Monday, April 28, 2008

My first 50 mile endurance ride!

Yes, I am now a real-life, bonafide, endurance rider! Galen and I completed our first ever 50 mile endurance ride on Saturday at the Milwaukee Railroad Ride in Ellensburg, WA. This was a very nice introduction to endurance in many ways; it is only 2 1/2 hours from my house, the trail is pretty flat and has mostly decent footing, although there were sections with BIG rocks, the weather couldn't have been better and I had several friends around to cheer me on.

Wendy and I pulled in around 3 pm on Friday afternoon and got our camp set up in record time. Jennifer and David LeBlanc pulled in a bit later and set up next to us. We shared a lovely dinner that night and went to bed early. The battery in my camper gave out around 3-4 am AGAIN, so I think both Wendy and I were up from about that time, as it was COLD out. Our start time was 6 am, so we were tacked up and ready to head out. We waited a bit to let everyone leave, as I really wanted Galen to settle down and quit trying to catch every single horse. Well, our first five miles was very much go forward a bit, turn around and walk back towards camp until he settled. We got some lovely practice on half-pass, shoulder-in and leg-yielding too! But, he finally settled in and Wendy and Allie were very patient with us. Our first loop included going through a 2000 foot long railroad tunnel. There was the option to go around, but heck, that would be boring! We both got off and led the horses, especially after I started getting disoriented in the dark while riding after about 10 seconds. So, we went throught the tunnel, which was very dark and lit only by glow sticks and a small flashlight Wendy had in her saddlepack. No big deal, really. We continued on to our first out vet check at 19 miles, where we caught up to quite a few people, as both our horses pulsed down right after coming in. But, we weren't there to race, but to have a great (and long) trail ride. We got a little bit of food into the horses, although Galen was still very much wanting to catch all those horses and didn't want to eat or drink. Allie had no such problems. Allie had been a little footsore from the rocks and Wendy was able to get the use of 3 easyboots, thanks to some very accomodating riders at the out vet check! Allie had already had one boot on, and after she was fully booted over her shoes, she was much happier. Thank goodness for helpful people and we'll always pack easyboots on our saddles from now on.

We headed out with one person behind us, and at the halfway point, Galen finally started drinking. Good thing, as I was getting just a tad worried about it and there was no other water before we got back to camp. We enjoyed going along the trail, walking through the 'cuts' where the rocks were big and rolling. The tunnel wasn't nearly as scary this time, as the afternoon sun was shining through most of it and there was only a small portion that was very dark.

I had been rather worried about how I would do on this long of a ride, and it was very interesting to see how I felt throughout the ride. I've never ridden any horse this long in one sitting before, so there were some things I will definately change for my next 50. At about 15 miles, my right stirrup leather started killing my calf. After the out vet check at 19 miles, the left stirrup leather bothered my calf so I didn't notice the right anymore. Definately need sheepskin over the leathers, cause my chaps just weren't enough for the job. Then, on the last loop, both those pains faded when my hind end started complaining. I've always been sort of a 'princess and the pea' with my saddle and boy oh boy, was I a 'princess' on Saturday. After our 45 minute hold in camp after the second 19 mile loop, I got on Galen and almost screamed, as all those little aches roared to life. But, amazing how a few miles can either dull your senses or you warm up enough that it's not so bad. I decided I definately need to do more ab crunches, as my poor abs were telling me they were being abused and I have to say that there will be LOTS more padding on the saddle seat for my next 50. There were consequences, although I do have a Cashel seat saver AND a sheepskin seat saver on the saddle seat. It just wasn't enough. Galen was a bit tired by now and would have been just fine with stopping at 38 miles. But, he didn't complain too loudly for our last 12 miles, and we went very slowly, mainly walking, with some trotting just to break up the boredom. We got chatting with the other contender for the 'Turtle' award, who was a very nice lady. We three hit the mid-way point of the last loop together, so those people who were signing our cards (this loop was a 'there and back' loop also) could go home, which I think made them quite happy. We got back to camp around 5 pm, and Wendy came in last, although Galen did not pulse down right away, so although she came in last, they pulsed down first, so we got the "Turtle" award. He was tired, but got through his vet check with almost all A's, and I believe one B for gut sounds. That was ok with me though, as he drank very well the last 2 loops and was eating everything he could see. I had to pull him away from food for his final vet. So, it wasn't too much for him, but we will definately stay very slow for quite some time and try to collect those "Turtles" and I will try to stay with the easier rides on fairly flat ground. In the meantime, I think I'll start doing some crunches and I am definately going to work on a better saddle padding system!

We decided to head home Saturday night, as I had to run to the airport the next morning, and made it home around 9:30 pm. It was a long, but satisfying day and I can now say, with all honesty and more than a little pride, "I'm an endurance rider".


