Ain't nuthin like ridin' a fine horse in a new country - Augustus McCrae – Lonesome Dove

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Farah Wins Best Condition @ Mt. Adams 55-mile~

The morning of the ride! Butch was up ahead of me, feeding Farah & going down to watch John & Diane start in the 100.  By the time he was back, it was time to get Farah saddled & then warmed up.  Cassandra had suggested a softer & gentler approach to her lounging routine - to include bringing her back in for some cuddles & softness between direction changes.

All that seemed to work pretty well.  I stepped into the stirrup & we walked down to the start area. There were already many horses warming up & the usual tension in the air!  I love it when she grazes - it mellows us both out a little.
Waiting to go~
I was happy that Farah was distracting herself, but it wasn't long until she saw horses coming back off the old way to start.  I knew that change would add some interest to us leaving camp, with me still in the saddle :-)

Butch filmed the start.  Once the trail was open - Farah let loose with a small buck - nothing like her usual antics & I moved her forward - trying to avoid the other hyper horses.  With about six riders ahead of us, Farah was All business!  I was so proud of her!  A couple of the young FEI riders were in the lead - on the single track trail.  Within a mile or two, we were asking for trail & moved past along with Brittany on her gray mare & the lady on the paint.

By the time we'd reached the hold for the 100's, at ten-miles, Brittany had missed trail turns a couple times.  It was a busy place, but Max answered my query as to where the Snow King loop continued on, at the far side of the hold.  Farah - in the lead - missed again the same turn as last year - but realized her mistake as Brittany whipped onto the trail - cutting us off.  That was my clue that it would be a horse race.
Coming into camp at 7:39 a.m.
To say that we were flying - would be an understatement...  We did the loop faster than last year - in one-hour 9 min.   Post~  Farah pulsed down just slightly slower, but ahead of the gray.  Butch vetted her through - with a different vet & had no issues with her kicking out.  We followed our usual routine & were ready to leave after the 30-min. hold.
8:14 & ready to leave~
To this point, the paint had been staying with us, but this loop dropped back.  Gotchen is my favorite - someday I'd like to come back & ride it when I have time to enjoy the scenery!  :-)  The burn area had changed, birds pecking holes in the burned trees, tops fallen to the ground & thanks to the great crew that did all the chain-saw clean-up!  With Brittany in the lead, we took a wrong turn & ended up running head on into a pile of slash.  No fun & I apologized for Farah being too close.  I'd been holding her back every stride & the two mares were as Brittany said;  "loving the competition".
9:43 a.m. - finished with Gotchen - at 31-miles
 Farah took just a couple minutes longer this time than the gray, to pulse down.  She also wasn't drinking as much as I expect her too - but again vetted with all A's - except a B in gut - which was up from a B- the first loop.  I told Butch that I was not going to head back out unless she was totally eating & drinking normally, which he assured me she was!
10:37 a.m. We leave on Ghost Loop~
I didn't know it, but our in/out times were very close to the timeline we'd established in last years ride.  I'd seen Brittany go galloping out a couple minutes before - but was actually glad.  The weather was really changeable, from cold to drizzle, some wind, to sunshine that warmed things up in seconds.  It seemed very humid too & I wasn't comfortable with the two-horse race.

