Thursday, June 25, 2009

Desert Or Dump, you decide.

I've mentioned in an earlier post about the way some people seem to think our desert landscape is nothing more than a dump. I guess they never heard that Nevada is not a wasteland.

Mother/daughter time

Theresa came out with me today. She just graduated from high school and now she has some time to hang out with dear old mom. I don't think she's been on a horse in ten years. When my children were little, I always had green broke horses, arabs. I rarely let them ride, because I didn't trust the horses enough, and my horses have always been the one thing I did for me, as a retreat from mothering. My mother-in-law put it nicely when she'd say, 'You need this time to re-create yourself'. It was so nice to share this time with Theresa, today. I gave her a pony-ride in the desert, and I think she really enjoyed herself. She took this photo of me and a short video of us trotting up the power-line trail. The video didn't turn out too good. Cali is still acting 'ouchy' on the rocks even though her hooves feel like concrete. Once we are on the asphalt she walks out just fine. I'll just keep taking it slowly until she travels on the rocks without being tentative. We found a big blue tarp in the desert, and she walked across it after checking it over for a moment. Theresa led the way on foot as I rode Calico. She was so cute, the way she followed Theresa through the landscape, with her chin nearly resting on Theresa's shoulder. I'm so glad she came, we needed this time together.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Back Home

After a rejuvenating time with my horse, I have to come back to my other life. This is a couple of blocks from my house. I'm a down-towner.

Tack adaptations

Check out the new saddle bags! I know, it's the same one every endurance rider has, but I'm stoked. I'm not sure two water bottles is enough, though.

One of the things I've noticed as I'm riding, is that I feel separated from my horse. I've always ridden in an english saddle, but I bought the saddle I have now for the price. It's basically a western saddle without the horn. It's heavier than I'd like, but it's comfortable and it fits Cali, and the price was right. I've mentioned in an earlier post, that I changed to endurance stirrups. Yesterday, I removed the fenders from the saddle and replaced them with english leathers. This is much better. I can feel Cali with my legs now. I was having to rely on my reins to steer her before, now I can use my leg cues more effectively. The only problem is the leathers are one inch wide and the top of the stirrup is closer to three inches. I'll have to make a little modification there, but I'm still thinking about it. It's working for now. I'll have to get a respectable saddlepad at some point, but that's not the next item in my spending plan. She looks a little muleish in this picture; I think it's that long lovely face and those exotic eyes. I hope to have a mule someday. I'd call it Juniper. Her braids make me think of black licorice. Yum.

Steady Progress

Power-line Road

It's been one month since I first started keeping a conditioning log. Although our progress is slow, I'm happy to say that Calico and I have covered over 50 miles. I've been riding some nearly every day. On days I can't ride, I still spend time grooming her and handling her feet and doing TTeam touches and stretches. Some days we just do arena work, but I've really tried to get her out on the trail as much as possible.

On June 15th, we met our intermediate goal of a 6 mile ride with some trotting. I found a power-line trail, a gravel road and we just took off. This trail goes all the way out to Kyle Canyon Rd, once you cross the 215 beltway. It was so fun and Cali did great. Then we trotted cross-country on the 'cactus town' terrain, then we went over a few large dirt mounds left by construction sites. (hillwork, right?) We went into a little wash or 'arroyo', in Spanish, and she had to jump up about two feet to get out. We even crossed the Grand Canyon! Grand Canyon Parkway that is, a fairly busy street, and I rode her all the way back home to the gate. I was thrilled and honored to be carried by such a splendid creature.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Cactus Town

Welcome to fabulous Las Vegas.
Watch out for these.
Do you see the little cactus in the foreground pretending to be a rock?
Here it is.
Barrel Cactus about two feet tall.
Calico investigates the yucca.
Pencil cactus. Looks like Medusa's hair
Don't dump me here, please.

We had a couple of days off because my fourth child graduated from High School and we had a big party for her. The next day Stephan pushed Philip in the stroller and followed me through the desert. We went a couple of miles that day. Since she hadn't been out for two days, she was more pushy than usual and even spooked at a couple of things. The next day I rode Calico in the arena, working on trotting more. We're doing better. Yesterday, she got her feet trimmed then we walked for 2 hours, about 5 miles. I rode her about a third of the time. I'm posting photos of the type of terrain we're covering so you can get an idea of why I'm taking things slowly. We have to pick our way very carefully through a rocky cactus minefield. There's one little cactus trying to disguise itself as a rock. As we move closer to the houses, the rocks and cactus are interspersed with broken bottles. Yikes. We have to cross this stuff before we can get to the nice trails. She was very quiet and didn't spook at all. She was too busy concentrating on where to place her feet. We scared up a jack rabbit and saw a red-tail hawk circling above us. I love these walks, but you can't believe the junk people dump out here. We've found a hide-a-bed, cans full of paint, window sills, pallets, a bag of clothes. Is it really that much harder to dump your couch at the thrift store down the street? Come on, people. Or hey, I have an idea, how about dumping your trash at the dump? Just a thought.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

New stirrups

I got a pair of endurance stirrups off Craigslist for $10. I loved the stirrups that came with my saddle because they were pretty. You can kinda see them in the post from May 25th, "Plan your work". They had fancy tooling (stamped) on the sides. After riding just 2 miles in them the other day my feet started going numb. I was just thinking I should invest in some EZ ride stirrups, but decided it was a luxury I couldn't afford right now. (I did order a pommel bag however, hehe.) Those stirrups at least $65 plus shipping. I went home and surprisingly, found the pair on craigslist. They're great. I'm sure they're the $20 type from or Country Supply, but I don't care. I feel blessed.

Overcoming Fear

Yesterday, June 1st, I took Cali out to the desert again. I led her for about a mile and a half through the neighborhood. When we got out to big desert before the beltway, I mounted. She had been dragging her behind all the way out there, but as soon as I got on, her head went up. Something out there was bothering her, we took several steps, but she stopped, staring hard and I knew what was coming. She spun around and went to bolt, but I was ready and pulled her around and jumped off. I gave her a firm talking to, " You better NOT dump me out here!" I led her forward a little, and she settled down. I got back on. I rode her for about a mile, then got off and led her again. We did that a couple of times. I mostly led her though. I think we went about four miles altogether. We walked down the shoulder of a pretty busy street, Ann Road. I had her go through some puddles left by a very brief rain, which she tried to avoid at all costs. Eventually went through. She seems perfectly content to walk beside me; she's still not too sure about having me on her back. She's not sure I can still be a good leader from up there. The only way I can prove it to her is to get up there and do it. We both have fears to overcome, but I have to be the brave one. Every day that she doesn't dump me is a good day. It would be nice to go riding with someone who had a seasoned trail horse to help her build her confidence and mine.