Fall Colors Between Rhio's Ears

Fall Colors Between Rhio's Ears

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Phase Three: They're Here!!! (The First 24 Hours)

Third conditioning ride of 2017, bringing us up to about 20 miles so far!
Almost home: Rhio's shadow and Pete's tracks in front of us.
After a wonderful 9.5 mile conditioning ride around the local gravel roads at my friend J's house, where the horses have been living since November 2015, I loaded up the boys for the two hour trek north.  With the incredibly warm weather, it was a breeze to get the trailer out of its winter spot (thanks, J! I drove into the driveway and my trailer was already sitting in the middle of it, ready to hook up!).  The boys hopped right in, as they do - I love that trailering is just not an issue for them.  It *has* been an issue in the past, when they were younger.  But, since they both had to ride in many different trailers, with many different horses, over the years (I've only had my own trailer for 10 months), they've become pretty consistent loaders/haulers.  Except that Rhio never eats hay on the trailer, ever.  This is a big bummer, but I work around it.  Luckily, most of my hauling is relatively short trips, and he does great as long as he has a tummy full of hay, grass, or beet pulp before we leave.  I'm digressing...
Munching on their first meal at home.
We arrived home about an hour before full dark, and I let the dogs out before I unloaded the horses.  The dogs had been inside since lunchtime, when hubby came home from work to let them out.  Our four canines are not in the slightest habituated to horses.  So, this made for an "interesting" exercise in dual dog-and-horse management.  Red and Rhio are completely unfazed by dogs, luckily.  Birch, our 7 month old Golden Retriever puppy, was ... overwhelmed? overexcited? taken aback? half scared to death? immediately drawn to gulping down massive quantities of horse manure as fast as possible? I'm not sure quite what the right word or phrase is here, but he proved quite the challenge. 

While trying to lead both horses, Birch was underfoot, and/or jumping up on me in his "I'm scared to death, you must save me!" mode.  Somehow we managed to get all of us into the pasture successfully, though I was trying to get Birch *out* of the pasture the whole time! As soon as I'd released the horses, and they moved off in curiosity within their new space, Birch discovered that barking and bouncing seemed to make the big, scary mystery creatures run away!  Wow, this is fun! Ummm, no, Birch, this is NOT how we do things!  I resorted to putting Red's rope halter around his torso like a harness and using the lead rope as a leash.  It actually worked great! I kept puppy in tow while I got a few flakes of hay for the boys, then took the dogs inside and fed them.
Filling buckets by headlamp, at the back corner of the house.
After all the critters were fed, it was time to haul water for the horses.  For now, I have a 20-ish gallon small rubber tank that was in the barn.  The water source is on the far back corner of the house away from the barn.  Which is entirely inconvenient, and I have already vowed, after a single evening of hauling water, that my next barn will have a water source.  With a hose, and buckets hefted into the back of the truck, I successfully filled the tank.  Whew.  Guess I won't be needing the gym for my strength workouts!

While I was settling the horses, hubby made dinner, and so I came inside to a hot meal, then before bed, we went out together to do a bedtime check and give the boys a little more hay.  Oh, I am in love with this!

First morning at home!

Rhio doing 'crazy lips' for hay.
This morning, I put my insulated Carhartt overalls on over my pjs, and went out to give hay before the sun was even over our forested eastern hill.  I was greeted with nickers, and Rhio's 'crazy lips' - a gesture meaning that he's anticipating something he likes.  There was light ice on the water, and the heavy, wet, squishy snow of the night before had hardened into a very hard and crusty layer, which made it very difficult for the horses to move around.  Luckily, I knew it would be near or above 50 again today, and soon the frozen snow would soften once again.

