Monday, April 21, 2008

Grizzly Mountain Ride, April 19th, 2008

I'm here in front of the computer with a dog on my lap. I'm pretty sore from the ride this weekend, so am catching up on emails, blogs, etc. I wrote a complete report on the ride on another blog, so I won't go into a long-winded recount here. I was lucky that my husband and kids took over the farm for the weekend and did a lovely job taking care of things. My 10 year old son, Zach, even did the grains on Saturday night, as his big sister Callie, was at a sleepover. She usually does the grains, but Zach stepped up and helped out. I'm still unloading the trailer and camper, although as we're planning on heading out again on Friday, I'm not doing a complete unpacking. After this next weekend, it will be several weekends before our next ride. I don't remember which one is next, off the top of my head. It was a very fun weekend, and our friends David and Jennifer LeBlanc camped next to us. We didn't coordinate very well for meals, so will have to do better this coming weekend!


Monday, April 14, 2008

Another lovely weekend

Went riding with my friend Wendy on Sunday down at Griffin Creek outside of Fall City. Nice trails, and lots of them! Something that really made me grin was the little wood signs on many of the trails - someone has a great sense of humor. Names like "Wee Owl" and now I'm blanking on some of the good ones! But, decent footing, although we had to walk some sections because of big rocks. In and out of the trees was great fun and Allie and Galen loved it. He's getting fitter and wants to go faster and longer, so that is wonderful. He's also discovered a huge walk, which he's never had before. We went out with some friends several weeks ago on somewhat green horses, so we walked the entire time of about an hour and a half. Galen was very practical and said "well, if we can't trot, then I'll walk as fast and big as I can". Fine by me! We were keeping up with a big walking Morgan mare and were faster than the Rocky Mountain mare. His walk has always been his weakest gait, but I'd say Not Any More! The funniest thing was that my back was so sore after that. His trot is very smooth and the canter the same, but that walk was like being on a seesaw, back up, hind quarters under, thrust, back down, repeat. I'm much more used to it now though, as we've been practicing!

We're getting ready for our first ride of the year down in Madras, Oregon. I sure hope the weather cooperates, cause even if it doesn't, I'm going! The camper is pretty much packed from our aborted ride at the end of March (the passes were closed and roads were icy), so we just need to repack the trailer, put our perishables in and load the ponies. It should be a lot of fun and I'm hoping we'll see some other Teke folks down there.


Sunday, April 6, 2008

Akhal-Teke blogging

This is sort of addicting! Rainy, blustery Sunday out, so I'm working in the nice, dry computer room.

So, I was writing about Galen. Poor boy! Yesterday I went out to give him his morning grain (he's one of those 'hard-keepers', lucky boy!) and he was looking absolutely miserable. After a five minute panic - 'Oh my goodness, he has some horrible, life-threatening disease', I remembered he'd had 3 shots on Thursday when we went to get our 6 month passport, coggins and brand inspection. Huge sigh of relief and then I got some bute into him, rubbed his poor little ears and put his hay up in a haynet. So, he gets a few days off from riding, until his neck is all better. He's feeling better today - brighter eye, less pitiful looking. I'll know he's all back to normal when I turn him out and he runs around for an hour.

This morning was our 'lesson' morning. A friend and boarder, Kay, is giving lessons to my husband and son in return for my help with her youngster. It's working out nicely, as both guys can really make me crazy during lessons and it doesn't bother Kay a bit. Of course, she's not related to either of them, which no doubt makes a difference. Zach rode his pony, Bella, and did a nice job. Larry (my husband) rode Maz, our 15 year old purebred Teke gelding. Maz is such a good boy! He's had years of training and riding and is so good with the less confident riders. If he's really unsure of what they want, he just goes to the instructor and stands there, seemingly saying "You'd better give this one some more talking, cause I have no idea what they want!". He's got lovely, smooth gaits that make for much easier posting and sitting for the beginner. Such a good boy! I even thought of getting the camera and taking some photos, but then I gave my eldest daughter a lesson on him and it didn't happen. All the family wants to be able to go on trail rides this summer and I think seeing everyone mounted on horses we've bred, raised and trained (or almost everyone!) will be a highlight of the year. We also have an Expo coming up in July and I'm hoping I can get a few kids to ride with me in that. We'll see. Someone has to stay home and mind the farm too!

