Tuesday, April 13, 2021


Caffeine, an Endurance Rider's Best Friend

Ever start a ride out without caffeine?  Once on the Swanton 100, my new cigarette lighter powered coffee maker refused to work, and I mounted my horse caffeine-less, and instructed him to do the driving until I woke up.  He had done the ride before, luckily, so it was no problem for him.  

As I approached to first stop at about 30 miles I realized that if I didn't find a form of caffeine at this stop I was going to be in big trouble due to caffeine addiction.  I wouldn't just get a headache, I was in danger of getting a migraine.  As if endurance riding wasn't hard enough, that kind of pain would be a deal breaker.  

So I mention this to a rider who was trotting along beside me, and she said, "oh, I have just the thing for you!"  and pulled out a double caffeine Powergel packet.  She said, take this, it'll straighten you right out".  These things are designed to hit your bloodstream in 10 minutes and give you instant energy.  I downed it and literally, ten minutes later I went BING!! my head popped up, and I was a new person!  They weren't kidding.  So I've been using them ever since (another brand is called GU) both before, and in the latter parts of the ride to stay awake.  

Since I've done the Swanton 100 so many times I have more stories from that one too.  One year it was the Arabian National Championship run in conjunction with the regular ride.  So I was running in the top ten and I and ......another top rider were going along on a single track trail on a ridge top spine with drop offs on both sides.  Suddenly we came upon a small rattlesnake in the middle of the trail.  It wouldn't move.  There was no room to go around it.  So she leaped off, grabbed a bunch of gravel and started pelting it until it moved off the trail.  I thought, I'm sticking with her!  

Then we approached the dreaded Slippery Creek, just as it was starting to get dark.  It is a 2' deep creek lined with algae coated rock.  We were told to cross it very carefully.  So we tip toed across it and upon reaching the other side I noticed what looked like a foot wide pool of blood on the bank.  I pointed this out to .... and she freaked out.  Then there was a blood trail leading away from it down the path.  The puddle was thick and coagulated and right out of a horror movie.  More specifically, from "The Blair Witch Project" which I had just seen!  We were both totally creeped out as we continued down the trail following the blood drips and wondering what we were going to encounter.  I was on the lookout for pentagrams made of sticks hanging in the trees.

Finally we caught up to Mike Tracy and his famous horse Moon, both stumbling along with heads low.  Apparently he had not been careful crossing the creek, Moon fell, thrashed around, got pulled out finally by Mike and had a blood spurting heel where he had stepped on himself.  Mike said he had tried everything to stave off the blood flow, nothing was working, and he finally just took his gum out and stuffed it in the hole, wrapped something around it and stopped the blood.  So I tossed him a roll of vet wrap and we assured him we would send word at the first opportunity that he needed a trailer ride out.  The road crossing wasn't too far off and we met someone there who radioed for help.  

Mike was in line for the 1/2 Arabian Championship when this happened, so it was a big disappointment.  Moon healed up just fine, though.  We both went on to top ten, but still shook up from seeing all that blood, but no pentagrams, thankfully.  


Thursday, April 8, 2021

2nd Post: Does an Endurance Rider Pee in the Woods?

Yes, I Have Stories about Peeing Too 

OK, so we all know that Peeing in the woods is an inconvenient necessity of endurance riding.  I've even heard people complain how riders lose all sense of modesty in the heat (literally) of competition.  When ya gotta go, ya gotta go.  If you've done the Tevis, you know that the California Loop, which isn't a loop at all, but a long stretch between 70 miles out, to 85 miles, that seems much longer and harder than it is, due to the collective fatigue of having done all three deep canyons, and pretty much the worst part of the ride up until then.  It's where tired riders fall asleep on their horses and slide off, or worse, where a few unlucky horses have gone over the side and down the canyon.  Most survive but a couple have not.  

I was making good time along this one year, in the daylight mostly, with two well known riders, Nick Warhol and Karen Chaton.  So we stopped occasionally at creek crossings to water the horses, and of course to pee.  The first time we both asked Nick to "turn around!" while we squatted on the trail.  At the second stop, Nick was ahead of us and said, "turn around!" to Karen and  I.  I looked at  him slightly uphill from us on the trail and said, "No!, you just turn around!  Your outnumbered!"  And he chuckled foolishly and did.  

