Well, that went fast.
Summer, I mean.
Mr. Sweaty just went outside in the dark (!) to drive to work. He texted me from the driveway: Brrr!
It's true. The horses are already fluffing out a bit, despite 85 degree days. I've been sponging their backs with warm water instead of hosing them down after evening rides. The last cutting of orchard grass is drying in windrows at the bottom of the hill.
Autumn serves me cocktail of emotions. Relief. Frustration. Melancholy. Excitement. Satisfaction.
The negatives are mostly because I didn't make it to the Autumn Sun Pioneer Endurance Ride over the weekend. Ledger might have been ready, but I wasn't sure. Between work and personal travel, I spent more than half of the past two months out of town, leaving his conditioning schedule fragmented at best. I didn't feel like it was fair to ask him for a 50 without proper preparation. So, I didn't.
On the bright side, I'm very pleased with both Ledger's and Bella's training. We're back in the swing of things now that I'm home for a while, and they're responding well to the consistency. (That makes three of us.) I ride them on alternate days during the week, and can usually make time for both on Saturdays and Sundays. Everybody gets regular work, and everybody gets regular rest.
Except me. Ha.
Meanwhile, I'm shifting into a new gear on my own conditioning. Having run my last race of the year at Crater Crawl a couple Saturdays ago, I'm putting running in the back seat for a while. My four-per-week running schedule is now aimed at edging my Zone 2 upwards and increasing VO2 max rather than mileage.
In the absence of long runs, I'm ramping up my strength training for the winter. I'll finish out MAPS Anabolic plus the Butt Mod (don't knock it 'til you've tried it), then work on MAPS Aesthetic through the end of the year.
In January, I'll scale back the lifting and head into another half-marathon training cycle. I have an eyeball on the Race to Robie Creek. Robie is a tough, springtime challenge that is love-hated by the Northwest's trail running community. Until this year, I never considered entering. How things change!
Anyway, all this focus on the physical has me tuned in to my nutrition and recovery, not to mention a curated selection of books and podcasts that have my braincells doing the backstroke in a pool of nerdiness. I'll share some favorites later this week.
A couple months ago, I asked around on the interwebs about where to get covers to go over caged endurance stirrups -- you know, to keep my feet warm while riding in winter chill, rain, and wind.
You know what I heard back? Crickets.
I definitely needed a better solution. Enter my friend Simone.
Simone Mauhl is an endurance rider in the northwest region. Conveniently for my winter riding dilemma, she also makes tack - much of it custom, and much of it for packing. (We have a lot of hunters out here in Idaho.)
So, when Simone mentioned that she could make me a pair of stirrup covers designed for caged endurance stirrups, I was all over it! We put our heads together and she came up with this design:
Well! That's much prettier than my redneck version, don't you think?
Anyway, back to the stirrup covers. The photos above feature them on a 2008-ish era Easycare E-Z Ride stirrup that Simone borrowed from Mr. Sweaty's saddle for a model. However, she made sure to make the velcro loops adjustable for all sizes of endurance stirrups, with or without cages.
My own favorite stirrups are a battered pair that came with a used Bob Marshall. If I knew what brand they were, I would buy more, but alas, they are unmarked. They're a bit smaller than the E-Z Rides. I tried out the covers on them the first time we got a snowy day with decent footing.
The product is too new to be posted in an online store yet, so just look up Simone Mauhl on Facebook. If you aren't on Facebook, ping me at email@example.com and I'll hook you up.
Happy toasty riding!
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Thanks for dropping by! I'm an endurance rider in the northwest region of the United States. This blog explores the mental, physical, and technical aspects of being a better horseman, athlete, and human.
The Sweaty Equestrian