In the Night Farm…Your Ride is Here.

Endurance Tack

In Which Easyboot Back Countries Go Very Fast

Acey nearly got eaten yesterday.  By cows.

These were not ordinary cows.  Acey doesn’t mind ordinary cows.  These were Scary Weanling Cows in Crackling Brush.  They were another animal entirely.  Just ask Acey.

We were in the middle of a road test for her new Stonewall saddle and 00 Easyboot Back Country boots.  I decided not to haul out to the BLM land for the test, in case something went wrong and we had to cut our ride short.  Instead, we left from In the Night Farm and rode a loop that gave us plenty of opportunities to turn back if needed.

As it transpired, the saddle fit comfortably with almost no adjustment.  Custom built for Acey, this saddle is narrower than the old one and felt much more stable on Acey’s tiny frame.  I’m sure she found me easier to carry.  She certainly had plenty of energy and a free stride.

I forgot to take a photo of the new saddle on Acey, so here it is modeled by the lovely Ripple Effect.  Blessedly, Ripple’s back measurements are almost identical to Acey’s and the new saddle fits her nicely, too.

The boots are about as big as they could possibly be on Acey without crossing the line to ridiculous.  Outfitted as Gloves, the 00 shells would never stay on her feet (yes, I did try once).  As BC’s, they clung to her little feet through walks, trots, extended trots, canters…and a gallop.  Which leads me back to the cows.

We were six miles from home.  I’d dismounted to let a massive tractor roar by.  Acey scarcely looked at the tractor, but before I could get back on, something in the deadwood at the side of the road went *crack!*  She jumped.  Her eyes bulged.  We stared together into the brush.  And from it emerged…a young holstein.

Well.  That would have been okay, except that there wasn’t just one cow.  There was at least a score of them, all half-spooked and half-concealed by the crackling brush.  They moved like clumsy ghosts, in fits and starts, and Acey couldn’t get a clear look at any of them.  Her tiny ears positivly quivered, and I swear I could hear her heartbeat as I tried to lead her past the long gauntlet of terror.

That was working fine until one of the cows jumped a small ditch.  The sudden movement sent Acey right over the edge.  She bolted, and her biothane reins slipped right out of my hand.  (Incidentally, I’ve been having that problem with biothane reins.  On hot days, in sweaty hands, they get awfully slick if you actually need to keep a firm hold on them for any period of time.  Maybe I need to either wear gloves or go back to my cotton rope reins.)

Anyway, I had to laugh as I watched Acey’s little bay butt tearing away down the road.  I wasn’t terribly worried about her.  It was a little-traveled road with fences on both sides, and we were a good mile away from the next intersection.  There wasn’t much for a running horse to do but stop.  Eventually.

A nice guy in a farm truck happened to see the incident, and he saved me the quarter-mile walk to where Acey decided to stop on the shoulder, looking baffled.  I retrieved her easily and checked her boots.  Surely if they were going to come off from speed, that would have done it.

Both boots were still there.  Hooray!  However, as I handwalked her along waiting for her brain cells to reboot, I noticed that the near-side gaiter was shifting up and down.  Further inspection revealed that the two screws in front (the “Power Strap” portion) had come loose.  They were still there, but no longer attached to the shell.  Only the triple-velcro attachment at the back of the boot had kept the gaiter (and probably the shell, too) from soaring off into the wild yonder.

In all fairness, Easycare’s instructions do say to check the screws before every ride.  This is not something I usually do (bad me!), and considering these were brand-new boots, it didn’t occur to me.  I swore to mend my ways.  But promises weren’t going to save the present situation.

You’ll recall that I was riding in a new saddle.  With new saddlebags.  New saddlebags, that is, into which I had put nothing but my camera and a bottle of water.  I hadn’t transerred my usual assortment of “just in case” items including chapstick, sunscreen, Larabar, hoof pick, and multi-tool.  Guess which item I needed.

