Friday, December 21, 2012

What we've been up to...

... besides not blogging. 

Went to our first actual sorting event.  After staring at the cows for over an hour, Dig remember that he wasn't afraid of them.

What we actually did most of the day...  Sortings are mostly a waiting game.

Did the Nevada Day Parade - which is to celebrate Nevada's acceptance into the Union on October 31st.  The parade is held the last Saturday in October.  We rode with Susan McCartney's group, "Parading Arabians".  I was very impressed with how well Diego handled everything.

Riding through downtown Carson.
Did another sorting in early November.  This was his first time being ridden in a bosal, just put it on that morning.  Since he still goes in a sidepull 99% of the time, he did great.  He's definitely starting to get the hang of it and really go after the cows.  He tries to bite them if they're not moving fast enough. :)

Watching that cow.

He looks SSSOOOO "Arab" here!  Cracks me up.  Pretty much all the other horses are Quarter Horses or QH-cross.
BITE that cow!  Getting ready anyways.
Haven't been doing much riding lately.  Life has been pretty busy and we've been working on projects or out of town most weekends.  I'm ready for the days to start getting longer again and looking forward to Daylight Savings Time.  New adventures and some exciting changes are on the way.  Can't wait!

Monday, September 10, 2012


Post title is in tribute to such wonderful Quarter Horse names like ImaLilLena and HesSmartCutter and such.  This past weekend we had two big milestones:  For Diego's 8th Birthday he got to go play cow horse.  :)  And it was LOVE!

Ronda and I, and Ronda's sister in law Chris, all woke up at o'dark thirty on Saturday morning and went down to the Cow Horse 101 Clinic in Granite Bay, CA held at the Roberts' Ranch.  It was a wonderful way to introduce horses and/or riders to the basics of working cows.  At the beginning of the clinic, after everyone had warmed up, Kathy went over the basics of how cows see, think, and move - i.e. they go where they're heads are pointed, but watch their eyes for where they may be thinking of going next.  Move them like a horse in the round-pen in regards to drive lines and how to push, turn, and stop.  She explained about how some horses exude more "pressure" than others, so you may need to stay farther back on those horses, and how some cows are more sensitive than others, etc.  Really a lot of it is just about becoming familiar and comfortable with the various signs and how to read and interpret those.  I had a bit of an advantage, having competed in Team Sorting and a bit of Team Penning in my Junior High and early High School years.  Ronda was also very familiar with working cows in the past.  It was a TON of fun and something that I wouldn't mind getting back into again.

The cows enter the arena, Digs is intriqued

They then brought the 10 cows, all numbered with a neck banner, into the arena and had us take turns riding quietly at a walk in groups of three in and around the cows.  First was between the cows and the fence in one direction, then the other, then to make an easy path between the cows so the cows were on both sides and maybe moving around a bit.  Diego was very interested in the cows from the beginning, watching them intently but not afraid.  He gave them helicopter ears a few times when the cows would move around close to him, but he held his line and continued on nicely. 

Next we split into teams of four and took turns moving the herd through various obstacles that had been placed around the arena.  For example, between two cones, around the barrel, along the poles, between the last poles, and then back between the cones.  Obstacles that would simulate moving a herd between a gate, along a fenceline, around trees, through a wash, etc.  We rotated around and worked as several different teams, taking turns being partners with various people and working the cattle through various courses.  Our last team was Ronda, Chris, and I with a Sacramento Mounted Police Officer named Mike, and we NAILED our run!  Such fun!  The hardest part was exactly as Kathy described, getting the herd together and moving in a single direction to start.

Lastly, they put the cattle into two interconnected round-pens to allow us to practice sorting the cattle, like some of the local ranch sorting competitions.  A good example of how that works is here:

The cows are numbered zero through nine, in a competition, you have a limited amount of time to sort them numerically from the herd, in an order determined by draw when you start.  In other words, they'll call number seven and you need to move seven from one pen to the next, then eight, then nine, and on down the line.  When we started, we all just picked the easiest cows first, disregarding their numbers.  We kept everything pretty slow, to a walk or trot mostly.  It was nearly noon and getting hot and the cows were getting tired.  Everyone rotated through with a partner and then went again if they wanted.  By this time, Diego had figured out that he LOVED working cattle and had started to pin his ears and attempt to bite them on the butt if they weren't moving fast enough for his liking.  :)  I went once with Ronda, then with Chris, then Ronda and I went again and worked the cows in numerical order this time.  We had one sneak through out of order, which would be a "No Time" and disqualification in competition, but it was great fun and good practice.

Diego says he would most definitely like to do this or some sorting competitions/practice in the future.  He had a BALL and can't wait to go back and get some more cows!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

WW: Tahoe Rim Trail - Tunnel Creek Loop

From our ride this past Sunday.  Marlette Lake on the left, Lake Tahoe on the right.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Great Safety Tip from Easycare

I'd probably try to find some sort of cover to put over the blade as well.  As clutsy as I am, I'd stab/slice myself on the damn thing taped there.

Full article below:

Safety Lesson Learned at Texas Trail Challenges:
Submitted by Carol Warren, Team Easyboot 2012 Member
The wonderful judges of Texas Trail Challenges and NATRC offered a Riders Clinic April 14th at C-Bar Ranch in Valley Mills, Texas. It was one of the most practical and informative clinics I have ever attended and I have been to some clinics presented by the most famous of the clinicians. The clinic was one day. We were divided into 5 small groups. During the first morning session we rotated through various stations demonstrating how to set up a safe equine camp, suggestions for what and how to carry gear on your horse for competitive trail rides, tips on what the judges are looking for, and how to present our horse to the judge and vet at CTRs. During the second part of the morning session, we worked in hand with our horses on sending, backing, turning on the fore and hind, side passing, and stopping. After a lunch break, we saddled up and rotated through sessions dedicated to teaching us how to improve our skills on gates, hills, cavaletti, side passing, turning, stopping, and dragging objects.

