Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Trail ride!

The last few days of riding have been really fun!  

Over the weekend John came out to ride with me on our friend's horse, JJ.  John wanted to have a 'lesson' in the arena to work on posting the trot.  I have to say, he did really well and caught on quickly.  I think it really works in his favor to have such strong runner's thighs.  He wasn't getting 'left behind' the motion as badly as most beginners do when learning to post the trot!  He was enthusiastic and had a good time!  This was the first time he was sore from riding and he finally realized how difficult it must be to do that for 50 miles!  This ain't no walk in the park, sweetheart!  I LOVE getting to ride with John.  He is so fun!  I rode Boomer while I helped John and I was so proud of my little pony!  He just did whatever I asked without spooking or looking at anything!  I was so thrilled when I realized that I hadn't been paying attention to Boomer at all and he was still just packing me around like a champ!

I rode Boomer on Monday and he was just a little resistant at first.  Not soft in the bridle at all.  I was a little irritated at first, but I spent a little extra time at the walk and he warmed up into it and we had a good ride.  For whatever reason, he just needed a longer warm up.  

I usually only ride every other day because Boomer can get cranky if he is over ridden (in his perspective, haha).  However, I got bored on Tuesday and went out to ride him.  Turns out, he was in a great mood and his work ethic was ON ON ON!  I rode in the outdoor arena and he was very forward, in a very good way!  His trot pace is usually much slower in the arena than on the trail but he was giving me his 'race pace' trot, so we went with it.  We did a little cantering as well and he was forward enough that I went up in 2-point and let him gallop a few laps around the arena.  How fun!  I loved feeling him ramp up!  Too bad the arena was too small to really let him go!  After about an hour, I decided to turn the day into an aerobic training day and we just kept trotting.  I took him out to the large roping arena and let him long trot some more at race pace for another 40 minutes or so.  I think we rode total for about 2 hours at race pace trot with a few minutes of hand galloping.  He did great for me!  

I had planned to give him a few days off after that, but the barn ladies wanted to go for a trail ride today so we saddled up and headed out again today!  We had a blast and walked 90% of the time.  We did some trotting and cantering in the open fields.  We were out for around 4 hours.  We had a group of 6 horses: 2 warmbloods, a lippizan, a QH, a TWH/foxtrotter cross, and an Arab!  What a mixed group!  Boomer was awesome.  No prancing, nervousness, or head tossing.  I have zero to complain about!  I used renegades on his front hooves as he is bare right now and sensitive on gravel.  So, I put them on for the .75 mile walk to the trail head, took them off for the trail, then rebooted for the walk home.  He did great with that plan and I didn't lose any boots!  

Smile, Boomer!

JJ in the front, Chunky the Lippizan to the right, Flanny the Grand Prix schoolmaster in back.  I got to see Flanny do a series of 2 tempi lead changes on the trail.  He must of done at least 10 of them.  It was awesome!

Here is Charmy the TWH/fox trotter on the left and Cambria the WB on the right.

We stopped to play in the water a few times!  Fun!

Yay Boomer!  

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Summer time!

The heat of summer is officially here!  Temps in the upper 90's and high humidity.  I used to think Oklahoma was humid, it is nothing compared to Kansas!  My glasses regularly fog up when going outside here.  Thats a strange sensation, for sure!  

Boomer is doing really well.  I was getting a little bored with things after a while and decided to try some flying changes!  While, I am no dressage pro or trainer I figured it couldn't hurt to try!  I did teach my old horse to do changes and I also taught a few polo horses to do changes as well.  Polo horses always need to be on their right lead because that is the mallet hand and the side which carries most rider weight.  So, I taught a few mares who preferred the left lead how to do flying changes to help them make the switch faster if they got off balance on the field.  My way of teaching the flying change is to canter a small (15 meter?) circle and then switch and make a figure 8 while asking for the new lead.  If the horse doesn't get it right away, urge him forward and make the circle smaller.  They will switch when they feel off balance, usually within the first 1/4 of the circle. 

