Tuesday, March 2, 2021 – Nice Ride on Flash

Hi Sweetie,
Well, I decided that I had better get at least one more ride in on Flash before my knee surgery on Thursday, and I was hoping to start at Riverbend and ride home, with a little trailering help from Jeff, but he had a full day planned, so I decided to just go park at Riverbend and do some sort of loop. Of course, that meant I had a lot of prep work to do to get the little trailer ready. First I had to pull it out of the rather tight space it was in, then I had to blow up the tires (of course I had trouble finding the right end fitting for the compressor), then I realized the stall divider was in the wrong place, and was stuck, so I had to get out my 2 lb. sledge and knock it into place. Then I had to move the feed bins and the hay up into the front stall, then I noticed Flash was starting to get a split in one of his front hooves again because I had let them get too long, so I trimmed both of those nice and short, then I saddled him up before loading him into the trailer. It took about two hours just to get everything ready. That’s the penalty you pay when you let things go for too long, they just all add up to a bunch of problems that all need solving at once instead of being spread out over time. Anyway, I finally got on the road to Riverbend, thank goodness it’s less than ten minutes away, parked and unloaded Flash, though he gave me a little trouble backing out, he’s gotten so used to coming out face first in the big trailer. FINALLY got in the saddle, well after 12:30. I switched the right stirrup around, ever since I changed it out a few months back it’s felt like it’s been twisting too much, and I was hoping it would be better if I flipped it, and it turned out to be MUCH better, a lot less strain on my knee. I decided to do the regular trail loop there, but instead of coming back through the park, I went under the underpass and over to the Cypress Creek parking lot, then crossed at the traffic light (always an eye-catcher!), then instead of going down Jupiter Farms road like I usually do, I followed the trail that paralleled Indiantown Road on the south side, which I don’t think I’ve ever done before, at least not the whole thing. That’s the road that comes out along the Sunoco, which we did once before to that point, just not beyond. Anyway, it was a lovely ride, Flash was super well-behaved, we had a beautiful canter all along the golf course side, except for quick moment when three out of four deer that were practically on the trail suddenly decided to leap away and he shied a tiny bit, understandably, and lots of largo-ing along the way. No trouble crossing the road, no trouble anywhere at all, it was just perfect! Got back to the trailer a bit after 2:00, packed him up and got him back home in no time. Apollo was waiting at the gate for us, and when I opened the gate he walked out and down the driveway a bit, but then Flash whinnied in the trailer and he came running back into the yard, fortunately! Got the little trailer parked next to the big trailer again, though not quite as tight as it was before, unsaddled and washed him down before letting him run free. Got everything put away, took a little break, then got into my bathing suit and took a quick swim and sat by the pool reading and throwing the ball for Lola, since she couldn’t come with us today and needed exercise. Did my PT exercises, and not long after, Jeff and James got home. We all chatted for a bit, then fed the critters, then I finally got to settle in again for the evening. A very nice day, though it was very hot again, mid-80’s, and it’s supposed to be even hotter tomorrow! But rain is forecast overnight, so maybe it won’t be so bad. Can’t believe it’s barely March and it’s already getting too hot to ride. I hate to see what it’s going to be like by April, when I trust I’ll finally be able to get back on the road again! Probably going to have to make a beeline pretty straight northward to get back into the 70’s, which is always what we’ve been chasing over the years! Anyway, enough said, heading to shower and bed. Good night, baby. Love you!

Monday, Feb. 22, 2021 – Finally A Busy Day, Even Got A Ride In!

