Weekend Update

My weekend update is now posted on my website:

http://www.horseshoesandhappyhours.com

I’ve been slowly switching over to my own website from my Adventures on Annabel wordpress blog.

Happy Trails,
Ashley

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Weekend Update/Results from McDowell Ride

No riding for me this weekend as I have my family members slowly making their way out to Arizona for Thanksgiving. I can’t relax and go ride knowing I have family members who could be waiting on me.

Last weekend was the Lead, Follow, or Get Out of My Way ride at McDowell Regional park where I did the 30 mile LD. This ride was monumental because it was the first ride I did that got me interested in Endurance. About a year ago, I did the 12 mile fun ride and met my good friend Katherine. We did this ride together once again, but in the LD.

When I did Las Cienegas last month, Annabel did not pulse down in time and we did not get a completion. I was more then prepared this time on how to handle her with the heat and I’ve also been working on keeping a pace between 5-6.5 miles per hour.

The preparation and the pacing had paid off and we were able to complete the ride without too much trouble. The vet check was a bit heart-breaking for me though. The vet noticed she had some swelling in her rear right hock. I asked what the possible cause was, and he considered her many years as a show jumper, along with her age that she was just getting older and that I may need to look for a new horse soon. I even tried to convince myself to start looking for a young Arabian (but I’m not really an Arabian person). This wasn’t just one vet’s opinion that broke my heart, it was the result of the last three rides the control vets have noticed soreness on every different leg. For now, I plan on competing her at least one more year and I am putting her on a new supplement that the vet recommended.

Early on in the ride at about mile 8, Annabel had gotten so frustrated with allowing horses to pass us that she turned into a hot mess. I checked my Endomondo and noticed our average page was about 6.9mph, so I decided to stop and let her walk the next 1.5 miles. This helped both Annabel, and Katherine’s hot mare out. It gave them the opportunity to chill out. It’s no fun riding a hot horse with so many miles to go; it really just wears yourself and your horse out. I had been sponging Annabel’s neck at every opportunity to keep her cool. As I came into the vet hold, she pulsed down fairly quickly in about 2-3 minutes as I drenched her with cool water. I was worried though because she wasn’t drinking. I eventually convinced her to drink some sweet water after she had eaten some hay and gave her electrolytes. On the second loop she was drinking more which brought me some relief.

During the second loop, I started talking to this older woman on a pretty little black and white pinto mare with two blue eyes who was gaited. I asked her what kind of mare it was and she said a Spotted Saddle Horse. I mentioned how I had been looking for a Tennessee Walking Horse. Later in the ride she informed me that her mare was for sale. I started to strongly get interested and told her I would come ride the mare as soon as I had a weekend to do so. I still have my heart set on a Rocky Mountain or TWH though because of their specific gait and don’t know how Spotted Saddle Horses do in endurance. This mare didn’t seem to have a problem but I like different gaits of the TWHs.

We made such great time on the second loop we took a lot more walk breaks as the temperature started to increase. I was super pleased that I had FINALLY completed a ride (this was LD #7) without being uncomfortable or in pain. I honestly probably could have done a 50 based on how I was feeling, but I wouldn’t put Annabel through that yet. It only took me 7 rides to finally figure out how to stay comfortable and the secret was… walk breaks. After about 10 miles and once the pack had spread out, I started taking quick 30 second walk breaks to kick my feet out of my stirrups, roll my ankles, sip some water, and check our average pace.

Annabel had no problems completing and got all A’s and B’s on her vet card. All I wanted was a completion and I got it! Katherine also got a completion on her mare as well and I was happy for her.

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Annabel gets her 6th completion at the final ride of the season.

I’m trying to plan a camping and trail riding trip around New Year’s out in the mountains near Tucson. As of right now, that is my next ride away from the usual local outings.

On another completely random note; I am going to start selling Pampered Chef products. What does this have to do with riding? Well, everyone who knows me knows I love cooking and someday would like to come out with a camping cookbook for stove tops, grills, and campfires. Equestrians typically don’t spend a lot of time in the kitchen because they’d rather be out riding. I will be selling products that promote my healthy eating habits, save time, and save money. I can’t wait to get started on that!