But the best one I've heard was at the Oakland Hills 50 in N. California.  A group of ladies who were all friends, were all riding the ride together.  They decided at one point to stop and take a community pee as girls are wont to do, whether in public restrooms or outdoors, as in this case.  So they all stopped in the wide trail, got off, and with the horses on the outside of the circle, got in a group, all holding their reins and had a group squat.  As they were all happily peeing away, one of the horses started down the trail towards camp, apparently loose because the owner thought someone else was holding him.  With that, she stood up, tights at her ankles, and started penguin walking as fast as she could after her horse, bare, tattooed butt jiggling as she ran!  Needless to say, around the campfire that night, they all couldn't stop laughing about it.  

But I have one more.  This is with a very well know woman, who was a two term president of AERC, who won a bronze medal at age 60 in Barcelona, Spain.  None other than Maggie Price!  She was a character with a southern drawl, and a top rider who had fun.  When I met her, she was out West on an extended trip from one ride to another hitting the Race of Champions, the Tevis, and a bunch of 50's.  I met her at Drakesbay, which happened to be the first 50 I ever did at Pt. Reyes Seashore in the 70's, a ride we all sorely miss. 

She got out a bunch of photos from all her rides, after inviting me over for grits and breakfast the day after the ride.  I'm looking through them and she's describing where she was, when I notice one of her holding her reins out on the trail next to her horse, smiling away, in that familiar squat position.  I wouldn't have thought anything about it, it just looked like she was resting, until I noticed the  little stream  between her legs.  I said, "Maggie, look at this!"  Her jaw dropped and she yelled, "OK who took this??!"  

1st Post:

Does an Endurance Rider Pee in the Woods?

I've decided to start telling my collection of stories from 4000 Miles of endurance riding, beginning in the late 70's,  Some are pretty funny.  I'd like to focus mainly on those, but there will be lessons taught too.   Below is a shot from my 10th Tevis ride on Shatir, also ridden mostly bridleless in a Linda Tellington Jones neck ring.

So here goes:

'94 Tevis Cup

Tenth Tevis, Backwards 

So, some of you might know that I've done many Tevis Cup rides.  I've been one of the lucky ones and have only been pulled twice.  So they racked up and I got my 1000 mile buckle without going too broke in the process.  So I start out this one, my tenth, my 1000 mile buckle ride, with minimal crew, meeting me only at Foresthill.  I plan for this and have all I need for the Robinson Flat stop, except of course the ride provided hay, on my saddle,.  

As has been my habit over the years, and not being a morning person, I get into my whole riding outfit the night before.  In fact I do as much as possible, setting things up the night before so I can do as little as possible as a walking zombie in the morning.  Every single thing is packed on my saddle, water, everything, my morning protein smoothie is waiting in the cooler, its set up for like, as if a blind person had to get mounted and get to the starting line on time. 

So all goes well, I get to the stating line, set out with the 200 horse herd for Squaw Valley, go over Emigrant Peak, wave at Cowman at Watson's monument, and get halfway to Robinson Flat at 36 miles before finally looking down and realizing with horror in the dawn light, that my tights are on backwards and the seat padding is now fully visible to all in the front of my pants.  

Presently, long time rider, Gloria Vanderford catches up beside me, and I relate to her what I'd done.  She said, "that's nothing, I once got changed in the small change room in the horse trailer, put on my running shoes, got in the saddle and took off, only to look down miles later and find that the "funny feeling" I had in my feet was because my shoes were on the wrong feet!  I just thought my orthotics were in wrong, but noooo!  Better believe I got off at the first opportunity and switched them, but fast! So now I didn't feel so bad!  But I got to Robinson, smiled a lot at the time card givers, P&R people, etc. hoping they wouldn't notice my backwards pants, or just looking like I didn't care if they did, until finally ducking into an outhouse to turn them around!  So I crossed the finish line with my padding in the right place and got my 1000 Mile Buckle!   

