Winter is here and I definitely love this time of year more than summer. The only problem is that even though it is cool enough to ride, it literally gets dark at 5:00 pm. So by the time I get off work, go to the gym, and get home, it's already dark. EVERYTHING I have to do is done in the dark, from riding, to exercising, to all the farm chores. It's quite annoying, and I wish we had the cooler weather, but with more daylight hours. That would be perfect for me!
My health issues continue to improve, and to date I have lost 30 pounds. I am so incredibly happy and thankful I figured out something was wrong, and was able to take steps to fix it. I am especially thankful the heat tolerance is improving, and that I'm just overall feeling better. I still have a good 30 more pounds to lose, but I'm well on my way!
We found out last week that when Gallant slipped, back in October, he must have struck his front left leg with his hind hoof. He ended up hurting his tendon, it's a small .5 cm x .6 cm lesion in the tendon but affects about 50% of it. So that is quite a blow. The vet rated it as moderate, and has him on hand walking twice a day right now. We will re-ultrasound in a month and see how the healing is coming along. I'm bummed because this means no 50 mile rides, and no Northern California rides, this year like we had been planning. Maybe we'll be able to do some LD's by the end of the year, hopefully.
I guess this means I get to bring Rio along, and start getting him conditioned, to see if I can complete easy LD's on him. Hopefully he will continue to stay sound, and get stronger as time goes by. I will know as long as there are no tendon injuries, and his stocking up gets less and less, that he is getting stronger. He is doing great to date.
I've posted my tentative ride schedule below, and there are also two NATRC rides in there I'd like to go to. There are fewer and fewer rides available to us down here in Southern California every year and it's very disheartening.
Even though we've had a setback, I am still planning on having a fun and busy endurance season!
We made it to Bill Thornburgh! It didn't happen as planned, but we made some last minute changes, and everything worked out great!
Maggie flew out from Georgia to go to the ride with me, as my crew, as this was supposed to be mine and Gallants first 50 miler! However, a week before the ride, Gallant slipped on some concrete and scuffed up his back legs. It didn't seem too bad except one leg swelled up pretty bad, and I had to have the vet come out. We put him on Bute and Antibiotics just in case. Vet said he was out! Yikes! What do I do!? Maggie flew ALL the way out! And now here we are debating on not even going?!? I felt terrible! I decided to let her ride Rio in his very first ever endurance ride, with the agreement that she would run 10 of the 25 miles to make it easier on him. Rio has Insulin Resistance, Cushings, and has had prior tendon injuries; I call him my glass horse. Maybe I'll crew for her!?!?
We opted for the Sunday 25, as it was less miles than the Saturday ride. We ended up driving up Saturday, (and back on Sunday), it was my first time ever doing that, and not driving up on Friday for a Saturday ride. I was a little tired on Sunday, but overall it was fine!
We got to vet in and hang out Saturday afternoon and got some awesome "horse yoga" pictures with the beautiful Maggie as the model. We had a blast. My health issues are on the mend and I felt amazing for the ride. I wasn't nearly as tired, hypoglycemic, or hot as I had been on my prior rides, despite that fact that I was out there for nearly 2 hours longer than normal.
Shortly before this ride, I ended up getting my older retired endurance horse Sunny back, and had ridden him enough in the few short weeks before, that I decided he was fit enough to do a slow easy ride. We completely went with the idea "To Finish Is To Win". With my Glass Horse, and a 22 year old, our only goal was to get those two through the ride without injury. I was on pins and needles with worry for Rio the whole time.
We had a fantastic time and took it nice and slow, and easy. It was cool and cloudy and perfect for a ride, I was so thrilled with the weather. The horses were amazing. Rio did fantastic. I am so blessed to have such a sweet, good natured (and handsome) boy.
We started the Endurance ride towards the back and just kept a nice slow even pace. Maggie running was the perfect slow speed, but we were definitely glad when she got on, because I think if we would have maintained that pace we would have over timed. When she got on we were able to pick up the pace just a tad. The ride was smooth and flat, mostly some sand, not too deep, and consisted of 2 loops, the southern and northern loops, with the vet check in between. It was pretty cool that we got to ride the same loops as some of the 50 mile riders and theoretically could have ridden with them. We even passed a few riders, including my friend Nina, on the way into the vet check.
Both horses vetted in perfectly before the ride, and at the vet check. The hold was only 30 minutes! The shortest one I've ever had. I felt that was barely enough time to get the horses vetted (especially because there was a line) and let them rest a few minutes and tank up. We took Sunny's boots off, as the footing was so good he definitely did not need them, and they were causing him to trip a little bit. After they were off he was great.
We completed the second loop and came back in with the horses doing great, and not tired. Maggie and Rio came in 17th and Sunny and I came in 18th, around 5 1/2 hours, my longest LD to date. Both horses vetted out great! The ride was managed wonderfully and I would say it was in my top two for favorite desert rides.
