Tomorrow Rhio and I head off to our first ride of the season - and our first time riding at the northern Kettle Moraine. We're stoked! I've been cleaning stuff (i.e. buckets, saddle pads, etc), 'erranding' to make sure we're well supplied, packing and repacking, forgetting and remembering stuff endlessly all day. In short, its been a routine day-before-we-leave-for-a-ride day. In the evening, I headed to the barn to give Rhio a pre-ride mash with salt and a new pro- and pre- biotic we're trying. While he was chowing down, I was working on the endless process of shedding out his winter fuzzies. Glancing at his right front foot - WHAT?!?!?! NO SHOE?!?!?! It (the hoof) is fine - no chunks missing. It (the shoe) is nowhere to be found, even in just the drylot (which is a confined area to search, right?). However, we leave at 3 pm tomorrow and I'm sure I can't get my farrier out to get that shoe back on before we leave. And, so, what to do? I do have my extremely worn Gloves, completely missing their toes from all our asphalt riding. Putting one on the right front hoof will hopefully help even him out, since with the shoe still on the left front, he will be asymmetrical as he moves - both in height and in weight. Asymmetry is generally an enemy when we do the number of miles and hours of movement that we do in endurance. I will try the booted right front and see how it goes. I was planning for a 25 miler each day, but I will now just *hope* for no issues and a solid completion in the first 25 miles, then go from there.
I put so much time and effort into prepping for rides, both in conditioning my horse, but also in organizing life at home so that I can be away for a weekend, that the thought of having to miss one that I'm all set to go on is really disappointing. We are going! Let's just cross a few fingers, toes, and hooves, that Lady Luck will be in our corner this weekend.
It's been over a month since I last posted; I have been riding, but not as much as I would like! Our stats so far: March - 55 miles, April - 5.25. Yes, in April we have a mere one tenth of the miles we did in March! How does this happen - when we're supposedly prepping for our return to distance competition this year? Well, I'll tell you. I was gone or had house guests for half of this month. And apparently I've misplaced my Superwoman cape, and cannot spirit myself into two places at once.
Our first ride is Kettles N Bits, coming up May 2 and 3. We are going with a new endurance friend, and the ride is just over an hour away. These will be entirely new trails for us, which is really exciting. Given our significant drop off on mileage, we will certainly be competing in the 25 mile ride(s); if we're lucky and both feel well, we'll do 25 miles each day Saturday and Sunday. This will be our first time on a trail this year. Honestly, this is not too much different from some previous years and I always anticipate the first competition of the season is really just for conditioning, anyway.
New shoes today!
To that end, I had a "light bulb moment" yesterday. Rather than putting Rhio in the situation of a Limited Distance "race," where he channels his best and most intense inner Kentucky Derby winner x Fire Breathing Dragon cross, I will take him in the Competitive division! Brilliant! Why didn't I think of this before? I have only completed (I think) two competitive rides so far in my career. They are not races, as there is an optimal time to complete the course and you are penalized for being too fast OR too slow. A small group of riders starts together, and generally will ride together for the whole ride. Rhio loves to have buddies. Rhio will be relaxed. Rhio will travel at a nice pace. We can have our nice time conditioning, and thoroughly enjoy ourselves. We shall not race. We shall not run fast (because we are not yet ready for it.) We shall have a most lovely and enjoyable time. Yahoo! I'm so glad UMECRA offers the Competitive division right alongside the AERC endurance and LD rides. I'm pretty sure Rhio won't do LD rides ever again; they are not a good fit for his "race brain."
Happy Birthday to my first horse and first love!
In other news, Red just recently turned 20 and seems to be having some joint trouble brewing in a carpus ("knee"). When I did his routine spring hock injection, I also put a little "juice" into his carpus. And, he's just completed a loading dose 28 day course of Adequan. He's been out conditioning a bit in March with S. riding, and we're hoping to get him back out there putting some miles on soon. I am hoping he is sound enough to keep conditioning, because he does so love to move out. If all goes well, perhaps he and S. will do a 25 miler sometime this season. However, I am considering that his body may be telling me its time to scale back his riding to something more sedate. I hope not, as he will be 'sad pony' if that's the case.
The last photos are the boys on turn out in the outdoor arena after their two weeks stuck in the dry lot while I was gone and had guests. They had plenty of energy to spare!