Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Virginia Highlands Endurance Challenge, Vet Check to Finish

The ride back to camp was pretty uneventful.  We mostly cantered back through the range land, trotted and cantered the good sections on the trail and walked the steep climbs.  The last 10 miles I was by myself, no one passed and I didn't catch up to anyone.  Then about a 1 1/2 miles from the finish as we were coming down the last steep switch back I could  hear horse hooves clattering in the riverbed below.  We pushed on and caught up with 3 different groups of 7 horses total.  They were all stopped in the water resting and sponging.  I stopped Hank to let him drink but you know the saying.
 He wouldn't so we went on and passed all the others.
 We walked into the finish alone.
 J then announced that we were in 8th place.  I couldn't believe it!  But the ride is not finished until the horse's pulse drops to 60.
 Now Hank decided to drink.  We quickly unsaddled and started sponging.  Pulse 72.  More riders coming in.  Come on Hank, you can do it.  More sponging, grazing and encouragement.  I pulsed him at 60.  Quick to the officials  pulse back up to 64.  Then bouncing 60/64.  Then TIME!  Finished in 9th place.
Through the Vet Check all A's except for 3 A-s in gait/impulsion/attitude.  I think it was my fault for not being able to run very well.  30 miles in 6:48 min. (5:42 actual ride time plus 50 min hold and 3 min to pulse down at 1st check then 13 min to pulse down at finish).  I think that makes the official time 5:58. (they don't count the hold time).   I weighed Hank after the vet check - 1065.  He lost 70 pounds in 24 hours.   J said 42 riders started and only 18 received completions (finished within the time limit with no vet disqualifications).  The endurance rider's saying is "To finish is to win", which is true in this sport, but it sure feels good to be in the top 10.   How's that for a big Paint?  This was Hank's 2nd endurance ride ever and my 3rd.  I'm so proud of Hank.  He did everything I asked.
Thanks again to my wonderful crew.
Hank is fine.  We rounded up cattle with him yesterday.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Virginia Highlands Endurance Challenge, Start to Vet Check

After a restful night I was up at 6:30.  My watch was now inexplicably showing the correct time.  After taking care of Hank I walked down to watch the start of the 50 mile ride.  It was exciting as usual with large groups of riders trotting and cantering out.  I started saddling up at 7:30 to be ready for the start of the 30 mile ride at 8:00.  There was one other local rider I was talking to before the start.  I asked when she was leaving and she said after the rush.  Well, the start of the 30 was not a rush.  When time was called people just started meandering out.  Not wanting to be over time like last year I decided to take off near the front.  Hank was calm and I had no safety concerns.  We trotted and cantered on level or gentle slopes but walked on the steep climbs.  I think there was a elevation change of 2500 feet so lots of steep climbs.  I was passed a lot on these climbs but caught up at the water stops where the ones that passed me were resting.  Then came a new part of the trail that opened up into rolling pasture/range land.   Here Hank shined!  We were able to canter almost all of the 4 miles through the open space and make up tons of time.  Sadly, as I entered the range land, there was a horseless rider.  She had been thrown and her horse ran off.  She was o.k. but the horse still had not been found by nightfall. 
 The last 1/2 mile was a steep climb again so we walked that to try and get his pulse down.  The pulse has to be below 64 before the vet check and then there is a 50 minute hold before going back down the trail.  What a difference it makes to have a wonderful crew there waiting to help you out.  V greeting me at the timer and J and E were there to help unsaddle.
 Hank's pulse was down immediately and he flew through the Vet Check with all A's again.
 V and E took turns holding him and letting him graze during the hold time.  Anyone notice any similarity between V and Hank?
 I got to rest and eat a little lunch while Hank was being expertly attended to.
 The ride manager commented that I was riding with the bare essentials.  Lead rope and spare shoe on this side and sponge on the other.  I was the only rider with a western saddle (it's synthetic so very light), western pad and jeans.  Almost everyone else had sheep fleece pads to sit on and the large platform stirrups, stretchy pants,and  breast collars and croupers on the horse.   The rider on the Percheron/QH even carried a dressage whip the whole way.
You could see our place from the Vet Check.  The scenery was spectacular.  
Hank was all ready for the timer to release us for the 15 mile trip back.  
Conclusion:  Vet Check to Finish tomorrow.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Virginia Highlands Endurance Challenge, Pre-Ride

