I notice bloggers in the equestrian blog-o-sphere post goals left and right. I love it. I'm a huge goal setter and believe wholeheartedly in the power of goal setting. Even Albert Einstein said, "If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not people or things."
Truth is, I am sort of a nerd about goal setting. I enjoy doing it both with my career and in my personal life. If done right, it means you're constantly pushing yourself to become a better person, and usually celebrating wins. Over the years I've come to value the skill of goal-setting, and realize it is a skill that many individuals struggle with because let's be real - it isn't easy.
The method that helps me find success in goal setting is one I learned while working at Snowshoe Mountain, known as the SMART Method. This method is decades old, but hey, "If it's not broke, don't fix it," right?
SMART is an acronym that stands for:
If the goal you set has these 5 characteristics, then it's likely a well-set goal that will yield positive results, no matter what. In other words, if your goal is specific enough to be able to measure an action that is relevant to getting you where you want to go, within a given amount of time, you'll gain valuable insight even if you fall short of the actual goal set. I enjoy setting goals in this way because it is designed to boost your confidence through a process that ensures you take the time to really experience how far you've come. You are able to celebrate what I call the "small wins," as you work your way to bigger ones.
Just like training a horse to go in a trailer, you can't do things all at once. The SMART version to teach a horse to load would be something like:
Over the course of one month I will:
A.) ... spend five days allowing my horse to stand near the trailer with the doors open for loading for at least twenty minutes.
B.) I commit to observing my horse's reactions, attitude, and other outside factors that attributed to my horse's fear of the trailer by writing them in a journal for each session. I will take special note of:
C.) I will then stand inside the trailer with a lead-rope attached to my horse for an additional five days, allowing my horse to consider walking into the trailer. (repeat part "B").
D.) I will ask my horse to step his front two feet into the trailer and back off the trailer for successfully 15 times for 3 days. (repeat part "B")
E.) I will then ask my horse to step all four feet into the trailer and back off the trailer 20 times for five days. (repeat part "B".)
F.) I will then stand with my horse tied in the trailer for 10-minute intervals 5 times, for three days. (repeat part "B")
G.) I will then stand with my horse tied in the trailer with the door shut for 10-minute intervals, 5 times, for 3 days (repeat part "B".)
Now, I am in no way a certified horse trainer. I am just slightly more insightful than some when working through processes. While not perfect, I believe this is a pretty solid set of goals that will generate a positive outcome if followed. The key is in celebrating the measurable success when it comes to the amount of time it takes for the horse to stand within 5 feet of the trailer or closer. As you may imagine, journaling in this way becomes real-time data shows you how long it's taking every day to get your horse closer to the trailer. If the time it takes is getting longer, then you know you need to adjust something.
Goals provide specific actions to strive for that are relevant to the purpose in a time-bound manner. The great thing about SMART goals is that they are flexible enough to allow for room to fail, meanwhile keeping the bigger picture in perspective.
As I said, I see tons of horse-related-goals set all across the blog-o-sphere, hopefully, this post can become a new skill in some of your tack boxes, and help you all get to where you want to go. My birthday is just around the corner and it seems like a great time to set a few SMART goals of my own! Because I'm curious, how do you decide what goals to set for your equestrian futures? Do you have a method to your madness, or is it all simply madness?
Yes. You read that correctly. I think I may have just found an affordable, International, Horse related vacation! The vacation every horse enthusiast never knew they needed happens to be in Iceland of all places.
I love to travel. In a previous life, I spent my summer months in 11 different countries around the world recruiting international students to come to a ski resort and participate in hospitality work-study programs. The work fed my travel bug and provided for some great life lessons. Lately, the darn thing has started to bite hard, and since I haven't used my passport in nearly two years now, I am itching to go somewhere!
I listen to the Horses in the Morning podcast/radio show nearly every morning on my way to and from work. The hosts are usually pretty fun and I almost always learn something. The Horse Radio Network is always "in-the-know" with nearly everything horse related, no matter the discipline, too.
