I took Annabel out for her first ride on Wednesday evening to Estrella Regional Park, which compared to Skyline looks so bland. However, my riding partner Andrea was having tack issues after getting a new saddle and my right knee was aching really bad. We just did a little 3 mile loop at a walk.

Yesterday, I took Annabel to Skyline alone. Annabel started out in a brisk trot up the hill for about a mile or two, and then suddenly decided she wanted to walk. I thought it was strange so I let her walk up the hill. Then going down the backside, she was really slow going down the hill and stopped a couple times on her own. I was wondering if something was bothering her. I decided to just finish on that loop instead of attempting the other. I know Annabel, I allow her to give me her opinion when it comes to the trail. She has absolutely no problem charging forward in a Standardbred trot, or navigating switchbacks by herself while I just hang on, and the fact that she wanted to walk was odd to me.

I decided to give her today off, and tomorrow I will ride with Andrea again. I suggested we just do somewhere flat with soft footing like a wash.

Here’s my one and only shot from yesterday’s ride. I love spring time in AZ.

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On another note, Andrea suggested I swap out my western fenders for english stirrup leathers. But that’s one of things I love about my saddle is it’s versatility. I can either ride in a full on endurance look, or I can go out in boots, jeans, and a ball cap. I updated my Pinterest for my riding wishlist and added all of the Tucker Saddlery pieces that would go with my saddle. I kind of like the idea of riding her like a western horse with split reins. It makes me feel like I’m traveling somewhere in the Old West 200-300 years ago. I watch too much Hell on Wheels lol.

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Old Pueblo Pioneer in Sonoita, AZ

I am six days overdue but here is my official post from mine and Annabel’s first Endurance Ride!

Let me start out by first saying, I spent the entire week (my spring break) leading up to the ride was spent working on my trailer, truck, and I made a big purchase by buying a Lance 650 2016 Truck Camper (I will make a separate post in the future about that). The ride was about a 3 hour drive from my place and was an hour southeast of Tucson. I have been to Sonoita 3x before for eventing events.

Upon arrival, we were greeted by a herd of antelope grazing in the tall golden grass. We arrived and set up our little camp. This would be Annabel’s first overnight camping trip where she’d be tied to the trailer instead of being housed in a temporary stall with a cushy bed of shavings. She enjoyed grazing, and slept soundly through the night (she was tied up closer to the trailer than in the pics where I was watching her closely). I was relieved to have slept soundly throughout the night in my camper as I was worried I’d be paranoid about what she’d be doing. I also really enjoyed seeing her from my dinette in my camper (bottom right photo).

Sunday was our ride day and I woke up early to make sure she had enough hay and water before we went out. My friend Andrea and I decided to wait a few minutes after the departure of the LD group before heading out as it was both of our horses’ first official ride. The first 15 miles was interesting. We trotted through serpentines of wooded areas, had a couple water crossings, opened and shut several gates, had a few stretches of big extended trots on wide roads (Annabel was trying to catch the horse in front of her), and a very painful experience for me as I made the mistake of wearing a Camelbak. It rubbed both my shoulders raw from posting. Annabel passed the vet check easily and pulsed at a heart rate of 50. We then had a 45 minute hold.

What was really funny is I think Annabel had gotten a second wind during the hold. She was aggressively pawing the ground for several minutes and wanted to roll. She actually did end up rolling tied to the trailer. I was worried about her safety to I decided to untie her and lead her to some grass where she rolled on both sides and spent several moments moaning in happiness as she laid in the tall grass. When I took her back and tied her to the trailer, she started to do these bucks where she happily kicks out and squeals.

Annabel was fresh and ready to go at the start of the the second loop, which was 10 miles but ended up being more like 15. We missed a turn and ran into some riders coming towards us who told us we had missed it. We weren’t the only ones who missed it. Towards the end of the ride, my ankles had really started to get weak and that had happened as well the last few miles of the first loop. This loop was a different loop and featured dirt road stretches, to winding in and out and up and down terrain littered with cattle. I hopped off when I saw the vet check and hobbled in. Annabel’s pulse was at 48 and she passed the vet check. We completed our first official 25 (well, 30) miles!

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Here’s a screen shot of our loop in Kilometers. I can’t figure out how to get it back to miles! Argh!

Anyways, after discussing it with my ride partner, our next ride will be in Utah for the Mt. Carmel ride the last weekend of April.

Last Conditioning Ride Before Old Pueblo Pioneer Ride

Last night, Annabel and I got our last conditioning ride in. We did 5.71 miles all up and down hill in about an hour and twenty minutes. I was only there five days ago and plants are starting to bloom here in Arizona. It’s my favorite time of the year! She will have a really easy week this week of just free lunging and hand walking. Annabel will also be getting special filling in her shoes on Tuesday. I am on Spring Break now (the perks of being a teacher), and will be getting ready for my first official LD on Sunday.

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Flowers begin to blossom this time of year in Arizona.

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After climbing up the switchbacks.

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I feel so fortunate to capture the beauty of Arizona on my horse.