I’m out of here for the weekend. I’m heading south to judge a trail ride.
I spent the weekend judging a trail ride. It was hot. That about sums it up. Hot and humid. Think horses panting and riders wilting and sweating so much that your own stench is grossing you out.
I stayed in a hotel. That was nice because there was air conditioning and a shower. But was not a real high class establishment and it catered to a rowdy crowd. At 4:00 AM the people in the room next door to us got in a fight. I woke up to a lady yelling that she didn’t want to put any pants on because she was sleeping until he woke her up and she likes to be comfortable when she sleeps. She didn’t have a large vocabulary but it was colorful and loud. The intellectual component of the argument went down from there until she was yelling at him for turning off the Cartoon Network and daring him to hit her. There was no one working at night at this hotel. We had to leave at 5:00 AM to check some horses before the ride started anyway so we left a bit early in case either one of them had access to weapons. We didn’t want to get caught in the crossfire.
It is cold. It is raining. I’m off to judge a trail ride. For some reason I’m having a hard time mustering up enthusiasm for an afternoon of standing in the rain trying to examine horses who also are not happy to be standing in the rain. Follow that with sleeping in a horse trailer which I am praying has heat because it is going to get really cold tonight. Then get up super early tomorrow to watch horses go slogging off on muddy trails. At least it is supposed to get a bit warmer and drier tomorrow. I’m sort of hoping that people have the good sense not to come but that would be awful for the ride management.
If I don’t drown or freeze to death I’ll be back tomorrow.
I decided this weekend that I really like tents. They are absolutely amazing to me. I think it is because my first tent experience was a little pup tent that I could just wiggle into as a kid. This tent also washed away mere seconds after I escaped it on the one tent camping trip I was on. So now when I go inside real tents and I am able to stand up and stretch out my arms and not touch the sides I am flat out amazed. I am also made keenly aware that I am very easily amused! Imagine what I’d be like with the Harry Potter tents that are normal sized on the outside and the size of a house on the inside. J.K. Rowling must share my strange fascination with the interior size of tents.
I went and judged a trail ride this weekend which is why I was staying in a tent. Every time I go I think that I should do this with Prize. I try to make myself face the facts.
1. There is camping. Camping with Prize would be nerve racking. She gets bored. When she gets bored she likes to amuse herself. This usually involves going somewhere that is not so boring. I would be awake all night wondering if she was seconds away from heading off to parts unknown.
2. It starts early in the morning. We sent the riders out on trail at 6:30 AM. I am not much of a morning person but Prize is seriously not a morning person. Getting ready for an 8:00 AM halter class about kills her. Actually hauling my butt through the woods at 6:30 AM? I have my doubts that she would let it happen. I think that shows good sense, by the way.
I was camping next to a very experienced horse. At 6:00 AM on Day 2 of the ride he was laying down with his back to his person who was gently shaking him and telling him that he really had to get up now. That would be Prize.
I am eating the yummiest brownie. This is going to sound gross but trust me on this. This is yummy. Take a can of black beans and dump it liquid and all into a blender. Blend until it is a uniform consistency. Then mix it with a store-bought brownie mix. Do not add eggs, oil, water, or anything else liquidy. Bake as directed. It turns out very moist, yummy, and non-beany.
I was out this weekend judging a trail ride. There was a pagan there. I knew it right away. She had a vibe. She had on flowing dresses (when she wasn’t riding), sandals, and had long naturally colored hair. Her horse was also named after a Goddess. That isn’t as good of a clue as others because the horse could have been named by a previous owner. Then she was talking to us about good books to read. They were all femine books like The Crone. There are times when I wished we had a secret handshake to identify ourselves because yelling across an arena, “Hey! Me too!” while I was judging her horse wouldn’t have been appropriate.
I went to Kansas for a trail ride this weekend. I was judging not riding of course. I ended up very sleep deprived since to beat the scorching heat the horses were started out on the trails at 6:00 AM. That meant I was getting up at 4:45 every morning. They also expected my brain to work at that time of the morning.