I went back inside, content that they were doing well, and had my tea while their beet pulp was soaking.  I finished making their meals, and went back out to feed.  I'd accidentally make their mashes a bit too sloppy for Rhio's liking, and he's a slow eater, but I used the quiet time while they were eating to clean the barn.  There was one pile of manure in the center of each stall, and a few in the doorway to outside.  It looked like one of them had laid down in the west stall, and sure enough I found some shavings stuck to Rhio.  He does love to lay down and rest, so that was a sure sign that he was already comfortable in the new digs.  Also, I've been thinking of the west stall as Rhio's and the east stall as Red's, for some reason.  I guess he concurred!

I finished up my morning with the horses just as our little "valley" was finally lit up with full sunlight.  Or was that the sunlight shining out of me?

Doggies "helping" with chores: Smokey tests the water.

And Birch cleans out the feed buckets!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Phase Two: All the Little Tasks

Inside my barn, looking at both stalls.  I intend to leave this whole area open to them, but it's not really designed to be used that way.  So, I'm trying to make it safe.
Tomorrow.  Tomorrow's the day that Red and Rhio come home. I'm pretty sure my weekend plans consist of watching the horses out the windows, and going out to see them/feed them/brush them/give them my apple cores every hour or so. I think I'm all ready for them.

I've been waiting for the FedEx guy all day, and he finally came!  In 20 minutes, I had the last 15 feet of poly tape up and had walked the whole fenceline, checking and tightening. The top and middle line are connected to the fencer, and when I plug it in, it clicks!  Hopefully that means it's all nice and hot. So, the major component of the horses-at-home project is complete - I have an enclosed pasture.

The whole fence is complete.
Over the past week, I've been doing a bunch of little things to make the barn and pasture ready.  I bought a pipe gate, and although it could use a little adjusting, it'll work for now.  I cleaned all the junk out of the stalls, and looked over every surface for protruding nails or screws (found a few).  With the help of a bunch of salt and a bunch of upper body strength, my hubby got both the big sliding barn door and the person door chopped out and opening/closing as they should.  I bought 6 trial bales of hay and have them stacked in my hay shed.  The hay guy can deliver in loads of 100 bales, if I (and the horses) like the hay, so hopefully I'll be calling him early next week to set up a delivery.  Thanks to my hubby's simple and cost efficient solution, I found a way to cover the sliding stall door hardware so I feel that I'll be able to leave the barn and stalls open for the horses to have free access.

On the left, the metal plate that the stall door latches hook onto.  This sticks out into the area I want open for them at least 6 inches.  Hubby's great idea: tennis balls!  I cut a slit in them with a hacksaw, and popped them over the ends.  Now, as long as the horses (ahem, I mean "Rhio") don't think they're toys, I'll be all set!

The bottom plate which holds the stall doors when they're closed.
And, I've found them a friend.  Daria, a retired broodmare Miniature Horse is going to be joining my herd soon.  Her only real job will be to keep Red company, so I can take Rhio away for an hour, a day, or a weekend.  She is from a friend of a friend, and I'll be going to pick her up sometime in the next several weeks.  I'm guessing she'll also be popular with nieces, nephews, and kids of friends - so come visit us! 

I still need to get their water set up, and sweep all the cobwebs and spiders (eww!) out of the nooks, crannies, and corners of the barn. And, of course, my list of things to get for the barn grows and grows!  Mostly, though, I just can't wait for tomorrow!!!

Sliding door to my little room.  It's not really a feed room - I'll be keeping their feed in the house, because there's no water at the barn and I make them soaked beet pulp every day.  And it's not really a tack room - too small for my stuff, and I'll mostly be riding away from home, so I'm going to leave my tack in my trailer.  But, it'll hold halters, grooming stuff, blankets, treats, fly spray, etc.

