In which it's not that easy being green...but ya gotta start somewhere

At the karate school where I studied for many years, there was a little plaque by the front door reading:

Everyone works.
Nothing is free.
We all start at the beginning.

Mt Adams start line!
(photo by Jessica Anderson)
 It's that way in endurance, too.

Sometimes it's easy to lose track of the work that goes into creating an experienced horse+rider team, so I'm gonna document some of the "green-ness" here.

We'll start with Patty and Flower.  Regular readers have been watching Flower's progress under saddle, and waiting patiently for this sweet little mare to be ready for her first distance event....and finally, last weekend, it was time!
Patty and Flower
(photo by M. Bretherton)
Flower (registered "Flower Power") came to Patty with no training-under-saddle; she was halter-broke, and had no balance at all.  Flower began her career as an endurance horse with professional training in the arena, provided by Dory and Big Megan beginning in January 2013, and then progressed to trail work with Patty.  She gets ridden twice a week now, 9-10 miles per ride.

Although Patty intends to take more arena lessons with Flower, they really haven't started that yet.

Flower has her "learning face" on
(photo by Jessica Anderson)

Mt. Adams was Flower's big weekend for "firsts":

First leg-wraps, first long trailer ride (6 hours) first free-choice hay (for 4 days!!) first little-bitty electric pen, first camp-out, first electrolytes (ewww), first exposure to 157 horse/rider teams, first ride start (walked out with dignity) first ride photographer (OMG!) 
Smiling for the camera...sorta...
(photo by M. Bretherton)
...first 15 miles in 2 hr 45 min (strong, pushy, tough little pony), first time knocked into the bushes by a rude RaT rider, first time passed by other horses (and passed again and again), first vet check (pulsed at 48), first hold (45 minutes), first go-out-again (marched out) first "second loop" (12 miles), first "uh-oh, we'd best hustle," first "clawed her way up the final hill (not gonna let this *&^% hill stop me) first completion (2 minutes to spare), first CRI (48/48), and...

Goodbye, Alcatraz
first jailbreak and night-time walkabout.

Patty says the hardest thing for Flower this weekend was getting passed by other horses.  She says the hardest thing for herself was the feeling that the "brakes" were negotiable and the "steering cables" were loose.

But they had fun.  Lots, and lots of fun.

Sky and Trinket had fun, too.

Sky and Trinket
(photo by M. Bretherton)

Sky has ridden Trinket's dam in LD ("luxury distance") and endurance events since 2006.  Cricket was pregnant with Trinket when she was purchased, and Trink (registered "Indigo Myst") was born at Sky's barn.  She was started at age 3, but not worked very hard until last winter, when Cricket was laid up with a suspensory injury.

On the trail, looking a little tense.

Trinket has done some camping and has been to local poker rides and a 4-H event where she had to stand tied and watch all the commotion.  She did a fun (novice distance) ride at Mt. Adams a few years ago, and went to the Sunriver ride just to hang out in camp while Sky spent the day volunteering.

Sky and Trinket trail ride solo and with friends (including me and Monica!), sometimes with familiar horses and sometimes with strangers.  All of this she has handled with ease.

Two months ago, Trinket got her first set of steel shoes, and started distance training in earnest.  Her typical week includes 2 or 3 training rides:  10+ miles one day and 5-6 miles the other days, adding miles OR speed, not both on the same day.

Sky and Trinket trot-out for the vets
(photo by Jessica Anderson)
 Sky says that dealing with all the other horses and riders was Trinket's biggest obstacle.  She was nervous and spooky--but it's hard to practice for situations like that!

Also, now the mare is more fit--she jigged down the trail and was ready to GO GO GO, which was hard on Sky's knees, especially downhill.  It would probably have been easier if they could've left camp last, but Sky was doubtful about having enough time to finish the event after waiting for 81 horse/rider teams to start the ride ahead of them!  The terrain at Mt. Adams is challenging for a first-time horse.

Sky and Trinket, Becky and Scout
(photo by M. Bretherton)
Riding with another young horse was also probably not a great idea.  Scout is 6 and has done a few rides already and the two horses are very well-suited as riding partners, but they were both scared and nervous.  An older, steadier, more experienced horse would have helped, especially at the start and in camp.

Meeting new horses on the trail is a big challenge for Trinket, and she's much better about all of that now, but the size of the group at Mt Adams made things pretty intimidating!

Completion prize!
Duana and Hana are very familiar to readers of this blog, since Hana used to be Santa Jim's horse!

Hana and Duana: pretty in pink...and orange
(photo by M. Bretherton)
Hana (registered "MA Abdayas Aspyre")  is 17 years old this year, and is returning to distance work after some time off.

Hana is an old hand at this stuff.  Duana, not so much. (Yet!)
Duana spent the winter strengthening her riding skills with lots of arena work on Hana, and it really paid off on ride day!

(photo by Jessica Anderson)
Hana was "elevated" for the first 20 miles--obviously, she was excited to be back out on the trail again!  Du says that she literally rode those miles as if doing a dressage lesson:  she had to ride Every. Step. Of. The. Way.  Hana does not take "passengers!"

Finally, Hana came back to her senses, and that was fun--she had plenty of gas left in the tank, and could probably have gone a little faster...but why hurry?  Duana and Hana finished their ride with a minute to spare, passing the vet check with flying colors and lots of compliments from the vets.

First completion prize...but not the last!
(photo by M. Bretherton)
And hey.

Life in a ridecamp?

It's really, really good.

"Hey, since you're up, howzabouts a cookie?"
Fiddle could've told you THAT!


  1. Love these stories. Since I'm one of the greenies too, it's nice to hear of the same issues, with perfect photo illustrations. My favorite might just have to be Flower, "Smiling for the camera...sorta...". I think Flower is thinking "What the heck are we doing?!" Congrats to all on successful rides.

  2. What a great post :) And remembering where you started with a horse is a great thing to put their abilities into perspective several rides later. Hehe :)

  3. Sounds like my first LD at HOTR last year, Jala and I vetted in with two minutes to spare.
    The difference being, of course, that I could hardly walk, and Cid was ready to tackle another 25 miles without breaking a sweat.
    Awesome job all!

  4. Sounds like my first LD,at HOTR last year. Jala and I vetted in with two minutes to spare.
    The difference being, of course, that while I could hardly walk, Cid was ready to go out and tackle another 25 and not break a sweat.
    Awesome ride all!

  5. Amazing what our horses can do with the training they get. I love reading about all these "firsts"!


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