Close to home adventures

I’ve finally reached 20 weeks pregnant, wooot!!! Halfway there! We had the mid way ultrasound yesterday to check all the measurements and growth and baby is moving along normally, always good to hear that from doctors!

I love my new spare tire cover!

This also means that I’ve reached the point in which I’m voluntarily grounding myself from riding; the risk of a fall from Flash is fairly low but not zero, and as this isn’t my baby my comfort level is lower. So, we’re back to hiking and today the sun shone so out we went!

Happy dog, starving horse

An awesome local group is gathering and bringing some old trails back to life that just so happen to be a 10 minute haul from my barn! I was able to load Flash, unload, shove his boots on, make him carry my stuff (some adjustments still needed there), go for a two mile hike and make it home as the kid got off the bus.

Trail building: downhill edition

Flash was super well behaved except for the occasional reminder to not trip over me (personal spaaaaace!) and even when we saw other horses he didn’t scream for them. He did get a bit fast heading back to the trailer, so we took an out and back detour on a single track trail and he settled back down.

Awesome viewpoint

A beautiful hike and some exploring in a new place on a sunny day with a good dog and a starving blonde pony…it helps a great deal! Now to pack the truck for our camping shakedown trip to Battle Ground Lake tomorrow!

Pony chooses food over views naturally
Nom nom

Bluebird Day

I received hard news from my boss on Friday: a coworker, a senior manager I supported and was mentoring me a bit, was found dead in her home.

For this and various other reasons, I desperately needed a good day, a smooth day when I didn’t have to worry about a million things and everything just moved…easily.

Today delivered and I seriously lucked out in every way. Truck and trailer are both roadworthy, sealed, organized and basically as good as they get. Flash loaded more or less willingly (I’ve mostly accepted that he’ll load cause he’s a good guy and not because trailering is fun or neutral for him), and I got zero traffic up to Washington.

I had managed to snag a mid Monday lesson with a new trainer, Rebekah L., And boy both she and the facility she trains out of were definitely worth the drive! The sun was shining and it was warm enough for Kade and I to have a picnic lunch in the grass while we relaxed from the drive.

Rebekah is the first new trainer I’ve introduced myself to in years, and this time with my own horse! My main goal for the spring is to get Flash and I to a solid, well matched place, so we can pick up from there when I come back from pregnancy recovery in August. Might as well make the most of our arena time while we’re stuck there, and today’s outdoor arena was just… breathtaking. I don’t go for hyperbole much, but the sun was shining, the views of the hills were beautiful, and the footing was fantastic. I just wish it were a tad bit closer and we’d be there all the time!

Flash trailered well, relaxed while we waited and I tacked fuzzbutt up, and only called once to the horses all around him. He had a few opinions under saddle, but nothing to budge even my out of fitness butt. Rebekah gave me one main pointer that I was desperately needing-carry your hands! Huh, so that’s why I lurch forward at the posting trot, my hands were way too low!

Flash and I have tons of work to do, but there’s a well trained, happy partner under his blonde, cookie hogging exterior and I’m more excited than ever to bring it out. Good boy Flash, very good boy 🙂

A new exercise

Today when I arrived at the barn, someone had left a grid of poles laid out that I was immediately excited to try. Due to various reasons (being pregnant, super busy at work, and the occasional winter doldrums) I haven’t been riding Flash consistently. I brought him home in August and before that he was pretty much a trail horse, but under that cookie seeking exterior is a well trained horse.

We’re back to basics while we’re stuck in the arena, mostly while we really learn each other and build fitness (I won’t really get to keep it but hopefully he will!) Since part of my “be safer while pregnant” agreement is nixing trail rides, the arena is what I get so I’m trying to make the most of it. I’m also half contemplating previously unfathomable ideas like a low key local w/t/maybe canter schooling show. Me, show???? I haven’t bothered to do that since Pony Club!

Blondie thought he was done when I dismounted…🤣

So here’s our attempt at this serpentine grid, and side passing down a pole, serenaded by frogs, coyotes and restless children 🤣

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?

Endorphins Are Good

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Pssst Vicki! I know the terrible, awful, no good weather is here to stay, but I need a hit of this view! It’s been too long since I’ve had my Jokker fix!

Running with a dog is incomparably better than shuffling alone. It’s the difference between dancing the Electric Slide in front of your history class cause you got an answer wrong, and a zone of thoughtfulness created by the pant pant pant of the dog coupled with the ‘get your ass moving’ beat of Fall Out Boy.

Which is all to the good, as I need the workout and endorphins pumping more than ever. My new job is tough. All new jobs are tough, but this one was running into a brick wall full speed, Wile E. Coyote style. To say I had no idea what I was getting into is giving me too much credit for knowing I should have had an idea. When I have a patient cursing at me about their money, it makes me miss my sweet and easy to please (read: bribe with candy) safety team. But benefits and paid holidays are wonderful, so I’m trudging ahead and getting my feet underneath me, made easier by the sweet wiggle butt, gap toothed kiddo and endorphins I can burn when I get home. Oh, and the kitchen fairy mentored boyfriend.