MacGyver time.  I explored my tack for a screwdriver substitute and came up empty.  No scraps along the roadside appeared to help, either.  Spinning the boot around the screw got one side attached, but that obviously wasn’t going to work for the other side.  I ended up using my thumbnail (ow) and got it tight enough to proceed.

We finished our ride with no further adventure.  Back home, I removed the saddle to find a nice, even sweat pattern and no ruffled hairs.  The off-side boot, though, now had a loose gaiter!  Hmm.

So about the boots:  Tighten the screws when you take them out of the box.  I’m guessing this is not a product problem — just user error.  I’ll check the screws before my next few rides and let you know if they come loose again.

Today, we’re off to test the new Stonewall on some steeper hills across the Oregon border.  I’ll pack my saddlebags properly before we go.



Consolation is on hold.  Just briefly.

She’s fitter than snot and could really, really use the 50 at Tough Sucker I next weekend.  We were registered.  The camper was on the truck.  New comfort pads were on order from Easycare.  The truck was topped off with diesel.

Aaaaaand…we’re not going.

Last weekend, we had a bad ride.  It started with a switchy tail, which progressed over just a few miles to head-slinging and bucking.  Consolation felt crooked and short strided and she refused to canter.  Attempts to extend at the trot led to quick stalls and the flinging of her head to the right.

Obviously, something was wrong.  I checked her tack, even pulling the saddle to check the cinch and pad.  She was unusually itchy under the saddle, but I could find nothing else wrong.  She wasn’t bellyachy or lame.  And yet, her extreme irritation and bucking continued, even in hand, and seemed to be growing worse.

We went home and tried a couple different pads, a good brushing, a warm sponge-down of that itchy skin.  Nothing doing.  She was fine without the saddle, but not happy with it on and even more miserable when mounted.  Mind you, this is the old saddle we’ve been using while waiting for her custom Stonewall to arrive.  (Getting the perfect tree has caused a couple delays, but it should be here within a couple weeks — hooray!)

The old saddle simply isn’t a good fit for her.  We did our best with shims and minimal riding as she came off her winter holiday, but I now realize it was probably bothering her more than she let on.  For all that I value Consolation’s stoicism, I sometimes wish she’d complain before she reaches her wit’s end!  And then, there’s always me needing to learn her language better.

Anyway, I asked our favorite vet for a chiropractic evaluation in case there was more going on than just the saddle issue.  He straightened her out, gave me a hoof-trimming tip to help with some pectoral soreness, and agreed that a new saddle is what she needs most.

The next day, I hand-grazed her for a while, then loosed her in the round corral to see how she was feeling.  Sore, by the look of things!  She was very short-strided in back and clearly not interested in trotting much.  Well.  I’ve been at the chiropractor a lot lately, myself, and I remember how I felt in the days after my initial adjustments.  I figured she just needed some time to settle into the new arrangement of her various parts. 

Sure enough, by the 48-hour mark she was tearing around her paddock like a maniac, shying at the wind and bucking joyfully.  She’s not a great one for playing at liberty — she’s more the paddock-potato type — so she must have felt *really* good.  She’s going to have to hold all that energy in for a while, though.  We’re looking at a weekend of slick trails under high winds, rain, and thunderstorms.  Besides, I don’t have a saddle.

But I will.  Very soon.  Hopefully, it’ll fit her like a glove and we’ll be 100% for Tough Sucker II at the end of the month.  Shortly after that, Acey’s new saddle will arrive and I’ll be back to the grand old struggle of conditioning two horses and training several more.

Oh, darn.

Equine Back Data Collection Series

Saddle fitting has to be one of the most frustrating issues for any thoughtful equestrian.  From endurance riders whose horses must carry them thousands of miles in a year, to dressage riders whose mounts must be comfortable enough to round over their backs, to casual riders who simply care about the comfort and behavior of their horses, we all face the same questions:

How, and how much, is a horse’s back likely to change over time?  Do different body types change in different ways?  Could we learn to predict changes within types?  How much do bodyweight and level of fitness change a horse’s back over the course of a competative season?  Over years?  When is it safe to have a saddle fitted, or even custom-built, for an individual horse?