Hey Darlin’,
Went to sleep last night with visions of having a busy day today, and fortunately, woke up in just the right mood to get it done! Did some housekeeping, a couple of loads of laundry, took a ride on Flash around the loop through Hungryland, installed my new license plate holder (the old one was plastic and broke when I was trying to change my old TN plate for my new FL plate), and FINALLY got the results of the latest covid test from CVS at 10:00 this evening. I was getting worried, because I needed it before my procedure tomorrow, and was very relieved when it finally arrived. The ride on Flash was nice, though last time I took that route there was a lot of undergrowth in the way, this time, someone had chewed up the trail with a tiller of some kind, so the undergrowth was gone but the trail was really chopped up. A couple of sections where there’s usually a lot of water were practically dry, it has been awhile since we’ve had any decent rain. So I feel like I’ve had a productive day, and am ready for bed, having already taken my shower. Last night I had to replace the screw in the shower drain, it completely rusted out and disintegrated, and when I started cleaning it out, I got gobs of slimy hair and rust out of it. I’ve never understood why they put regular screws in drain screen, don’t they know it’s going to get wet? Or maybe it’s stainless but even that can’t take the strain. Anyway, it’s fixed now, and the water is running down just fine. So now I’m off to bed, early morning drive tomorrow! Was relieved that I don’t have to be there until 10:15, was afraid it was going to be 6:00 or some ungodly hour, but still need to get out of here early, so here I go! Love you, babe! Good night!

Friday, Feb. 5, 2021 – Nice Ride on Flash

Hey Babe,
Had to get up once during the night, and it took me awhile to get back to sleep, but I ended up sleeping a bit late to make up for it. After breakfast I saddled up Flash and took a nice 11.5 mile ride on him, down Cypress Creek then up to the OTL, then along the canal for awhile. Unfortunately, there’s one crazy couple that’s actually fenced off the canal in front of their place, which prevents anyone from riding the length of the canal, so instead of taking a nice quiet ride along the edge of Hungryland, I had to ride the traffic-ridden, narrow swales and dangerous Mack Dairy Road down to Old Indiantown. Not a lot of fun on that stretch! Then we saw the skeleton of a pig in the canal, looks like it got picked clean by buzzards or piranha, though the head seemed mostly intact, along with the hide, everything else was gone. But it was a nice ride, good to be back in the saddle, figured I should get as much riding in as I can before my knee surgery. My knee is actually feeling a lot better, that loose bit is obviously in a relatively stable area at the moment, though it still takes me a couple of steps to get it going without pain. Anyway, the family sat around by the pool for a bit until the mosquitoes came out, then I came back for dinner and to settle in for the evening. Played fetch with Lola for awhile, since she couldn’t go with me today, hoping she got enough exercise to sleep through the night. Hoping I get a good night sleep, too, since I got some exercise today as well. So I’m off! Good night, sweetie! Love you!