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I’ve been using MyFitnessPal off and on for years to try to reach my main goal of ‘lose weight and get fit to ride endurance effectively.’ I’ve never felt I’ve made much progress, due my allergy to anything ending in “-diet” and love of all things bread. And cheese. And off Tom’s Traeger. And Tillamook Salted Caramel Ice Cream bars. As I was syncing up tonight’s super short, 18 minute trudge through the rain tonight, I realized I’ve successfully lost and kept off 25 pounds.

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HOLY CRAP! In my own meandering, unguided, Pinterest addicted, comfy bed loving way, I’ve lost 25 pounds. Who’s counting that it took three years? I’m only 20 pounds away from being classified as a middleweight (with tack!), which opens up more realms of possible horses I can comfortably catch ride. I’m within 35 pounds of the weight I was pre-kid, and 40 pounds of where I was when I was super freaking fit in college, cutting down trees and driving three horse teams. It’s the middle of a typically cold, wet, dark Oregon winter, and I’m running with the dog most every day, and logging everything I eat and not going for the third cookie.

25 pounds. It may not seem like a ton, and I’m certainly not done, but the proof is in the pudding, so the English say. I can do this. I can work myself down in weight and up in strength, juggle my mental health and kid keeping aliveness and boyfriend someday soon to be fiance wellness and smooshy faced dog happiness and pissy ass cat glares.

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I still want to reach the goal of completing a 50 mile endurance ride, hopefully next season if I can wrangle the stars, time off work, finances and horse access. But my goals have shifted slightly, and I find myself longing for me, a good horse and a mountain trail meandering between snow flecked peaks, without the drama and stress that seems to have infiltrated my beloved community this year. If I can wrangle all the above, I’m going to focus on finding a horse to lease and take lessons with and condition in my own way, taking everything I’ve absorbed from all my mentors and seeing what I can do with it. That thought keeps me pounding pavement in the rain, happy Cyrus leading the way with a sharp eye out for slow squirrels.

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How many words for cold?

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Actual mother fucking icicles hanging off my college library roof.

I hate the cold. I spent part of my childhood in the blissful, baking, dry heat of Arizona, just north of Phoenix. I survived five whole stinking cold, snow bound winters in Vermont, and ran back home to more temperate Oregon at the first chance (that hard long winters seemed to have followed me back is a moot point). I remember learning new curse words for the temperatures that froze my nose hairs, made breathing a chore, and turned my eyes Ice King Blue in the middle of February. My muscles still recall hefting a stupid sledgehammer, breaking ice in the cow troughs and carrying buckets of boiling water down to the barn, or freezing to the metal chains used to hook up the draft horses to the forecart. The first time my kid went outside after he was born, we were wrapped in roughly eight layers of wool and silk, and still I was convinced my brand new baby would get frostbite and I’d fail at the whole mothering thing five days in.

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I hate cold, ya’ll. I also hate running. I’m about as graceful and flat footed as a rhino, only without the boner creating horn. I sweat as if I’m sitting in a sauna and I run with my head tilted a little to the side, doing to having a huge glasses lens prescription for my right eye as a little kid. Give me a horse or a bike to ride, hands down.

However, when you add cold and running together, my hate for both cancels each other out. I don’t sweat, there is no-fuckin’-body out to see me juggling my fat butt down the street, and I push myself to keep running (slow as a herd of fucking turtles ya’ll) so I don’t freeze to death. Oh, and the even more secret ingredient to my new goal to run six insane times a week? Cyrus the World’s Best Jogging Partner!

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Thanks to pesky things like work, house chores, commuting, eating food, being a parent kinda sorta, and stupidly being farther away from the sun during these months, Cyrus and I are getting our run in during the coldest, darkest part of the winter night…roughly between 7pm and 9pm. He not only keeps my sad ass pace super easily, he makes me feel better about the whole endeavor because running=more of a dog workout=dog sleeping peacefully on the couch all day while we’re gone and not chewing up the house. I’m such a good dog mom, ya’ll!

As a last thought, endorphins do make it easier to write…since I haven’t even cracked 6000 words of NaNoWriMo 13 days in, time to get cracking! Request: If anyone has some really good names for alien species, toss them my way? I can only rearrange letters into vaguely Swedish sounding names so often….

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This adorableness will never get old!

A Small Step

As I mentioned earlier, I love bike riding. It is, for me, the perfect combination of workout and reward. My calves and thighs are almost rocks, I get to see quite a bit more via wheels than my own feet, and I get a much larger sense of accomplishment from a bike ride than anything else (other than literally any horse related pursuit, obviously). I’ve been focusing on stretching out my tiny comfort zone bubble via bike this year; I started bike commuting in the middle of our January freeze, and more or less kept that up for the year; I’m discovering some new routes around my town; and I’m considering an easy bike camping route later in the fall, when the smoke dies down and things aren’t so…firey.

(I just had a random thought: generally, our vehicles earn names ie, my truck is the Emerald Queen; I’ve been biking on my Gary Fisher birthday bike for 8 months now, and it’s still just “Gary”…weird).