Right now, the answer is often:  Nobody knows.  Nobody has collected the data in a consistant format and documented their findings over time. 

Jackie Fenaroli, owner of Stonewall Saddles, and I have decided to change that.  Starting right here, at In the Night Farm, we’re going to collect data.  We’ll use the card-fitting system I’ve introduced here before, and we’ll follow most of my Barbs as they grow, age, and compete.  I’ll collect data monthly and create a chart to document our findings, and I’ll post periodic updates here at The Barb Wire.

NORTHWESTERNERS:  If you attend the same rides I do and would like to volunteer your horse in exchange for his or her measurements, let me know.  We’ll put your horse on a scaled-down version of the data collection program, measuring just a couple times annually, ideally at the beginning and end of the season.  Measuring only takes about 15 minutes.

CALIFORNIANS:  Stonewall Saddles will be at the Horse Expo in Pomona this weekend (Feb 2-4).  They’ll be offering an Engineered Saddle Fit presentation each day, and will be giving away free Boomerangle kits to anyone who fills out a quick survey regarding saddle features for trail riders.  I have one of these kits and it’s really handy for making quick assessments of whether a particular saddle is likely to fit a given horse.


Rethinking a Bit

In November 2008, I wrote a post titled Why Ride Bitless? 

My answer, ultimately, was “why not?”  Basically, if I’ve trained properly and won my horse’s trust and compliance, and can control my horse with a light touch during groundwork, there’s no reason I shouldn’t be able to ride her without a bit.

I also discussed the obligatory “pain principle” and “safety” factors.  I touched on fine communication and collection.  I made sure to note that while I preferred riding bitless, I didn’t fall into the category of anti-bitting activists that believe all bits are cast by the devil in the fiery pit of hell.

I simply didn’t need a bit, so I didn’t use one.  And I stand by that post.

But…I also bought a bitted bridle.  Just at the end of this summer.  For Consolation.  And yes, I’ve used it.

I suppose this will piss a few of you off, or at least disappoint you.  A few more are reading with “I told you so” smirks.  I hope, though, that the majority of you are simply interested in my logic — as well as the logic of anyone else having intelligent conversations on the subject — so you can add it to the collection of ideas on which you’ll base your own decisions.

Up until recently, I always rode Consolation bitless because I didn’t need a bit to safely do with her whatever we needed to do.  So why apply a bit?  Because circumstances changed, and the need for one developed. 

Remember those first two years of Consolation’s endurance career, when I desperately hoped for (and nearly despaired of) the day she’d discover a love of the sport?  Well, that day arrived.  With her newfound enthusiasm, however, came competitiveness.  And with competitiveness came race-brain, and with race-brain came pulling on the reins.  Hard. 

We never had a bad experience, and she never ran away with me, but it was apparent that I wouldn’t be able to hold her in forever.  Once a horse learns that it can push past you (whether in the pasture, being caught; or on the ground, being led; or from under saddle, through the bridle), you’ve lost.  You’ve taught the horse something that isn’t good for the horse to know.  Neither of you is safe.

Ideally, of course, I’d have backed up to do some re-training on giving to pressure.  My problem was that Consolation gave to pressure just fine when we weren’t at the start of an endurance ride — and when we were at the start of a ride, she was too strong and emotional to restrain completely.  I could manage her pace (barely), but didn’t have the tools to enforce an actual lesson. 

Any time you have a training problem, you’re obliged to solve it.  If the tools you’re using aren’t working, you employ new tools.  For example:  If a horse refuses to trot around the corral, do you continue waiving your arm?  Of course not; that would only teach the horse that it can ignore you. You get a lunge whip to extend your reach and add just enough pressure to get the job done. 

