February 13, 2015

Twenty-three degrees. Really, it wasn’t so bad. I did invest in winter riding tights and sub-zero gloves, I might as well have an occasion to use them! And it was sunny, lovely afternoon really…

Once again, without a goal in mind I might have just stayed home. I wasn’t thrilled with some of the spots that rubbed Khaleesi’s foot wearing her hoof boot for 3 days straight (her sole looks better) and Faygo had either a muscle twitch or was slightly shivering in her shoulders. Maybe you shouldn’t try to ride today…. was the little voice in my head, it was strongest when I heard a howl of wind gust blow over the barn roof. No, you need to do this. Just a short one… Don’t be a wimp!

Trying out the heart rate monitor gizmo
Trying out the heart rate monitor gizmo

My first goal today was to try out the heart rate monitor I ordered. The directions were clear as mud to me on how to attach the electrodes under saddle pad and girth… I am a visual thinker, so reading it on paper “3 inches below the top line and 6 inches away from shoulder movement” and putting the electrode on after the saddle is already in place with a loose girth took some time for me to think through. Then I slathered on the electrode gel and gave it a shot. Attatch the black cord where you would normally use the stethoscope, and then attach the velcro strap to the girth… they should have just said to attach the thing to the girth… that’s how it stays in place anyway. Then plug in to the main terminal and wrap in the velcro pouch and attach to D rings in front of the saddle.I was pretty sure I had done it wrong and would need to look up some video help at home later to sort out what I was trying to do. I put on the watch. No heart reading.

Oh well, I don’t have time to stay in the barn all day messing around with this thing- we need to just go. I’ll leave the pieces in place for now. I didn’t even bother with a saddle or bit for Khaleesi, knew I would not get on her today at all. She must have known as well because she came right up to me in the field, asked me to put her halter on, came right in to the barn for lunch.

Once we got outside, it was beautiful. Crisp blue sunny sky, some leftover snow in patches on the ground. I knew it would be a short ride so we went barefoot and the footing was fine.  The girls were in good spirits today (all three of us).

Looking for heart rate
Looking for heart rate
First reading shows up
First reading shows up
Climbing the hill
Climbing the hill

Though I had given up on the heart rate monitor, I stopped to click the watch over and see if it would give a reading- and then I decided to at least take a picture of the watch telling me I had gotten it wrong. And then a miracle happened… as I was taking a picture of the watch……. NUMBERS appeared! IT WORKED IT WORKED IT WORKED IT WORKED!! I couldn’t believe it worked.

I think she has such thick fur right now it took a little movement and a least a tiny bit of sweat to help the connection happen. The readings were pretty good most of the ride. We started out around 60 (which is the resting hear rate we’ll have 30 minutes to return to at a check point) and got up to at least 136 while climbing some of the hills. It stopped working toward the end of the ride so I don’t know what we finished at, but that’s ok. We only walked about an hour, as it was so cold I didn’t want anyone sweaty for turnout, and this wasn’t a ride for testing heart rate and fitness. I just wanted to see if I could make the thing work. Once I really know where the electrodes need to be I may cut back or shave the spots there so I can make better contact and put them in the same place every time.

wrong way girl...
wrong way girl…
Ok, almost... don't stop there
Ok, almost… don’t stop there
Yes... keep coming
Yes… keep coming

The other new thing I tried today was using a long line to pony Khaleesi. I’ve heard people say that it’s better to have enough line to allow the horse to make mistakes when ponying and when she stops to poop and Faygo keeps going with an 8 foot rope I’m usually lucky not to end up on the ground. A little extra line couldn’t hurt. I’m not sure who made more mistakes today- she or I, but we ended up with the line underneath her (if she trotted to catch up and I wasn’t fast enough reeling the extra line in and she stepped right onto it), around her head, wrong side of trees, and tangled in a mass with Faygo’s reins. It’s just about as bad as the line control i have in fly fishing (you can ask my husband!)

We survived the cold, in fact it wasn’t so bad. They say the only rides you regret are the ones you don’t take. I have found that to be true.I have been on some hairy rides very stuck in the weeds (rocks, cliffs, briars…) almost left by my horse on the mountain and praying no one gets hurt and we can get out of the mess I found on some exploration trip… and thankfully neither Faygo or I have been hurt out there… but even on those rides, I’ve never regretted getting out. Now I have marked my GPS with some places NEVER to go again, but how will you know if you don’t try?

This weekend is going to have brutally cold nights, so I went ahead and blanketed the girls before turning them out. I think Faygo was shivering when I pulled her in today, and I figured I might as well do the same for Khlaeesi. One weekend in the year can’t hurt them.

It’s supposed to be warmer on Saturday- at least by a few degrees!

Published by JaimeHope

Violin teacher and endurance rider living in a rural mountain county - one of the least population dense and without a single stoplight.

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