Thursday, September 2, 2010

The tools

Really quick post on what tools I use. I have a punch that I hammer the litle "dent" where I want to drill first, so the drill will seat as I start the hole. I use a cordless DeWalt drill, and good drill bits. If I need to doo a large 1/2" hole, I would pre drill a smaller one first. Make sure you keep the drill bit running level, not angle up or down as you drill. I had a tape measure, and pencil, and would measure the distance from say, the molding, down, so my holes / hooks would be the same height on the trailer and look even. The pencil would wipe off easy if I needed to move the mark. I also used masking tape to mark locations on the trailer for where I wanted something. We used a metal "L" some to make straight lines.  Then, I have what I call a chick tool kit. I have a wonderful large, Craftsman wrench and socket set, but most of the time, my little "chick kit" does what I need. It has a small socket wrench, set of smaller sockets, driver tips of all types. (screw drivers that slip interchange in to one screw driver handle)  The drivers include phillips, flat head, and the square heads that some of the screws on the camper needs. All in a small plastic case. I use this little kit a BUNCH.  For drilling a lot of screws with a head that took a socket,  could put it on the drill and things went quick.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

More horse trailer prep

I forgot to mention in my Tackroom post, that for the most part, we use the trailer for our regular tackroom. We have to always trailer out to ride, so we rarely use the tackroom in the barn. Thus, I need to have everything I might need to ride, there in the trailer.  So, now that I have that part of the trailer organization out of the way, let me share a little on our "horse area".

My old trailer was a single wall construction steel trailer. The support beams ran on the outside. I had rings welded on to attach the hay bags, The Hi-Ties had steel supports welded on where i attached them, as the trailer had an opening that ran the length of the trailer, right at the height the Hi-Ties needed to be. I did not need to find support beams to attach anything, as they were visible, or I just attached bucket holders etc. where ever I wanted, with bolts and nuts, rather than sheet metal screws.

This trailer is triple wall construction. Outside steel wall, insulation, and then interior sheet metal wall. Support beams were not visible, and we needed to attach the Hi-Ties through the support beam to make them secure. Trails West was awesome to work with. I emailed them,and they sent me the blue-print of the trailer, showing me where the beams were.  So, the first thing was to install the Hi-Tie on the passenger side of the trailer. That is the side I use the most when camping. I wanted this tie centered on the trailer. I don't want the horses to have the ability to look around the back of the trailer at the horse tied to the other side if possible. It just creates more issues. If they get used to NOT seeing the other horse, you can usually take one way from the trailer without the other horse ever knowing, and thus, they don't get upset when their friend leaves.

The passenger side has slider windows that I needed to make sure the Hi-Tie was mounted high enough to not fold against them. The trailer was a clean slate, and we were about to start drilling 1/2" holes. We measured, we tapped along the wall, felt we had the support beam, and drilled the first hole, with a small drill bit. BINGO, we hit the beam right on. Finished drilling the larger holes, and attached the Hi-Tie to the trailer. They are really very easy to install. Took longer to find the beam.

 The Hi-Tie folds back above the window. The blue "pool noodle" helps to protect the trailer, Hi-Tie, and also makes it more visible when extended for riders going through camps, and also when I am packing to head home, I can see it easier from my mirror in case I got forgetful and in a hurry when it is time to leave.  I also wanted to have a ring on the trailer up high, to run a high line to a tree if needed, or wanted at some camps. I was going to install a ring in a separate location, then I came up with an idea. Replace one of the big bolts on the Hi-Tie, with an Eye bolt. I can then run a line through it, yet the Hi-Tie would not be in the way.
I think it even looks pretty good, and can't wait to give it a try. When used, the Hi-Tie will not be opened like in the picture, but be left folded against the trailer.

Next was figuring out where to put the Hay Bag rings, and bucket holders. I had two bucket holders next to each other before, and the problem was that when I gave Hank a bucket of feed, or a wet mash, he drooled it all over, including into the other bucket, that had his clean water. So I decided this time, to separate the buckets. He also likes to dunk his hay in a water bucket, thus getting it all nasty and yucky. Sort of a horsey tea. So my hope is, he will choose one bucket to dunk, and leave the other one clean. After I give him his feed / mash, I then fill that bucket with water. which I hope will be the "dunker".  I found some nice bucket holders that served me well for almost 10 years on the last trailer, that are made out of plastic. I picked up some more, and painted them white with a spray paint made for plastic. They look pretty right now. Again, we will see how it goes.  

These were installed with bolts all the way through the wall, washers and acorn nuts, so the if the horses were to rub them, they would not get hurt.  We also decided to cover the ends of the bolts and the nuts that hold the Hi-Ties on, in the inside of the trailer. While I do not think the horses would ever get their heads up around the hardware, I decided that I'd go ahead and cover them. 

I found some domed plastic door stops that would work perfect. This photos shows one covered, one not. I think along with covering the nut, it also makes it look nicer. 

The rings to attach my hay bags took a little thinking. Last trailer had welded rings. A friend uses some bucket holders that have an O ring with a hook under it, and just hooks the ring on the hay bag on the hook. I almost got those, but kept wanting something smoother. I found these rings at the trailer store, and liked that they would lay flat when not in use. I painted them white, but the paint does not want to stick. If they work well, I may try to have them powder coated so they will stay white. I can also snap a bucket on if I wanted, attach the hay bags with snap, or even velcro. I will add one more to this side of the trailer, so I can hang two bags side by side for additional hay, or two types of hay.  These lined up on the support beams, so were attached with sheet metal screws. 

Here is a picture of the blanket rack inside the trailer. Also in that back corner, where many trailers have a rear tack area, will be where I add my horse water tank. Just have to decide the size / gallons I want. I have been looking at RV tanks, where they will make them any size, dimension you want.  Even with a horse in that back stall, I have never had any of them swing over and get into the water tank, or anything else I may have stored in that area. The rake etc. have velcro also, wrapped to secure them to the wall and hook.

Often when I have hauled just one or two horses, I like to give them more room than just the single stall of the trailer. The old trailer had dividers that would telescope closed, so I could secure them in the open position, but be out of the way. This trailer has solid dividers. I found that if I closed the SECOND divider, I could let the first one swing open next to it, and the horse in the front spot, would actually have a spot and a half to stand in. But I needed to secure that first divider, and also put something on it to prevent it from rubbing against the second divider as we went down the road.

