Monday, Nov. 19, 2018 – Finally Hubby Has A Ride Day

After a day off from dialysis, Hubby's legs were a bit stronger, so today I once again saddled up both horses, and this time, he was able to get on. We had decided to change saddles, as the Aussie saddle I've been using has kind of a high cantle, which made it hard for him to get his leg over last time, so I added a thick pad and used his old Abetta cordura saddle from Clio on him, and he had a much easier time getting his leg up over it. Up and running, and praying thet Apollo didn't explode any more and Flash would stay calm and not get too excited, we headed off to the trailhead that would wind us down to the Withlacoochee River. I had been trying to do the blue trail in reverse to get to the Fish Camp, but hadn't succeeded, but today we did it! We mostly kept Apollo in front to keep the pace slow, and Flash did a great job of staying slow and overall behaving himself the entire way. It's almost as if he knows Hubby needs special care and accommodates him accordingly. More likely he was just tired after two days of pretty hard riding, though he didn't behave as though he was the least bit tired. He never does, which is why I think this horse will be great for endurance, if I can keep up his conditioning. We were out for nearly four miles, which is a good ride for Hubby at the moment, and we were both pleased at the whole day. After getting the horses and Hubby settled in to his dialysis, I started doing some packing for our departure tomorrow. The rest of the day was just another ordinary day on the road!

Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018 – Double Duty on Riding Today!

With full intentions to go for a ride on Flash today, Hubby got all ready to go, and I saddled up both horses, and then, unfortunately, Hubby just wasn't strong enough in his legs to climb into the saddle, even with the 3-step mounting block. I'm still working on getting Flash to stand completely still, and he did pretty well, but he moved a couple of times just out of reach, After a while of trying, Hubby decided it was best if he skipped the ride today, and left me to take BOTH horses for a ride! I started with Flash, going on a fairly speedy ride. He got a bit excited again, so I decided to do what I've been threatening to do for a while, start getting him conditioned for endurance riding, so I let him go as fast as he wanted, no matter what kind of trail we went on. We cantered down wide roads, gaited fast through single tracks in the woods, generally covering a lot of ground in a relatively short time (compared to my slug Apollo, anyway). Other than wanting to go, go, go, he behaved himself quite well, a lot better than yesterday, but still with a lot of P&V being expressed. Got back to camp, grabbed a quick bite, then off again on Apollo, who is long overdue for some exercise. He started out his usual sluggish self, and after about a half a mile, when I got nice and relaxed, he suddenly exploded for no apparent reason, except maybe because there was a live oak tree with a particularly low-lying, menacing branch on it, and it took a one rein stop to quiet him down. Then off we went again, slug, slug, slug, until about another mile or so in, and then suddenly, he exploded again, though I had no idea why. One rein stop, settle down, then slug, slug, slug. Then we saw a couple of deer on one side of the road, and kind of watched them as the crossed the trail behind us, then 5 seconds later, after they had gone, another explosion! Grrrr! I don't know what got into him, except lack of practice, but we exploded a couple more times, once stepping so far sideways I came out of the saddle (glad I had my helmet on!) before we finally got back to camp. Still don't know what all that was about, but Flash was happy to see Apollo and Apollo seemed to bask in the adoration, so things are getting better between them. Hubby said Flash whinnied practically the whole time Apollo was gone, though Apollo doesn't quite share the same enthusiasm, at least not yet. That day will come, though, I'm sure! Got the horses put away, fed the panting and finally tired Lola dog, and relaxed the rest of the evening, after a rather tiring but productive weekend!

Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018 – Ride Day With Nancy

While feeding the horses this morning I got into a chat with the group that had been camping next to the covered stalls, and in particular, a woman named Nancy who also has a Paso Fino. She invited me to ride with her, but I told her I’d have to see how Hubby was feeling this morning, in case he felt up to riding. Generous Hubby said, by all means, take a ride with another Paso Fino person and see what happens, so that’s what I did. Flash was calm for about the first half mile, then after that he started getting really fussy, jumping and pulling, at times he literally was cantering in place! Not sure what got into him, except maybe he wanted to move out more, but Nancy was working on teaching her horse to just walk quietly, so I didn’t want to interfere with that. There were a couple of times I let him run, though, but evidently not enough, because he kept prancing almost all the rest of the time. What a workout! Flash worked up quite a sweat, too! We were out for nearly two hours, so it was a good workout for everyone. Nancy was pleased her horse stayed calm through Flash’s histrionics, even bumping into her a couple of times. Crazy horse, don’t know what got into him, he was perfect last week! Anyway, got him put away, then spent the rest of the afternoon dialyzing Hubby before settling in for the evening.

Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018 – Hubby’s First on the Road Ride on Flash!

Well, the day of reckoning has arrived! All of our efforts for the entire year has led us up to this day; buying Flash, working him all summer to calm him down enough for Hubby, trying to build up Hubby's stamina so he could handle riding, all of it, came to fruition today! After a light fruit breakfast, I got the horses saddled up and ready to go. Apollo was positively ecstatic about going for a ride, and was being very calm so as not to mess anything up. Flash stood quietly as well, taking his lead from Apollo, a trend I trust will continue! I had spent a little bit of time yesterday schooling Flash on standing at the mounting stairs that they have here, and though it took a few tries, Hubby managed to climb on and get settled without much trouble. I mounted Apollo and off we went! At the suggestion of our neighbor Joanne, we headed out on the blue trail, then the yellow, then took the orange connector to the red trail, for a loop that lasted just about an hour, all that Hubby wanted to do today. It went perfectly! Flash stayed behind Apollo or stayed even with him for the most part, but did get ahead for a few minutes at a faster gait, making me have to jog Apollo to catch up. Hubby was great! This little horse has such a smooth gait, he was comfortable in the saddle the whole time, and only started feeling any ache in his hips during the last 10 minutes or so, so it was perfect! We did have a little problem getting Hubby OFF, however. He's riding an Aussie saddle that his kind of a high cantle, and his legs are his weakest link right now, so he had trouble getting his leg over. Thankfully, several people rushed over to help him, and he fell into the arms of a very nice young man who had the strength to help him gently to the ground. Obviously, that's something we need to work on! What a special day! We took the rest of the day off, as it started to cloud over, and by evening, the rain had started to come in. Apparently it's going to sock us in for a couple of days, which is fine, it equals enforced R & R for me, which I need, as I adjust to the slower pace of road life. SO HAPPY!

Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018 – First Ride For Me on the Road with Flash

This very busy campground had lots of people tacking up and riding out early, as the weather is scheduled to turn bad tomorrow afternoon, but today is absolutely gorgeous! It didn't take me long to get Flash saddled up either, having fruit for breakfast before hitting the trail. Flash did brilliantly! Despite being in a totally new environment, he behaved himself very well, even staying on a relaxed rein for quite a ways at the beginning. Once we were warmed up, though, we started ticking it up a bit, and then he started to get excited again, as seems to be his style. We did a gentle gait, and a faster gait for quite a while, until we finally did a lovely nice long canter, which is so smooth, it's just wonderful! We spent about two hours on the trail, which ended up being over 9 miles on this speed demon! Got back to camp in plenty of time, chatted for a while with our neighbors Joanne and Mike, who live only 20 minutes away and so come here regularly (and who bought a copy my book :-), before going in and making a nice brunch for Hubby before we started his dialysis session. A fabulous way to start our latest road trip!