Friday, April 25, 2008

Getting Ready for the Weekend

I'm just taking a breather before hooking up the trailer and making sure the camper is all packed up to go. Wendy and I are heading out to the Milwaukee Railroad Ride (it's called something like that anyway), over in Ellensburg, WA. I've pretty much recovered from last weekend's ride and have decided to try a 50 this weekend. I bet it takes a little longer to recover from this one! Galen, on the other hand, was ready to continue the ride last Saturday and was running laps as soon as he could. Glad one of us is in shape! I am getting the inklings that I need to actually do some working out if I want to do 50's without spending the next two weeks recovering. I guess what you can get away with when you're 30 doesn't translate to the middle-to-late 40's. Dang. My husband will probably be very happy to help set up a work-out schedule, as he's spent the last year learning the correct way to do this through the 20-20 Program at the Pro-Sports Club in Redmond. I guess we'll see how I feel tomorrow evening before I committ totally!

The weather appears to be cooperating here - the sun is out, the temp is climbing and I'm hoping we won't freeze over on the other side of the mountains. I'm taking my camera, so will try to get some good photos.

Wish me luck!


Monday, April 21, 2008

Grizzly Endurance Ride, Madras, OR April 19th 2008

Wendy Connell and I drove the 400 odd miles down to Madras, OR this past weekend and did our first ride of the year. The weather was a bit nasty on the way down (mainly in Washington), with heavy rain and wind. We went over the pass at Sandy, OR and were a bit apprehensive about road conditions, but they proved to be fine. There was snow on the sides of the road, but the road itself was ok. We got into Ride Camp about 2:30 and set up our electric pen and camper. The fence charger didn't seem to be working very well, (probably our ground wasn't deep enough), but the horses stayed in all weekend, so we were ok. We got the horses vetted through with no problems and I was very pleased that Galen was not wiggly at the vet check, as he used to be. Guess he's grown up a bit in the last few years! We helped our friends, Jennifer and David LeBlanc as they set up camp, made sure the horses were cosy in their blankets, as there was quite a high wind and went to bed early.

Saturday morning dawned clear, cold and lovely. Jennifer, David and Wendy were doing the 50, so they left at 7 am. I got Galen tacked up, as my shoulder had been bothering me and I wasn't sure I could lift the saddle by myself. He wasn't thrilled when ALL of his friends took off, and spent a good half an hour crying at the trailer for them. We left for our start at a few minutes to 8 am and I let a bunch of the other horses go first, so we wouldn't be in a huge crush. Our first loop was 15 miles and Galen did a fantastic job. He caught up to and passed most of the other 25 milers and we also passed a lot of the 50 milers. He was trotting and cantering easily, mostly on a loose rein, barely sweating (although it was still pretty cold with a nice, light wind which probably really helped that). I was able to take some photos while trotting along, which mostly turned out ok. I was also able to drink while trotting and cantering, although I did end up with a fat lip, from bonking myself with the water bottle, so I guess I need to practice that a bit more.

He wouldn't drink at any of the water tanks, but that has always been par for the course, so I didn't worry. I had a big tub of watery beet pulp waiting back at the trailer for him. We came into the vet check, pulsed down within a minute or two, vetted through with good scores, although the vet did ask if he was drinking and eating. I told him I had lots of beet pulp and that Galen has never been a good drinker, at least at the beginning of rides. Back to the trailer then, I loosened the girth and put his blanket on him, so he wouldn't chill, and stuck his nose in his pan of beet pulp. He did a pretty good job at it, I got my lunch and then Wendy came in after her first loop. She was able to get a few photos of us heading out for the 2nd loop. Wendy was very happy with Allie's first loop - she said Allie (who has never done a ride before!) was very good, happy to be rated and strong.

We headed out on our second and last loop and had to leave Allie behind. He thought that was a bit much, and tried to turn around for quite a while, until some other people joined us out on the trail and then it was "catch that horse ahead of us". Galen was actually stronger this second loop and I ended up with very sore shoulders from the constant half-halting I had to do. No loose reins this time! This was a 10 mile loop and it passed very quickly. No drinking this loop either, but I think that was due to him being so worried about catching the horse ahead of him. I kept him as slow as I could, riding behind slower horses for a bit to give him a breather whenever possible. He didn't appreciate that and actually bolted on me once. He's NEVER done this before and I was so surprised that it took me a few minutes to slow him down. He had seen a horse up ahead of the one we were following and thought we should overtake that one. Well, I was much more vigilante after that, cause we sure don't need more of that. I ended up riding for a bit with a very nice lady on a heavier arab and as we were coming in to the camp, we both got off and walked, as she said her boy took awhile to pulse down. As we were walking in, we were passed by at least one horse and rider (probably #10 in the top ten), and we were down at 50 for a pulse as we walked into camp. Galen vetted through with better scores than his mid-ride vetting - better gut sounds, better muscle tone and his impulsion in the trot-out almost left me in the dust. He also went right for the water tank and drank very well. I did pretty well on the ride and am only mildly sore today (Monday), although my right ankle, which has some old injuries, was rather sore at the trot-out. Good thing they didn't judge me on gaits and implusion!

