Dry Side Jaunt

IMG_6009.jpg

Two bridleless, three bareback & one horses first real camping season, Three Sisters behind us!

Last weekend was a perfect start to the riding and camping season, but it made me re-examine my equine priorities. My main goal for the past two years has been to train for and complete a 50 mile endurance ride. I obviously have to loose a few more pounds, seriously up my fitness to post 50 miles, and get over my first five miles of racing brain anxiety.

IMG_5817.jpg

Relax, sit deep, shoulders back, post to the movement…room for improvement, but a nice power trot!

Starting an endurance ride is deeply stressful for me, mainly because I’m usually on a horse I’ve only met a few times before, if I’m lucky. My most successful ride was last year at Klickitat with Jokker; I finished feeling like another 25 would be easy, albeit dusty, and I loved most every second of it. Any horse can feed off the energy of ride camp, dozens of horses high as kites and fit as cougars and ready to go. Problem is, I hate riding that high headed, upside down back when I just know I only have .1% of the horses attention, cause that’s when shit hits the fan.

IMG_5931.jpg

Camping with my current trainer and a few of her working students and friends was…amazingly relaxing. I had only one moment of stress, and it was based on my lack of fitness at keeping up at the canter/almost gallop, but by the end of the weekend I was riding bareback up to the viewpoint on the same horse. Ray and I really hit our grove this trip, and now I’m looking forward to the summer spent with this mostly easy going, occasionally surprising redhead.

IMG_5977.jpg

 

 

 

 

It was wonderful to lumber out of my cozy hammock where Cyrus and I had snuggled all night, sipping coffee in front of the fire and waiting for the sun to rise and the day to warm before we slowly tacked up and moseyed out of camp, no hollering or jigging required. We set our own speed, not quite completion speed but moving out more than we’ve been able to all winter.  Each horse had to have their moments of spring fever, cantering in place, spinning, side passing down the trail but those were mostly in good fun, no one bolted or screamed or disagreed too badly.

IMG_5943.jpg

There was plenty of time to chat, take awesome photos, revel in the dry and the sun and the open forest of the dry side. It was a good shake out for the season, testing equipment and rider’s legs and recovery times.

Cyrus even got to come along and see if he would make a good camp dog…he makes an excellent camp dog! He never strayed too far or ate too many weird things, he charmed all the other ladies, snuggled all night in the hammock with me, and even got to join in on the sunset ride to the viewpoint.

IMG_6001.jpg

That ride ended up with three of us riding bareback and two bridleless to boot! We soaked up the sun, huddled out of the wind, ate good food and drank just enough to relax and hit on every topic under the sun.

IMG_5869.jpg

I think I might like horse camping better than endurance, ya’ll. All the fun and horses and company, none of the stress! Many thanks to Terreka, Shannon, Verena & Stacy for an epic weekend!

Practice Makes Better

Before I get into the play by play of tonight’s ride with Ray, I wanted to give my trainer Terraka a good shout out. Today I pulled a few firsts, made possible by her giving me the go ahead to ride after work once a week. I was able to head up the barn with my dog and practice some things from Celena’s clinic while it was all still fresh, in the quiet and peace of the indoor while the rain poured outside.

My tentative plan to do a short trail ride was immediately abandoned due to my wimpiness of not wanting to ride in the rain, and since there was no one at the barn I erred on the side of caution. Riding alone is one thing; riding when there’s no one nearby to help another. I set up some obstacles and exercises and tacked Ray up (thankfully he was chilling in his stall, so no mud to deal with!)

I stuck with his snaffle instead of the Kimberwick, as he doesn’t even really need a bit for the ring, but I wanted to test his give to the bit. It definitely got much better after the hour was up! Instead of setting his jaw and sticking his nose out when I gathered contact, he dropped his poll and sighed, much improved!

I practiced on my two point/soft seat, man that needs work! I still tend to brace too much in the stirrups and lean forward like some poor, over boobed bimbo, but practice makes better. Ray only tried to squirrel out once, but I just took a deep breath and kept him chugging along. He made my legs work for it!