Today, on my lunch break, I tuned into an episode where they interviewed Lisa Garrett Loewenberg, a member of Old Cowgirls Never Die-We Keep On Riding. She had just returned from her seventh trip to Iceland riding Icelandic horses (calling them ponies might get you murdered), across the vast landscapes of Iceland. Essentially, she shared how you could quite literally hop on the horses of Vikings and work with a herd of as many as 70 horses. She rode 13 different horses on her most recent ride!
In her interview, Lisa talks about everything from Icelandic politics and safety of the country to expected living conditions, hosts while you're, and riding near volcanoes...VOLCANOES!
Take a listen to the radio show (you may have scroll about 20 minutes in) if you're curious: Horses in the Morning Radio - Icelandic Horses Episode.
Of if you wish to skip the episode you can check out the tour she recommends here: Diamond Circle Riding Iceland Facebook. There is also a Riding Iceland website with all the details I discuss below and more of their photos.
The tour I am honestly looking at for some time in 2018 is the Diamond Circle Tour $2490 USD. The tour starts in Reykjavik, or Iceland's capital city. FIY a flight one of my nearest airports is Washington DC is $550, which brings the total trip to just over $3k USD, or $250/month. Sure, that's a little challenging, but not impossible. What do you think? Would you do this ride? Have you ever ridden internationally?
Video Credit: Christel Elaine Fowler - via Lisa Garrett Loewenberg - on the Diamond Circle .. Iceland 2017.. Riding-Iceland facebook group
Itinerary according the tour company's website is as follows:
Day 1: Reykjavík – Saltvík – SaltvíkIn the morning you leave your guesthouse to go to Eagle Air airport for a direct flight to Húsavík. Saltvík is only a 5 min. drive from the airport. At Saltvik, we start our ride after a short introduction to the Icelandic horse and it's special gaits. We ride along the seaside of the arctic ocean north of Iceland enjoying a fantastic view out towards the arctic circle. A relaxing bath in a warm outdoor tub before dinner at Saltvik farm is well deserved after this first day of our journey!
Optional in the afternoon (60 euros which includes transport from/to Saltvík): A whale watching tour starting from the harbour in Húsavík can be offered. Húsavík and the bay of Skjálfandi is known to be one of the best places in the world to find and see some of the gentle giants of the ocean. Humpbacks, Minky Whales, Dolphins and even Blue Whales are some of the creatures you can expect to see!
Day 2: Saltvík - Aðalból
We ride across Hvammsheiði heathlands following excellent soft "tolttrails" and riverbanks of Mýrarhvísl river towards the big Laxá river which we cross at a passing were the river spreads out over 100 m wide riverpath! During the ride we enjoy great view over the green valleys of the north, Aðaldalur and Reykjadalur.
Day 3: Aðalból – Mývatn
Today we ride from the farmlands of Aðaldalur towards the deserted vasteland of Hólasandur before arriving to the nature paradise "lake Mývatn " This is a day of many contrast, from green valley´s to black desert on our way to the lavafields and green birchforests of the Mývatn area. A magnificent view over the Lake Mývatn area that is surrounded by mighty volcanoes awaits us when we come closer to the lake. Before dinner we relax and enjoy a nice hot bath in Jarðböð, an outdoor lagoon with geothermal water overlooking the lake.
Distance: 40 km
Day 4: Mývatn – Þeistareykir
We leave the Myvatn area and head up towards the mountains passing Gæsadalur oasis and riding at the footsteps of the mighty old volcano Gæsafjöll. When we get closer to the geothermal area of Þeistareykir we start noticing huge crack´s and fissures which are remarks of the enourmous powers of nature hidden under the roots of Iceland:) We practicly ride across the boundaries which connect the tactonic plates of north America and europe and the power of creation becomes real when we arrive to the destination of Þeistareykir with bubbling crators and mudpools all around the hut were we spend the night !
Day 5: Þeistareykir – Saltvík farm
The last day of our journey we ride home to Saltvík farm crossing the lavafields of Bóndhólshraun. an then following nice riding trails through the valley Geldingadalur and along Skarðaháls With great view over the bay of Skjálfandi north of Iceland. The last track leads across Reykjaheiði and back home to our farm Saltvík where we celebrate our adventures in the evening with a cheerful farewell party!
