Last weekend, I met up with ten other Arizona endurance riders; aka “Zonies” in the refreshing and beautiful Flagstaff, Arizona. This was not the first time we’ve done a meet up, it was actually my second time and we spent a longer weekend up there over Memorial Day weekend. Yet, I still don’t think I could get enough of Little Elden Springs Horse Camp.
We went up on Saturday and came home on Sunday. We did our ride on Saturday which was 12 miles of terrain did a 2000’+ climb up to the San Franciso Peaks and then down the backside on a trail that said “Not Recommended for Horses”. It was a nerve-wracking one hour down the mountain to get to the Heart Trail. I was too afraid to ride Annabel down them mounted but I probably should have stayed on. Once I did eventually get back on her it wasn’t that bad but we were getting lower to the ground! This was also Annabel’s first time wearing Ground Control shoes, a plastic nail in shoe with tread. Although they took a beating with all the rocks, they are still on and we even had no trouble climbing up so boulders.
Taking a little break.
At the top of the Mountain
On the way down the mountain.
What is really fun about these weekend getaways with other endurance riders is allowing for some downtime. On Saturday, we grilled steaks and salmon with potatoes and corn and on Sunday everyone slowly got up at their own pace and joined us for a breakfast of chorizo and eggs. It’s nice to be able to hang out every now and then without the rush of an early morning ride. Most of us opted out of a Sunday morning ride before we left.
If you’ve never been to or of heard of Little Elden Springs Horse Camp it is a wonderful weekend getaway especially during out hot summer months. The temperatures are cooler and much more comfortable to ride in while the valley battles triple digit weather. All the camp sites are a 40′ max pull through with a picnic table, grill, and some have a “wash rack” and hose. The sites also have hi-lines already up and Annabel loves hanging out on those. In the middle of the camp there is a large stock water tank you can lead your horses up to for a drink and there is also a public restroom. The camp hosts are very friendly and dedicated. They also had no problem bringing me some firewood on Sunday morning. I hope we can get one more trip in before they close in October. Next ride will be at the Grand Canyon and I can’t wait!
My mileage goal for this month was 81 miles. I had planned on doing two LDs in a row to earn 50 but we pulled the second day as my mare wasn’t in the best condition after the first one. So we did not reach our goal of 81 miles. We did a total of 59 miles this month which means for July our goal will be 65 miles.
July will be a bit of a challenge as we head back to Arizona on July 11th. We will have to do very early 5 am rides because of the heat, and I will be limited to Skyline Regional Park because Annabel has no protection on her hooves from the rocks at Estrella Regional Park. So we will have short distances with terrain. We also do not have any official rides in July and won’t until September. In order to make this goal happen I will have to ride Skyline about 5 miles each ride and plan to ride 3x a week so about 15 miles each week.
So I did 9.5 miles in SJC today exploring different trails. I wore my new Wrangler Riding Jeans. I didn’t chafe as bad, but still got rubbed a bit. Ugh, I’m going to have to get full seat breeches. I bought some Goode Rider full seats today from Dover but they were almost $200. I was thinking on the way home that I’d rather return them and just get the Ariat ones online for $120.
Annabel had her first ride out in SJC on Thursday. I intended on just going for an easy going walk loop on the trail. We had to patiently encounter some new water crossings but once she got across she sped off on the trail into this rocket of a trot and was not concerned at all over the new trail. She thinks she’s a Standardbred now. Then after I cooled her off on the 1/4 track back at the barn there was a bridge set up in the western arena and she had no problem opening and closing gates for me and going over the bridge.
Memorial Day Weekend I stayed at Little Elden Horse Camp in beautiful Flagstaff, Arizona. I’m a little late on my post but I hauled in for the summer to southern California on Wednesday and have been busy since I got here.
I arrived in Flagstaff very late Friday night but woke up to a very beautiful morning. I woke up to see the peaceful woods in full color and listened to the sounds of the morning. I made bacon and eggs for breakfast and had a little friend join me; a random kitty.
