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

Monday, June 27, 2011

Not Quite Yet - At Renegade ~

Butch trots Khari out for completion~
I'd thought that limited distance miles counted as lifetime mileage - but they do not.  AERC rules state that a ride has to be 50-miles or more.  We haven't reached our goal yet...  Khari's first Limited Distance ride was at Renegade in 2006.  We placed 14th.  Now, five-years later she finished the 50-mile ride in 12th place & with that completion has 950 miles in Endurance - plus an additional 55-miles in Limited Distance

One of my goals since starting the sport - was to have my horse reach 1,000-miles.  Jas & I competed for ten-years & missed it by 50 miles & a grade 1 lameness.  We also had over 300-miles in pulls, (most at 40 or 50 miles - the heartbreaking kind.)   

Khari has been totally different.  Big, strong & forward - she has learned her job well & enjoys getting out, seeing her friends & even the competition.  She does so much better when Butch is with us & takes care of her, giving me time to take care of me.  Last year - the rides really started smoothing out for us.  We found a routine that worked.  With the slow start this season - it was really tough to get my mind back in the right place.  I knew I hadn't done the conditioning miles that we both needed & I know well that Renegade is a race to respect.  I never plan a ride in advance - I just try to go with the flow.  Each ride is so different & this one was no exception.  

I was surprised when a young friend asked if I would sponsor her in the 50.  Never having sponsored before & with my own goal so close - I wanted to refuse, but she has such a sweet smile...  My biggest concern was that Nikki's horse wouldn't be able to keep up with Khari - even though I planned to take this ride easy & set a pace based on Khari's recoveries throughout the day.
Our Finish!  Nikki & Boggie, Connie & Khari
After the usual first few miles of jockeying for position, we were lucky to tuck in behind two friends & x-teammates early in the ride.  I love consistent pacing & these two do a wonderful job of that.  We had so much fun!  The day was beautiful, sunny, clear with a light breeze.  The rivers were stirrup deep & bugs weren't a problem!   All our horses pulsed down within a couple minutes of each other at each vet check, so we rode the entire ride together!  At one point we put Nikki out front & had to reel her back in!  :-)

My knees wanted to quit, my lower back wasn't happy - but there's just no better way to spend a day than in beautiful country, with great friends, on a good horse!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Renegade Rendezvous

50-mile route
I had to include this Google earth image of the Renegade ride that my GPS recorded.  I'm sure the statistics on the elevation gain/loss over the course would be impressive.  This year was the first time I've ridden a 50 with three Vet Checks, but you'll hear no complaints from me!  It was really nice to have that one extra stop early in the ride - just a good way to check that tack was working as it should & that your horse was doing OK - after the stress of the first few miles.  Khari loved getting a few extra bites of food too & finished the second loop with her highest scores of the day.   It's also really interesting when compared to last year’s image below.
50-mile Ride -2010
Last year’s ride was one large loop, going up to over 6,000 ft. in elevation, with two vet checks, both out of camp.  We left in the morning & didn't see ride camp again until we finished!  Did I mention that it was hot too?   It takes more planning for the out-checks of course.  I'd traveled to the ride with Charlotte, so didn't have the luxury of Butch being there to crew for us. 

This was my fifth time at this ride.  The first was a 25-mile in 2000 on Jasrada, next, the 50-mile on Glenda in 2001.  (Can that be ten-years ago?!)  Then, last year with two "Unicorn" team mates - finishing third place on Khari.  Renegade has a reputation for being tough – but the feeling of when it's over – feels Great. My hat is off to the hardy souls who tackle & complete the 75 here!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

First Ride at Bracken Rd. in a Long Time!

Bracken Loop
We met mid-morning at the parking area, no one there.  Headed out for a "Joyce Loop" & covered ten-miles in short order.  Overcast & extremely humid, but we did have a short sun-break.  Not the day that yesterday was!  Trails still muddy in places, but actually beginning to dry out.  First time we'd been here in months.  By the time we got back, the lot was almost full!

I'm using a great saddle borrowed from a friend.  Playing with stirrup length - dropped them so I wouldn't be riding "Like a Jockey!"  But the inside of my knees starting feeling very rubbed & raw.  Before that got too bad, raised them back up a notch & no more knee pain.  Experimenting with pads too, one slipped out from under my mohair blanket - so that combination isn't going to work.  Really liked the borrowed under pad though - may try just that next.

