Archive | May 2013

Cato’s Next Steps, learning from Farah

Cato and I look forward to Klickitat endurance ride

Cato and I look forward to Klickitat endurance ride

Cato, the Giant Buckskin has gone home to Woodinville, Epona Meadows, to his mom Amanda Madorno, BUT! Amanda and are taking Cato and Chance to Klickitat endurance ride! I am so excited to try a competition on the big guy.

Yes, I am excited but I am also worried— the yin and yang of endurance riding. I am concerned that Cato will not drink or eat after a conditioning ride; does that mean he will not eat or drink during a ride or at vet check?
(Dear Cato, you really need to learn how to eat from Farah, that mare is a machine and takes really good care of herself)

I am concerned about the puffiness of his left hind leg after two close days of hills; (although, K’tat has barely any hills at least on the LD);

I am concerned that I won’t be able to figure out a sustainable way to KEEP Cato in condition over the ride season; what is reasonable? What can I reasonably and sustainably do?

My heart says give my life and soul over to this wonderful horse…. my middle aged body and my loving hubs says, *uh, no*. Yeah, I’m a horse addict!

My sensible self says *Do Klickitat*, see how we does, then figure out June 8-July 8, try Bandit Springs July 13-14 where we can trailerpool and take both boys again; again, see how he does….. and after each time, make a sensible decision about *what’s next* for the big guy.

At the same time, while being worried, I am RELIEVED and delighted to have his mom, Amanda, as my partner in deciding Cato’s Next Steps. Between the two of us as well as Cato’s Fan Club…… we shall know what is best for the Buckskin Giant!

This plan shall allow us to see what he can do, what he will do, and what the best plan is.

We have really good models of endurance horses in the Le Blanc’s horses, Farah- Connie’s amazing mare, etc.

To get me OFF the Worry Wagon and reliving the victories he and I have experienced, I made a movie– enjoy!


Cato goes home, but first, we ride at Victoria with Connie

All photos courtesy of Connie Hoge, Thank you Connie for a wonderful day!




Zen and the Trotting Machine

Have you ever really tried to empty your mind of all thoughts?
That was MY goal today…. to get all Zen, and relaxed, and relegate all thoughts of bad stuff; what COULD happen, etc to the ether.

Calm, Cool, Collected.. that’s me…. heh. Those who know me know I can get spun up in a happy split second…. oh, and those are the types of horses I ride…. hahahahaha. Now that’s Karma, NOT Zen.

Here is what I know about Zen… that the philosophy of Zen is something you can use to work on yourself, as a person, as a being in the world, as a Time Being as Ruth Ozeki calls it; a being that exists in time. Zen is about doing away with the sins of greed, illwill, and delusion. Hmmmmmmmmm….. Ok.

After a LOVELY Skype chat with Amanda, Cato’s mom, she offered some advice– I take her advice, because she has owned Cato for 6 years, and I have ridden him for almost a month. She knows her boy! She said ( when I confessed I was worried as I rode him– awaiting the next *whatever*): *Eileen,You need to get Zen while riding Cato; empty your mind, let the negativity ( or something like that) flow out and hold in your mind emptiness or emptiness like water*.

Ok. That’s what I will do next time. Well, I did not HAVE to hold my mind on water, because there was so much water falling from the sky that Cato and I were surrounded by water– grey, sodden, water– Cato kept waggling his ears to get the water OUT of his ears and nowhere near HIS mind. Perfect day for Zen and the Art of Riding Cato.

I emptied my mind— was relaxed and floppy, Karen Irland floppy– NOT sack ‘o’ potatoes floppy mind you. Cato’s heart rate was 40 to start. Mine was… well, I did not check but it was slow and low, I could feel it; today was gonna be a GOOD ride.

We set off at the trot, the goal? HILLS! Fast hills, or as fast as we could go. We got wet immediately— Cat’s Buckskin coat shone like shiny gold; slick and shiny. Oh good, slick is exactly what we want for hill work. Oops, ZEN ZEN ZEN empty empty empty… IF the saddle slides off on a hill? no problem, I am in good enough shape to slide off with it and fix it and then get back on. No WORRIES!

ZEN ZEN ZEN empty empty empty….. we head up the long hill that heads up to the quarry, at one point this amazing trotting machine underneath me was flying along at 11mph, UP HILL! OMG. UP HILL! He’s a TROTTING machine! never a wrong step ( althoug hhe is tripping a bit more now that shoes are due).

Oops, ZEN ZEN ZEN…… Ommmmmmmmmm, drip drip drip….. ear waggle drip drip drip ear waggle.