I did two “firsts” this afternoon, well, first post child anyway. I cantered in the ring, a full circle! We worked on rating, as he wanted to charge canter toward the gate and slog away from the gate, I was able to keep him moving without him tossing his head above the bit. After the heavy work was done, I popped his saddle off and slid back on bareback. I didn’t trot, just cooled him out at the walk cause that poor redhead is not made for bareback riding. Oohhh, those withers!

I’m utterly satisfied by this evening. Once I made the decision to stick to the ring, I was much more relaxed and focused more on riding correctly than just staying mounted. Clearly I still have a long ways to go, but now that I’m able to ride twice a week things should move a bit quicker. Neither Ray or I are quite conditioned for Grizzly, so we’re aiming now for Prineville, a similar ride I haven’t yet been to a few weeks later. We’ll go camping at Sisters Cow Camp instead of Grizzly, and get a good solid ride in at the 7-9mph we need to hit to actually finish a ride.

I can’t wait!

 

PS I was able to take videos of myself due to the case Tom made me buy for the iPhone; the Rokform case comes with a heavy duty magnet that sticks to pretty much anything metal & it sure comes in handy!

Embarressing ride story!

I’m part of many endurance ride related groups on the old Facebook, and in one I mentioned my twin ride goals for the season of completing my first 50 mile ride and not embarrassing myself in ride camp.

I realized that while I wrote up and shared the story of last year’s sad attempt at Grizzly, I’d never shared it wider than the PNER newsletter. So here it is again in all its glory, or don’t follow the Bad Idea Fairy!

I’ve had better weekends. I’ve had worse weekends. Overall, I’m chalking this year’s attempt at the Grizzly Mountain ride up to the as the ever exciting ‘learning experience’.

I first tried to complete Grizzly for the first time a few years ago, on Nicole Miller’s incomparable Arab Cid (who had given me my first ever endurance completion at Home on the Range earlier that year). I ended up pulling out via rider option at the first vet check, as through nearly 18 miles and a 30 degree temperature change, I hadn’t really drunk any water & ended up with heat stroke.

This year, Nicole had the amazing patience and trust to offer me another of her Arabs, this time Reno, to again attempt the LD at the now first ever EDRA ride. I felt quite a bit better about things this time; I’d been riding almost every weekend for months, including solid rides on a beautiful Appy/Arab cross (many of you may know him; Vicki Nelson’s Jokker is a stand out kinda guy!). I had my Camelbak all packed, my riding clothes dialed in, neither too hot nor too cold, I’ve been biking to work for months so I felt stronger than I had in years, & I was familiar with the rhyme and rhythm of Nicole & Jala’s work, if not Reno himself. I’d even brought two friends along, Adriene & Sarah, lifelong horse people but endurance newbies to volunteer, crew & provide what turned out to be critical emotional support.

So it should come as no surprise that Murphy bit my ass hard, in the form of the valuable maxim “Never do anything new on ride day.” I hopped up on a horse I’d never ridden, in a saddle I’d never seen, to do a nice 30 mile ride in the sunshine with friends.

I should take a moment here to fill a gap: I’m a catch rider. I have no horse of my own currently, so I’ve tried my best to build a solid reputation as a good horse person, a decent rider and a trusted friend. I was two of those three things at Grizzly. It’s only due to the open generosity of the endurance community that I have horses to ride at all! I always try to go the extra mile, from cleaning tack, stalls & trailers to working on any training issues as asked. There’s a delicate balance between my desire to ride endurance, the need to put conditioning miles on an ‘extra’ horse, and not straining friendships.

