WGHA Turkey Trot


  • This morning I loaded up 4 horses and 3 kids and headed up to Goddard Park in RI. Rob is underway on a submarine and could not join us today. The West Greenwich Horseman’s Association had their annual turkey trot and we rode a 6 mile loop. Amanda fell off in the warm up ring when Huey decided to catch up to Dakota with a canter, but otherwise it was an uneventful ride. She got back on and immediately wanted to trot so no harm there. Goddard is located on the Narragansett Bay and offers a little beach riding out of season and beautiful views of the bay. All the horses eventually went in the water at the beach. I rode Mojo today since Teddy blew out an abcess last week, and he was good, albeit a bit of a brat when he doesn’t get to lead. We will have to work on that. Lunch, turkey and trimmings, was great and we came home with raffle prizes like cookie cutters, sweat scraper, grooming block and a safety led light. Good day.

Shoes for Dakota

Four years ago, Dakota joined our family and I pulled his shoes off the day he arrived.  Since 2005, none of our horses have been shod.  I am one of the few hoof boot dealers in the area and for this is my 6th year in business as a Barefoot Trimmer.  Today, my title official changed to Farrier.

Anna and I have had great success with hoof boots and my personal experience is what gives me the credibility as a boot dealer.  After everything I have learned and my years of experience, why would I nail shoes on my horses?  The answer is simple.  I want to learn more.  I have seen hooves that were in horrid condition from years in shoes, but I have also seen horses that had feet that looked great.  I’ll be honest, there have been occasions when I wished I didn’t have the hassle of dealing with boots, but there have been times when I was convinced boots were an advantage. The bottom line is, I don’t believe shoes are evil and I also don’t believe that shoes with proper farrier care is harmful to horses.

Which brings me back to Dakota.  I had considered learning to nail shoes for a long time.  In fact, that was original objective in 2005 when I started asking questions of our farrier at the time.  I am fortunate to have a friend who I believe is one of the best farriers around.  I bought Mojo from Vikki Fortier and our friendship has grown ever since.  Recently, I decided to start using my days of leave from the Navy to spend time working with Vikki to learn about shoeing horses.  So tonight, I nailed my  first set of shoes on a horse.  I know I have a lot to learn, but I am committed to learning.  There are flaws in the job I did on Dakota and I know that:

-The medial heel is too long.

-My nails do not all come out at the same height.

-My clinches are not all the same size.

I am fortunate to have 6 horses here at home that I can work with to improve my skills.  I will continue to sell hoof boots and I will continue my business as a trimmer, but if you see us at a ride, don’t be surprised if you notice the sun glinting off some shiny shoes as the horses trot by.

 

Marine Corps Marathon

Today, I ran my first marathon, the Marine Corps Marathon. It took me 4:16:07 which was in the top 15% based on the number of starters (~30,000).  

Since I started training back in the spring, I lost 20 lbs and feel great. I highly recommend the book “Primal Blueprint” for anyone struggling with weight.  

Anna and the kids joined me on the trip to Washington DC. We did a little sightseeing yesterday at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History after attending the race expo.


We had an apartment that was right on the marathon course at mile 23 and also where the Family Expo was held. Anna and the kids didn’t have to run around all over town trying to see me. 

The race started at 7:55. I left the apartment at 6 and took a bus to the Pentagon.  Everyone else slept in.

There was a lot of walking from the bus stop to the start area. We saw Osprey fly overs, parachute jumps with the American Flag, and lots of people. 


Once the race started, I bumped into one of my co-workers, Steve Wright. We didn’t stay together long because we had different pace plans. 

My training for the marathon was all heart rate based. I limited my training runs to a 140bpm heart rate. On flat ground, that equated to about a 9:45 pace. I knew I could increase the heart rate for the race, but I wasn’t sure how much. I had been warned by friends to start in a higher pace bin than I needed. I started at the 3:30 group, but even then, my first two miles we about a 9:40 average. It started to open up after 3 miles and I ran my best mile of 8:07 for the 4th mile. By the half way point, my pace was under a 9:00/mile, which was perfect. 

The only catch was, the temps were rising. It was in the mid 50s when we started. By the half way point, we were in the upper 60s. By about the 18 mile point, we were over 70F and I fell off my ~9:00 mile pace and couldn’t keep up with the 4 hr pace group.

The last 8 miles were definitely tough. There was basically no shade. At every water station, I drank a cup of Gatorade and 3 cups of water. I was walking some and running some. I still maintained a pace in the 10:00/mile range, but I had 4 miles over an 11:00/ mile. 

I finished at 4:16:07, with an average pace of 9:46/mile. According to Garmin, i burned over 3000 calories and had an average heart rate of 169 bpm.

Overall, I am pleased with the results. I definitely left it all out there and didn’t have anything else left in the tank. I am totally in awe of my friends who race Ironman triathlons and do a marathon after the swim and bike phases. 

