Saturday, September 29, 2012

Look Heart ... No Hands..

Well, this one fits too... maybe even better..
Besides, I kinda like ol' Randy.. even if he does drink  a little too much a and decide to walk along the streets completely "neked" and find himself in the can't deny his unique sound...

Look Hard folks... No hands

"Making Gold From Rust"

 That post title should sound familiar... if not... keep reading..

Tomorrow, I will get up early, to go for a ride... just to go for a ride... that's it.. Simple.. and I am more excited about it than I have been for a looonnnngg time...

 I am meeting a friend.. and we are just going to go for a ride... simple, no mileage requirements, no time constraints... no speed minimums.. no heart rate monitor with gooey alove vera gel..

..Just a plain old boring trail ride.....I can't help but hum the old tune from the  Elton John song... Look Ma, No Hands... It just kinda fits my take on the horse thing these days...figuratively speaking...

I'll take a rainy day
To make a champagne shower
Poach some horn and tusk
To build an ivory tower
Been to Philadelphia
The day it was closedI
 walked to New Orleans
Down a Louisiana road
The skeletons they hung
From the bushes and the trees
But not a skull among them said, "Boo" to meIn a time of wine and cheap cigars
I'm on top of the world
Top of the world Ma
Look Ma no hands
Look Ma ain't life grand
I'm a super power, and I'm a handy man
Didn't I turn out, didn't I turn out to be
Everything you wanted
 MaAin't you proud of me
Takes a silver tongue
To have the Midas touch
Not your alchemist
Making gold from rust


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Where to go from here?

I went for a bike ride the other day. I love fall bike rides. Almost as much as fall horseback rides. There is something about riding through fallen leaves, horse or bike,  and hearing the leaves crackle and whirl away as you wisk by. The only problem is that I haven't been doing much horseback riding as of late. In fact, myabe only a handful of times since the Camas Creek Canter Endurance Ride.
Regardless, as the summer season begins to come to a close,  I am grateful for what I have to consider a successful seasonfor me and Maggie. We also  just wrapped up Tom’s Horseback Archery season this past weekend. He finished on a high note, scoring an all time high career of 141.00. He trained a lot and it paid off. He has already set his goals for next year and he has set the bar high. I am certain he will achieve it.
For me, it was much the same. I started my training early in the spring readying for the upcoming endurance season.  We slogged through weeks of bad weather, a record  mosquitoes  season, bad footing, saddle fit issues, a couple of close calls with bears and even two lameness issues in preparation for the opportunity to compete in a Limited Distance ride, not really knowing which one but preparing nonetheless.  Honestly, my goal wasn't necessarily to compete this summer. I wasn't totally sure I was going have any nearby opportunities. Instead my plan was to just focus on getting Maggie fit. Work on hills, work on rating, and just see.  I was unwilling to  commit  to anything until I saw how Maggie handled things. In the end, we managed to successfully complete  two Limited distance rides. We even managed to take first in one of those and top tenned in the other. It was like finally pushing a wall out of our way once and for all. 

It was such a huge sense of accomplishment for me.   I experienced a new high I had not had the pleasure of experiencing before.    All those hours of conditioning and training really did pay off. By the end of July,  Maggie was becoming less of a mystery  to me and I was realizing that if she didn't want to eat and drink, she wasn't going to die, atleast in the first 25 miles. 
After those two completions, my plan to was to take 10 days off and then get back to it with the idea in the back of my mind that  I would attend one more ride in September.  That is where the train left the tracks for me. 

In the days after that last race, I experienced a level of exhaustion I cannot even begin to explain. Getting up and functioning at a very basic level felt like the hardest thing in the world to do. I have never suffered from anything I would describe as depression, but what I was experiencing could  have probably been classified as just that. 
How could I be so euphoric only to crash days later? It was a totally foreign experience to me. The initial exhaustion passed within a couple of weeks but I continued to experience a general sense of malaise. That took some time to over come but I finally snapped out of it in mid to late August. During that period of time, I almost sold Maggie and my older gelding.  I wanted to be done with the responsibilities of having horses and all the work that comes with it.
I was done.Finito. Over it.... Mentally and physically. 
Then came a couple of meltdowns . Eventually I got through it.

How? I really don't know. It wasn't drug induced. I suppose the puppy, the  garden, a couple of good books, and some good wine pulled me through.(ok, maybe there were a few mood altering chemicals involved)

Looking back, I suspect it was all the months of training, worry, and work getting myself and Maggie ready.  It was also stress from my employer as there was so much going on with a corporate reorganization. I guess my body and mind finally hit max capacity. I had apparently hit the bottom of my reserve tank. I did take some time in August away from the office to help me refocus. When I returned from vacation, I gave my resignation notice... yep, I left my employer of 10 years and I set off into a new carerr. Let's just say it's been a trip...

 I have started riding Maggie again in the last couple of  weeks. Ofcourse it's only arena work  and it started out pretty rough. Maggie did not want to cooperate with things.  She even reverted back to her days of rearing and being overly reactive to leg pressure.  All she wanted to do was go and go fast…

All I could think was "well,  here we are in the same boat we were a year ago. We have had several sessions since and I think I have started to get Maggie's brain back.. mostly.  Nonetheless, her reversion has made me pause and think about where I am headed with her and this Endurance thing.

Physically,  Maggie  has proven more than being  capable to do the sport but mentally, I don’t think the sport of endurance is doing her any favors. She is pretty "hot" to begin with . She is a lot of horse.  Add a little speed into the mix, and have a few horses pass her??? It's all over.. She will fight to the end, like she did in the Camas Creek ride to catch those front horses.  Some people in the sport are okay with the “hotness” and raciness  but I don’t particularly enjoy it and I really don't like what it does to Maggie.  One year ago, I pulled her back from the conditioning for these same issues. This spring, her mental state seemed improved. She was doing better while riding with other horses  and listening to me while on the trail.  I thought we made it over that bump but it's back an  I am pretty sure this going to be a theme for her.  It's part of her make up.
Lippitt Morgan's can be just as hot as an arab, if not moreso.
So why continue putting so much time into something that is not necessarily the best fit for her?

I still love the sport but I am not sure where to go from here with endurance plans.  I feel like I have put forth every effort to make this sport work for Maggie but it feels like I am fitting a square peg into a round hole.  Our days, before the snow begins to fly, will continue to be spent back working on equitation and dressage. From there??? It's wide open..