 

Must-Haves to Get Started in Endurance Riding

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You have a healthy horse, transportation, a place to ride at where you can collect some miles and want to try endurance riding? I just went through the process of compiling my new endurance gear this past year and here are my “must-haves” for getting started:

#1- A Helmet

Whether you are going from a free-spirited trail rider or from an expensive show helmet made of Titanium it’s really important to wear head protection in Endurance riding. Endurance is different than a relaxing trail ride as majority of the ride is done at a trot. There are also other elements to consider like rocky trails, or low hanging tree branches. Unlike the hunter/jumper horse show scene, a helmet for endurance is fairly inexpensive. It’s also helpful to get a helmet that is lightweight, (you will be wearing it for 6-24 hours a day!) provides plenty of ventilation, and fits well.

My Tipperary wasn’t an expensive purchase, just under $100 in comparison to expensive show jumping helmets.

#2- Ditch the tall boots; get something more comfortable.

One thing that you will not find in endurance is tall boots. The first thing that I got when I decided to switch to endurance riding were my Ariat Terrain Zip H20 boots. I did a 12 mile “Fun Ride” before I officially switched to endurance and could not believe how discomforted I was while wearing paddock boots. It’s very important to find a boot that is shock-absorbing because your feet can and will go numb! It is also common in endurance to have to dismount your horse and walk or run alongside him to give yourself and your horse a bit of a break. Some riders wear athletic shoes with cages on their stirrups, but most riders opt for the Ariat Endurance boots which are very similar to hiking boots.

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My Ariat Terrain H20 Zips have lasted me hundreds of miles and I wear them when I hike as well. 

 

#3- Comfort Stirrups & Seat Saver

When I did the Fun Ride last year I rode in my dressage saddle and irons. I did not know this would be a problem considering I have spent hours in the saddle in other disciplines. However, with endurance riding you can go hours posting the trot and not realize how uncomfortable that can end up being. I had searing pain in my ankles, and my toes went numb from only riding 12 miles. The other thing you may need is a seat saver, sheepskin cover, or a gel seat added. Being in the saddle for hours at a time can be uncomfortable to the point where you bum is sore. I had a friend who rode in a western saddle during a 30 mile ride and she immediately decided to purchase an endurance saddle after that ride. I ended up deciding to go all out and purchase a Tucker Endurance Saddle that features a “Gel-Cush” seat and “Ergobalance Trail Glide” stirrups.

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I love my saddle so much it’s sickening. I bought it off Ebay brand new and fell in love with the black leather and brass heart conchos. 

#4 Riding Tights

Unlike other English disciplines, endurance riders steer clear of breeches and jeans. Most riders wear Kerrits or Irideon riding tights that provide seamless comfort and eliminate chafing. Some riders even wear athletic tights.

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I actually have Lululemon tights on in this picture.

#5 Hoof Protection

In America, endurance riding takes place in fairly rocky and difficult terrain and especially here in Arizona. It took me some time and some trial and error but my 16hh Thoroughbred mare needed a more rugged set of shoes than just steel. She is now comfortable and happy being ridden in Easy Shoe Performance N/G shoes. My mare is confident now about going up and down steep and rocky terrain. Another common option is to leave your horse barefoot and use boots

Annabel currently wears the Easy Shoe Performance N/Gs (not shown) and has a pair of Renegades as spares. I would eventually like to have her barefoot and use the Renegades all the time.

#6 A HiTie System for your trailer

Camping is a part of endurance riding and it is rare to be stabled at a base camp that has corrals or stalls. You can tie your horse directly to your trailer, but I felt bad that my mare couldn’t walk around and was worried she’d get tangled up in the middle of the night while I slept. I had a “HiTie” system by Easy Care installed on the side of my horse trailer. My mare now has a 13’ diameter and can comfortably graze, lie down, and roll. I’ve been using one this whole season and have never had any problems with it.

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Annabel loves being on the Hi-Tie. 

Comfort is key when it comes to Endurance. At my first ride, I gawked at the idea of having to wear running shoes while riding, riding tights and putting sheepskin on my saddle (fashion before comfort-not!). I spent years in Show Jumping and Eventing looking trendy in my breeches and button-ups but notice how my “Must-Haves” are for the comfort of myself and my mare? Spending a little bit of money on these things are a great way to get started on successfully, and the least painful way to get through a ride.

