Nov 21, 2015

Just Dilly Dallying Around

Windy and I at the Sandhills CTR in Kansas in April
 I keep trying to find a way to define this year and can’t quite put my finger on it.  Changes?  Not really.  We had a lot of family stuff going on (planned & unplanned) and work has been incredibly busy.  Those two variables play a big part into what is left for my horse life.  I’ll probably finish out the year with about 700 ride miles give or take which is under my norm. 

Riding Fancy in the Spring

A planned graduation, an unplanned wedding and regrettably a couple funerals really limited my spring riding.  I only competed once between April and September.  Late nights at work kept me from joining my Platte River Riders on Wednesday nights. The Friday Before Mother’s Day ride was canceled due to bad weather and I never even rode my Oak Creek Trail until a few weeks ago.  

John and I at Lake Solitude - Big Horn Mountains, Wyoming

Last winter, we planned to join friends at the Big Horns Mountains in Wyoming.  Years ago we made plans to go and it wasn’t meant to be.  This year, there was no stopping us.  A paragraph today does not do justice to the wonderful week we spent in the mountains.  I’ll save that post for another snowy day.  

Juanita completing on Windy at the PonyXpress CTR in August

My friend, Mary, and I volunteered to manage the PonyXpress CTR at Rock Creek Station at the end of August.  There has not been a CTR there for about a dozen years.  We spend many (hot) weekends there clearing trail, mapping the route, marking the trail and all that it takes for a comeback ride.  And then come September, I was finally able to compete again and managed to compete five times this fall.  

Cowgirl Week leading up to Cowgirl Weekend was changed to the “lite” version this year.  Our host and my friend, Kathy, unexpectedly had heart surgery which kept her out of the saddle during this time.  Luckily we all still got together and had the best time but didn’t do the riding that we normally do.

I lost Pip in September.  RIP sweet Sister.  

I haven’t spent much time going through pictures and getting better ones developed.  That is on my winter list, too, and I hope to share some of the better ones with you.  I also have to get the darn poodle puppy house trained!  But most of all, I want to take advantage of a friend’s offer to help me with Windy.  We are heading into a more competitive class next year and I want to be a real contender.  

I’m continuing to lighten the load for next year.  I am not planning to host the Friday Before Mother’s Day Ride.  After 15 years, I’m ready to free up that time.  To do what?  Who knows.  But riding weekends in the spring are few enough; this will give me one more.  

Wow, posted two days in a row.  I’m on a roll…..

Nov 20, 2015

First Snow

Last week at this time, we were en route to southeastern Kansas for the last Competitive Trail Ride of this year which was the first CTR of 2016.  (It is not as confusing as it sounds, really.)  We had a really successful 2015 season and I will no longer be riding novice in 2016, so I decided since Windy was in great shape and I -- well, I have been riding all year -- that I may as well give the Open class a try just to see if Windy (and I) can handle the speed and the miles.  So I donned the blue vest registered with the "big dogs",  as my friend Mary put it.  

The map showed we would ride 26 miles at an average speed of 5 mph.  While Windy has an awesome walk when she wants to, I figured we would be trotting most of the time.  I was unfamiliar with Big Hill Lake; management said there would be some rock so move out when you can.  Nebraska rider and open veteran, Robin, agreed to be my riding partner.  

The trails were lovely.  We started out going through a deep water crossing and then trotted into the forest with glimpses of the lake through the fallen leaves.  It was a beautiful ride and Windy and I were hanging with it.  We did miss a turn once which kind of scared me as you don’t pad as much time as you do when riding open.  

The obstacles were a bit advanced but we should have showed better than we did; I kind of forgot all the things we have been practicing such slowing it down and taking one step at a time.  Rider error on my part.  I was pretty pleased with her pulse and respirations and metabolic checks.  The temperatures that first day was close to 70 degrees and Windy was in her full winter coat.  She lost a couple points on respirations and one on hydration but overall, I thought she handled the ride well.  She came in sound and with a clean back, which is something I always thrive for.  

We didn’t place and I didn’t expect we would.  I know now that she is an open horse and with some tweaking, I have something to look forward to.  Since we have just started to gel on the obstacles, I am going to move up to Competitive Pleasure for 2016.  It will run the same miles and speed as novice, but will provide advanced obstacles.  The competition is as tough as the Open class but it will set a good bar for us.  I am already looking forward to next year.  

Today, we put the trailer in the shed as the wind picked up and started pelleting some sleet which turned quickly to snow.  I’ll slip on my coveralls in a little bit and go feed the horses in the barn, hoping for a hot flash about the time I leave the house.  Thinking of it reminded me of this meme I saw on Facebook recently.  Very fitting.  

Nov 2, 2015

Horsetales Past

I said I was back the last time I posted and I never did come back.  And most likely I am just talking to myself at this point but that is really why I started blogging to begin with; to relive the ride by writing about it and to remember the moments years later.

In the early years of this blog, the horse world was new to me.  New friends, new places, new events, new disciplines, new tack... you name it.  I was a newbie.  In some ways I hated to admit it and in other ways, I was like a sponge and wanted to know everything there was about horses and then some.  Now, 15 years later, I sometimes think I lost that wanderlust.  Maybe because I don't blog anymore.  Or perhaps because I haven't ridden with our Wednesday group this year or put on 1,000 miles like I did when riding the Distance Derby.  Or maybe what I am doing now only interests those who do the same thing.  I'm really not sure what is different but I feel it in the air.

The last couple of years I have gotten more involved in Competitive Trail Riding (CTR).  I have never in my life competed in anything so just deciding to be serious about something is outside my comfort zone.  However, the people are friendly and welcoming which helps and I get to ride some beautiful trails and I am doing something I love to do and can do!  How cool is that?  It has made me pick up my game and be a better rider for Windy.  I have to tell you that Windy has excelled more than her rider! I am still trying to catch up.  What is very cool about the sport is doing it with Windy.  We are becoming a team.  And that alone is worth the entry fee.   But that is not what this post is about.  Really, I am not sure where I am going with it.  I guess I am just a bit melancholy tonight and thinking about the early days.

Around the same time I started HTR, I started a Yahoo ListServ called Horsetales.  It was a way for area horse riders to communicate to each other.  It grew quickly; in its heyday was about 350 members strong posting thousands of thoughts each month for group comment.  It wasn't without drama but for the most part, we all grew as riders and friends.  Some of us never met but others became friends and riding buddies.

I fought Facebook as long as I could, but eventually we all went over to the dark side and the best analogy I can come up with was we graduated from Horsetales and all moved to the city.  We got lost in the crowd and only our besties remained.  No longer was there the tight knit group who shared ideas and ride reports and pictures.  The accolades we would get from other Horsetalers pretty much dried up.  The archives remain, still hosted by Yahoo, but it is no longer a part of our day or our horse life.

A few years ago, I stopped hosting the annual Horsetales ride; the interest wasn't there.  This past year, storms canceled my Friday Before Mother's Day Ride.  Next year there won't be one.  I have moved on from that as well.  Horsetales would bring it to life before the ride and we would share the stories long after the ride was over.  The last time I hosted the ride admittedly I thought, "who are these people?"  Lots of faces I had never seen before or after.

Where is going from here?  I don't know.  It, too, is an archive of my horse life and I use it quite frequently for time references.  I hope that I can bring it back to what it once was and no, I will not do classifieds!  My gosh!  Those about killed me!  But I miss the chronicle of my horse life and even though it isn't going in the same direction, doesn't make it less important.  We have a new filly to start, we hope to have a foal in the spring and if my calculations are right, Windy and I will finish the CTR year with some blue ribbons.  I have stories to tell.