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Monday, December 19, 2011

Team 26: Alaska

 

DaVooshka (1)

 

My name is Jenny Wren. I've been riding since before I could walk. I have pictures of me at two years old working cattle on my Uncle's horse, Judy. The horse I have now is a gray overo paint called Vooshka. I bought her as a two-year old and have done 90% of her training myself.

I belong to CTR Alaska, a group that puts on one of the two Competitive Trail Rides in Alaska. I don't compete but am active behind the scenes clearing trail, flagging, timing, safety rider and whatever else needs to be done. In 2012 it will be our turn to host the NATRC sanctioned Bald Mountain Butt Buster. I hope to be riding several days a week in preparation.


This is a good challenge and I'm looking forward to participating!

.

48 comments:

AKPonyGirl said...

The best laid plans......Thwarted by Mother Nature! I usually haul to the indoor arena on Sundays since winter riding outdoors in Alaska is iffy at best. This morning, however, in temps of 22* below zero, my trusty dually refused to start even though it had been plugged in all night. Backup plan was a short ride down the road on The Mare but temps are still in double digits below zero and the sun is setting at 3:30 pm. Looks like my ride will be put off til another day.

Anonymous said...

FINALLY!!! I got to ride!! 3/12/2012 1.59 miles, temps in the low 20s but clear, blue skies. Took the Mare out and she jigged all the way down the road. When I turned her around she wanted to run home. I was bareback so I didn't have a lot of leverage but someone trained her well at some point in her life and she didn't run through the snaffle bit but just worked up to a death trot before I got her pulled back down. I got tired of fighting her and took her off the road onto the trail. Bad mistake. We were on the moose trails but she is heavier than a moose so we kept breaking through the crust. My feet were in the snow up to my ankles. Mare is a solid 16 hand twin to Tammy's Baby. We got into less deep snow and rode to where I thought we could get back on the road. The plow guys had piled so much snow at that spot that there was no way we could climb the pile. We kept going and the Mare was awesome. She never panicked and I just gave her her head and she took us back to the lower equipment yard. The last drift did her in though and I had to bail when she fell. We were only 20 feet from "freedom" though and I could walk on the top of the drift. Made it back to the house and I fed her a warm mash. Love riding in the snow but not when it's chest deep on a Belgian QH cross.

Anonymous said...

Tammy - My computer crashed and I am having awful issues with it.That's one reason it seems as though I have "disappeared". I will have to post as Anonymous until I get this resolved. Thanks!

AKPonyGirl aka Jenny Wren!

Jamie said...

Jenny, glad you got through your ride safely (even if you did have to walk the last 20 ft, lol)!

Where at in AK are you? I helped move a friend and her family (and 3 horses... and 12 dogs - only 10 of which were sled dogs) to Anchorage 10 or so years ago. It was summer when we made the trek, but growing up in South Dakota, I could imagine you ride like I was there! lol Gotta love riding in deep snow. Gosh, seems like forever since I had to bale in a drift. ~ Gave me a smile this morning, thanks. :-)

Anonymous said...

I live just outside the city limits of Wasilla, made famous by the Iditarod, Iron Dog, and that "hockey mom". We are about 50 miles north of ANC towards Fairbanks.

You're welcome for the smile. Like a number of my adventures, it was heart stopping at the time but awesome once we were back in the barn.

Anonymous said...

Just got back from another lovely ride! No t shirts for me, it's still 20* but the sun is shining and we have blue skies. Since I can't get on the trails we are just riding on the road. 1.95 miles this time, no death trot, just a little jigging, and we didn't ride in the snow.

Last year the Google Earth people finally got to my area and you can actually see my road, my house and my barn lot. There's even a horse in the pen! If you are at all curious, check it out.

juanita said...

Good for you for riding, i would love to see a moose trail.

Peggy Ann said...

Love hearing about your rides! And I thought I lived in "cold country"!
Peggy Ann (Team Montana)

Jenny Wren said...