Now that I think of it, I bet there's lots of stories out there about riding outfits gone wrong, wardrobe failure, even.  Some of you in the Pacific Northwest may have read one rider's account of severe outfit failure if you read "The Prineville Wreck".  One of the funniest ride stories ever.  No one got seriously hurt, mostly annoyed and embarrassed.  Anyone remember who wrote it?  Amber something?  Let me know if this rings a bell.  Its a good one.

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Stories From My Life

Pozo, California 1980

I drove my '72 Super Beetle back down 101 from the SF Bay Area one summer, to a tiny  town north of San Luis Obispo to meet Bob, my boyfriend at the time.   He was working in Pozo, the nearest town to the huge ranch where he'd gotten a summer job.  We were both on summer break from Cal Poly, SLO.  

I got there after a 20 mile back roads journey east of the highway, which ended with about 8 miles of dirt road, including a bridge over a big creek, with no rails.  Downtown Pozo consisted only of a post office and a saloon.  I was to meet him in the latter.  I got there in the dark and walked in, 21 years old, trim and busty, and literally all eyes in the place were on me as soon as I walked in.  All male. They were hungry eyes!!  I think I may have been the only female for miles!!   

I took this in for a few seconds, scanning the room for Bob, and bolted back out the door.  I thought, if he's not here within the next 15 minutes, I'm outta this wide spot in the dirt road called Pozo!  It was surreal, like I had stepped back in time about 100 years!  Luckily he drove up 5 minutes later. 

On a subsequent trip, we had met in town (a real town like Paso Robles, or Santa Margarita)  and I followed him in.  He sped along the dirt toad in his Honda while I did my best to keep up with him.  I was losing sight of him when he got to the rail-less wooden bridge, and I approached it way too fast from a bad angle.  I got this sick feeling as I realized I was over-shooting it, and slammed on the brakes in time to keep from going completely off the bridge, but still ended up with my left from tire hanging off and resting on my axle!

I quickly got out on the passenger side with my heart pounding.  Bob was long gone.  I remember laying on my horn as my bug came to a precarious rest, but to no avail.  I ended out waiting for at least a half hour while he drove all the way in, waited, and then finally drove back, shocked by what he encountered, my bug hanging 15 feet above the creek, and I, pissed off and upset at being stranded out there, immediately burst into tears.  

We didn't know what to do, but presently, a rancher came along, found me blocking the bridge, and quickly winched me off, so fast I barely recall the details.  They don't mess around out there in ranch land, dealing with us tenderfoots.

To be continued.....


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A 1000 Mile Adventure on a Horse Named Shatir

Shatir was a 14.2 hand Kellogg Crabbet bred Arab gelding that I bought from a backyard breeder in Templeton,CA in 1980 while I was attending Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, found from an ad in Trail Blazer Magazine.  I got him for only $800, but he was really spooky, hadn't ever seen suburbia, and was literally afraid of his own shadow.  It took me two years to get him riding smoothly through the neighborhoods without spooks, fits and starts to get to the trails.  I bought him expressly to ride on the Tevis and prepared him by riding a 25 LD and a lot of NATRC competitive trail rides before entering him on his first 50 on Mt. Diablo, which was in my backyard.  I completed several more 50's and entered him in the 1983 Tevis.  This turned out to be an El Nino year, and also the last time Wendell Robie showed up to give the ride briefing and hand out the buckles.

We assembled at Squaw Valley only to be told we would be loading up after the briefing and traveling to Soda Springs at a lower elevation for the ride start.  There was too much snow over the high country, and even Robinson Flat was still under a foot of snow in July.   The first one hour stop would be at French Meadows.  We were also told that the river crossing would be 5' deep, much to my dread.  Everything went smoothly all through the ride until I reached the much anticipated river crossing behind two other riders.   A couple of women on the opposite bank were waving lanterns yelling, "aim for us!"  The water was going by fast as the two riders ahead of me plunged in.  I followed behind, the water reaching to my thigh.  After a few steps we suddenly lost the bottom and Shatir and I started drifting backwards down the river, the other riders not noticing us floating away.   After about 20 feet of swimming we caught the bottom again and Shatir kept going towards the other side.  After emerging from the water we continued down the sandy trail and suddenly I felt myself getting lower and lower as Shatir, without breaking stride, had decided to roll in the sand.  He pretty well sandpapered one side of the saddle before I could get him back up, and we were about five shades darker with dirt at the end than when we had started.  A little while later I started seeing people on the side of the trail, but realized I was probably hallucinating.  I almost asked one how far to the next stop.  When we reached the stadium for our victory pass, Shatir suddenly realized he was at the end of our journey and neighed all the way around  the arena as if to say, "We made it!  Thank God, we made it!"