Interior of one of the stalls.  They have crank windows on the back, protected by bars, so I'll be able to have cross-ventilation in the summer.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Phase 1 of the Horses at Home Project

The barn with 2 strands up.  The tall posts are for the gate, and the building you can just see on the right is the 3-sided hay shed.
My little barn needs gutters.  There is ice blocking my person door.  And the big door is iced in as well.  So, a bit more work before the horses can come!
My husband and I are renting a house with a very cute, tiny barn (containing 2 stalls and not much else) and a small pasture.  Upon our move-in several weeks ago, the "pasture" was merely the perimeter of 70 wood posts with most of the insulators still present.  The poly tape fencing, the gates, and the fencer were all removed.  Today, with sunshine and 32 degrees, I began the process of enclosing the pasture so that Red and Rhio can come home.

The snow is over my knees, but a significant January thaw (including rain!) made for a pretty tough crust, now covered by about 4 inches of fluffy new snow.  I was able to walk on the crust probably at least 75% of the time I was working out there today, but the other 25% consisted of breaking through unexpectedly, often while walking backwards unrolling a spool of poly tape.  Between that, and the repetitive kneeling/standing/kneeling at each post, and the pounding/screwing of insulators, I'm pretty tired tonight!  I got the lower and middle "rails" done, and started on the top - before I ran out of screws, daylight, and energy. 
Just getting ready to begin - a line of posts without any fencing.  And Birch, "helping."
My "helper" is also tuckered out - 7 month old Birch spent his day racing around in the snow, "inspecting" my work, and chewing on lots of sticks. 

I need a few additional supplies, but I hope to get the fence completed tomorrow (except for a gate, which I haven't purchased yet) if I can find the supplies locally.  In the tiny town of Eagle River, we do not (yet!) have a farm-type store, and the local hardware store only stocked T-post insulators and supplies last time I was there - so I may have to hunt around to find the few things I need. 
A new insulator on the left, and an old broken one I had to replace, with the too-short screw.

Don't fool yourself into thinking I was working with gloves on - no chance!  My fingers/hands/wrists are so fatigued, I don't think I could open or close another insulator right now.
The posts are untreated, and are deteriorating.  Most of the insulators had to be tightened (the screws used are too short, so I will have to keep a close eye on their integrity), a few had to be repositioned entirely due to cracks or dry rot in the post, and more than a few had to have a second screw added (which I did by hand, through the flat plastic part, since I don't have a functional cordless drill).  So far, all the posts seem solid in the ground (but, the ground is frozen!)  - that is another thing I will have to check this spring after the frost is out of the ground.  I picked 2 inch wide poly tape, so I hope this looks and acts like a nice, solid fence for the boys.  Rhio is famous for getting out (by crawling *through* a fence that isn't electrified), so I'm glad the three strands of tape are fairly close together.  Now let's all cross our fingers that when I finally hook it up to the charger, it is nice and hot!  I probably won't hook up the bottom line until the snow melts however, as there were multiple places I had to clear the snow to even put it up. 
The plow bank in front of the gate area.
My next tasks to prep for the horses include getting a gate, and melting snow/chopping ice so I can both open the barn door, and get the horses through the gate area (blocked by a plow bank), and getting hay.  I expect I'll be posting more as I progress towards getting the boys home!  I am beyond thrilled to have them in my own backyard, finally, for the first time in my horse ownership life. 
A little bit is actually done!

Saturday, April 30, 2016

11 months

Eleven months ago today, Red suffered a career-ending, and nearly life-ending, injury.  I still don't know how or why he broke his splint bone.  And I don't care to ever relive last summer, which was touch-and-go as to whether he was going to pull through at all, much less ever recover enough strength and stability in the leg to even be a pasture pet.  Well, here he is now, happy in the pasture, second in command behind Zippy, and loving life.  I'm absolutely positive he would prefer to still be going out on riding adventures, but he is a happy horse nearly all the time.  The happiness exception is when Rhio is out of sight, or when Rufus the mini donkey is out of sight - those times are ear-splitting whinnying-ly tragic.