It snowed today and the old record snowfall was not just broken but shattered! There were several days this week when I could have ridden but events conspired against me. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel and I cannot wait to get out on the trail.

Jamie said...

Oh no! How much snow did you GET to shatter an Alaskan record?!!!

Jenny Wren said...

Jamie - As of 4 pm on April 7 the snowfall total was 133.6 inches. That breaks the record by an inch but it continued to snow for at least five more hours. I haven't heard what the total total is yet. Remember that our snow season is not over until Memorial Day so there is a possibility for more snow. The average snowfall is around 75".

The weather since Easter Sunday has been beautiful - bright blue skies, fairly warm temps, and the roads are snow free for the most part. I snuck in a short 1.15 miles on Easter Sunday but the day is coming when I can go for much longer!

Jenny Wren said...

A short ride this evening but ride I did! There is still snow on the trails so I had to stay on the road for 1.98 miles. I rode the Mare and ponied Voosh who ouched the whole way on her tender front feet. She'll toughen up some but the next farrier visit will have shoes back on her fronts.

A pair of sandhill cranes flew overhead and landed in the field so it is definitely springtime in Alaska!

Jenny Wren said...

YeeHaw!! Two nights in a row!! My daughter rode the Mare so I could ride Voosh tonight. I love this kind of riding - no drama. We stayed on the gravel road and just walked for the most part. We went a little further than last night and broke the 2 mile mark - 2.04 miles.

Jenny said...

Pish.......winter has returned to Tundra Country. The snow is mostly gone and the trails were beginning to firm up when the wind started to howl, rain fell from the sky, and the temperature dropped to the mid 40's. I took four days to travel to Florida for my 40th High School reunion. The highest temperature I saw was 100*. I kept the car a/c set at 58* and was mostly comfortable. However, anyone who rode with me was complaining!!

Jenny said...

We rode yesterday between the raindrops. A horse I had been keeping for a friend sold and the woman who bought her wanted to trail ride in addition to some arena time. Any excuse, right? SOowe headed out for 2.5 miles then came home just in time for our farrier appointment. Voosh has new dancing shoes on her fronts now and the trails are beginning to dry out. Now I can start putting some miles on the ponies. :)

If there is anyway to get a t-shirt I would appreciate it. My order is still sitting on my desk.

Jenny said...

Tonight I had a ride planned with a friend and her daughter. I was a little apprehensive about this ride because the last time I rode with this friend we both ended up coming off our respective horses. While she was saddling her horse I did some groundwork with Voosh who promptly lost her mind and became a snotty, snorty mare. So I pulled out the backup horse (the Mare) and ponied Voosh for 6.2 miles. By the time we got back to the barnlot Voosh was quiet and respectful. Tomorrow is her turn!

Jenny said...

Took a few days but we are back on the trail. 5.3 miles in the river bottoms. We crossed the Little Susitna River twice, both times a long traverse upstream. I really disllike those kind of river crossings. I got wet almost to my knees but Voosh steadily pushed upriver. When she is on her game she is awesome!

Jenny said...

My friend Jocelyn got the go ahead from the doc to resume "whatever activities she wanted" eight weeks post op for a broken leg. Since both of her horses haven't been ridden in a while I put her back on Mare and off we went. Cool weather and some sprinkling rain didn't keep us from completing 7.5 miles in about 3 hours. We did lots of walking since we were in the river bottoms with lots of log and river crossings. The beavers got trapped out this past winter and the dam was pulled apart by some industrious teenage boys. The pond is back to it's original banks and we were able to cross at the old crossing for the first time in 3 years.

CTR Alaska is hosting the Bald Mountain Butt Buster July 20 and 21 so we are in a mad dash to get all the trails cleared of winter blow downs and ready for our ride. As of yesterday we have 43 riders signed up. There is a cap of 60 and we will probably have a waiting list.

Hopefully I will be able to really rack up some miles now. I will never catch the leaders but my goal is to break 100 miles.