Wednesday, Jan 27, 2021 – FINALLY Took a Ride on Flash

Hey Darlin’,
Well, I finally decided I simply HAD to ride Flash today. It was an unusually warm day, in the mid-80’s, but there’s a cool front coming in tonight, so I figured I better not wait. Got him saddled up, put Lola’s orange vest on, and headed out the back to Hungryland. We took the Indiantown grade all the way to Pratt-Whitney Rd., then came back to the crossover to the loop, where we waded in a few inches of water several times. Finally came down the main canal, doing a bit more than nine miles by the time we were finished, in less than two hours. He was calmer than I expected, actually, considering how long it’s been since we went for a ride, though his pace picked up considerably once we turned around at PW (split speed 9.0 mph for that mile!), but he had a nice steady pace most of the way. Lola thoroughly enjoyed herself as well, she’s sleeping quietly at the moment, for which I’m grateful. She’s been restless the last couple of nights, no doubt because she hasn’t gotten much exercise since we got back from the beach weekend. My knee has been feeling really good the last few days, naturally, since if it always felt like this I probably wouldn’t bother to get surgery on it, but it’s probably best that I get it now before I get any older. It was a lovely ride, and we all really enjoyed it. I spent some time communicating with the various parties trying to resolve the Trailrider title issue, still not too much further ahead, the previous owner has stopped returning my emails, but the manufacturer is going to give me some paperwork so that I can hopefully move this forward with the Montana DMV, who it seems is ultimately responsible for the mistakes on the title, unless the previous owner submitted it wrong, in which case I don’t know what I’ll do! After going as far as I could with that, I made progress on finding out exactly which slide unit we have and got a parts list for it, still need to talk to the repair shop about it, though. Discovered I had a water leak under the refrigerator and when I went looking I found that the other end of the pipe that that trailer place in TN had fixed a few months ago snapped, so now my kitchen drain is leaking. I had told them that I thought the tank straps might have broken, but they didn’t bother to take the bottom off to check it, although they did cut a hole in the bottom for some unknown reason, so now that area looks terrible. I’m going to have to get under there and take down the bottom, there are so many things I want to check under there, but that’s a job and a half. Finally ran out to get some hay at the feed store to finish off my afternoon. James and I fed the horses on schedule, as Jeff was going to be out late tonight. Brother Glenn is coming over from Texas in a couple of days, so Jeff had to rewire my unit so that the extension cord I’ve been using can go to him, so now I’m down to 30 amps, which is fine, I never use that much anyway. Only problem is, now my inverter is reading reverse polarity and the batteries aren’t charging up, so I’ll have to get him to fix that tomorrow. Other than that, just another day at the ranchette! Ready for my shower since I definitely sweated a lot today, and off to bed! Love you sweetie! Good night!

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!

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!

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!

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!

Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020 – A Fabulous Ride Today

Hi Sweetie,
I had a good night sleep, then when I woke up it felt like my knee was locked in a bad place, so I spent an hour stretching and using the hand massager to work on all my sore bits, and by the time I got out of bed, my knee, as well as my shoulder and back, felt fantastic! After breakfast I saddled up Flash and took him for a fabulous 8-mile ride. He behaved beautifully, though I was worried that having not been ridden in so long he would be a bit frisky, but he was brilliant! He did shy at one burnt log that was by the side of the road, but I hung on, then made him stand and look at it for awhile until he settled down again. Another time something bothered him, but this time he just planted his feet and froze, which, to my mind, is exactly the right thing to do! We did a lot of walking, and my knee held up great, and eventually we did a nice mile at his mid-speed cordo of about 8.5 miles an hour, and we did another long stretch at a lovely canter on the way back to the ranch. It was wonderful! We got back in barely 1½ hours, and I had no trouble with my knee at all when I got off, just one or two steps and everything was back to normal. So grateful for that! This is the first day in a while that I actually felt like doing anything, that I had any energy at all. I can only think that maybe I’ve been fighting off a bug or something, after having a sore throat earlier in the week, but it seems to have finally disappeared, and I’m starting to feel normal again. Or it could just be the crash after weeks of what seemed like almost non-stop activity. Anyway, I felt good enough to give Flash a nice bath, I even spent some time getting all the tangles out of his mane and tail, and he looked great for about 30 seconds, then I put him in the paddock and the first thing he did was roll, of course, so he was covered in sand almost immediately. Bathing animals has got to be the biggest waste of time, ever! Well, at least the deep down dirt is gone for the moment. I did some mending, then read for a few hours, then it started to sprinkle at around 4:00 (the forecast said the rain was coming in at 9:00, sigh), so I fed the horses early, putting their rain blankets on, then grilled myself a little steak on the grill that I had put up earlier, then settled down for the evening. I finished watching the depressing mini-series I started yesterday, then looked for a light comedy and ended up with another fairly depressing movie. I really dislike most modern films these days. I am not interested in gratuitous violence, foul language, overt and meaningless sex scenes and rampant drug use. I just don’t see how living through someone else’s angst is the least bit entertaining! I guess that’s why I liked that Hallmark series, even though it was simplistic. Better than the alternative! Well, enough of a rant. I did some laundry and have fresh sheets, so I’m off to shower and bed! Good night, babe! Love you!