Friday, July 25, 2014

"5 Qs with Mel", Go-Pony style

Mel adapted her post from one at to be more endurance/horse-specific and invited us bloggers to respond in kind, so here goes...

hiking with Artemis, July 2014
Name: Ashley Wingert
  • Enough people know me/come here from Facebook that my identity isn't exactly low-profile. If you're gonna identity theft me, just know the highest $ thing I have associated with my name is my student if you feel like giving me an excuse to get rid of that, have at it.
  • I also respond to "Ash", "the girl with the white pony", or "the Renegade boot girl."

Age: Late 20s. I have a birthday next month and will still be in my late 20s.

Where do you live: Valley of the Sun...just outside of Phoenix, AZ.

Family Status: Me. Pony. Puppy.

1. How long have you been riding? Endurance?
  • Since I was seven years old, so 21 years this summer. A little bit of everything -- started with English huntseat, moved to a couple of years of Western, then all around with POA showing. Distance riding since 2001 (NATRC), and endurance since 2005.

2. What does a normal training week look like for you?
  • Currently? Somewhat pitiful, due to my in-limbo status of having a competition-retired horse and working for the means to be able to acquire another one. I still try to ride Mimi at least once a week, in the arena if nothing else, and try to catch ride with friends with extra horses when I can.
  • When I was actively competing Mimi, I would usually ride 2-3 times/week. Had to work around my school schedule, Dad's work schedule, and the fact we had to drive to the barn and trailer out, so we usually rode both days on the weekend, and schedules permitting, would try to get out once during the week. We would usually shoot for 20-25 miles over the weekend, and a shorter, 6-8 miles during the week.

3. Any advice for endurance riding spouses?
  • I'll let you know if I find one.
    The most important thing is someone that understands and supports the fact that my life passion is my horses. I don't much care how that manifests itself, whether it's in the form of someone who is happy to stay at home and hold down the fort while I'm gone, or someone who enjoys camping and being outdoors and coming to rides with me (although the latter would be pretty awesome). I don't particularly want/need to find someone who rides, but does at least have the ability to know which end the food goes in and which end it comes out, and comfortable being around horses.

4. Where will this sport be in 10 years?
  • The cynical side of me says "I hope there is a sport in 10 years." That's the side that, because my job involves being on the computer all day, sees entirely too much of the drama on discussion forums, and people grumbling, and in-fighting, and bad attitudes. I see loss of trails due to development or bureaucracy, loss of rides with no one stepping up to take over and fill in the missing ride weekend gaps. I've personally experienced the effects of an economic downturn and how difficult that can make horse keeping, let alone competing.
    But that's my cynical side.
  • What I hope to see?
    • It's encouraging to see how many more people are in approximately my age bracket (+/- 10 years, so roughly the 20-40 age range) than when I first started. Hopefully that leads to an increase in membership, or at least not a decrease. I think fresh blood being brought in helps breathe new life and ideas into any organization.
    • More technological adaptation. As technology gets more and more accessible, I think we'll probably start seeing more of it being used -- GPS tracks, more accurate maps, more streamlined timing systems.
    • More veterinary advancements and rider education/awareness. As Mel put it, shifting from a culture of automatic blame/shame -- "Oh, your horse is being treated, you're a bad rider and raced your horse" -- to an understanding of the value of early intervention therapy to keep a minor problem from becoming a major one, and that all horses can and will have a bad day at some point.

5. What was your best race and why (AERC endurance – or if you are primary in another discipline, than your best ride in that sport).
  • A toss-up between Man Against Horse 50 in 2009, and Valley of the Sun Turkey Trot 50 in 2009. MAH was a really hard ride, and a monkey off my back after being pulled the year before. It was a hard enough ride that I have friends who won't/don't like to do it, so to have my little pony complete it was one of my proudest moments ever. VOTSTT was a hard ride, mentally...felt like the longest 50 ever, and the pony just kept trucking along. Riding the last 5 miles in the dark was just magical and solidified my love of night riding and the feeling I'm going to like 100s.

Bonus question: What’s your favorite beer?
  • Currently, the fridge is stocked with Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy, which tells you what I tend to prefer -- lighter, more fruit-flavored types. Not a fan of anything really bitter. Can handle strong (I do love Guiness ) as long as it's smooth. But I prefer hard ciders, wine, or vodka + mixer.

So, there ya go! Feel free to grab the questions, post them on your own blog, and share the information love!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Tevis info links

'Tis the season...arguably my favorite time of the year...

Tevis time!!!

Once again, I'm Auburn-bound to crew...this year, it's crewing for "Team Lurgy", aka Lucy Trumbull and Fergus. They completed in 2012, so it's fingers crossed for another great year.

For everyone's education/enjoyment/entertainment (I have a twisted definition of what is entertaining), I've compiled some of my favorite link to videos and other Tevis resources.

  • "The Tevis Cup" videos by Bob Kelley. Part 1 and Part 2. A good overview and information, especially for those new to the ride or considering it. I think a lot of the footage was from back in 2009/2010, so maybe not 100% up-to-date, but the basics of this ride -- especially the prep work and principles of being ready for it -- don't change.
  • HRTV's "Inside Information: Tevis Cup" video.
  •'s "Tevis Trail" flyover video. A flyover, via Google Earth, of the trail, showing the terrain. This really puts some of the mountains, canyon, and climbs into perspective.
  • 2013 Highway 89 crossing video. See the entire field of horses pass by at the Highway 89 crossing, approximately 5-6 miles into the ride. Video is edited down to approximately 10 minutes...although riders are still pretty closely bunched together at this point of the ride. (Having been at the crossing in 2012, I would say it took ~30-40 minutes to see all the riders go through, depending on the size of the entry field.)
Doing a search on YouTube for "Tevis" will also net a variety of different videos -- trail footage, ride coverage, more overviews and information, etc.

And my blog roll sidebar has a number of blogs from those of us who are Tevis junkies or involved in it in some form or fashion, either riding or crewing, and have the stories, tips, and checklists to go with it.

Found a particular good resource I missed or you'd like to share? Let me know and I'll include it!

Monday, July 7, 2014


I've mentioned the Salt River before, and the numerous trails around it. It's becoming one of my favorite places to ride, not only for the abundance of different trail options, but also for the fact that the river is so accessible. In the summer, it actually makes riding in the heat feasible, even bordering on pleasant. (If you're  a heat-conditioned desert rat who thinks anything below 70* is cold.)

I got to take Khan out yesterday on the Stewart Mountain loop. Decently early start, lots of water, semi-cloud cover, breezes on the ridgeline, and artificial breezes from trotting and cantering the washes made for a pleasant ride.

Wading in the river with the horses when we were almost finished made for a great cool-down, and the chance to just have some fun and enjoyment.

looking down at the Salt River
such a good, fun boy to ride

on the ridgeline, looking out to Saguaro Lake

This was my first time really going into water with a horse. Mimi and I have done stream crossings, and she's gone maybe mid-cannon-deep into the river when I've taken her there, but she's never been what I would consider fond of water.

It was a blast! We didn't actually swim -- Khan likes standing in the water, but not keen on the swimming idea -- but we went wading until it was about chest-deep on Khan. It was a great way to cool off both horses and riders, and based on the splashing and pawing, the horses seemed to enjoy it too.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy Independence Day!

Hope everyone has a happy Independence Day! Stay safe and enjoy the weekend!