Red's days consist of eating, sleeping, and hanging with the herd.  Some days, he gets to go for a pony - tagging along while I ride Rhio.  He's done 4 miles this way, at the walk.  He comes home sore, certainly.  But no one seeing his perky ears, or how he drags on the lead rope and tries to lead, would ever consider that he didn't want to be out there, in the wide world.  I'm sure he'd love to get out more often, actually.  He has always been a horse that likes to "do stuff." 

I watch him eating, resting the bad leg.  I watch him trotting around the pasture, with a noticeable limp on some days.  I touch his injured leg, feeling the big, hard lump that is now his splint bone and lower carpal joint.  I see him struggle to stand on the bad leg for an extended period of time while the other front hoof gets trimmed, even with pain relief on board. And I watch him willingly stand there, willingly pick up his feet, willingly trot and canter around. I watch him dive into his feed bucket, sharing only with the donkey.  I watch him beg for treats, especially his favorite - carrots. I watch his eye melt when I scratch him in just the right place.  I see him stand next to Rhio with a hind foot cocked, completely at ease.  I know he is happy.  And yet it breaks my heart to think of him whole and healthy, the way he used to be.  It brings tears to my eyes to remember all the miles of trail, and road, and sheer adventure, we shared together.  I hate that I will never have that again.  And I hug him, and tell him how much I love him.

Yesterday, I was able to make his days just a little bit better, I think.  I injected his carpi (both front knees - the injured leg and the "good" leg, which also has arthritis) with steroids. This should knock down the pain and inflammation within the joints. He hates this, even deeply sedated.  Many needles end up on the ground because he flinches and twitches and generally fusses at me as I try to get them into just the right spot, a tiny crevice between bones that allows me access to the interior of the joint.  But we get it done, together.  And today, miraculously, he was standing square, bearing full and equal weight on all four legs the entire time he was eating his beet pulp mash.  I haven't seen him do that since before the injury. 

Only time will tell how comfortable I can keep him, and for how long. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Power Straps

It's been a long time since I've blogged.  I have lots to tell!  But, I will try to contain my post to just one subject: Power Straps.  What, pray tell, are power straps?  Well, they are a godsend! 

You may remember that last spring, Rhio and I had to do all our conditioning on asphalt roads.  In a month, he'd completely worn out his hoof boots at the toes.  Then, the rest of the summer, he was either shod or barefoot and we didn't have to do any road riding.  The horses have moved again (as have we), and are now living in an area with lots of quiet gravel roads (and hills!).  So our rides from the home farm are all on gravel, and to prevent excessive hoof wear, I know that Rhio requires some hoof protection.  I have a single pair of intact, useful hoof boots.  They are Red's.  They are just a bit too big for Rhio. 

We rode out for about 6 miles total last week, and I tried a wrap of athletic tape around Rhio's front hooves, to help the boots grip.  Unsurprisingly, and with minimal trotting, they eventually twisted on his hooves and clopped loudly with every step.  It was apparent that they weren't going to work for any real riding, and I needed to either order new boots or figure out a "fix."

I have a bin of hoof boot stuff - old boots, hardware for boots, accessories for boots, etc.  In my stash, I had some power straps.  These are a device that will tighten the top of the boots, and perhaps help them to stay on Rhio's feet a bit better.  I'd never used them before, and I was only slightly dismayed to discover I didn't have a matching pair -- 1 blue, 1 silver, 1 black.  So, pick two of the three and let's install!

This morning, I gathered my needed tools (Philips screwdriver, scissors, leather punch) and sat down to apply the power straps to the boots.  The instructions were a mere 3 easy steps - no problem!  As with most of my previous boot modification and maintenance attempts, this was more difficult and needed more technique than the 3 easy steps had implied.  I did not utter any curse words, but it was a near thing!  Eventually, I had them both installed and it looked just like the pictures, so hopefully they will work!
Unadulterated boot, leather punch, blue power strap, screwdriver (it would have been useful to have a third hand as well, but that wasn't on the tool list.)

Hardware for attachment, and the silver power strap.  I had to punch holes in the power straps, as well as trim them to length (they are marked by the size of the boot you are applying them to.)  This step was easy.

