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!