What were your “must-haves” when you switched to Endurance?

Weekend Update + Las Cinenagas

I first want to start out this weekend update by informing you how Las Cienegas went. I was really excited that this was a convenient ride for us to attend to. It took place in Sonoita, AZ (the same organizer who puts on the Old Pueblo Pioneer in March) and was a quick three hour drive.

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I was planning on riding with my friend Andrea and her friend-who is now my friend, Britteny. The ride started off great as we rode through cattle country but about 8 miles into the ride we were trotting along a dirt path when both Annabel and I observed at the same time that there was a cattle guard. We both slammed on the brakes to avoid it causing Andrea to run into us and Britteny to run into Andrea in which her gelding ended up crushing Andrea’s ankle. She ended up with a fracture. The cattle guard came out of nowhere and none of us saw it. There were a couple of reasons why it caught us off guard. One being that the ribbons were hanging on a tree to the left of the cattle guard which is what caught our eye. For the previous miles of the ride if there was a cattle guard the ribbons would have been tied to the gate we needed to go through. There was also a large tree branch of the cattle guard, and it was hidden in some really tall grass much like the photo I posted above. I have the whole thing on video and will eventually post it. We stayed together and walked as much as Andrea needed to. She occasionally attempted to trot without stirrups but it still put Britteny and I behind at the control check. I had to lead Britteny for the rest of the ride without Andrea who remained at the control check. The afternoon was surprisingly hot for an October day and even though I started walking and hopped off as I approached the final vet check Annabel was really hot. I have no crew and they did not have any kind of water bucket/sponge combination back at camp. I threw off my saddle to the ground as soon as I got back and started sponging her off back at my trailer. The vets were concerned about Annabel not cooling down as well. After about twenty minutes of attempting to get her pulse down one of the veterinarians finally lead me to a hose that was supposed to be used for horse drinking water and started aggressively hosing off Annabel. I was grateful that someone was finally able to help me. Annabel and I ended up getting over-time and did not complete. This was the first time we did not complete a ride. I was not the only one though. There were 25 starters in the LD only 18 completed; the rest of the horses struggled to cool down as well. I wouldn’t have changed the way I rode though. I knew we were pushing our luck with the time after walking a lot in the first half but it was either do a quick trot the last five miles and risk her not pulsing down or going slower and still not completing. The veterinarians were also noting that she seemed a bit off in her left front and left hind along with some muscle soreness in her left hindquarter. I asked what it could be from and they said anything from a calcium deficiency, to overexerting uphill.

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I am putting Annabel on Total Blood Fluids Muscle which is designed for replenishing the nutrients lost in extreme exercise. We are also working on maintaining a speed of 5.0-6.5 mph. I tend to let her trot at a lot faster of a pace on long, flat roads. Her trot can reach up to 12mph so I want to work on having her not overexert herself. I did a short 5 mile ride today at Estrella and checked my Endomondo every time I hit another mile to see what our pace was (and to drink water). We finished with with a pace of 5.3mph which is suitable considering the amount of walking I actually have to do because of the terrain there. Over the past year, I’m learning to enjoy endurance mile by mile. Next year, I plan on doing all LD’s again, but want to mentally start preparing myself for 50’s. I don’t know if Annabel can be successful in 50’s because she is a bigger girl (16hh), but it is a goal of mine to eventually do.

The ride at Sonoita was still a great way to hit the trails and I always love camping with Annabel. It was a ride that had it’s teachable moments.

On Monday, I was heart broken though to find out a friend of mine, an older lady I have ridden with a couple of times lost her beloved mare. I don’t think I’ve ever met ANYONE who loves their horse as much as this woman did. Her mare developed some type of toxin in her intestine months ago that had been eating away at her. She had no idea and her mare never showed any kinds of signs. She attempted the 100 on Saturday but pulled as she finally started showing signs of what she came down with. I did not expect the mare to not pull through. I thought she would have gotten better with treatment but was shocked to go on Facebook and find out she had passed away. My heart broke for Carol. I remember what that heartbreak feels like when I lost my gelding to colon cancer. Take time to give your horse an extra hug or kiss today, you just never know.