Hole punched in boot.  It took a bit to figure out what size hole to punch, and I still had to open it up a bit with the screwdriver as well. Also you can see the V-shaped opening between the two sides of the boot. This will spread open under tension when the boot fits properly.  It is too loose on Rhio, and so the power straps actually squeeze this V together, to give the top of the boot more tension when applied to the hoof.

Two boots with two powerstraps! Success!

They're on!  You can also see the white athletic tape on the hooves. 
Today's ride was 10 miles of walk, trot, and even one nice canter up a hill. The boots went on easily despite their newly-tightened top circumferences, and I still used the wrap of athletic tape for extra insurance.  We had zero issues the entire ride, so much so that I forgot he had the boots on, and happily cantered up that hill. 

It was a lovely afternoon ride, almost 60 degrees, sunny, and a light breeze.  We went two miles down the road solo, met up with a new friend and her mount, then did a 6 mile loop "around the block," before finishing our last two miles solo.  Rhio didn't much care for leaving his newfound best buddy behind for the last two miles home, and whinnied and carried on like a very sad pony.  However, he maintained his forward trot and in no time, we were back home to his new herd, just before the sun set.

Post-ride and looking good!

The new herd (plus Rufus the mini donkey, who isn't in the picture)
We are looking forward to many miles of conditioning along these roads, up and down these hills, and with our new friends.  I'm confident the boots are going to work with their newly-installed Power Straps!

Pretty boy Red was very happy to have Rhio return!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

What About Rhio?

Sorry, sorry! I have been terrible at keeping up with my blogging this summer!  There is much news in my horsie life, but I will try to contain myself so this doesn't get ridiculously long.  The boys have moved to a new boarding barn, about a month ago.  Things are going relatively well there, and Red is getting to be a horse, part-time.  More about Red in another post! 

Rhio has had a tough summer.  On May 30, the boys moved to the farm out west of town, with trail access and lots of other boarders.  Red got hurt.  Rhio spent a few weeks hanging with Red in the small paddock, but as Red went on stall rest for his fracture, Rhio went out with the herd (one of three at this facility).  His herd was 6-7 horses, with 2 mares in the group. They had a pasture during the day, and a large dry lot at night.  The freedom to run around, and gallop up and down the lane leading from the dry lot to the pasture, was very good for him.  He loves room to move!  He buddied up with another gelding pretty quickly; interestingly, it was the other lightest-in-color horse in the group, as most of the group had dark coats.  I hate to say it, but horses do frequently seem to discriminate, or at least pick their friends, based on coat color!  We had direct trail access, and friends to ride with; life seemed good. 

In a matter of 2-3 weeks, Rhio had lost almost 100 pounds, despite daily grain and daily beet pulp.  One of the horses in the herd was especially rough and violent toward the "new" horses in the group: Rhio and the other two, newer geldings.  He was a bully.  Rhio is a pacifist and a conflict-avoider.  He chose to stay in the dry lot well into the morning, after the herd was at pasture, just to avoid this particular horse, who was guarding the lane to the pasture and not allowing the newer horses to go out.  I did not fully understand when I chose this facility that the horses were not given hay at night, but taken off pasture without feed for 12-14 hours every night.  For "easy-keepers" and horses that don't work very hard, this might be ok. (Although I really don't believe it is okay for any horse to be routinely fasted for long periods of time!  Their gastrointestinal tracts and physiology are very negatively impacted by this type of management; they are designed to eat 24/7 as their stomachs produce acid continuously, regardless of whether they are eating or not.) For Rhio, this management scheme, unsurprisingly, spelled disaster!  Additionally, the pasture was totally overgrazed and did not provide adequate forage whatsoever. 