I got excited. This horse was listening to me, and having FUN! Trotting like a well-oiled machine through the rain. GO Cato Go Cato. I was doing better than just hangin on, per usual technique. I was enjoying myself; enjoying the sound of his hooves hitting the gravel packed road.

MORE HILLS, let’s do more hills! Saddle slipper is next, that’s a BIG hill, that rivals the hills at Renegade– only a LOT wetter. We trot there and then look at the hill a bit…… it’s a trail, UP hill. ZEN ZEN ZEN… empty empty empty, water water water, drip drip drip, ear waggle…. I can handle this. This big boy has muscles and will carry us UP this HILL!

That was amazing…… Cato did Saddle Slipper, his saddle stayed almost put…. it fits him really well. I stayed in the saddle and he recovered VERY quickly, respirations were down as soon as we walked down the hill on the road after Saddle Slipper.

This horse is an athlete, and he is coming back. He is a TROTTING Machine and all I have to do is ride him right.

On the way home? we did dressage collection at the trot…. for a couple of miles; here is what I noticed: Cato enjoys having his rider communicating with him out on the trails in dressage form. Huh, go figure…..

Well, how Zen can you get? My hope is that his mom, Amanda, heals solid, and becomes his partner once again.

I am taking Cato back to his mom tomorrow, I know she will be happy to get him back, but I am gonna miss the big galoot and I know now that if I had a year with this horse we would be a force to be reckoned with. Dressage Endurance…. here we come!

Zen, Zen, Zen…. empty empty empty… we should always ride in the rain, it makes it so much easier to get water inside your head and achieve Zen…..

Cato’s HR was 48 at 5min after we came in…..

Here is a movie of our workout today— ENJOY!

Cato, post massage

Cato LOVES gettin’ massages…. he yawns, he licks his lips, he sighs, he waggles his ears, his eyes get soft— I think he relaxes, a LOT!

then, afterwards he trots around his paddock and plays…. like a wild thing…

cato post massage2

How do I personally spell RELIEF?–>Cato has Cowlicks!

Have you ever been entrusted with the well-being of a horse that is not yours? If so, then you will understand this post very well. I have been trying very hard to ensure Cato’s happiness and well-being while he is here in Camp Olywa with me. That means, to me, learning everything about this horse, as quickly as possible. *quickly as possible* is in the same category of *striving for perfetion*, see previous post. Just. Not. Possible.

I worry about EVERYTHING! Knowing that Cato has colicked once before and it was a horrible experience for everyone and knowing he is a sensitive boy, and knowing he is SOMEONE else’s beloved horse….. really is a very stressful situation. I bongo between * Oh, he’s a horse, he is fine* to *OMG, he looked at me when I massaged him, is he painful there? how about there? and there?* agggghhhhhhhh! I am pretty sure Amanda knows what I am talkin’ about here.

So, yes, Cato has to be gotten into condition, that is the contract I committed to and why I even have the privilege of having him here and I think I am doing a pretty darn good job of that– he is starting to get his muscles back and muscles weigh more than fat so he should be gaining weight with that muscle. But, I also don’t want to override him and make him too skinny; he is a bit of a hard keeper, like Chance, NOT like Bella. So, I watch him like a hawk, I feel him all over, all the time, he is groomed, and watched, and I check him over before and after every ride, every visit, looking for ANYTHING that is out of the ordinary; ALL THE TIME!

I like to THINK I am doing the same for my own horse, Chancey Pants. But, I know Chance already. I know what’s normal and how he communicates. I don’t know Cato, yet; I am getting to know him. I remember having to get to know Bella– she was a toughie like Cato. I don’t know if Cato is relaxed or ill…. prayin’ he is relaxed because afterwards he trots away and plays. I don’t know if he is playin’ or what….. I don’t know what he will do next or what he will do when…. I keep trying everything to see what he will do.

I DO know I can get Cato to bend almost in half to get a carrot— he loves Carrot stretches and has caught onto that particular game pretty quickly!

So, all of that is preparation for this story: After ridin’ Cato one of the first times— I was running my hands all over his body checking for tack galls, hair scraped away, just the stuff that can happen when you ride. I like to know what I am dealing with right then and deal with it. You know what I am talkin about: any rips, tears, blood, wounds, etc……

And….. I had my hands under his belly feeling where the girth goes and I felt this REALLY ROUGH SPOT– My tummy fell, like an elevator, it felt BIG and it felt rough and it was where the girth had been. My skin turned clammy, and I was like *OH NoNoNoNoNo! Everything that went through my head started with *How on earth will I take care of this? How can I tell Amanda? How bad is it? Will he still be able to be ridden? how long will it take to heal? OMG it’s big, all along his tummy? How did the girth do that? I was in a COLD SWEAT!

So, I made myself get down and really look at what I was touching…. I so did not WANT to see this horrible sore I had caused Cato.