Back to the ride report that turned out not to be: We blitzed out of camp after Reno nicely bucked me off as his test (failed that one but popped right back on), took a wrong turn, futzed with my stirrups while Nicole’s Dancer lived up to her namesake, then crossed the highway & headed up the road for my one sweet spot of the ride, Reno alternating between a Hackney pony trot & a beautiful canter that I loved. As soon as we left the road I knew I was in trouble. I couldn’t find the sweet spot of the stirrups; either too short & they popped me up with every stride, or so long I couldn’t sink my weight into them. Reno’s saddle had a tree, but I’d been riding almost exclusively treeless all winter. I felt perched above his movement, & coupled with my shiny but comfortable running tights, I had no grip on the saddle & lost my balance with every shift, unable to sink into the saddle & wrap my legs around him as I normally did.

At the first real downhill at the trot, I did the predictable thing & came off again, this time rolling over his shoulder in painful slow motion. After a stunned moment I collected my glasses & left my pride on the trail. Nicole & Cassie headed on & I took my sweet time hiking back to camp, explaining to every rider who passed that I was an idiot & not to worry about us. Of course the first rider to pass was the woman who got me in to this dang sport in the first place, Brenda Casebeer! I will admit, I didn’t feel so bad about leaving the proper place on Reno’s back when I learned Brenda’s up & coming gaited mare, Grace, had also dumped her a little farther up the trail.

I will be honest, even though only Reno saw, I did cry a bit on that hike back to ride camp. I’d never encountered a saddle I just couldn’t suck up & deal with, at least for a few miles. It was just a bad combination, & an expensive lesson to learn. By the time I handed in my ride card, I’d at least accepted I had made the right choice for the horse. We avoided a sore back by not hauling around an unbalanced rider, & not holding up my friend’s ride. My friends back at camp talked me through from sadness & self-guilt to the mentality of ‘lessons learned, you lived to ride again another day, here’s some things to try’ via a trip to Dairy Queen in Madras.

The main lesson I took from Grizzly is I have to control everything I can, so ride day is as smooth as possible. Things I can’t control are always getting a pre-ride in (due to distance between me & the offered horse), or the saddle (which endurance riders are rightly very specific about). I did go out & find a new pair of actual riding tights (slightly sticky seat Kerrits & half chaps on the way from the UK, the only company to make them in my size), find a seat fleece, & pick up dressage lessons again.

To follow up the ride that wasn’t, I had a fantastic ride the following weekend on Vicki’s Jokker. We managed a nice 13 mile ride at a decent clip, in a saddle I love on a horse I adore, only getting hailed on at the end of the ride. Heading up a long gravel road at a just right trot, just me & the big spotted horse in the woods following Vicki on her mare, was one of those sweet spots which remind me why I’m putting in the work to make myself a better rider.

I strive to keep people trusting me with their amazing horses & the open trail, all in pursuit of a completion & a nice t-shirt. I’ve been biking ten miles round trip to work several times a week since January; riding as often as I can; filling in walks around campus & Wii workouts (Dance games & Biggest Looser) during the worst of the winter weather, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, & wearing my Fitbit & tracking what I eat. These actions have helped me drop 30 pounds & turned my calves into rocks, & I’m hoping adding in dressage lessons will get me closer to this season’s goal of my first fifty mile ride.

From my end, the trickiest part of being a catch rider is the relationship building. I’m lucky enough to ride mostly with people I also consider friends, which makes it a little easier to keep the conversation flowing on long rides & the communication open during trickier moments. I always offer to pay full ride fees & half gas & food for any trips or events, & I fully embrace the “take what you need as it works for your current horse, store the rest for later” policy around any advice I give or receive. I take pains to question & learn as quickly as I can how each owner handles their horses, their setup & routines; the goal is to minimize aggravation on both ends & maximize riding time.

Mr. 2Spooky

(Setting the scene: sitting in my beloved Emerald Queen, still at work, waiting for the World’s Best future husband to come rescue me and my non independent woman self from a super flat tire, and a spare tire I can’t get out from under the vehicle cause I’ve never practiced on this truck yet).

After looting the local 4H tack sale with two far fetched friends on Saturday, I put the new to me tack to use on Sunday.

My proudest score of Saturday was a almost brand new Equipedic pad for $100, which is totally worth boasting about and bonus, Ray had no issues with it!

