Monday, July 14, 2014

Fireworks 2014

Fireworks 2014, 25 miles - completed!
I don't actually have a coherent ride story, just lots of bullet points and pictures.  The ride itself was generally uneventful, which makes for really boring stories.

Ride photo by Gore & Baylor.

Things that worked well:

- I did not hold her much.  I am happy with that decision.  We were able to ride a good chunk on a totally loose rein trotting down the trail, and I pretty much held her from running into other horses or running superfast down hills.

- (Unplanned, but) no HRM.  If she was willing to trot, we trotted.  If she was really requesting a walk break or if I thought she needed one, we walked.

- Leaving a few minutes after the controlled start, which I was later informed was a bit chaotic.  Unplanned, but worked totally fine.  We may go back to the idea of 'get on and go on the trail' rather than 'get on, mill around with everyone else, then go'.

- I mounted from the ground once!  Despite not doing so very gracefully, I ended up on top of the horse with no problems.  It's reassuring to know that if I have to do it, I can.

- Total confidence in the horse and that it was all going to be fine.  I kept reminding myself that last year was hard for her, but we still managed to come in (if only just) under time.  Confetti is in better shape this year.
Confetti was pretty much perfect, you guys.  Loose rein?  Sure.  Trot down all the hills?  No problem. Switchback up a very steep hill?  She paused, a distinct feeling of 'really?!', but when I asked again she hauled right on up.  She ate well all day, plus drank well at the second check and heading home (so 17 and 22 miles). 

Falling asleep in the vet line.

I got comments all weekend about how cute Confetti is, and how well she moves out, from both the riders and the vets!  The vet at lunch - an older guy-  who was excited about getting to vet 'the cute one' and 'might have to hug her' totally made my day.

Things that did not work well:

- I should have used sunscreen.  This feels so very obvious.  I even remembered to pack sunscreen, and it stayed in the bag all weekend.

- I should have put the girth back in the car after cleaning it on Thursday.  I am never quite going to forgive myself for that one.  (While other riders are helpful, when in a time crunch for a piece of tack unlikely to be found, it helps to have it within a 5-10 minute drive.)

post-ride boot appearance :(
- not adjusting the Renegades.  Cable snapped on a hind boot 18-ish miles into the ride, likely from having too much exposed.  I also had a front boot come off after a river crossing/steep uphill climb; I have no idea what's going on with that, but that one boot has been persistently challenging after that particular river crossing.

- Fetti's one flaw of the day was not standing for me to either put on a front boot or remove the other.  After nearly being run over by my own horse, I decided it didn't matter.  If the stupid horse wanted to trot home with one boot, she could damn well do so.  And we did, and it was fine.

View during the ride.  First boot to get attached.

Second boot.  If I'm pulling one hind, might as well pull the other.
Third boot - front right, the one that gives me perpetual problems.Also the only boot that was fitted snugly.

- This was the one ride last year where I gave myself human electrolyte capsules.  It was the only ride where I did not get a migraine.  Elyte capsules are going to the top of the 'must-have' list for rides.  I'm learning.. slowly.

 - For a few reasons, I never turned on GPS tracking to keep an eye on our speed.  I do plan to do that in future and it would have made me feel better about how fast we were actually going.. or not going.

- Confetti did not pee on the trail at all.  As usual.  Actually, she never peed while I was in sight all weekend.  Shy mare indeed.

Additional notes!

Our first P&R was immediately following a trot-by; she still made it down to 60 within a few minutes without any sponging or anything.  I think the vet was concerned that she was just barely down to 60, while I was very happy that she was down at all so soon!
Second P&R I sponged, parked her in the shade, sponged a bit more and let her fall asleep.  I should have been a bit more aggressive with cooling her here.  Even so, down in under 15 minutes.
Coming in to the finish she was down in about 13, and I am totally confident we could have been down sooner - I walked her over to the paddock to pull tack since it was so close, didn't sponge as aggressively as normal since the gentleman next to me had borrowed the sponge when the pony and I wandered off, and wasn't stressing about it since I knew time was no longer a problem.
I do think the HRM is a useful tool for me to know how hard to work on cooling her down, and will use it for that in the future.. but I may continue to ignore it during the actual ride.

Gear addition likely: I noted fill in all four legs post-ride.  It's likely that before October, I'll buy at least one set of the Equi FlexSleeves, aka Dixie's diabeetus wraps.