I would like to share with you one of the best tips I got from the clinic. As you know, it is always best to have a knife handy when around horses to cut whatever they manage to get themselves tangled in. Their tip was for everybody to have a sharp knife visibly taped to the inside of the trailer tack room door.  It should be a standard practice for everybody to do this. If you are walking by an unknown trailer and the horse got tangled up, just reach in and grab the knife. Or if it is in the middle of the night and you hear that awful commotion, instead of trying to find your old jeans with the knife deep in the pocket, just open your tack door and there is the knife. They suggested a carpet knife with the serrated edge towards the handle ending with a curved, smooth, sharp tip. The curved tip on my knife was very pointed and sharp so I just had my husband grind the very tip down a small amount so I would not stab my horse in an emergency.
The knife very visibly taped to the inside of the tack door. The red duct tape catches your eye. It would be a good idea to have another knife taped around a busy part of the barn, too.
The carpet knife taped to the door using only 2 pieces of red duct tape. Enough tape to hold the knife in place, but yet still easy enough to pull off. Notice the tabs at the top of the tape to allow you to quickly pull the tape off.
To make the tape easier to pull off, just fold the tape over on itself to create the tab.
Close-up of the carpet knife I chose to tape to my trailer door for emergencies.
I hope you enjoy and will utilize this tip as I have. I think it is a great idea. Maybe we can start spreading this idea around.
Carol Warren of Goliad, Texas

Friday, April 20, 2012

AERC Intro Rides: A Tale of Three Newbies

There's been a huge debate storming around on Ridecamp and the AERC Members List on how to possibly grow the organization.  One of the issues that's being hotly contested is the subject of Intro Rides, or rides that are somewhere between 10 and 15-ish miles in length.  AERC already has sanctioning and rules for Limited Distance (25-35 miles) and Endurance Distance (50+ mile) rides.

I've several blog posts on the subject and have skimmed through a lot of the list debates, so thought I would go ahead and weigh in with my humble opinion on the matter.  Should AERC SANCTION and/or track miles for Intro Rides?  NO  Should these rides still be offered and available for people to participate in?  YES  Here's why I feel this way...

Generally, someone that is going to become a full-fledged AERC member, someone who will renew their membership beyond the first year and attend events as they feasibly can, is someone that already knows they're interested in at least TRYING endurance.  These are people who have heard of the sport, and for one reason or another just haven't had a chance to officially get started. 

Newbie 1)  We met through a mutual online friend who knew we lived in the same general area.  She had emailed that other person, hoping to find a mentor to get started in the sport.  She had a young green horse and I had a (semi)steady campaigner.  I had finally gotten comfortable with the 50-mile distance and was toying with the idea of trying a 100.  We met in the winter and conditioned together as we had time and the weather cooperated (or not, one of the MAIN benefits of a riding buddy, it helps get you out the door!).  In the spring, I rode her first LD with her, which we both finished successfully and she won the LD Best Condition while my horse received High Vet Score.  Win-Win!  A few weeks later, we rode her first 50 together.  Again, we both completed without any issues.  She fledged out on her own after that, and has since become very competitive, having an amazingly talented horse, and has gone on to complete a 100 and is planning on doing Tevis soon.

Newbie 2)  We met through her blog.  As fate would have it, I started to follow her very shortly before it was announced she would be moving to my local area.  Again, she was interested in doing endurance, but had never been to a ride.  We rode together off and on as possible through the winter (seems to be a recurring theme) and attended a few local non-AERC club rides that offered 10-20 mile rides to participate in.  She didn't have a trailer, so was my captive partner in helping me to get MY young, green horse out and exposed to the world.  As things worked out, I was out of town the weekend of the first AERC ride of the season, so I loaned her my trailer so she could participate.  They happily finished the LD ride and have gone on to complete a 50 and are still active participants and planning for more.

Newbie 3)  She had heard of endurance but wasn't ever interested in participating.  We started riding together and she realized that she liked being out on the trail and going along.  Again, we did a few gradually longer trail rides together, and then I took her to a couple of the local club rides.  She happily finished the 10-mile distance and knew they could do more.  The next one, she and her horse completed the 20-miler.  However, she still has no desire to do endurance, or even try an official LD.  She probably will attend some of the local rides again, but may not ride the longer (20-25) distance.  Both she and her horse are quite happy and their fun tops out around 15 miles.  Could they finish a LD, yes, absolutely.  Does she want to, no, and that's okay!!

Thus why I stand on the opinion above in regards to Intro Rides.  Having these shorter distances *available* allows people to get their feet wet and see if it's something they would like to do (they don't even need to be conducted under the AERC umbrella, we have a very successful local club that ONLY offers shorter rides).  But the Intro Rides should not be official AERC events with recorded mileage.  If people are TRULY interested in being distance riders, they will set their goal for such and work their way up.  Once these rides become official, then Ride Managers may feel pressured to include them.  Better to have it be like it currently is, where they're fully at the discretion of being offered (in whatever type of format) solely by the Ride Manager. 

Both of the Newbies above who have continued on in the sport, already had an interest in doing so.  Exposing the third changed some of her opinions (we don't just bomb down the trail balls-out), but it's just not her cup of tea.  She has expressed interest in joining me at some out of state rides I'm hoping to attend, that both offer the shorter intro rides.  She knows she doesn't want to be an actual AERC member but would like to take advantage of the shorter rides and the camping and socializing opportunities.  I understand that AERC likes to offer a "big tent" atmosphere and be inclusive of many types of riders and their goals, but I feel we do need to draw the line somewhere in regards to the official and sanctioned direction of the organization.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

No Nevada Derby

I'm just not destined to go to any rides this year....  =(  Our truck died on Friday, half-way out the driveway to go to the ride, with the trailer hooked up and the horse in the back.  I turned it off briefly to use my keys to unlock my car and grab a sweatshirt and a CD, and when I came back the truck wouldn't even try to turn over to start.  After having it towed later that week to the mechanic, it turns out the transmission is going and something "slipped" to cause the truck to think it was not in park (it wouldn't start in neutral either, we tried) so it wouldn't allow the starter to turn over.