Boomer did really well with this and cross cantered a few time, switching leads in front but not back.  No big deal, just keep circling until he switched all around.  I was surprised that he didn't get anxious at all for this whole process.  He really seemed to be trying to figure out what I wanted.  I did get a few good changes in both directions.  I assumed his changes would be very big and expressive, but they were so subtle that I kept having to look down and see if he had changed!  Next time I will braid his mane up to make it easier to see his shoulders.  I probably will only work on this once a week at most, as I don't want him to get overly worried about not getting it yet.

The next time I rode I went out in the big roping arena (200x300ish) for the first time.  I put draw reins on him because it was a new area and there were a number of scary things (cattle shoots, mechanical bull , etc).  He did very well and I was surprised at how quickly he adapted to the new stimuli!  He seems to really be growing up and getting more 'broke'.  The barn has a fake cow 'heel-o-matic' that they can pull behind a 4-wheeler that bucks its legs up as it moves.  It was stored in the back corner and Boomer definitely noticed it.  I circled near it for awhile and then he was just over it.  I was very surprised by that!  At the end of our ride, I had him on a loose rein and actually had him go between the fake cow and the rail!  He hesitated for a second and then went on through like a pro.  I am really pleased with how much he is improving, both in performance and demeanor.  

After our ride in the outdoor, I went for a mini- trail ride with my friend on her Andalusian stallion after she finished her lesson.  We went out for just a few minutes, but it was a very nice break for both horses.  Boomer was very well behaved and an exemplary trail horse!  I am just so proud of him lately!  

As for our future plans, we plan on doing the Hotter Than Hell series in Oklahoma this summer.  There is a chance that we will have moved by then.  At the very least, John and Boomer will be moved and Charley and I will be trying to sell the house!  Who knows?

Don't forget to order De-Lyte Bites for your horses!!!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Expect the unexpected!

Lots of big news around here!  

First off, my De-Lyte Bites business is taking off in a big way!  I am offering an 8 serving bag (32 cookies) for $5.  I can ship up to 5 bags at a time for a flat rate of $10.  

The next big news is that John and I are moving again!  John was offered a promotion, which is great, but its back in B-ville.  It is definitely a bitter-sweet feeling.  We were so happy to leave Bartlesville for Lawrence.  We have only been here a year, but the newness hasn't warn off.  We LOVE Lawrence!  This is a good career move for John and we are learning to look at the long term in our decisions.  One thing we learned from our time in B-ville last year was that we needed to be closer to Tulsa.  So, this time around we are looking for property just north of Tulsa.  We will be much closer to family, friends, and culture.  We don't have any final dates yet, but it will be sooner rather than later.  

I'm not sure how the move will effect my endurance season yet.  I am hopeful that we can still go on as planned, however I am prepared for the financial crunch that buying a home always puts on a family!  If nothing else, an upside to moving to Oklahoma is that we won't have to get a health certificate for all of the rides in the state!  There are plenty of rides in Oklahoma and NONE in Kansas, so I was always having to pay an extra $60 per ride for the health certificate!  Thats a bonus!      

I know this blog is supposed to be about Boomer, so here is the latest on my guy!  Boomer has been doing wonderfully!  I have been riding him about every other day and he is doing great!  He is consistently in the bridle and seeking contact.  He has discovered the joy of stretching his neck down on a trot circle but comes willingly back up to a working frame.  He no longer roots the reins or fights contact.  His gaits are regular and rhythmic.  His canter has improved tremendously.  We are working on canter serpentines and figure eights with changes of lead through the trot.  I have no complaints about our progress!  He got his shoes taken off after our 2 day 100 mile ride and I trimmed them today.  They look great and you can't even tell he had shoes on.  I am so happy with how healthy his hooves are!  

We have lots of changes coming up this summer.  Seems like the summers are always busy times for me.  Two years ago I got Boomer, last year we moved to Kansas, and this year we are headed back to Oklahoma!  

Hang on for the ride!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Always the same, always a surprise

I am constantly amazed at how well Boomer does with time off.  I hadn't ridden him in 10 days when I decided to hop on for a short, easy schooling session yesterday.  I expected him to be full of himself and a little rusty on the basics, but he was better than ever!  I don't get it!  He just loves time off!  He went right to work and was easily and readily giving to pressure.  We had a nice long warm up on a long rein, then did a little more collected/lateral work, and then just a few minutes of trot and canter work.  He did awesome and I was so proud of him!  His post-canter trot work is really improving and he settles down right away if I give him a ton of things to do, mostly just zig-zagging from letter to letter across the arena.  We cooled out with some great stretchy trot circles and then walked on a long rein and practiced walk/halt transitions.  I was absolutely thrilled with the ride!  It took everything I had to not go back out to ride today.  But, I know he wouldn't be as good and I also have a ton to do around the house today.  

