Friday, May 18, 2012

In which I ignore my promises and obligations and go ride

My co-author on the other book is back home again, and we've been writing like crazy people, trying to get the first set of drafts submitted to our editor before the end of this month.

I've also been communicating with a publisher for the Endurance 101 book; right now they are enthusiastic about the book, but trepidatious about the book-buying economy.  

The poet Ron Silvern said it best:  
Doubts cannot follow you into the woods.

So, that's where Fiddle and I went today.

I'll have a new, "real" post soon, about Patty's new horse Rocky.  In the meantime, sit in a recliner and push your laptop all the way out to your feet while you watch the following video:

If you're watching the video on your phone, maybe you can hand the device to a friend who will stand at an appropriate distance for you to watch? 

Monday, May 14, 2012

In which I review a book: 4th Gear - Power Up Your Endurance Horse

So, y'all know I'm writing a book called Endurance 101.  This book is designed to be the book that every beginning endurance rider should read, because it answers questions and describes situations for new competitors.

If you want to read some of it, early versions of chapters are posted HERE.

When I heard that Dennis Summers was writing a book too, my heart sank.  He knows so much more than I know.  He probably knows more than I will ever know. 

Everybody would love his book, I feared, and nobody would even look at mine.

But, good news for everyone:  Dennis didn't write a book for beginners.  Dennis has written the book that every experienced endurance rider needs to read. 

His book assumes that the reader has a horse (or more than one horse) and has competed in the sport for a few years.  For example: Dennis doesn't spend time describing what electrolytes are; rather, he leaps straight to the good stuff:  how he uses them (in combination with a lot of other stuff) to enhance the performance of his horses. 

 His writing style is casual, conversational and fun, reminding me of the narrative style of classic old horse-tradin' writers like Ben K. Green.  Dennis uses terms you recognize but don't often see in print, like woo-woo, stink-eye, and my personal favorite, no-talent turd. 

Here's a short excerpt: 
Some of the greatest learning experiences race-wise for me has been when I had to squeeze 50 miles out of a no-talent turd of a horse.  You may have to use every tool in your bag of tricks and maybe make some up on the fly to get your race finished.  I had to pace well and do my groundwork to save horse.  I had to, because I didn't have much horse to start with.  I had to ease into vet checks since turds don't recover well.  You get the idea: there are learning situations in the most unlikely situations.  Make the most of them.  Afterward, you will be that much wiser, and well-prepared for future challenges, hopefully without the turd.  Those nuggets you learned will pay off big-time when you apply them later on with your well-bred and well-prepared horse.

The training techniques he recommends are, in his word, extreme.  This is not an entry-level book for beginning endurance riders; it is the book for riders who want to push themselves and their horse(s) to perform at a much higher level. 
 The advice is practical, down-to-earth, and personally tried out by Dennis and his wife Sue Summers.  These two have been riding and racing in endurance for a long time.  Their horses do fast miles over many years...but if you read the book, you will understand the training and work that goes into preparing a horse to do that kind of work year after year.  Dennis and Sue have learned a lot about riding, training, and maintaining good solid endurance horses, and we're lucky that they are willing to share the knowledge. 

Maybe following their advice will make a huge difference in your ride, and maybe it will make a small improvement. 

Even for confirmed "riding-not-racing" endurance folks like me,  this book is definitely worth reading and re-reading.  I learned a lot.  Oh, and the illustrations are delightful. 

Highly recommended, 5-star read. 

Wanna read it?  4th Gear: Power Up Your Endurance Horse is available as an e-book. 

The price is cheap, the link to purchase is HERE

Sunday, May 13, 2012

In which Gene Autry sings my new theme song, and the sun shines on our trails

Spay Day + 17, and I'm back in the saddle again!
Incision isn't very obvious anymore
Our ride wasn't fast, or far, or strenuous.  Patty's young horse Rocky led the way, and Fiddle and I took the caboose position most of the day.  
Rocky leads the group past a stickley branch.  NBD.
Rocky is still learning how to work his feet, so we kept the pace slow and relaxed...a perfect back-to-work ride for Fiddle.  About 9 miles in a little more than 2 hours.  Given Fee's level of fitness before the surgery, this ride was easy, which is what we wanted.

When we got to "Fiddle's Hill", she took the lead, but rather than jetting up it as we usually do, we trotted up at a nice, easy 7mph jog.
blue sky above and ears at the bottom of the picture = happiness
 Here's how the surgery has changed (or not changed) Fiddle's behavior so far, on a scale of 1 to 5:

Eagerness to work under saddle:
*  when in season:   -1  (can't move, must stand and pee)
*  on Regumate:  5  (get out of the way, trotting machine coming through!)
*  post-spay:  5   (happy ears when leading the pack)

Showing discomfort while working:
*  when in season:  5 (obviously uncomfortable and unwilling to move) 
*  on Regumate:  1  (no observable discomfort)
*  post-spay:  1  (no observable discomfort)

Behavior in groups of horses:
*  when in season:  4/1   (really friendly until suddenly she is NOT friendly at all)
*  on Regumate:  3   (doesn't enjoy being in a group, but can handle herself mostly)
*  post-spay:  3   (still doesn't enjoy being in a group)

"marish" behaviors:
*  when in season:  5   (pees on the farrier, the dog, and anyone else dumb enough to get within a mile of her backside, squealing, stomping, lots of tantrums)
*  on Regumate:  3  (can pee seductively at an 8mph trot, tantrums probably related to discomfort)
*  post-spay:  1  (no inappropriate urination or flirting.  no far...)

 Willingness to move out solo:
*  when in season:  1  (Can't. Move. Must. Pee.)
*  on Regumate:  5
*  post-spay:  5

Willingness to EDPP (Eat-Drink-Pee-Poop)
*  when in season:  4  (sometimes distracted by other horses)
*  on Regumate:  5  ("FOOOOOOOOD!")
*  post-spay:  5  ("FOOOOOOOOD!")

post-ride bath at the trailer
Spirit, animation, gumption, and general stubbornness
*  when in season:  5
*  on Regumate:  5
*  post-spay:  5   (STB stands for stubborn!)

The major change I see so far is Fiddle's level of comfort while moving and working.  She is at least as comfortable as she was while being dosed with Regumate, and shows no marish behaviors.

She hasn't lost an ounce of "gumption", as stallions are wont to do when subjected to brain surgery.  She will still happily stomp any dog dumb enough to get under her feet, and will probably kick the face off of any horse foolish enough to crowd her rear cannons.    She doesn't blindly obey me if she thinks that I'm wrong (or if she thinks she can convince me that I'm wrong).

She is, in other words, still a Dragon.  

The hormones aren't completely dissipated yet, of course, and there's still healing going on internally.  
Left side incision site, Spay Day + 17
Right side incision site, Spay Day + 17
My hope is that, with the hormone problem out of the way, her training can move forward again, and we can get out of the "stuck" pattern we've been experiencing.  

Her task, for now, is to heal up and gradually get back into shape for endurance.  If today is an indication, the trails ahead are bright and full of promise. 
Good Dragon!

Life. Is. GOOD!