Sometimes, a bit is the right tool for the job.

Some of you are still frowning.  What about the horse’s pain?  The horse’s fear?  Is that really the basis on which I want to control my horse?  What kind of “partnership” is that?

But hold on a second.  Is Consolation really controlled by pain, or fear of pain, when I ride her with a bit? 

I have very light hands.  I have never yanked Consolation’s reins, never applied more than a soft and steady touch, to which she has responded with the most beautiful curve beneath me.  I’m confident that the bit has never caused her pain.  Therefore, she has no reason to be afraid.

But it could cause pain.

Of course it could.  That’s why I wouldn’t use it with a horse that didn’t understand giving to pressure.  That’s why I wouldn’t let an inexperienced rider touch the reins while she was bitted.  Her bit certainly could cause pain.  But it hasn’t

You see, we mustn’t anthropomorphize.  Horses are not people.  They lack most of our brand of deductive logic.  They do not think “My mouth is a sensitive area, and this bit is in my mouth.  Therefore, this bit might hurt my mouth.”

Initially, a horse will regard a bit with the same suspicion it would apply to anything new — from a 30.06 to a harmless saddle blanket.  That sort of trepidation is born of survival instinct, not logic.  Once an object is proven harmless, the anxiety disappears.  This is as true of a bit as it is of any other training tool. 

Consider the whip again.  I could use it to cause my horse pain, and the horse would then respond to the whip out of fear.  Instead, I use it to leverage my inferior strength and speed, applying just enough pressure to guide the horse, and the horse responds without fear.  So it is with the bit. 

I still ride bitless 95% of the time, because my Crazy Ropes Indian bosal suits the task at hand.  But when the task changes, I’d be a fool not to change things up — just a bit.

Your thoughts?

Saddle Switching

It’s time.  My favorite saddle ever, the Stonewall I’ve been riding in since it arrived just before Christmas in 2008, is about to be replaced.  You longtime readers will recall that it was custom-fitted for Aaruba, who was my primary endurance prospect at the time.  We couldn’t have known that he’d retire only a year later, at the grand old age of seven, because of unspecified, severe gut health issues unrelated to endurance.

I switched my focus to Consolation, crossing my fingers that Aaruba’s saddle would fit.  At first, it seemed to work all right on her young back.  She wasn’t quite as wide as Aaruba, but we managed.  Until this year.  At nine, Consolation’s back has matured significantly from two years ago.  The saddle fit — never perfect for her — became more of a problem.  Nobody was ever able to identify any back pain when checking her, but it’s possible that some of her attitude issues were related to discomfort.  A lovely, thick latch weave pad made a big difference, but there’s just not substitute for proper fit.

And so, just after the last ride of the season, Jackie Fenaroli asked me to mail the saddle and pad back to Stonewall.  She evaluated the wear patterns, compared Consolation’s measurements to those taken several years ago, and determined that it’s time to start from scratch.  She’s going to build a saddle made for my little Barb horses!

Step one in building a custom Stonewall is to get a good sense of the horse’s back.  To this end, Jackie mailed me a set of the cards they use for getting accurate measurements of horses all over the country.  They measure the width of the horse at three points (A – behind shoulder blade; B – lowest point of back; C – loin), as well as rock (the amount of curve from front to rear).

I measured Consolation, Acey, CJ, and Ripple:

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I can’t help marveling at how well Consolation performed this season, despite wearing Aaruba’s saddle.  What could she have accomplished if she were properly fitted and completely comfortable?  Looks like we’ll soon find out!

