Mama is onto the game and she sits on top of the rock while they cluster at the base.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

and a duckling update

Photos taken at Day 9, so three days ago. If you're facebook friends with me, these are the same ones I posted there.

Lining up to go hit the fresh chow. 
They know me as "the food lady" now. They're still wild and somewhat skittish, which is good. I don't want them turning tame and deciding to set up a permanent residence in the backyard. They're adorable, but definitely getting to the "messy" stage.

found a bug!

they really get into their food

literally into it
They're eating "meat bird crumbles" now, having graduated from non-medicated chick starter, but I'm still soaking it into a mash to make it easier for them to eat. (And at the rate they're eating, I'm thinking it's time to make it a little less easy for them to eat.)

just big enough to tippy-toe over the edge without going

family photo!
They're really hard to get good photos of in lousy light, because they move so quick. So even though they're fuzzy, they still give a good idea of their antics.

duckling dervish

the lilies are looking a little worse for the wear
And I shot these this afternoon, day 12:

Mama took them on safari around part of the yard
They went on walkabout around the yard this afternoon. Mama is kind of antsy some days -- she picked a yard that the only way in and out is to fly over the 7' tall block wall. Her instincts tell her to move the babies...but they're not going anywhere until at least 50 days, when they'll be feathered out enough to fly. However, being "stuck" in our yard isn't exactly a hardship. And they certainly won't get regular meals anywhere else.
smart ducklings pause and rest in the shade

the one on the right nabbed a bug

SO inquisitive
Their bills are growing now, and starting to look a little awkward for their faces. They're still adorable, but I think we're heading into "awkward teenager" phase fairly soon.

They're really good at stretching while laying down. I think they grow a little bit more with every stretch.

prowling the backyard

Dear Ariat

Stop making really spiffy things that I love and then discontinuing them, only to replace them with a higher-dollar substitute I don't like as well.

The most obvious case-in-point of this would be the ever-popular Terrain Half Chaps. By the time I wanted to jump on the bandwagon and get a pair, they were all sold out and discontinued in the size I would need (which is Small Short, preferably...Small might work). The replacement, the Volant XT, is double the price and I don't like the look of them nearly as well as the original Terrain half chaps. Spanish topline? For endurance? Are you kidding me?

I've also got a pair of these Ariat Duma sneaker/Terrain things that I really like. Too bad they're about 6 or 7 years old now and I'm forced to limit the amount that I use them, lest they wear out, since they don't make them anymore. They're really similar to the original Terrain boot, only lighter weight and really ventilated.

Anyone want to help me petition to bring back the shoes and the Terrain half chaps?

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Horse Show Mom

On today, Mother's Day, I would like to use this space and time to thank my extraordinary mother for her contributions to my life.

It's one thing for a mother to support her child in their chosen activity of choice...it's another to hand-feed said child's pony orange Gatorade during horse shows.

can we say 'spoiled pony'?
My mom has worn many, many hats, and "Horse Show Mom" is just one of them. And I couldn't have asked for a better one during my time int he show ring. She made sure my numbers were pinned on straight, my chaps were centered, my hair was done, and myself and pony pony hydrated and well-fed.

You could call her my original endurance crew. :) 

In case you're getting the impression the pony
was more spoiled than me, that's not actually the
case. The pony just makes a better photo subject
than me doing the tug-of-war with my tall boots.
And while Mom doesn't eat, sleep, and breathe horsehair the way some people (me) do, she was there at every single show. And when Dad and I started distance riding, she was there for us in helping with pre-ride food shopping and prep, taking care of the dogs and house while we were away, and still providing the best moral support I could ask for in whatever direction I've gone.

Happy Mother's Day to my role model, support system, and friend. Thank you for everything.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

and now for something completely different...

In a departure from our usual subject matter, I give you...


Last month, we had a wild Mallard duck come in and scope out our backyard for a nesting location. Given our solid concrete block walls, fish pond, and complete lack of four-legged animal life in the yard, it obviously was a very appealing spot.

Easter Sunday, she laid her first egg.

This past Saturday evening, she hatched out TEN lil' ducklings. They were all hearty and vigorous from the start, and now, three days later, they're even more vigorous, have ravenous appetites, and are thoroughly enamored with the pond.