Day 6: Saltvík – Reykjavík
After a hearty breakfast, it´s time to fly back to Reykjavík and enjoy a day in the capital. An overnight-stay at a guesthouse in Reykjavík can be arranged if help is needed.
Video Credit: Saltvik Riding Tours
It suffices to say that half the reason I have actually not written about this ride is that it was simply uneventful. I mean that in a good way. Between the days of July 13 and July 16, 2017, Jean-Luc Ponycard and I joined as many as 26 other horses and riders for a three-day trek across some of West Virginia's most undisturbed backcountry.
I genuinely have experienced nothing like that ride. At times I would catch myself breathless as I stared off into the sheer beauty and utter expanse of mother nature. Deep hues of green splashed across rolling hills and gently met blue skies. Wildflowers scattered the old railroad trails in every color imaginable. Red bee balm, lavender, mountain thistle, and bright orange tiger-lilies danced up and down the riverbanks.
If you are starting to think this sounds like something out of an early American tall-tale, you would be right. At one point our ride even included a team giant Percherons named Doc and Duke. Together they plotted along mountain trails made for steam engines reminding everyone what "horse power" really could do. Behind them, they hauled a Conestoga wagon with a family of four inside. Impressive doesn't even begin to cover it.
Before meeting Dolly at the barn Thursday morning, I listened to the Myths & Legends Podcast Episode 75 - Pecos Bill: Rider on the Storm. I think it helped bring about my the mood I was in - hungry for adventure. (I highly recommend adding this podcast to your weekly feed, if you aren't listening already).
I arrived at the barn early because both Dolly and I agreed it might better to arrive at the meet up tacked up. This turned out to be smart thinking since the place we unloaded had little to no room for actually getting ready. Honestly, it was a little dangerous considering how close to the high way we were, but everyone managed just fine.
Thursday morning was kind of wild. In total, five women were meeting, loading, and leaving from my BM's place. Needless to say, it was a little chaotic. I understand I need to get used to it, but I hate to be rushed when working with my horse. It usually puts me into a panic attack. However, this entire trip was a fantastic lesson in "buck up buttercup." I quickly understood that when riding with 25+ different people, the first lesson is: You are responsible for you and your horse. You are also responsible for sticking with the group. If you are unable to keep up - too bad. So, keep up.
That may sound harsh, however, I did not see it that way. If anything, it was a great to learn expectations. I haven't ridden much with individuals I don't really know. When riding with one or two other individuals, stopping or slowing down isn't much of an issue. This ride was a well-oiled machine, and I didn't want to be the cog that caused that machine to come crashing down.
Thankfully, I was not. In fact, my BM even told others that Jean-Luc was very well behaved! Though we did not ride together every day, I did take a note from her to not ride too fast. She mentioned how one of the only things a person could do to annoy this riding club is to ride out ahead and force everyone on a QH to trot the entire time. Thus, Jean-Luc and I stayed in the middle or at the end for nearly the entire ride (an impressive feat for a Tennessee Walker).
There's one gentleman I have had the pleasure of riding with twice now, and his horse's name is also "Red". He's the guy in the purple shirt as you go through this album, and though his advice isn't always sound, he is a joy to me. You see, he's 71 years old, and only a few years ago suffered what should have been a fatal car accident. His horse Red acted as both his inspiration physical therapy. Each time I ride with him I can't help but smile. To be completely honest, I also can't understand half of what he says (the accident left him sounding a little like Boomhauer from King of the Hill), but that's merely a part of his charm. Several times I found myself getting a little nervous, and he may never know how much his nonchalant attitude and story telling helped keep me sane.
Jean-Luc actually did a really great job the first and last day keeping a relatively slow pace. Sadly, the day we were in the saddle longest (day 2), he really wanted to step out. In retrospect, maybe should have just let him go? The terrain Day 1 was almost entirely uphill, so no wonder he was a little slower. Still, I enjoyed his chill speed so much the first day that I was desperate to get it back Day 2. On Day 2 we had a very flat ride along the West Fork Trail.