Truck is temporarily fixed and is slated to be traded-in for a newer model.  Let the dealership have the problem.  It's been a GOOD truck and has never seriously stranded me with issues, it always seems to have the courtesy to breakdown at home if it's going to do something.  But it's a 1995 model with 185K+ miles on it, with a gas V10 engine.  Stuff is just starting to have issues in general.  We think we've found a replacement, and are waiting to hear from our Credit Union.

Good news is I can do a big CHECK OUT MY NEW RIG post in a week or so hopefully.  Truck isn't the only thing that's new (to me)!!!  ;)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Well, our Rides of March.... wasn't.  After vetting in successfully on Friday evening, when I went to hang up Diego's bucket to feed him some complete feed pellets while tacking up Saturday morning, he stepped over three-legged lame, hardly weight-bearing on his left front.  Of course I freaked out and grabbed him off the trailer to walk him around, which necessitated having to use a spare pair of reins to lead him as my lead rope was frozen solid at the knot.  Walking him around the camp fire in the main vetting area seemed to help some, he became noticeably less stiff and was walking easier, but still visibly limping at the walk.  Ride Manager and Team Easyboot Member Tami helped me to pull off both his front boots, to check just in case.  We couldn't find anything noticeably wrong.  Both front legs were cool with no filling and no reaction to our palpation.  He didn't get into prediaments on the trailer from what I could feel/tell during the night, and looked to have moved around enough as he had poop piles from one end of the lead to another. 

I had vet Susan McCartney check him out for me later in the morning to see what she might be able to find.  He did have some sensitivity with hoof testers to his left front frog.  Not sure how that bothers him enough overnight, with boots on in perfect sandy footing, to get that kind of reaction.  We were all a bit baffled.  For now I have a couple of theories:
  1. I had his boot on too tight.  I don't normally use athletic tape unless at an actual endurance ride.  I find I don't need it for regular training, but appreciate the tighter fit and security provided with three wraps of tape around the hoof.  It also helps to keep sand and other small debris out of the boot.  On that particular foot only, when I put the boot on the tape rucked up from around the bottom of the hoof wall, and kind of was bunched around the top of the Easyboot Glove.  It tooks a screwdriver to pry the boot off.  Perhaps this pressure overnight was too much and caused the soreness.
  2. He got cramped and chilled standing in the wind, rain, and snow overnight.  I did my best to park so he was on the lee side of the trailer, but it was still quite windy (gusts to 50 mph) on Friday evening and poured rain off and on until around 3 am, when the temps dropped and it switched to snow and froze everything that was wet.  I forgot my good insulated winter blanket at home, so had Diego in a polar fleece cooler with a waterproof sheet over that.  While he was totally dry and felt warm to the touch, perhaps he got chilled and cramped.
  3. He stood in one place too long due to the weather (seeking shelter) and was stiff/cramped.  Again, same circumstances as above.  I actually considered putting him IN the trailer Friday evening as I climbed into bed, but I cannot shut the rear door of my trailer with the divider open (design flaw) and I didn't want him standing in such a small area overnight.  Perhaps he ended up doing just that anyways.
For now, things are at watch and see status.  Plan is to ride this weekend, and if all looks well during and after the ride, then we'll still aim for Nevada Derby in two weeks.  Fingers crossed.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Post of the Week: If People Were Horses

From Mugwump Chronicles, this made me actually laugh out loud!!! Love it:

If People Were Horses:

Just think how much simpler life would be if we were more like horses.

When we gathered around the dinner table the meanest one would get dessert first. Then the mean one would get to walk around the table and eat off everybody's plate and it would be considered good manners.

If our ribs were showing nobody would call it a "bikini body," they would call a rescue organization.

The bigger our butt the more desirable we'd be.

When our Grandma calls us "big-boned," it's a good thing.

If we didn't like somebody we could scream and kick them. Nobody would get arrested or question our motives.

If we DID like somebody we could still scream and kick them and we'd be forgiven.

When the mean girls in the clique snubbed us we could eventually win them over by following them around and looking sad. Then we could scream and kick them too.

Being big, fat, crabby and mean would only make you more popular.

Communication would be so much simpler.

If a woman didn't like a man she would scream and kick him.

If she did like him she would scream, kick him and then pee on the floor.

No conversation, no flowers, just scream, kick and pee.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Reining Clinic

This past Sunday, Diego and I attended a reining clinic hosted by local trainer, Kim Rapp.  This was our second lesson out at Kim's, having gone two weeks ago for a semi-private with my good friend Ronda and her horse Quik.  The clinic was a different format, being open to anyone interested. 

We started around 10 in the morning and had quite an ecletic mix of riders.  Digs was really calm coming off the trailer and getting saddled.  I took him over into the corral/arena first (it's really a HUGE roundpen, great format).  He was a bit snorty at the bull that lives a corral panel or two over, but got busy with some ground work.  He settled in pretty quickly and I mounted up before too long.  However, the more horses that came over and started to ride around with us, the more agitated he became.  After he couldn't decide whether to whirl around to stare at someone, or spook at something else, I decided safety first and got off and worked his little butt of in the center of the ring for a while.  Took loping quite a few circles with several quick changes of direction to get his focus back on me and his mind on the task at hand (and for him to realize he was NOT, in fact, going to die ).  We mounted back up and fell into the swirl of people, trotting around before catching a breather next to his buddy Quik.  That really seemed to get his head on and he relaxed totally.