A still relatively new to me riding partner and I headed out for a long slow ride, as we’re aiming to turtle Grizzly together. I have always ridden with others much more experienced than I, both with endurance and the local trails. Yesterday I got to be the ‘senior’ riding partner, and we never once got lost! She mentioned several suggestions I had that I’ve picked up from others (hopping off every 10 miles or so to pee and stretch and adjust tack, letting horses graze for a few minutes every so often, and walking the last bit I to camp/the barn) were super helpful, so thanks to all those who’ve instilled good habits in me!

While it was a good 12 mile ride (no rain!) I was reminded once again that Ray is a different horse than super laid back, goofy Jokker.

Mr. I’m actually a teenager spent a good chunk of the ride just super casually glancing around, going full giraffe at random moments, and not quite fully jumping sideways at Every. Single. Culvert. I rode every moment of the ride, working to not let my emotions rule because Mr. I’m not actually trying to dump you tried to pretend he was a super spooky four year old.

I kept the image of mile 18, trotting easily down trail halfway back to camp and a well earned completion award and roaring bonfire in mind as I again reminded Mr. I go so fast than no, you can’t bolt all the way home, and please don’t tailgate the peeing mare.

Rather than being terrified, I enjoyed the challenge of pushing myself to match the horse, and not get sucked into his attempts to weasel out of work. He did eventually accept the notion and we settled down and enjoyed ourselves (minus the redhead eating culverts).

Lessons learned: definitely going to try a Kimberwick or at least a running martingale next time; he has a habit of sticking his nose straight up when he disagrees with the riders chosen speed. “Neener neener, can’t tell me what to do now!” Shortening my stirrups was both good and bad; my seat was much better, but it tired my right ankle our faster and forced me to constantly reset my bad balance (something I’m hoping Celena can help me with at her clinic in two more weeks!)

My proudest moment was also the scariest; we were cantering back home and I could feel myself tipping forward over his neck, reins not short enough to do any good, and if he’s stumbled or shied I would have been dumped, just like I fell off Reno at Grizzly last year. Fortunately this year I heard some old trainer’s loud ass voice shout ‘Sit on your ASS!’ so I did and we came back to a more controlled canter that I cowgirl whooped my way through cause yeah, super badass enough to correct that mistake this time!

The only thing I really need to work with Mr. Fastest Possible Speed is rating, which I know will be worse the first five miles out of ride camp. My twin goals are dialing in his bit/martingale combo and working on my core strength so I can keep with him for those long miles.

We can do this and we can enjoy doing so, even more when the sun decides to shine! Hows everyone else’s conditioning coming?

All of the sunshine!

I can tell I got an absolute, glorious overload of sun yesterday based on how quickly I fell asleep last night and the reddish tinge to my fair Yankee skin today (for the record, I did wear sunscreen!)

Even more remarkable than wearing sunscreen and riding in a T shirt in March is that I rode solo for the first time in…well, years. As a catch rider I’m always riding with the owner of their spare horse I’m riding. Now that I’m part leasing a horse, there’s a possibility I could be out alone at some point, and what better time to practice long lost skills than a perfect spring day?

IMG_5361.jpg

Can’t top this shot!

As a bonus, Cyrus got to come along for his first trail ride, proving himself a suburb trail dog…though for walking rides only (as a short nosed Boxer, regulating heat is tough on him).  He stayed out of the horse’s way, stayed close by, didn’t bolt after any furry creatures, drank from any water we crossed (trust me, that’s huge for Mr. Princess Former Show Dog!), and had perfect voice recall. I wouldn’t have taken him out if I’d really worried about his recall, seeing as how people are rightfully super picky about misbehaving dogs wandering around, but it’s nice to be proven right.

IMG_5351.jpg

Pics or it didn’t happen right?