The De-Lyte Bites business is going very well!  I have had an overwhelming positive response and I have been shipping samples all over the country from Auburn, CA to Louisville, KY!!!  Most of my interest has come from endurance riders, polo players, and pleasure riders.  As far as sales go, I really think that most of my sales will come from events where I market in person.  Shipping is just so high it is hardly justifiable to pay as much for shipping as you pay for the product.  So, my goal is to make it to as many events as possible.  I plan on donating a few bags to each event I go to as prizes and then self-promoting throughout the day.  My 'aiming for the stars' goal is to get picked up by a distributor like Long Rider's Gear or Distance Depot.    

A question for my readers:  If you were purchasing De-Lyte Bites, would you rather have lots of size options for packaging or just one size?  I am debating between offering single serving (4 cookies), 12 serving (48 cookies), and 24 serving (96 cookies) sizes or just offering a 12 serving size and using the single serving size as a promotional offering.  I, personally, am leaning towards just offering a 12 serving size just due to packaging constraints.  What do you think?

As always, let me know if you want to try a sample.  Those of you who read this and also have your own blog, contact me if you are interested in doing a review in exchange for a free sample!  People are generally either doing reviews on palatability or efficacy.  If you have an event coming up and would like to use my cookies instead of your regular electrolytes, please contact me!  

Sunday, June 6, 2010

De-Lyte Bites

Hello all!  I am in the process of starting my own business!  I think I have a product that will be useful to many of my readers!  

The idea for an electrolyte replenishing cookie has been floating around in my head for some time now.  I just assumed that horses wouldn't eat such a salty cookie.  So, I did some thinking and taste testing- and here we are!  

The concept behind the De-Lyte Bites is to make life easier for owners of equine athletes.  Being an aspiring endurance rider, I was having a hard time wrapping my head around the whole, over-involved process of dosing with e-lytes on the trail.  You have to pre-mix your e-lytes with applesauce, then put them in individual tupper wares, once on the trail you have to dismount, fill the syringe, and dose the horse.  Most horses I have seen do not enjoy the process and many riders see it as a necessary annoyance.  Honestly, I have avoided the whole process by adding powdered e-lytes to Boomer's food at vet checks.  However, he didn't seem to like that and ate around the powder.  The other downside is that electrolytes are most effective if given in small, frequent doses.  

I knew there had to be a better way.  

Enter, De-Lyte Bites!!!

I have designed De-Lyte Bites to be a full serving of a balanced electrolyte mix per every 4 cookies.  So,  you have a single dose in 4 cookies to take out on your trail loop.  You can easily grab a cookie from your saddle bag every few miles and give the treat without dismounting!  Your electrolyte doses will be spread throughout the event and you won't have to waste time with dosing syringes.  The cookies are firm and sturdy, they won't smash or crumble in your saddle bags.  How much happier will your horse be when you give him a cookie instead of a syringe?

The electrolyte mix I am using is a pretty standard endurance blend.  It contains 5880mg sodium, 4200 mg potassium, and 600mg calcium per 4 cookie serving.  This is almost identical to SmartLytes and many other e-lytes on the market.  Right now, my packaging is limited but my goal is to offer 24 dose bags (96 cookies) for $8.  This is $.33/per serving which is right on par with most powdered e-lytes on the market.  I encourage you to pull up SmartPak's electrolyte comparison chart and compare my cookies with their products.  

De-Lyte Bites are an alfalfa, oat, grain, and wheat based cookie.  They contain molasses for flavor and to help things 'stick'.  For those worried about sugar content, each cookie contains less than half a teaspoon of molasses which is less than 4.5 grams of sugar per cookie.  This is about equal to the sugar in a peppermint candy.     

For me, the most important part of all of this is palatability!  I made a few batches of cookies and took them out to the barn.  Not a single horse turned up their nose and they all came right back for a second and third cookie.  I was afraid that the salty flavor would be rejected, but it was quite the opposite!  

