In the Night Farm…Your Ride is Here.


Shot in the Dark: Success

Success requires the alignment of your actions with your intentions.



It’s been tough, because I really enjoy this horse, but I have decided to make CrackerJack (aka “CJ”) available for sale.  He’s Consolation’s 2006 colt (gelded) by Jack’s Legacy and will make someone a striking mount.  The kid has presence, and he can MOVE! 

CJ is super fun to handle — both exuberant and polite — and I’ve been spending a fair amout of time with him lately.  He’s just about ready to start under saddle, so your best bet on price is to claim him now. 

Click over to the Sale Horses page for details and additional photos, and please feel free to pass the link around to anyone who might be interested.

A Girl Could Do Worse

I may not have gotten to ride at the Pink Flamingo Classic this weekend, but I did get to play with this:

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.

Sweat Stains

I must apologize for my long absence. The stressful situation to which I’ve alluded in previous posts continues, and it seems that more often than not lately, I arrive home with no energy left to draft a post worth reading.

I’d be lying if I said the same stress hasn’t affected my training; it has. More than once, I’ve given up my weeknight training plans in favor of a few hours’ escape through cooking or a book. Horse training takes a great deal of emotional intensity, and I often feel I have little left to give.

And yet, I have kept on. It’s well past time I updated you on my 2010 plans for the equine residents of In the Night Farm. Mind you, I’ve learned my lesson about setting hard and fast goals when it comes to training and endurance conditioning. Something is bound to go wrong, and having expectations too high only makes the fall too painful.

These, then, are ideals. I’ll work toward them and get as far as I can, and take the pitfalls in stride. Stay tuned for updates on each of the following horses:

Inara — As part of her purchase price, Inara is to go to her new owner with basic groundwork complete. She’ll catch, lead, lunge, pick up feet, deworm, and trailer load.

Alternating Current (aka Acey) — It’s time to start this fiery, little mare under saddle. It would be fantastic to have her ready for her first LD by the end of the season, but I’ll settle for getting well into a foundation of long, slow distance work in preparation for next year.

Ripple Effect — Can you believe she’s four this year? Yes, it’s time to start her under saddle, too. A significant part of the project will be getting her comfortable with leaving the other horses and facing the great, wide world.

Sandstorm — You haven’t seen enough of this fantastic mare. The tallest Barb in my herd, she’s an astonishing mover with a sweet but cautious personality and potential I’m just beginning to tap. I’d like to finish gentling her (she’s another that arrived at In the Night Farm completely untouched) and get plenty of groundwork done so I can start riding her next year.

Consolation — Endurance, of course! We had a setback in mid-June that has taken us out of conditioning for a while (details in an upcoming post), but it’s about time to hit the trail again. Hooray!

Crackerjack — See “Ripple Effect.” These half-siblings were born just a few days apart, but CJ isn’t quite as physically mature as his lookalike sister. Still, it won’t hurt to proceed with his groundwork as soon as I’m done with Inara to free up a time slot. Maybe, by the end of the season, it’ll be time to step aboard.

I must say, it’s nice to come in after a long day in the round corral, pour a tall glass of iced tea, and look out over so many sweat-stained equine backs. I know just how they feel. We’re working hard, the ponies and I. We’ll get there.

By the way, I’m still encountering spam problems despite having enabled the word verification feature for comments. Sadly, this has forced me to take the next step — comment moderation. So, you’ll notice a delay between commenting and seeing your comment posted. I’ll try going back to just word verification after a while, when the Chinese-character blighter decides to give it a rest.
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Fit to Ride, Part Six: Milk Got You?

One of my many, annoying traits is curiosity. I am intensely, incessantly curious about almost everything. Fortunately, I am also on the shy side — a characteristic that spares the rest of the world from what would otherwise be my natural tendency to behave like an overgrown three year old, tugging their sleeves and insisting on knowing, “Why? Why? Why?”

The downside of inquisitiveness is that there will never be enough time for me to cover all the material that interests me. The upside is that I can still cover quite a bit and put it to good use. Nutrition and fitness, perennials in my self-guided researches, offer myriad opportunity for testing theories on my favorite guinea pig — myself. Over the past few years, I’ve intensified my focus on these issues and made discoveries that led to dietary changes that most of society considers fringe at best — and often downright barmy.

Well. Call me crazy if you like, but there’s no question that I’m leaner, stronger, and fitter today, at thirty-one, than I’ve been since the day I was born. Good thing, since I believe that as an endurance rider, I’m honor-bound to be every bit the athlete I ask my equine partner to be.

