Thursday, August 29, 2013

the power of duct tape

From beat-up old spare Renegade to improvised hoof-soaking boot.

Bonus points for coordinating duct tape?
Soaked hooves = easier trimming, which leads to much happiness on the part of both me and the pony.

apply, fill with water, install pony in front of
hay bag, trim.

It's not perfect, or completely water-tight, but it did the job well enough to soften her hooves a bit and make for easier, faster trimming.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

my little go pony

Miss Mimi is as happy as a clam after getting to go out two weekends in a row. Gotta say, I understand the feeling. There is nothing quite like one's own pony. :)

A came down and chauffeured us again, which I am so, so grateful for.

heading out from the trailhead
 The weather cooperated in that there was a nice breeze most of the time, and the sun would duck behind some clouds every so often, so it never got too unbearable out.

doing the "big wash"
 The worst part was probably in the wash, which doesn't get much breeze...but fortunately there were treese and high rock walls, which meant we weren't baking in full sun.

mountain range overlooking the wash
 Mimi was "on" today. I rode in my Duett again, and the way she was acting, I don't think saddle fit is an issue. If anything, I think her reluctance in the arena has been sheer boredom and being fed up with circles. Not that I blame her. It does us both good to get out again.

trail signage
 I also took her out in her Myler kimberwick today, after she demonstrated last weekend that she was being a bit strong in her s-hack. Every so often she needs a reminder about giving and softening, and apparently she's on one of those reminder cycles now.

She was forward and eager enough today that I was glad for the bit, since it meant all I had to do was give finger taps on the reins when she would try for yet another sneaky trot opportunity. She really wanted to go today.

lunch break!
We did two loops: the first was a 9-mile, all walking (except for the sneaky trot opportunities), then came back in for a drink and snack, then went back out on a 4-mile loop that was more trotting.

I was so happy with how she did today. She's out of shape for hills, since we've been doing nothing but flat arena work, but she's one game little pony. She was still bright-eyed at the end, and eating and drinking with gusto. She did her customary "drop her head and snooze, I'm so tired" routine after she was untacked and somewhat cleaned up...but perked right up for an in-hand trot-out, then jumped right into the trailer to head home. Back at the barn, she proceeded to drag me up the barn driveway, then trot back to her stall as soon as I'd dumped all of my bags and stuff at my car. She dove into her hay and water back at the barn, got a shower, had a good roll in the sand, and went right back to her food.

I'm still tickled with how well she did today. She's been on her new joint supplement for a week now. I don't know if it makes that big of a difference already, or if she's just in a happy place mentally with getting to go out again...whatever it is, I'll take it. When she feels good, I feel good.

Monday, August 19, 2013

a weekend of horses: Sunday edition

As if Saturday wasn't enough fun, I got a message from A Saturday night asking if I wanted to come ride with her on one of her horses on Sunday. Of course!!!

Bonus points for the fact we were going to somewhat new-to-me trailhead: the newly-opened Brown's Trailhead in the newest part of the Scottsdale Sonoran Preserve. Now, Dad and I used to ride the trails around Granite Mountain years ago back when he first got his mare Kelly. So I was somewhat familiar with the east side of what is now preserve land, but we'd never gotten as far west as the new trailhead.

I was distracted (fitting and booting horses, tacking up, trying to beat the heat), so didn't think to get pics of the I will the next time. But until then, just take my word for it: It's cool. They even have a concrete horse trough with a drain in it, so you turn it on and get nice, fresh, (somewhat) cool water when you want to water your horse, versus a slimy, overheated, nasty trough.

And it looks like there are a ton of trails there too. We did what was I think about a 9-mile loop and barely put a dent in the trail availability. Definitely want to come back here again.

A offered me her very experienced endurance gelding Majik to ride. Fun, fun horse! He's bold, dominant, and forward, the kind that, as long as he knows you know how to sit up and ride, he's wonderful. Those are my favorite kind of horses to ride, so we had a great time together.

Bringing up the rear of the Endurance Parade.
(Yes, riding yet another Grey Arabian Gelding.)
 I also got to try A's Lovatt & Ricketts (Arabian Saddle Company) Sylvan, which is their all-purpose, fewer-rings-than-endurance-saddles model. An ASC has also been on my "want to test" list after sitting on a Rubicon in a store...I like these saddles. Will definitely consider one of them in the future.

Balancing Rock
 It was a small group of four of us riding, and we took turns swapping positions, trading off who was leading, or in the back. Great group that all got along well and had a really fun time.

desert in bloom
I love this north Scottsdale/Rio Verde area. I've been coming up here to ride, off-and-on, for the past 13 years, and I'm still not tired of it. The only reason it doesn't qualify as my favorite spot to ride is it is a little more out of the way than the San Tans. But in terms of overall views and amount of trails available, I have to give this area the nod.

