Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Winter Whirlwind

Winter weather is fast approaching, heralded by snow flurries and temperatures dipping below 32F every so often at night. Life has been rather chaotic (when has it not been!) but Quest and I are doing well and still enjoying our time at OF.

Mareface got her feet trimmed during Thanksgiving weekend. Her hooves really slow down growth during the fall and winter so they weren’t too long and I touch up as needed. I did however want her as comfortable as possible since we have been doing more trails (more on that in a moment) and it is always good to have experienced eyes regularly checking my work.

First time being cross tied in the lower barn.
She behaved perfect in the new space. Good mare! 
JA highly recommended her farrier P so I decided to give him a try. While he rescheduled the date/time a couple times and ended up arriving at the barn really late, P was kind and knowledgeable. Before he got started, I filled him in on Quest’s feet history including the suspensory rehab and our distance riding goals, and mentioned that I did the maintenance trims myself.  

To my immense relief, he said I did really well! Apparently usually when owners tell him they trim their own horses, he often finds quite a mess to fix. Once P realized that I was genuinely interested in learning, he was eager to share his experience and would describe what he was doing, calling me over to point out observations on Quest’s feet. At the end of the visit, P ended up gifting me a used rasp. It was “too used” for professional standards, but more than fine for my personal use. He also said if Quest only needed small/simple things done for a trim that he'd be happy to point the areas to address and let me handle it myself to save some money. I was VERY thankful for that. It was definitely a nice confidence boost to know that I’m still seeing/trimming correctly though and it's very fortunate that Quest has good solid feet which are great to learn from.

As the chill begins to set in, it has been too cold to tack up in the pasture on weekday evenings. So we now opt for bareback walks in the indoor and adding the trot back in steady slow increments. It has been an extreme test to my patience…the arena has always bored me to tears but I’m going to remind myself to be grateful for lights, non-dust footing, and being indoors whenever I start to hear myself complain.

The DIY bareback pad I made almost two years ago is still working out great for us too.

Post ride, ready to head back out to pasture.

Our weekends are all about the trails though, cold weather be cursed. Asides from a couple group outings, Quest and I are solo for the majority of our trail exploration adventures. While the barn location does provide direct access to miles of trails, the footing is very rugged and technical at times. I have been consciously avoiding the tough parts while Quest continues to rehab and sticking to easy/moderate stuff for now. Mareface and I were recently able to tackle a few trails that I first explored with Rori about 3 years ago. It was a fun recall challenge and thankfully my memory did not fail me.

Photo from Thanksgiving weekend- featuring a rare flat section of trail.

Rori and me on the trail back in 2014. 
This picture only begins to capture some of rocks and elevation changes.
After taking two horses down the exact same trails, the differences between Quest and Rori become very apparent. Rori is a total sweetheart but she never seemed to enjoy longer rides and lost interest quickly after a couple miles. On the other hand, Quest is 100% game and her energy never seems to end. She motors right along, even when traveling new trails solo. It's nice to know that she's just as eager as I am to plunge forward on a random detour to follow a new trail marker and discover what's around the next bend.

This is definitely not to say the Standardbreds can't be game trail horses, in fact I plan to consider adopting an OTT Standie for my next endurance prospect but I think it goes to show how individual attitude could and does make a huge difference. And bottom line is I've just always enjoyed a more forward horse.

For all the good things I say about Quest, not every outing we do is 100% perfect of course. Biggest homework right now is standing still on the trail- this is imperative for re-mounting, chilling with other riders, or even waiting for right-of-way with road traffic. It has been mareface's weakness for a long time so we're taking advantage of the walk pace to do lots of trail training.

The dam bridge is one-way road traffic so it's absolutely necessary to wait our turn to cross.
Quest was not happy about standing for the light the first few times.
I’ve also played with entrusting Quest to pick out the best path on technical terrain…most of the time it works. I leave her be as long as her selected route doesn't scrape me off the side of a tree. I'd like to retain functional kneecaps, thanks.

Despite the rugged trails, the area has many interesting things to see and explore. For now, Quest and I have trails that meet our needs for a long-slow distance. Knowing us though, we're probably going to very quickly exhaust the places we can actually reach without assistance...


  1. That is so great that you're back on the trail! I can't wait until Ink gets to that point in her rehab.
    Also, good call getting an OTSTB for your next prospect! They're the best!

    1. It just takes a LOT of time but Ink will definitely get there :) Standies are the best, I've always had a soft spot in my heart for them.

  2. So excited you all continue to get out and do so well. Stopping on horseback to wait at a stoplight cracks me up. Great shot.

    1. Haha I thought you'd like it! We have wait both ways on the bridge sometimes and often have cars pulling up behind us while waiting- real world desensitizing situations FTW.

  3. Sounds like she's doing great!!

    1. Keeping fingers/every digit crossed for a mild winter so we can keep doing more long slow distance!