Thursday, April 29, 2010


Too many potential purchases:
Blanket. Not for everyday use, but for trips where the weather might be very different from home (the mountains or beach). Just waterproof, fill or not?

Saddle pad. I don't think i'm going to like this thinline for long-term use. If I need the front shims, maybe Woolback with inserts? I have a black Cookback that I like. Maybe I should just try it first...

Bridle. I like the Beta one I have, but with his in-between size head (not arab, not horse) I hate how the sidepieces ride up so close to his eye.

Bit. Losing the battle sometimes hasn't been fun. I know he needs more training, but maybe a little more bit will help. Kimberwick? Myler combo (both have been recommended).

Saddle Packs. I need to have some supplies and a snack with me. In the summer I don't have anything with pockets, so need to find something that works. Stowaway?

Seat cover. Not sure if I need this, or if I'll like it. But the new nice saddle being leather and me riding in bad weather and fighting scratchy branches make me think I'd like the saddle protected and even more comfy.

On the dream list: trailer and truck! Yes, it would be great fun to trailer to far-off and close destinations and experience new trails, but really, being such a worrier, I'd really like it for emergencies. Even for basic vet maintenance, that farm call is a lot of the price (about 1/2 the price of my Spring vaccinations bill). Not many trailers at my ranch, except that of the owner, and I know in a true emergency I could use it, but not having options other times is tough. Of course, this expense does just sit there a majority of the time. I can't buy the truck without help from significant other, that's a big investment for anyone.

Then there are the little things I don't need: my halter is all faded and not as pretty as it was. My brush tote doesn't match anything. I can deal with that.

I am grateful to be able to think of these things right now. But having the emergency fund for the vet is the most important, I won't be using any of that money. Most of these things are eventualities, but long long term.

i'm melting...

That is what Major was thinking yesterday! After lunch with friends I took the afternoon to get another ride in the saddle. I only have 7 days to make sure it fits us both. It had been cloudy all day, but just threatening. Of course I put on the saddle, adjust the bridle, and the rain starts coming down, pouring down! Ack, my trial saddle, nice leather, ack! We don't have a barn, but went under the cover by the hay (so Major got an early snack). It let up after a few minutes, so decided I didn't melt and hit the trail.

Major thought this was a terrible idea. He is a huge wimp when it come to rain, is the first to run for his shelter, looking at you pitifully and act miserable. I told him he was a horse and he could deal with it! We started out grudgingly up the road at a walk. The trails were super slick, so walk was all I wanted to do. Major was an anxious jerk, hating the rain, at one point going to fast, losing his footing, and slipping down a steep hill. I gave him his head to let him balance himself, and then we had a discussion that the trails were fine for walking but anything more was silly.

I did cut the ride short and only was out for 40 minutes, 2.5 miles. We got home safely and of course, the rain stopped, hints of sun came out. He was now acting like he loved me making cute faces, so he got his evening supplements early...but still got turned back into the wet pasture. Where he went and stood by the gate to his night-time paddock. Horses...

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

two weeks off and...

Monday I wanted to try out the new saddle, get a feel for it on hills, flats, etc. Did our usual 5-mile loop. He walks out really nicely in the saddle, freedom of movement in the shoulder? But it is so hard to judge if it is the saddle, or he just likes getting out! He did really want to go and move, a bit too much on one of the hills! We had to do some emergency braking action. I'm inserting random stops into the rides, it is nice to see how quickly he figures it out: I say whoa and we back up a few steps. Over and over...

The weather was brisk, it was windy and a storm was coming in. A few of the trails have been nicely regraded, a few new links put in, that was fun to discover and fun for Major to see (he didn't flinch except at a scary mud-hole off to the side). We scared up turkeys, deer and flocks of quail. Once I got home I unsaddled and checked the sweat patterns. It is so hard to tell! There is definitely an imprint from the thinline pad, I worry that it is too thin, i'd like to use my Coolback pad, but for this testing session i'll stick with what the saddlefitters gave me to try.