The next day when I went up to get my buckle from Wendell, he asked, "So, is this your first ride?" I replied yes, and he said, "Well, are you coming back next year?"  I hadn't even thought about it, still dazed and grateful for having finished my first ride, but I couldn't say anything but yes to Wendell!  Afterwards I started thinking that if I played my cards right, I could finish ten rides on Shatir before he got too old, and that became my goal.  The following year I starting finishing in the top ten on a few fifties, including a win, and decided to carry the weights for top ten that were required back then.  Partway down Devil's Thumb canyon, Shatir tripped and fell against the bank, sliding for several feet before standing back up again.  He kicked up so much dust I couldn't see what he had done to himself for a full minute.  He just had a few minor scrapes, so I pressed on.    My mom and sister were crewing for me at Devil's Thumb, back when crews were allowed all over the place, and my mom, seeing the scrapes, threatened to cut off the weights I had stitched to the cinch. He passed his vet check and we continued on.   We got to Michigan Bluff so fast I almost beat my crew.  They had gotten stuck in a ditch they backed into after making a wrong turn, got winched out by someone, and just made it just in time.   Crewing was much more of a road race back then.

At Foresthill, a vet didn't like the way Shatir trotted out, but finally passed him, saying I needed to slow down because he thought he might be going lame in front.   Shatir was never much for the trot outs.  So when I got to a lot of downhill with the rider I was following, I decided not to keep the fast pace he was making and slowed down.   After awhile it got dark and I spent at least 2 hours riding alone in it, with no moon in sight, being way down in the middle fork canyon.  I had slowed to a walk and then my thighs started cramping up.  At this point I discovered that my vet card had bounced out of the pocket in my ride number bib, and wondered if I might get pulled like I had heard they did on fifties if they didn't have any information on your horse.  This was not the case on the Tevis, but I worried something awful, using up what energy I had left and then found myself fighting sleep.  I was in tears, all by myself out in the middle of nowhere, thinking this whole thing was a miserable idea.  I decided the way to stay awake was to start singing.  So I started singing every song I knew about the moon, willing it to rise where I could see it.  I sang Moondance, Moonshadow, etc., and when I ran out of moon songs I started singing Me and My Bobby McGee.  That's when a couple of riders finally caught up with me.  They probably thought I was losing my mind, not an uncommon thing in the latter parts of Tevis.

We finally reached Franciscos, and I tied Shatir to a bale of hay and took a tube of Bengay with me to the outhouse to rub it on my cramped thighs.  When I got back there were a couple of guys shining flashlights on him telling me they had gotten word that this horse might be in trouble.  I assured him he didn't seem lame to me and also apologized when I realized he had busted into a bag of crimped oats that was next to the hay.  He passed his vet check just fine, and  I continued on, finishing about 40th, well out of the top ten I was trying for.  The following year in '85 I decided to enter the Frontier program, where I had to ride without any crew assistance.  This turned out to be the last year this program was offered, which was kind of a shame because it turned out to be one of the smoothest, trouble free rides I ever did.  It really made a difference not having to worry about a crew, finding them at each stop, keeping them happy so they'd do it again next year, etc.  The best spot at every stop was reserved for the Frontier riders with hay and grain waiting.  It turned out to be a hot year, which was in my favor, Shatir being a hot weather horse.  It didn't seem to faze him, and I actually got through Franciscos in the daylight, finishing 12th and just 15 minutes out of top ten.  I got a buckle with Frontier Award engraved where Award normally is.