By Day 2 I realized, Jean-Luc is a tough fella. I can't honestly say when he has ever completed that many miles in such a short amount of time. According to his previous owner, he never went on overnights. I could tell that he still had more to give by the end of each day!
All in all, this was the trip of a lifetime for me. Since I was a little girl I have dreamed of riding and camping with my horse like the great cowboys and gals of the 1800s. I have always been enamored with the men and women who, like my dear mentor, Mr. Perry used to say, "...settled this land with dogged determination." I still find it hard to comprehend months and months on the trail. What kept those early settlers going? What expectations did they have for their, "better" life?
Similarly to the individuals of old (or prior to the 90s), I did not have access to phone, tv, or any form of modern connectivity. Early on Day 1, I remember sitting down, sipping on my adult beverage with the president of the riding club. Like everyone else on the ride, he too has a persona he maintains outside of horses.
"I love this," he told me. "Here you can just be you. You know?"
Yes. Though it took a day or so to really sink in, I know exactly what he means. Out on the trail, the only one you really have to answer to and for is your horse. "The Trail" cares little for reputation or clout. Experience and preparation are the skills you cling to. More than that though, the trail is about building and testing relationships. Can you get your horse to trust you? What new people will you meet? What new lenses will your eyes see through?
Again, this trip was the trip of a lifetime, and the best part is that it was only my first! There are SO MANY MORE to come.
I'd like to say a special shout out to everyone that helped me along the way, and those that prepared me both before and after this ride. The community is what ensures rides like this continue, and welcomes newbies such as myself to the sport. The fact that the horse community continues to be one of kindness and acceptance is so important, and I pray I am able to pass that along in some way some day.
It's here! Right on time, my King Series Classic Distance Rider arrived in just enough time for me to try on, adjust, and prep for tomorrow's three day ride! (Note, I would use a more broken in saddle if we were going to do anything super challenging, but the group I'm going with will walk the entire three days.)
Though not a long trial, tonight I believe third time is the charm! Yes, that's right, I sent saddles back and this is the third one since my tedious decision over a month ago. Trying various saddles, and experiences out did help me decide on this model, though.
As as I told Liz, when I fist looked at this saddle I thought it was kind of ugly, that is, until my 6-hour ride with Dolly. Then, King Series Distance Rider became my jam! I knew, for all the things I am wanting to do, this saddle is what would get the job done in my price range.
Fun fact, I ordered the saddle online from Statelinetack.com and they could not have been more helpful when it came to all the returns, etc. I highly recommend their patient and attentive customer service! After all the discounts were said and done I only paid $344.42 for this beauty. Oh, and when I told the company I needed it for a ride in less than 10 days, they did everything within their power to make that happen. Thank you!
I want to wait until after the ride to give a full review, but what do you think? Jean-Luc and me are ready to conquer some "Man From Snowy River" terrain! (Absolutely not!)
Weekend Goals Recap
Taking a week off to teach at a local 4-H Camp did wonders for my soul, but really took a toll on the progress Jean-Luc and I had made. However, thanks to a few positive suggestions from friends, I was able to make a few minor goals and refocus our work:
Saturday: My Dad met me at the barn and we went to get Jean-Luc. He was in the pasture across the creek. Though he didn’t really want to come to me, he was still a pretty easy catch.
Walking away from the herd he began neighing and screaming out to his friends. It was loud, really loud! I could tell he was energetic and I wanted to lunge him some right there—so I did. This proved ineffective.
I knew I needed to get him to round pen. That would work this energy out. The round pen did something, that was for sure. Once in the pen and moving he actually galloped. I can’t lie, this was a little embarrassing since I really wanted to show my dad how well we were doing. This didn’t look good, it looked like I just stepped into a round pen with a mustang!
[Only afterwards did I notice Jean-Luc had a shoe that had come lose. This was pretty bad on multiple levels and I never would have worked him I known the shoe was lose. Luckily, a farrier made it out almost immediately to fix his feet.]
Dad watched from the outside and didn’t say much. He let me work and explain catching Jean-Luc’s eye, and why I made his feet move when he started craning his neck over the pen to look for his friends.