Jenny said...

If I would have checked the gps before unsaddling tonight I would have ridden just a bit more but we clocked 4.95 miles in 2 hours. Most of that time was spent standing still as we were clearing trail for our Poker Ride coming up in two weeks. We also measured for a bridge and made plans to remove a dangerous obstacle from a ridge trail.

Jenny said...

I love these long summer nights. We have daylight for 19+ hours from now until July 4th. Sunset is around 11:45 pm. It never gets really dark, just kind of dusky and the sunrise is somewhere before 4 am. Makes for lots of time to ride!

My friend Julia asked if she could borrow the Mare tonight so she could take her almost daughter-in-law riding. Tiffany has not ridden before so Mare is a perfect babysitter. We rode almost the same trail as I did last night with Jocelyn and Shawn. The river is still high and fast so we crossed the beaver pond again. Instead of going to the end of the trail and heading home, tonight we made an extra loop so I ended up riding 5.85 miles.

Jenny said...

Three nights in a row I got to ride! It is my least favourite day of the year as the days get shorter now instead of longer. Daylight hours are in excess of 19 out of 24 until July 4 then we start losing minutes. I intend to ride as much as I can.

We rode for 6.12 miles and didn't cross any water! That doesn't mean we didn't slog through some muddy, mucky spots but no beaver pond, river, or streams. The water table is really high since there is standing water on our trails where I have not seen water in 10 years of riding these trails.

This ride put me over 50 miles! Since I have only been riding consistently since June 1st I think that is pretty good! Poker Ride next weekend so flagging, de-flagging, and setting trail will let me add miles then we will start doing some serious riding in preparation for the CTR.

Jenny said...

Oops! Reading my comments showed i forgot a ride!! JP, Shawn, and I rode exactly 5 miles on June 19. JP says she broke several fingernails when Star wasn't sure of a water crossing. I was riding in front and I couldn't hear her yelling while Voosh was belly deep in running water. By the time I got to the bank and turned around to look I missed all the drama. I usually ride drag (so I can see all the drama) but I've been point since no one else knows the trails.

Jenny said...

On the mountain today with Jocelyn and Shawn. We had dueling GPSs so I chose mine: 7.01 miles. We spent the entire ride walking since JP can't post yet and the elevation changed from approximately 500 feet to just over 1100 feet. It's a good conditioning ride for the CTR. If I can get the GPS to talk to Google Earth we will have tracks!

Jenny said...

Yesterday I rode in jeans and a tank top. Today we are back to normal - hoody, vest and jeans. I rode this evening with my friend Christy and her mare Poca. They have not been able to get many rides in this year so we did the short 4.95 mile trail that is our standby.

I am so pleased that I have been able to ride so much this week. It *kinda* makes up for the lack of riding from November to March.

Jenny said...

Ack! Almost forgot to log my miles. It has been a week from h e double hockey sticks since Saturday and I have had little time to be on the computer.

CTR Alaska hosted a Poker Ride on June 30 to raise funds for the Bald Mountain Butt Buster CTR. The Little Su River is still high enough that we chose not to send novice riders across it. We had no problem but we ride this area almost every day.

Wednesday June 27 we checked out a new trail and rode for 5.25 miles. This trail was kinda gnarly and one of the horses got his foot stuck in some roots.

Thursday I rode the eastern section of the trail with some friends for 6.12 miles. I posted the gps of that ride on the facebook page.

Friday we rode the western section of the trail for 6.25 miles and on Saturday we rode drag for the poker ride. There were three gps tracks and none of them agreed so we took the average of 12.5 miles.

Work has interfered but I plan to ride with my hubby tomorrow and de-flag some of the trail. The CTR is in three weeks so we will be back at it soon!!

Jenny said...

It is a good thing that my horses are de-sensitized to loud noises and gunfire since I celebrated the 4th with a trail ride with my very non-horsey husband. We had a mission though and that is his favorite kind of riding. We de-flagged a good bit of trail from the Poker Ride last Saturday. We rode 5.87 miles in 2.5 hours. Most of it was done at a walk but I did get to lope my mare along a ridgeline trail. It was awesome!!