Gear change/addition needed: My replacement-stirrups still left my knees sore.  I'll be upgrading to the caged stirrups from American Trail Gear very soon.

River crossing, heading out.  Ride photo by Gore & Baylor.
Fireworks has a river crossing.  It tends to cause problems for a few horses a year; I think two horses this year pulled because the riders couldn't get them across, but I'm not sure on that.  Fetti and I went through on the way out, no problems.  We've crossed this dozens of times.

On the way back, I politely nodded and smiled at the volunteers, commented that we've done this before, tried to point her nose to the right around a rock.. and of course, for the first time ever, she walked into the rock, tripped, flailed a bit, picked herself back up, and carried on out of the river.  The poor volunteers probably thought I was nuts for ignoring them, but really?  She's always navigated herself through and done pretty well.  Sadly, the photographer was only here for the ride out.  The volunteers were our only witnesses.

This was the first ride where I can comfortably say we rode our own ride.  A novice tagged along for most of the first two loops, but when she dropped back with another group midway through loop #2 I didn't feel particularly guilty about leaving her with them (I knew one of the riders and knew the novice had been slowing down a bit).  'Fetti and I passed people when I felt we could make time, got passed on sections others wanted to go faster on, played leapfrog with various riders. Novice rider caught back up to us towards the end of the second loop.  She pulsed down first, vetted in first, and headed down the trail first when her out time hit and I hadn't vetted through - good novice :)  Confetti and I were on our own for parts of the final 'loop' heading home, catching folks, losing folks, leapfrogging around.  If there weren't horses immediately in our line of sight, she was actually quite good about settling in alone.  Big progress.  Good mare.

Private property trails.  Some wide like this, some singletrack.

More private property views.  These two photos pretty well sum up the two terrain types.

I scribbled out theoretical times for the 9/8/9 mile sections, with a P&R/possible 15min hold after the first 9, and P&R/30min hold after the 8 mile loop.
Theoretically - start time is 7am.  Arrive at first check at 8:30, out by 8:50.  Arrive at second check by 10:15, out by 11:00am.  Home by 12:30.
Reality - start time is 7am.  (We actually left at 7:05 or so and caught the tail end of the controlled start pretty quickly.  I think that probably worked in our favor, as we missed all the chaos, and all the stress was in my head!)  Arrive at first check at 8:45, out by 8:55 or so (surprise trot-by immediately into a gate & go).  Arrive at second check about 10:30 with an out time of 11:07.  Actually leave vet check at 11:28.  (Vet lines were very long and there will be changes here next year.  We were all reassured that we would not be penalized for being over-time.  I gave myself 20 minutes to get through the vet line & tack up, and ended up using probably 30 in the vet line and 7 to tack up/let Fetti drink/get back on and go.  As a result, we were moving briskly but not terribly worried about making time the last 9 miles.  This is also the section in which I had both boot mishaps.)  Arrive at finish at 1:04, pulsed down by 1:15.

Last year was just a single vet check/30min hold, so by my count that puts us a solid 15 minutes ahead of last year, and we could have easily made up another 15 if we'd been pushing at all on the way home and aggressively cooling at the finish.  I am very pleased with that.

Friday snacks, in which she is convinced the best bits are at the bottom.

Saturday post-ride.  Relaxed and a bit tired, but not exhausted!

Happy happy happy.
I'm not sure what it means that for the final CRI, her heart rate actually dropped after the trot-out.  Thoughts/advice, anyone?  Not that I'm complaining, just confused.


  1. Hurrah for riding your own ride and having such a well behaved pony! It sounds like y'all had an AWESOME day. =)

    My vet cards tend to have pre-trot out HR on top and post-trout out HR on bottom.

  2. congrats! Love the water crossing photo. And riding your own ride, perfect.

  3. Congrats! Sounds like a great ride for both of you :)

  4. Sounds like a really wonderful ride where Confetti was an absolute rock star!

    A dropped heart rate *after* the trot-out is considered the hallmark of a very fit horse. :D I looked it up just to make sure I had the info correct (I knew it was a good thing but wanted to find the specifics): Aarene Storms explains it here

    1. Aha! That's exactly what I was wondering, and that explains why it felt like I should know the answer.. it's just been a while since I read that. Thanks.

      'Fetti was pretty much foot-perfect. Plenty of things could use work, but the horse? Horse did juuust fine :)

  5. Congrats! Sounds like it was a great ride.