Then I was scheduled to get home at 11:30 pm Sunday night. I had to drive an hour home and then drive back in for a 4-H event by 8:30 Monday morning. The flight was delayed so I ended up getting a hotel and staying in town. So I got to bed at 2:30 Monday morning. Last night I finally got home at 5:30 pm. I went right to bed and slept until 8:30 this morning.
I went right out to get the horses in and Spirit was sick. I treated him with some drugs I have but he didn’t get better so I called my horse vet. The associate came out and was nervous to work on my horse. She kept asking what I thought. We treated him with stuff I don’t have and he seemed to get a bit better. Then about 4:30 he got bad again. I called back to get more drugs for him and she came back out with the practice owner. Spirit’s running a 105 degree fever (normal is 100-101) for reasons unknown. We loaded him up with antibiotics and meds to reduce his fever. They are running bloodwork and they gave me some homeopathic treatments to give him hourly. I don’t know what is going on with him. But a fever is probably better than a non-responsive colic. At his age though everything is serious. I feel a bit better though because for a fever you give drugs and wait. For a colic you walk them and give drugs and guess about how fast they should be responding and generally worry yourself sick. Fevers are lower stress for the owner. I’ve also done some energy work and acupressure on him. The poor horse. He feels like crap and I keep fussing at him.
A friend and I went to the National Quilting Association quilt show today. Apparently this is the 37th annual show. We are a bit put out by this because neither one of us had ever heard tell of the previous 36 shows. Over 200 stunning quilts were on display. I got some pictures for inspiration. There were also vendors and I bought one thing. It is an applique pattern of a Pomeranian that looks just like my dog. I don’t normally applique or buy patterns but this was a must have.
I’m leaving tomorrow for a weekend in Kansas. I’m judging a trail ride. You may wonder how a person on crutches will examine horse legs and hike through the woods. The answer is We’ll See. It ought to be interesting.
I have to get up way early. I’ll be setting the alarm for a time that starts with a 3. Yuck! My flight leaves at 6:30 am so I better pack and get to bed. I hate getting up that early. I started having dreams last night that I overslept.
I’m a bad blogger. I went away for almost a week and didn’t even say goodbye. My only excuse is that I was busy because I didn’t plan ahead enough.
Thursday I went to Equine Affaire. It is a four day horse extravaganza. There is a huge vendors’ area, a big breed booth, and always at least 5 clinics going on at any given time. I always spend every bit of time they let me there but this year I had to pack it all into one day. I watched clinics on driving and creating a natural headset. I bought Prize a mint green western saddle pad. I’m just thrilled with this. Mint green western saddle pad. Just typing it makes me happy. This is such a deviation from my conservative english rider-ness. This pad is obnoxious enough to not be acceptable in the western show ring but it is fine for chasing cows. I stared for a long time at the matching mint green nylon bridle but wasn’t sure if I would actually go out in public with that. I finally talked myself out of it by realizing that as soon as I would buy a matching ensemble I would somehow ruin the pad and would never be able to find another one. Why mint green? Because Prize is a girly girl and pink would clash with her hair. Why else?
Friday morning I got at 4:45 AM to head to the airport to go to Louisiana for a trail ride. I ended up missing my connecting flight and had to hang out in Memphis for many hours. That made for some frantic calling trying to tell people that I was going to be late. The ride site doesn’t have good cell coverage so it was hard to get someone. I ended up about 8 hours late but it all worked out fine. I’m the judge so they can’t start without me. I worked really fast to get all the horses checked in Friday night. I think I may have set some kind of CTR record.
The weather was beautiful. It was in the 70s and not at all humid. I was walking around in a t-shirt. Of course all the native southerners were freezing and piling on the layers. I kept getting asked if there was snow at my house. I had to admit that it wasn’t that cold. I wish there was because it would have made me seem tough and exotic but it was pretty warm here too.
Now I’m off to ride Prize with her new mint green pad and work on her headset. Spending all weekend around riders always inspires me to do more with her. Hopefully she won’t be a totally jerk so I can continue to be enthused about working with her.
My competitive trail ride is over. I think it went well but my brain is too muddled from a lack of good sleep to analyze successfully yet. Here’s a snapshot of what I know I learned.
