Archives for 2020

Monday, Dec. 21, 2020 – Ride to Collect Markers

Hi Sweetie,
Had a good night sleep, though I woke up a bit early, which gave me a good chance to do all my chores, have breakfast, and still get out on the trail to collect the markers we put out for the ride on Saturday. I took Apollo, since he’s been lazing around for quite awhile, and because he’s much calmer on the trail at slow speeds. Flash hates all the stop/starting necessary to do the markers, but Apollo’s quite happy to stop at any given moment. Thankfully, nothing startled him so much that he spun on me, though there were a couple of instances when he suddenly planted his feet for some unknown reason. We were out by 10:00 and got back just after 2:30, which I thought was pretty good time for him. I did manage to get him to jog occasionally, which took some time off, but so much of my body was aching, I really couldn’t take too much of it. At one point, we had a whole parade of buggies go by us, and both Apollo and Lola were brilliant, just standing off to one side quietly and letting them pass. When we got back to camp, I rinsed him down and put him on the highline, then went about the business of getting all the markers organized. I figured if I did this again next year (or anyone else did), that it would be a lot easier if it were better organized, and I think I accomplished that. I thought I might have to stay an extra day to take down the pink markers (which someone else put up), but after contacting Jo, she said it was taken care of, that she would come by and pick up the markers in a bit. I took that as my cue to start packing up for a departure in the morning, and was able to put pretty much everything away, got the awning in, and even hooked up the truck, since I’m on pretty level ground here. She and her husband stopped and got the markers, and played with Lola for a bit before heading off. I got the horses fed and blanketed just as the sun when down, and settled down for the evening, with the plan to once again get to bed early. It’s going to be a long, five-hour drive tomorrow, so I don’t want to leave it too late getting started in the morning, so early to bed, early to rise, hopefully! So, off I go! Love you, babe! Good night!

Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020 – Post-Race Crash Day

Hey Babe,
Was in bed before 10:00 last night, went to sleep almost immediately, and didn’t wake up until almost 8:30! Guess I was tired! Not surprising after all the energy I’ve been expending this last week plus. In lieu of the crash, I decided to take the day off and recuperate. Thanks to Lola, I spent some time sewing her dog bed, again, as she tore up all the stitching around the zipper. This time I’m turning it upside down and putting the zipper on the bottom, I’m hoping that will deter her to some degree. If she actually manages to rip the material up, well, I’ll just have to replace it, even though I know she loves this one. It’s a bit too big for the space anyway, but we’ll see how it goes. After that, I spent most of the day just reading, a few minutes taking down some of the markers around the trailhead, then settled down for the evening. A nice quiet, much deserved, restful day. Tomorrow I’ll be picking up markers and starting to pack if I have time. My original plan was to leave Tuesday, but it may be Wednesday now, as Jo has asked if I would pick up the pink markers up to Hog Pond as well. I don’t want to try to do all of that in one day, so it may delay my departure by a day. We’ll see. Anyway, it’s been a quiet day, and even though I took a couple of ibuprofen this morning, I’m still pretty achy, not sure why the front of my thighs hurt, go figure! With another good night sleep tonight, I should be much better tomorrow. Off to my shower, planning another early night for sure! Good night, darlin’! Love you!

Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020 – YooHoo! Sixth Place!!