I was by myself for the ride this year.  Jessica wasn't sound in time to get into condition and my friend from last year is 8 1/2 months pregnant so it was just me and Hank and the open trail.
 It looked like I wasn't getting off to a very good start.  The hay net didn't seem to make it to camp with us.  I brought it out of the barn and I thought J put it in the truck, but it was no where to be found. J couldn't even find it when he went back to the barn later.  There were a couple of tack trailers but none of them carried hay nets and they were out of hay bags.  Looks like all of the other riders make little corrals out of step in posts and electric horse tape so they just feed off the ground.  But I didn't grow up with C for a sister for nothing.  I had enough twine to macrame a very small version of a hay net.  I worked but I had to refill it several times. 
 There was a set of horse scales and I weighed Hank at the check in.  He tipped the scales at 1135 pounds.  Most of the other horses (Arabians)  looked like 8-900.   There was a Percheron/QH cross that weighed 1460 but I'm not sure it finished on time.
 Hank got all A's on the check in score card.  The vet asked what he got into to get all those hives.  I had to explain they were solid tumors he's had since we got him.  At least five other people during the ride asked the same thing.
EG was our number.
 J unhooked the trailer and left me and Hank for the night.  Every time I woke up I looked at my new watch and was still never sure of the time.  Once it said 6:48 (still pitch dark) then the next time it was 6:03.    Then I think it went to military time.  At one point some horses cantered by in the dark and I just thought they had a strange warm-up routine.  Then later a group with flashlights came by looking for the loose horses.  Needless to say I didn't get much sleep but I was on the mattress in the trailer and not on the ground in a tent.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Nebraska, Here They Come

Friday was the day the weanlings and leftover yearlings were rounded up for their trip to the feedlot. 
A neighbor has a set of certified scales and a place big enough to get a tractor trailer in.
After they are all weighed, J calculated to see how heavy the load was.  It there is too much weight we would have to cut some back out.  We were actually 1000 pounds shy of a full load so pretty close.
Of course I have to check out the view the neighbors have of our place while I'm there. (and no, all of that bottom land is not ours.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Getting Ready

I've been trying to get ready for the 30 mile endurance ride this weekend.  Hank threw a shoe after those nasty rocks on Mt. Rogers.  J and I were riding the 8 mile Horse Heaven loop near here Tuesday and I noticed Hank's front shoe was a little bent.  It came off with a mile to go.  Luckily, we were near the road and J rode ahead, got the trailer and came back to get us.  The farrier is coming tomorrow morning at 6:30 then I'll leave for the check in that afternoon.  So Hank has had 2 days off right before the ride.  Then we are watching out for Hurricane Irene to see how much rain gear I might need.  I couldn't find a working watch with a second hand (to check pulse and keep up with time limit) so I had to buy one.  It has taken 2 days to figure out how to shut the alarm and hourly chimes off.  I wasn't going to take an easy boot this year but after the thrown shoe I guess I'll borrow one.  J is disappointed he won't be able to ride.  Jessica is sound now but just not in good enough shape.  I'll miss the company and I'm sure Hank will too.

Monday, August 22, 2011

E's First Day

E asked why I didn't put her first day of school picture on the blog. (typical second child syndrome)  I said because it wasn't  a notable year like V's.  She reminded me that it was her first day of high school.  Well, ok, but the high school is in the same building just a different wing. 
 She was very pretty on her first day.  She should feel lucky I at least took her picture.
 She also went with the church youth to an Atlanta Braves game this weekend.  They ate at the famous Varsity Restaurant,
and apparently had pretty decent seats for the game.  The Braves won and E had a good trip.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Mount Rogers

We took another trip to Mt. Rogers (the highest point in Virginia)  this weekend but it wasn't a hiking trip.
 This time it was a trail ride.  Our local saddle club reserved a camp site so we joined them for the ride.
 Despite my frumpy appearance Hank and I were ready.
 Jessica was finally over all of her lameness issues so J rode her. J doesn't like how unruly Jessica's mane is so I tried a new hairstyle out on her.  It works pretty well.
 I haven't been on the horse trails here in years so I asked someone if the trails were rocky.  His response was "there are a few rocks but they are big."  I should have asked "is there any spots that don't have rocks?"  I was worried because of Jessica just getting well and she didn't have any hind shoes on.
 We did have a nice spot for lunch.
 Then some more rocks.
 We were a little surprised to see some Texas Long Horned cattle.  We didn't see any of the wild ponies up close though.
We rode for 7 hours then had a nice cookout.  The horses were both fine today, no worse for the wear.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

County Fair

We entered some garden produce in the county fair last week.  J took pictures but failed to notice that there was no memory card in the camera so just imagine...