I added some rings, and a simple snap and bungee to hold the divider in place. And where the divider rests against the other one??? I added more of those dome door stops.

And here are pictures of each side of the trailer, with everything installed. Now all I need are the horses.


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Trailer tackroom

I've been busy getting the new-to-me horse trailer all set up for the upcoming Fall ride season. I had bought my old trailer brand new in 1994, and had it set up how I wanted it for storage, securing hay, water etc. I had my tackroom organized the best I could, to carry all the stuff I needed, and many things I didn't need. All the Hi-Ties, bucket holders, rings to hang hay bags worked well. And being a trailer that was no longer "pretty", I never thought twice about adding a ring, having something welded on etc. to make things work.

But now I had a trailer that was in pretty much brand new condition. And I had things to organize, attach, and holes to drill! (gasp)  So, I slowly started on some of the more simple things, that did not require a lot of holes. The Tackroom needed some things shifted. I did not like where the spare was and not sure about the blanket rack.

I removed the bracket that held the spare in place, so I could shove it further back into the corner, and also, I carry TWO spares for the trailer, and will then place the second one next to it, back out of the way. The old trailer had them under the saddle racks which were in the back corner. Still easy to get to, but not in the way. And after moving the blanket rack once, I decided it just took up too much room, and took it out completely.  The cabinet on the wall that came with the trailer works well for storage of my leg wraps etc. Not something I would have added, but found a use for it.

Next, I had to think about where to put my horse blankets. I always have the best dressed horse, never sure of weather in TX, where we can have warm, rain, or snow. I like to have a few choices. So I found this interesting bag, that I can put a blanket or a couple day sheets in it, and hang it up on the wall, out of the way.

 It has some storage pockets on the outside too, I also put up a blanket bar in the tackroom to hang a blanket, and an additional blanket bar back in the horse compartment, where I can hang blankets during the ride. (wow, how'd I not get a picture of it?)

I also needed to hang my extra girths, and found a nice spot back in the corner. I put a towel behind them to protect them from rubbing the wall. The trailer came with a couple hat storage "racks" mounted up on the ceiling. They are perfect to hang my scoops, sponges etc. up out of the way. I am big on getting things up higher if possible, out of the way. I had rings on the ceiling beams of the last trailer, or even just a zip tie placed around the beam to snap things on to them.

I did not have the same layout to do all my plastic drawers like the last trailer. So I am trying the pocket storage wall hangers that are so popular in trailers these days. I had some, and bought some. Mounted on the inside of the door for the things I grab the most. Brushes, wire cutters etc.  Some are attached by velcro, others have grommets and twist snaps.

I mounted some footmans loops for a few to attach to,
 as I can remove the bag to clean, and then just hook
back up to the footmans loop. They are really hand for
 attaching all kind of things, and even mounted on the
 backs of saddles to attach packs.

I had another one that works great for water bottles, that I hang off the water tank in the tackroom. It is lightweight, but perfect for the bottles, e'lytes and a few other light items. I used the brackets holding the water tank, and added fasteners in through the same screws.
I always take portable saddle racks to the rides, to put the saddle on to clean it, and often easier to saddle and unsaddle from that rack, than the one in the trailer. I added a little adjustable strap to the wall behind the tackroom saddle rack, and the portable rack fits nice against the wall, out of the way.
We also moved the big 12V battery into the corner bench storage area. It was taking up floor space where it had been. But because that is an enclosed metal storage, we wanted to make sure the battery vented. So I did some hole drilling, got some plumbing supplies, and vented the battery out of the battery box, to the outside of the storage area. Also in the storage area are things to change the tire. Out of the way, but quick to get to things.

I think that is about it for the tackroom. Next will be the Hi-Ties, rings etc. on the outside of the trailer, and things in the horse compartment. Hopefully I will be able to find things, since our first ride with the new trailer is this weekend. Everything is all in order, ready to go! Notice I just could not part with ALL of my plastic drawers, but not sure I won't replace it with something else.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The ponies got a new set of wheels

I still need to finish up the after Tevis stuff, but first..............

I got a new (to me) trailer!!!! 2007 Trails West, 3 horse. Drop down windows, mangers withy cool storage under them. Trailer in really wonderful condition. He must not have used it that much, and took good care of it.  Last trailer was a 4 horse, but I used the first stall for hay and feed at rides, and did not haul 4 very often. If I needed to haul 4 in an emergency, I think I get get 4 in it. Hopefully I will not need to test this theory. 

Now, the task of getting it set up for camping at trail rides. This will include attaching my Hi-Ties, bucket holders, hay bag rings, and getting all my stuff in the tack room in an organized manner.

I got a few things done, and others have came to a fast halt.  I got a hook rack on the inside of the back door on the drivers side to hang my cleaning tools where I can grab them easy, but they are out of the way.

The handle on the pooper scooper telescopes. Kind of cool I thought, and cheaper than some of the others.  This was the super easy task.  The part that has given me a little frustration is where to install the Hi - Ties. They need placed along a support beam, and they are all hidden within the "triple wall construction".  My last trailer was single wall construction, so I could see where I was drilling.

I thought I had it figured out, when I looked inside the trailer, and saw these panels where the THREE interior lights were installed.

I figured if I removed that panel, I could see where the support beams were. Just a dozed screws, no problem!

So, I got the panels down, stood up on the step stool to view my support beams and get on with the Hi-Tie instyallation, when I found this..... a solid beam running horizontal where the wires run in a channel, and no view of the trailer wall support beams.  Oh well, now I know the wires are easy to get to!!!

So I gave up on that project for the day, did some rearranging in the tackroom. Took the spare down, and will move it to a better place, and have a place for my second spare. I started hauling two trailer spares some years ago, as I am often miles from any place to get a quick replacement if I blew a tire.  Also moved the blanket / saddle pad rack. Jury still out if I will like it, or if I can do with something that takes up less room.  Moving 12v battery to a better spot too.  Then to figure out what I want to store the extra "stuff" I carry. I had plastic drawers in the last trailer, and they worked well for years, but thinking that I might find something better, and maybe be able to carry less.  At least I can get buckets and a few other things out of the tack, and in to the storage under the mangers!   But I still need to go through things, and put the trailer on a diet.