Mr. “I Can’t Believe This Is Happening To Me” and I put in some quality time, with short though frequent discussions on the meaning of the words “forward” and “walk.” My only goal for the day was to get to the new crossroads clear cut area (which made for a 6 mile out & back ride) where we walked the whole time. Since last week’s ride was a speed workout at Hardy Creek, on the way back to the barn Mr. “We Go Fast Now?” struggled a bit with this concept. But with plenty of circles, half halts, full halts to contemplate the quiet cows and marching back out onto the trail, no one died and I never came off. I won’t lie, I hopped off voluntarily and walked whenever Mr. “I’m actually a Giraffe”‘s back turned into that upside down U, but this ensured that my anxiety level of going outside my comfort zone never matched Ray’s desire to spook at anything so he could go home, now.

IMG_5352.jpg

I can’t match tack or gear, but I can match animals!

That said, I probably could have ridden the entire 6 miles. Mr. “I could spook at that bush, hay bale, mailbox, strange horse” never actually threw anything that frightened me. Whenever he became glacially slow, sidled sideways or tried to turn for home, it just brought out the stubborn “I have a goal and you have a job to do” inner bitch of mine, but man does she get the job done. Once that part of me popped up, I actually enjoyed myself. How could I not, riding in the warm sun on a cute redhead with my handsome dog bopping along behind?

Clearly I still have work to do. I need to be fit enough to ride at Ray’s speed and stay balanced; we need to try a different bit, maybe a running martingale for endurance rides based on what the trainer thinks; and I need new half chaps (I’ve lost so much weight mine can’t stay up anymore!)  The Canby 4-H tack sale is this weekend, so I’ll be looking for a few nice girths, another saddle pad and breast collar to add to my growing tack collection.

IMG_5338.jpg

The most relaxed part of the ride!

Things I have figured out include my lovely Barefoot saddle with lovely sheepskin cover and custom stirrups; riding in my new running shoes (so much more comfortable on a hot day than my hiking boots!), not over layering (that’s what killed me my first attempt at Grizzly), what to pack in my pommel bag; and to always, even for short walking rides, wearing my Osprey hydration pack.

Extra shout out: Anyone willing to lend me a camper trailer for said third attempt at Grizzly? See you on the trails!

IMG_5344.jpgMr. Best Redheaded Steed!

Spring prep!

With Grizzly in my sights one way or another and miles under saddle planned, it’s time to look at that aspect of endurance riding I tend to…not give as much attention to: camping comfortably. As a lifelong camper, I’m fairly dialed in on tossing stuff in the car, finding a riverside campsite and settling in.

img_4884

Coyote Ridge Ride Camp 2017

But as in everything, an endurance ride camp requires a whole other mindset, even without the child complication. I’m not just taking care of myself and my noble steed for the weekend, as a catch rider I have to be willing and able to lend a dozen extra hands and go the extra mile, earning my keep as well as I can. The more organized, efficient and comfortable I make my set up, the easier it is to help out when I’m tired and sore.

The first few years of rides, I wouldn’t have dreamed of bringing my son, so this process was a little easier. But now that he’s older and a little more savvy and extremely cute and helpful (mostly), I’m trying to set things up so he can come with each time. Toss in a big lovable Boxer too and I’m prepping for camping at ride camp a lot differently this year. Not only do I have more horse gear, I have more stuff to bring and less space in my truck to pack it into.

img_6610

Camping Snuggles!

Since we’re aiming for about one ride a month (or so), plus additional camping trips, I’d like to get this all dialed in way ahead of time. I’m planning a test run after a spring cleaning and restocking of gear to the Celena Pentrack clinic over my birthday (so psyched to ride with her again!) However, the added stressors of kid and/or dog have me considering my budget and hitting up Google.

jamejokker

Happy Place!

