In which I revisit the issue of keeping a big dark horse cool

The best way to keep a hard-working endurance horse cool during a strenuous event is to begin with a small, narrow, grey horse. Preferably an Arab.

Fiddle is big:  16 hands, 1200 pounds.  She has a big engine,

and her engine runs hot.

During an endurance ride, cooling is a major issue for all horses.  Here's a quote from an article by Dr. Susan Garlinghouse, DVM:

During a fifty-mile ride in ambient temperatures, the average horse will produce enough heat to melt a 150-pound block of ice, and then bring that water to a boil. If that heat is not removed, the internal body temperature will quickly rise high enough to literally cook the entire body.

Please note that the numbers cited above are for an average horse.  Not a 1200 pound Dragon, who naturally produces even more heat.

And not a Moose, either.

Moose and his rider ran into metabolic trouble at the April Daze ride, which sent me scurrying to my blog archives to find the post I wrote about cooling a big dark horse.  Turns out that…

In which we go to the "Dry Side" to help out a bit at April Daze

When Fiddle strained a tendon two weeks ago I automatically erased the April Daze ride from her schedule

...but not from mine.
Gail Williams could probably run a ride just fine without help from me and Jim...but she hasn't had to do that for 15 years, so why take a chance? 
We loaded up the van with sleeping bags and dogs and headed over the pass to what we normally call the "Dry Side" of our state.  During the long drive, I amuse myself by taking photos of the dogs.

We had clear skies and dry roads coming through the pass on Friday, but the weather forecast was ominous for the Spokane area on Saturday:  100% chance of heavy rain and winds.

And guess who forgot to pack the barn boots before we left home?

Friday evening, the skies at Riverside Park were friendly and blue.

Saturday morning, not so much.

It started out raining, and then the weather really got the hang of precipitating.

In which the Dragon is slightly borked, but it's not as bad as I feared

It's gonna be a long, sad Springtime.

We were trotting down the trail with Rosemary and Kitty on Sunday morning, about 4 miles out, when suddenly it felt like one of Fiddle's rear wheels came off.

Lame.  Lame lame lame lame lame.  


I sent the others on ahead, and Fiddle and I walked the "shortcut", about 2.5 miles back to the trailer.  Ordinarily, I wouldn't want to take a lame horse for a long walk like that, but sometimes you do what needs to be done.

At home:

I sent the following email message to Dr "Dear", our favorite equine vet:

ICE BUCKET FUN: Fee: "Hey, small biped. Got food?" Me:  "Dinner is in this bucket right here, but I need you to do someth---" Fee:. "Foooood!" Me: "Yep, just as soon as you put your foot in this buck---" Fee: "Foooood! Food. Food. Foooood! Hey biped, that's my foot." Me: "Gimme the foot, you get food." Fee: "Take foot. Hurts anyway. Give food!" Me: "Foot…

In which the Bad Idea Fairy rides with her Favorite Junior

So, people online were asking about Juniors at endurance rides.

I'm the Bad Idea Fairy.
Nobody asked for my opinion, but I'm going to give my opinion anyhow.   I may be 5,000 years old, but I was a young Fairy once, and  I haven't forgotten how the Senior Fairies brung me up right!  

Rules for Juniors Who Want To Ride with the Bad Idea Fairy:

Forget what your momma said about nutrition.  Camping is a great time to discover what 3 meals a day of Skittles and Mountain Dew can do for your ability to concentrate.  And hey:  bonus time to play games on your phone if you're too wired to sleep the night before a ride, who doesn't love that?Honey, that raincoat might be comfortable, and it might keep you warm and dry when it dumps down sleet, but there are gonna be photographers out there, and that outfit totally clashes with mine.  Functional is for other people.  We are here to look fabulous.We're goin' my speed, and that's final.  If you want to choose a pace base…

In which the music in my head this morning is inspired by the cat

Fortunately, the Talking Heads provide a nice, rhythmic internal soundtrack for trail trotting.

In which I give tools to readers to evaluate endurance books

"Fake news" isn't always about politics. Sometimes it's about horses.

I recently wrote an article for Endurance News magazine that included a list of books written about long distance riding.  (I will publish the list here after EN prints the April issue), and was surprised at the number of books that have been published in the last few years.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised.  When we were shopping Endurance 101 out to publishers in 2011 and 2012, this was the way a book got made:  a publisher bought it from the author, and then published it, and then sent (some) money to the author.
Late in 2011, things began to change.  
As a result of the economic downturn after 2008, mainstream publishers were buying fewer books.

At the same time, self-publishing suddenly got easier.  Amazon and others made editing software readily available, and gave authors a platform to distribute work to the whole world.  

There has always been a strong stigma attached to "vanity pres…

In which we hit the target and spend three hours trotting in sunshine

Three hours or fifteen miles, whichever happens first. That was our riding target today.

After her splendid vet check on Thursday with Doctor Dear,  it was time to rev the ol' standardbred engines a bit more.

Today we had temps up to 64*F at home on the north side of the house (that's where the weather station is mounted) and it was nearly that warm on the trails.

 I started the day in two shirts, a warm vest, and polarfleece tights, and had stripped down to the bottom layers by the time I mounted up at the trailhead.

Season transitions are tricky around here--the sky might be blue and clear, but a north wind can bring temps down fast.  Or the sky can be heavy and overcast, but as long as the rain doesn't fall, it's a pleasant day.

Fiddle would have preferred another horse to go along with us, and she gazed wistfully at other horses when we met them on the trail.

 But nobody we saw on the trails today was travelling at Dragon Speed.

So we were solo all day.

I'm gonn…