 

Friday Favorites

Favorite Purchase
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I found these sheets at Target, so now I have to redo the whole color scheme on my bed in the camper.

Favorite Manicure

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Favorite Drink

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Black Cherry Hurricane from Claim Jumper

Favorite Hike

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A shot from my 4 mile hike yesterday  morning at Estrella Mountain Regional Park.

Hello Fresh

One of the biggest problems people face when dieting or changing their lifestyle is sticking to it. Too often, we pick out a diet that forces us to eliminate a lot of the things we love. When we have to give up what we love, it doesn’t last too long. Other than being on a vegetarian diet for 3.5 years, Hello Fresh has been the longest “Lifestyle Diet” that I’ve ever stuck to.

One of the many joys in life is good food. I’ve always loved cooking but it can be hard to be motivated after coming home from work, having to look for a recipe, and then go out and buy the ingredients. Not only that, but it can be expensive. I feel like every time I make something out of a recipe I spend $50-100! I also feel like when I go to the grocery store to buy ingredients, I can’t find one of the ingredients!

I’ve debated on trying a meal delivery program for a while. My mom did Blue Apron, but complained that it was a lot of work. I did some research and discovered Hello Fresh.

What is Hello Fresh? Hello Fresh is a meal delivery program with multiple options. I currently do the Classic Box with a “Fit Preference” which sends me meals under 650 calories. I typically get two meals with meat and one vegetarian meal (Meatless Mondays!).  I pay $69 a week which breaks down to about $11.50 per meal. That’s close to the price of getting take out from Chipotle. It seems like a lot but I if I were to go out and buy all these ingredients it would cost me significantly more. Why hassle the hunt at the grocery store after a long day of work? Every Wednesday (you can customize the date), I receive my meals on my door step and my ingredients manage to stay cold in the Arizona heat. When my parents are in town, we upgrade to the Family Box and we receive 3 meals but for 4 people. My dad is also picky about fish, so we selected the “No Seafood” preference.

What I really love about Hello Fresh is how simple the recipes are. They do take about 30 minutes to make, but they are fairly easy for a millenial to do. My confidence in cooking has really spiked. Because the meals are so simple, it makes things easy for me to remember them on the whim. I can recall how to season many meats, make my own salad dressings, and how long to cook things for without looking up. At my ride in Utah it got too dark for me to grill some pork, so I had some confidence in being able to cook pork and vegetables on the grill inside my camper. It also doesn’t require too many pots, pans, and cooking tools. After I make a meal, I just rinse all my cookware and put it in the dishwasher. It’s about 5-10 minutes to clean up.

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Being able to do Hello Fresh consistently has given me confidence in my cooking and has transferred to life on the road.

It’s very easy to have “dieting” or a healthy lifestyle get boring after a while, but I have been doing Hello Fresh for three months now and have not gotten a repeated recipe. Every week I get to try new, healthy recipes. When I am by myself, I typically make one meal for dinner, and put the remaining in some Tupperware to take to work the next day. It gives me something to look forward to on my lunch break.

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Some for now, some for later. Honey Mustard Salmon with Roasted Asparagus and Israeli Couscous Pilaf.

The ingredients they send are really good quality and taste amazing. I am also pleasantly surprised by a lot of the recipes. I have been blown away by some vegetarian options on my Meatless Mondays that I didn’t think I would love. There are also some interesting combinations that I would never think to put together.  It’s no surprise since Jaime Oliver comes up with these simple recipes!

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One of my favorite recipes was this Chicken and Nectarine Panzanella with Fresh Mint, Zucchini, and Mozzarella.

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A new favorite on Taco Tuesday! I have recreated these Smoky Chicken Tacos with Lime Crema several times already. I know the recipe by heart now!

Even though I am a busy millennial, I have still found it easy to put 30 minutes aside at night to cook a healthy meal three times a week. I love food, there’s no doubt about that. I also love cooking. I find chopping vegetables with a glass of wine and some mellow music therapeutic at the end of the day. As an advocate for the health of children and families, I can easily recommend Hello Fresh as a healthy and great way to bring the family together at the end of the day. I also think that Hello Fresh is a great way to learn simple cooking skills and expand my knowledge on cooking as a busy millennial.

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