- a huge cabbage with a blue ribbon
- 3 beautiful matching bell peppers with a blue ribbon
- a plate of green beans with a yellow ribbon.
A very successful showing at the fair.


Monday, August 15, 2011


Some friends invited us for a weekend at Pigeon Forge.  Of course this meant a day at Dollywood.   We were a little late for the park opening but V, E and I stayed until they shut down at 10 pm.   J wimped out at 7:30. 
 The first ride we went on was the Daredevil Falls so we started out wet and stayed that way all day.
 For some reason J only road the water rides.  He kept calling them "lazy rivers".  He was a little worried that this one was going under the waterfall.  He stayed with a different group watching the shows until late afternoon when he joined us.
 V, E and I road everything we could.  We had a Que Bot which was $15 extra/person but we never had to wait in line.  They made it to the front row of the Tenn. Tornado.  (Note, watch out for bugs if you ride on the front row after dark).
A fun time was had by all.
We even did a little shopping.  V had been wanting to stop at the Buy 1 Get 2 Free boot store.  So now there are 3 new pairs of boots in the house.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Beginning and End

I can't believe this is V's last year of high school.
 It seems like such a short time ago we were sending her off to her first day of kindergarten (wow, just found out it was garten not garden.) with her little sister looking up to her so adoringly.
Now she is going for her last year (sniff, sniff). Her book bag is bigger and her lunch box turned into a fashion purse but she is still my little girl that I love with all my heart.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Youth Quarter Horse World Show

E left yesterday with the State 4-H horse judging team to compete at the  Youth Quarter Horse World Show in Oklahoma City,  OK.  The link is for the live video streaming of the show.  I know my family will be highly interested in watching a horse show where they don't know anyone showing, NOT.  Well, maybe L would.  E's contest is Wednesday with the awards banquet on Thursday then  back Friday.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Hay Storage

Our county had a grant for hay storage sheds.  We applied for it and were accepted.  This means in order to qualify for the small amount granted towards building the shed we have to use 2 bays for hay storage for the next 5 years. 
 J had bought some have a couple of weeks ago that was just delivered.
 So now he's moving it into the shed.
I don't think we will completely fill 2 bays this year because J is not going to move the hay  he has already stacked the hay lot.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Family Day

We had a family day on the farm today.  However, it was not the kind of family time that V and E enjoy.  We are getting ready to send another group of calves to the feedlot later this month.  So that meant more vaccines, and EID tags. 
 J pushed them through the chute and V worked the head gate.  The J put in the tags.
 I gave the shots.
 E kept the records and helped draw up the vaccines.  We got finished in record time.
 With the extra help J got the feed hauled out easier.  (He has usually been using the 4 wheeler for this now.  The wheelbarrow has a flat tire.)  Despite the obvious struggle, E did make it to the feed trough with her 50 pound sack.
We'll mix these 40 weanlings with some yearlings leftover from last year and hopefully have a full load.  J thinks we need to schedule all future cattle workings as family time from now on.

Friday, August 5, 2011

First Ride

Sorry for the long absence but vacation and recovery from vacation has taken awhile.  I'll try to get back on my regular schedule of 3-4 times a week.
 We had the guttering put on the barn last week.  I calculated that for every 1/10 of an inch of rain 560 gallons will shed off the entire roof.
 Now with the gutter, the ground is drying up so we thought we would try Pep out in the arena.
 There are still several rocks and no sand yet so we mostly just walked around.  E wasn't sure how Pep would act so I rode her instead.  After I lead her around to see everything she was fine.  I don't think we'll have any problem riding her in there.
Of course, J was there to lend his moral support.
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