Since this is the loop with the short steep climbs - I new Farah would do well.  We dropped back to a pace that was comfortable for us both & just kept on truckin'.  We did start running into the 30-mile riders again - I'd ask for trail & most riders were so courteous.  Farah took a couple of the hills with leaps so smooth - her athleticism is just amazing.  I swear she used less energy bounding up - than if I'd asked her to take it slower.  When we'd stop for water or to leave our number with a radio operator - she would listen to see if anyone was coming up behind us :-)  If they had been, I'm sure our little 8.9 to 9.5 trot would have zipped right back up into the double digits :-)  For being on our own - no competition that Farah was aware of - she was just motoring right along.
12:13 p.m. 45-miles gone - we return from Ghost!
Both of us were feeling just fine at this point.  (Just minutes different from last year.)  Farah still not drinking as much as I would have liked - but as Butch kept reminding me - it was substantially cooler than in other years & her vet scores had stayed consistently  A's.
12:50 p.m. Morrison - 10-miles to go!
Farah was not happy to that we were leaving on our own...  I felt sorry for her - since she does enjoy a race so much :-)  But, I was happy that we had not seen the front-runner again & hadn't attempted to catch her.  (I had a plan in the back of my mind :-)  I knew we'd probably opened a decent gap behind us & the rest of the riders - from our morning speed - so when Butch again sent us off with;  "Get out there & don't waste any time"...  That's what we did.

We both know Morrison loop well by now & just cruised along.  I hadn't taken my stick, just didn't want to use it & as I watched my heart monitor show such low lackadaisical readings, I thought maybe I should have :-)  As we got to the last water tank, we met Tani & a friend heading out.  I asked Tani how many 55-mile riders were in front of us & she said;  "No one"!  "Get OUT of here!"  :-)
2:05 p.m. We Finish!
There were so many riders in front of us as we came around the edge of camp.  Even so, I kept up the trot until we were closer.  Butch tried to video our finish - but his camera didn't record.  Our ride time was probably about 30-min slower than last years - but Farah was totally cool & dry.  She felt like we could have gone on forever.

John & Diane were there to see me finish - help with tack & guide me to the scale.  Butch took Farah back to camp & started cleaning her up.  John offered to show Farah for BC & Butch gratefully accepted :-)  He'd had his hands full keeping Mike happy with a supply of red ribbons - though all the other Vets had had no issues at all...
3:05 p.m. John takes Farah~
I wish I'd had the presence of mind to video John's trot-out with Farah.  He did a super job & the gold girl I'm sure was surprised that a human can run that fast!  :-)  It was pretty thrilling for me to see her look so beautiful & trot so sound after a grueling 55-miles of trail.
Farah with John~
It was too bad that we didn't have room to do the final trot out in the big grassy field, instead John was asked to do it across the road & into the pulse/crew area.  Certainly not ideal but he made it look positively easy!
Wowing the onlookers :-)
Her scores were wonderful, she looked amazing & I felt like I'd accomplished my goal of finishing with a healthy, happy horse!  As I've said many times - anything beyond that is the frosting on the cake.  On this day - mine was chocolate!  :-)
Sunday morning, at the ride meeting, when I was pawing through the box of old t-shirts trying to find one - after all but the winning rider in the 55 had gotten theirs - I was thrilled when I heard Darlene announce that Farah had won Best Condition!
American Gothic - Endurance Style!
Just the evening before, Diane & I had been discussing some of the horrible BC awards that they'd received in CA.  We had a word for it - now I have the tool to take care of those other awards!  A  disappointment - after seeing the nice coolers that all the 100-mile competitors received for completion awards.  Butch tells me that he'll hang the pitch fork in a place of honor in the barn.  We now plan to own #102 - it's brought us great luck two-years in a row!

I do have this good friend though - known for her sewing talents - who told me that she plans to make us something much nicer to commemorate our accomplishment :-)