For roughly $200-300 a weekend (maybe less, maybe more), on top of my ride entry and gas money budget, I could find a small camper trailer to rent and tow with my sturdy SUV and be 1000 times more comfortable at ride camp. I’d have a place so many things; I can stash kid, dog and person assigned to watch both that’s more conducive to such things than a camp chair; a place to change that’s not the horse trailer; a place to get out of whatever ugly weather may come our way (I’ve seen snow, rain, wind, dust, heat, all of it at camps). I won’t have to worry about making sure everything fits in the truck and still let kid & dog travel in comfort. And, the final bonus, I might even convince the fiance to come to ride camp if he’s got a bed to sleep in!

img_2783

Thinks roughing it is a La Quinta

But that extra money can also make a huge difference in a tight budget, so a light bulb went off and I thought, “Endurance riders are a family! But not everyone goes to the same rides at once. Maybe one of them has a trailer I could borrow for a little cheaper?”

Here’s my question to the endurance world (mostly in the Willamette Valley or SW Washington). Is this a workable possibility? Does anyone have a camper trailer (not the pop up kind, those are freezing!), or a smallish RV I could rent from you for a ride weekend? Grizzly & Klickitat are my only two for sure rides planned, although I’m going to do my best to support Nicole & Jala’s new Creek to Peak ride as well. I have a 2003 GMC Envoy XL, can tow up to 5500 pounds so looking for a camper trailer that tops out at 4000 to be on the safe side.

My future post 30 and 50 mile self appreciates you all in advance, and either way I can’t wait to see everyone settled in at the next ride meeting, kvetching about gates and ribbons and water crossings!

jokkerkade

View from the ground

Life has tossed a few loops at me this summer, from Kade's second broken arm, job loss and Tom hopping back and forth to Phoenix, not to mention the unreasonable heat and wildfire smoke hanging over everything. I'm writing this on my friend's living room, PNER Green Bean mug full of coffee in one hand, kid playing on his iPad and stuffing his face full of bagels and remarking on the ducks once again taunting the dogs.

I picked up blogging (again!) as a way to remain somewhat publicly accountable for my new exercise plan. Since my last post I've only put in two solid bike rides, although I've been working out a different way; horse back riding, schooling horses in the ring, on my feet or in the saddle a good chunk of the day.

I have so many horse people I look up to, from the newly Tevis buckled Jala Neufeld to my old Fjord and Dales farm owner Marcy Baer, still going strong in Vermont. I have long held an educational view, accepting I will never know everything about horses, but by golly I'll spend a lifetime trying. Due to this I always look around the horse world from a learner's mindset, hoovering up everything and filing things away for later. I rarely toss anything out as complete hogwash, always mindful of the
occasionally huge leaps between disciplines.

There are a few basic things I hold to as someone whose goal is to be called 'horsewoman', mainly being mindful of the horse's point of view in what we ask them to do; letting predators on their backs, trailering to strange places, tolerating everything we toss at them, and always trying to keep their comfort levels in their terms in mind.
So for someone who still and always views themselves as a learner, it's taken some doing to gracefully accept that in a small way, I do have some wisdom and knowledge to share.
(I swear this isn't a humble brag post, stick with me!)

Since my day job was cut, I've been spending the bulk of my days helping a friend with her still relatively new boarding facility up in Washington. And by helping I mean giving lessons, evaluating horses, and giving horses some tune ups. Me, giving lessons! Helping other people not only be better riders, but figure out how to enjoy their horses more.
Despite the heat, long hours on my feet, a general weird feeling to be teaching people *cough* mildly older than myself, and a weird case of what was probably pink eye…. I've loved every moment of it, of watching concepts click in someone's mind or seat, of hearing owners gush over how much calmer their horse is. Even Tom has seen how much calmer and happier and flat out excited I am, and is fully supportive of trying to make this training concept work, however we can.

I've been in full on research mode the past few weeks, reading and plotting and mulling ideas about *gulp* setting up an actual horse business. I have already identified my niche- kids and reriders or older new riders, people who want to work on themselves and making their lives with their horses easier and more enjoyable. I know where my gaps are as a rider and horse person, which is why I'm as dedicated to learning as ever. I still have big goals for myself (Tevis 2020 anyone?) but this doesn't discount what I do know.

