In the Night Farm…Your Ride is Here.

Looking Back and Going Forward

Last January, I wrote this post about the upcoming year.  It’s pretty good, if I say so myself.  I almost sound as if I know what I’m talking about.  It was all about enjoying the journey.  I put it this way:

The real heart of horsemanship is not at the crowded start, nor on the trail with twenty miles behind and thirty to go, nor among friends at the award dinner come evening.  It is at home, in the round corral, amid the dust and sweat and sun.  It is in the glassy eye melted black with trust, the rush of breath and lowered head, the silent conversation that magics us from two to one. 

Endurance is a thrill, but icing is nothing without the cake.

I’ll buy that.  In the same post, however, I included some musings on where my 2011 trail might lead.  Now I can entertain myself by comparing conjecture to reality:

1.  Explore some new rides on Consolation.  I was hoping to get to Utah or Oregon, or maybe bump up to a 75.  Neither happened, but I’m still quite pleased by what we accomplished:

We completed 505 endurance miles together (I did another 100 on a borrowed horse), bringing Consolation’s total up to 825.  We also started doing multi-days, a goal I neglected to mention last January but have tried for years to reach.

We also expanded our regular conditioning area to include some hilly land just across the state line, which contributed nicely to Consolation’s mental and physical fitness.

2.  Put miles on Acey.  Mission accomplished.  We didn’t actually condition for a ride (not least because I still haven’t found hoof boots that fit her), but we put in enough arena work and trail miles that I feel quite confident she’ll be ready for her first 50 in 2012. 

Have I mentioned how fun Acey is to ride?  She is So. Fun. To. Ride.  I feel sorry for all the people who aren’t lucky enough to be of small stature, because they’ll never get to ride this little bay fireball.

3.  Train the babies.  This didn’t go so well.  I spent a fair amount of time with Ripple Effect, but not nearly as much as I’d have liked.  She’s now (generally) comfortable with leaving the farm in-hand.  She handles traffic beautifully.  She ground-drives and deals with having all sorts of peculiar objects dangled from her tack.  And yet, I haven’t ridden her.  I’ve backed her a couple more times, but I just get the feeling that she isn’t ready.  I worked with her yesterday, though, and she does feel much closer than she did in July.  She just needs more time than I’ve given her.

What about Crackerjack?  I really need to get going on this guy, because he looks like this:

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I did put in some lessons with Incognito (2009 Insider x Sandstorm filly), establishing some basic training.  For now, her main job is to grow up.  She’s sharing a winter paddock with Acey and Ripple, who are schooling her in the ways of the world.

4.  Buy and build stuff.  This could scarcely have gone better.  Not only did I manage to acquire a much-needed horse trailer upgrade, but Ironman and I built a new run-in and I bought a truck-bed camper that makes ridecamp exponentially more comfortable, especially in cold weather.

Now, we just need to finish the perimeter fence, repair mare paddocks, bury water and electric lines out to the horse compound…

In summary, I’m pretty happy with the year.  My biggest regret is not making more progress with the youngsters, but there’s only so much time to go around.  I kept my priorities in order:  Consolation’s fitness, Acey’s miles, baby training, other.  That list was helpful in directing my choices regarding what to do on a given day. 

Now What?

So, 2012!  It’s going to be a crazy year, what with flying to Mexico to get married in June, attending a family reunion, and squeezing in rafting and rides and such, but there are a few things I’d like to make happen:

1.  Cover lots of AERC miles with Consolation.  Which miles?  How many?  That remains to be seen.  If all goes well, we’ll do a bunch of multi-days.  I’d also like to try a 75 or 100.  I still want to take her to some Oregon or Utah rides, but given the time and expense of all that other travel, this may not be the year.

2.  Start Acey on the endurance trail.  I am so happy to have a second horse to ride!  Now, I just have to figure out how to keep two horses fit.  I hope to do at least a couple 50’s on this mare.

3.  Get Ripple comfortable under saddle and on the trail.  ‘Nough said.

4.  Start Crackerjack under saddle.

5.  Finish perimeter fence and mare paddock upgrades.

It’s 15 degrees out, but the sun is up.  I think I’ll start today.

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12 responses

  1. funder

    Sounds like a lovely year! Especially getting so many multiday miles on Consolation.

    I love hearing about your tiny fierce horses, even though I’ll never fit on them. 🙂

    December 18, 2011 at 9:39 am

  2. I LOVE the photos of Crackerjack. He is absolutely beautiful!!!! My big goal this next year is to volunteer at an Endurance ride so I can learn more. I am truly fascinated with this sport and hope to try it with my “next” horse. 😀

    December 18, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    • Thanks, Carol. You have GOT to try this. Your “next” horse could be on Craigslist right now… *evil*

      December 18, 2011 at 7:14 pm

  3. Crackerjack! That looks like a horse that will COVER SOME GROUND. His build is great, sleek, narrow radiator, though you can’t ride “beautiful” you can certainly enjoy the view. I look forward to watching this one.

    if I loose twenty pounds can I have Acey? *wink*

    ~E.G.

    December 18, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    • Isn’t he great, Jacke? My only worry is that he tends to run *too* lean, but we’ll see. He’s a cantering horse by preference, which would be an interesting change for me.

      As for Acey…you’ll have to arm wrestle me for her! LOL

      December 18, 2011 at 7:15 pm

  4. Rosanne

    You certainly have accomplished a lot this past year! I am such a terrible procrastinator…I try setting goals and usually don’t get around to half of them! 🙂 It sounds like you will have another busy year ahead. Congrats on your wedding plans! You can add me to the list of people who wish they were small enough to ride one of your Barbs! They are beautiful!

    December 18, 2011 at 9:50 pm

  5. I love your blog. I’d say I tear up at some point in nearly all of your entries.

    December 19, 2011 at 12:33 am

  6. Kim

    I must say I am quite envious of all your ambition and accomplishments! I feel like I am consistently running out of time to do the things I want to do, yet you seemingly have the time to do it all. I wish I had your drive and determination. I look forward to your posts in the coming year to keep me motivated 🙂

    December 19, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    • LOL Kim. Believe me, I daydream about having the time I’d like to do the things I want to do. (I work full time and have a long commute, alas!) I do try to think of horse training and endurance conditioning as a discipline, though — like staying fit or writing a novel or anything else that requires long-term commitment. 🙂

      December 19, 2011 at 1:18 pm

  7. Kim

    I was re-reading your post (again, lol) and came across the “how to keep two horses fit” part. How do you feel about ponying? I had alot of success with it when I didn’t have time to ride both of my horses. Just a thought…

    December 22, 2011 at 6:40 am

    • Good idea, Kim. I’m sure there’s not substitute for actual saddle time, but it also makes sense that ponying would have its uses. I’ll have to train my horses to pony first, though! 🙂

      December 22, 2011 at 9:13 am

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