I worked on turning Jean-Luc for no less than forty-five minutes. Though things started pretty rough, he finally became level headed and calm. Once he would sync up and follow me no matter which direction I went, I brought him over to the barn for a bath.
Dad and I had fun washing Jean-Luc and watching him play with the hose. He really likes to stick his nostrils in it. I don’t really get it. I kind of think it seems like he’s water boarding himself, but hey, what do I know?
Overall, I wasn’t the happiest with how Saturday went, but it did end well – so I’ll chalk that up to a win. This was also the day that Dolly called me to see if I wanted to join her on a trail ride for the 4th of July. I was on cloud nine!
Sunday: Sunday went much better. For starters, the herd was closer to the gate that the day before. I did not have to walk across the creek, and I was thankful. Also, my husband decided to come out with me. His knowledge of horses is very limited, however, he’s incredibly supportive.
This day I took a lunge line with me into the field. If things got hairy, I wanted to be ready to work it out right there.
I had decided to take my time today. Again, though I counted the previous day as a win, I I knew it could go more smoothly. Jean-Luc made me walk up until I was about 5 feet away from him, then he slowly, step by step, came over to us. He stood with my husband and me quietly while I tied his rope halter. I tried breathing in his nose, because some people say that’s one way horses communicate. He didn’t seem to mind it, and though I am on the fence as to wether or not breathing in horses noses actually has any true affect, Jean-Luc did remain calm the rest of time together.
We took a few steps towards the barn, but on this day, anytime he started to breathe heavily as if he were nervous, I would stop and pet him until he calmed down. It was extremely slow going, but we eventually made it to the top of the hill.
At the top of the hill, before I took Jean-Luc out of the field, I lunged him in a small circle. My husband enjoyed telling us when to change directions and it kept me on my feet. I could tell he was somewhat impressed by the progress we had made since he last saw us.
After about ten minutes we took Jean-Luc outside of the fence and to the barn. He stood quite calm while we brushed and loved on him. I could not believe the difference in the day. Yesterday, Jean-Luc would have given the wildest of mustangs a run for their money, and now – a perfect gentleman.
I took him inside the barn to do some more groundwork while my husband cleaned up the place (clearly, he was bore). It meant a lot that the husband came, though. Horses aren’t really his thing, so to see him be supportive and impressed was nice for me.
The rest of the day was relatively uneventful. Eventually, my husband had enough cleaning and wanted to try his hand at lunging. I handed over the line telling him that if he started to confuse my horse, I was taking him back.
There’s strange sense of pride that occurs when someone watching you do something, thinks it’s easy, tries, and realizes you are just making it look easy. This was exactly what happened with the husband. He tried to get Jean-Luc to walk out but it was a mess and I shortly took back over for fear of leaving my horse with a confused lesson.
That was Sunday – positive, easy, and moving back in the direction of progress.
Tuesday: I visited with Jean-Luc after work on Monday, but we really didn’t do enough to talk about. However, Tuesday finally arrived and I was so excited to go on a three-hour trail ride with Dolly! She wanted to meet around noon, so naturally I was up at about 6 AM getting ready, only it was raining.
All morning long my stomach was in knots waiting to hear if Dolly would call off the ride. At about 10:30 AM she finally called and asked if I still wanted to go?
“Absolutely!” I shouted into my phone with the excitement of a first-grader. “I mean, yes. If you would still like to, I don’t mind getting a little wet…”
“I am in,” Dolly replied.
We discussed how we were both excited to be going on a ride and how neither of us were made of sugar, so we would not melt if the rain continued. I like Dolly a lot. She is oozes southern charm, class, and is equally one tough woman – a combination sometimes hard to find. She absolutely is not some old, helpless woman.
It was time for me to kiss the husband goodbye and get out to the barn. I had prepacked homemade stir-fry toccatas for us for the trail and several other snacks. Sadly, in all my excitement I forgot to look where I was going while backing up my car. Apparently, the husband’s friend had left his vehicle in our driveway from an adventure the night before. I had not seen it when I swung my usual wide turn, and took out the back passenger door and fender on his tiny little Ford Escape.