Marine Corps Marathon lived up to its reputation of being family friendly and a great first marathon. I’m not sure if there will be a 2nd…

WGHA Fall Fest

It was a warm and humid Fall day today.  Alex and Vicki spent some time at Horse Power Farm working on cross country jumping with Duchess and Dakota.  They learned about correctly riding step-ups and step-downs and then did some course work.  Ann is great at pinpointing little things that will make a significant improvement and tweaking that without getting bogged down.  Duchess was significantly over jumping a jump that frightened her and then challenged Vicki with a few other things, but in the end, they had a good day.

Here are some videos:

Vicki and Duchess part 1

Vicki and Duchess part 2

Vicki and Duchess part 3

Alex and Dakota part 1

Alex and Dakota part 2

After the lessons, we dropped off the horses at home and then headed out to the West Greenwich Horsemen’s Association Fall Fest.  It is a fun potluck dinner and annual awards banquet for the summer hunter pace series.

A part of the Fall Fest is a pumpkin competition.  This year, there were 6 entries.  Amanda and Vicki both put a lot of time into their entries and tied for 2nd.  The voting is silent ballot by all members present.  The Pirate Ship won this year.

This year, Alex, Vicki, and Amanda won the Junior division in the series and came home with customized jackets and ribbons almost as big as Amanda.

 

Save Pachaug!

Pachaug State Forest is being considered to become home to a new State Police gun range.  While I am a big fan of guns, I am not a fan of the negative impact this new training range would have on the largest piece of forest left in the state.  This morning, NEATO held a trail ride to help fund-raise in opposition to the gun range.  Anna was feeling a little under the weather and opted out of the saddle time.  So I took Mojo, Alex on Dakota, Vicki on Duchess, and Amanda on Huey and we did a 14 mile loop through the woods.  I was a great fall morning with temps at 40F when we were loading the horses on the trailer.  We met up with friends and Jennifer Broome joined our clan for the ride on her Nakota, Tex.  This was also Amanda’s longest ride ever (by mileage, not time).  She and Huey may be ready for a limited distance endurance ride (25 miles) next year.

 

A weekend of triathlon and ponies

It was a typical busy weekend for the family.  Saturday morning started out early with the “Proud to Tri” youth triathlon for Alex and Vicki.  It was held at Harkness Park and included an open water swim in the ocean.  The temps were in the upper 40s when we got up but the kids weren’t cold once things got going.  They have been practicing throughout the summer with the Nutmeg Youth Triathlon Team and this was the final event of the season.  The swim was 200 yds, 4 miles on the bike, and a 1.5 mile run.  They both had a good time at the race.

Saturday afternoon, Alexis and Christina came over to spend the night with Vicki and do a trail ride.  Christina brought her horse, Fiona, and Alexis borrowed Mojo.  Alex joined us on Dakota and I was riding Teddy.  Mojo has been getting treated for Lyme for the past 2 weeks and been in a stall with only riding for exercise.  As a result, he was being quite unruly on the trails, so Alexis and I switched mounts after the first mile.  Teddy was a rock star and has turned out to be one of the more reliable loaner horses for trail riding.  The group rode 6 miles and it was a great success for Christina and Fiona in particular, as it was their first trail ride together.

Sunday morning started with chores and loading horses onto the trailer to head out for lessons at Horse Power Farm.  I rode Mojo for my lesson and then Alex rode Dakota and Vicki rode Duchess.  All three of us had outstanding rides and a lot of fun!

2017 Northeast Challenge Endurance Ride

This weekend was spent in Buckfield, Maine at the Northeast Challenge endurance ride.  We left on Friday morning with the whole family in the truck, 3 horses (Mojo, Teddy, and Duchess) on the trailer, and plenty of camping gear.  After a little over 5 hours of driving, we arrived at a gorgeous base camp in a hay pasture.  The sites were all marked off to show clear division of where your area was.  Since we brought 3 horses, we were allowed to use 2 sites.  We gave the horses a little break to eat some grass and drink water before vetting in.  With just under 50 riders, there was no wait at the vet check.  This was the first ride for Alex as a rider, Teddy, and Duchess, so we planned to keep it conservative during the ride.

 

The rider’s brief was at 5 and immediately after was a pig roast for dinner.  The ride manager invites all the land owners (over 40) that allow the trails to cross their property to join the camp for dinner.  The food was great and we got to meet some new friends around camp.  Ride camps get quiet early the night before a ride.  By 8pm the sun was setting, the temperatures were dropping, and everyone was headed to bed.

We got up at 5:00 to eat breakfast and watch the 100 mile riders head out at 6:00.  The temperatures dropped into the low 40s overnight.  The horses were happy to have a layer for warmth.  Alex started the morning with a cup of hot water (we forgot to pack tea bags) and Vicki had a cup of coffee to warm up.