1. I could market the CTR diet. With the right mix of stress, lack of sleep, and forgetting to eat you too could drop 5 pounds between Friday and Sunday. Results not guaranteed to last once back to normal life though.
2. If you feel the need to run through a one mile section of trail “just to be sure it is ok” while the horses are on course you will push your tired body much faster if you imagine every sound in the woods to be the lead horses coming around the bend behind you and about to run you down.
3. At the end of the weekend when a competitor asks you to sign a form you will leave a letter out of your name. When you try to add it back in you will put it in the wrong place.
4. You have had to much to drink if you are female and are still swinging your shirt enthusiastically over your head in the police car’s headlights. I learned that by driving past the incident – not by being personally involved.
5. Do not try a test out of a magazine when you come home. Although attempting to stand on one foot with your eyes closed will be most amusing when you are wobbly even on two feet. I scored 4 seconds last night. This morning after a night of sleep and a glass of orange juice I lost count at 41 seconds. For the record, my mother did 4 seconds last night too and my husband did a very acrobatic hopping and twisting 7 seconds.
Less than a week away from the start of my competitive trail ride and I am a stark raving lunatic. I’m worried primarily about the trail being marked ok and people not getting lost. I can’t really concentrate on other issues very well. The husband has started talking very slowly and deliberately to me whenever he needs to communicate. Sometimes I can even process his requests, but not always. I do feel sorry for him. He tried to kiss me the other day and I stopped mid-kiss to ask him a question about trail mileage. He has tried to suggest that perhaps I am taking this a bit seriously. That started me on a rant about how I have people coming all the way from Alabama, “Alabama! Do you understand this responsibility? He’s driving from Alabama. I can not screw this up!” etc., etc. I’ve taken to patting him on the arm and saying, “Honey, can we talk next week and forget about this week?”
Lucky for me he is actually excited about this too. He keeps referring to it as “when we go camping” which just shows that he is not having appropriate levels of stress in my opinion.
We were watching Celebrity Fit Club on VH1 last night. The husband actually mentioned that he should lose weight. He said that we should have a contest with real prizes for weight loss. I asked what kind of prizes he had in mind. Stupid thing to ask a man whose wife went away for a week and then came back crazy.
Starting in August I’m going to combine the Eat Local Challenge with a new weight loss plan. I gained 5 pounds in Minneapolis even though I walked all over that city. They have lots of billboards there that say, “Groove your body for 10 minutes three time a day.” Well I was doing that and more and still gained weight. I’ve also been hiking at least 5 miles a day in 90+ degree heat. You’d think I’d lose it just in sweat. Damn my good hydration status.
My competitive trail ride is one week away. I am swamped with things to do. On Thursday I lost all of my volunteer safety riders. So I’ve been scrambling to fix that. Actually, at first I told everyone involved with the ride that if they didn’t find me some riders I was cancelling the whole thing. You’d think after 8 months of work that would bother me. But, I felt strangely light and carefree after making that pronouncement. I actually thought that if someone did come up with some safety riders I’d probably cry. Then I got some sleep and felt better about everything that still needs to be done.
I hiked a few miles today and marked trial. I still have one area that is really confusing and I’m worried about getting it marked well. I’ll go back with the GPS and computers tonight to map it out. I’m not planning on getting much sleep between now and then. Even when I do sleep I’m dreaming about things going wrong. One of last night’s dreams involved cats walking rabbits on leashes down the trail for some reason….
I woke up from this dream and it was light out. I asked the husband what time it was. He said that it was 7:00 AM and that was entirely too early on a Saturday to even be considering what time it was. Poor guy. I don’t think he believes me that next Saturday we’ll be making breakfast for workers at 5:00 AM in order to get the horses out on the trail at 7:00 AM. He’s just going to die.
I am a slacker! I blew off the meetings this morning because I was tired. It was also storming hugely at the time I would have needed to leave. Of course I could have used the enclosed skywalks to get around downtown and stayed perfectly dry but it gave me another reason to be glad I stayed in bed.