Friday, May 20, 2016

Mt. Adams - Pre-ride~

Frosty morning!  Very!  Cold, crisp fresh air & sunshine again!  Such an incredible place to enjoy such a day.  It wasn't long before we'd saddled up & were riding out to check the trails~
Through camp~
The start had been changed, to go right through the middle of camp - so that's the way we went.  With all the moisture, I was amazed at how dusty the roads in camp were.
On our way~
It's hard to believe the number of years that have gone by since I was on a trail with these two!  We wanted to see the trail markings to the north & to the south.  John soon left us - he'd already been out, so Diane & I continued on.  We rode the three-miles to the first water tank, then a little further.  Last year there had been many wildflowers blooming in the woods.  This season I really didn't see any - except of course the dogwood trees in full flower.
Diane & Titan check out the map~
Soon, we found out that the trails were dusty too, but such soft footing feels so nice when you've been used to rock logging roads.  We had to check out the big tree :-)
At the Big Ponderosa Pine
It was hard to have to turn back, but it was getting close to lunch.  The plan was to get registered early & try to get through the pre-ride vetting before the lines got too long. Well, of course we weren't the only ones with that idea :-)
Registration line~
 I had sent my paperwork in early, but there was only one line.  It was really no surprise how quickly we moved forward.  Anna - as usual had things totally under control!  It was going to be a huge ride, there were more rigs already in on Thursday, than there usually are on Friday!  It seemed there were so many new faces that we didn't recognize.  Always fun to catch up with old friends we only see at rides.  Since we go so seldom - there's always lots of news :-)
Butch trots Farah~
I'd brushed Farah & she was in her usual rare form for the trot-out!  Butch had his hands full!  It's a good thing that he feeds her - because she looked ready to rip!  She was so excited to be here - she knows that it's the place that she gets to GO!
Coming back~
No lack of impulsion!  She also didn't like the way Mike had approached her & kicked out!  That had never happened before & we didn't like it at all.  No excuse for bad behavior.  She pulsed in low & had her usual A's.  Mike said that he wanted a red ribbon in her tail~

More socializing - then back to our camp for dinner & bed.  I was concerned that the new pad would stay in place & hopeful that we wouldn't be riding in rain!   Trying new?  At a ride?  No, I haven't learned that yet :-)   
To be Continued~  Next - Ride Day!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

RoadTrip to Mt. Adams~

It's a good story, so as with any good story, I'll start at the beginning~
405 South Bound
It really doesn't matter when you leave, unless you want to head out about 4 a.m.  We left home about 8:30 - made one stop & were on the road by 9 a.m.
Pouring Rain~
The weather didn't improve as we drove south...  Diane & John were driving up from CA - they'd made a stop-over in OR.  We were texting back & forth - our timing was almost perfect - by the time we made the turn onto Hwy 84, they were only 20 min. ahead of us!  Of course - anyone who's made the drive to the Mt. Adams ride camp - knows whats coming next!
The Bridge~
Butch waited for a Semi to get across before we started over...
The expanse of the Columbia~
You do get the breath-taking views of the river, right out your window...  It's a narrow bridge & it does flex in the wind!
Past mid-span
Once you're past the middle, you start to think that you're actually going to make it over :-)  Sweet relief!  Not long after, we pulled into ride camp to find that we already had neighbors!
Titan & Fonzi
At least they added a touch of class to the hillside :-)   The sunshine was so welcome, after the wet drive down & listening to the dire weather forecast!
Farah in her pen~
Farah instantly recognized her friends from our visit to Diane's last spring, when Patty & I had been on our way home from the Southern, CA trip.  She checked out each horse & still seemed to like Fonzi the best :-)
Close to our usual spot~
 It's so nice to get to camp a day early.  Just over a six-hour drive down, we still had daylight to get set-up & enjoy the evening.  Diane & John took the horses out for a spin.
Diane & Titan, Fonzi & John on Justice
We took the dogs for a walk around the valley & admired the snow on the mountain.  Just a beautiful evening that soon turned really cold!
Mt. Adams~
 By time for bed, Farah had her winter blanket on & I was so glad I'd brought our heavy comforter!  Morning was frosty- probably low 30's & it felt cold until the sun warmed things up!  Nice to think that we had another full day before the ride!
To be Continued~