Take Two

The good thing about a promotion is that you make more money.  The bad thing is that you have less time for unpaid effort, like blogging.  The good news is that I’ve been keeping up on riding and training.  The bad news is that I haven’t written about it.  The upshot is that I’m now in for a memory test as I try to tell my Pink Flamingo Classic ride story…

*dream haze effect*

Once upon a time, about a month ago, I loaded Consolation in the trailer.  We headed up a winding highway alongside the roaring Payette River, toward the mountain meadow that would serve as base camp for our first attempt at two, back-to-back, 50-mile endurance rides.  We left around 9:00 am Friday, hoping to beat the weekend crazies that are all too common along the high-use road to a variety of recreational destinations.  As it turned out, construction work slowed everyone down (even the yahoos), and we pulled safely past a herd of pink flamingos and into ride camp around noon. 

Many trailers had arrived the day before, but plenty more pulled in throughout the afternoon.  The gentleman who claimed the patch of meadow next to mine and Consolation’s, set to ride the Saturday 50 on his Tennesse Walker, turned out to be excellent company.   Not only that, but his wife co-owns a new feedstore that popped up near In the Night Farm recently — and the other owner is very involved with raising Blazer horses in the next town over.  I haven’t needed to buy any feed yet, but when I do, I’ll stop by their place for a good chat!

Sometime between camp setup and the Dutch oven dinner provided by ride management, a small plane swooped overhead and dumped a load of inflatable flamingos.  I wasn’t quick enough to get my camera, but I assure you it was an entertaining sight.  Speaking of my camera, I hardy got it out at all over the Pink Flamingo weekend.  (Guilt, guilt, guilt!)  I offer instead this photo, taken last weekend by Karen Bumgarner during a ride at Snively Hot Springs.  The terrain couldn’t have been different from that at Pink, though, where mountain meadows, towering evergreens, and sweeping forest vistas stretched in all directions.

Anyway, the evening before Pink Day One passed quickly enough despite a late start on the ride meeting.  I set my alarm for 5:15 am and settled onto my cot in the horse trailer, smiling to the sound of Consolation’s munching as I drifted into sleep.

Come morning, Consolation was peaceful no more.  She was cold-backed (normal for her) and jumpy, and could hardly stand still for tacking up.  Was I ever grateful to have booted her (with knee-high nylons under the Gloves, to prevent gaiter rubbing over the two days) the night before!  Recalling her run-and-buck attempt when I mounted up at Cheap Thrills, I recruited a volunteer to hold her head while I stepped aboard. 

I met Karen Bumgarner at her trailer, where we waited for the herd to charge away before approaching the start.  Our horses were eager but under control, and a long uphill stretch took some starch out of their britches.  It also led to some truly spectacular views of the mountains and lakes.  We rode and rode and rode, uphill and down and around.  The ride was to be completed in two, 25(ish)-mile loops with an hour’s hold between — not an arrangement I’d tried before, having always been to rides with 3 loops and 2 holds, but one I found quite pleasant. 

Sometime on the first loop, we rounded a corner just as two deer leaped across the trail.  Consolation slammed on the brakes and I make a quick visit to her neck (oops), but everyone survived.  We descended into camp and breezed through the vet check.  Consolation ate moderately, as is typical for her at first holds, though I must say I wished I could explain to her that she wouldn’t get a second hold this time!  It didn’t matter, though.  She and Thunder both grazed well along the trail throughout the second loop, and we completed with all A’s.  Halfway done!

Back at my trailer, between chugging coconut water and cracking open a celebratory beer, I noticed that my inner thighs were quite swollen, apparently from rubbing against the wool seat pad I’d put on my Stonewall.  Hmm.  Sore No More and Advil were all I had to hand, and I used both liberally in the hope that I wouldn’t suffer much the next day.

As it turned out, my bruised thighs were a non-issue.  My lower back, on the other hand, was painfully tight on Day Two.  I only felt it only when trotting downhill…which would have been okay if there hadn’t been so much downhill to cover!  There was nothing to do but suck it up despite the gasping pain, make sure I didn’t sacrifice the support I gave Consolation, and plot how to avoid the problem next time.  But man, did it hurt!  (A month later, despite regular Feldenkrais work, those muscles still feel a bit tight.  Egads.)

