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.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Hank still amazes me

Very quick note for those not on Facebook etc. Hank finished Tevis, the 100 mile endurance ride with me this weekend. He was strong all day, and just amazed me. A full write up later. On the way home. His bestest friend did not finish, but did a wonderful job for 85 miles. Nothing serious, just a little off at that vet check. Now, more rest, for more travel

Friday, July 23, 2010

Head to Robie Park tomorrow AM

Bright and early we will head up to the ride start at Robie Park near Truckee CA.  We don't like to go up before Friday, because it is dusty, and every thing gets covered in this fine dirt. Beautiful camp area, but with all the cars coming and going etc. it is what we call the dusty-dirty place.  Hank got a bath, and while doing so, the photographer from the Auburn Journal came by, took some photos, and a short interview. Maybe we will be in the paper!

May not have internet to post until after the ride, but you can follow us on the webcast. We are number 98.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

In Auburn, more prep

Tuesday AM we left Los Angeles, and headed north up I-5 to Auburn Fairgrounds, where Tevis ends. Uneventful drive up, got the bys settled in their stalls, and went to the hotel and checked in. The In N Out Burger is right next door! Yum, a burger for lunch, and then we headed back to the fairgrounds, and took the boys for a ride out to Hwy 49 crossing and back. This includes going over No Hands bridge. The trail is in really good shape. Some of the best I have seen it in this section. A few small branches that will hit us in the face as we ride through in the dark before the sun rises Sunday AM. The horses were all jacked up when we headed out, and it was like riding a rocket. Hank remembered the trail, knew all the turns on the way OUT, not just back in.  Have no worries about both horses knowing the way for the whole trail Saturday, as long as they do not have any odd changes since we last rode it.

Today we will do another ride out and back, at a slow, easy pace, and maybe some more organizing of the trailer for our camping Friday night. But right now, the hotel rom sure is nice!!!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

California...I remember this place!

For those who did not know, we escaped CA in 2000 to move to Texas.  We arrived here after 3 days, 2 nights on the road. Stops at RV parks that offered corrals gave ther horses good nights rest, keeping them happier, and better hydrated by drinking well each night after long days in the trailer.

The weather over all on the trip was not bad. Today, we covered AZ and CA, where we did hit triple digits, but not as bad as it could have been.

Arrived at our friends horse mid afternoon, and got the trailer up the narrow, twisty driveway, and the horses settled in to corrals. We are in a studio apartment, watching the news, and laughing at folks on the news complaining about the HOT weather, that reached ab out 90 here.

Tomorrow we make sure the trailer, crew bags etc. are organized, and rest up before we do the last 8 hour drive Tuesday up to the fairgrounds where the ride ends. The horses will have nice big stalls, and learn that is home. A couple easy rides from the fairgrounds out the trail and back a little ways, to remind them where they are. Both have finished the ride, so I am sure they will remember when they get towards the end, they are almost back to their cozy covered corrals with food waiting.

Now to try to continue to get up pre dawn for the days before the ride, so that super early wake up of about 3:30  to 4:00AM on ride day will come easier.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

California bound

I guess I am as ready as I can be for our adventure out to California for Tevis.  Last couple days were spent checking my packing list over and over, and taking the things I think I will need, or MIGHT need over to Dollys house, and loaded in to her rig.  I have duffel bags everywhere. I took masking tape, and lables all of them with what they were. Clothes, crew bag, horse feed.  I'm actually pretty proud of myself to take all my things I kept in the horse trailer, and narrow it down into a handful of bags.  Now I hope that I can find what ever I need, when I need it.

We went over today to the trailer, and my hubby practiced making some turns in the pasture, backing it up, and getting a basic feel for how it handled. He will be the one driving it from camp at Tevis, back down the mountain as we ride off into the darkness at the start of the ride in just 8 days.   The trailer is a 3 horse with living quaters, mid tack, and MUCH longer and handles different than our 4 horse bumper pull. But he was comfortable with it, and should do fine.