Sunday, October 7, 2018 – Recovering From Skymont Weekend

Spent the weekend volunteering at the Skymont Endurance Ride, my third year there as a volunteer. Fortunately, there were no injuries, no trips to the hospital, no lost horses, and only one rider was temporarily lost the entire weekend, so it was a great success! As always, Lola kept everyone in the vet check area entertained for the duration. The senior vet, Otis, who’s a funny curmudgeon of a guy, but who has a reputation for being a bit tough at times (though I haven’t seen that much!), says Lola is the best behaved dog in camp, and is the only dog he’ll let stay in the vet check area. I always make sure she’s leashed up when the horses are coming through, but once it’s clear, out comes the chucker, out goes Lola, and everyone is amused by the leaping and jumping and running out to the pond that she does. The vet check area had a big pond in it this year because we’ve had so much rain this year, so the vet check area was move a bit to higher ground, though the trot-out areas were kind of rough. Anyway, it was a great event, I once again was asked to help emcee the awards ceremony. Yesterday, I decided to take Flash for a ride to see how he would do in the woods for a longer duration, so I trailered him up and ran him down to Skymont about 9:30. Most folks were either gone or about to leave when I got there, except the organizers who were doing some clean-up. Flash was pretty anxious about all the activity, there were still a few horses being walked around, and he was all excited and whinnying about that. I managed to get him saddled, but he was still too distracted, so I ran him around in circles for a bit, trying to settle him down. He finally did, so I climbed on and off we went down the purple trail. Wendy, the woman who tags the trails, had told me purple was probably the nicest trail with the least amount of rocks, and as I’ve discovered that my Cavallo #2 boots are probably too big for Flash, even without a recent trim, I wanted the least amount of rocks for him. We passed Wendy on the trail shortly after leaving camp, and headed out the supposedly 11.7 mile trail (though my GPS recorded 10.3, so I’m not sure). Flash was pulling and pulling, and I had a hard time keeping him down to just a medium gait, he wanted to go faster all the time. I thought he would eventually settle down, but he never really did! It was medium or fast gait the whole way, with the occasional breakout into a canter. We were in constant motion, I couldn’t get him to wait to save my life! I’m thinking maybe I’m going to have to put a curb bit on him, the snaffle just wasn’t enough to keep him from pulling my arms out of their sockets. When we cantered past the eleven mile marker without a single slow-down the entire trip, I really started seeing how great this horse would be in an endurance race. I honestly don’t know if he was loving it or hating it, I only know he went like gangbusters the entire trip! We left camp at 10:18 and arrived back at 12:45, a lot earlier than I had expected. Clearly, though, with some conditioning, he would be perfect for this kind of competition. Of course, judging by the way I felt when I climbed down, I’m going to need as much or more conditioning than he is! Lola certainly enjoyed herself, she had a faster trip than usual, which always makes her happy. By the time we reached camp, most of the stragglers had moved out, and it took no time at all to load Flash back into the trailer and come home. I heard Apollo whinnying when we were at the gate at the end of the driveway, and Flash and Apollo nuzzled once he got back in the paddock. I let them into the pasture, washed out the back of the trailer, put some stuff away, and came in exhausted! Once I cooled down, I started to try to dialyze Hubby, but wasn’t able to get a good arterial connection, so we ended up abandoning it for the day. Hate to do that, but I was just not able to succeed, and after three attempts at sticking him, it was clear I just wasn’t up for it today. Better luck tomorrow, hopefully! Whew, what a day!

Monday, Sept. 3, 2018 – YIPPEE! Hubby’s First Ride on Flash!

I was thrilled this morning when Hubby said he thought he was strong enough for a ride, so I saddled up BOTH horses, helped him mount his new horse Flash, and off we went! I was so pleased that the horses behaved so well. At first, Flash was hesitant to pass Apollo, he stayed at his flank for the first half mile or so. Eventually, we split to opposite sides of the road, and that seemed to give Flash some freedom, and he started walking a bit faster. Apollo and I had to jog to catch up, but it was GREAT to see Hubby back on a horse at last! He hasn't been able to ride since April of last year, as he's been dealing with a whole variety of health issues, but we're finally settling down to a routine and he's been improving greatly over the last few months. So glad he was strong enough for a ride today!! It was a short ride, just under 3 miles round trip, but it was enough for him and Flash to start to get to know each other. I've been a bit worried, because Flash can be a handful, but he's settled down nicely. He did get a little excited after we trotted a little, and then he wouldn't stand very well, but Hubby didn't have any problem with him. Such a difference from his old mare Clio, who was so slow, steady and bombproof! But he really enjoyed himself, and was so glad to be back in the saddle again, albeit for only an hour. His hips started to ache (likely from lack of use!), but that should take care of itself as we start to ride more regularly, hopefully. We also had a great day of dialysis in the afternoon, FINALLY finding a great place to start our buttonhole for the arterial port, after several weeks of false starts, half halts and plain old problems. But I finally found it perfectly today, and can't wait to create this buttonhole! That should make the whole process easier, finally, and should become routine before long. After 10 months of trying to nail down his dialysis access, I think the light at the end of the tunnel is getting much brighter, at last!! As soon as we finish making buttonholes, and get his catheter out, we're heading back on the road in our great big new (to us) Trailrider trailer! Can't wait!!!