I did load Hank in the trailer to eat his dinner the other night, but did not take him anywhere.  He loaded right up, but hates the step down for unloading. I'll add a ramp as soon as I can.  I prefer them for climbing in and ut of the trailer, and the horses seem to prefer them too! 


Sunday, August 1, 2010

Tevis: Into the darkness

As we get closer to the Forresthill vet check, again, people line the edges of Bath road, welcoming us to the check. Cheers, clapping, and words of encouragement. I always get a tad choked up, knowing that my horse has made it this far, and people are acknowledging him in his efforts. Not far from the top, one of the neighbors along Bath road always has a garden hose strung out, and volunteers will spray off your horse to your specifications. Whole horse? Legs only? Neck? Just tell them what you want. So, as Hank drank, I had him hose off on his neck, chest, and legs and girth area. Not only does he get cooled down, but cleaned up.

I see my husband up ahead with the little wagon again. I strip Hank of all tack, and head to the in timer as quick as I can. No need to linger yet, until I get timed in, and vetted through. Straight to pulse checker, then to vet.  I am sent to Dr. Greg Fellers, who vetted Hank at our first NATRC ride last year in Colorado where he got his first perfect score. He remembers Hank. Not all the vets check both side of the horse for gut sounds, and those that only check fore-gut (left side) I ask them to also check hind-gut (right side).  They are a little down at this point, but not that much, and I know he is about to chow down on his dinner.  With my doing a little "Whoop" verbal command to Hank, he trots out quick and sharp for the vet. No signs of lacking enthusiasm. I am amazed I have the energy to be  able to trot him out myself. I head to the horse trailer that was parked there early that morning. Hank has his hay and mash waiting, and my hubby has all my crew stuff out. I'm actually feeling pretty good. Originally I was going to take a shower, but I decided just to clean up with a wash cloth, and change to a clean shirt. I get my glow bars on the breastcollar, change helmets to the one I have set up with a head lamp, and my Ipod. My hubby checks Hanks tack again for dirt. I had a breastcollar strap break on one of the canyons, and had done a quick fix with a Carabiener snap. I get a new strap put on. During the day, Hank was getting irritated at having rear leg boots on, and I had to remove them. I had stored them around my stirrup fenders, so I had to take them off the saddle. I use the boots just to protect him from the rocks and such along the trail, and for the most part, we are through the crappy footing.

Hank is eating with great enthusiasm, and I know I ate something too, but I can not remember what it was.  I change from my sunglasses to regular glasses, check over my Forresthill crew bag to make sure I am not forgetting anything. I remember hearing about Roger Yohe going off trail the previous Tevis, and someone tossing him a flashlight. So I make sure I have a light on ME in case of a problem, or heaven forbid, I get separated from my horse in the dark. Hank has glow sticks on his breastcollar, but I also have reflective Velcro  tape on my stirrups in case he gets loose, and a light is needed to find him. Maybe a tad over cautious, but so quick to put on the saddle.

As the moon is rising above the vet check, it is time to saddle Hank back up, and start heading towards the out timer, which is across the parking area.

Hank is cheerful, and while I thought he might be unhappy to leave the vet check, he actually seemed pretty agreeable about it.  I head out walking, knowing Dolly and Chance are not too far behind.  We cross the road, trot along the trail, and cross the road again. We are trotting along on the dirt when I hear his shoes hit pavement. Debbie from Florida is right behind me as I shout "PAVEMENT". We both pull up, maybe a tad quick. Hank slips some, but stays upright. Boomer slips, and hits the ground. Debbie is fine, but Boomer has some scrapes. I knew the pavement was there, but forgot about it. I think in 2005, it was a tad more light, and maybe I saw it. Tonight, it was dark. We walk along through town, with the locals sitting out on their front porches, steps, and in lawn chairs to cheer us on yet some more.  I catch up with another rider, and we head towards the trail together. A couple more turns through the streets of Forresthill, and we are finally back on trail. Chatting with her, I find out she is riding a horse I sort of know, who came from the same ranch our pinto Flag came from. This is her first Tevis, but the horse has trained on the trail, and has ridden the ride in the past, but had not finished. I tell her to lead the way, since her horse knows the trail. While I have glow bars on Hanks breastcollar, that shine a soft white light down on the ground, she is using a hand held head lamp, and turns it on and off as needed. But at some point, she dropped it, and it rolled down over the edge of the trail. I volunteer to take the lead, as Hank is feeling like he knows the trail perfectly well, and is also feeling very strong. As I take the lead, on almost the very first sharp turn, he starts to walk straight, and not make the turn. I stop him, and ask him "what do you think you are doing?" I think he was just seeing if I was paying attention. That was the ONLY bobble. We pick up an easy trot, and start to get in to the groove of things. I really did not feel Hank would be a horse to make up any time along the trail this late in the ride, but he was proving me wrong. I let him set the pace, and I don't think he was trotting any slower than we would in the daylight.  We went miles with just the two of us, chatting about random horse things. Her horse seemed happy to follow along, and paced well with Hank. While the day time heat never seemed that bad to me, I did notice that it was just not cooling off like I remember from our previous trip along this section of trail in the dark. We are above the river, and I had hoped it would start to cool, but it stayed rather warm and thick air all the way to the end. I remembered to reach down and feel his neck, and pull him up to walk a bit when he was feeling warm. We crossed some creeks in the dark, but he preferred the water in the troughs over the natural water.  We came through the Cal 2 intersection, gave out numbers, and headed off again into the darkness.  From Forresthill to Fransisco's, I was feeling really good. I was not tired, sleepy, or that sore. I was being amazed at how forward and strong Hank was. At times, I could not see squat. Not even a glow of the trail when in the deep trees, yet, we trotted along quickly. There was sort of this odd adrenaline rush to being going that quickly in the dark, along a trail that has drop offs one does not want to find out about. In fact, Hank actually tripped in 2005, and went off over the edge, but as I bailed off him on the uphill side, I yanked his rein, and got him re-directed back on to the trail. Hopped back on, and we continued on. Tonight he was being perfect, and I had no doubts he could see the trail well, and knew we were heading towards the fairgrounds. My attitude had changed, and I was truly enjoying ever step he took through the darkness.  The moon was spectacular, and had risen much earlier than in 2005, shinning on the trail from the moment we left Forresthill, except when we got in the thick trees. The reflection of it on the river below, the deep shadows it case of our horses shapes as we trotted along next to the hillside. It was magical, and for the first time I was 100% glad I was there, and had lost that feeling of "What had I gotten myself into?"

