Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sunriver 100

I recently had the privilege of traveling to Bend,OR with my friends Layne Simmons, Nance Worman, and new friend Lindsey Hammond. The plan and goal was the Sunriver 100 mile Endurance Ride. My last time here was 2010, which seemed like eons ago. I wasn't so sure with my hip problems that I could do a 100 miler. But Thunder and I were going to give it a go.

We arrived mid day on Friday and set up our camp. Harley, Thunder and Quinn were all pretty happy and content. We lined out our tack, our snacks and then our vet bags for the out vet checks. It was decided that Lindsey would go to the "river check" as we would pass through there twice. Then onto the last out of camp vet check on our return to camp. Everything finally got organized for three of us. Thunder was the only one who would eat his beet pulp mash with the electrolytes in it so I had to try and keep his BP separate from the others.

The ride started at the butt crack of dawn as we headed for the start. My usual riding buddy Trish Frahm caught a shot of us in the morning cold. There was frost on everything!

We trotted along in the cool early morning. The forest trails were beautiful and the scenery was a treat for this desert rat! 

We also found a gorgeous doe nibbling some brush near the trail. By the time I got my camera out though she was wanting to leave.

We breezed through the first check and back into camp for a 45 minute hold. I was feeling pretty good but took my Alleve for the day. Thunder ate his mash well and was doing great with A's on his vet card. The 45 minutes went way too fast and we were all a bit rushed to get the horse cared for and return to the trail for the 50 mile loop. 

Lots of Mountain Syringa in bloom along the trail.

Layne and Harley were doing well and so was Nance with Quinn. They looked great on the trail. But unfortunately Quinn was a bit "off" in the river vet check and was pulled. So then it was just Layne and I. There was a lot of grass here for the hrose's to eat and Thunder wanted it and not his  mash. It was time for my Absorbine Patch to keep my hip from paining me and get me through the last half of the ride. I'll tell you now that stuff works beautifully! 

The last part of this loop was also the first part of our final 20 mile loop. So we got to see and chat with the front runners which was fun. Once in camp our 45 minute hold again zipped by way too fast. And we were a bit late going back out as Thunder's CRI (cardiac recovery index) was not great and we had to recheck. My "Unicorn" Team members were very supportive and Kathleen Ferguson trotted Thunder out for me. I wasn't very smart after 80 miles and later realized he was hot and I should have sponged him down. DUH! Once back on the trail  he trotted along happily and we tried to make a bit of time before it got dark. Mt. Bachelor was beautiful even with the clouds rolling in. 

Unfortunately once it got dark we didn't trot much. Mostly due to rocks that we could hear rolling around under the horse's hooves in the dark. With the glo lights I could see the big rocks but not the small ones. When the footing was good Thunder was willing to trot, but apparently I get vertigo these days trotting in the dark. So I just hung on and took deep breaths and did the best I could. When the footing would get crummy Thunder would walk.

We did the 100 and it took longer than I wanted, finishing at 2 AM. I know Layne could have gone faster but we stayed together on the trail in the dark. However we accomplished what I'd set out to do, just not quite in the way I had wanted to do it. Thank you Lindsey for crewing for us all day. I was happy to finish and thankful for Lois Fox, ride manager, who waited up for us. And Mitch Benson DVM who got out of bed and vetted us through for completion. We were among 17 lucky finishers out of 28 starters. Proof that it had been a tough day for many. 

Photo by Jessica Anderson

Monday, June 10, 2013

Dusting off the Green

My Appaloosa mare, Diamond, has been ridden on the trail a couple times but of course is still very green. As the training continues my goal is to develop a solid horse that will be a good reliable mount. Sounds easy but it takes a lot of work and knowledge. I have brought this mare along fairly well but I don't always feel adequate on the knowledge end of things, so I sought a bit of help. I had met a fellow that lived in my neighborhood, which around here is within 5 miles. I really liked the way he handled the horse he was riding. And the horses his kids were riding were very well behaved, and the kids were good riders. After some conversation he agreed to help me with Diamond.

Diamond learnt many things, one of which was to yield her hindquarters better, crossing her inside hind leg over the outside, allowing her to pivot around on her front. This improved her flexion but also served in later developing a great one rein stop and softness. The exercises build more respect and horses learn to trust their rider and listen to what is asked of them. 

Diamond also learnt the basics for learning to do a future sidepass as her front end was then moved in a circle around her hinds, and now she had to cross her front leg over to move around. Took a bit for her to understand that she couldn't cheat and just move her feet around, she had to cross that front leg over in front of the other. 

Two of the kids were busy mimicking "Dad" as they worked their pony and put him through his paces. Another son sat on a horse outside the pen and watched and occasionally the oldest boy helped get Diamond moving when she'd get stuck. So amid all this learning was a great number of distractions, which she managed to work through and still watch her handler.

Ted worked with her on lateral flexion both before and after saddling, this will enable us to develop power steering as time goes on. 

Then she got some great desensitizing in motion exercises. Some I had done but even those I had not done enough. So this step took a bit longer.

After that she got another lesson in yielding to pressure. I had tied her head around to the cinch ring for this but I do believe this was more effective in teaching her to give her head and flex. 

 Diamond also learned that people sometimes do crazy things. And I was once again reminded that this was exactly what I had Hollie do so the granddaughters could get on her. But I hadn't thought of doing it with a green horse. Great lesson and Ted loves to raise these horse's emotions and expose them to everything.

After all of what Diamond thought was silliness it was then time to be ridden. She bends when barely asked and is very soft and easy now. After some circling, trotting, cantering, and one rein stops, it is time to go out in the big open arena that is a big plowed field.

The lesson here was to learn cruise control, trot and not break gait, canter and not break gait. All the while as she is cantering along Ted is rubbing her all over, waving his hat, waving his arms, moving his legs around. More desensitization. All that in one day. She was a hot and tired girl but oh so much smarter.