I'm currently supplementing them with a duckling/non-medicated chick starter as extra food, since there's not enough in the pond for ten little ones plus Mama. They've caught on to the food thing very quickly.

"Mama Q" [Quacker] is very protective and watchful of her babies. She herds them into the nest and hisses at me when I go out to change their food/water (gratitude, huh?), and this morning, I watched her jump out of the pond and attack a blackbird who swooped in too close.

watchful Mama

so earnest...right before he attacked the lily blossom

part of the Crew...near impossible to get all 10 in one photo
out of the water and over to the chow

lather, rinse, repeat
Mama shows them how to eat...they were fast studies

lil' one in the middle poses for the camera

Hello there!
I'm going to enjoy watching these little guys grow up. They're here for the next 50 days, approximately, until they can fly, since we have 7'+ block walls surrounding our yard. Still...not a bad place to be stuck. :)

Friday, May 3, 2013

my collection of riding tights

Dear Ashley, We are out of space in your drawer. You do not
need to add to your collection. Sincerely, Your Tights
Completely shameless confession: I love riding tights. Even before I got into distance riding, I had several pairs of tights with funky-patterned side stripes I would use for schooling and riding lessons. As evidenced by the above, once I got into distance riding, my fashion sense took on very much of a "no holds barred color explosion" type of flavor. I also wear them for more than just riding: I'll wear them under sweats in the winter when I need an extra layer, or as a more comfortable alternative to jeans on days I'm just hanging around the house.

I've gotten my tights from a variety of sources and I really like them all for different reasons. At the very least, having multiple brands allows me to rotate through them -- very handy at the Prescott ride when day one's tights rubbed on the inside of my knee, so I switched to a different type on day two.

I also tend to hold on to my tights for a very long time, reluctantly disposing of them only after they've reached the point where I might as well just go ride in my underwear, they've gotten so see-through.

tights from Evelyn the Tights Lady
The two pairs of denim-looking tights are my newest acquisition from Evelyn, bought at the AERC Convention in February. One pair are solid lycra with a denim print, and the other are a heavier, more cotton-woven type of material with the look and a tiny bit of a feel of denim. The lycra ones are nice and cool for the summer. The denim ones are a perfect fall/spring weight and very comfortable. The solid purple cotton and "fireworks factory explosion" ones are several years old now, and the patterned ones have been through a number of rides and holding up well. The solid purple ones are a cotton blend of some kind, which is nice and lightweight for summer.

I finally got to meet Evelyn in person at the Convention and paw through the racks of wonderful, wild, outrageous patterns. I thought bringing home the denim ones was a rather conservative move on my part...but Evelyn's promised to look for some wild orange fabrics for me as well. :)

Love these...Evelyn is definitely one of my go-to sources on tights.

Tropical Riders
EnduraCool on left; PrixTec on right
I'm kind of on the fence about the Tropical Riders. The brown pair on the left are wonderful. They're the "EnduraCool" model, I believe. I picked them up a number of years ago...probably 6 or 7?...on sale at one of my local tack stores. As you can see from the rather interesting color variegation on them, I've worn them a lot. The lower leg is still the original color, from always being covered by half chaps, and the upper waist area is the same way from always being covered with a shirt. But the middle part...welcome to the "Arizona sun effect." They've also got a couple of small holes...but they're so comfortable and great for the summer that I refuse to give them up until they're in shreds.

The orange ones on the right, I'm not too sure about. They're the "PrixTec" variety. I know one thing for sure: I don't like the full-seat. It's not even the grip in the saddle part -- nice, but unnecessary, as it turns out -- but I don't like how much extra weight and lack of breathability the extra material adds, and it makes them fit a little funky. I'm not wild about the fact the cotton material seems to be pilling around the lower leg and ankle area after only a few wears/washes.

Will get another pair of the "EnduraCool" variety if I can ever find another pair on sale again.