Hank is locked in our small 2 acre field with Flag and Gambler for company tonight. He got a bath, and all the salt and sweat scrubbed off real good for the recent heat and humidity.  In the wee hours of the morning, I will gather him from the field, wrap his legs with standing bandages for the trip, and take him over to Dollys horse. Off load from one horse trailer to the other, and start heading west. Our first over night should be Tucumcari NM, where I have stayed in the past at an RV park with corrals. Going to be a hot trip, and will try to hit the road eary each day to beat some of the heat. We should be in So. CA on Sunday.

We will visit with my friend who I used to work for, and have not seen since Feb. when she came to see me get Hanks awards.  She has finished Tevis 20 times, her husband  11 times , and her daughter 10 times. When she gives me advice on the ride, I listen.  Then head up Tuesday before the ride, and the horses will stay at the farigrounds, with it becoming their home. A couple easy rides out on the trail a bit, and back to the stable will remind them when they get to that section of the trail during the ride, they are slmost to their stall which is bedded, and waiting.

So, time for some sleep, then early wake up, and out 420 mile travel day.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Packing, sorting, prepping

Coming down the home stretch for getting ready for our trip to CA for Tevis. The past few days we have had some more unusual Texas weather. If 12" of snow in just one of our storms during our winter was not enough, we then had summer arrive early, with heat, and no rain. We watched the fields that had been green from the wet spring, start to crunch. Heat training for Tevis came easy, as any ride involved heat and humidity. But since July arrived, we have been having above average rain fall. In the past couple days alone, we have had about 3".  Thankfully, we are not really needing to ride the horses, just let them eat, rest up, and do their thing out in pasture. That is in the pasture that has mud!

We plan on leaving at the end of next week, taking 3 days to get to So. CA for an over night at a friends, before heading up to Auburn, and the fairgrounds that is the end of the ride.  Staying there, and doing some easy rides out from the finish line, a ways, and then back in will stretch the horses legs, and remind them where they are. Since both Chance, and Hank have finished the ride, I'm pretty sure they will remember that they are heading "home" to their stalls at the fairgrounds, especially when they reach the part past the last vet check at the Lower Quarry.  We don't go up to the ride camp until Friday, as it is dusty and dirty, and not as wonderful and pleasant as it would be without 100's of other rigs.

But before all of that, we have the final packing to do. I have duffel bags for different items. One for grooming etc., one for tack, bridles and such. One for the leg wraps used for traveling and post ride. A nice tough plastic ice chest for medications and anything that could leak.  Then we have the crew bags.  A duffel for the horse stuff, and one for my stuff that will go into the two vet checks with holds.  We have a nice little wagon that holds a zippered hay bale bag perfectly., In that bale bag, we will place all the things to go in to the vet checks, including feed.  I am making a huge effort to have them all prepped and ready before we even leave for CA. In the past, I have spent the day before the ride, even going in to the night before, finishing up getting the crew bags and saddle packs ready.  But this year will be different. After the rider meeting, I plan on going to the trailer, kissing Hank good night on the nose, and going to bed!   Hopefully that plan will work out.  Hard enough to sleep the night before, so giving myself the chance to do so for as many hours as possible might get me a little bit of rest.

What is still to be done is the food shopping for the trip. We have made lists of the things we think we will consider eating on the ride. Many items we both like, but there are a few that we won't have a problem with each other eating the others "favorite".  I usually can eat well during the ride, while Dolly says she some times has trouble eating. Keeping hydrated AND food in our system will keep us feeling good, thinking straight, and able to take better care of the horses.  It was kind of drilled in to me that there is not a reason for the rider to pull from Tevis because they feel crappy unless they are about to die. if the horse is strong and sound, you better crawl back up there, and keep going. Hopefully I will never have to face that and feel that bad to want to pull because of MY issues.  I have always been able to push past any aches and pains. Of course, a pain pill doesn't hurt. ;-)

Have a new blog camera on its way, so I hope to be back to adding photos again soon. I wore my little camera out last year!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Three Weeks from now.....