Consolation, on the other hand, was fine.  She plowed through another pair of long loops without a hitch.  The only difference from her usual performance was that she drank earlier and ate more, which made me very happy.  Oh yes — she also stopped her marish snarking at Thunder and instead took to hollering for him whenever he left her sight.  Upon finishing (again with all A’s — huzzah!), she watched doe-eyed as Karen led him away…and then, another chestnut with a blaze approached from the other direction.  Consolation turned her whole head back and forth, one red horse to the other.  Which one was Lover Boy???  Ha ha ha.

Anyway, she looked so good that I decided to pack up while she rested for a few hours, and we headed home that night.  She stepped off the trailer in fine form, and proceeded to visibly inflate overnight on a buffet of hay and water.  Over the next few weeks, she filled out even more.  She looks like a bodybuilder now:  smooth-muscled, sleek, and powerful.   Excess energy fairly rolls off her.  We need another hundred miles of trail.

Good thing it’s time for Old Selam.

Tomorrow morning, we’ll set out for a different set of Idaho mountains, where we’ll attempt a repeat performance.  Two more days, two more 50’s!  And assuming we finish at least 1 day, Consolation will exceed the 500 AERC mile mark.  Sure, it’s little milestone, but it’s still kinda cool.  🙂

I do have a plan for mitigating low back pain, by the way:  1)  Continue focusing on riding without an arched back.  2)  Do Feldenkrais lessons the evening before each ride, including between rides.  I am taking my laptop to Old Selam for the express purpose of playing Feldenkaris MP3s.  (Yes, I should get an iPod.  But I am cheap.)  3)  Get off and run more of the downhills.  4)  Advil and Sore No More.  5)  Vicodin.  <–  Just kidding.  Probably. 

Wish us luck!


Tack notes:  The saddle fitting issues we were working on earlier in the year have resolved as Consolation filled out.  Her latch weave wool pad continues to perform spectacularly.  These pads are also gorgeous.  You can get one here

I’ve recently added a thin, No-Wicky pad that Jackie Fenaroli with Stonewall sent my way for testing.  The No-Wicky goes between the horse and the wool pad, allowing sweat and dirt to run off rather than soaking into the pad.  At first, I wondered if it would be too scratchy, but when thin-skinned Acey consistently performed well under it, I decided to try it with Consolation.  Sure enough, she moves beautifully with the No-Wicky/Latch Weave combo. 

Meanwhile, we’re still using our beloved Stonewall saddle, roper cinch, Indian bosal from Crazy Ropes, and Easyboot Gloves.  If only I could get Acey’s hoofboot situation resolved, I’d be all set for both horses!

Latch Weave for Her Highness

Sometimes, I just stand and stare at her.  If I’m lucky, I have a camera.  This was taken on Wednesday, just after I hosed Consolation down following that speedy ride.  So yes, she’s wet.

I didn’t mention before that we tried some new tack on that ride.  Stonewall sent up a luxurious, latch-weave wool pad for us to test ride.  The pads are made by suppliers who raise their own sheep for the wool, and the latch weave results in a thick, springy product designed to absorb dynamic loads.  If “road tests” go well, similar pads will appear shortly in Stonewall’s line.

Consolation and I have been having some trouble with saddle fit (you’ll recall that my saddle was custom-fit for Aaruba, not Consolation, before we knew he was in for early retirement), and Jackie with Stonewall suggested we give this a try.  Obviously, padding can only help with minor issues and shouldn’t be relied upon to correct major fitting problems, but we figured this might do the trick in our case. 

Consolation is a little narrower than Aaruba, so the saddle was sitting a bit low in front and interfering with her withers, particularly on downgrades.  The latch weave pad is thick enough to fill that extra space.

It’s also huge!  Where’d my horse go?