Hi Darlin!
What a day! Up before dawn, got my chores and breakfast done, saddled up Flash and was heading over to the official start at 7:45, arriving in plenty of time to get off at the start. Only problem was, though he was calm during the lead up to the start, as soon as we crossed the start line, he started to behave like a real numskull! Jumping and jiving and cantering in place, spinning around wanting to be let loose, but it was so crowded I couldn’t just do that, for the safety of all around me, so I pulled him out of the lineup and made him stand quietly for a bit. I had decided to try to stay with the front group, since that had worked so well last year, but by the time he settled down, the horses in front were quite strung out and we were quite a bit behind. When there was finally a long enough gap I moved him back in line, and he kept jumping and jiving for another quarter mile or more, until finally there was a wide open space for him to run, and I let him go. We passed several other riders, but we never caught up with the front group, which was my goal. Turns out that was a fluke that worked in my favor, they missed some markings and got off track and ended up way behind us! Flash and I arrived at the halfway check in point one minute behind the actual leader! I had slowed him a bit to get his heart rate down, but it still took me too much time to cool him off, but we finally did it. I left for the second half one minute behind the same person, and never caught up for some reason, but Flash ran that part of the race pretty well, though he really slowed down on the far corners of the orange trail furthest from home. When we had about six miles to the finish, the group that was first but had gotten lost finally caught up to me (turns out one of the women was part of the same group I ran with during the first half last year!), and Flash immediately picked up his pace. He got so competitive, he was like a different horse! He did NOT want that long-legged critter passing him, and for the next six entire miles he ran, cantered and largoed just to keep up, evening insisting on going first a few times! Well, the end result was that we came in 6th, shaving five minutes off our time from last year, when we came in 12th. Not bad for an amateur, eh? Most, if not all, of the folks in front of me were practically professionals at this, so I was THRILLED that we kept up! If it hadn’t been for Tiffany passing me and setting the pace, though, it probably wouldn’t have happened (not to mention all the extra miles they had to put in because they got lost on the pink trail), so I’m grateful for that. Once again, we really enjoyed ourselves! My knee held up fine until about miles 18, then I put my knee brace on with about five miles to go, and that helped quite a bit. He was still a bit hesitant on all his impulsion exercises, darn it, but only a B, which wasn’t too bad. In addition to top 10 prized, Jo was kind enough to give me a gift certificate for all the volunteer work I’ve been doing, which I really appreciated, then after the awards ceremony, asked me to become the finish line timer for the 50 milers, since the finish line was right at the trailhead where I was parked. Linda trained me up in a few minutes, so after I got everybody settled, I took over that job. All the riders managed to get in before dark, which had been a concern, so I was done just after five, perfect timing to feed the horses and settle down for the evening. Very tired, but very satisfied at the outcome of the day! Sixth in only my third endurance ride is a pretty impressive achievement, if I may say so myself! Anyway, I watched a little TV, but I’m starting to yawn like crazy, so I’m off to a much needed shower and bed! Good night, sweetie! Love you!

Friday, Dec. 18, 2020 – Restful Day, Flash Vetted for Race Tomorrow

Hiya Babe,
Woke up to a freezing morning, literally! Not liking this north Florida winter right now, but thankfully it will be the coldest morning for awhile, and hopefully I’ll by much further south by the time the temps go down again. I stayed in bed longer than I probably should have, just because it was too dang cold to get up, until finally I had no choice. I did my chores and had a leisurely morning, just trying to make sure I’m good and rested for the endurance ride tomorrow. Scotty from the forest service came by to get water to fill up the buckets Jo and I spread along the trails yesterday, and I asked him about a critter that Jo and I had seen crossing Camp Road yesterday. She thought it might be a pig, but I was convinced it moved more cat-like, and was wondering if they had black panthers around here. Scotty said it was likely a jaguarundi, which I’d never hear of, but when I looked it up, I agreed that must have been it. They’re not even native to here, they come from South and Central America, but some have evidently been expatriated here, and to see one is a rare sighting according to him. Beautiful to see! I did some computer work, made a doctor’s appointment for the end of the month, read for most of the afternoon, then I got Flash ready to ride over to the start in order to get vetted in. I decided to fix up that bareback saddle I had, which I’ve only used a couple of times because it just doesn’t seem as secure as I’d like, so I spent some time rigging that, hoping I could get it to work. I did managed to make it workable, but it’s still pretty insecure, so I don’t think I’m going to keep it any more. I guess I’ll try to sell it when I get down to Jupiter. Vetting started at 3:00 so I rode over a little after that, but not before making Flash do a couple more of the impulsion exercises today. He’s finally starting to get the idea, and I’ve learned that if I start him off as though I’m lungeing him, then straighten him out, he goes pretty well. Anyway, he did well with it at the vet checking (training paid off!) And I scored perfect marks at the vet check (yay!), I’m looking forward to seeing how he does during the ride tomorrow. I rode him back, got them all fed and happy, then went out and put up a few horse crossing signs that Jo had given me the other day, and arrived back at the start for the dinner at 5:45. It was pretty cold out, especially as the sun was going down, so no one stayed very long. I headed out shortly afterwards and quickly settled in for the night. Going to bed early for my very early morning alarm, though not as early as last year, since I only have about a quarter mile to ride instead of a full mile. It’s not supposed to be as cold tomorrow morning as today, but it’s still going to be in the low 40’s, brrr! I may wear my long underwear! Anyway, done for the day, off to shower and bed! Good night, babe! Love you!

Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020 – MORE Trail Marking and Water Stops

Hi Sweetie,
Well, I THOUGHT I was done marking trails, but it seems I was wrong! I knew there were a few more trails to be marked right out of the back gate of the starting site, but I thought someone else would be doing that today, but in the end, I ended up walking it. Not only that, we decided to change the route a tiny bit at the beginning just to shorten it up a little, it ended up being a little long. It took longer to do than I hoped, mostly because I had to walk back over to the trailer for a staple gun, which I discovered was jammed so I had to fix it, then finally got back to it. I still didn’t manage to finish before we had to move on to the next chore, picking up water troughs and dropping them off at designated spots along the trail. That also entailed adding some additional signs at certain intersections, which all took time. We started at noon, and it was 4:00 by the time I got back in camp, then I had to walk back out and finish the last bits of trail marking, but I finally got it done! I was back in camp by quarter to five, then I returned a call I had received earlier from one of the ladies in Indiana I rode with this summer, they’re planning their year of outings and wanted to pick my brain a bit. Finally got to feed and blanket the horses (it’s going down into the low thirties tonight!), and settle down for the evening. Off to my shower and bed. Good night, my darlin’! Love you!

Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020 – Finished Marking Trails Before Rain

Hi Darlin’,
A pretty good night sleep, thank goodness, got up fairly early so I could finish marking the trails before the rain came in. Before breakfast, though, I put the spare tire away, though I literally had to let all of the air out of it to get it to fit, so it won’t be of much use until I fill it back up again, though I have the compressor to do it if need be. I also moved all the hay into the back of the trailer, and a couple under the gooseneck, so I should be all set for awhile. I bought enough so that I’ll have a full load when I get to brother Jeff’s next week, since it’s so expensive down there by him. Finally got all that done, had breakfast, then saddled up Flash. At first I thought I would just mark the trails we were sure of and leave the green trail until after the rain, but I really wanted to give Flash two days off before the ride on Saturday, so I decided to do them all today. Fortunately, the forest guy Scottie did a great job of fixing the trail, so I foresee no problems there. I made Flash mostly walk, at least until we had finished the ten miles of trail marking, then when we headed back to camp I let him go for the last couple of miles, and he was ready! This horse is amazing, he just loves to run! And he’s in much better shape and conditioning than last year, so I’m hoping we’ll do pretty well. I tried our impulsion exercise again and he was still reluctant until I showed him the big whip, then I got out my little crop and it worked just as well with that one, so I’m going to keep practicing with the small one, it will be much easier to handle if it comes to that. I don’t know if they’re allowed, but unless he greatly improves on this one little exercise, I’m going to have to carry it so he can see it. That seems to be all it takes! Gave him some extra feed when we got back since he’s been burning so many calories lately. It had started to sprinkle lightly once or twice on the trail, and started more steadily just as I was feeding Flash, and just about the time I got his feed bag off and put away, it started to come down pretty good. My timing was perfect! It’s been a busy few days, so I decided to relax the rest of the afternoon, mostly just watching brainless TV. I’m reading some good books, so I’m heading to bed extra early to do some reading, right after my shower, which is where I’m headed now. Good night, babe! Love you!

Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020 – Good Ride and Shopping Day