Finally the lights of Fransisco's came in to view, and we could hear the generators.   A welcome oasis in the darkness, but such a shock to enter the bright lights when one first arrives. The volunteers here are really special, as they are dealing with tired horses and riders, often who are not thinking well, are in pain, sick, or have just plain had enough. Hank pulsed down, and I headed to the vet. It had taken is 3:20 to do the 17 miles between Forresthill and Fransiscos, making the average pace including stops for water etc. 5.1 MPH.  I figured he would need a bit of time here to eat some, and I was right. Don't think the speed we go into Fransiscos would make a difference. Just the fact he has gone about 85 miles, and he needs a break. His gut sounds were a C, and the vet wanted him to eat, but did give me my vet card back. Some riders might have blown it off, and left, but I went and found him some hay, and sat down to let him eat awhile. We had time.  He was not happy with the mashes they had, as they were just oats and bran, but he would eat handfuls of straight oats, and the alfalfa hay. After a bit, I went back to the vet to have him recheck him. Guts better, but he could use a little more time eating. His attitude was good, just hungry.  Dolly and Chance came in about 15 min. behind me, and Dolly was not feeling terrific. One of the volunteers vetted Chance through, and found he was off a little, and their ride came to an end. She was pulled at about 1AM, and did not get to the fairgrounds until around 5:30AM. Tough spot to be brought out of, as the road is long, steep, and slow for the trailers.  The rider who I led through the darkness had been waiting for Hank and I, but I told her to head on out, as Hank needed a bit more food. I wished her luck, and told her I WOULD see her at the finish. Finally we were happy with his gut sounds, and it was time to head out again. A rider from South Dakota wanted to ride with someone, and I volunteered to lead the way again. We picked up a local rider on his KY Mountain Horse, and set off towards the river crossing. We had been moving along well again, with Hank setting his steady pace, when we got behind some horses who were not moving as quick. When they walked, they were super slow, and I could tell Hank was frustrated being asked to slow down to a crawl at times. Finally they found a spot to pull over, and we passed them, and got back to that nice free moving trot to the river. I had to chuckle as they commented they were local riders, and that this part of the trail was not really that good for trotting anyway.  Hank felt different, and was anxious to get moving out again, never indicating the trail was anything but great to do so.

The river crossing can vary year to year. I have crossed it pre-riding weeks ahead of the ride, and had to swim the horses some. It was wider than I remembered, and they had the glow sticks floating in the water, marking the path to take. The horses drank well, then we headed across. This year, I only got one foot wet. Hank went exactly where I asked, and never took a wrong step, or drifted off course. Some where on the other side of the river I lost the two riders who were following me, but we had gotten to a point that there were many riders on the trail, and they were not alone. I later found out the KY Mountain horse got pulled, but did see my South Dakota rider finished!

At this point, the trail is mostly wide, with some sections in the dark trees, but often out in the super bright moon light. The moon was so bright at one point, that I could hardly see the glow stick down on an important turn, because it was almost as bright as daylight.  As we made our way towards the final vet check at Lower Quarry, I thought about our day, and how strong Hank had been. He never told me he had done enough, and looked better over all than he had in 2005.  All day, when I wanted to trot, all I did was give him a kiss or cluck. That is my indication on if he needs to walk a bit more. if I ever NEED to squeeze my legs or heels in to him, then I know he has had about enough. But he was always willing to move off with just that kiss. His ears were still up, and I knew he was thinking about the stall and his feed waiting for him.

You ride up above the Lower Quarry check, sort of past it, then swing down into it. So as you ride above, you can get an idea how many are there, if you might have a wait etc. I had passed about 10 horses between the river and the Quarry. I got in, gave him a little drink, and headed to the vet, as we had no line. His pulse was down, his guts were back up, and he very willingly trotted out for me when I told him "whoop".   When I got back to the vet, he said he thought he saw something on Hanks left rear. I had not felt anything, but decided to take it easy on the way in. After I was cleared to go. I saw Dave Rabe, and asked if I could ride in with him. No problem, and we let the horses eat a tad more, and then headed in for our last stretch.  Trotting easy on the flat, and walking anything with a slope. Having a vet tell you that your horse looked a tad off at 94 miles can really make you worry. What if he is lame at the end, and after going 100 miles, gets pulled???? I still had not felt a thing.  The volunteers were at the Highway 49 crossing, and then some folks were at No Hands Bridge. Crossing the bridge, with the reflection of the moon in the river below is always a special moment. I imagine what it was like before the rails. I picture those strong front runner horses cantering across. And I look at Hanks ears, alert as we cross, making the home stretch over the trail he pre rode just 4 days earlier.  I flipped on my Ipod for the last few miles, and again, thought about our day as I hummed along to some music.

There is a small spring, and a little mini trough a few miles from the end, that we stopped and cleaned out while pre-riding. It was full of rotten leaves, mud, and yuck, and the horses would not drink it. After cleaning it, they drank. I had a feeling Hank would stop on the way past as we headed towards our goal, and sure enough, even as the horses he was riding with, passed it by, he paused, and took a nice drink. My Texas contribution to Tevis trail maintenance.  Up to Robie Point, and another good drink from the water troughs placed there. So many volunteers to take care of things that many riders take for granted.  I tried to thank each and every one all day with not just a casual "Thank you", but "Thank you so much for coming out and volunteering today"

Finally, we could hear the generators, and see the glow of the finish line through the trees. I gave out a nice loud "Whoo Hoo!!" and heard a random reply from crews waiting. I was not sure my husband would know it was me, but I did not care. I have sat there waiting for friends, and love to hear a rider announce their near arrival. A little more, and we could hear crews talking. 'Whoo Hoo!!!!" Again, a reply, some shouts, clapping, as a horse ahead crosses the finish line. The final turn, and we have the last little hill, as we enter the lights, and see the tired crews, bundled in blankets scattered around on the ground. Dave Rabe is ahead, and many know him and give congratulations. It is his 10th buckle, and I rode across the line with him for his 8th, and now the 10th.  I see my husband waiting, and as I cross the line, give Hank a hug on the neck, and feel my eyes well up with pride.