There is a note on our endurance camping packing list: “pack clothes warmer than you expect to need”.  That was definitely true this time around.  We started the ride at 7:00 with layers of clothes on for the first loop of 13.8 miles.  The horses were peppy and ready to go.  We didn’t take a break until 5 miles in when we stopped for some grass and water.

The trails through the woods were phenomenal.  There was a lot of up and down through the mountains, but also plenty of areas that were flat and fast on grass paths through the trees.

We finished our first loop of 13.8 miles with a 4.8 mph average.  It was a little slower than we planned, but the goal was to make sure we didn’t over stress Duchess in particular.  We also knew the second loop was faster and we could make up a little time if needed.

All 3 horses cleared the vet check within minutes of arriving at base camp.  We chose to go back to our trailer, remove tack, and let the horses have free time in their paddocks.  The hold is only 45 minutes long, but this also allowed Alex and Vicki to eat food without holding horses.  Anna and Amanda were our ride-crew for the weekend and had everything ready for us.  We all had to shed layers of clothing for the second loop as the temperatures hit 70F by 10:00.  Luckily, that’s about where the mercury stopped for the day making it perfect weather.

We headed out on our second loop which was 17 miles (although we thought it was only going to be 15 miles at the time).  We managed to bump up our speed to an average of 5.4 mph on the second loop.

At the end of the day, we finished 30.7 miles in 6:09 (yes, 6 hours of saddle time).  There was 3,768 ft of elevation over the ride.  All three horses did wonderful and Alex and Vicki both had a great time (although Alex did say he wants to do more conditioning for himself in the future).

We chose to camp for a second night and watch the 50 mile riders finish (the have 12 hours to ride 50 miles, including 2 45 minute holds) and the 100 mile riders (24 hours allowed time including holds).  I’ll confess, we didn’t stay up much past dark to watch 100 mile riders do vet checks and holds.  This morning, there was a pancake breakfast and awards ceremony for the 100 mile riders.  Three of the riders present completed the East Coast Triple Crown this year, which is the same horse/rider team completing these three tough 100-milers: the Old Dominion 100 in June, the Vermont 100 in July and the Northeast Challenge in August.

As the awards were being handed out, Vicki leaned over and whispered, “Dad, I want to ride the Triple Crown one day.”

I want to throw out a huge “Thank You” to Blaine, Sarah, and everyone else who made this a wonderful weekend for our family.  The kids were talking about “next year” and who will ride what distance.  Amanda is planning to toughen up and put the miles on her pony to be able to join the fun.  We look forward to seeing everyone at more rides.

Photo by Clowater Art & Photography

We will be purchasing this photo, along with others from Wanda Clowater.  Support your ride photographers!

Mr King of Broadway

4/27/1994 – 8/14/2017

Today we said goodbye to our friend of 15 years.  We bought King in August of 2002 when we lived in Port Orchard, WA.  It was in the days before we had kids.  King was purchased to be Rob’s horse, as Anna rode Cinder at the time.  Over the years, he became a horse that didn’t belong to any of us, but was a member of the family.  He moved with us from WA to SC to CT.  He taught me how to show horses, ride dressage, jump, hunter pace, trail ride, and so much more.  King would pull kids on sleds in the snow, race through the fields at a full gallop, and be as gentle as you can imagine with a kid in the saddle.  For the few years Anna taught lessons, King was a favorite for the students.  King could be brutally mean to the others in the herd, but would also protect his closest friends.

Over the past 2 years, we watched as EPM took it’s toll on his body and his muscle control and we finally decided it was time  to let him go.  There hasn’t been a dry eye in the family for the past few days as we said our goodbyes.  I can only hope that one day, another horse will be as hard to let go.

Horse Power Farm Cross Country Derby

Ann Bowie is a well-known local instructor that we have used for occasional lessons for years.  At her farm, Horse Power Farm, she hosts cross-country jumping derbies 3-4 times a year.  I have always wanted to participate, but schedules or injuries have never worked out in my favor.  That changed today when I finally made to one of her derbies!

First, I want to say what a well run event it is.  There were tons of volunteers (including our long-time friend Diana Clark!) and it was a great, low-key atmosphere.  Since Mojo and I don’t have a ton of experience, we entered Elementary Division (max height 2′ jumps).  Mojo was a little wound up being alone on the trailer, however, as soon as we got into the warmup ring, he settled right down and got to work.

We jumped a clear round within the time allowed and Mojo didn’t hesitate at anything.  Since the first round went so well, I decided to press my luck and go ahead with riding a round at Beginner Novice (max height 2’7″ jumps).  We have done a few jumping efforts in that range, but never actually put together a full course of efforts until today.

I love this horse!  He jumped another clear round, again within the time allowed.  There are a few nuances to scoring, namely whomever gets closest to the ideal time, without going over, and without any jump faults, wins the round.

Mojo and I got 1st place in Elementary and 2nd place in Beginner Novice and had a blast doing it!

Thanks to Ann and her team for a great day!

The story of our lives with horses