Wendy came in from her second loop, Allie was eating and drinking like a champ and Wendy was doing well after 40 miles. We got some photos of them going out on their last 10 mile loop. They got back in around 4ish, and Allie vetted through with excellent scores. They ended up in 26th place, right around the middle of the pack and Wendy couldn't have been happier with Allie. Galen and I were 12th out of 38 and he finished stronger than he started.

We tucked the horses in and went to bed early Saturday night, which was cold and clear, and woke up to a cold camper - the propane had run out around 4 am! So, we sat in the running truck to warm up a bit, broke camp and after the awards meeting at 7:30 am, headed for home. We got home in about 7 hours and I know I sat down and barely moved until I dragged my butt to bed.

And, we're going to do it all again this coming weekend, going to the Milwaukee Trail ride in Ellensburg, WA. I'll write about that when we do it.


Monday, April 14, 2008

A gorgeous weekend in Seattle!

It was a gorgeous weekend here in Seattle and the horses really appreciated it! 80 degrees and lovely sunshine on Saturday, with Sunday not quite so nice. Hair floating everywhere, as everyone is shedding as quickly as possible. I was able to go on a great ride on Sunday with my friend Wendy and her Nez Perce mare, Allie. We were out for about 3 hours of trotting winding, wooded trails, yelling "watch that tree" many times. I only got my knee once and Galen got lots of practice bending, neck-reining, and using his hind-end. We have a ride this next weekend down in Madras, OR, where Galen and I will do a 25 and Wendy and Allie a 50. I'm sort of planning to see what his recoveries are like for a few rides doing 25s and if his recoveries (and mine) are good, we'll probably step up to a..gasp...50! I've gotten a lot fitter, which certainly helps both of us and we've been doing our conditioning, so we'll see. Ride day will tell the tale.

Our mud almost dried up, but now it's raining again, sigh, so it will be coming back. But, we are getting more and more nice weather vs rotten weather, so I'm looking forward to less mud, more sun and shed out horses.

I meant to bring my camera...but I didn't. Oh well! Next time.


and winter continues in Michigan.....

Oh, I am so jealous of 80 degree weather. We had very nice warm weather last week and yesterday it snowed all day (Hard, like a blizzard) it melted when it hit the ground but still nasty. The horses all spent the day inside. They where all very happy to get out this morning. I took some more pictures of the babies and I will get them posted to my website tomorrow. I have decided on names with the help of Nadja. The filly will be Azim (the Princess) and the Colt will be called Samaddin. Although my kids call them Jack and Jill since they look so much alike. Anne-Marie

Saturday, April 12, 2008

brand new stuff

OK, my first ever attempt at blogging ! Who says old dogs can't learn new tricks ?!

Spring has definitely sprung here at Central Asian Equines. It was 80 degrees here yesterday, the lilacs are about to bloom and the winter hair is flying off in the breeze. I'll try to get some pictures when they're done shedding out.

Our first foal is due any day now. Gozakhal is big as a tick and hugely waddling about, her bag is getting tight and her tail very limp. This will be our first of 3 Maruk foals and we are really excited to see it. Gozi has been acting very feminine lately and actually letting the other mares tease her, which she never does. My dear vet friend Dr. Bob Gochnauer told me that the secondary sex hormones come in last, right before foaling, so if they are acting girly, you're having a colt; if they're acting studdy, you're having a filly. So my guess is a boy, we'll see soon if I'm right.

The open mares are all begging to get bred already, but I don't like to have March foals, so they'll have to wait a bit longer. We're shooting for 3 Gindarkh foals, 4 Mergen foals, and a couple of TBA daddies, depending on availability !

Hope to see everyone at the Festivale of Rare Breeds this September at the KHP. We plan to exhibit Samovar and Stoli Gold, with possibly one other Teke riding along, unless we get a bigger trailer before then !

Best to everyone,
Good morning all - another beautiful day in sunny Florida. Magnatli is glowing like Goldfinger poured a bucket of gold on him! Wish I was good with a camera. And I also missed another shot of Magnatli and Fat Albert (our pot-bellied pig) snuffling nose-to-nose thru the fence - wish you all could see it - what a hoot! Darkh Amber will be leaving for Texas and her polo-playing careeer on Tuesday - I am going to weep buckets, I know, but I'm sure she is going to love her job. Jas - tell us more about Patrickhan and his stint as a cowpony this last summer. There are several local cowboys here who are considering crossing a mare with a Teke to produce a cowpony. 'Bye now - got to go pick up some hay.

Friday, April 11, 2008


Hello everyone,

We're trying something new (for us, anyway!). We're going to blog about our day to day lives with our Akhal-Tekes, so those of you who would like to know more about the breed can catch a glimpse of what we experience.

We're hoping that this will show you more about this lovely breed. This is not meant to be political or for soap boxes, just about our horses!


Cathy and the rest of the Tekeaholics on the blog