“No!” I screamed in my car. It is no secret that I’m not the best driver. I wreck something at least once every few years. Sadly, this does not help women drivers, and to all of you, my apologies for perpetuating the stereotype.
I got out of the car, made a rather dramatic deal about things, and went inside to tell my husband. He was very understanding. Together we called the insurance company, and after calming me down, he sent me on my way to enjoy my ride.
[Also, the new Jeep Cherokees are tanks. Nothing, I repeat, nothing, was wrong with my car.]
On the way to the barn I called Dolly to ask if I could have an extra fifteen minutes to get ready. She didn’t mind at all and said she would see me soon.
Jean-Luc was an easy catch again, and I brought him in to clean him up and load his tack loosely on him. I had to meet Dolly at the top of my BM’s road which is about 100 feet or so from the barn. The saddle I am currently riding weighs no less than 40 pounds. Add to that Jean-Luc’s breast collar, bridle, and small cantle bag and, well he was going to have to help carry some things.
Thankfully, carrying a few things and unloading them in the middle of a back road onto Dolly’s trailer was no big deal for him. It was all new to me, and I had no idea how he would react, but like the true gentleman I know him to be, he just stood there. I was amazed. (To be clear, we were in no real danger of being hit, because there was a large pull off area and we could be seen easily. Dolly’s rig is also electric yellow. It’s kind of genius.)
After unloading Jean-Luc, the next task was to load him in a slant trailer. I have not trailered him since he came to the barn. I had no clue if he would even get on. Dolly took the lead rope from my hands and walked Jean-Luc onto the trail like it was old hat. I stood there amazed. She didn’t have to load my horse, but it seemed instinctual for her to just “do it herself.”
“Okay, you ready,” she asked.
I stood there in shock. I had to take all this in. I mean, lady, do you know how easy that just was? Seriously, if there were a video on what loading a trailer in record time should look like, we just exemplified it!
“See you up front,” she said.
I snapped back to reality, and quickly ran up to the passenger side door. After hopeng in, we drove a short ten minutes to park at a local dirt race track. Parking there was a great idea. There’s plenty of room and the lot connected directly with the rail-trail we intended to ride that day.
Unloading was just as easy as loading, and we quickly tacked up. She brought her beautiful quarter horse, Red, out and we made idle chit chat about saddles, and tack. This was my first time with Dolly, and I can actually be a little awkward (talk too much) in situations like this. Luckily conversation with Dolly flowed easily.
Before I knew it, we were ready to go. Jean-Luc and me, and Dolly and Red, took off at the most leisurely pace. Jean-Luc was a little excited, however, he’d never been to this place or seen anything he was seeing. At some points, he really wanted to turn around and head back to the trailer, but never fought too hard.
Most amazing of all though, my big Tennessee Walker kept a great pace with a slow Quarter Horse. Dolly and I were able to talk side-by-side as our horses just plodded along. This may sound boring for some, but chatting in the mountains while taking in some of the most gorgeous scenery in the continental United States from horseback is my heaven. It is what I want to do with my horse. The fact that I was actually do it was amazing!
We rode for hours, and hours that way. Sure, there were little hiccups, but nothing too terrible. After 3 hours Dolly finally started hinting at turning around. She said she had be waiting for me to say when I wanted to turn, and I admitted to doing the same because I didn’t want to look like a wimp turning around too early.
We laughed, and I was getting sore. Sadly, turning around meant we had at least two and half hours back. The ride home went well for everyone but my tushie, as you might remember from an earlier post this week.
Jean-Luc only spooked at two things the entire ride. First, a turkey flew out of a tree from ten feet away and terrified all four of us. We just didn’t see it, until it was too late. Second, we passed several seemingly feral German Shepherds tied to chains near the trail. This one is likely on me. I’m scared of these beasts even thinking of them now. You see, on a hillside near the trail, an owner had chained up no less than three full size GSD’s that would bark and bite at anything strolling by. I psyched myself out thinking of what would happen if they slipped their collar. Jean-Luc walked by them fine on the way down, but my nerves nearly left me on the floor when I jumped in the saddle upon seeing the whites of their snarling teeth. God bless Dolly and the bomb proof Red, though. She got between Jean-Luc and the dogs and we walked right through.