I am so thrilled that I have found an easy solution to the whole electrolyte dilemma!  In fact, I am so convinced that this is the best idea since sliced bread, I want to share it with everyone!  Which is why I am doing what I am doing here.  I am in the very beginning stages of production and should have my packaging supplies within a week.  If you want to try a sample, check out my website and fill out the contact form or contact me through email at  I will get a sample to you as soon as possible.  Make sure you let me know what you and your horse think!   

Oh, and these aren't just for endurance horses!  Eventers, dressage horses, or any horse who sweats could use a little electrolyte replenishment!  

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Jo Tate Memorial Pictures

Here is Boomer right after we vetted in on Friday.  I think this picture does a good job of showing what good shape he is in!

Here is our rig.  I loved the camping set up.  It was a tight fit and we had to back in, but it was so nice to have the shade of the trees!

Letting the in-timer know we are at the start line:

Coming in from loop 1, day 1:

Chowing down on our first vet hold:

Charley and John waited at the road in to camp where all of the loops converged!  It was so nice to see them as I came around the corner!

Here I am coming in after loop 2, day 1 with my riding buddy.
Boomer really liked having his face scrubbed with a wet towel between loops!

John and Boomer hang out before we leave on the last loop of day one!

Yay!  We finished 50 miles!!!
He drinks!!!

Finishing loop 1, day 2:

Headed to get our in-time, pulse down, and vet in:

Coming in from loop 2.  Our buddy had a minor shoe issue at the beginning of loop 2, so we rode this alone but he ended up only about 4 minutes behind us when he got to camp so we got to go out together for loop 3.  I had assumed they were going to pull and had no idea they were catching up to us!  Turns out he just needed to trim back his pad and then he came back out and was about 30 minutes behind. My friend said that his mare could hear us on the trail ahead of them and she was calling for Boomer. 

Vetting through after loop 2, day 2:

John is such a great crew!  I got to sit down and eat cheese burgers while he tended to the horses!

We ended up mixing their mashes together because they wanted to share.  It was the cutest thing I have ever seen!  Boomer and Prima, sitting in a tree....

We finished!  100 miles in two days!  All of the other rigs from our camping area had left (there were 4 of us at first) and we turned Boomer out to graze and walk.  I gave him a nice head and ear rub.

Here is the best picture I could find to compare him before and after the ride.  Doesn't look like he lost any weight at all!  He learned to drink along the trail and ate much better once the bit was out of his mouth for the last 2 loops.  I think those things made a huge, huge difference in his recovery.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Jo Tate Memorial I & II

For the first time ever, a ride went off without a hitch!  No spills, no stress, my horse was fit and took care of himself- everything was perfect!  

This was our first two day ride and I am so proud of Boomer for finishing so strong!  We did 50 miles Saturday and 50 miles Sunday.  I am so amazed by him!  He didn't feel any weaker on Sunday than he did Saturday.  Our time Sunday was only about 40 minutes slower than Saturday!  How awesome is that!  Each loop was about 15 minutes slower than we did it the first day- which is pretty darn consistent!    

John and I headed to Washburn, MO on Friday morning.  We got to ride camp around 2 pm and set up camp.  There were already a ton of people there and parking was tight.  I got us between the woods and a large tree so that Boomer could have shade.  It ended up being a nice setup.  We were at the back of camp and only had 3 other rigs in our area.  

We vetted in and Boomer pulsed in at his usual 44 and got A's on all of his scores.  His pulse is usually 36 or 40 at home or by the trailer and seems to always be just a tad higher at the check in areas.  

Washburn, MO is in the SW corner of the state and is in the Ozark Mountains.  I don't know what I expected, but this ride is HARD.  I later heard from a few people that this is considered the hardest ride in the area.  

Boomer started out on ride morning nice and relaxed.  As soon as we started trotting down the road he turned in to the crazy horse.  He just does NOT like being passed.  I tried to start towards the front so that we could maybe get away from traffic, but his trot just isn't as fast as other horses.  So, we got passed and he threw a fit.  He likes to swing his hips out in front of the horses who are trying to pass us.  Not nice.  I apologized and the people passing were nice and said something to the extent of "I've been there too".  After about an hour he was much calmer.  