I went to the barn every day.  All summer.  For the first half of the summer, I went twice a day. It was 22 miles one way from my house.  I bought my own hay.  I fed Rhio supplemental hay, in addition to copious amounts of beet pulp, alfalfa pellets, and his ration of pelleted feed and fat supplement.  I quit riding him, except to ride him out to graze along the trail.  I hand grazed him.  I watched him acquire bites, kicks, scrapes, and wounds.  I watched his ribs become more and more visible.  I cried.  I fumed.  I lamented, yet again, that I need to board my horses and cannot have them at home.  But the one thing that needed to happen, couldn't.  I needed them to move to a better place, where they would be fed.  But I had Red, injured and on stall rest, unable, physically, to endure a trailer ride to a new home.  I was stuck.  They were stuck.  Looking back on it now, I had no idea how stressed I really was. 

Some of his wounds.

One time I tried to ride, and dismounted within a mile to let him eat, because he was desperate for food.

At the end of August, I decided it was now or never, and Red had to be ready to move.  I found a new place only 8 miles from my house, with plentiful pasture and a few herd mates.  There is a barn with stalls if need be, and good hay.  The downside: nowhere to ride except the asphalt roads with no shoulders.  But, I wasn't able to enjoy the trail access I had, anyway, since I wasn't willing to ride Rhio in his stressed, skinny state. 

The day we moved (heartfelt thanks to my friend S. for spending her evening hauling my horses with her rig!), the boys loaded right up, Red in a protective, supportive bandage on his injured leg, and we hauled them about 45 minutes to my friend L.'s house.  We dropped Rhio off there, where he spent an overnight with his endurance ride buddy Bravo (eating non-stop, according to L.) and took Red on to the new boarding barn nearer my house. I met L. the next day, and we were off to the Northern Highland distance ride near Merrill, WI (north central Wisconsin).  Rhio and I hadn't been to a ride since June! 
Rhio and Bravo staring at ???
Ride camp was in a huge alfalfa and grass hay field.  We set up a pen and the horses were in heaven!  Rhio and I happily completed a 25 mile LD ride on Saturday with L. and Bravo, placing 6th.  It may be the only ride I can remember where Rhio willingly gave up the lead and followed Bravo the whole day!  It is so interesting how the horses work out for themselves what the proper order of the group shall be, and it is SO much easier to go along with their decision!  I hemmed and hawed quite a lot about whether to compete Rhio, given his 100 pound weight loss and lack of conditioning. However, I decided that his years of competition and fitness gave him enough base to handle 25 miles, even with less body condition than I would prefer.  I was not wrong, as he let me know in no uncertain terms that he was loving every minute of being out there on trail.  I do believe he managed to visibly gain weight over the weekend, despite competing.  We had a super weekend, and on Sunday, Rhio joined Red (who was VERY happy to see him!) in the small paddock at the new barn, happily munching hay.
Riding with Bravo!

Oh, we love this!
Rhio did not require paddock confinement, and so he has been on grass pasture 24/7 since moving to the new  barn.  He has had the pasture to himself, mostly, only in the past two weeks spending some gradually increasing time with the herd.  The acclimatization with the new herd seems to be going well, and I am happy with the slow, methodical method the new barn owner M. uses to introduce the horses.  I go every day with their beet pulp mashes, but I think the main factor in Rhio's weight gain (he is back to normal) has been the 24/7 pasture and zero stress from the herd. 