Sunday, Sept. 2, 2018 – Took Apollo Out For First Time Since April

This summer has been such a blur, and because it didn’t really have any travel or horse camping in it, I just stopped doing my Horse Camping diary. So sorry!! But in between trips to Vanderbilt in Nashville to get treatments, surgery, training and doctor’s appointments accomplished, the summer seemed to fly by! I tried to ride our new horse Flash at least once a week, with just a few weeks missed, and he’s been coming along beautifully. When we started, he was so jumpy, and needed constant contact with the bit just to keep him from running away with me. Eventually I got him so calm that now, for the most part, he can be ridden with a nice loose rein, at least until he’s asked to kick it up a notch, in which case he gets a bit hard to settle down afterward, but even that’s greatly improved. I think he’s just about ready for Hubby as soon as he’s strong enough, fingers crossed! Today, though, I thought it was time that I see what kind of condition Apollo is in after his summer off, so I decided to saddled him up and see how he did. Much to my surprise, Flash started whinnying for him as soon as I took him out of the paddock, and Apollo even whinnied back a few times. I was a little surprised, because Apollo still nips at Flash for no apparent reason, and lately I’ve seen Flash kick back in Apollo’s directions a few times, though I can’t say I’ve ever seen him make contact (though I suspect Apollo has done so to him, sorry to say). Anyway, the whinnying got more frenzied as we headed up the driveway, but once Apollo was out of sight and hearing, it settled down a bit, though every few hundred yards, Apollo would whinny again, even when we were miles away! Apollo did great, though his walk was uncharacteristically slow, but we trotted and even cantered, too, a nice controlled canter with no jigging, thank goodness! It was a nice two hour ride, and ended with more whinnying when we got within reach. So happy he did so well, and I’m hoping that absence will make the heart grow fonder, and Apollo will be a little less hard on Flash. After a whole summer together, you’d have thought they would have learned to get along better! They stand together a lot, and Apollo really only gets aggressive when there’s food or humans around, the rest of the time they seem to stand nearby each other. I guess the herding instinct trumps their personal feelings! Since he did so well, and I really want to progress the plot here, I suggested to Hubby that if he was feeling strong enough tomorrow, I thought both horses were ready for a ride together. I think Flash would be calmer for Hubby riding on terrain that he’s gotten to know well rather than wait to get into woodland trails he doesn’t know (which always make him jumpy), and I’m hoping that after all the whinnying sessions, these two might behave okay on the trail together (well, road for now.) Hubby said he was up for the idea, if he felt strong enough in the morning. It would be his first ride in 17 months! I hope it works out!!

Sunday, May 13, 2018 – First Day with Flash on a Trail!

