Tuesday, May 31, 2016

adventure complete

Add up a new camping place, new trails, and new riding buddy to equal a fun weekend! I haven't been ready for an endurance ride this year, not feeling like I have enough training on Major, especially with some of our snail's pace conditioning rides. But when I saw a post about a fun ride on fairly local trails, I thought it was a perfect opportunity: not competitive but marked trails, other horses, camping, food.

red and green make 20 miles

So we headed up to Dru Barner campground for the Fun(d) ride, a fundraiser for the Georgetown Divide Equestrian Trails Foundation. We found a nice campsite in the slightly disheveled camp: the forest service had come a few weeks before and cut down all the bark-beetle infested trees, leaving a big mess! Luckily the volunteers did a great job cleaning up camp, as they did the whole weekend.

Major settled in with water and hay bag, I got the trail map, and that was it. So simple with no vetting, no ride meeting. I set up the horse, and the SO sets up everything else. I'm very lucky and spoiled. After relaxing a bit I took a practice ride on the five mile yellow loop. Completely lovely trails, Major was on fire, loving the new scenery. I was able to take a few trail pictures, far more than the next day!

yellow ribbon

huge fields of mountain misery smelled so delicious

knee-knocker trees

lovely views

The plan for Sunday was the 20 mile trail: 12 mile loop and add on the 8 mile loop. And with new riding buddy L (blogging at Ponyhill) and her cute white Roo. How would Major rate with Roo? We would see! I was a bit of an anxious mess that evening, I guess it doesn't matter if it isn't a competition, I just worry in general, and didn't sleep well. But I did hear Major eating all night, so he was doing great!

waiting, not very patiently
discussion of expected trail behavior

almost on our way

off we go!

I met up with L and Roo, and headed out about 9am (there was no "start" time, just after 8 and before 10). The trail quickly weaved between pine and manzanita, sometimes rocky, then a muddy puddle, lovely long trotting roads, up hills, along a creek, up and down, a bridge or two, honestly, it's a bit of a blur. Major was a bit quicker than Roo, but I was able to keep him a bit slower (most times), which is great for him to do what I'd like, instead of his choice!

Major "sharing" (stealing) hay with Roo

a California Sister butterfly graces Roo's sponge

Sooner than I knew we were at the rest stop, refilling water bottles and the horses eating carrots and hay. Then off again to do the eight mile loop. Major and Roo would switch places, Roo would get brave and go in front, then tire of that, and Major would go in front, till he got too fast, then we'd switch, it seemed to work out. Though Major wasn't always happy to wait, this wasn't a competition, and he had to do my favorite thing: deal with it!

Major is not happy to wait: too bad!

here comes Roo catching up!

Back again at the rest stop we rested a bit, though it was getting a bit hot in the sun, then headed back for home camp. Major was getting a bit strong, trying to catch everyone ahead and going too fast. Putting Roo in front made everyone's life easier, and we found the final trough where the horses drank well, and crossed the busy, slick road (with excellent crossing guards!) and made it home!

Major was upset to see his new best friend leave, and tried to dance around, but was unsaddled and sponged off without too much fuss. Then he forget his new buddy in favor of mash and alfalfa (sorry Roo)! SO walked Major around camp a bit, snatching some grass and leftover hay bits, Then Major rested at the trailer while we got a delicious dinner, tri-tip for most, but veggie burgers and even veggie beans available, yeah!

gee, have enough hay back there?

The drive home seemed long, but Major unloaded and dragged me back to his pasture, rolled, and then asked for mash. He seemed pretty happy. Me too! But I know the importance of rest periods, and I applied that knowledge diligently the next day: from the couch, and lounge chair and pool.

Jack the cat helping me read
After a day of relaxing I went to check on Major, who looked great, and mostly behaved for his glue-on boot removal (some stomping, the flies are terrible already!). Mostly good behavior, a fun camp and ride = an overall excellent weekend. I think this ride gave me a better grasp of his fitness. He had no problems with 20 miles and 3000+ feet elevation gain at endurance pace. So I may start looking at that endurance calendar…

Friday, May 27, 2016

adventure orange

A new adventure this weekend calls for:

New tires for my orange hubcaps.
(Expensive, but important. And at least I found a positive spin on not driving a fancy Corvette: the guy in front of me paid $562 per tire!)