…but once I got the saddle on, it looked much better.  The pad is still bigger than necessary, which isn’t the best for keeping the horse cool, so Stonewall will likely order the next batch of pads with smaller dimensions.

I wondered if that pad was so thick that it would be unstable, resulting in danger for the rider and more work for the horse, but that turned out not to be the case.  Instead, the loft seemed just right, rebalancing the saddle a hair, and Consolation responded with a freer gait and apparent comfort.

Today, we’ll put that pad through its paces on some hills!

Nerd in Paradise

It’s here!  My Garmin Forerunner 305 is here!

Actually, it arrived in the middle of last week.  I spent some time reading the instructions (!) and, happily, encountered no difficulty using the device for the first time yesterday.  So far, my favorite feature is the “auto pause,” which stops the timer when we stop moving, so grazing and photo breaks don’t skew our average pace.  I haven’t tried the heart rate monitor yet; I’ll read those instructions next.

According to Garmin, we went 16.13 miles yesterday at an average speed of 4.6 mph.  SLOW.  However, we climbed 3,000 feet and descended them again, so there was plenty of walking in the mix.  Consolation is an excellent downhill trotter, but there’s no point beating up her joints by conditioning that way.  Also, I gather that GPS is not entirely accurate in hilly terrain, because it measures as the crow flies and doesn’t account for the extra distance resulting from altitude change (though Google searches fail to confirm this absolutely).  The variance estimate I hear most frequently is 10%.

The software that turns rides into maps, charts, and graphs is fascinating.  I’ve entered Consolation and Acey as “users.”  Let the nerdfest begin!

Oy, Presents!

Oooooh, look what just arrived in my mailbox!

It’s from Stonewall. I have a sneaking suspicion about what’s inside… Yes! New toys — I mean saddlebags!

Stonewall Saddles has teamed up with Snugpax to offer pommel bags designed specifically for the Stonewall. As you can see, these packs provide considerably more space than my current pommel packs (which I’ll move from my sponsorship saddle to my older Stonewall because I really like them, too) and include a new strap that attaches to the Stonewall’s rigging and should prevent the bouncing problems I had with my old Snugpax pommel bags.

Consolation is enjoying one more recovery day after a 30-mile weekend, but we’ll test drive these packs tomorrow evening.

Oh! Didn’t I mention that we did a 20-mile conditioning ride on Sunday? We averaged only 5 miles per hour, but finished in fine form. Milady Consolation is coming along, ladies and gentlemen. She’s coming along. I’m feeling good about her first LD at Old Selam come September…

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Not Quite Tough Enough

…for Pink Flamingo. Today is Day 2 of the 2009 Pink Flamingo Classic endurance ride. Held in the forested mountains of Cascade, Idaho, it’s a beautiful, challenging, and irrepressibly silly event. Last year, Aaruba and I earned the Bad Day Award — a set of magenta polo wraps — by getting lost on Day 1, then rallied on Day 2 to score 3rd Place Best Condition. I’d hoped to make Pink Flamingo 2009 Consolation’s first Limited Distance race, but it turns out that life circumstances conspired with my hamstring injury to ensure that she wouldn’t be quite fit. So, I find myself following the event vicarious via Facebook updates from friends. And riding, of course. Consolation and I trotted a hilly 15 miles yesterday under a blazing sun tempered by intermittent breezes. Having run part of the same route earlier in the day, myself, I was pleased by how well she handled the rolling slopes — particularly as she, unlike me, had to haul along a load of rider and tack.

Anyway, Pink Flamingo is a fantastic ride and it pains me to miss it. The good news is that I fully anticipate being ready to go for Old Selam at the beginning of September. Then, there’s the Owyhee Canyonlands multi-day, followed by the new Owyhee Hallowed Weenies race on October 31. Maybe I’ll be a flamingo for Halloween. _________________________________________________________ Want to read more posts like this one? Subscribe to The Barb Wire