The day started out busy, as usual, despite being a Sunday, too much work to do! After our usual Sunday blueberry pancake breakfast, I washed the small horse trailer, which SO needed it, while Hubby rode around mowing the yard. That took us both a couple of hours. After that we had a small lunch, then I saddled up Flash. Since we’re not doing dialysis today, I wanted to take Flash out for several hours, ideally on some trails, and my neighbor had cut about a mile or so through their property and had graciously agreed to let me take Flash out there to see what he would do on a trail. We headed out the driveway and down the road, and this time, he had very little problem with the yellow and black signs, but shortly after that, he started to get real antsy about something. He didn’t want to walk on the road, and kept backing up into the grass along the edge. It’s almost like yesterday he was so overwhelmed he became a robot under my guidance, and today, he was just relaxed enough to start seeing all the LITTLE things that were out to get him! It took a lot to get him to listen today, but eventually we carried on after some patient schooling. We arrived at my neighbors (just under two miles away) and headed out onto their trails. They had essentially bush-hogged a trail around their perimeter, plus added a few spokes in the circle to get back to the house. Flash got overwhelmed again pretty quickly. Seriously, this horse doesn’t know how to pass a tree without nearly panicking! Such a trail novice! Anyway, we carried on, and he was walking very fast, and gaiting whenever he could get away with it, and we went up and down grades and through the woods with his head up, his ears pricked and his eyes wide open, just waiting to be gobbled up by some horse-eating thing he was sure was around every corner! We arrived at a nice stop by a lake, but I couldn’t get him to stand still no matter what I did. We finally moved on, down a hill to a small area that was a little boggy, and he acted like he’d never been in mud at all before (maybe he hasn’t!), but we managed to get through that okay. Every time we got close to the house I would turn him around and look for another trail, just to keep up the pressure a bit. After more than an hour, he had worked up such a sweat I figured it was time to give him a rest. We stopped to talk with the neighbor for a few minutes, and when he started prancing again, I just made him go in a small circle 4 or 5 times, then when I let him off, he FINALLY agreed to stand still for a few minutes! Progress! The ride home was much more sedate, he actually put his head down and I was able to give him a loose rein for more than half the trip home, a great improvement over yesterday, thank goodness. It was a great ride, but it took a lot of energy on both our parts. I was pretty tired by the time we got home! I rinsed Flash off, and of course, the first thing he did afterward was roll in the dirt. Silly horses! Anyway, fed them, fed Lola, fed Hubby, and watched a little TV before going to bed. Another early morning tomorrow!

Saturday, May 12, 2018 – Road Ride with Flash

Got up early and managed to get the LQ horse trailer and my truck washed before I finally got Hubby out of bed. He suffered a bit from low blood pressure today, with a few dizzy spells, though he woke up feeling a lot better, Obviously, his arm still hurts from the surgery, and he’s taken a couple of oxycodone, but he doesn’t like the way it reacts with him, so he switched over to acetaminophen last night and this morning. Spent some time trying out various aluminum polishes to see what would work on the trailer, and nothing really completely made the streaks of oxidation go away, so I have to keep looking. He didn’t feel well enough to do much, so we started his dialysis just after 1:00, so we were done at a reasonable hour. I hadn’t work with Flash this morning, but I had made some bread that I wanted to take down to my neighbor who gave me eggs, and decided to ride Flash there. It was a bit of a risk to take him on the road after only one short ride in the round pen, but I decided it was worth the risk. After all, I have to make him bombproof for Hubby as soon as possible! I got him saddled up and headed up the driveway. He was a bit antsy, with his head and ears way up, but behaving himself for the most part. After going through the gate and heading down the road, I got about 100 yards when he decided there was something out there that was going to eat him, probably the orange and black sign that indicated a culvert, and refused to go any further. I spent about 20-25 minutes zigzagging him up and down the road in an effort to get him over it, and FINALLY he did. He was actually trembling in fear! It’s obvious to me that this horse has never been ridden outside of an arena or a pasture, he is so unaccustomed to ANYTHING outside of that, poor thing! We rode the rest of our way to my neighbors, about 1 ½ miles away, without incident, other than the occasional excitement when he saw a downed log by the side of the road, which he practically went off the opposite sides of the road to get away from. I tied him up when we got there, and he pranced around pretty much all the time while I chatted with my neighbors, who graciously admired him. Once we got caught up on all the neighborhood gossip, I remounted and headed back home. About halfway back, Flash’s head FINALLY relaxed, and I was able to give him a nice loose rein for most of the rest of the way home. Mission accomplished! Flash learned several lessons today, and I can’t wait to move on to the next lesson or two! Got back at dusk, got everyone settled in for the night, fixed dinner and had a relaxing evening, satisfied with a very good and productive day!