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

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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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!

Move the feet

I wanted to write up the rambling, curse filled guide to hiking Mt. Pisgah in Eugene (gods, even the name is awesome!) but now I’m home with the kiddo in the bath, the boyfriend packing for his Las Vegas trip, work tomorrow & a brain that is equally parts sugar happy (iHop is a delicious evil place) & hike tired (4.5 mile hike straight up & straight down). To sum up, Pisgah is one of the most rewarding hikes in the Willamette Valley: close, cheap parking, both ‘easy’ footing & technical trails, relatively quiet on an intermittently rainy winter’s day, with hands down some of the best views of the southern Valley from the summit that are worth cursing your entire way up (if you’re out of shape like I am!) Enjoy some pretty pictures & head out that way if you’re ever in the neighborhood!

 

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View to the southeast, looking towards the Cascades

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Halfway up crazy stupid I wore the rain jacket for 20 feet before I overheated & yanked it off selfie!

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Summit selfie, cause damn, it’s awesome up there & my own two feet hauled me up!

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Obelisk on the summit, doesn’t count if you didn’t touch it!

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This tree was convinced it’s already spring, quite nice to stumble upon 🙂

 

 

Not there quite yet

I usually exercise at night, after work, sometimes before dinner, sometimes right before shower & sleep. But Friday morning I say “screw this” & joined a local runner’s group, hauling myself out of bed before 5am, fully dressed. I creeped out of the house with my Camelbak waist hydration belt (which I love/hate, since it never stays put). I drove to the local elementary school & met two people who also dragged themselves out of bed & into the dark, rainy morning.
I made it four blocks before they left me behind. Beginner runners, my lovely large buttocks.
Although I didn’t do too badly personally-1.2 miles in 15 minutes-they still were long gone by the time I had worked out the kinks & warmed up enough to continue…just in time to have to get back home so Tom could go to work, & I could do dishes before waking the kid up & beginning the day.
Despite how much that experience totally sucked, my day rocked. I ate well under my calories for the day, & I felt like I had a coffee buzz all day, alert & sharp & endlessly moving forward. I usually feel this for a few hours from 9am to noon or so, but exercising before work keeps that feeling up all day. Which is a hard thing to remember in the warm, soft, cuddly dark of the bedroom, kid & cat & boyfriend snoring away & the sun isn’t even a thought on the horizon yet. What insane person wants to be up & sweating that early?

  
I do, I just have to remind myself of this every morning the alarm goes off at such an ungodly hour, how well it sets me up for the day. I have also started following runners blogs and Instagrams as another way to get motivated, and trying to narrow down to one or two half marathons to try this summer. 
In other news, I’m now hunting for my third hydration pack. I have two Camelbaks, one a belt, one a backpack. They both ride up/don’t stay put. I want a vest, possibly, something I don’t have to fumble with a bottle but that will stay in place without rubbing & bouncing. Time to hit up REI again & see what they’ve got. It’s not such an issue on the treadmill, but I much prefer trail running (I don’t sound so loud outside at least).