Orange boots for Major.
My messy attempt at gluing for our fun ride this weekend (I needed some practice, this is a perfect event for it)

And a whole lotta orange embarrassment.
Animal cruelty? Or just completely hysterical? You decide (Major isn't particularly amused...)

Off to adventure! Everyone have a great weekend!

Monday, May 16, 2016

damn conditioning

Major has my number. At home, we speed along the trails, and have many discussions about not going too fast for trail conditions, or rushing down hills, or running home. But trailering out is another story. He knows that the trailer means fun, and he loves to go explore. But he doesn't want to do it quickly, he might miss the sights! (unless someone else is along, then it's a competition). So conditioning is a challenge, but I was up for it.

lovely single track

We headed for the Olmstead Loop trail (which isn't just a loop, there are lots of options), and I'd planned in my head a series of trails. Including down the river via the old Auburn dam site. I hadn't tried it before, and was up for a new adventure.

The trails starting off were still glorious green, with wildflowers too. The most fun was a really swampy tree-covered section that Major charged through, scaring some people on the other side, who said as we came out "we thought someone was drowning in there!" (really, and you just listened?).

swamp land
soft grass and antenna towers in the distance
tree tunnel

We crossed hill and dale (well, hill and creek) not very quickly. Trotting on single-track was fine, but open roads were just slow, and there are a lot of roads. And lots of rocks on downhills to slow us even further. Major waded into Knickerbocker Creek and tried to walk upstream instead of continuing on the trail, but I got him turned around and we headed back out. Shortly after that I did notice my glove was feeling tight and bothering me. I looked down and saw my wrist was super swollen! Something must have bitten me. Well, I'm five miles out from the trailer, I don't feel sick, might as well keep riding! The sky was also looking a little ominous…

down to Knickerbocker Creek

In the creek, what's behind us? Mountain bikes.

see Major, it says "no" we can't go back right now
gathering clouds

To head down to the dam site trail, first you cross the asphalt dam road, and you need to follow it a little bit, then you come to the switchbacks. I have no idea why I didn't consider how steep they would be: they literally go down the face of where the dam was to be located. The trail was really rocky and I got off to walk, dragging Major to his death down the hill after me.

switchbacks down to the river far below

being dragged, but with a snack

scarred dam hillside

I'm standing in it, isn't that enough?

But that was the way we came?!

But at the bottom was the lovely river. That Major had no interest in except just to stand there. I was content with that, looking across the river at the fascinatingly scarred hillside, glad there is do dam to drown this amazing canyon.

Then we had to go back up. I thought at least it was more gradual and not so many switchbacks. Ha! on the gradual. At one point my GPS said we were climbing a 38% grade, then that improved to 25%. But Major was better in this section, I think he understood that the top of the hill was the destination!

just a bit steep

it just keeps going up!

Once at the top Major had a bit more life, especially after I let him play in the pond, then "chase" a runner in the distance. Use that competitive spirit to my advantage! The sky was now filled with puffy clouds, and the trailer wasn't far.

perfect pond

can't tire of this view

chasing down the runner (no, we didn't catch him, dude was quick!)

Back at the trailer, my GPS said we accomplished just under 14 miles with 2,300 feet of elevation gain in a bit less than three hours. Slower than an endurance training pace, but I was happy with it due to the rocks, elevation, and Major being Major. He was just happy to be back and snorkeling in the lovely water trough! Hopefully we can get out and explore, a bit more quickly, for some upcoming rides soon. Just don't call them conditioning where Major can hear you!

snorkeling, bubbles, fun!

helpful stats

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

birthday boy

 Usually I torment love my horse by making him wear his birthday hat. But this year I kept it simple.
hiding from the hat
apples and carrot deliciousness

new boots!

can we go already?

Apples. Carrots. A clean saddle, new stirrup leathers and new hoof boots (oh wait, that's for me). Grass. A ride to the lake. Splashing! A stick! Birthday apple! Mash. Alfalfa.

last bite before we go, I promise

just splashing with my buddy

found a stick in the water!

stick! splashing with the stick! stick!

sadness and a broken stick

Major was just glad I didn't make him wear the hat. And that he got a very special apple from my friend C!

I bit the candle to turn it off. But I'm ok. The apple was yummy!

mash and special alfalfa dinner, oh boy!

Happy 13th birthday buddy. Here's to many more.