Welp, I have officially plopped money down for the John Wayne ride. We’ll be attempting half of it, which per the schedule will mean riding 73 miles in 5 days. It feels incredibly motivating to have a solid, tangible goal to be literally riding towards. I have a to do list a mile long and so many wet saddle pads to work through to set us up for a solid week of riding, day after day. I know we’re making solid progress, despite not riding all week due to the cold. I have 84 days to both get us ready and not screw anything up beyond repair. So far, we’ve accomplished:
- Purchased (but yet to receive and install) a Hi-Tie
- Almost figured out booting (just sticking with Scoots on all four, with endurance gaiters and mud straps, those suckers never come off or twist, worth the pain to get them on!)
- Chatted with the farrier and settled on Easy Boot Glue Ons with pads for the month of May (coupled with bell boots so she doesn’t yank them off)
- Ridden at least five miles each ride, usually 7-8 miles, at least twice a week
- Almost finished organizing the dressing room
- Purchased and tested seconds of every bit of tack (new bridle coming soon from American Trail Gear!)
- Finally, at long last, found the stirrups that saved my ankle!
- Re-read “Endurance 101” cover to cover
- Practiced giving Tarma electrolytes, trotting out, and a mock “vet check”
- Signed up for the intro ride at Battle of the Flatlands, for the first week of April, to give Tarma exposure to a busy ride camp without any time pressures
- Purchased and walked and ridden in new Keen hiking boots (apparently my feet grew a half size after the second pregnancy)
- Started a daily practice of feeling Tarma’s legs and hooves, checking for weird bumps, heat, getting to know their normal (also checking pulse daily as well)
- Gone through all my portable human first aid kits (somehow I have four of them?) and larger equine and K9 first aid kits, thrown out expired meds, restocked and reorganized
- Rejoined PNER for the first time in several years
- The most critical piece: Childcare arranged thanks to overly generous in-laws!
What remains are the miles, checking in with Tarma and making sure she’s still good to go. I’ll schedule another chiropractor appointment for her, get the Wintec reflocked and fit checked again. I have a list of rides to accomplish, riding more than 10 miles, riding for six hours, some ring work to build her back muscles. I’m walking at least three miles a day with Benny and stretching, I’m aiming to loose 10 pounds by May to make up for carrying some extra gear and lunch on the trail.
There’s a split I’ve been feeling these past few weeks, between the rider and horsewoman I was last year, and who I’m working to be for the John Wayne Ride. Last year’s focus was on recovery, grief, learning who Tarma is and what she needs from me and her life. I had no goals, only experiences. This year it feels…almost okay to have goals again, though with the state of Europe today that’s a fragile feeling indeed.