In the past month, we have been doing our final conditioning and prep for Tevis.  After the lameness pull at the endurance ride, I had my confidence broken for awhile about Hank being ready. You need to feel the horse is 110% before you head to the ride.  A couple trips to the vet, just to have things checked out, and I am feeling good about how Hank is doing. He looks good, is moving sound and balanced, and has a good attitude.  But, those little Tevis Gremlins have not moved on to someone else completely. The trailer issue (see below) was not the end of their mischief.
 Hank tied to our super little borrowed trailer that is keeping us on the trail

On a training ride in June, I got home, to find Hank had chaffed himself in all his wrinkles near his elbow / arm pit area in front of the girth. I usually spray a bit of Show Sheen on him there, to have things move clean and smooth. But, I forgot, and he was a tad dirty, and the result was hair loss, irritation, and a couple small sores.  So I have been slathering on medication to heal the area, and put Bickmores Gall Salve on for training rides. In general, I'd just put a horse out for rest for awhile, but he needs to keep conditioning. Bickmores is amazing stuff, that you can use under tack if needed, and it keeps healing.  So now, we are finally going through the stage where the hair is growing in, and he has flakes like a peeling sunburn within all his wrinkles. The girth I use cuts back, and clears the area, but it is his own skin that did this. He is like an elephant, and could use a Nip and Tuck to tighten the skin!

We went down to the ranch that we had our endurance ride over Memorial Day, and helped out at a NATRC clinic. Riding 16 miles with my clinic group, then going back out mid day, during the heat, and doing another 12 miles at a quicker speed.  I figured that riding those trails again, with hills, rocks etc. would really show me if he was ready to go. After the almost 30 miles, I was kind of scared to lunge him, for fear I'd see a gait inconsistency. Some of them have been real, and then some things I have seen in his gait I think have just been my mind worried something was wrong, although it wasn't. I have a tendency to think my horse looks off, where many don't see things, and feel their horse looks fine when it isn't. The Tevis entry sent in causes many of us to think something is wrong, when it isn't. We over analyze ever step, head toss and fart the horse does. The lunge line hangs nearby, as we go out and lunge the horse every day to see if they look fine. We watch them walk across the field, looking at foot fall, to see if they are even on both sides.

So lunging him after the 30 miles was something I feared. But he looked great, as did Dollys horse. Next day, when he was at home, trotting across the pasture, I felt he had not looked better. Moving freely, even gait.

With the ride just over 20 days away, I am backing off a tiny bit. I see many riders push and push their horses before Tevis, going to lots and lots of 50's, even doing them just a few weeks ahead of the ride. Often by the time they get to the ride, they have used their horse up, and the horse is tired, or comes up with lameness issues. Rest is good. I'd have liked to have gotten to a couple more 50's earlier in the year, but it just did not happen.  I'm feeling the most confident about him being ready now, than I have all year, but know that as soon as you send in that entry, you have a 50/50 chance of finishing. You can do all your homework, condition, prep, and do everything right, and have something happen to get you pulled. And if you are pulled, you and your horse are in the company of some of the best horses and riders in the world who have been pulled on that trail.  No one is safe, anyone can be pulled. But I feel that the attitude is so much of giving yourself the best shot of getting that buckle. You need to have the mind set you WILL finish the ride. If you start the ride feeling you think you will get pulled, it raises your chance of having that happen even more.

I know what it takes to finish, know how to pace the ride, and what to expect. I hope I can still stay as mentally sharp as I have in the past, to keep my mind straight, and be concentrating on the timing, my horse, and how the day is going.  Hank finished 5 years ago, on his first attempt. Then in 2006, he came in to Michigan Bluff (a tad over half way) feeling stronger than the year before. Walked up the the water, took a sip, backed away, and tried to go down with a case of colic.  No sighs leading up to it that day, that told me he was not 100%. Even his heart rate was not showing any signs of stress before that point.  Dolly and chance rode on, and she finished on their first attempt. This years plan is for us to ride into the stadium together, along with our friend Sara from CA.

