Thursday, November 14, 2013

In which I visit an old friend and Fee takes me stomping on old grounds

Rosemary and I have told stories on stage together, 
but not for a long time.

Rosemary and Griffindore.
Griff is a four-year-old gelding.  Wanna guess his breed?

Facebook brought us back together again, and I was delighted to learn that she has a young horse that might be suitable for endurance.  "Come ride with us!" she wrote, and a few days ago, I did.

Rosemary lives in my hometown, which I left more than 15 years ago.  When I lived there, I rode my mare Story all over the Chuckanut hills.

Sometimes we'd get bored with our familiar trails and cross the freeway overpass (on foot, not via trailer--did I mention how much I love Team Sensible horses?) and then take the little trail behind the rifle range (did I mention that Story was a VERY sensible horse?) up onto the south side of Galbraith.

That's where we went with Rosemary and Griffin--only we went up the NORTH side of Galbraith, also known as the "Geneva side" (named for the nearby elementary school--my dad taught there for many years).

We admired the view on the north side of the hill, and then

Lake Whatcom.  I grew up in a house at about 11:00 in this picture

we went up to the top of the hill, and down the other side.

Peekaboo view of Lake Samish and another house I lived in.

Galbraith trails have been vastly improved since I left town, thanks to the WHIMPS.

Rosemary networks with other trail users.

The WHIMPS not only mark the trails and keep the branches clear

they build fun obstacles for mountain bikes.

For bikes.  Not for horses.

Puget Sound in the distance

We stopped to pose for pictures
New FB photo

and then tied up for lunch.

A squashed egg-and-tomato sandwich, and a flask of lemon tea.  Perfect!

Fee was perfectly comfortable parked near a tree.

Team Sensible.  Love this mare!

I think she halfway expected us to pull out a chainsaw and start clearing trails, but we didn't.

More bicycles.  We saw more bikes on these trails than I normally see in a year on the home trails at Victoria.  Fee was totally good with them, although she did swivel ears at several riders, hoping for cookies.

On the way back to the trailer, we met up with some other riders.  In a classic case of hometown Small World Syndrome:  the owner of the barn where Rosemary keeps Griffin is a friend of Dory's.

Pretty day.  Pretty trails.  Nice folks.

It's good.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

In which Endurance 101 is on Horses in the Morning (yay!)

Usually, I only get up that early in the morning to ride,

but today I got up early to be interviewed by endurance blogger Karen Chaton  on the Horse Radio Network program "Horses in the Morning."

What fun!

If you missed the program because you were sleeping like a sensible person, you didn't really miss the program!  You can tune in at the link HERE.    You can also get the HRN app for smart phones, and listen to their podcasts.  "Endurance day" on Horses in the Morning is the first Tuesday of each month, but some of the other programs are fun, too.

My part of the show starts around the 27-minute point of the program, after Karen's good tips for longevity in endurance horses (she's the expert!), and before the hilarity of Angie McGhee's part.  We talk about the Endurance 101 book, of course--why I wrote it, and some of the basics about what's in it.

In only 15 minutes or so, of course, it's hard to talk about everything we'd like to say.  We managed to squeeze in How to Get Started in Endurance which is one of the most common questions I'm asked.

Endurance is a complicated, extreme sport, and it's difficult to know where to begin.  My #1 suggestion for folks interested in the sport:  VOLUNTEER!  Find a ride that you can get to, call up the ride manager, and offer to come help.  You don't even need any skills to be a ride volunteer--we can teach you what you need to know.  By volunteering, you'll get a chance to see a ride up-close, and experience the smiles of all those riders and the exuberance of the horses.  You might also pick up some new skills, and you will definitely meet friendly people who can help you explore the sport.

We also talked about Riding "Not-an-Arab" in Endurance.  I am a huge advocate for riding the horse you already own, which in my case is a big Standardbred mare from the pacing track,

Photo by Jessica Anderson

but some of my friends ride Appaloosas as well as a variety of gaited breeds and more than a few horses who can honestly be called "brown in color, pedigree unknown."  I'd really like to emphasize that, for a beginning endurance rider, the best horse for the sport is the horse you already love to ride.

Finally, we talked about Mistakes, because everybody makes some.  Over-conditioning is the mistake I'd like to see made by fewer new endurance riders.  It's easy to get caught up in the goal of being able to ride all day, and preparing for it by riding long hours 5 or 6 or even 7 days per that by the day of your first event, the horse is tired.  That's the "Bad Idea Fairy" way to train.

The Bad Idea Fairy and her Purpaloosa horse

photo by Monica Bretherton

My preferred schedule is to train 3 days a week, maximum--and if I'm smart, I'll make one of those days a riding lesson to sharpen up my skills in the saddle.  If riders feel that more conditioning is needed, I recommend they hop on out to their own gym to lift some weights or run some laps--rider fitness is as important as horse fitness!

What I wish I'd talked more about
We just didn't have time to talk about how much fun the sport is, and how nice the people are.  It's really lovely to see how helpful endurance riders can be, not only to their friends, but to newbies as well.  And it's not unusual--endurance riders are well-known for their welcoming attitude.

I wish we'd had more time to talk about conditioning a horse for that first event, and building up a "base" of fitness, but it would take more than 15 minutes to cover it all.  I guess for that, you probably should READ THE BOOK.

Speaking of READING THE BOOK, I forgot to tell listeners that the first chapter is FREE!

Click HERE to read the first chapter of E101--free!
So, I guess I'll say it here, and now:

READ THE BOOK.   Better yet, BUY THE BOOK <<--that's the link to purchase.    You can order a paper copy or an e-book for your Kindle, Smartphone, or other reading device at that link.

When ordering the print version, tell 'em you heard it on "Horses in the Morning, and we'll send you an autographed copy, no extra charge!

Oh, and hey.  Glenn the Geek mentioned this in the intro, but let me say it again:

It's not too soon.

Endurance 101 makes a great gift for endurance riders, wannabee endurance riders, and for the person you want to recruit to become an endurance rider.

Order your copy HERE!

It's good.  Really.  It's good!