Kim came in and got us started, she had everyone line up along the rail, then one at a time we went into the middle and did a few rounds to show where we were at with our training.  The first was a boyfriend/husband, obviously very green to horses, on an older paint gelding.  He was followed by girlfriend/wife, again a green/unschooled rider on a more well trained, but young grey mare.  Turns out the gelding was her old horse, who she's had for 12 years.  She recently purchased the mare, who has "training", and they were attending to both become more schooled riders.  She said new horse has buttons she wants to learn how to work.  :)

Diego and I went next.  He retained his calm demeanor and gave me a few nice trotting circles around, relaxed and supple.  We leg yielded across the center to change directions.  I was fortunate and was just turning back to the left when Kim asked me if I would lope him (something we didn't do last time) and he obliged quickly with just a kiss and a squeeze into a left lead - his strong preference.  He was a bit tense, Kim asked if I had noticed and I had, but I could tell he wasn't that bad and after a few strides he loped along nicely.  I thought I heard one person mention "That's a nice lope."  Diego carries himself very well, uphill and driving from behind.  He stopped quickly and I beamed with getting some compliments.  Turns out that was more or less the best he'd be all day!  LOL

A lady on a cute QH gelding named Blue went next, followed by Ronda and Quik.  Then one of Kim's reining students on what was easily the most well-trained horse there, aside from Kim's handsome drool-worthy roan stallion she was riding.  There was a lady on a hot little grey Arab, and another chestnut Arab that was a student of Kim's.  A lady just getting started in western riding, mounted on a cute Haflinger (who Dig was highly suspicious of at first - way too much fluffy hair for him), followed by friend Elizabeth and her TWH mare Dixie.  You can click on the link for her account.  So a total of 10 of us.

After everyone had a chance to show where they were at, Kim started working with us from the greenest to the more experienced.  It was great to watch and listen to what she was having people do, and seeing the transformation in their horses.  She had a lot of people work on rib and shoulder control by doing a counter-arc.  This was the same focus we had for Diego two weeks ago - to gain control over and help free up his shoulders.  This is a pretty good video to explain what it is:  Counter Arc  Kim had us start circling the same direction their nose was tipped in, then to keep a hold of their nose, and ask them to change direction and start to step across with their legs/bodies.  It's sometimes easier to start on a straight line, but it was helpful to see how many of us were working on this same concept, and how each of the horses would respond.

Kim worked her more experienced students in to demonstrate various manuevers throughout the first course of one-on-ones, so it happened that Diego and I were the last ones to go individually.  She wanted me to work on a right lead circle, since he had already done some nice ones to the left.  I wailed about, "But that's WHY I went left the first time!!!" ;) and we laughed.  That's what we were there for, to learn and work on the issues.  So right-lead it was.  Mr. Dig was all tense after having stood around for a few hours, so we had to trot a few circles to get loosened up and get his head on straight again.  Kim worked me through trying to get him to pick up his right lead.  I've been taught to cue by using my inside leg to support the bend, and then ask for the upward transition with my outside leg. 

This wasn't working for Diego, and he was getting frustrated with being asked, then brought down to a trot when he'd pick the wrong lead, then being asked, slowed, etc. and he got pissy and after a couple head-shake warnings, let loose one good buck.  Kim had me immediately turn him in a much tighter circle to the right, then get after him and ask him to lope off again.  He had displayed some of his pissyness two weeks ago, he will get mad and fight me, but this week we were trying a different tactic of NOT backing down and doing something else, but instead pushing him through and making him do it.  So I kept him in a small (10 m.?) circle and went back to pushing him through it.  After a few more failed attempts, she had me work on counter arc, and then asking him.  He picked it up and got the lead!  I relaxed and let him cruise in a bigger circle before we stopped him fully.  She had me repeate the small circle to counter arc to correct lead successfully one more time and then we all took a short break.

Near the end of the break, I started riding Diego around again.  Asking him to work off my legs and stay light in my hands.  Again, the more horses that joined us, the more aggitated he became.  I did my best to stay relaxed and with him, but was getting a little frustrated.  There was a lot of loud commenting of "Really, REALLY?!?!" and "Knock it off" coming out of my mouth.  Dork.  But he did get his head on straight (er, mostly) and we cantered around one or two more times before lining back up on the rail. 

Again, Kim worked through most of the other students first, and actually that worked out well, as E, Ronda and I were the last three remaining.  We're all fairly close together with where we're at, or as E so perfectly stated: "not polished at what we do, not rank beginners, not afraid to TRY at any speed".  Kim had me working with Dig again, then sent us to the fence to do rollbacks.  These used to be one of my FAVORITE manuevers to perform with a good reining, cutting, cow-working horse - actually, they still are REALLY fun!  But boy-howdy do they make you WORK!  We weren't looking for a lot of finesse, or slow, it needed to be quick, quick, quick, with Dig listening to my outside (cueing) leg and deciding to pick up the correct lead more on his own.  Whew, was it both fun and hard!  It took me a bit to coordinate myself, I kept wanting to kick with both feet coming out of the turn, and Kim wanted me to only kick with my outside leg.  So I had to kick, kick, ride, sit up, sit down, pull him around to the inside (fence), then grab and kick, kick with my new outside leg.  We were both panting hard after a few times.  After he picked up the right lead a few times on his own (I couldn't really tell, working that hard, Kim would let me know and pull him around soon if he chose the wrong one), we let him canter on his right lead off the fence and then stop.  Both E and Ronda started cracking up laughing.  I had stopped facing them, and I guess Dig had the most perfect "little kid that just got in BIG trouble" look on his face.  =)  But he DID it!!!  Good boy.  He also stood perfectly still while they worked on stops, until we did it one more time.  Kim told me to take him to the center, counter arc and ask for the right lead, and then send him down the fence again if he didn't take it on the first try.  So more rollbacks for us.  Pant, pant, grin, grin!!!  I don't know about Diego, but I LOVED IT!