And now I better get back to packing, putting together crew bags, and figuring out just what I need to take. Being a control freak, it will be odd for me to go in someone else's rig.  It will be good for me though. A few control issues I need to just let go of, and this is one.  We will be traveling in a much more stylish and comfortable rig, thats for sure!

He is looking mighty fit and ready, but I still try to not say the "T" word in front of him.

Horse trailer major ouch

I have a couple blog posts to catch up on. The first is how I put my horse trailer in the hospital, and on life support. Still not sure if it will make it or not.

Getting ready for our big trip out to CA, it was time for a couple new tires. I had cleaned it out in the horse compartment, complete with a good blast from the garden hose.  I was happy at how much easier it was to clean the corners since I had replaced the rubber mat on the wall behind the horses. Headed to the tire shop, and got the two tires I needed, and then headed home.  When we moved here, our road was gravel almost the whole way to town. Slowly they have paved sections, but it is still a country road.  At one spot, there is a large tin horn drain that goes under the road. The road narrows at that point, and the edges go from a nice shoulder, to a straight down drop off, or "hole" around 4' deep.

 Chugging along, just 2 miles from the house, and I realize I am too close to the edge, I try to get the rig moved over to the left, but too late. My trailer drops into this hole on the right side. A big jolt, I glance in the rearview to see tires flying, and for a moment I think I have actually flipped the trailer. I come to a stop, and am pretty shook up, and scared to go look at the damage. I am thinking "Well, there went my two new tires".  I go back, and could not see the condition of my tires, as they are gone.

 Including the wheels, and axle arms. I have managed to snap the axles at the arms clean off the trailer, which is now sitting on its frame on its right side.

 Called hubby, called US Rider to come tow it, and talk to a neighbor awhile who stopped to see if I needed help. He found my tires and wheels. One went in the brush to the right side of the road, the other went all the way over to the other side of the road. We retrieve them, and would you believe the tires are still in perfect condition?

  I unhook from the truck, run it home, and bring back my 1/2 ton, to follow the tow truck to the trailer place, so I can unload my "stuff" out of the tackroom.  My goodness I have a lot of stuff in there.

I carry insurance on the trailer and camper, actually listing them, with values. Somewhere I gave a value, which I found out was not enough to cover replacement of a trailer like this one. So first, be sure to talk to your insurance company, and make sure you are covered well. Many just depend on their trucks insurance, and hope that will cover what ever trailer is being towed behind it. Glad I actually had the trailer listed, as the insurance has been such a smooth process so far.  Next, because of the value listed, my trailer has been listed as totaled. (sigh) As unattractive as it is, I LOVE my trailer. I have spent a lot of time doing little things to make it work best for me. Adding hooks, rings etc. where I wanted them to secure and hang stuff, special plates added to attach Hi-Ties, bucket holders. It just works. But, I decide to start looking for another, while waiting for insurance to finish up.

 Boy howdy! Bumper pull trailers for 3 or 4 horses, that I'd actually put my horses in are expensive! Amazed at some of the prices on used trailers.  So, we are considering doing a buy back from insurance if the trailer shop thinks the trailer is structurally sound enough to put the money in to it. I'd still have some out of pocket expenses, but in the long run, might be the best way to go. Meanwhile, a friend has loaned us their bumper pull they do not use, to be able to keep conditioning for Tevis, haul to the vet if needed, and our farrier appointment. We will go to Tevis in my friends rig.

This is a tough trailer, and I keep thinking how bad it could have been had it not been as well built, or what could have been had I had a horse on board, or if the trucks tires slipped off in to the hole. I'm pretty sure the truck would have flipped on its side due to the depth and extream drop off of the hole.