Luckily for me this morning I still had my phone on vibrate. I have a person who routinely called me at horrible times in the morning. If the phone rings before 7:00 AM it is her. She called my phone this morning at 6:28. That would be 5:28 AM in the time zone I was in. I didn’t discover this until about 11:30 but it still annoyed me. What are people thinking?
I’m going to hang out here until I get kicked off the computer and then go have lunch and head to the airport.
I decided that I needed more prizes for my trail ride so I hit ebay. There was only one problem. It seems that I’d been banned from ebay for not paying $1.99 sellers fee. But I did pay the fee and I could prove it so I tried out ebay’s online customer service. It was a slow and painful experience. I explained my problem and the guy asked for all my info. I gave it to him but all my contact info was out of date. Ebay has never allowed me to change it. I’ve filled out the forms repeatedly but it never seemed to take. So he concentrated on fixing all that and missed the whole point that I couldn’t sign in. Then he seemed surprised that I still cared about that when he had fixed all my contact info. He reset passwords and all kinds of stuff and I still couldn’t sign in. So he retreated to the fall back position of all computer customer service reps – “Maybe you should reboot.” Good for him since rebooting my computer would sever the customer service connection. Then he had the nerve to write that he was glad to have helped me. All this fun took an hour and a half and I still couldn’t get on. So I rebooted. And I was able to get on. Personally I think that gave the system time to catch up with all the changes that we did. I hate it when the fallback rebooting cop-out works.
So how I’m buying cheap horse stuff on ebay. I’m concentrating on one store to save on shipping. So far today I’ve bought a 10′ cotton lead rope and a halter. I have bids out on other leads and halters too. For most stuff I’m refusing to bid over $5.00 but for fancy halters I’ll go as high as $8.00. I love buying stuff cheap!
Today I rode 10 miles. I did not do this on Prize. Nope, I borrowed a good trail horse so it was actually fun. I would have been a nervous wreck on Prize. But, the owner of this horse told me he was good and brave so I believed her. I can seriously psych myself out of trying things with Prize because I’m worried about how she will react. Intellectually I know that she will probably be just fine but I still get panicky. I need to work on this so I get comfortable doing things out of my comfort zone with her.
Right now I feel pretty good. I was relaxed during the ride so hopefully I won’t be too sore tomorrow. Last time I rode this far I was lame for a week because I was so uptight that my muscles were all cramped up. We’ll see tomorrow how I feel.
After several computer problems I made the husband come with me to map a section of trail. This would be my anti-exercise, out-of-shape, refuses to walk from the end of the parking lot husband. He says I almost killed him.
Sad thing is I took his condition into consideration and did an easy trail with him. We only walked about a mile. It was mostly flat or downhill. Ok, there are two large ravine crossings that are steep uphills. But other than that it was flat or downhill.
He had to stop and rest several times. One time we stopped and sat on a log in a very pretty area. It was nice. I don’t think he noticed. His face was all red and he was dripping sweat. He was also panting. My hair was a bit damp at the roots.
Him: accusingly Are you sweating?
Me: I’m a girl. We aren’t supposed to visibly sweat. We just glow. I read that in a book once.
Him: skeptical You aren’t sweating! You’re trying to kill me!
We take the next hill and rest again.
Him: You are trying to kill me! I’m dying here.
Me: soothingly That was a hard climb.
Him: scornful look
Me: You know I won’t kill you until after you make my map, don’t you? No point in killing you now, is there?
Is it a sad statement on my marriage that he accepted that explanation more completely than anything else I said all day?
I flew to North Carolina last Thursday. This was complicated by the fact that I did not plan my packing ahead. So about 2 hours before I was to go to the airport I realized that I didn’t own enough decent t-shirts to go away for a weekend. I own plenty of t-shirts but most can not be worn out in public without a bit of an apology. My particular favorite says, “Buck Off.” I bought it when I was having that exact problem with Prize. But it was not the professional image I’m supposed to project.
So it was off to Wal-mart for me. (Don’t hate me for the Wal-mart stop. If you want a t-shirt in this town that is your only choice.) I grabbed 3 t-shirts in assorted colors and raced back to pack up the suitcase and get to the airport.