  But, I have one more vet check to pass, and that "slightly off" from the Quarry has me concerned.    I head to the vet area, and have two of my favorite vets there waiting for a horse. Jim Baldwin, who is from our region, and Mike Peralez, who is also a  NATRC vet, and one who I have known for years.  A hard choice, but I head to Mike, telling Jim how Mike had vetting Hank the previous year when we were doing the NATRC rides.  He checks his metabolics, and all is well. i told him about the slightly off, and that I was NOT going to trot him out as enthusiastic as I knew the horse would, but rather slow and easy. Out and back, and he said he did not see a thing, and "Congratulations". I give him a big hug, Hank a hug, my husband a hug, and head towards the fairgrounds. I can not believe that I am able to not only trot out my own horse, but lead him the 1/2 mile to the arena, and climb back on him for his victory lap.

It is funny that some riders do not want to take that victory lap around the arena. But I have been waiting in the stands till the wee hours of the morning, watching the riders, and I enjoy sharing that moment of victory and success with them. The riders ahead of me walked, but when it was my turn, I asked Hank to pick up a canter. It was rather comical, I am sure, as he was looking at everything, trying to spook, and then I saw the white line across the ground, and was hoping he would not slam on the brakes, pitching me over his head. He did not stop, but he sure looked at it. The photo tells it all, with the concern on my face too. 

The ride is over, and now it is time to take care of Hank, then bring him back down for a 1 hour recheck by the vets. Up to his stall, where feed and water, and shavings await. We strip his tack, and I get his leg wraps, poultice etc. out, and start to set his legs up. I started doing the clay poultice last year on the long trailer rides after our competition. While my husband was more than willing to do this, I decided I'd take care of Hank myself, as he took care of me. Hank ate, as I took care of the legs and checked him over, and got out of my half chaps and neoprene knee supports that I put on some 27 hour earlier, and had not removed during the whole ride. Then our hour was up, and we headed back down for the recheck. All was well, and it was now time for me to get some rest. I knew my friend, Roxanne Greene would be by to check on Hank during the morning.

On the way to the hotel, I told my husband I was hungry, and only one thing would be the right breakfast. Something from Jack in the box, which is what I ate after finishing in 2005. It just seemed right, and was pretty tasty after all the "trail food" I ate. Then a shower, and bed.

Awards and some random thoughts to follow...............

Saturday, July 31, 2010

TEVIS: The daylight hours

You can read all the blogs from our 2010 Tevis adventure here. They start at bottom and go to top

So many do not sleep the night before Tevis. I have been one of them. Often up late, fussing with ones "stuff", to make sure everything is ready, and then getting to bed late, and tossing and turning. I was in bed not long after the sun set, and slept pretty good. Had everything all laid out for in the morning, so when that alarm went off, I crawled out, gave Hank his breakfast mash, and went back inside to dress.  Drank a protein drink, ate a piece of cinnamon bread, and headed back out to tack up Hank.  I was still feeling rather calm as I swung up into the saddle, to head to the start.  In 2005 and 2006, a friend crewed for us. I told her when she decided to ride, she had the choice of me riding with her, or crewing for her. Earlier this year, she had said she was going to enter, and wanted me to ride with her. So, holding that promise, I sent in my entry.  Tevis has two different start groups. Pen one, the faster riders, who are there to generally to place well, and pen two, for those of us who ride to finish. My friend was helping to lead out the second pen to the start line, and we tried to fall in as close to them as possible.  But in the dark, early morning hour, with 100's of horses on the trail, it is tough to always stick together.  Riders tensions can run high, and they start getting pushy and excited.  Hank was not jacked up, and the walk to the actual start line was pretty uneventful.  We had a slight wait with standing still before the trail was opened at 5:15, and then we were starting our trek towards our destination: Auburn. Between our goal was dust, dirt, mountains, rocks, heat, and some of the most challenging trail ever ridden. Statistics show only about half of the riders would finish.  One can only hope they stay safe, and the horse healthy. In 2005, Hank finished, and then in 2006, he coliced at Michigan Bluff. While we don't want anything to happen to our horse, a metabolic issue is harder to deal with mentally than a lameness issue, at least for me.  So while I knew Hank has seemed better than ever since the colic surgery in Aug. of 2008,  this was the one area I was being extra aware of during the ride.

As the morning pace picked up, riders started to spread out a little. It is not long before we have a downhill towards Hwy 89, and the Truckee river. Along the way is a series of little wooden bridges crossing creeks and bogs. I have never had issues with these, and the horses generally just trot right on over.  On the switchbacks, I could see my friend on up ahead, and slowly moving out a bit quicker than I was, and figured we may lose sight of her early on. The one rule is to ride ones own ride. If you can travel at the same pace as another horse, and it suits your horse too, then great, but never push your horse beyond what you feel is the right pace. I was comfortable with Hanks pace, and knew it was the right speed for him.

After crossing the bridge at the Highway, elevation 6200' ,  you work your way over to the Squaw Valley area, and eventually the climb up to the top, and your highest elevation of the ride at 8700'.  When you the top, you are just 13 miles in to the ride. As we climbed towards the top, it was one of the first times I could feel how strong Hank was. He takes on climbs with such a strong will. Never tries to stop, ears always up, and seeming to like the challenge.

Photo by Lynne Glazer

Lynnes full Tevis Gallery

 The sun has risen over Lake Tahoe, and you can look to the east and see it glimmering in the morning light.  The water troughs at High Camp are just ahead, and it is busy with activity as riders pause to water their horses, take a quick potty break themselves, and then finish the climb to the very top.

 As we continue our climb, we see Cowman up ahead, wishing all the riders well. He has been involved with the run and ride for more years than I am aware, and is always a welcome sight as he stands up there in his bright tie-dye shirt, and head piece with the horns on it.

Seeing him, you know the top is near.    Just one last pull, and then you are greeted at the pass of the view to the west. This has always been sort of emotional. You look across the mountain tops, and know that your goal of the finish line is somewhere down there.

  I always think of Julie Suhr, and her description of that view, and the emotions it can bring.  If you are unaware of who Julie is, then go get this book:

Ten Feet Tall, Still

Crossing the pass also is the point where you question what is ahead in the High Country. Often the trail has been hit hard by the winter weather, and one will find muddy bogs,  downed trees, boulders etc. to deal with. Much is cleared by the trail work volunteers, while other hazards can not be made better, and one must ride smart.  With patches of snow still lingering, we know that things are still melting, and there will be mud or running water along the trail.