The following year we almost didn't make it up to Squaw Valley in time for check in after a mishap with the shop getting the truck wired correctly to tow the trailer.  Then we didn't wake up until 20 minutes before start time, and I whipped everything on and reached the starting line at the foot of the chairlifts just as they fired the starting gun.  Yes, starting gun.  When I tell people they used to do that, no one believes me.   The fact that we went straight up a mountain at the start made a big difference in controlling the horses.  I was so relieved to finally be on the trail after everything I'd been through to get there that I burst into tears as the gun fired, everybody whooped, and 250 horses surged forward up the mountain.  The ride went well all day and I found myself riding in the teens when I left Franciscos.  I made good time and got to the quarry check to learn that the rider in front of me had just been pulled, and I was in 10th place!  I was ecstatic, but worried about another rider that I knew was not far behind.  We crossed 49 at the upper quarry back then, and when I stopped at Paige Harper Spring to water Shatir, I could hear her catching up.  After letting him drink I took off at a trot and dropped down to No Hands Bridge where my crewperson Joan had decided to meet me.   She said, "Judy, here, have a banana!", and I said, "No!  Get out of the way, I'm in tenth place and another rider is hot on my tail!!"  I took off across No hands, noticing that part of the rails were missing due to the Coffer Dam flood, but didn't slow down.

Finally she caught up and passed me and we continued to trot all the way to the last stretch to the finish line.  I thought, maybe I can still make a move to pass her at some point, but she had more horse left than me and took off at a canter with me a few lengths behind as we crossed the finish line at the overlook.  After we got off she said, "It was really important to a lot of people that this horse top ten!"  I thought, well what am I, chopped liver?"  Then a couple of weeks later I learned that it was a stallion, a Bezatel son no less, so I didn't feel so bad.  In fact, I would've felt bad if I had beat him, since most likely his stud fee went up as a result.

The next year I crewed  instead of riding, having not gotten my entry in on time to make it off the huge waiting list.  That year, '87, they started 270 riders, the most ever.  It was my year to crew since one of my crew people was finally riding, as well as another friend. The next year in '88 I was again just out of the top ten.  Between No Hands and the finish, Naomi Tyler and the famous Mustang Lady caught up with me.  The only reason she wasn't further up was because she had gotten sick and her crew made her rest for an extra hour.  That year we were finishing back at Robie Point, and a few hundred feet before the finish line, Shatir suddenly recognized where he was and took off at a canter, with Mustang Lady falling in right behind.  We rounded a bend, got blinded by a spotlight, and hit the pavement at the cul-de-sac of Robie Point with people jumping out of the way before we could stop.  The lady manning the table yelled at us to "slow down or I'm not giving you your timecards!!"  It was kind of embarrassing, but we really couldn't see.  We were 15th and 16th and had finished at the stroke of midnight.   A couple of years later Naomi and Lady came back to place second.

1989 turned out to be our year.  I had lots of crew help.  I taught them some TTouch techniques I had learned at a Linda Tellington Jones clinic I had attended the year before, and Shatir got a lot of TLC at the stops.  Three of us riders teamed up and rode the whole California Loop to the finish together, finishing 8th, 9th and a 10th place finish for me and Shatir.  It was the fastest finish of all my rides, 15 hours and 17 minutes, finishing at 11:17, which is winning time some years!  The winner, Lari Shea, was still 2 hours ahead of us, a very fast year.  It was also the last time we started from Squaw Valley.   The next day I had to wait in the sun for a long time for my turn to trot out for best condition, being the last one in 10th place.  Shatir took the opportunity to fall asleep, and I wondered if I was going to be able to wake him up enough to do a decent trot out.  This was in the small arena next to McCann stadium since there was some kind of car racing going on there.  So right in front of the audience, who were close by, he decided to spread way out like he was going to pee, but as was his habit, took a very long time before anything happened.  I suddenly realized everyone was looking at Shatir instead of whatever horse was being shown because he looked like he was colicking and having gas pains or something!  Finally he peed, and everyone applauded.   I was so relieved he wasn't colicking in front if an audience no less!  He got a bigger applause for peeing than for his trot out!