I did feel secure in the saddle, even through quick circles and jumping up hills. It puts my leg a bit more beneath me, which is nice. I think I could even drop the stirrups a hole. I'm going to give it another try today, probably not as fast, but for longer time. I'm so worried about any back soreness, there are just so many variables!

Monday, April 26, 2010

new saddle

The weather was spectacular this weekend. I didn't ride because of my ill-fitting Wintec. But yesterday afternoon the saddlefitters came, we put on my new saddle, it is so comfy! It had been a few months since I'd ridden in it, so I was a bit nervous. I'm used to nice sticky suede seat, but in the new saddle felt secure, didn't lean forward, leg wasn't swinging, all things I'd always had to work so hard on, maybe a lot of it was saddle fit and not me (well, some of it, I have plenty of issues). We worked in the arena, Major felt good, wanted to canter, and we were able to circle the arena both directions, which we had a hard time with before! I think we both felt good in the saddle.

I have a week to try it out. I'm hopefully going to get some good rides in, I really need to test it, check his back, see how we feel on the trail. I'm going out tonight, and hopefully a long ride on Friday. So far the only downside, now I have to clean a saddle and not hose it off...

Friday, April 23, 2010

blue skies finally

The last two weeks have been so frustrating. Spring usually comes and stays! Rain every few days doesn't make for good riding weather. It made the trails mucky again, my favorite trail is covered by the lake, I was in a funk. I'll ride in the rain, but then I had the added issue of Major's saddle not fitting. It had been fine, I think the increase in work has changed his back. So I'm not riding until I get my new saddle, even a short ride last weekend made him sore.

But good news, the new saddle is coming on Sunday! The great saddle fitters I used  ( have a used Arabian Saddle Company Solstice Endurance. When I rode in it a few months ago it felt secure, and was the best fit. I'll have a week to try it out (of course they're calling for more rain). Can't wait to seriously hit the trails again, I feel like i'm going through withdrawals.

Good luck this weekend to everyone at the American River Classic. That is one tough trail!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

full of it

Two days of rain, wet turnout, cooped up horses. Handwalked on Monday in the rain, a little frisky, not bad. Yesterday went to get him in the pasture and he was galloping around, up and down the hill, a great extended trot up to me! I had the feeling he'd be a handful, so turned him out in the arena. Now, this horse usually just trots over and eats some grass growing through the fence. Yesterday he went cantering around, knocked over a couple jumps (not a jumping prospect!), was all about his Arab self, proud and prancing and just showing how pretty he is!

But it was work time, which wasn't a ride, but a 4-mile loop hike. I needed the hike as much as him, but it sure would have been easier to ride. We had some discussions (the entire time!) about manners, snatching grass, jumping puddles, etc. Really proved to me (though I didn't need it proven) that full-time turnout is truly best. I don't like the paddock-at-night situation, but it is currently my best option.

We'll see what today brings...

Monday, April 12, 2010


In the last month I've ridden 55+ miles (those are just the GPS trail miles), all barefoot, over some pretty tough terrain. Major's feet are looking better and better. I know there is plenty of room for improvement, but he is sound on all the trails we've ridden on, enjoying himself and I am happy with the growth i'm seeing.

As a caveat, I will say that taking photos of your horses feet with your iPhone is not the easiest task. Some of the shots are just the best angle I had, both in the February pictures and the new April versions. I'll hopefully get better at this (and use my real camera!) It is hard to hold the clean foot, juggle the camera, hit the the first set the ground was wet and he put his feet down, sorry for the mess!

February 1:

Comparing the two I can finally see the frog filling out, and maybe the heels decontracting a tiny bit. No deep sulcus any more (thanks to Pete Ramey's goo). I'm looking forward to more months of improvement.