Part of this post was to finally process how I feel about the whole experience (weird! Excited! Happy!) but also toss my little shingle into the wide ring of horse people in the Pacific Northwest. If you find yourself looking for lessons or boarding near Olympia Washington, give T and A Ranch a look. It's the facility I would build given the time and inclination, and it's a fantastic place to learn to ride or keep working on things 🙂

See ya on the trail!

Back in the saddles!

Are we going to talk about how long it’s been since I last posted? 

Nope, except to say that life is busy as it is for everyone, and I have a new job that demands so much more brain power than my old one…Which, unfortunately, I am loosing after this week due to budget cuts. I am, of course, going through the stages of grieving over it, since this is the best team I’ve worked with since college.

No, the reasons I’ve decided to devote some time to writing here are many, mostly focused on self improvement through accountability. If I can consistently post here, doing so will help keep my goals and steps towards those goals front and center, where even people outside my immediate circle can help keep me accountable ttowards them. 


My primary goal for this endurance riding season, the real goal that pushes everything else, is to complete a 50 mile ride. It’s July and the PNW season ends, more or less, in October. I have completed one 25 mile ride and felt great, fully embeddeding the endurance bug once again. 


A large part of my success at that ride came down to two main factors; a wonderful mentor and an utterly forgiving horse with a build that carried a heavyweight rider without issue. Jokker is amazing horse and I’m privileged to be able to ride him, but as a catch rider I would like for a few more doors to be open to me. Expanding my options entails loosing weight (my eventual goal is to ride as a midweight, preferably by next season), gaining strength and riding ability. 

As I am facing uncertain employment, I can’t shell out for lessons right now, but I have all the tools available to work on the first two. Through extensive trial and error, I’ve found what works for me to keep moving towards those goals; primarily hiking and biking. I loath running; I just can’t stick with it, as sweaty and slow and jiggly as all the various bits of me right now. Swimming costs money to belong to a local pool, being stuck in the gym around strangers is boring and unmotivating, and even plain walking is just ugh. 


Thanks to a birthday gift from my parents, I’ve discovered I actually love biking, as it allows me to go a lot father and faster than my own two feet, carrying more gear, with a lot less jiggly and rubbing parts. The one issue is it’s not super cheap, between maintenance and new gear to make things a bit more comfortable. I weigh every purchase with a thought to my ultimate goal; will a new bike seat help me get more miles in to be fitter for a 50? 

I am also lucky in that Canby is a surprisingly good town to bike ride in. There are certainly some roads leading out of town I’m not up for trying yet, but most roads have bike lanes or wide  shoulders, plus their is a beautiful multi-use path without cars that cuts right through town. I can just hop on the bike and go, without having to drive somewhere and park (which I still do if only for variety). 

I am also keeping a private journal in Evernote, which I use everyday for tracking mental headspace, measurements, food and workouts, as well as various apps such as Map My Ride and My Fitness Pal. I’ve started and lost motivation on several workout plans over the years, but most of them were running based. I think having a clear and attainable endurance goal in mind and a biking based workout plan will help get me there, as well as more public accountability. 


My next possible endurance ride is Santiam Cascade in a month, with the incomparable Jokker once again on deck. I also want to be prepared to jump on any chance offered, without doing a disservice to any offered horse. 

For now, Santiam is in my sights and I can’t wait!

To climb a mountain

I know there are a ton of things on my mind, what with house hunting (and the first of what my grandmother has informed me will probably be about 10 happy couple fights re said house search), the money pressures, Kade’s time in kindergarten looming, job hunting, the massive project at my current job, losing weight/getting fitter (20 pounds down and oh the awesomeness!) plus all the other assorted life debris, like my complete inability to transfer clean laundry from baskets to closets…(in my defense, the internet was down last night and it’s a proven fact that putting laundry away without a TV show is just unusual punishment).