Well, I suppose this is enough for right now. I'm starting to feel guilty about the time I'm taking to write, vs shed cleaning, horse grooming, arena grooming, etc.

Until next time,


Saturday, April 5, 2008

First Entry

My husband thinks that I need to 'blog', so here I am. I've been breeding, training, riding and raising Akhal-Tekes for 22 years now, so I have some good stories. I'm located in Washington State, outside of Seattle and right now I have (OK, have to count), 1 stallion, 2 senior broodmares, 3 younger broodmares, 2 up and coming fillies, 2 colts (probably both will be gelded), and 3 riding geldings. We're expecting 2 foals this year and are planning on breeding 3 mares for next year.

I think my major focus will be my gelding, Galen. He and I are getting ready for our ride season and perhaps that will make interesting reading. I bred Galen and he's now 8 years old (wow). We started doing some LD rides in the 2005 ride season, took 2006 off (too many foals and breedings that year!) and did one trail ride last year. This year, deep breath, we're going to get out there and compete! Our first ride should have been March 29th, but between nasty snow, icy roads and closed passes, it did not happen. So, we'll be starting out April 19th in Madras, OR at Grizzly. I'm going to do the 25 LD ride, as I want to really make sure that we're both ready. OK, I'm sure he's ready, I need to make sure I'M ready! Then, if all goes well for the next couple of rides, we'll see about a...gasp...50. I know that real endurance riders think that is no big deal, but I'm someone who about 5 years ago said "I will NEVER do an endurance ride". So, even thinking about a 50 is a big step.

One very interesting byproduct of becoming a neophyte endurance rider (I don't think I can claim to be a real "endurance" rider until I've done that 50!), is how well I'm getting to know my horse. Now, I've known Galen since he was conceived, so you'd THINK I know him quite well, but in my hours of riding and conditioning, I'm sure getting to know him much better. More on that later, as it's time to feed horses and they get a bit upset if dinner is late!

Back in the house, horses contentedly munching their hay and grain.

So, back to riding and things I've learned about the horse I've had since birth.
1. Trails are fun! Galen thinks that trails are so very, very much better than working in the arena. For example, we're having some difficulty getting the right lead canter. In the arena, it's a production - ten minutes of head-tossing, ear-pinning, kicking at the leg, crow-hopping and making me laugh. On the trail, I ask and if it doesn't happen, I ask again and there it is. No big deal. He's getting better about arena work, but because it is such a huge issue, I just usually do dressage on the trails - leg yield past that log, shoulder-in up that straight stretch. Half of the time, I think if I threw a bunch of logs, holes and rocks into my arena, that would work too.
2. Saddle fit really is an issue. That saddle that does fine for a few sessions a week in the arena just doesn't cut it for hours of riding up and down hills. I ended up buying a new Specialized saddle last year and I'm still figuring it out. It fits him pretty well, although we have to adjust it all the time as he changes. I'm still getting used to the wider twist. But, it sure helps going up those steep hills, as he has no mane to speak of to grab onto!
3. Treats are optional. You'd think he'd be a treat hog. Not so. He's quite picky about what treats he'll eat. Carrots? Naw. Apples? Naw. Apple flavored horsey bites? Only if they're the RIGHT brand. Of course, whoever I'm riding with appreciates his pickiness, as their horse tends to get all the 'rejects'.

There are tons of other things I'm learning too, about pacing, heart rates, hill work etc. All great stuff, with plenty more to learn.

I did take my camera with me last week on some conditioning rides...but I didn't use it. Too bad, as we were in some beautiful spots. Maybe next time!