Enjoying the new pasture.
He has, unfortunately, been dealing with ulcer-like symptoms for the past month. To truly diagnose stomach ulcers in horses requires a very, very long endoscope and a look-see around their stomach.  I haven't done this with Rhio, so I cannot say for certain that he has ulcers.  However, when he starts not finishing his grain or beet pulp, walking away from it, and starts licking his buckets clean again after going on a horsie antacid supplement, I feel pretty safe in declaring that he has ulcers.  I am sure that the ulcers developed at the previous barn, between the emotional/herd stress, the prolonged fasting on a daily basis, and the weight loss, but he was too hungry to show symptoms while there.  In retrospect, I should have had him on the antacid supplement all summer, and I wish I had.  However, I am happy to report that he is now cleaning his buckets thoroughly and seems to be very happy and relaxed.  He's put his weight back on as well, and is growing in a nice winter coat already. 
Zoomies in the new pasture!  And, yes, that's Red in the background - out in the pasture!
Since the ride the weekend that I moved them, we had only ridden once from the new barn - a 5+ mile easy jog around the paved roads (while the Packers game was on, so the traffic was extremely minimal!  I highly recommend strategic ride scheduling to coincide with Packers football when you live in Wisconsin).  He is ready to go-go-go, but we have nowhere to really ride - big downside of the new barn.  Enter my very good friend B. and her husband T. - they hatched a plan for Rhio to go have a week-long sleepover at their house (an hour north of me), so B. and I could ride together a whole bunch.  Woo hoo!!!  I declare this a most excellent plan, as my husband is out of state this week and I'm on my own.

On Sunday, they picked us up and all three of us went to their local trails to ride.  Fun, fun, fun!!!  Rhio and I had a blast seeing trail for the first time in a month, and we did an easy 8+ mile ride on a gorgeous fall afternoon.  After settling Rhio into their back pasture, we hatched plans for more rides during the week.  Yesterday, B. was able to get off work early and we trailered the 5 miles to the local trails, and did a real conditioning ride.  Rhio was on fire, leading B. and her boy Scout on a 12+ mile trot/canter with an overall average pace nearly 7 mph.  Zoom, zoom!  That is plenty fast enough to complete an endurance ride in the time allotted, with extra room to spare.  We saw turkeys, Cooper's hawks, and a porcupine "running" down the trail in front of us as fast as it could go.  Rhio was so, so forward and happy; it was a blast to ride him.  I noticed that when he led (99% of the time), he used his back, rounding it up under my seat and moving out in a really balanced, efficient, effortless stride.  Those adorable ears were pricked, eagerly looking down the trail in front of us.  There was so much joy in both of us, it's really hard to put into words.  During the 1% of the ride that Scout led, Rhio traveled with a hollow back, head and neck thrown up in the air, ears back, head weaving from side to side (so he could look behind us - apparently he takes back-of-the-pack responsibility to make sure nothing sneaks up on us VERY seriously!), gait all bouncing and atrociously uncomfortable to ride.  Huh, I can't say that I've ever noticed before quite how different he moves (very poorly) when he's not leading.

Rhio checks the map at the Machickanee.
Machickanee trails
Post- 12 miler at the Machickanee.
This is B. on Scout - Red's half brother!  Both born in 1995, with the same daddy - they likely grew up together and were weaned together.  And boy do they have some of the same traits!  For example, both like to carry a mouthful of grass on trail - so when we slow down to take a breather, they have a meal at the ready.
We have another ride planned for tomorrow, and again Saturday with T. and then Rhio will go home.  It's like a week of the joyous vacation for us both (yes, I'm calling extreme athletic pursuits "vacation") - then back to "boring" home.  We have one last endurance ride planned for the year, the second weekend in October.  With this week of conditioning, and if my musculoskeletal issues allow, we will be doing the 55 mile endurance event to round out our 2015 competition season! 

By the way, Rhio did earn his 1000 mile UMECRA award this year and we'll be getting a plaque at convention in January!  Woo hoo!!!  We actually earned it at the first ride of the year, but it's taken a while to straighten his mileage record out and get it officially noted.   I am definitely more interested in the longevity awards in my sport: 1000 mile UMECRA horse (1000 miles in competition, including all divisions), 3000 mile AERC (seems like a pipedream, but it's a goal to work toward - you get your horse's picture and story in Endurance News for this one!), and Decade Team AERC (10 years of endurance competition as a team - Rhio and I have 6 years as of 2015).  I'm very proud of my pony, and feel very accomplished to have reached 1000+ miles in competition with him - we have been partners every step of the way.