Monday, July 13, 2015


My original plan this weekend was to ride on Saturday, because I mistakenly thought T's next 5k was on Sunday. Imagine my surprise to discover that he was actually running on Saturday. Additionally, we had planned on riding at Buffalo Creek, but since we rode there last week and vowed to never return (although that never is now fairly subjective) we had no where to ride. K and I texted back and forth about possibilities and ended up with deciding on Three Sisters trail in Evergreen. Sunday was supposed to be hot and we wanted to be higher for the cooler temps. We coordinated with PJ, who was irritated at the rescheduling (and who can blame her) but who was ready to ride anyway.

So that was our goal: a long ride on a new trail in Evergreen on Sunday. In the meantime, I was wracking my brain trying to come up with a ride for Saturday, since K said she could ride both weekend days. Otherwise, I would be forced to stay home and clean house. J and I talked and decided that instead of hauling somewhere, we would ride to TMR, pick up K, ride Ralston Creek and then ride back to SQA. J and I both figured that would be a short, easy (read most flat) ride for a couple of hours on Saturday along tree shaded creekbottom. What could be better?

Saturday we were up early and took T to run. He finished the 5k with aching knees (when will this kid grow?) but a good attitude. We took him home and got lunch, did a little cleaning, and then texted K to let her know we were coming. There were a couple of people at TMR who were going to ride with us (they had coordinated with K on Friday night) and they couldn't be to TMR until noonish. J and I got Ashke groomed, Coyote ready, and we headed out about 11:30. We were both thinking forty-five minutes to an hour ride to TMR. J, thinking it was going to be a short, shaded ride, did not wear sunscreen, her bike shorts or her bike shoes.

Say it with me: We are slow learners.

It wasn't a hard trail, but it wasn't tree shaded either, getting to TMR. We got up on the canal from a trail that leads from the barn (with only about two blocks of street walking on a busy road). North Table Mountain is to the left of the photo. 

It was hot and a lot longer than we expected. Ashke was bare foot so I couldn't do a gait faster than a walk where there was rocks. About the time we got a mile from TMR he started feeling funny, like he was short striding in the back. But I couldn't figure out where. Or which one. He seemed to be favoring both hinds evenly, but J couldn't see anything out of place in his stride. I did check his RF and dug a pretty nasty rock out of his collateral grove and after that he felt better, just NQR. 

It took an hour and a half to get to TMR. It was just short of six miles. Which meant that Ashke and I were looking at a plus 20 mile ride once we hooked up with K and Eddy. They were ready and waiting for us when we got there. Everyone else at TMR had bailed and it was just K and J and I. 

Eddy was awesome for this ride. We had one spooky moment with a golf cart, but the drivers were really pleasant and stopped for us to go by. Otherwise, he was solid and fairly calm. We even investigated trash cans. Ashke's NQR came and went on the ride and I was fairly frustrated with it's elusive nature.

Not that you can see it in this video.

We do have Big Country

Washed out trails thanks to the massive rain we have had this summer. I love that Ashke watches J.

Coming down to meet up.
TMR had the best trail access. 

I got a short Cottonwood switch, which didn't phase Ashke at all. I used it mostly to swish away flies. 
Eddy wasn't as impressed with either the look of it or the noise.

This section of sidewalk annoys J. She thinks it was designed by a drunk city worker.

Finally, some trees. Not nearly enough though. J was horribly sunburned by the end of our ride.

So much green.

Ashke was offered water at six miles or so and drank moderately. When we stopped for a quick break to let them graze, he drank for a solid ten minutes or so. I just waited quietly for him to get his fill. Once he started playing instead of drinking, we found a shaded spot and had a little break.

It was during this time that I realized that the BOT exercise boots I had put on Ashke's legs had slid down and were interfering with the motion of his fetlock. There was no rub or injury, they were just annoying at a gait faster than a walk. Hence the argument on the way out about moving at a trot or canter. It also explained why it got progressively worse as the ride went on. 

My only complaint about these exercise boots is that they are almost too big in the back for the size of Ashke's legs. I need to take them home and wash them to see if that tightens up the material any. He has such dainty legs (although in comparison with where they were three years ago, he has laid on bone.)

Hanging out in the shade. This is where I checked my app and we had traveled 11 miles.

To say that Ashke was excited to ride unhindered by annoying boots would be an understatement. He was back to being light and airy and spooky and forward, just like when we started the ride.

Walking under my favorite bridge on this trail. 

We said goodbye to K and Eddy at the field where we had cantered earlier, with K headed back for TMR through the neighborhood and J and I headed back down the canal. Eddy was brave although skeptical about some of the obstacles in the neighborhood, but he went where K asked and carried her safely home. 

We spent the entire ride down the canal with Ashke looking back over his shoulder. We kept to the verge since the rock they use on the canal is pretty sharp and he moved easier on the verge. I was tired and starting to get sore by the time we crossed the road from the canal to the bike path. I could feel Ashke realize where we were as we crossed that road. He was suddenly much more forward than he had been on the canal. 

By the time we reached the barn I was in agony. I hit about 18 miles and then my hips start complaining. I creaked my way off Ashke, stripped tack and headed to the wash rack. He loved the cool water. playing with the hose and only protesting about having his face misted if it hit his ears. I tucked him in with a mash and a clean bedded stall. He drank a quarter bucket of water when he walked into the stall, and had bliss face as we left.

Sunday was a no go. J was sunburned badly and we both had hives on our lower legs. I called off for the trip to Evergreen and we spent the day chilling with the dogs. When I went out to check on Ashke, he was a little stocky on the outside RH, but five minutes with a cold hose and ten minutes in the round pen and he looked normal. He was moving easily (holding his leads correctly and tracking up) although J thought he might be a touch stiff. We will do an easy ride tonight to relax and get his muscles moving, since the worse thing you can do when you are stiff is nothing.

22 miles in six hours with about a 45 minute hold half way through.


  1. 110% certain Ashke is more fit that Q right now!!

  2. With trails like those, a great riding partner in J, and gorgeous views, it would be hard not to put miles like that in. Why don't you think Ashke could handle endurance? You are putting in the miles and your conditioning times are good. I bet he could hold up to a 25 no problem.

    1. He swings his right hind leg in a crescent shape to the inside and then thunks it on the ground. Some times he short strides on that leg as well. I'm afraid he wouldn't be able to pass the vet in or vet check.

    2. I agree with Liz. Ashke is more fit right now than most horses in Blogland!

      Are you able to contact local endurance ride vets? Or vets with endurance/competitive trail experience? You can look up some of the CO rides and see which vets are attending, then have one of them come out to do an evaluation of Ashke's movement. (Example here: It's a great way to know if he would pass the vet check prior to going to a ride. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. :) There are horses with arthritis doing endurance:, and here is the post where she talks about his diagnosis: Ace is a gray Arab like Ashke who has high ringbone, like Gracie, and he's out doing LDs and 50s. :) Liz and I rode with Patti Steadman for most of the last loop of Foxcatcher last year. Ringbone is considered a career ender, but it doesn't have to be, with management aimed at helping the specific condition. I really think that Ashke's situation could be similar! <3

    3. And I absolutely love your Big Country photo! Gorgeous!!!

  3. Soooo pretty! And I love that video of you guys cantering in the field -- ya'll are having so much fun!