I flew to Asheville. The Asheville airport has rocking chairs in the waiting areas. That is seriously cool. I was met by a person that I had never met. I am continously amazed that no one ever has a sign so I can pick them out. I watch movies. I know that’s how it works in the movies. In my life I have to guess. I guessed and introduced myself to the person who was staring at me. She told me that I didn’t look right. Makes a person wonder how they have been described.
The ride manager is hyper-organized (read anal). She loves her schedules. It all worked out well as long as all the planets aligned and all the people their marks at the right time.
I thought I was just judging one day but I ended up judging for 2. I had the beginner riders. There were 50 of them. Most rides are limited to 60 riders total but this was an unlimited entry ride. The ride was held at the Biltmore estate. I had never been there and I was hoping I’d have time to go in the house. But I was working too much. I did end up getting my picture taken outside the house. We were doing an obstacle not too far away and hiked over to see it. That meant of course that the real tourists could also see use and hike over to see what we were doing. At the time I was making people trot a weaving course through some trees. That was definately not on the Biltmore brochures.
The weird thing about this sport is that you meet everyone in the woods. There is absolutely none of the usual status symbols that tell you about the person’s standing in the real world. I am constantly amazed when I find out that people that would have bet lived in a cabin in the woods and only came down to town once or twice a year are in fact cardiac surgeons. (I’m not making that up.) I’m sure that if I wasn’t the person examining their horses they would never guess my day job either.
I made it back from North Carolina. I had a good time judging the ride. I just judged the novice division and there were a lot of riders. I’ve had rides where I judged the whole divsion and had less riders. A lot of these riders were first timers too. I like working with less experienced riders. They are a lot more interested in learning and less likely to be trying to earn national points. So, they listen to what you are trying to tell them instead over arguing over points.
Right now I’m still really tired. I’m trying to catch up on email. I hate this part of coming back from a trip. I’ll write up more about the trip later.
Yesterday I was back out hiking trails and mapping again. I figured out that in the last 3 days I have hiked for 7 hours. I’m only averaging about 2.5 miles an hour because of the mud and stopping to mark the trail. I also get lost sometimes and don’t count that mileage. But still it should be good for me, right? Especially since I’m carrying the equipment. It is all pretty small but probably is about 5 pounds in total. That adds some arm resistance. I weighed myself last night. I’ve gained 5 pounds. That was not exactly my hoped-for result. But I’m back off today to do more. The husband graciously left the computer here for me to go out again today. Since the first mapping day he hasn’t hiked with me. He just calls me when I’m out there and asks where I am. Like I know. Like I’m wanting to talk to him while climbing a hill in the mud at the time.
I had an escape last night. I lost control of Rosie while coming through the gate. She took Spirit and they went for a walk. I thought they’d come to the barn. Nope, they headed out around the house. Still not concerned because they’ll stop to eat. Nope, they head out to the road. They stopped in the front yard and waited for me to catch up. Then Spirit decided to head down the road. They just strolled down the center of the road. I was walking behind them using my sweetest and most loving tone on Spirit. “Spirit, baby, come on. Hey, look what I’ve got! Treats!” Whoa wasn’t working. He stopped once and looked back but Rosie circled behind him and pushed him forward. He finally stopped again and I grabbed his rope as she was circling around him again. I led them both back without further incident. I gave Rosie a stern talking to because she was limping on the gravel road. “Hurts, doesn’t it? You don’t have strong feet like Spirit. You should keep that in mind. Running away hurts. Good life lesson.”
It was so cool! Extremely cool! Even with the husband giggling while walking and yelling, “It’s working! It’s working!” The best way to describe it is that we had our own version of the Marauder’s Map. If you aren’t up on your Harry Potter then you won’t get the visual. Basically, we were looking at our path on a arial photo as we walked through the woods in the rain. This makes mapping these trails a million times easier. Now I jusst have to convince him to let me use it to finish the rest of the trails.
He did manage to walk for about 40 minutes. He had to rest a few times because his back hurt. He kept asking why his back hurt when nothing else did. I wouldn’t tell him. He finally said, “Are you saying it’s my big gut.” I said that I was trying not to say that. He seemed satisfied.