So, I'm totally loving the lessons and can't wait to get back.  Plans are for a long ride this weekend (my last before Rides of March), then our club has motocross race the next weekend, then AERC Convention, then Rides of March.  So next lesson probably won't be until that weekend of 3/25.  Already looking forward to it.

Friday, February 17, 2012

About Me

I added a new tab at the top if you're inclined to click on it.  Go Diego Go isn't my first blog, but I retired my last effort when my dearly beloved horse, Sinatra, had to be euthanized due to cancer.  I left that prior blog as a tribute to his honor, and started a new one when I acquired Dig.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

TIME or DISTANCE: More Thoughts

Endurance Granny weighs in with her thoughts...

TIME or DISTANCE: Time or Distance? That is the question.

The original question was posed on Boots and Saddles then segued to Go Diego Go, and is an interesting enough topic that I thought I’d throw in my two pennies for what they are worth. (possibly about one half cent but here I go, newbie-ness has never stopped me yet).

In an all perfect world on a sensible and well-trained horse I would focus on TIME with distance being a secondary factor. I feel that the worse disservice one can do to their horse is to train distance and then at an actual ride when time becomes critical, the horse being pushed harder (even a little matters) than actually trained. All manner of things can and do go wrong when that happens. Just sayin’ because it is the honest truth.

But there is always an on the other hand…

Click link for more reading.

Distance versus Time: My Thoughts

Today, Mel over at Boots and Saddles posed an interesting question:

During conditioning rides, do you ride for time or distance?

I've been mulling this over, and started a comment on her blog, then realized I had a bit to share on the topic.  I find I tend to use a bit of both methods. Most often, I will ride for miles though, or rather a specific trail loop I have in mind. I generally do my long rides slower than endurance pace (around 4.5 - 5 mph overall). I don't like riding out-and-backs, so being able to go ride xxx specific loop, I know that I'll be getting in that set number of miles.  However, I don't always choose a loop due to it's length, but rather the features of that particular trail:
  • Deep sandy footing to work on tendon and ligament strength
  • Long steady hill climbs to build muscular fitness
  • Shorter, steeper hills that I work at a faster/harder pace to build aerobic capacity
  • Long periods of nice footing, to work on sustained gaits at a certain speed
  • Technical trail for mental focus and learning to watch foot placement
When I'm setting out, I generally have an idea of about how long time-wise that particular loop may take me, but I like having the freedom to go faster, or slower, or explore a bit as the fancy may strike.  I do firmly believe in short sessions of speed work, although I'm more likely to incorporate that as part of a long ride (i.e. work this uphill particularly hard, or canter a certain portion of the trail).  I feel that tempo-work, or working at the endurance ride pace (or ideally even faster), for short sections of a long ride is really beneficially, and a HUGE cornerstone of my training.

If I'm short on time to ride, I would rather have a training session of some sort than try to fit in any type of "conditioning."  I'm not the best in that I value my personal time very highly, and understand the importance of rest and mental down-time for my health.  So if I have a free hour of time, I'm much more likely to spend that OFF the horse than ON.  I enjoy my saddle time too much to try to rush through it due to time constraints.  Very rarely do I ride for less than one hour, if I'm taking the time to saddle up, then I'm going to enjoy that time for a more extended period.  This means that my horse looses out on the benefit of those short, quick, "get 5 miles in" type of rides, but he's much more likely to experience being out on the trail for hours on end.  Since January, Diego was ridden according to time:
  • Two rides that were one-hour long and approximately 5 miles
  • One 2.5 hour lesson, shared with a friend so he was "worked" about 1/2 that time and we rested or did exercises on our own the remainder
  • Two rides that were between 4-5 hours long and about 20 miles each
  • One 6 hour 30-mile ride
At this point, I feel he's very fit and should easily be able to complete a 50-mile ride.  This weekend, we're having another lesson on Sunday, so I'm hoping to do a long ride on either Saturday or the holiday on Monday.

What preference do you tend to have for your riding?  Time or distance?

**Posting and/or updating posts here on occassion with a picture so I can add to my Endurance - The Ride of a Lifetime Pinterest board, which is where I'm also compiling some Endurance 101 Clinic ideas.  Original article source will be linked when applicable.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Post of the Week: Cross Training

From Fugly Horse of the Day:

Guest Post: Cross Training:

“Cross Training”. By definition this is when the athlete steps away from his regular discipline and works at something else, and is meant to have physical or mental benefits to the athlete. In the equine world, the term “cross training” is usually very narrow. You will not see a western pleasure QH trainer taking his horse around the arena in saddle seat tack and a double bridle. No, cross training means taking your equine athlete and doing Dressage. (For dressage horses, cross training usually means “take them for a trail ride”.)

To me, dressage is just another horse sport/entertainment discipline, on the same plane as western pleasure, saddle seat, jumping, driving, endurance. I think dressage puts the horse in the most gorgeous frame of all those activities, and it has the ability to move me to tears. But that’s all it is — another horse activity. Please stop trying to convince me that doing Dressage (capital “D”) is going to make my horse “better”. You’ll have to prove it to me.

This has been bothering me since the equine chiropractor came to our barn for his regular multi-horse visit. He worked on my competitive trail horse first and the visit went as it always did — he had to search to find anything wrong with my horse, pronounced him sound and pain-free. Then onto the dressage insructor’s personal horse and 2 of her clients’ horses. All of which were a mess of sore hocks, sore backs, sore polls, sore necks… The trainer made the mistake of pronouncing me “lucky” to have such a good horse. And I made the mistake of saying that I wasn’t lucky, but that I was asking my horse to do something quite natural and did not in any way influence his way of going. And she made the mistake of saying my horse would be even better if I did Dressage arena work with him….

