Sunday, December 30, 2012

Tucson Rides

We had one last ride on Bear and Steen on December 17th, then weighed anchor and started our holiday travels. We spent the end of the year at my family's home in Tucson, which meant we got the opportunity to ride my Mom's horse and my sister's horse a bit.

In the past, Brian has tended to work more with my Mom's horse, Joe, and I've ridden Jak more. This time we swapped things around and I worked with Joe.

Mom has had Joe for quite a few years, but I haven't actually ridden him much. We've established on past visits that someone has done quite a lot of groundwork with him. He's a very sweet horse and quite willing to please. His challenges are he's a little herd-bound and can get anxious in new situations, particularly if he doesn't have an established bond with his rider.

We spent our first couple of rides just doing basic groundwork and riding on my parents' property. Brian and I may have reached a new level of horse nerdiness. We traveled with our snaffle bridles so we could ride in at least some of our own gear. Although they are heavy and bulky in a suitcase, I have to say, getting on I felt a lot more relaxed and confident having my own reins in my hands.

Joe was good, though he and Jak aren't ridden much these days. Starting out he was stiff in the hocks, so we worked on easy circles until he loosened up a bit. Then we did some figure eights, some short-serpentines and just a teeny bit of Fox Trotting (he's a Missouri Fox-trotter).


This is a rare helmetless photo of me. I never ride without a helmet. I had actually finished my ride and taken my helmet off because it was giving me a headache, then got back on briefly so Brian could take a couple photos.

Our second ride was much the same as the first, though rather shorter. We gave the horses a few days off, then decided to go exploring.

The area around my parents' house is where I grew up riding. I've been all over the area on horseback, but have one particular loop that is my favorite. I hadn't had a chance to ride it in quite some time.

This time, I went armed my with new smartphone (for the curious, it's a Samsung Galaxy S3) and an app called Strava (it's actually meant for cyclists and runners, but it does what I wanted). It maps route, distance, speed, time and all that good stuff.

So here's a map of our route:



The guys did quite well. Joe can get anxious out on the trails, so I worked on steering with my legs and giving him his head. He responded by staying attentive and relatively relaxed the entire ride. At the beginning, Jak and Joe seemed inclined to move out at roughly the same pace, but by the middle Joe was pulling ahead regularly, and by the last third or so he was really wanting to walk out. He wasn't being bad at all, but he was getting well ahead of Jak, so I was regularly stopping him to let Jak catch up. This shows on our speed chart.

Kinda funny. Oh and the green line is our elevation. Obviously, we kept things really slow to keep from over-taxing our two old steeds (they are both about 19 years old), but it was good to get them out and good to be out in the desert on horseback again.

And it was great to get a test run in with the app. I'm pretty excited about having the ability to track my rides in 2013!

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