Saturday, February 15, 2014

Endurance History: The first 8 months: Dec 2005 to Aug 2006: Saddle and Tack, Education, Castration, Conditioning and Finding Mentors

                                           Where I ride in the Winter.  Bishop, CA.

I had purchased my horse, Caartouche CS (Rio),  in November 2005 (see previous post) and he was shipped to me from Colorado to Bishop, CA  about a month later.  Shipping was delayed because of snow storms.  I had decided to not have him castrated right away.  I thought I would ride and compete in endurance with him for a year and then decide if I should have him cut or not.  It took some convincing of the owner of where I board my horse to allow me to have a stallion at her place.  I had only met her once, and she knew I was green.  She did have a place for him though and said that she would give it a try.  It is more challenging to own a stallion because in most cases you have to keep them separate to the point where their paddock is not next to any other horses.
I live in Mammoth Lakes, CA. in the beautiful Eastern Sierras with a population of 8,250. The elevation is  8,000 feet.   I board my horse in Bishop, CA in the Winter (approximately 6 to 7 months of the year).   Bishop is 35 miles South with an elevation of 4,200 feet.  I have been boarding Rio at Millpond Equestrian Center since purchasing Caartouche.  It is a wonderful facility with access to many great trails.  There is also temporary boarding available for anyone interested in riding some awesome trails in this area.  Here are a few photos from some of our conditioning rides.

                                   My lab, Hana.  Love her.

Saddle and Tack
Bobbi (see my previous post) gave me a lot of great advice regarding endurance riding, including tack.  She recommended Specialized Saddles, and I ordered my Trailmaster while I was at her place.  I love this saddle!  I also ordered my bridle, reins and breastcollar while I was there from Hought Tack.  I love my tack!  I bought a Myler Kimberwick bit and my horse has done fine with it.   I bought and used a Supracor saddle pad, but my horse ended up getting a bad saddle sore from it.  I then bought and used an Equipedic saddle pad that has been great.  It is the only pad I have used for the last 6 years.  My only complaint is that it is not easy to clean.   In December 2013, I finally purchased another pad just to have a second pad.   After much research, I bought a Toklat Woolback.  No inserts.  I would of purchased a Toklat Matrix if I had more money at the time.  So far the Woolback is working well. This is my horse tacked up in 2012 with the saddle and tack that I have used on him since owning him (2005) with the exception of the Supracor saddle pad (now have the Equipedic):

Endurance Education
I started my endurance education prior to purchasing my horse.  I read most everything I found regarding endurance riding.   The most helpful sites that I found were the following.  A lot of great links on these sites for everything an endurance rider needs to know.  There is even more information available these days such as the Facebook pages AERC and Green Bean Endurance.
2. (because this was one of my goals)

From Stallion to Gelding

I ended up not keeping Caartouche a stallion for a year. Although he was very well behaved (you would not guess that he was a stallion), I had him castrated in April, 2006.   Although he has excellent breeding and I am certain he would have passed on his excellent traits to his get, I realized that I did not have enough experience to own/compete a stallion.   The hard part was the after care.  I drove to Bishop every day for 2 weeks or so and per the vet’s instructions I lunged him at a brisk trot for 20 minutes and then hosed him with cold water where he was cut for 10 minutes or so.  Poor guy.  If I had my balls cut off, I would not want to go jogging.  I would want to lie on the couch with an icepack.  The purpose for the brisk trotting is to get the blood flowing, which helps the healing process.  So we did that and that was that.

Conditioning  and Finding Mentors
Being off the track, Caartouche already had a good athletic base, but he did not have experience out on the trail.  And as I stated previously, I was a newbie too.   Those first 7 months that I rode him on the trail were psychological training.  I could write an entire blog just about the challenge of getting him to cross water (but I won’t).  Luckily, one of my closest friends, Janet Titus, is a horse trainer at Millpond.  She specializes in starting Mustangs and has done the Mustang Challenge a few times and has placed in the top ten.  Here is her blog:  Janet helped me so much by doing groundwork with Caartouche and then teaching me how to do groundwork with him.  I have found this to be very important for the relationship/trust/bond between my horse and I. 
At the time I purchased my horse, I did not know anyone else who rode endurance.  However, I lucked out hugely meeting the one person who did have endurance riding experience in Mammoth Lakes who just happened to be working (temporarily) where I worked!  Megan Mullowney did not have her own horse, but was riding and conditioning a horse for someone else, and she was able to move that horse to where I board my guy.  Many of my conditioning rides before my first endurance competition were done with her and the horse she was conditioning.  She taught me a lot about pacing, electrolytes, horse camping, among other things.  I did my first AERC ride with her in August, 2006; the Eastern Sierra Classic 30 mile limited distance.  After that, I was on my own, but it was extremely helpful to ride with an experienced rider for my first ride.   I am so thankful for all that Megan taught me.   
It was around July, 2006 that my friend/trainer Janet told me about Dick Dawson, who lives near Bishop and has been doing endurance riding forever.  I am usually a shy type of person, but not so much when I get passionate about something.  I called Dick up and after talking with him a few times and meeting him, I instantly recruited him to be my mentor along with his wife Carolynn.  Dick was entered to ride Tevis that year (2006), which was about 2 weeks away, and I asked if he needed any extra crew people.  I don’t think he really needed any more people, but he let me tag along anyway.  I will be writing a separate blog regarding Dick and Carolynn Dawson and their importance to my endurance education and success, but I am mentioning them briefly now because my very first endurance experience was going to Truckee and traveling to Auburn (in a vehicle) to help crew for a Tevis rider! Soo very exciting!  I was signed up to ride the Eastern Sierra Classic 30 miler the following week.  I would have never thought that the following year that I would be entering and riding Tevis myself, 11 months after my first AERC competition. 
My next blog will be about my first AERC race in August, 2006, and the races that I did the rest of that year.

I have my tentative outline for future blogs (subject to change) about my endurance experience from the beginning (Nov 2005) to present (Feb 2014).

1.       Training and conditioning in the beginning plus miscellaneous things like the tack I use, deciding to have my horse castrated, and finding my mentors (Dec 2005 to Aug 2006).
2.       My first AERC competition and additional ride highlights (Aug 2006 to July 2007).
3.       Completing Tevis within 11 months of our first endurance ride (July 2007).
4.       Additional ride highlights in 2007 and 2008 (Sept 2007 to Oct 2008).
5.       Sponsoring a junior.
6.       First pull, plus 2009 complicated lameness issue.
7.       Suspensory injury diagnosis and rehab. (Oct 2009 to Feb 2010)
8.       Back in competition.  Ride highlights 2010 to 2012.
9.       Second Tevis completion 2012.
10.   Barbed wire injury and rehab (Aug 2012 to May 2013).
11.   First 50 since barbed wire injury, Fire Mountain 50, 1/18/14.  Yay-we completed.  OK, now I am up to date.

As I stated in my first blog, my main purpose for writing this blog is mainly for memory/record keeping for personal reasons as well as sharing my story with any others who are interested in endurance riding, and/or horses in general.  Wishing everyone happy trails.