I am having to rethink my arrogance.
My horse is ready. I have no doubt. We did almost nine miles yesterday at 5 mph and today he was a fireball. Cali was exhausted. Ashke danced the first mile and a half. We did Chatfield again and the temp topped out at 94. It was a sweat fest. Didn't deter Ashke, however.
He still isn't liking his ear bonnet. In fact, N had to come over and do some pressure and release on him (showing me how) to get him to lower his head. The bridle still isn't really fitting well with the bonnet and I loosed it one notch. That was a mistake, because then he really started to throw his head and fight the bit. I stopped mid-trail and tightened it without getting off of him.
The trail started out as a two lane path, which was pretty good in some areas, but really sandy in others. J hated the sand. She really got a workout today. However, she did it with a great attitude.
I could see us letting the horses into the pond next time we do this trail. Of course, that would be after we removed the saddles, our shoes and their boots.
A brief stop to check on T, who had opted to stay home today. It's just as well, he would have hated the trail.
We followed the trail down to the Dead Horse Ponds, which we were informed were called that because a horse drowned there. I was told that by the helpful woman at the main gate. It did not inspire the desire to take the horses in.
The trail we were following split and we tried following it around the pond, but it really was just a fishing trail.
Ashke is not fond of being second. It might be a problem if we do an endurance ride.
Cali did good, despite it being the second day of riding out. It was a challenge for her not to eat her way across the field. N was happy right up until the sun came out and it became hotter than the ninth hell of Zandru.
There was a boggy area, just south of Dead Horse Pond. Ashke traversed it without much issue. (Good boy) And it wasn't as muddy as I first feared. J had to portage her bike. She is a rock star!!
Cali and N negotiating the consumption of green stuffs.
Coyote we scared up.
He is the dog like shape to the right of the big green bush at the tip of Ashke's ear.
After we crossed the bog, we ended up on a trail the led to a small creek. The crossing was probably 12' wide and seemed to be pretty muddy. I was worried that the mud at the crossing would suck off our boots and it was hard to tell how deep the water was. There was also the issue of J not being able to cross without wading through the muck. I turned south to see if there was another way, even if it meant another portage with J's bike. Ashke and I cantered across the ground until we were a quarter mile away. There was no trail. J called to see if I had found anything, and I slowed Ashke. When we stopped a coyote popped up out from her den just in front of us. There didn't seem to be any reason to keep going, so I turned around.
We either had to ford the creek and risk the mud or turn around.
Ashke and I crossed without any issues. N had to struggle a bit with Cali to keep her moving, because the last thing either of us wanted was for her to lay down in the muck.
J took her socks off and tucked them in her pockets, then put her shoes back on. She searched to find a long stick that she then used to 1) help her balance as she walked across the small logs that laid across one part of the creek, 2) used it to move her bike ahead of her on a thick patch of tall weeds she bent down over the creek. The bottom of her shoes got muddy and she got a bit of mud on her legs.
J negotiating the last little bit of the swamp creek.
On the other side of the little creek, we followed the path south. It lead to the Highline Canal. We cantered a lot along this path. It was singletrack, but pretty smooth. Ashke was very brave and didn't shy at much. Once we were on the canal, we sought out a patch of shade, stripped the saddles from the horses and let them graze while we ate lunch.
The Highline Canal crosses private land. We were allowed to use the canal as long as we stayed on the trail. Just past the private land, as we crossed off, I saw a trail break off to our left toward Chatfield. I started cussing and told J and N to wait for me. Ashke and I trotted down the trail to the fence line until I was sure. It was access to the canal from the trail we had been on, just before we were forced to cross the creek. Next time I will know. It would have saved J a lot of work.
Cussing under my breath, we continued on. Cue lots of cantering.
It's a great trail to canter on and we managed to stay next to each other for many miles. Ashke got so comfortable that he waited for Cali so they could canter next to each other.
When we walked Cali would slow down. Ashke out walks her usually, but once she is moving slow, he really can leave her in the dust. I told him he needed to slow down and wait for Cali. He began walking with a very exaggerated walk. I found it quite amusing. Cali didn't want to walk, but neither Cali or N minded trotting or cantering. So we cantered.
The canal was a nice ride. At one point we cantered and then galloped. It was the fastest we've ever ridden. I lost a stirrup during the run, called back to N and we slowed the gallop just enough that I was able to get my foot back in the stirrup. Ashke didn't fight me though. He dun good.
By the time we got back to Chatfield, it was 94 and the sun was blazing down. N was exhausted and Cali was done.
Ashke. Not so much. We were trotting and he was fighting me to canter again. I lowered and spread my hands, lifting with my heel and asked him to be round. He did and then he dropped his head all the way to the ground and continued to trot with contact. N was impressed. She didn't think Cali would go that low. Ashke practically had his nose on the ground. Trotting.
I just thought he was being a smart ass.
We cut cross country, since the road winds back and forth. I kept trying to show N where we needed to go, but it was farther away than I honestly thought it was. At one point, N said she thought the trailer and truck was a mirage and we were traveling the desert in search of it. She asked if I thought we could canter. I asked Ashke and he said, NO, unequivocally. A few moments later the ground fell out from under us in a series of small, hidden ditches. N didn't ask after that. The grass was just too high to see the footing. I knew there was a trail hidden there somewhere, and when we finally found it, we cantered the last 200 feet.
Our trail. The part where I backtracked was where the coyote was. I really think if we had gone south on the Highline canal, we could have forded the South Platte and headed back on the trail we took yesterday.
I really love this app and can't praise it enough.
Our top speed at a gallop was almost 20 mph.
I'm pretty happy with these stats.
So. I have decided that we need some additional work before trying our first 25 LD. Ashke is still not very good at being rated. We struggle to be second on the trail. We struggle to canter behind someone rather than race by them. He is not very good about where he moves his hindquarters when he is upset and trying to bully me. I need him to stay on the trail and move where and how I ask. We spent a lot of time cantering very slowly behind Cali as she trotted, because he DIDN'T WANT TO LISTEN. He needs to listen. And to let me rate him. We aren't there yet.
Additionally, I have only really been cantering with him for a month or so. Between yesterday and today, we tripled the amount of cantering we have done, on trail or not. I do not have the muscles to deal with that much cantering. My back hurts tonight, and I could feel the strain and weakness in my upper adductors in my thighs and groin when we were riding. I need to get stronger before attempting my first 25. I need my body to get harder.
And I need to consider my options, as far as my bosum goes. (Ok. Breasts.) I ended up with huge bruises from where my bra pinched and left golf ball sized blood blisters on the underside of my breasts. They do not feel good tonight. Unfortunately, my porn-star sized goodness is not really a plus when it comes to riding. I need to investigate the possibility of surgical reduction, as a necessary evil to lessen both my back pain and my front pain. I need to make this decision before I get really serious about endurance.
The plan, after talking to J, is to do the Intro ride that Happy Jack is offering. Because it is a 10 mile ride, I think N might be interested in trying it as well. J made the very important point that I would really enjoy riding at Vedauwoo, and it would be a good intro to the sport.