Somebody prove it to me. Dressage (and Dr. Deb Bennett’s wonderful conformation articles in Equus) is based on what the human’s idea of “beauty” is. A stallion puffed up with an arched neck, vertical face, tucked-under hindquarters, collected movements, everyone agrees that’s when a horse is at his most beautiful. Dressage is getting a horse to assume those poses on command and hold them for extended periods of time. Dr. Bennett “proves” that dressage helps a horse because his build will change as a result of the work. Of course his build will change — you are asking him to do new physical things with his body. But that does not mean the change in build is a “good” thing even though the change in build appears more beautiful to our eyes. No one confuses a ballet dancer with a female body builder, yet their builds are each perfect for their disciplines and each would fail if they looked like the other. If moving in such a fashion is truly better for the horse, then you would think natural selection would have produced wild horses moving from waterhole to waterhole in a “balanced” dressage-like manner.

So I will consider dressage to be simply another horse activity. I will continue to believe that my competitive trail horses do not need dressage work to help them trot down the trails. I will continue to let them decide the best way to move to finish the task safe and sound. They will continue to get the winter off with no arena work. Stop trying to convince me that Dressage work would make my horse perform better.

Thanks for allow me the opportunity to voice my opinion!

By: KT


I wanted to post this because I think this is a great opportunity for a discussion. No two people have the same experiences and so I thought it would be interesting to get some different points of view on ‘cross training’.

There are a few ideas within this guest post that I have issue with, for example, I’m not sure the writer has a solid grasp of what dressage is. I (Snugly aka Dressage Empress) freely admit that today’s dressage world can be a little iffy. However, if we focus on the principles of the discipline, which I think is probably what the chiropractor meant, then dressage can be a useful cross training tool. Furthermore, dressage and conformation articles aren’t based on aesthetics, but function; how the conformation and musculature of the horse help or hinder it in any given discipline.

Personally, I think dressage is beneficial for all horses – sorry, I should say all English discipline based horses as that’s where my experience lies. That’s not to say I believe dressage is the be all, end all of the horse world; but rather that I believe in the principles upon which the discipline is built.

I’m sure most of you have seen or heard of the training pyramid. For those who haven’t, it’s essentially the building blocks of under saddle training. From my understanding, it’s widely used in Europe and not limited to dressage.

The theory being that you can’t have suppleness without rhythm, contact without suppleness, and so on and so forth.

Now, does a well mannered trail horse who listens to his rider need to focus on this? No. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it! But what if you needed to open a gait? A few steps of leg yield might not be the worst idea…

Ok, that’s all I’m going to say. I want to leave this open for discussion!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Post of the Week - Finding what works for your horse

This excellent post by Dawn reminds us all to keep what is best for our horses in mind.  Be it different tack, training focus, mindset, or goals - this is something we're asking THEM to do for US, so WE have the responsibility to ensure THEIR needs are met to the fullest.

When I got away from showing and trying to adhere to "tradition", only then did I really start moving forward in my horsemanship. I know that sounds odd, but I found NOT having the time & "tradition" constraints required for showing allowed me to really focus on my horse and what her needs really were. Boy-oh-boy was it ever an eye opener for me! I started riding treeless, with bits that weren't "traditional", and even started riding bitless. My mount improved by leaps and bounds to become my dream horse in other ways, and I found a whole bunch of fun things to do that I'd never had time to do before. As a matter of fact, my beastie became such a wonderful, well trained horse that she and I gave lessons to others.

Sometimes our horses just aren't cut out to do what we want, whether that's showing at the top levels in breed shows, endurance riding, running barrels or whatever. That's perfectly ok! It just gives us permission to seek out other fun stuff to do with them. Not all horses adhere to breed standards, some have had past injuries or past training issues that prevent them from using "traditional saddles".  And maybe they're better at being a rock solid trail mount, or CTR's. Or they'd be really good at teaching others how to ride. The key to unlocking your horse's true potential and letting him/her shine is by keeping them healthy, *comfortable*, and the communication between horse & rider clear. If you take the comfortable part of the equation out because you want to pursue things that you can't make your horse comfortable in (because you have to use certain types of tack), you're killing any level of confidence your horse has in you. That
confidence takes a looooooong time to build again - ask me how I know ;-)....

I'd love nothing more than to turn my sweet little Peruvian Paso into more of an endurance horse. I dream of doing the Michigan Shore-To-Shore ride on him, which would require us to ride 18-26 miles per day for about 2 weeks straight. But the reality is that he's just not built to do that. So instead, I'm going to pursue my dream in a different way - I'm going to do parts of the Shore-To-Shore at my own slower pace this summer. Bottom line is that I want my sweet horse to remain strong, healthy and sound for as long as possible, and I'm putting my own needs and wants behind his. If one dream won't work, figure out
others that will!

Dawn Bruin-Slot
Fuzzy Logic Equine, Inc.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Post of the Week: Endurance Granny - Journey On

Journey is such an appropriate and eloquent name for her new horse. And this is an excellent post to remind us that it's about the journey, not the destination, and to focus and appreciate the present, for it truly is a gift.

Journey On

....  Sometimes I have to take myself aside: “Don’t get mad. Don’t get frustrated. Slow down. There is no race. THERE IS NO RACE. There is no finish line. There is only this very moment in time. Breathe. Remember the crooked line of success."

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Exploring in Red Rock

Had a great ride this past weekend out near Red Rock, helping to explore new trail to be used for the Red Rock Rumble, which will be a new ride for the AERC West Region this upcoming October 6, 2012.  Several weeks ago, friend Tami and I went out and explored this loop for the first time, going a bit further as we actually started/finished at the actual ride camp location.  During that excursion, we found some really great trail we wanted to use, but didn't like the one portion to connect into it up and over the mountain (that also included bushwacking down the side of the hill on a cow trail).

So the plan for today was to ride the opposite direction up the cool canyon trail, and then find a better way to get over the range and back down to the valley on the other side.  We were joined by three other good friends, who have an incredible amount of experience and some truly awesome horses, and all had a glorious day.  The good news was that this particular loop actually rode BETTER in this direction, and will most likely become the preferred direction to be used for the ride.  And we found a really nice trail that worked excellently and had some incredible views.