I was so happy that Rio completed, but the real test, how would his legs hold up?!? I watched Rio like a hawk after the ride and other than a little stocking up (which is totally normal for him) his legs were great! I could have cried with happiness after everything I've been through with my boy. Maggie is quite a bit lighter than me and ran half of the ride, so I don't think Rio is quite ready for me to ride him in an LD; he needs more conditioning and lots of long slow distance to continue building up his tendons. But it MAY be in our future!
Summer 2018 is here, and that means my least favorite time of year. At least we are sort of settled down on a rental property where I can have all my animals, and more into a somewhat normal way of life, rather than craziness it's been the last few years!
I LOVE the later daylight hours, but here in San Diego where I live, if it's still 100* at 9 pm, it's still too hot to ride. I am the kind of person who doesn't do well in the heat, ever since I was in the military and had heat exhaustion, I just can't handle it. However, it has been getting worse and worse over the last few years to where, even for normal everyday activities, I would have to wet my head to try and stay cool or risk overheating, even when everyone else around me was fine. It was quite beyond annoying, it was horrible.
I found out about some health issues that I had, that I didn't really know about. Long story short I developed ulcers from taking too much Advil, (from my neck and headaches, that I have been remedying with Chiropractic), that caused me to develop a B vitamin deficiency. I had quite a few symptoms from that, including chapped lips, lethargy, and intolerance to heat! Once I figured it out, and got it corrected, my heat tolerance (and sweating ability) improved dramatically! Which is awesome! I also don't get nearly as hypoglycemic as I used to and don't need to eat nearly as much, in fact since I've been diagnosed, I've lost 10 pounds! I can't wait to do some endurance rides now that I've got things more squared away.
The Bill Thornburg Endurance ride is just over 5 weeks away, and I have been planning on this being our first 50 miler! However, I am getting nervous, as we didn't ride much in July and August because of the heat! I have heard this is a nice, easy, flat, good first 50, but hot. I think with there still being 5 weeks left, we can both get some really good training rides in and get our fitness back up. I've been seeing a trainer twice a week, and I think as long as I get out there and REALLY ride we can be ready!
I miss my friend Maggie as she ended up moving back home to the East Coast, but she is so amazing she is going to fly out for it to be here with me!!! YAY!!!! So excited!
There isn't really a lot of endurance rides available to us, especially once you get past spring and into summer, so I decided to try out a NATRC ride, just to get the experience, and cross training and mileage for Gallant.
Unfortunately, our Endurance ride that was scheduled as the same time as this one was cancelled. That was my favorite endurance ride, Descanso! The one I've done twice before. They said the expenses were too high, and not enough riders entered, so they had to cancel it. NATRC stepped up and offered this one in place, which I thought was awesome! So away we went!
I had never ridden at Los Penasquitos preserve before, but come to find out it was only like 30 minutes from my house, and has amazing riding! I'll definitely be back here to ride some more. Plus a cool feature is that it has a TON of water crossings!
I got there Friday eve, as par for course, and Maggie and came to help me get everything set up and volunteer but went back home for the night since it was so close! Liz also came the next day and volunteered! It was great having my friends there helping me.
I wasn't exactly sure what to expect, but Maggie filled me in on most of the details that she could remember. The ride meeting and managers were amazing! They were super funny and the ride was very well run and managed. They did a great job of explaining what they were looking for and why (which was all related to safety, and having a good time). They give you two separate large cards, one for horse, and one for horsemanship. I won't go into too many details, but it's all done in good fun with safety in mind and in the forefront of their actions. I'm honestly surprised that more endurance folk don't do these. I think they're great for starting a new horse (or rider!) learning to camp, after an injury to "get back into it", or even just simple cross training! Plus I met some really nice people! The ride was a 10 mile loop, then back to camp for lunch and vet check (just like an endurance ride). Gallant vetted well. One interesting thing about these rides is that they are timed, and so you have to come in to the checks with a 15 minute window! This was seriously my biggest concern, but Maggie helped my by writing the timing for each check on my map, and by me following the rest of the people I was able to do it without issue.
We left vet check out onto the second loop and it was a 15 miler. Super fun all the way back down the canyons and back to the lake! Up and around the houses and back down into the canyons. Each loop had several "challenges" where the vet and managers "grade" you, but it's all in good fun and in mind of safety for the horse and rider. We finally got back around 3 pm to camp, that was the slowest 20 miles I had ever done, lol! There was almost no trotting at all!
I am very glad I did this ride, I learned a lot, learned about my horse, met nice new people, and got to try something a little different! I highly recommend it for anyone with a horse!
Our third endurance ride of the season was the brand new, first ever, FIRE UP Endurance Ride. Maggie and I went together, and she got to ride the horse she had been training, Warrior, for the last few months! It was super fun, and I'm so glad I got to go with her and ride with her. She is very knowledgeable, and kind! She showed me how to go through the vet checks quickly, and efficiently, without wasting any additional time!