This is not an easy place to make up any time. Hopefully you have banked a bit of time in the first 13 miles, to allow for the slow going. For the most part, we found ourselves in small groups, or no other riders, and we were able to cruise along without issues from others that often arise.  The bogs proved to be as I expected, more running water than deep mud.  Hank was moving along forward, and seemed to know where he was, wear to go.  So far, all morning, I kept getting the feeling he knew he was heading towards the fairgrounds, even though we had just started our day.

At Lyon Ridge, we gave the horses another drink from the troughs, and then trotted out for the vets to do a check for soundness.  After his drink, he perked up and did his big trot for the vet as we left. I just had to laugh at him getting in a hurry. Not sure what was up with him being so extra cheerful, but it was feeling good to have him feeling strong.  Coming up was the most famous trail section probably in the world. Cougar Rock. I had been thinking about it all morning, and trying to decide if I was going to go over it, or around it on the by pass trail. I had only used the by pass once before, when I rode Rushcreek Gambler in 2004. He had been tripping that day, and I decided it would be safer to go around.  As I got there, my gut feeling was to pass it this year. I have gone over the Rock twice with Hank, hoping for some awesome photos, only to be disappointed with the angles the photographers shot at, and not get that old, famous shot that Charlie Barieau used to get, making the horses look like they were climbing the edge of the earth. While I think that going over Cougar Rock is very much part of what Tevis is, Hank did it twice for me, and was awesome, and this year, I went with my gut feeling. So, I sent Dolly and Chance on ahead, and I waited at the bottom of the rock until they were almost over, before hanging the right, and heading around the by pass trail.

 I did not want Chance to see Hank below, and think he needed to join him. This is a narrow trail, cut in to the side of the rock. A wall to ones left, and a drop off to the right. I decided to pick up the trot, and as I made a little curve, forgot about a rock out cropping as my right knee slammed into it. I laughed out loud, and said something to Hank about how all the trail has its risks. I saw that I had a new, well earned hole in my pretty new tights, and figured a lovely bruise would follow. Met up with Dolly and Chance on the other side, and headed on to our next notable trail section, Elephants Trunk.   Through this section, we had a lot of leap frogging with some riders. One needs to trot where they can, even if it is only 10 or 15 feet. Lots of rock surface, some of it a bit slick. Never have had issues with Hank slipping, but you need to pay attention to spots that are sloped.

The first time I went over Elephants Trunk (1988) it scared me more than Cougar Rock. It has got better over the years, but it is a trail cut along the edge of a mountain, that is mostly rock, and loose rock, that then cuts upward, like an elephants trunk lifting skyward.     I remember it not being much of a trail years ago, and one traversed along the slope, hoping to not take a wrong step.

After we reached the top, we had a group of riders that we were sort of slowed down a bit by their slower horses. A rider behind Dolly started to pass, or bumped into Chance (not really sure) and Chance, who had been having other horses run up on him all morning, had decided enough was enough,a nd fired out and caught the horses who was much too close.  The rider commented he should have a red ribbon in his tail, but this horses has never kicked at a horse before that I have seen. Not sure why it takes a red ribbon in a tail to remind folks to stay off of ones hind end, but if they do not have a red ribbon indicating they might kick, that they feel they can ride right up on them. Personally, ALL HORSES KICK, and you should keep a horses length off of ALL horses and not tail gate.

We finally got into Red Star Ridge, where this year, they had a large number of pulls.  My goal had been to get into Red Star Ridge between 9:45 and 10:00, and we arrived at 9:51.  It was very busy, and a tad chaotic.  I have to watch Hank, that his pulse does not shoot up after he drinks the cold water on this ride. I let him drink some, sponged him, and let him drink some more. He grabbed a bit of hay, as I kept an eye on the vet line, that it was not getting too long. We pulsed down, and I let him grab a few more bites of hay, and headed over to the vet. This horse loves to eat, and eats a lot. Because there is nothing for them to graze on along the Tevis trail, they only get fed at the check points, or what ever we carry with us.  We got veted through, and headed out on to the road to Robinson Flat.  This is part of the ride that I do not really care for. It is only about 8 miles into Robinson, but the road is hard packed, and seems to take forever. I watched the footing, keeping Hank in the softer shoulders, rather than in the middle of the concrete hard road. After having that lameness pull over Memorial Day, I was really thinking about how I was pounding his front legs.

Four miles from Robinson we were to have a water trough. Indeed, it was there, but empty for those of us riding slower. I fear some of the early riders sponged and scooped water on to their horses, leaving ours without anything to drink. The day was warming up, and we were anxious to get to our first full vet check,and a one hour hold. I was also a tad behind my preferred time to arrive, but by only about 15 min.

I had cell service though this section, and was able to call my husband, tell him where I was, and even make a couple Facebook posts. Ahhhh, technology!  As one gets closer to Robinson, crews and spectators start lining the road. As you arrive, they cheer, clap, and shout out "Good job!"  "Looking Good" etc. It can really uplift ones spirits, and sure put a spring in Hanks step. I think he knew his lunch was waiting.

I talked my husband into coming out to crew for me. He was hesitant, as he had crewed for me at rides many years ago, and I was less than pleasant at times.  The stress of competing used to make me difficult (more difficult that I am anyway, if you can imagine that) , but some where along the way, I realized that if it was not FUN, why was I doing it? And it had not been fun at times, so I actually backed away from the sport. As I came back, I decided that both my horse and I needed to be having fun at what ever we did, and if not, chance things so we were enjoying ourselves.  So far, I thought I had been kind to him, but Robinson Flat would be the test.  He met us on the road
with our little wagon, where I stripped the tack, gave Hank a drink, sponged him some, and put the Heart Rate Monitor belt on him, and found he was just about down to criteria.  We walked down into the pulse area, as he took the tack over to our crew area. Pulsed through, vetted through, and then it was time for our one hour break. As my hubby cleaned up Hank and all my tack, girth, leg boots etc., it was time for me to clean up me at least a little.

All riders bring in a lot of the trail on their faces at this point, and we all look about like I did.