But all this is happily fading into the background even as I type this, as I keep double checking the Evernote (my newest attempt to be a ‘seize it all mom’ type) note labeled “Mt. Adams Ride 2016.” Originally I was just heading up the mountain this week to volunteer, label a few horse butts with grease paint and follow my friends around and eat their food, like I did at Coyote Ridge. I was also hoping that through sheer dint of his cuteness factor and hanging around such a jaw droopingly beautiful ride camp, that the short blonde one would be one step closer to being comfortable with horse lessons next spring.
So why am I obsessing over my packing list more than usual and dropping the kiddo off at school before heading up alone tomorrow? It’s all Jala’s fault, really. She dared me to see if I could find a horse to actually ride on LD. She twisted my arm and just to placate the short, scary woman I posted on the PNER Facebook page…and about 20 minutes later I was offered Andrea’s second horse Shadow to buddy with her on the LD. It will be my first endurance ride since I RO pulled two years ago at Grizzly due to my inability to make peace with such a pesky thing as heat exhaustion (which according to the forecast won’t be a problem at this ride, instead staying dry will be!)

Even though I still have to slog through another 5 hours of work, putting laundry away (I promised!) & packing the Emerald Queen, my mind is already up at 8000 feet with Darlene, settling into yet another unfamiliar saddle to put miles under hooves.
I also feel like I should take a bit to thank everyone like one of those award shows, Adrienne for letting me ride her amazing horses, Jala & Nicole for being awesome friends even though we only see each other a few times a year, & my boss for letting me wiggle out of a whole Friday of work, Andrea for simply offering a horse to lug me around 30 miles of beautiful Washington wilderness…& of course the men of our lives, Tom & Tom, for watching the kids so we could ride!

Up and away!

Spring has arrived & with it my driving need to do all the things, every day, all at once.
The longer days also bring with the increased energy to get more done-not all the things, but more than Winter Jamé feels like bothering with.
Riding, hiking, DMV, house cleaning & writing all in the same weekend? Bring it on!

  
However, with springs comes blooming things, & the boyfriend is miserable outside the clean room he works in all day. Which is, really, everywhere for the next few months.

  
I’m also trying to get everything done because ride season has begun, & we set it off with a bang with what will probably be one of our longest road trips this summer. We headed off through the Gorge & up…& down, up, down, & finally up again, for six gorgeous, cloudless hours into Eastern Washington, just south of the Grand Coulee dam. 

  
Despite the fact-or perhaps because of the lack of trees pretty much everywhere but people’s yards, it was one of the most beautiful ride camps I’ve ever been to.  Maybe with the possible exception of Mt Adams, where we’ll be heading to on Memorial Day. As below, the view outside The Emerald Queen where I’d set up an air mattress that ended up being super warm & comfy for the kiddo & I, was breathtaking-yet also relaxing.

    
But the best thing about ride camp wasn’t the drive, the view, or even the food (although that was most excellent!)…it was friends. More specifically, friends I only ever see either on Facebook or at ride camp. Even though I totally am a camp hanger-on, seeing as I showed up with my gear, kid, & no horse, I was able to pitch right into helping without once feeling nosy or useless. 

  
In fact, my kid was far more useful than I was, keeping the teenagers from mischief, general giggly entertainment, & relating mixing electrolytes to chemistry. He’s multipurpose, this child is, & only once did he give me a heart clutching, oh please dear gods don’t kick him Belle! moment (she’s a good girl, she declined).

  
Kade’s other big benchmark this weekend was we drove for six hours both ways to get out there & back home, but thanks to Mommy throwing everything she had into making this a decent road trip-we made it fine. A year ago we couldn’t have gone on a six hour drive without another adult in the back to distract him. But between the iPad, endless snacks, legos & stickers books, ice cream from Dairy Queen, nap time & being able to control his own window, it went off without a hitch. We upgraded him to a belt positioning booster seat now that he’s big enough, & he loves it! He can reach everything, & it’s so much easier to get in & out of, including the fact he can buckle himself in & out!

 Five is shaping up to be a damn good year, & we’re going to make it to as many ride camps as my wiggle off early on Fridays schedule allows!