It was nice to have a lazy kind of morning as everyone took their time to get ready and head out on the trail. There wasn’t a rush in the morning like at endurance rides. Once we did mount up we headed out into the woods in a brisk trot but we weren’t leading like usual and I constantly had to look down at the ground and guide Annabel in between large rocks. The most enjoyable part of the ride was being able to walk up a 4.5 mile section of the trail that led to a look out point while being the lead. A lot of these trails I felt weren’t trottable and you missed a lot of the scenery if you were trotting. It was nice to just relax and look around at everything. We had a BBQ later that night with some other riders and enjoyed company around a campfire.
I’m just getting ready to leave, my mare was loaded in the trailer and I noticed my phone went off. I felt I wasn’t quite ready to leave the camp yet. It was my friend Katherine who wanted to come up. So I drove about 100′ away to a new campsite and unloaded Annabel. After Katherine arrived we set off on the Little Elden Springs Trail, to Shultz Tank, to the lookout trail. The same trails as yesterday. I felt much better walking the whole thing and we had a lot of fun. After we got back and later in the evening we made bbq chicken breasts and baked beans and hung out around our campfire.
Katherine and I set off in the morning own Little Elden Springs trail but instead of turning right at the end of the trail we decided to go left. The trail was called the “Heart” trail, something along those lines. It was a pretty little trail that took about two hours total to do both ways. At one point it led us to a meadow where we were able to canter the horses in which they happily did so.
Overall, it was a great trip and I am planning on heading back out there in maybe October so we can see all the leaves changing color.
Annabel and I did an 18 mile ride today at the Sonoran Preserve. I swapped out the western fenders on my Tucker saddle for some english leathers with sheepskin. I could not believe the difference it made. My knees and ankles had so much more flexibility, I was practically pain-free today. When I did my first LD in March my ankles were killing me towards the end of the loops. Although we did 18 miles, and 6 yesterday, Annabel decided to eat up the terrain and haul ass. She is going to be a wicked fast LD horse, and thats all her, I let her pick the pace and I just go with her. I can’t believe my Thoroughbred has this much energy to power through the way she does. The Sonoran Preserve makes for the perfect training ride. It has long climbing, winding hills, and downhill most sections are trot-able. I didn’t have to walk for more than 5 minutes at a time. We also looped through and walked and trotted through a wash. The weather was amazing as we are having storms rolling through it kept the air cool for an April ride.
Taking a walk break to view the storm that had gone past us.
We spent some time walking and trotting through this wash.
I started my Endomondo a little late, I had forgotten. We actually ended up doing 18 miles.
I did not hit my goal of 49 miles this month. We got close though and did 39 miles for the month of April. Its baseball and softball season at my school so my Tuesday and Thursday afternoons are reserved for attending games, I also had the stomach flu for a couple days earlier in the month and had to cancel a ride because I was about to get a respiratory infection; I caught it just in time though and took antibiotics right away.
My goal for the month of may is to do 43 miles which includes an LD at Mt. Carmel in Utah! My boss said it was okay that I took that Friday off for traveling!
I took Annabel to Estrella this afternoon for a solo ride. It was warm today; 95 degrees when I pulled up but also hazy. I did the uphill of the Turnbuckle loop (2 miles) to the Mountain Wash loop down hill (~1.6 miles). I mostly walked today. Because I was riding alone I let Annabel pick the pace she wanted to go. She trotted every now and then going uphill on the Turnbuckle loop, but with the terrain it was mostly just walking. She also decided to walk up the switchbacks. She did better going down the hill then the other day but she still seems achy. I really can’t afford to do injections or anything on her though. I might just consider adding a joint supplement. She was on HylaLube for a month but it didn’t seem to help.
My goal is to get 49 miles this month whether in the saddle or while hiking. I’m planning on doing 6 miles this weekend in Sedona on a hike.
On another note, there’s days where I want to transform my body and get back into crossfit. But I don’t like the idea of spending the afternoon inside a gym when I can enjoy the beauty of Arizona.