1990 was an even better year.  It was our first time starting at Robie Park.  The trail had a few minor changes to allow for the extra eight miles to Squaw Valley.  The park was really dusty and we were already pretty dirty at the start.  We massed in a clearing and started down the trail with a lot of  high spirited horses with no mountain to slow them down.  It turned out to be a very hot one that year too, which was again in my favor.  I was carrying the weights again, and when we got to the bottom of El Dorado Canyon it was 122 degrees with 70% humidity, probably the worst conditions of all my finishes.  On top of that there was a surprise weigh station there for the first twenty riders or so because of the weight rule.  While the riders I was with were able to make the 165 lb. limit without their tack, I had to stop and strip everything off Shatir and clamber on the scale in stifling heat to make the required weight.

Despite the extreme conditions, the rest of the day went well and I found myself again teamed up with two other riders in the California Loop, and we finished 6th, 7th for Shatir and I, and 8th.  By 3:00 AM there were still less than 20 riders in, so they decided to extend the finishing time for the first time ever to 6:00 to avoid massive numbers of overtime riders.  The next day, among the top ten trotting out for best condition, only three of us trotted out well, a lot of horses were very stiff due to the taxing conditions the previous day. Shatir got one of the biggest applauses, and I was very nervous at awards knowing he was in contention.  It ended out going to the horse who finished right in front of me, Harry, who had just had a down payment put on him by Marcia Smith, pending his finish.   That definitely clinched that deal.  I knew that what had mostly likely lost it for Shatir was a very sore spot where his cinch ring was, and from then on I kept it padded.

In '91 I was up for the Pacific Time Zone Team at the North American Championships in Carson City, so the Tevis ended out being one of my qualifying rides.   I rode conservatively since the Championship was only about 6 weeks later and I wanted to give him plenty of time to recover from the effects of the Tevis.  I came in 17th on Tevis and that clinched my spot on the team.  Unfortunately, we got pulled from the Championship at 80 miles in 6th place, when Shatir got a cramp in his hind end.   This was in the days before I had discovered the benefits of massage.  I again had problems with cramping at the Race of Champions 100 in Colorado the following July, but managed to massage it out and pass my final vet check, winning the Solo Championship for first to finish with no crew.  My previous practice riding Tevis crew-less had served me well.

But a month later at Tevis my luck ran out.  That year, '92, was the year it rained in camp the day before the ride and we all started with wet, cold horses.  Lots of horses got pulled before they even reached Robinson flat due to cramping and tying up.  I had decided also that year to ride him bridle-less in a lariat rope neck ring that I had bought at a Linda Tellingtion Jones clinic, and even went over Cougar Rock with it.  At Robinson I trotted out and sure enough, Shatir was off in the hind end again and I was pulled for the first time.  But I was in good company, because it turned out that several past winners got pulled there too, including Becky Hart, Erin McChesney, and Hal Hall.  But Shatir had managed to finish 8 rides in a row without getting pulled, so I didn't have too much to feel bad about.  Ironically, I ended out getting my picture in Arabian Horse World that year in their Tevis article, riding in the neck ring, so at least there was that.  After that pull I started having him worked on regularly by an equine  massage therapist, and it gave him a new lease on life.

The '93 Tevis ended out being his best finish ever, and at age 18 no less.  At the start he decided to work his way all the way to the very front of the pack for about 20 minutes, just to have delusions of grandeur and feel like a bad ass, until he remembered how far he had to go and finally slowed down and let all the hot shoes pass.  He felt great all day, and as was his habit, rested well at both one hour stops, falling almost completely asleep after he was finished eating, even through being tacked up again, and I literally had to wake him up again by slapping him on the neck so we could leave.  I had caught up with Dolly DeCair on her stallion Amadeus at Deadwood about halfway through the ride, and rode the entire rest of the ride with her.  She told me how her other famous stallion Karahty had been being bred almost every day that month, and that poor Amadeus wasn't getting much action yet, so he was ready to jump anything.  That included Shatir it turned out, and I had to keep him away from Amadeus at all the vet stops so his pulse would come down!   We also almost got skunked down by the river after disturbing a skunk that ran away from us shooting a warning shot.  We finally crossed the finish line in 4th and 5th place, and I was beside myself.  I now had only one more ride to finish to get my coveted 1000 mile buckle.

