Saturday, May 3, 2014

In which I was inspired years ago and finally write about it

Mel wrote an awesome post recently about the stories that happened before she started blogging.

That got me thinking that I should maybe tell the story of my very first experience at an endurance ride.

The year was 1998, and I had recently moved my horse, my dogs, and myself away from my hometown. 

In the process of moving, I fell among questionable company.  You know, the kind of people who ask questions like, "Hey, I've been thinking about this endurance thing.  You wanna try it?"

Oh, hell yes.

Although I was enrolled in graduate school and working a full-time job, I wanted to do that endurance-thing more than anything else in the world.  I rode my mare constantly that summer, read the old Ridecamp listserv like a crazy woman, and dreamed of the Tevis.

It never occurred to me at the time that my beautiful-on-the-inside mare and I wouldn't quite fit in.  I knew that endurance riding Was. My. Destiny.

But, when we arrived in camp, clearly there was One of These Things That Was Not Like The Others:
1998 picture of Story, me, and Merridog on the trail

My horse wasn't slender and spritely.  She didn't have a chiseled profile, a babydoll head, dear little tiny ears, and a "blow-up-my-nose-and-I'll-carry-you-to-the-moon" expression on her face.  

My riding companion was not much help.  Her horse (a foxtrotter/arab cross) at least looked like an Arab, and he was being an idiot.  He looked like he belonged in the crowd.

My mare was brown.  She was sturdy.  She had a head like a boot-box and an expression that clearly said "I am too sensible to let you get hurt out here."

We didn't fit in.  

My heart was somewhere near my knees, and I was ready to load that good mare back in the trailer and go home before we even started.

And then....Steph Teeter trotted into camp, having done the first (?20 mile?) loop of the 100-miler on her world-class horse Nature's Khruschev.

I recognized Steph from photos I'd seen posted on Ridecamp.  But I'd never seen a picture of her horse.

2010 photo of Krusty stolen from Merri Melde's blog.
He's a Orlov--in other words, a Standardbred with a Russian accent!

Nature's Khruschev didn't have a babydoll head, or dainty ears.  He didn't look an Arab at all!  He looked like Story...only about 8 inches taller.

And when Steph dismounted, it made sense.  She is at least 8 inches taller than me.  (and about as big around as my left arm, but that's not important here).

Clearly, not having an Arab wasn't slowing down Steph Teeter.  She and Krusty took first, last, and best condition at the Bully Wully ride that day.

I decided to stay.  We rode the novice distance--14 miles.  We got lost twice.  We stopped and picked blackberries.  And when we got back to camp, my sensible mare vetted through like she'd spent her whole life waiting to do this sport.

photo by Merri Melde, stolen from Facebook
Although my mare Story died too young in 2006, Krusty and Steph are still together.  She posted a photo of him on Facebook yesterday.

He still doesn't have a babydoll head or dainty ears.

I think he's beautiful. 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

In which the weather is lovely, until it isn't lovely at all

It's hard to believe that, as I write this, the sky is dumping down a gullywasher rain.

Because, Friday we did this:

Construction materials stacked and ready,
supervisors standing by and ready to eat doughnuts

Finished product: a little patio for sunbathing floofs

And Saturday, we did this:

Rented a gas-powered splitter and processed the huge gnarly chunks of firewood
that are too huge and gnarly to split by hand

 And this morning, (of course), we did this:

Either 10.45 miles or 11.25 miles, depending which GPS you choose to believe

Fiddle has apparently decided that I am healed up enough to ride properly again.

In other words: a lot of that caretaking behavior she showed towards me when my hip was AWOL has expired--she was breathing fire and farting fireworks when we left the trailhead with the Usual Suspects this morning.

So, I turned her around and trotted her away from the "herd" until we achieved full compliance.

It took a while.

Twenty minutes or so. She was pretty mad at me, at first.
Then, she gave up and got happy.
Finally, with attitude firmly readjusted, we rejoined the group.

Ominous clouds rolling in from the west, but no rain on the riders!

It was a beautiful day for a ride.

Look who is so confident in the saddle now!

The weather looked even more grey and unfriendly when we met up with friends on the trail

Katie (center) plans to help Margie and Liza get through their
first 25-miler at Mount Adams in a few weeks
 but we stayed happy and our tack stayed dry all the way back to the trailer.

Happy ears, happy Dragon

Now that I'm home, it's another story.

The roaring sound in the video is the actual noise the weather was making--I didn't manage to catch any thunderclaps, but we had some of those as well.

"Raining cats and dogs" is hardly sufficient to describe the stuff falling on the roof right now.

"Raining peas and carrots" is more picturesque, but not terribly accurate.

How would you describe the sensation of listening to a frog-strangling rain hammer the shingles overhead while hunkered down in a comfy recliner near the fire, with floofy dogs at my feet and a warm tabby trying to emulate a toque from the back of the chair?

Leave your thoughts in the comment box.

But here's one thing I can say for sure:

Duana took this photo of the Dragon and me,
heading uphill at a trot towards the trailhead.

It. Is. Good. Here.