By the second loop of the first day I ended up riding with Eric, a guy from Kansas City.  We rode together both days.  He rode two super sweet mares.  We 'turtled' both days.  First day, he got turtle and second day I got turtle.  It was really nice to have a riding buddy.  I enjoy riding alone or with a friend, but it was a nice trail to have a friend because it did get slow at times with the hills and rocks.      

The trail had hills.  Steep hills.  Long hills.  Hills covered in flint rock gravel.  Boomer learned to tail me up hills.  I learned to ski down hills.  Boomer really seems to be a powerhouse about hills.  He loves to go up hills.  I did get off for most of them (there were probably 4-6 hills per loop) but sometimes I would stay on when I felt him getting determined about heading up.  

The best part of this trip for me what how much Boomer and I both learned.  We did a few new things and I was so impressed by how well Boomer handled them!  First was being sponged.  I won a sponge leash at the Okmulgee Cougar Prowl and this weekend was a ride that required sponging because of the heat.  I was a little nervous about his reaction to me tossing a sponge off him because he has been nervous about me riding while holding things.  However, he handled it like a champ and by the 3rd or 4th time he didn't even care because it felt so darn good!  

Tailing uphill was another new thing.  For those who haven't done it before, tailing is where you unclip your reins and hold them in your left hand like a lead rope and hold the horses tail with your right hand while he goes up a hill and pulls you along.  It helps you get up the hill and saves a ton of energy for the horse since he doesn't have to carry you.  The first time we did this we were behind Eric and Rouge and he just went right along like he had been doing it his whole life!  

Perhaps the most important part of the weekend and the one that took a HUGE weight off my shoulders was that Boomer finally learned to take care of himself and drink.  In the past, he has never drank before 30 miles.  Not on the trail and not at camp.  After that he will drink at camp a little and he might drink on the trail.  He would ever drink out of the communal buckets at the vet stops.  This was very stressful for me because I was afraid that we wouldn't ever be able to do summer rides and that he was going to be difficult to maintain metabolically.  I guess the heat and hard work got to him because on the first day he drank about 22 miles in out on the trail and then he drank consistently after that.  On the second day, he drank about 5 miles in to the trail and at every single stop on the trail.  He also drank deeply from any bucket at camp.  I know this doesn't sound like a huge deal, but it is something that, to me, determines his suitability in this sport!  In the past we have tried everything- soggy beet pulp, grain mixed with water, Horse Quencher, etc.  Nothing worked.  It was something that stressed me out to no end.  So, to have him drinking at streams, ponds, puddles, buckets, and tubs means the world to me!  He drank and ate all day and his scores showed it!  

Another thing that was new was that we rode the last 25 miles of Sunday's ride in just a halter.  Boomer was not that interested in eating and when he did eat, he ended up spitting out wads of chewed grass that got stuck in his bit.  So, I just took of the bridle part of his halter/bridle and hooked my reins to the sides of the halter.  He was no different to ride and he ate MUCH better.  So, that was pretty cool!  Probably can't do that at the beginning of a ride, but it will surely help for the last two loops!  

After we got home on Monday, Boomer stepped off of the trailer like he was fresh and ready to go.  He was arching his neck and prancing and I almost wanted a stud chain for him!  I had to have John hold him in the wash rack to hose him off, he was acting like he used to 2 years ago!  He had so much energy and was so excited to be home!  I was floored that he was so fit after doing 100 miles and riding in the trailer for 5 hours!  He got out to the pasture and trotted around, chasing the others and having a grand time!  

What a fun way to spend Memorial Day Weekend!  John was great to me as usual!  He is an incredible crew.  He always has beet pulp soaking, a bucket for sponge water, and a camera (he took over 200 pictures this weekend!).  He sits at the trail head in to camp and waits for us with Charley and a camera.  It is so nice to come around a corner and see him there.  I would wave, hop off, water the horse and then head to the vet area.  John would run Charley to the trailer and then meet me at the pulse area to strip tack and sponge.  Then he was right there to help me tack back up when it was time to head back out!  Not to mention that he drove to get more water, ice, bug spray, cheeseburgers, etc!  I know lots of people do this sport on their own, but it is so amazing to have my best friend and husband there to crew for me and support me.