Irideon Issentials
The most boring tights I own...but I can't get rid of them. They wear like iron. The black pair on the right are at least 7 or 8 years old and don't even have a hole in them. (And they've seen a lot of miles.) The grey pair aren't much newer, at least 5 or 6 years old. They have a couple of tiny holes on the side of one knee. They're made of some kind of microfiber polyester, so have fantastic grip. They're acceptable all year round, but can get a little hot in the summer. They do have a funky outer seam that I have to watch for -- if it gets placed under my half chaps the wrong way, it'll press right into my shins and do some interesting pressure things. Black goes with everything, so I can wear my more colorful and interesting shirts with these.

Kerrits Klassic Performance
I'm pretty sure these are the "Klassic Performance" variety. These are another pair that have seen a lot of miles and have the wear to prove it, but I don't have the heart to chuck them quite yet. The bottoms of them are permanently stained from when I was breaking in my new black half chaps and sumemr sweat + new suede = dye leak. There are a couple of holes in them. The thigh area is starting to stretch out and get a little threadbare. But they're some of the coolest summer tights I have and are still super-comfortable. The only problem with these is the tan color. From a distance, ride photos have a bit of a "Lady Godiva" effect. Hmmm.

Crazy Legs tights
The two wild prints on the left are solid lycra.. The side-stripe ones are lycra stripes with some kind of tech-performance solid fabric. This is my other go-to source for something other than off-the-rack, tack-store tights. The ones on the right are my newest pair, and the print is some funky shimmery snakeskin-effect type of fabric...very wild. (And enough orange in it to go with my whole orange color scheme.) Also been very happy with these so far as well

Not pictured: Winter riding tights, because they've been put away in my closet until next winter. One pair are Crazy Legs, the other Irideon Wind Pro. Like the Crazy Legs. The Wind Pro, I use more as winter sweats than for actual riding, because they're bootcut, which, as it turns out, I don't care all that much for in the saddle, especially when paired with half chaps. I love the Wind Pro material, though, and will probably look for another pair next winter in a more fitted style.

What I love about all of these tights and their manufacturers: They're made in the US. Yes, even the Irideon and Kerrits. That makes me extremely happy that something I buy and get so much wear out of ties in so strongly with my efforts to get as much of what I buy as possible made in the US. And I really like supporting the small businesses like Evelyn and Crazy Legs: hard-working people and personal friends who are innovative and quality-driven.

I'It appears that I'm out of drawer space now...but that doesn't stop me from keeping one eye open for any good deals I might stumble across along the way. Because there's always room for more tights.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

pony therapy

Saturday was definitely a Good Day at the barn. The pony and I had a very productive arena session, actively working for over an hour, without her usual 'tude about the arena. The past couple of rides have been very good for her, both mentally and physically. Hopefully the imminent arrival of summer won't do too much to dissuade people from wanting to keep getting out and trail riding some more.

And despite the threats...I didn't actually give her a full soap bath. She got a thorough hosing down, and her hair coat is thin enough once again that I didn't necessarily feel the need to break out the shampoo. (Just ignore the yellowish tail...)

I still think she's world's cutest little mover.
Despite the fact she'll be 20 this month, overall, she's doing really well. The vet was out to do spring shots on Monday and he was happy with how she looks. She's on a perpetual diet, but despite the fact her workload has been drastically cut from what I was several years ago, she doesn't weigh any more than when we were competing. The biggest difference I see is a little more pasture belly and a few less toned muscles...but she's earned her competition retirement.

Rockin' her two-tones.
I'm very excited to be testing an up-and-coming Renegade design. These are the bright green boots that have been seen in my (and some other Renegade endurance riders) ride photos this season. They're currently being testing in the roughest conditions we can find -- the endurance trail -- and will be released later this year. The most exciting part is, they fit Mimi perfectly right out of the box. And boots that small? Adorable.

I'll have more information about the new boots the closer we get to releasing them, but for now, based on testing them since earlier this year, with almost 200 competition miles + training miles in them, I'm very happy with what I'm seeing.

Drying out, post-bath.
Finally, photographic proof that I'm pretty sure my luggage rack has never actually been used for its intended purpose. And while I might not necessarily recommend this for a weekend-long way to secure your pony at ridecamp, it does make a great temporary hitching post for the one who really only needs the illusion of being tied off, but will make a break for it on a ground tie if someone isn't immediately in the vicinity.