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Little Things~

Recently, I've had reason to appreciate the little things - more...  There are so many little things that make up our world - from the smallest - to the largest - all are so unique to our life here on planet earth.  Today, when Linda & I stopped for a short break - the air was filled with these beautiful tiny Dragonflies.  So tiny, so delicate & yet full of life.
On the trail~
With the trails open, Linda asked if I wanted her to take me on a ride & that sounded perfect to me.    We did trails, lots of trails!  The wooded landscape is literally exploding with new growth.  As we turned to each section - Linda would say;  "Oh - this needs to get done!"  With a work party coming up on June 4th - all we can do is hope that the many people who ride & enjoy this incredible area - will come up & spend a day clearing trail.
Linda & Count
Farah again refused to cross a muddy wet spot - she had done so well for so long - I have no idea why she's again refusing.  Rather than ride the kind of wild leap that she took on the Quincy ride, I dismounted & sent her over - yes - she made a huge leap.  She also spent a lot of time chomping on her bit - when Count was in front.  Her preference is certainly for moving out - but I love enjoying the shaded beauty of the spring woods.  We went out to the far north - Baby Bear trail.  The mother bear & her two cubs have been spotted again this season.
From the Monument
It was just beautiful at the Monument - the Olympics visible through the high haze.  Warm in the sunshine, but easy to tell that the weather plans to change.  From here - we took the new trail that the Bike Club members finished the end of last year.  Winding, very well laid out as a nice challenging trail for bikes, not quite large enough turns for a fast trotting horse.  Still very soft in spots too, in another year or so it should settle.
New SaddleRight Pad
As we were making the turn up our road, Butch's truck made the turn in front of us!  Butch picked up a box at the gate & I knew right away what it was!  We unloaded Farah & tried the endurance style pad.  It really seems to be a nice fit!  It looks a little large under the Stonewall, which is a small saddle - but covers all the areas I like to have covered.  The drop down rigging sits well on it too.  I'd ordered a liner - but decided not to use it.
The new trail - between lap 5 & 7
Such a beautiful day, perfect spring saddle time!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Getting it Right~

 We went to Victoria today - to try out all the little changes that Cassandra suggested in my tack.  First, we moved the breast collar attachments from the D's on the saddle - lower - to the stirrup hangers.  That moved the "V" of the collar lower on Farah's neck.  I unsnapped the attachment to the saddle - to give Farah more room when she's grazing.
Fancy pad!  :-)
The SaddleRight pad we're borrowing from Cassandra is at least ten-years old - the color has faded, but the padding is still in perfect condition.  Only 1/2" thick - it fits Jackie's requirement of a thin pad for the Stonewall.  I have an endurance style on order & hope it arrives before we leave.  With a wool felt bottom, it doesn't slip & the saddle stays put on the suede leather top.  Time will tell, but I'm liking it a lot so far.
Mt. Baldy -
It was a chilly, gray overcast day - but the kind of weather that I love for riding.  Just cool enough to keep the bugs down & wearing a vest again seemed strange after the warm, record breaking mid-80's of last week.
Looking back down the mountain~
We also tried raising the bit one notch.  Farah's canine's haven't erupted, but they were close enough to the bit - that raising it a little took away the chance that it was hitting.  She was not chomping on it at all today.  I also moved the reins from the bottom ring, to the middle one on the Mylar.  Maybe not for competition, but seemed just fine today.
Salmonberries!  Fresh Fruit!
The Salmonberries were ripe!  After the last two days of rain, they were so fresh & yummy!  It seems early - I know I've made jam in June other years.  It was one of my Dad's favorites!
Farah in the Deep Dark Woods~
Before Cassandra's visit, someone told me that a good trainer is one that sets a goal for you.  We were in the tack room, Cassandra walked over to the Mikmar Loose Ring Snaffle that Sandra had me buy for Farah - while she was in training.  Putting it in her hand - Cassandra looked at me & said;  "This is our goal - for you to be able to ride her in this, no matter what you're doing."  I was caught totally off-guard & my face must have shown it :-)  As her words sunk in, I realized that goal would suit us perfectly!  If we get to that point - then we'll have arrived in more ways than one!  Thank you Cassandra!