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On Sunday, I’m jumping into an organized bike ride, something I’ve never done before; The Tour de Lab is basically a bar crawl, via bike, in the morning, through inner Portland neighborhoods that I’m mostly familiar with. I’m not ready for the elevation change of the 40 mile ride (at least at any speed faster than basically walking) so I’m doing the 15 mile ride, which I know is well within my abilities…except for the 2000 odd other people I’ll have to deal with!

Thank you Tom for encouraging me to do this, will you help me tune up my bike tonight? I can’t wait to earn some puppy ears and finish line booze and hot dogs!

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Bikes on Roads

When I mentioned that pushing myself out of my comfort zone mainly consisted of riding on roads “not meant for bikes” I wasn’t quite expecting such a lively response. As I dive into a bit of that conversation, I speak as someone who has really only been bike riding seriously for about six months, not a life-long follower of road user issues.

Someone asked a question, “Why do bicyclists ride on roads with no shoulders?” Let’s break this down shall we? This was coming from a perfectly nice lady, who, so far as I know, was only speaking as a driver of a 1 ton or more metal vehicle, designed for speed and safety…for her as a driver. Asking why another user group feels entitled to use the publicly funded, publicly available road system lacks a certain understanding of the word “public”.

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One of the more tired arguments against both horses and bikers on roads is that “they don’t pay taxes, so they are not entitled to use this system.” The equally tired but also true rebuttal is that the great majority of those people are also drivers, which means they do pay taxes for that system, they are just choosing to enjoy them a different way at different times. Speaking of myself, my partner and I own two vehicles, which means we do pay the assorted vehicle registration fees and gas taxes which fund road maintenance in Oregon. In all my circle of friends and coworkers, many of whom are also bikers, only one of them doesn’t own a car.

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“With no shoulders?” This breaks down to “as a driver, this puts other slower user groups in my lane of travel, and anything that impedes me in my way is frustrating/annoying/not legal/unwelcome/how dare they”. This is just a silly concept, really, as it applies to more than just bikers; road workers, slower vehicles, lost pets-roads are public settings and as such pretty much anything could be in the road at any given time. Just this winter, I drove over a tree that a particularly nasty winter storm had dumped in the road, and ripped a giant hole in my gas tank. Once road maintenance season started back up, there was a rash of construction workers killed by speeding or inattentive drivers.

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As a driver in most states, you bear more responsibility for your control and care of your vehicle and it’s impact on other people than do people not ensconced in a car. Another friend pointed out in response to my call for a study on time saved by speeding and inconsiderate driving had been done, and the average time saved versus driving slower and more politely was under five minutes. To me, that comes down to empathy; are those five minutes of your time to be more considerate of other people around you really so inconvenient? At one point I researched and considered going back to school to become a paramedic, and it seems the most horrific cases they deal with are motor vehicle accidents.

Another argument against bikers on roads is “they don’t follow the rules.” Although a study did show this was true (self-reported), the motivation behind the majority was staying safe…from drivers. “But some bicyclists are dicks!” Yes this is true, because they are human. But so are other drivers; ever been tailgated driving a horse trailer? Ever sped up to pass a semi truck you didn’t want to be stuck behind? But in the frustration between “people are impacting my life by being in my way/making me go slower” and a cyclist or rider trying to train or enjoy their day, the construction workers trying to do their job, a pedestrian trying to get home…anyone outside will always loose, as they are not in a vehicle designed to protect them in the event of an impact.

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So, next time you are driving along and encounter any one who impacts your path, be it construction workers, an equestrian or a bunch of cyclists, take a deep breath, acknowledge their humanity and pass as carefully as possible, even if this means waiting a little bit. At the end of the day, all the above arguments and your frustration don’t matter; what matters is everyone getting home safe and unscarred for life, and that should be worth a few moments of care and consideration on your part.

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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!

This is Halloween…


Welp, it’s November people, and that means NaNoWriMo is upon us. If you think I don’t blog much normally, November can be…empty. But it’s a good place to ‘report’ on my goals (my blog! me!) so here goes, as I sit on a really squeeky morning train: 

  • Only ran once last week out of the three I was aiming for, trudging around the little dirt track at Kade’s school while he found every puddle he can. Right now I’m at a slightly hard fought 16 minute mile. Ha!
  • My novel for the month is a slightly different version of what I’ve been working on, about ex-military vets and their lives and animals and relationships, despite not being ex-military myself I want to train dogs someday so it’s a good chance to do some deep research into the topic and stretch out of my mommy-work-mommy zone.

  • New job is still going awesome, in the thick of billing and reporting and being part of the ‘Party Planning Committee.’ Also the boss gave me permission to work from home when Kade has a day off, so whew! Since he has 8 days off in November….
  • Halloween was epic! Kade got to trick or treat twice, once with his cousins while Tom and I drove home and once with us just around our awesome neighborhood. Kid’s loaded with candy so now I get to play candy monster and dole it out in no rational or consistant fashion. Life lessons kid.
  • Tom’s home for good for awhile, so I’ve forgotten how to cook again but I don’t sleep alone so that evens out pretty well.
  • Happy writing all!