Hey Baby,
Another night where I woke up and had a hard time getting back to sleep, but slept later to make up for it. By the time I got out to feed the horses around 8:30 there were already three trailers here, and within the next hour a bunch more came in. Some were riders, but half a dozen were buggies, really busy! Not surprising really, it was a beautiful day! I got a little delayed leaving because my phone needed some charging, and since my chore today, in addition to conditioning Flash, was to confirm an accurate reading on the length of the northern loop. Flash and I finally left right about 11:00, and he was ready to go! We started out riding to the starting gate at Helen’s, then followed the markers all the rest of the way. I had no problem following them, but there were a few low-hanging branches that I had to duck and still scratched at my helmet, so I guess they didn’t do much overhead clearing when they were cleaning the trails earlier. Anyway, Flash seems to really understand what we’re doing this year, that we’re preparing for this ride on Saturday, because he was giving it his all the entire ride. We averaged better than six miles an hour the entire ride with only a few short breaks, and we completed it just shy of two hours! Fantastic! I think he’s going to do much better this year, he’s in such good shape with all the mountain climbing we did this summer. I brought my stethoscope with me and as soon as we got back to camp, I stripped off his saddle and hosed him down, checking his heartbeat, and it really did come down faster than I expected. I also handled him like I know the vet will during the vet check, and tried to run him up and back like they do for an impulsion score, which we failed miserably last year, and he wasn’t much better this time. So a little training was in order, and I got my long carriage whip out and showed it to him, and that was enough to get him moving a lot better. I’ll have to practice that a lot in the next few days, I have such a hard time running next to him as it is, dragging him is impossible. He got better, but I’d like to get him to do it without the whip in my hand. Once we got that done and I put him on the highline, I gathered up Lola and we headed for town to get some hay, fuel and shopping. I had to meet up with Jo to get some marker supplies, and she happen to be at a Napa service center, so I decided to take my spare in and have them put in a new valve stem, but I had to have them only put half the air in it, it’s the only way it will fit in the spare tire compartment. Looks like the only place I’ll be able to sell that tire is on Marketplace or craigslist or something. I definitely will need to order another tire to match the rest, though. By the time we got back to camp the sun was down and it was getting dark, so I cranked up the generator, put the groceries away, fed the horses and settled down for the evening. Jo stopped by again with some more supplies, so I should be all set to finish marking the trails in the next day or two. They’re calling for rain tomorrow, but I think I’ll be able to get some of it done in the morning, though I think I’ll take Apollo for a change, give Flash a rest. Before I went to town I drove out to see the repairs on the green trail, and it looked much better, but we’re going to wait until after the rain tomorrow just to be sure it settled down okay. Finally settled down for the evening to a movie, now I’m headed to shower and bed! Good night, sweetie! Love you!

Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020 – Good Work Day with a Bad Finish

Hi Babe,
Had a long hard day marking trails today, with Jo on her ATV. Not very comfortable hopping up and down off the luggage rack thing on the hood, and getting off and on the passenger seat was no better, but we managed to get most of it done, but I’m exhausted from all that climbing around. There are still several miles left to do (which I’ll do by horseback, which, frankly, is much easier!) because there was one section we couldn’t get the ATV through where Dede got stuck on Friday, and some other sections we can’t mark until we decide whether the green trail is passable or not. It was close to 4:00 by the time I got back, grabbed a beer, let Lola out (she didn’t come with me, so she was closed up in the trailer all day), and sat by the firepit with Mike and John, playing frisbee with Lola. All of sudden, with no provocation or warming, Mike’s dog leaped out from where he was laying down and attacked Lola, grabbing one of her hind legs. They fought, and by the time we separated them, Lola had big cuts where the other dog’s teeth cut completely through her skin on both sides of her legs in three places. They’ve had a minor tiff or two before, nothing serious, but enough so you would think the owners would know they have to keep that dog under restraint, but they don’t. I get it, it’s their house, but still, when you have guests and a mean, unpredictable dog, you’d think they would take precautions. Anyway, one of their dinner guests, who arrived moments later, happen to be a retired veterinarian, so she was kind enough to look at it and wrap it up for me, with instructions to change the bandages every other day for a week. Poor Lola, she looks so miserable now! She can’t understand why anyone would be mean to her, she’s such a lovable dog! I gave her an aspirin for the pain, now she’s sleeping, hopefully through the night. Anyway, we all had dinner together, then John started singing by the campfire. I did Snowy River, but didn’t really have any interest in listening to the music, so I left to make a map of the Hog Pond section that Dede managed to email me. I’m so tired, I’m taking my shower early, changing the sheets on the bed, and probably going to bed right after that. I’m going to try to find someplace else to move to tomorrow, I can’t stay here with Lola in danger of getting into another fight, I just won’t be able to relax here again after this. So, I can’t say it’s a good night, but I still love you, darlin’!

Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020 – Good Ride on Flash

Hey Darlin’!
Had a hard time getting to sleep, read till the wee hours, not sure why it is on the days I get up early and work a lot I still have trouble sleeping! Whatever. After chores and breakfast, I planned a route to reconnoiter the latest revision to the 25 mile loop, as well as check out another trail as a possible way to shorten part of the green trail. Since I have now decided to do the run next Saturday, I took a fast pace in order to give Flash a little conditioning, and we did over 14 miles at an average 5-6 miles an hour, really good, all things considered! He was brilliant again! We ran into several armadillos along the way and he barely paid any attention to them, and I saw a nice deer, but I’m not sure Flash saw it. In any event, it was a wonderful ride, and we really were moving out most of the way, with only an occasional break to walk for a bit before kicking back up again. I really enjoyed it, and Flash is in so much better shape this year than last, when we had taken nearly the whole summer off and had only had a few rides before getting down here. With all the riding, hill-climbing and rocky trails, he’s loving long, level stretches of sand and grass! And I think he may be remembering the ride last year, which he really loved, and understands that that’s what we’re preparing for. Last year he didn’t get it because we’d never done an endurance ride before, but this year, I really think he gets it, and is working harder than ever. Anyway, it was a fantastic ride! When we got back, I got out my stethoscope to check his heartbeat, which I had done before we left, and even though we came in pretty fast except the last 100 yards or so, his heart rate was all the way back down to 60 beats per minute, which is brilliant! I’ve never actually been able to hear his heart before, though I’ve tried, but today I heard it loud and clear, though before the ride, it was going so slow I couldn’t even figure out how to count it! After the ride it was right on a beat per second, exactly where it needs to be at the vet check. I’m learning! After doing some map work and sitting around the campfire with the gang for a bit, I headed back in and settled in for the evening, watching a crazy movie with Meryl Streep called Prom, which was a musical, believe it or not. The first part made me laugh out loud because it seemed like these celebrity Broadway stars were actually making fun of themselves as activists, and I thought that they might learn some lessons in small town Indiana where the story takes place, but unfortunately it didn’t turn out that way. I just don’t understand why the people that scream the most about intolerance can’t see that THEY’RE being intolerant of viewpoints they don’t agree with! It would be funny if it weren’t so absurdly hypocritical! Well, enough of that rant. I’m not sure I could have gotten you to watch that movie, but I sure would have loved to hear your take on it! Late now, and I have to get up early, so good night, babe! Love you!

Friday, Dec. 11, 2020 – Trail Clearing Work Day

Hi Babe!
Up at the crack of dawn this morning in order to meet the gang at the trailhead to do our requisite trail clearing. After the usual orientation we broke down into groups and Jo and I headed off on her ATV, working our way along the trail for more than two hours before coming back to camp and meeting up with the folks still left. One of the ladies got her side by side stuck so bad the forest service guy, Scotty, had to go and pull her out, so after everyone else left, Jo and I headed back to finish off the part of the trail they didn’t get to, plus we looked at a couple of other things in the interest of having alternative routes if Scotty can’t get the chunks in the green trail down to a decent level. We’ll know on Monday, then we can confirm the route and finish marking it. Jo and I have planned to go out and mark most of the rest on Sunday, so I guess I won’t be going out on horseback to do much this week. I wasn’t sure I wanted to participate in the ride next week, mostly because my knee was hurting, but it’s gotten a lot better, so I’m thinking I’ll go ahead and do it. Flash loved it so much last year, and he should be pretty fit this year with all the hill-climbing we’ve done this summer. You remember last year we hardly did any riding all summer, and only a few rides before we got down here in December last year, so he wasn’t anywhere near as fit as he is now. Connie’s agreed to let me borrow her livestock trailer that morning, since it’s nearly three miles from here and I don’t want to ride that before a 25 mile race, so I guess that clinches it, I’m racing next week. It was 3:00 before I got back to camp, and Jo came over so we could figure out the best route to make the mileage, with alternatives if the green trail isn’t usable, and I think we got it pretty well figured out. It will be a little different from last year, which will be nice. After Jo left, I got involved with helping Connie solve a problem on her computer for an hour, then I had promised to fix some fish that my neighbor John had caught yesterday, they got the limit in two different kinds of fish, so I spiced it up and wrapped it in foil and parchment and put it on Connie’s grill, while the other ladies made potatoes and a lovely broccoli cheese casserole, all of which came out delicious! And I didn’t have hardly any dishes to do, yay! We chatted until about 8:00, then I came back to settle down for the evening, but spent most of it trying to balance an investment account that I’ve been having problems with, and finally got it done. Now it’s later than I hoped, but I don’t have any plans for tomorrow so I can sleep late, though I may take a ride, but the question is, should I condition Flash or ride my slug Apollo? Decisions, decisions! I’ll see how I feel in the morning. Meanwhile, I’m off now, late, late, late! Good night, my love!