As Hank ate his mash and some hay, Tracie, who was crewing Tevis for the first time, shoved food at me, and I just grabbed things and ate.  I am usually hungry anyway, but I know I have to eat, to keep feeling good. Besides a sandwich, I drank an Ensure, which was high in Potassium etc. to keep my system feeling good.  Because I need to take pain drugs for my knees, I also need to make sure my tank has something in it, and well hydrated, so the medication will not bother me. As I cleaned up and ate, I watched my hubby take the most excellent care of Hank. I had not given him a written list of things to do, but he remembered most, and I had very little to remind him to do. I was still feeling pretty calm, and a bit complacent, but was more enthusiastic about the ride now that I was on the trail, with a strong horse. Before we knew it, our hour was coming to an end,and the horses were tacked up, and we were heading to the out timer. Good-byes to our crew, as we would not see them again for over 7 hours.

As we left, I let Hank walk a bit, to digest his lunch. I had leap frogged a bit with Barbara White, who was going for buckle number THIRTY. We talked about the pace leaving a spot like this, and she too liked to walk a bit before picking up the trot. I was glad I was on the same mind set as someone who has been at it for many more years than I have. After about a 5 to 10 min walk, we picked up the trot again. Did I mention how much you have to trot on this ride? Hank has an excellent walk, but if the trail is something that you have to trot where ever you can.  So, trot we did, heading out across Bald mountain. This area had a fire some years ago, and is very open, and has no shade.  The old route out of Robinson was along a road, which many riders did not like, but it did have shade.  The temperatures were climbing, but it was not feeling that bad to us. Those  training days in our Texas mid day heat was paying off.  We continued on, trotting, trotting, trotting towards the next water stop at Dusty Corners, and then the next pulse stop, which was half way through the ride at Last Chance.

When we were getting closer to Last Chance, I was noticing we had got back close to my projected time, but still had an odd feeling we were starting to chase cut off times.  After Last Chance is the first of the canyons.  This is what many riders dread. The heat was rising, but I was still not feeling that hot. Because of my knees, Hank has to pack me both down, and up the canyons. In turn, I try to ride as light and balanced both on the descents, and ascents.  We were lucky to not get in a huge line of horses, and moved along OK. I let him do an easy jog where possible going down into the canyon. No fast or hard trotting downhill to protect that front end, and hopefully not have what ever lameness he had earlier in the year show up again.  By the bottom of the canyon, we had been slowed by a few riders, and got past them at the Swinging Bridge.

I pass on going to the water under the bridge, as there is a nice water spot on the other side, just starting up. The boys did not drink much, but we sponged them some, and started the climb. I let Hank set the pace, and he is a very steady, strong horse climbing out of the canyons. For a horse who is a "flatlander" he takes the canyon climbs on with a strength that amazes me. He never asks to stop and take a breather, and keeps a very steady forward pace, often needing to pass other horses.

About half way up, we came across a rider sitting on the edge of the trail, and a horse down in the draw below the trail. The horse had gone off the trail, and thankfully a local runner and volunteer came along to assist the horse and rider until other volunteers could be sent down to also assist.  At the top is Devils Thumb. This spot used to have a boy scout troop volunteer, and I was looking forward to seeing them, as they were always so great helping cool the horses, but the troop disbanded, and the other troop did not want to take over. Still, a great group of volunteers there. We cooled the horses, let them drink, and then I saw we were getting behind again. It was getting much to close to chasing cut off times. We headed towards the next pulse and vet check at Deadwood.

In the past, Hank had needed a bit more time at Deadwood to recharge, and take a break. This time was no different, except he was slow to recover here. I finally realized the water was not that cool, and was rather tepid that I was sponging him down with. I asked a volunteer if the water was any cooler out of the truck, and she said "Hold on". She took a bucket over to a well, and pumped nice cool water in to it. I used that, and Hank cooled right down, and his pulse dropped. LOVE those Tevis volunteers!  We vetted through, let him eat a bit and recharge, and then headed towards El Dorado canyon, and then Michigan Bluff. That is where he had the colic in 2006, so I was wanting to get past that point.

Again, we jig jogged where we could going down into the canyon, and he power walked up the other side.

I had wanted to be at Michigan Bluff by 5:45 to 6:00, and it was 6:30 when we arrived. What was interesting was that other riders who have done the ride many times said the trail seemed slow this year. We were still OK as far as cut off times, but I like more of a buffer for things like Hank needing to eat a bit more etc.  He headed to the water trough, and I actually found myself holding my breath as he drank. Last time, he drank, stepped back away from the trough, and tried to go down. This time, he drank, grabbed a carrot, drank, and looked around. Whew!!! Now off to the next vet check at Chicken Hawk, just 1.5 miles away. I knew we had a lot of horses behind us, and passed a bunch at Michigan Bluff, so I wanted to get in to the vet check, and vetted before a long line and hold up was created from the crowd of tail end horses heading in behind us.

As we arrived I saw a large number of horses at the water troughs, eating hay along the road etc. I worked my way up through the crowd, closer to the vet, and let him drink, eat, and take a breather.

Our crew member Tracie was there volunteering, and walked up with two half sandwiches and shoved them at me and said "Ham or Turkey". I grabbed one, and ate, and drank what ever she handed me. Hank was snacking. I did not check his pulse, but felt he was down,and headed to the vet.  Everything was looking good, and we trotted up and back, and he was sound.  He was still more than willing to trot out for me nice and strong. I let him eat a bit more while waiting for Dolly and Chance to vet through. Our friend who I was to ride with got pulled here, and I chatted with her a bit. He horse was a little off.  :-(

One more small canyon, and we would be at our second 1 hour hold, where we would see our crews again.  More trotting where we could. Did I mention we trot a lot? Finally, we came to the top of the canyon, and the paved Bath Road. What a WELCOME sight! That meant we were almost to Forrest Hill!!! My attitude had much improved, and I was actually enjoying my ride. Hank had reminded me what a strong athlete he was, and that he also seemed to be enjoying the trail Ears always up, and only got a little of the ride funk once. Listening to other riders complain and whine abut the heat, the canyons etc. and not having the same feelings. I had been able to keep my mind clear, take care of myself so far, so I could take care of Hank.
If all went well at Forrest Hill, then Only 32 miles to go!!!