This was also a desert ride, but it was the first Fire Up endurance ride held, so we wanted to go support them, check it out, and have fun. We drove together, and got there on the typical Friday evening. However, there was one big learning lesson here, we took our time a little TOO much getting there, made too many stops, and drug the drive out too long! Both horses vetted in fine, but slightly dehydrated! I could not believe that after 4 days of cramming as much wet food, wet hay, water, and electrolytes into Gallant, that he could be dehydrated, but he was! We went for a short ride to loosen them up and then went to every water bucket we could find to get them to drink, and back to camp for lots of wet soupy mashes! I kept a good eye on Gallant throughout the rest of the day, night, and morning before the ride. Although he was eating, drinking, peeing, and pooping fine, I just felt like he was a little "off". He didn't have the "Eye of the Parakeet" as Bruce Weary says. He was just sort of subdued and quiet. He passed his vet in with flying colors, so we went ahead and started the ride. I was very lucky that nothing bad happened, but my advise is if there is something "off" even if you can't put your finger on it, to listen to that little voice. I just didn't have as much horse as I normally did. Looking back, I think it could have been a combination of mild dehydration, and having recently taken him off his ulcer medication, even though he did get the full dose of Omeprazole on the days we were gone. Gallant had been on ulcer medication (either ranitadine, or omeprazole) for months by this time, so I guess I thought they were healed.
This ride was a very simple, easy, dirt road ride. The first loop was just 15 miles, and although I was hot and overheating (and dunked my head in every water trough I could find) I felt it was SO much easier, compared the the 35 miler we had just done the prior month! We got some pretty good pictures at the photographers stop (which was just a mile and a half or so into the ride), and enjoyed the cool morning start. Gallant was acting up a bit, which he normally doesn't do. He was so glommed onto Warrior that any time we got more than 5 feet away he would freak out and try to get back to him, it was really annoying, he wouldn't even drink unless his buddy was right next to him! Looking back, the other rides we started calm, cool, and collected, this one he was acting up! Again, ulcer related? The only way to know is to go back on his meds, and do another ride. And unfortunately, (because I like riding with people), Gallant seems to do MUCH better on his own, just me and him, without him worrying so much where his buddies are. I guess time and experience will tell!
We got back to the camp, and to our vet check hold. This was the first vet check I had ever done in camp, and it was pretty awesome! We vetted in fine, Maggie being efficient and quick at getting the horses cooled, watered, and in the vet line. She was so quick I was having trouble keeping up! She knew exactly what to and when! While I was still mildly confused, lol! Both boys were still showing signs of mild dehydration though, so we headed back to our camp site for our 40 minute hold and let them eat and drink, and tank up as much as possible; again, lots of really wet mashes! We were hoping to get as much water into them as possible. Gallant didn't really drink a whole lot the first half of the ride, as it was cool out. I didn't expect him to, because he usually doen't start drinking until it's hot out, and he is usually a REALLY good drinker!
After our hold we went back out for the second loop. By this time it was getting pretty warm, and I was overheating as usual. I was having fun, and though the trails weren't as pretty as 20 Mule Team, we were having a blast, it was a pretty easy trail and we cantered a lot of it! I had a quick boot malfunction as the cables snapped on one of my renegades, but I was ready with a, EZ-Boot as a backup! Quick change and we were off! Both horses were doing great and we got to ride a good portion with the guy that was ahead of us (who ended up in 1st place). His horse looked strong and amazing!
I suppose it would have been helpful to have a heart rate monitor, at this point, to monitor Gallant's heart rate, just in case anything was off or different. I had been on the lookout for one for quite a while, and finally found one this summer a couple months after this ride. It'll be great to learn all the differences and to be able to utilize it during the rides.
We finished the last loop (10 miles) in short order, and Gallant finally started drinking well. Gallant vetted though decently, but not nearly as well as the last rides, he was sore and dehydrated. He just didn't do as well this time, but I'm not sure why; ulcers? heat? dehydration?
Any who, all the riders finished, and that evening we went to the Awards Ceremony where I found out we got second place in the ride! We were pretty sure we were up there, top 5 for sure, but didn't know the gentleman we had been riding with was the ONLY one in front of us. To be fair though, there was only 8 riders entered in the LD. It was a very fast and easy ride overall, even though I was exhausted and overheating (my health issues I mentioned last blog, that have now [months after this ride] been fixed, should fix most of these problems!)
Very fun, well managed ride, that I enjoyed doing with my good friend Maggie. The trails weren't as pretty as 20 Mule Team, but given a choice, I would definitely do this ride again! I just wish there would have been a completion / top 10 prize, like a mug or t-shirt, that would have been the icing on the cake!
Hi, I'm Cari!
I started my endurance career in 2013. Here is where I chronicle my rides and adventures!