In the end, our ride lasted from about 1 PM – 6:30 PM. It was a long day. When we returned to the trailer, Dolly’s husband met us. He had started to wonder where we even were considering we said we’d only be gone three hours. We quickly untacked, and headed for home. I could not stop smiling. As rough as I felt, I had just completed a six-hour ride on my horse. Word’s will never describe what that accomplishment feels like.
I am so thankful to Dolly and to be able to get that ride in before our three-day trail ride next week. Admittedly, I’m worried my body might not hold up on the ride, but at least I have a better idea of what I can expect from Jean-Luc. It won’t be perfect, but it is not outside of the of scope of things we can handle. This weekend I am going to continue preparing for our ride in small ways, but choosing to focus on bonding with Jean-Luc has made all the difference.
Do you have any suggestions for a three-day camp trip? What are your “must have” comforts on the trail? What are some things you wish you’d know prior to your ride?
30% chance of rain? Try 100% chance you should have built an Ark. Needless to say this is not how I saw my Friday going ...
Frodo: How far to the nearest crossing?!
Merry: The Brandywine Bridge, 20 miles!
Allow me start by saying, this weekend was AMAZING! Jean-Luc may not be a unicorn, but after our 15ish mile ride along a local rail trail today, I believe he is MY unicorn. Later, I'll share more details about our goals, what we overcame, and what all new fun we get to work on.
Because of the amazing community that has grown around Jean-Luc and me, I just had to share this thought. Though a fantastic ride, if I had to do it while being chase by Tolkien's Black Riders - well, JLP and me may endure a fast tracked fatal ending in the fires of Mt. Doom, maybe.
Our new friend (for the sake of this post, let's call her "Dolly") picked us up from the Barn around Noon. I was running a little late thanks to a fender bender. (Again, more on the fact that I can't drive later.)
Jean-Luc loaded and unloaded like a total pro. Any anxiety he showed had to largely be from the fact that I was in total Hover Mom Mode and struggling to be the Chill Ski Patroler.
I'll save the details of our ride to simply say that, after a six-and-a-half hour ride at a gentle gait - my everything hurts. And, though I kept my freak flag lower... okay half mast, all I could think about with Ms. Dolly was the scene above from Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship Of the Ring.
I'm not kidding when I say my everything hurts. I'm writing this post via my warm bubbly bubble bath, post a few ibuprofen and vitamins. There may also be a strawberry daiquiri involved delivered special from my all-too-understanding husband... maybe.
Primarily, certain areas found on the front side of the female anatomy feel as if they met the wrong side of a hammer. Thankfully, Liz shared some very logical, helpful body movement that should correct that.
Other hurts involve my chest and deltoids. I believe this to be a combination tight sports bra and slowing down a TWH to a QH pace all day. That said, Jean-Luc didn't fight it much, he really just hated the bugs. Another blogger, Emma, recently shared a few affordable fly mask ideas. Though not the biggest fan of riding in a mask, this tube shaped mask from Roma might actually provide my poor guy some relief while out.
Finally, though feeling okay now, after about 3 hours into this gentle ride, my knees and ankles were shot. Specifically, the tendon on the outside. Again, Liz has some solid advice about changing up stirrup leather, lengths, widths, and fenders. I conclude I'm doing something wrong. I'm half Dolly's age, a foot taller, and maybe 15 less pounds. (It is worth noting Dolly is a BA. I learned on the ride, in a former life, Dolly was an eventer - mind blown!)
So, help me make it to the nearest crossing! How do I make it to the Brandywine Bridge? I have a 3 day ride where we will do no less than 5 hours a day coming up in less than 10 days. Jean-Luc is gonna nail this, how can I?
My name is Chelsey.
Generator's Cuevo Gold, or as he's known around this barn, "Jean-Luc Ponycard", was foaled in 2004 from Generator's Hurricane & Cheyenne's Little Bit.