And, wait for it…. wait for it….

Cato Potato has a Giant midline COWLICK down the center of his belly making his fur rough and squiggly-like and swirly all over….

The RELIEF? I sat on the ground and laughed and whimpered with RE-LIEF! COWLICKS—- nope, did not ever guess THAT!

WHEW! I am still laughing every time I reach down and feel that cowlick…..which I do everytime I give Cato a massage which is close to after every big hard ride.

COWLICK ON HIS BELLY—– hahahahahahahaah, WHEW!

Cato and Me: We strive for Perfetion (sp error intended)

Kicked it up a bit, all over TA 22, JBLM… in the sunshine. Great workout, for us BOTH!

Donna Snyder-Smith did admonish us all NOT to *use our horses as gym machines* well, Dear DSS—> This horse gives me a similar work out, I have no say in that! Cato IS a GYM Machine!

Cato Potato worked hard at conditioning and I worked hard at figuring out how to ride this giant horse perfectly. Oh. wait. There is no such thing as perfect? Oh GOOD! Thank goodness. I will take my Catomiracles small…. 500 feet without a spook at *something*. A nice smooth trot without something making us go sideways or getting startled at *something*.

I am still amazed at how much steadier Cato is when he can SEE clearly ahead and all around. Today, because of the rain and weight of flowers,. the Scotchbroom was over the trails and Cato could not see the trail; we literally went OFF trail several times….. I let him. Found ourselves out in some field, or in some brush…. *Uh Oh, where did that dang trail GO?* 🙂 Hahahahahahaha…..pretty funny!

Here is what Cato DOES do: he moves out smoothly, goes where I point him, willingly, he trots through water, does not spook at frogs hip hoppin’ around as we trot through the water, he eats grass when I ask him to, and he seems to enjoy himself with ears forward and he enjoys getting scritched after a ride and getting treats.

Here is what Cato does NOT do: he does not bolt, he does not go very much sideways, he does not go far when he spooks, he does not drop his head ( thank goodness because yours truly has ahold of mane all the time), he does not attack dogs, he does not lay his ears back much, he does not bite, or kick, and he does not hold a grudge.

What a beautiful day, sun, warmth, lovely undusty trails and roads, empty…… except for the black jeep and the white truck and the bicyclist. Cato looked carefully at all of them, but only looked.

I find myself reflecting on the process of building a relationship with a sensitive horse….. I cannot quite remember how it was with Chance and Bella ( it HAS been 5 years now). I am quite sure that all was NOT perfection at first; in fact I do have some memories of *wtf, why did you do THAT?* conversations with Chancey and Ms Hella Bella. So, this is similar. But, I have ONLY been ridin’ Cato since April 22…… that’s not very long so what right do I have to expect perfection right now? duh!

How is it we expect everything to be perfect with these awesome horses? If we decide we want to ride horses that are metaphorically Ferrari’s, or what my trainer Phyllis Ryan calls *sports cars*, then we must learn the gears and how they operate. ANYone can drive a VW Bug…but these Sports Cars? with 4th and 5th gear???? Not so much…. takes awhile to learn how to be smooth and seamless with shifting, accelerating,decelerating, stopping, turning, backing up, etc. You see?

Had a wonderful conversation with Amanda, Cato’s mom…… we made all kinds of plans for Klickitat Endurance ride, yay! I get to ride Cato Saturday at the Klickitat endurance ride, 30 miles, LD. I am so excited and…. other emotions swirling around…truly a wonderful opportunity to see how Cato and I do in a competition. Thank goodness Amanda shall be there to crew for us so Cato shall have mom AND auntie there…. no horse could have a better support system.

Dare we talk about what happens after Klickitat?????? that’s next and depends on so many things, so many variables, BUT, dreaming onward?

Cato schedule: Klickitat, Sunriver, Bandit Springs, and then….

Bare Bones– hopefully by Bare Bones? Amanda shall be back in the saddle again….

Kickin’ it UP- Cato goes to Klickitat Endurance ride…

Amanda, Cato’s mom, has offered me the offer of a lifetime! to ride her boy, Cato Potato on an LD at Klickitat endurance ride June, 2013 AND accompany us to help crew. Cato will be back in training/conditioning starting tomorrow ( I just returned from Mt Adams endurance ride). Conditioning shall go until May 24 whereupon Cato gets to rest for the week leading UP to Klickitat; I need to add * barring unforeseen circumstances* cuz we are, after all, dealing with horses here! But according to the neigh Cato gave me ( or gave Chance, LOL) when Chance and I returned from Mt Adams? he is READY to kick it UP a notch! RampitupBumpitUp! Let’s Go Ca-TO! more later….

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