Monday, October 25, 2010


Tanna got sick in April and was given a clean bill of health and clearance to ride and condition in early July.

Because of the heat in the summer, I opted to just let Tanna run around the pasture and be a horse without pushing him. If he was in pristine condition, I would have been reluctant to condition much anyway, forget that he had almost died in April.

Yellowhammer was supposed to be a blissful time of riding the trails at a leisurely pace and helping out. Well, that didn't work out so well, horse-wise. But I did have a good time chatting with all my friends and just before we left, I learned of a ride that we could possibly do. Flat trails, far enough out to get 6 weeks of training in, hopefully cool weather.

So I leaped at the chance to begin conditioning Tanna with an eye for doing a 50. If ever there was a ride to try for a come-back ride, this would be it.

My initial training plan included 3 days of conditioning and 1 day of training in the pasture. We're now into our 4th week of training and we've settled into a good schedule of 2 days of conditioning and 1 day of training.

Sunday - Long Slow Distance (LSD): This is 15 to 18 miles of mostly trotting and walking. Aiming for an average speed of no less than 5 mph, aiming for closer to 6 mph. Terrain varies depending on if I'm game for trailering out or if I just ride out from the house.

Tuesday - Training day. This is returning to the basics and takes place right on our property. A little round pen work. Stretching. Some bareback work. Some massage for him. Some riding up and down our hill in the back at a walk around obstacles.

Wednesday - Speed work. This is the fun day, but also some training involved. 7 - 10 miles mostly at a fast trot or canter, with safety the ultimate goal. This means he has to pay attention and not run off with me. Which he is prone to do as we're headed home. Terrain is flat.

The other days he just runs in the pasture with Serts and gets a ton of food to keep his weight up.

LSD and Speed workouts always begin with a 10 minute walking warm-up. After that, the real work begins. He trots or canters for 4 minutes. Then he walks until his heart rate returns to 100 beats per minute. Then we go again. We repeat this for the duration of the workout. Sometimes, especially in the beginning, there are no walking breaks as his HR often doesn't even rise above 100 bpm for several cycles.

When riding at home, we do an out and back ride and when we turn around to go home, Tanna's HR and adrenaline increase and it takes a bit of doing to get him to calm down enough to let his HR drop. But that's all part of it. I want him to learn to relax and then we can go again.

After 3 1/2 weeks of steady conditioning, he looks very good. Fit and happy. I'm really hopeful that we can successfully complete this comeback ride next month.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Yellowhammer 2010

Wow, what a long, strange trip it's been!!

I was so looking forward to Yellowhammer. We were going to get there on Sunday and spend all week hanging out with friends and the horses. I was going to mark trail or otherwise be on a horse for most of the week.

So, Sunday, September 26, we spent a few hours in the morning getting those "last minute" things done. Loaded up the horses and headed down the road. Daniel was driving the rig with the horses and I trailed behind in the Toyota (which is very nice to have during a week long vacation for running around).

20 miles north of the TN/AL state line on I-65 South, we stopped at a gas station to get some provisions and noticed something dripping from under the hood. Uh, oh. We made the decision to head back home and take the truck to the shop first thing Monday morning.

It turned out to be a power steering fluid issue that was fixed by 1:30 PM. Still time to get on the road!!

So we started out again Monday afternoon. This time we got a good ways into Alabama. At another stop, Daniel noticed one of the main belts was being chewed up pretty good on the Chevy. A pulley looked out of kilter. We have been stuck in Birmingham on the side of the road with horses before. Not a fun situation. We made the difficult decision to return home, knowing if the belt broke, we could get to the side of the road easily. I blanketed the horses against the chilly night air and we drove north.

At this point, we knew the truck would not be fixed in time to go to Yellowhammer with the horses. However, the Toyota was doing just fine, so we decided to go tent camping. After years of camper camping, this wasn't exactly a pleasant thought, but Daniel had a commitment to take pictures and we would so miss all our friends.

Tuesday morning, Daniel headed out to find a tent and a Uhaul trailer to throw all our stuff in. I sulked at home since I couldn't take my horses.

When Daniel got home, we transferred all the necessary camping stuff from the camper to the UHaul. Fortunately, my recent foray into decluttering paid off and it was quite easy to see what we needed and what we didn't, since there wasn't much in the camper that wasn't needed and used!

I spent some time playing with Tanna and Serts, feeding them apples and carrots. They were so cute and so fun.

Tuesday afternoon, we set off again. Yellowhammer or bust, I guess! About an hour from home, we realized we left Sib's medicine at home! Sib is our seizure cat that requires medicine twice a day to control her seizures. As such, she comes on all our adventures. In the shuffle back and forth the last 2 days, the meds had been left at home.

We found a local vet and were able to get the meds we needed, but it ate up an hour of our time. Better than returning home yet again.

We finally arrived at Yellowhammer around sun set Tuesday evening. Deep breath. I was still very disappointed that the horses weren't along. It took me a day or so more to get mostly over that. ;-)

Wednesday was a very lazy day with no horses to take care of and no work to do. I was so happy to see my friends, though. Some I hadn't seen in a year or at least several months. I went for a long drive and found some Logic puzzle books to occupy my time in vet checks when there was nothing going on. My dad taught me to do logic puzzles when I was a teenager and I haven't done any in a long time, but settled into doing some.

Tamra Schoech is the manager for Yellowhammer and usually has an early ride meeting the first day. This was no exception and the meeting started around 5 PM. I listened the usual stuff about trails, vet criteria, etc.

Then Dr. Otis announced the cake. :-) Dr. Otis and Becky got married at Yellowhammer in 2006 and they always celebrate their anniversary at Yellowhammer. Becky had done a very cute horse paddock on the top of the cake. I got to have one of the horse cupcakes. Very cute and very yummy! :)

Thursday morning, I hung around looking for something to do and chatting with other volunteers while Daniel went out to take pictures. I took a few pictures around the vet area, but mostly just hung around.

When Joe Schoech came into the vet check off his first loop of the 75 mile ride, I jumped up to help him out and crew for him. Joe is a good friend and we've spent many a mile riding together, including my 100 mile ride and my 75 mile ride. I'd never really crewed before, so I just kinda tried to jump in and do what I could. I spent a good amount of the check hand feeding Kit (the horse) so he could watch what was going on. As the day progressed, Kit ate on his own without me having to put it in his line of sight.

Joe and Kit finally finished the 75 mile ride at 10:45 PM or thereabouts. Kit passed his completion exam and looked great! He looked really awesome the next morning, too. Job well done! :-)

Friday, Joe decided to ride Bogey on the 50 mile ride, but unfortunately, it was not their day and Joe pulled at the first vet check to be safe.

So I was at loose ends the rest of the day. I mostly sat in the timer tent and talked or did my logic puzzles. I did manage to jump up and take a few pulses. I'd never done pulses before, but Tanna's sickness earlier this year taught me how to use a stethoscope pretty confidently.

During the afternoon, Daniel packed up the tent and our stuff and we headed out after supper back to Nashville. It was definitely a fun few days after we finally got there! I was happy to see my friends and all the horses.

Thanks to Tamra for putting this on again this year. It's always a fun time with lots of food for the volunteers. I think I gained 10 pounds. ;-) And Samm Bartee's dill dip. Yum yum yum!!! Making myself hungry here!

Can't wait for the next ride!