My plan for '94 was to ride conservatively to ensure my completion, but Shatir had other ideas.  As usual, we worked our way up in placement as the ride wore on and I found myself in 9th place after the quarry stop.  The rider behind me was a South African Lady riding one of Potato's horses, and she had no lights or light sticks on her breast collar, and kept thanking me profusely for lighting her way with my light sticks.  We finished 9th and 10th and I had my 1000 mile buckle!  I was disappointed to find no buckle in my case though, but that was because it was the 40th anniversary year and they didn't want to make more than they needed.  It turned out to be a very unique buckle, as only about three of us have one.  Then I took four of my previous buckles and turned them in to trade for a sterling browband for Shatir that they made into a 1000 mile browband with Shatir's name on it.  He got to wear it in '05 when I brought him up to Robie Park to accompany the horse I had entered, a Tevis horse that was given to me but ended out not passing check in.  It was worth it anyway, because Shatir dragged us around camp showing off and posing for pictures at the site of his former glory, thoroughly enjoying all the attention.  He was 30 at the time.  He passed away in '11 at age 36 in his sleep in his stall, most likely from heart failure owing to the fact he had a pretty good heart murmur, not uncommon in old horses.   He had lived a long and full life and I still miss him.  I had him for 31 years and he was one of those once in a lifetime horses that I will never forget.

Shatir in retirement, getting his morning oatmeal from Peter

Sunday, February 24, 2013

More about plans with Sweetie and Raven, etc.

Sulphur's Nataqua (Taqi) The Still Untrained Mustang

Here it is late February and I still haven't done anything with Taqi, my own little Mustang who is way overdue to be started under saddle.  This is due to some living situation changes and some upheaval, that will be settling down in the next month.  I found a good ranch caretaking situation with a like minded lady, former distance rider, who I met a couple of years ago and knew slightly, and she is getting together a trailer for me to move into on her 20 acre place.  In the meantime I am staying temporarily back at Sue's on the Georgetown Divide.  I will be commuting 3-4 days a week about 80 miles round trip back to the Grass Valley/Nevada City area to work, etc.  Then I will be in Brown's Valley, a few towns downhill from Grass Valley on the way to Marysville, at about 1,200' in the rolling hills and oaks.

So while I am here in Greenwood, I am getting Sweetie back on a program with the help of a 16 year old horse crazy girl with no horse, who will help Sue's daughter Sarah and I get Sweetie and Raven back in shape.  Raven needs to get out too, he's only coming 19, which is not old for a well cared for endurance horse.  The plan is for Sweetie to do Tevis again with Sarah, as long as we can keep her on a regular program including at least drag riding one or more 50's.  At the same time, with the help of our 3rd rider, Raven will get in shape to do a fifty, and not just any fifty, but the AERC Championship in Southern Idaho in September.  I found that it was only a ten hour trailer ride from here, and Sweetie could do the 100, and Raven the 50.  I don't know yet who will be riding whom, but we are trying to make it our goal to get there.  We all have to save our pennies too.  Sue is really excited about the prospect.

We just looked at a Google Earth view of the ride course, and it is mostly flat with few climbs, in flatlands and rolling hills in a place called City of Rocks.  It looks really cool.  I know they put on an "all the frills" ride for this one, having crewed for it back in '04 in Reno, Nevada.  My rider rode both the 100 and then the 50 two days later on the same horse, a Morgan Stallion named Indiana Red River who was the only horse to do both rides.  He was carrying a heavyweight rider too.  He was very well behaved, having come a long way from his first season at the 2000 mile Pony Express Ride, of which he did 550 miles over about two months between St. Joseph, Missouri, and Virginia City, Nevada over the original route of the famed mail carriers.  He also won the high point Endurance Morgan Award the year after, completing two 100's and eleven 50's for a total of 750 miles in one season, with a 100% completion rate.  If  you want an excellent trail or distance Morgan, I can put you in touch with his owner, Joan Zeleny, who has a few of his offspring for sale every year.

So between trying to round pen Taqi and helping to get Raven and Sweetie in shape, I have my work cut out for me.  Oh, and I'm riding Raven for the first time today, all 16 hot to go hands of him.  That should be interesting.  At least he's super smooth being a Kentucky Mt. Horse.  I'll report on it later.  Stay tuned.