Khari came home feeling good enough to run & buck, so it seems everything was working for her!  :-) 

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Beauty of Washington Native Plants ~

Flora & Fauna
How amazing to see this beautiful diversity of ground cover plants.  Taking another walk with our oldest Grandson,  I had to keep stopping to admire how each plant compliments the other, how nature somehow finds the perfect places for the perfect plants.  Our attempts at duplicating this in our landscaping efforts are so difficult to achieve, while Mother Nature with seemingly no effort at all - creates perfection.

Of course living in Washington really allows us to enjoy the richness that this environment has to offer.  Just in this one small area, not far from the shoulder of the road, I recognized;  Solomon's Seal - Polygonatum biflorum, Bunchberry Dogwood, Cornus unalaschkensis,  Western Sword Fern - Polystichum munitum, Trailing Blackberry, Rubus ursinus & Deer Fern, Bechnum spicat. 

 I doubt Ben's interest in native plants will surpass his interests in fishing, dirt bike riding, etc. anytime soon, but maybe someday he'll remember his eccentric "Grammy" pointing them out to him :-)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Oh What a Ride!

Our Route~
I always have to be careful what I say to my friend Joyce!  She never fails to take me "seriously"!  :-)  Today - we finally got out on a ride!  Joyce asked me if I was still planning to go to Renegade & I replied;  "yes".  The very best trail scout I know...  not about to send me off to a ride unprepared... sent us climbing!   
As we begin to climb~
We were about 1/2 way up a tough climb when she said;  "This is the "easy" part, it gets steeper."  It did!  Just magnificent views.  Cloud cover of course & very humid - but beautiful.  So nice to have the horses dig in, use those butts & climb!  They both seemed to really enjoy it.  Once on the logging roads, we hit "trot" with both Jesse & Khari in "cruise control" at 10 mph!  Big Smiles!  
Just over 1,600 ft.
Told Joyce that after all these years, we should just pick our ride & go top-ten for the fun of it!  Did I say that top-ten was fun?  Not really - for me anyway - more stressful.  Completing with a sound horse & going for speed doesn't always work out at the same time.  But on a day like today & from the saddle of a good horse, you can pick your poison :-)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

In Praise of the "Sensible" Horse ~

Nice Collection going down the trail~
Today - I took Farah out for her first ride!  I hadn't even been On her!   I didn't take time to adjust a different headstall - Khari's worked with just a little lengthening.  I used a deep seat western saddle & wool pad.  I lounged her both directions without any negative reaction, before mounting up.  She was a bit nervous as we started down the road, neighboring horses running over to the fence, dogs barking etc.  But soon, she was amazing me with her "think about it" attitude!  When she saw something that might be "frightening" - she would stop, look & most times move on without my urging! 

I wanted this ride to be Fun for her, so we took our time & I let her stop to eat at several places where the grass was just too lush to pass by!  Soon, we were trotting & I was amazed at her consistency!   Her ability to collect herself up was wonderful!  We spotted deer at one point & her only reaction was to look~

I know it was the longest trail ride of her life, about six-miles.  I don't think she's been ridden outside of an arena more than a few times.  She was barefoot, so a bit footsore - even though I dismounted to walk the rocky areas.  I should have shod her when Art was out to do Khari - but we'll get it done shortly!  May also try the Renegades, but her feet are a bit narrow in shape for them.
Farah's first look at the view on our way home~
By the time we returned to Pat's yard, I'd just experienced one of the most relaxed rides I've had in years!  On a five-year old!  Butch had just arrived at our gate & when he saw the smile on my face he knew I was hooked!

Riding on a "Typical Spring" Day !

Up to the drainage basin
Foxgloves starting to bloom~
Dark clouds across the sky~
Back to our side!

These have been Dark, dreary & gray days -- but enough of a break from the rain to ride.  Just so strange to think that we're only a week away from SUMMER!  Wetlands are full, creeks still running -- we saw two young deer & a couple hawks.  Otherwise all was quiet.  I am more aware now though - that if Khari feels the need to stop & check things out...  there might be a reason.  Gave her the benefit of the doubt - but no horse eating animals appeared!   :-)