This is a post to see how this link to a Garmin Activity works as much as to document the ride.  =)  So here's the link: 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Two Day versus One Day Rides

Sinatra & I at the Washoe Valley Ride 2006 - our first two day 50

Endurance Granny posted some questions on her blog, and I thought I'd take them time to answer them here:

How is riding back to back LD's different than riding a 50 as far as the stress on the horse? I know that sometimes people start their horses on 50's and never do the LD thing so the horse learns that they don't quit at 25 miles, learns to appreciate eating and drinking. So how is having a horse do two 25's over a weekend harder than doing 50 in a day. I'm actually weighing what I want to do as far as LD vs. Endurance. So is a 2 day slow 25 any worse than just starting out on 50 in the first place? The same?

Personally, I've found the two-day rides to be a good indicator of if my horse is ready to move up to that distance for a single day. For example, I completed a two-day 25/25 before trying my and my horse's first 50, and a two-day 50/50 before trying our first 100. How my horse performed at the end of the second day was a good indicator to me if he was ready for the longer distance at once.

As far as which is easier/harder for the horse, I think that doing the distance in one day is harder, simply because they do not have the evening in between to recover.  As a new RIDER starting out in the sport, doing the two-day rides gave me the confidence in our ability to complete the distance.  With my second horse, and more miles under my own personal belt, I felt less of a need to start with the shorter distances and/or back-to-back rides.  I now knew what it took to 1) condition my horse for the distance, 2) how to pace to finish the ride, and 3) what type of attitude/feel/conditioning to look for at the completion of our shorter rides, to be able to gauge how ready he was for the longer ones.  Even those horses that are starting in 50's officially, have generally already had at least LD-distance training rides.

How is your preparation different for a 50 (compared to an LD) as far as your weekly mileage and LSD in initially legging up a green horse?

I want my horse to be able to comfortably and easily be able to complete at least half of the goal distance before I move them up.  That means in order to finish a LD, I would expect my horse to be able to handle at least a 15-mile training ride.  I don't expect them to be pulling-on-the-reins fresh when they finish, but rather to still have plenty of forward impulsion when asked and be EDPP (eating, drinking, peeing, pooping) well and bright-eyed and alert.  For a 50, I would expect my horse to be able to complete 25-miles feeling the same.  Personally, I would rather get in one good LONG ride per week, than several shorter ones.  I'm often pretty strapped for free-time, and quite often only ride once or twice a week.  My horses have been able to be successful with this schedule of being ridden long when we go out (see distance recommendations above) and being ridden conservatively at the actual rides.  If you only have 4 hours a week to ride, better to cobble that together into one single session, than 4 shorter ones.  I wouldn't ride more miles than my goal distance per week, and would make shorter rides faster and hard to maximize the training benefit.  Personally, I feel that many/most newbie's horses are over-ridden rather than under-conditioned.  Rest can be just as, or more, important than the training.

I did a post about low mileage training a bit ago, you can find it here:  Low Mileage Training

**Posting and/or updating posts here on occassion with a picture so I can add to my Endurance - The Ride of a Lifetime Pinterest board, which is where I'm also compiling some Endurance 101 Clinic ideas.  Original article source will be linked when applicable.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Post of the Week: The Barb Wire - What's Stopping You

I may try a new segment on recommending weekly a fellow blogger's post I valued. To kick this off, here is a most excellent post by Tamara at The Barb Wire:  What's Stopping You

My day job requires me to make occasional visits to public schools around the state.  Usually, I’m there to discuss matters of data, finance, and governance, but I sometimes find myself observing classrooms in action. During one such visit, a teacher asked me to share with her class of middle school students some advice for achieving success ...  Read More

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

NEDA New Year's Day Ride

NEDA New Year's Day Ride by dreammakker at Garmin Connect - Details
This was the maiden voyage for my new Christmas present GPS.  I bumped the timer and stopped it first thing in the morning after leaving, and didn't notice until 3.5 miles or so later...

Had another wonderful time this past weekend at the NEDA New Year's Day Ride, hosted by Steve Thompson out in Silver Springs, near Lake Lahontan.  Diego and I have done several of these rides now.  They're a great local and inexpensive way to introduce a horse to the sport of distance riding.  A very fun, low-key group that is totally focused on having a good time.  In November, I brought my friend Ronda and her new Quarter Horse gelding Quik out to join me for their first ride.  We did the 9-mile "short ride" loop together and then Diego and I went on to complete the 11-mile loop for the "long ride" solo.  That worked out well for everyone and was a perfect start for Ronda and Quik into the sport.

This weekend, Ronda wanted to try doing the full 20 miles with Quik.  We've done quite a few shorter rides together, and as long as there are no big hills, Quik keeps up very well at a moderate pace.  Luckily, Silver Springs is nearly totally flat, so Quik wouldn't have to worry about anything much resembling a hill to go over.  ;)  We actually had a few people over for New Year's Eve, including Ronda and her hubby, so she brought Quik and we all had a sleep over and they spent the night, since she lives across town.  Got up in the morning and made breakfast for all the crew, and then we headed out, getting a bit of a later start but still feasible on time.  Arrived and got checked in and to the ride meeting, and were fiddling with some last minute stuff when the ride actually started, but no rush or worry.

Diego has been handling these starts very well recently.  They're not "small" rides, the past two have had between 40-50 people/horses and everyone pretty much starts at the same time on the same loop.  Once we were ready, we headed on down the road, only to make it about three houses down before we heard the jingle of harness behind us.  Turning to look, a 4-wheel cart pulled by a pair of cute mules was headed our way.  Not 100% sure on how Dig was going to react, and knowing from last time that Quik doesn't like the carts, we quickly pulled over and dismounted.  Thankfully we did, as Quik's eyes got huge and he bolted backwards as the cart continued to approach.  Ronda was fast on her feet and determined to hang on, running with him as he went.  The cart stopped and we all stood around for a bit, before we encouraged them to continue on.  The plan would be to catch up to them and hopefully ride behind for a while, to give Quik some more moderate exposure and hopefully let him get over his fear.