April 10:

one fast ride

Saturday was...interesting. The weather that had been perfect all week turned overcast and windy. Not too windy to ride, I knew with the storm coming in this would be my last chance for a few days. Also, my main trail was being used by the American River 50 runners. Saddled up, warmed up by walking up the road, and off we went. Going out Major kept wanting to turn for home, trying to turn at every fork. At least he knows the way home! He was being spooky from the wind in the trees, i knew he was just being silly. Got out to the lake, just told him to go. We trotted everywhere we could (some places too rocky, blind corners, scary logs, hikers), he was nice and controlled, kept a good pace all the way to Beeks Bight. Once there we had some people asking questions, so we had to nicely stand while people called him "Trigger," asked if we'd escaped from Santa Anita and told stories about her sister's dressage horse...sigh, I really don't mind, but really did just want to ride!

Going home was the interesting part. I've had this discussion with him before: you can keep trotting but keep it controlled. OK, I lost that discussion. We had one section of 13 mph trot, glad he can do it but he is really not paying attention at that point. Still hate pulling on him, be he isn't unseating me, or trying to canter as often, so maybe a tiny bit of improvement? We were almost back (we'd redirected a lost runner), still getting attitude, so we trotted up a big steep hill...that helped. Got home, he's not even warm at that point, barely even broke a sweat. Need to do more aerobic activity and get a heart rate monitor.

Sunday I checked on him (in the rain) he was happy to eat his beet pulp under the shelter. But his back was sore! Damn! I think these longer rides are showing that the saddle doesn't fit that well. Today I emailed the saddle fitting folks, they have the one i'd tried out in February, so i'll be taking that on trial soon. Good and bad, that's horse life.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Hoof boots

Fun news with hoof boots! Major really hasn't need any, his feet are looking better and better, starting to grow some more heel and slowly decontract. He is a bit tender on big sharp gravel, but rocks, sand, dirt trails he's just great. I'm pleasantly surprised since his pasture is soft and irrigated, but I think all the movement with our rides is really helping.

I decided or order some boots now, trimmer didn't think his feet would change much more for awhile, recommended the Renegades for ease of use. Trimmer came on Tuesday, fitted the boots, they're fun orange and look great. Easy to use, Major didn't even care that they were on. Didn't get to try them out, need to do some fine-tuning, but am hoping to on a short ride. I really don't think i'll be using them unless we trailer somewhere or in summer when the trails get rock hard, but I know we need to ride with them, break them in, learn about any issues, etc.

I will take some feet photos as a baseline this week. It is hard when I go to the great barefoot sites and see those perfect hooves, Major is not there yet. But he is sound, they are so much better than they were, and it's a process. I have to remind myself that I try as hard as I can but my conditions aren't ideal (i'd love turnout on well-drained sand and rocks and acres of pasture to run in, i'd even love just pea gravel) but I do what I can with feed, care, riding, etc. Horse guilt, i know we all have it...

catching up

Some great spring weather, and then rain (but I was out of town), now beautiful again. Before I left town visited a fun local park. Not many trails, but very well maintained, a nice outing. Leaving the park is a great uphill gravel road, pretty long (1/2 mile). Just let Major trot up the whole thing, got the big extended trot, little attitude. Let's just say that was different than yesterday's ride.

I've ridden for 3 days straight, not too hard, but enough to make him think (I thought). Went out with a friend last night. The evening is gorgeous, put Major in behind (he can learn to deal with it) fine until trotting when he becomes an annoying giraffe. I thought it was great practice. My friends' horse got spooky at some silly things, I took over the lead. Major just wanted to go, full-tilt! Have to figure out a good way to rate him without hanging on his face. We went up big hills, tried not to jig down them, and ended up having a nice ride.

The lupine along the lake are spectacular, and indian paintbrush along the Pioneer Express Trail in full bloom. Lake is getting full, soon the lake/canal trail will be underwater for the season. This weekend an endurance run, in 2 weeks the American River Classic on that same trail. The trail between Granite Bay and Sterling Point, I sure can't imagine doing that in a ride/race. No passing, nasty rocks and dropoffs, watch for the poison oak. And ticks...had one crawling on my forehead last night, eewww!