 Taqi and Pete
Taqi is helping Pete fill the troughs.  He is fascinated with water having come from a dry region of Southern Utah.  Notice the flattened orange cone behind the trough.  Taqi killed it.  It used to be one of his favorite toys.  He also has a jolly ball, a big rubber ball with a handle that he carries around and has even been known to come over and hit his pasture mates with.  He keeps them on their toes.  I haven't measured him lately.  He may be 14 hands now, but I wouldn't be surprised if he is still 13.3.  He looks like a Quarter Pony at this point.  I heard the original Quarter Horses were Mustangs crossed with Thoroughbreds.  People who came up behind me on Sweetie asked if she was a Quarter Horse judging by her big butt.  They get it from Mustangs who are built like brick houses.  

Drinking from the Hose

Here's an update since riding Raven last Sunday.  He was fine, very well behaved, not hard to control, but did want to run around like a maniac in the sand when we got down to the bottom of the canyon at Cherokee Bar by the American River.  It was like being at the beach, he went a little nuts and I had to be careful with him in the deep sand.  Neither wanted to drink, so we started back up and I anticipated him wanting to take off again like he usually does.  It is rocky, and being a little tender footed from the rains and mud and lack of recent riding, he chose to keep a sane pace back up.  I definitely used a different set of muscles with his unique gait.  I was sore more in my quads than my groin muscles.  It takes some getting used to.  He is so tall, I'm not supposed to be on a 16 hand horse!  Its fine once I'm on, but getting there can be a challenge.  He at least stood for the mount.  Getting off is like dropping off a 6' fence.  If I end out riding him on either the American River or the AERC Championship, that will be a new experience.  

Violet, the new 16 year old rider did just fine on Sweetie.  I think this might work out.  I noticed for the first time that Sweetie wings out a little in front with her semi-gait that she does.  She reminds me a bit of a Peruvian Paso, which gets their gait from the gaited Spanish Mustang, or Spanish Jennet.  Makes me wonder if Taqi will have any gaited-ness in his way of going.  I hope so.   Some from his herd are gaited.  We'll see.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Sweetie featured at UC Davis Horse Day

Mustangs Featured at UC Davis Horse Day!

We were invited to the University of California at Davis, California Vet School Horse Day as the only Mustang to finish this year's Tevis Cup, and got a nice response from the crowd.  She has put on a bit of weight since the ride but still made a good impression.  It was a very good showcase of Mustangs in general for the big crowd that was there for seminars.  Sweetie provided some comic relief by carrying on every time we passed a Jack stud that was corraled there near the arena.  He turned out to be a well known local one named "Action Jackson" who also carried on, braying and sticking his head through the rails.  They were totally in love with each other.  His stud fee isn't too bad, they would make one heck of a mule!!  More later.

Here's a link the BLM Newsbytes article:

Gayle Lee Spiffing Sweetie Up for her Appearance

Modeling the Tevis Browband at the UC Davis Horse Barn

Sweetie made quite an impression, what with her neighing to announce herself as usual, or her carrying on with "Action Jackson" the jack stud, every time she walked by his corral.  People gathered around and laughed as she nickered to him, arching her neck, with him braying in return.  The presentation was very well done and good publicity for Mustangs, who are in greater need than ever to be adopted.  There are more than 30,000 in captivity and more and more are getting cleared out (not just thinned out) of their herd management areas every year.  There is even proof that the "excess unadoptable ones" are being sold off to slaughter in Mexico and Canada.  The BLM's budget cannot bear the cost of feeding all these horses that have lost their homes on the range in favor of cattle, pipelines, mining, and other projects taking place on BLM land.  The Mustang and Burro Protection Act is being violated as we speak.  Please donate to the Humane Society or The Front Range Equine Rescue, the two best Mustang protecting organizations.  

In that light, during the presentation question and answer period, Sue's old friend, and our groomer for the day, Gayle Lee, asked loudly, "What are you going to do about Mustangs getting shipped off to slaughter?"  She mistakenly said for dog food, and I had to correct her and said "no, its for people food in Europe and Japan, its too expensive for dog food!"  Her question was handled well by the presenters, who said, basically that they couldn't address that, but wanted to promote them as much as possible and focus on that.  So, people, adopt, adopt, adopt!!  It's only $125 and its an incredible bargain for what you get.