Dig was doing great and still walking along after remounting, until a group came of 8 riders came along and passed us.  He got worried and tense, wanting to rush along as they were approaching.  We pulled over to let them by, and to Dig's chagrin I insisted that he continue to walk jig WALK (or attempt to) until he could/would actually walk on a loose rein, which only took a bit over a mile or so.  Once he proved he was indeed capable of walking on a loose rein, we picked up the trot and passed 5 of the horses that had initially passed us.  We continued down the beach and had our photos done by Kitty with Projections Photography.

Mr. Diego cruising along

Ronda and Quiksilver aka Quik
From there we continued on until catching the evil-mule-wagon having a potty stop at one of the restrooms along the beach.  We waited behind until they got moving, and then used the rest of that loop to slowly work Quik closer and closer to the wagon.  At one point, Diego would have happily trotted along next to and past it, but I looked back and Quik was debating if it would be worth possibly running through a barb wire fence or not.  We decided not to chance it and just continued along behind.  In fact, that team of mules was moving out so well, that eventually they got ahead and then out of sight.  Diego went past a crazy chained up snarling dog like it ain't no thang, then decided the cavorting mini-horses in the corral next to the dog were the devil incarnate and had to wait for Quik to come lead him by.  Made it back into camp from the 9 mile loop around 1:30 pm as I recall, so 2:15 total time for that loop.

Both horses met the pulse criteria of 64 and had a good drink of water at the trough.  We took them back to the trailer and let them eat for another 15 minutes or so before leaving for the next loop.  We left the same time as Dr. McCartney DVM and her group of 4 (5 total) so were a fairly good sized pack heading out, bringing up the tail-end of the ride.  The next loop was a series of 90-degree turns that wound us back out and along the perimeter of the lake property along some sandy/dirt rural roads before turning and taking a fairly straight course back through the neighborhood and around to camp.  Both horses were still moving well, but Quik was starting to slow some so we took it easy and only trotted a moderate pace and took several walking breaks as needed.  There was one point where we were trotting along, and I think I was scolding Diego for something, when he suddenly let out one huge giant buck!!  I got after him a bit and then Ronda and I both laughed, he was SUCH a teenage boy at that moment "But I don't WANNA do that!!!" 

We did have a short cantering session once we turned towards camp.  Quik, who normally has awesome "this direction is home/the trailer" radar and goes 2x as fast when pointing that way, was too confused (or possibly tired) by all the right-turn, left-turns and didn't seem to catch on to where we were.  He actually did very well, only really slowing down the last 3 miles before camp.  I had told Ronda that Diego pretty much did the same thing I took him that far.  Dig even stopped a 1/2 mile out from camp, where we could SEE THE TRAILERS and insisted that he needed a break.  Once I got him to actually look up and notice where he was, he happily decided he could make it that far.    Quik did better, happily plodding along and even trotting a bit to catch up and finished in fine shape.  We managed to pass two people in the last few miles, who finished about 30 seconds behind us so we weren't dead last, something Ronda was happy to avoid.  ;)  I didn't look, but I think it was a bit after 4 when we finished, maybe even a bit before, so a total of about 5 hours to do the full 20 miles, including the 25 minutes or so we were stopped in the middle.  Not to bad for a first venture!!!

Bringing new people into the sport is probably my # 1 most favorite thing to do, so I'm glad that we all had such a great time and that everyone (well... maybe not Quik, LOL) is looking forward to doing it again!

2012 Goals

Aaahhhhh.... The start of a new year.  The time when we start to look ahead and plan what we want to accomplish.  I've always been a goal-setter and planner by nature, always looking ahead and striving to achieve that next milestone, whether in my career, personal life, or riding.  But January is the time when we get to publicly declare to all what we're intending to accomplish, for better or worse.  ;)
  1. Complete a 100-mile ride with Diego.  Kind of a big one, considering we just did his first 50 last season, but I have a sincere love and passion for the distance and I feel that we should be able to accomplish this just fine with some determination and steady training.  Dig is already shaping up to be a wonderful endurance horse, this next season will be about fine-tuning the smaller things and teaching him to shine.
  2. Track training/ride mileage for Diego.  I started an Excel spreadsheet last year and that has been working well for me.  As a very unexpected but totally awesome Christmas surprise, my parent's bought me a Garmin Forerunner 405!!!  I just need to get the heart rate belt adapted for Diego, and now I can REALLY and accurately track our training miles.  Need to figure out the best way to charge and store it so that I'll always have it handy and ready to be used.
  3. Work on my own personal fitness.  I found a workout buddy at my office, and we had been going out at lunch and getting some activity in, although we slacked off this past month.  I also bought myself a couple of DVD's for Christmas to hopefully get motivated.  I'm SSSOOOO not a morning person, so doing something at lunch time seems to work best for me.  Now to just DO it and not find excuses to continue sitting at my desk.
  4. Continue eating better, strive for less unhealthy carbs.  Dinners are still hard for me to cut carbs too much, since I'm cooking for my husband and son as well, but perhaps to offer a second vegetable choice, and to use more meat and veggies and less pasta/rice as fillers for the meal.  Looking for recommendations for easy, quick, grab-and-go breakfast ideas that are low/no-carb and high in protein, but lower in dairy.
  5. Blog more.  I love reading them, but don't always take the time to WRITE them.  =)  Got to continue to work on that.  Maybe I'll try to start some sort of weekly feature(s) that I can find and schedule in advance to help drive my postings up a bit.
Hope you all have a wonderful and successful New Year as well!
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