H52611

 Saturday, July 11, 2015

We have officially committed! I’ve registered Ireland’s Khaleesi as an AERC Grade Horse. Considering she has 4 different breeds, we decided to basically call her an equine mutt, which is what a Grade Horse is. Because she does have 1/4 Arab I could have chosen to list her as an Arab Cross, or 1/4 Arab, but 90% of AERC horses are some kind of Arab, and I wanted her not to be just one more Arab cross. Truly I don’t think of her as an Arab cross. In fact, I don’t feel that any one part of her breeding really takes over in her case. She doesn’t rack yet, so I can’t call her a racking horse; she doesn’t seem like a TN Walker at all (and doesn’t have a walker gait), and I don’t feel like anything about her screams Arabian either. The more I thought about it, the more Grade horse seemed to fit her. She is totally unique and I love her for it.

She is Bay Grade Mare #H52611- Ireland’s Khaleesi.

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There was another break in the rain Saturday, so I took the moment and rode her alone on for a little over 6 miles. The trails are slush and muck so we weren’t making any fast time. On the other hand all the rain has some of the creeks roaring at a volume you literally couldn’t talk over and that’s one more thing that’s been good for her to get used to. At Douthat there was a waterfall that was loud and she was a bit freaked out over the sound.

Douthat ride where she was worried about the waterfall and wouldn't stand with the group
Douthat ride where she was worried about the waterfall and was nervous to stand with the group

I reflected today at how lucky we are to have these mountains to train in. There was a recent AERC Facebook post about what you need to have your horse ready to do before their first ride and I feel pretty confident that we are doing our best to have her ready for anything. Of course there’s always that one thing you weren’t expecting, but all-in-all we are on track:

Crossing a narrow bridge
Crossing a narrow bridge

creek & river crossings: check… bridges of all kinds (concrete, wood, large and small): check… steep climbs and descents: check/check... rocky footing: check… deep sucking mud: check... complicated navigating over downs with grapevines: check… roads with vehicles: check... bicycles: check... tractors: check... most wild animals animals: check… riding alone: check… riding with others: check… long mountain climbs: check… multi-day camping: check

At this point, she’s still ‘green’, but she’s about as ready for her first AERC ride as she can be. Even if for some reason we don’t complete, it’ll be great experience to get out and try.

The only complication that came up was toward the end of the ride a back boot came loose. I ended up pulling both back boots because we were so close to home. I have decided that I need a smaller size on her back feet. The front renegades are working just about perfect- I haven’t lost one in many many miles as of now, but after using them and seeing how they work, I honestly believe I could go a size smaller on the front boots as well. This means that the back boots are possibly more than one size too big which would be the reason they are giving me some trouble.

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I went ahead and put in an order for the next size smaller (after measuring one more time) back boots and plan to use the current back boots as emergency spares. Before entering our event next month we absolutely would have had to order at least one- possibly two spare boots anyway.

I’m glad I waited and used the boots to see how they’d work before moving forward on a spare. Now that I see how they fit and work I have more understanding. There is a distinct difference between the length and width play in the measurement with renegades and I think I have a grasp of the variables and which measurements need to be closer and which can either be cut back or fall a little shorter than I’d originally thought.

Hopefully this will be a better long-term solution. I may find she goes a size down in all 4 feet.

Trails have turned into creeks in some stretches.
Trails have turned into creeks in some stretches.

It looks like another week of rain is coming. This has been a tough year for getting enough riding in, and also for soggy trails and difficult footing. The last thing I want to do is pull a tendon rushing through slippery muck. One thing working with horses and children has taught me is that you have to be more creative than the challenge you face. I will try not to complain about the rain but let it make us a stronger riding team. As the event gets closer and my travel schedule begins to fill, I’m going to have to start riding in that rain more often to get our miles in. And one never knows- our ride could be a soggy wet mess as well.

Endurance riding is not for sissies- that is for sure!

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