I’ve already shared three of the significant, dietary shifts I’ve implemented, in the form of three rules for eating clean. These are the non-negotiables:

  1. Don’t eat anything with a barcode.
  2. Sugar is the devil.
  3. Eat mostly plants.

As I said before, Eating Clean Rule #1 is almost enough, all by itself. Remove all barcoded (that is, processed) “foods” from your diet, and you’ll be left with the fuels your body was designed to ingest: Vegetables, fruits, meats, grains, dairy, eggs, nuts, seeds, and plant oils. If 95% or more of your daily intake comprises these foods, you’ll be better off than 95% of Western civilization.

However, for those who are really serious about eating clean and getting lean, there are many issues among these non-barcoded foods that merit discussion. I’ll touch the surface of the most prominent here, then hook you up with sources for additional research. Let’s start with dairy:

Now, I just included dairy in a list of foods our bodies are designed to ingest, and so they are…or at least, they were. But when was the last time you saw a yearling foal nurse? A three-month old kitten? A six-month-old lamb?

Hmm. Seems they grow out of it. In fact, a little research reveals that their bodies — and ours — are clearly meant to grow out of it. Lactase, the enzyme that enables digestion of lactose, ceases to be produced in animals over weaning age. Continued consumption of milk, formerly the perfect food for Junior, thereafter results in gastrointestinal distress ranging from bloating to diarrhea.

Many of you know exactly what I’m talking about; those who don’t are the lucky (?) recipients of a mutant gene that permits continued lactase production. Being one-quarter Swedish, a heritage that predisposes me to said mutant gene (and perhaps a few others as well), I am not lactose intolerant — unlike about 25% of the U.S. population and 75% of people whose heritage is African, Asian, or American Indian.

But, I still avoid dairy.

Why? Well, let’s go back to our fellow mammals: How often do you see a rat drinking hamster milk, a bear cub nursing from a cougar, or a goat suckling a fawn? Yes, photos of such anomalies make their way around the web periodically. The last one I saw involved a mama dachshund and a litter of piglets. (Or was it the other way around?) Regardless, the only reason photos like that are so popular is that cross-species nursing is downright weird!

Surely I’m not the only one who finds it bizarre that we humans habitually consume large quantities of a substance custom-made to transform an 80-pound calf into a 1,800-pound bull. (And we’re supposed to believe that drinking milk will make us lose weight? Excuse me?)

Besides that, the vast majority of the dairy products in your local grocery store are highly processed remnants of what might once have been a marginally acceptable food. Factory farms don’t squeeze milk right out of the cow and into a carton, you know. Not by a long shot. First, they heat the milk to kill off bacteria (including the beneficial kind), a process which also reduces its vitamin A, C, D, and E content and destroys B6 and B12 outright. Then, they force it through a strainer with tiny holes, breaking up the fat molecules to prevent separation — and bastardizing the natural hormonal delivery system of the milk, whose steroids and proteins are now able enter the bloodstream in a manner that nature never intended, triggering unnatural growth the body is unable to control.

Sounds to me like a recipe for cancer.

Those are just a few of the crazy reasons I rarely consume dairy. Feel free to pop a couple Lactaid pills, fetch a bowl of (barcoded, sugar-laden) ice cream, and take potshots at them at your leisure. When you’re finished, I dare you to go read this series over at Fitness Spotlight. Allergens, antibiotics, and osteoporosis, oh my! (If you’re horrified at the prospect of sacrificing dairy, be sure to check out the section on raw milk, wherein you may find some consolation. The nuances of aged dairy products such as yoghurt and cheese may interest you, as well.)

Okay. Take a moment to digest the truth about milk — which, thanks to the Dairymen’s Counsel and its well-funded friends in government, may be even more difficult than digesting the milk itself — and in the next post, we’ll move on to meat and eggs. (Don’t worry. I promise not to advocate giving them up.)

Related Posts

Fit to Ride, Part One: Going for the Goal
Fit to Ride, Part Two: Vice and Advice
Fit to Ride, Part Three: Eating Clean
Fit to Ride, Part Four: Sweet Surrender
Fit to Ride, Part Five: Eating Green
Straight Sailing: Thoughts on Fitness for Endurance Riders

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Shot in the Dark: Trust

To be trusted is a greater compliment than to be loved.

~ George MacDonald


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Shot in the Dark: Intimacy

It is the most precious thing, to know exactly where you belong.

~ Tessie Naranjo


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Shot in the Dark: The Mutual Pledge

And for the support of this Declaration,
with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence,
we mutually pledge to each other our Lives,
our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

~ The Declaration of Independence, 1776 ~


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Shot in the Dark: Mystery

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious…
He to whom this emotion is a stranger,
who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe,
is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.

~ Albert Einstein