For next section of trail:

Tevis: Getting there, and mental conditions

Not sure where to start on our Tevis blog. I know many followed my Facebook posts the past few weeks, and may have some repeat stuff, including photos.  Since this is gonna get long, as I can never write any ride story in the cliff notes version, I’ll break it down into a few posts.  I’ll start with the generic prep, and the 1800 mile trip out to CA from TX, and then arriving at camp.

After last season, and all the travel Hank did, I knew he was pretty seasoned at that part of the journey, and I tried to keep things as much the same as I did last year. The biggest change was traveling in a different trailer.  I really did not think it would change his attitude, eating etc., and I had things set up much the same, including hanging a bucket of water in the trailer for him as he went down the road. Toss a bit of hay on top, and it will keep the splash factor to a minimum.

And what would be a trip with me without a flat tire. Just 100 miles from home, we had a blow out on the trailer. Got it changed quick, and then decided a set of new tires were in order, so we ended up at the Discount Tire in Amarillo. I of course knew where it was, since I was there last year with a tire issue. But this was the short day, so we had time.

We traveled the first day 400 miles, and a night at an RV park we had been at before, then 530 miles , and a KOA with corrals for the horses, then 420, and two nights at my friends house in So. CA,  and then the 400 miles up to Auburn.  Each morning he got a mash, we stopped midway each day for a walk and another mash, and at the end of each day, another mash. 

 One of the places we stopped for a mid day break. Near AZ/NM border. Great shopping too!
The first RV park is in Tucumcari NM. Super nice folks, and I would recommend this place to anyone. Very reasonable rates, and if they are not there, have a night drop. Easy to get in and out of, and often I have been one of the only folks there. Covered and uncovered corrals:

Empty Saddle RV Park

The second night was the KOA in Williams AZ. Used to be able to find more KOA’s with corrals, but many have stopped having them available.  While this was a very busy KOA, the horses did not seem bothered by any activity, and all the kids who wanted to visit the horses asked first. I actually enjoyed meeting folks from other states and even countries, and let them meet Hank.  Not cheap, but it was safe, and they were very welcoming to the horses.  

                                                             Circle Pines KOA

When we arrived at my friends place, we had to maneuver the trailer up her narrow, twisty driveway. It took some good driving, and my spotting posts etc. along the way, but we were able to get the trailer parked, while we rested a couple days before heading on up to Auburn. Both horses have stayed here before, and settled right in to the corrals. I really think some of her horses who have done Tevis in the past KNEW what was up. They seemed extra excited about the process of the trailer going up and down the driveway, and I am sure Hank told them all about the adventure on our stop on the way home.

We got to the the Auburn fairgrounds Tuesday afternoon, before Tevis. I like to have the horses stay at the fairgrounds and ride out backwards on part of the trail, and then back to their stalls, so when they get there during the ride, mentally they will know they are almost HOME.  Tuesday afternoon, we rode out past No Hands Bridge to the Hwy 49 crossing, and then on Wednesday, we rode to the bridge again. Did casual rides, taking our time. Even watched some young men jump off of No Hands in to the river below!
And some think riding a horse 100 miles is crazy.  The last section of the trail was in really good shape from previous years. Only one section is kind of tricky in the dark, but the horses who have been over it in the daylight usually have no problems. A series of steps and rocks. 
The photo does not do it justice for how steep it is. And pitch black in the dark!

We also had a close encounter of a "Bambi" kind on one of the pre-rides.

Thursday we finished our pre-ride prep. I don’t like to go up to camp before Friday AM, as it is pretty dusty and dirty at camp, and I’d rather breath as little of that as possible. Also, I like to stay out of the altitude for me as long as possible, as I got altitude sickness last year after some 20 years of it not bothering me.  We did drive up to Robinson Flat so my hubby could see the road, and then later, dropped off his rental car at Foresthill, so when he dropped the truck and trailer there Saturday AM, he would have the rental to drive on up to Robinson, and not have to unhook and drive the big truck. Horses got a good scrubby bath, and Hank even made the cover of the Auburn Journal:

Auburn Journal article


Friday Am we got an early start, and headed up I-80 towards Truckee. My hubby drove the rig up, as he was the one driving it out Saturday AM, and needed some more time behind the wheel to get a good feel for it. Much bigger than our bumper pull, but he did very well, and even got it backed into a parking spot, facing out. Last thing you want is to have to back it out in the dark on ride morning with 100’s of other rigs trying to get out in the dark and dust.  We got checked in, shopped a tad at the vendor area. It was nice to not have to scramble to pack our crew bags and saddle packs at the last min.   Hank was looking relaxed and cheerful, eating and drinking well, and I was feeling rather complacent. In fact, in the weeks leading up to the ride, I never was feeling nervous.  The ride meeting was done early enough to head to bed before dark.

I actually questioned what I was doing, and if I was REALLY wanting to ride or not. It was sort of odd.  Can not really describe the feeling. Almost like it was something I needed to do, rather than wanting to do.  I was not excited like previous rides. While I was not dreading it, I was not looking forward to it like the past.  This alone sort of concerned me, as I was not sure I had the mental attitude to get through the ride.

Tevis is one of the most mental things I have challenged myself with in the past. To concentrate for over 24 hours, making sure one keeps their mind clear, sharp, straight and focused on not only the ride, but especially the horse.  I have been given some very good advice over the years for success, and things to do to help get through Tevis, and I was not sure I would remember them all. At vet checks, pay attention to lines, getting the horse vetted through quick and smooth. Watch your timing, so you are not chasing the clock. Think about speeds on hills, up and down to the best advantage of the horse you are on. In the dark, reach down and touch the horses neck to make sure they are not over heating.  Ride right, and stay balanced and centered even if you start to get sore. Give electrolytes at certain spots, so they will drink well at the next water. So much more, but you get the idea.  And here I was, feeling like a trip to some stream to go trout fishing might be more fun than climbing on the horse in the dark to ride 100 miles.  I had serious doubts about ME, but had very strong feelings that Hank was going to finish. I think one must have that confidence ahead of the ride. If you truly feel you are not going to finish, then that sure increases your failure rate. And I honestly felt Hank would finish. Never said “if we finish”, but WHEN we finish. I had no doubts in his ability.  Now, off to bed for about six hours sleep and then  to get on the trail and hopefully snap out of the weird funk I had about the task at hand, and hope mentally I could still pull from some place deep to keep me going.