Trail obstacle. We had to go between the rock and the tree.
So, a very horsey-filled weekend that left me with a smile on my face and some muscles that are in that much better shape for the fast-approaching fall ride season.

a weekend of horses: Saturday edition

Well, it's been a while since I've done back-to-back days...last time was at the Prescott Chaparral ride in April.

To start, Mimi got to go out on trail on Saturday for her idea of a "proper" ride. (We were supposed to be babysitting, but the "baby" in question was so solid, we didn't have much "sitting" to do.)

A and Patrick, featuring Rearguard Pony Ears
 A is a fellow endurance rider, and always game to try a new place to ride, so when I offered Mimi's babysitting services if she wanted to take her young horse out and explore a new-to-her place, she was thrilled with the idea.

(And I'm grateful she was willing to come all the way down from the north Phoenix area and chauffeur us around as well.)

Taking blatant advantage of Mimi's ability to keep trucking
down the trail while I do stupid stuff, including taking pics
on a more interesting section of downhill.
 A also brought along her FreeForm saddle for me to try. (Networking. It's a beautiful thing. I've managed to check off three of the four saddles on my "would like to try" list...and really don't have major complaints about any of them. That's helpful. *eyeroll*)

Hard to compare apples-to-apples, as I've only tried the Sensation on Mimi on the flat, versus doing trail work and then coming back and doing "flat work" in the trailhead parking lot. Would like to try the Sensation out on trail on her, since the other times I've ridden the Sensation have been on Other People's Horses. (Nothing like trying something on the horse whose every step I know.)

beautiful San Tans
 It's also been at least a few months since we'd been down to the San Tans. It's pretty much my favorite place to ride around the Valley and the pony seems to be pretty partial to it too. I wonder many hours and miles have we logged down here at this park?

"Babysitting Duties": One ear swiveled back to make sure our
babysitting charge is still there.
 Young-horse Patrick's only indiscretion, it seemed, was giving "Buttcrack Rock" a major side-eye, and all it took was Mimi going up to it and touching it for him to venture up and do the same. Despite her nasty "mare-face" attitude, which I really try not to capture on camera. Really spoils the "Pretty White Princess" effect.

Mimi and Patrick discuss the scary "Buttcrack Rock"
I didn't have a GPS with me (I keep forgetting about my GPS apps on my phone...grrr), but that loop we did is just about 7 miles. Mostly walking, with a bit of trotting. A great first outing for Patrick, and a great stretcher for Mimi, who isn't in world's best shape right now...although she kind of surprised me.

We did our loop, then some trot-canter "arena" work in the parking lot for me to get a feel for the FreeForm, then came back to the trailer, got a drink, and she was down to 48 on her pulse within 5 minutes, which was about when I bothered to actually check it. Need to start riding with a HRM again for curiosity's sake. And she was moving out really well, bright and sparkly-eyed, and not acting her age. That makes me happy. :)

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Tailing Lines

(Still working on my Tevis crewing story. What can I say? I write epic novels for fun.)

This is what happens when a back-and-forth conversation gets turned into a blog post, especially since I'd already taken the photos.

Mel and I have been discussing some of our different gear and equipment, and the subject of the tailing line that I use came up. It's one I made myself, since I'm apparently a bit fussy and just-so about things like tailing lines and reins.

I picked up quite a bit of this rope (I want to say it's 1/4" diameter yacht rope) when I was at the Scottsdale Show this year. I intend to some day attempt to tie my own rope halter. *hysterical laughter* Yeah, right. In the meantime, I will stick with tailing ropes.

Finished length, with all the knots in place, is just under 9' long. You might make it shorter or longer depending on size of horse.

The end that clips to the halter is a scissor snap.

The first knotted loop past the scissor snap is at approximately 3' in. Again, this may be adjusted depending on horse size. Tie knots loosely at first so they're adjustable. Second loop/knot is another 2' back.

End that clips to the saddle, and holds the knotted loops while riding, is a carabiner. I used a Nite-Ize S-Biner, size 4. I like the double-sided option, as it keeps the loops separate from the side that clips to the saddle -- less likely for the loops to accidentally slip off.

Excess loops clip to the carabiner when riding. Snap end clips to the halter.

Entire apparatus clipped to the saddle, ready for riding. I just used an old thin luggage strap attachment piece because it's thin leather, so if the rope does happen to snag on something, there's a good chance the leather will break.