This ride will put me over 100 miles. While I will never get to the 1000 mile mark I am pleased to be able to document the miles I do get to ride. When I look back on the year I will be able to say that I DID get to ride my horse.

Jenny said...

We rode again last night - 7.66 miles - in perfect weather. In fact, the breeze got just a bit chilly and I put on the gloves that I always keep in the pockets of my vest.

The Bald Mountain Butt Buster trails are all on privately owned land. There is no trailhead and no public access. That does not keep people from trespassing. These owners have graciously allowed the poker rides and CTR to be held on these trails with the caveat that they remain "private" and non-motorized trails. There are five of us who live in the area. One of my friend's father homesteaded her house 50 years ago. She lives across the hay field from me and is a good friend. The others are friends also and we ride together frequently. The last two rides we have come upon wheeler damage and horses and riders on these private trails. We are not snobby and, for the most part, will be glad to host a private trail ride if someone wants to ride these trails. This really has us torqued though and now we have to contend with trail damage three weeks before our 60 rider CTR.

Jenny said...

A "working" ride today as we blazed a new trail for the CTR - 7.47 miles, most of it back and forth over a new trail to burn it in. Our adventures included being stalked by a young beef calf, our path crossed by a yearling moose, the loss of my best pair of loppers, and attacked by a dog. We are having so much fun!!

Jenny said...

The CTR is 2 weeks out and we are beginning the long task of flagging the miles and miles of trails. Last night my friend Nancy and I rode and flagged a 4 mile section of the trail. It took us a really long time because we were flagging novice, competitive pleasure, and open for both Saturday and Sunday. Flagging for a CTR is always done on the right side of the trail so riders are following the flags on their right. We use most trails in both directions so, in order to be efficient, we flag everything at once! It can get confusing so it takes at least 2 people to flag. We rode in the river bottoms and there are fish in the river. There must have been a bear in the area also as both horses (seasoned trail horses) were spooky and antsy on one particular section of the trail.

There is a good possibility that I will double my miles by the end of this month. In addition to flagging I am timing the novice/cp ride this weekend (40 miles in 2 days) I will be riding drag for that division on the 21st and 22nd. Life is good in Alaska!

Jenny said...

More flagging done tonight with my friend Stephanie and her daughter Cheyenne. We rode 6.02 miles with 4 river crossings and numerous creek crossings. Unfortunately we had to ride my least favourite part of our trails TWICE, once in each direction. The GPS map looks like a thick, straight line.

Jenny said...

Saturday/Sunday (July 14 and 15) I rode the Novice/CP trail for the Bald Mountain Butt Buster doing timing and checking distances. On Saturday Jocelyn and I rode 22.6 miles in beautiful sunshine and warm weather. Sunday I rode with another drag rider for the CTR. We covered 19.9 miles in the pouring rain on mountain trails that were really slick. Voosh slipped several times and once almost went down on her nose. She kept it together though. She got mud up to her knees and belly. There were other adventures (like non-existent river crossings, flagging that led us into some minor and one major problem, and rain that soaked both my chaps and my Outback duster) but two whole days in the saddle were worth it!!

Jenny said...

Re-flagging for the CTR last night was more whoa than go but we put in another 4.4 miles. Then I was late for a meeting so I took Voosh in the trailer where she ate her hay and was quiet. Then, since I was already in town< I just hauled her to Walmart! Spent an hour there getting chicken feed and COB, snacks for the trail, and ice cream. I heard her whinny when I came out the front door but I don't think she made too much noise. She was glad to get home. I don't normally trailer her anywhere so this is good training for her. In fact, she has been trailered more this summer than the last two combined. She gets a day off today but I need to ride tomorrow to set out some markers. Then it's the big ride - another 40 miles in two days.

Jamie said...

Dang, keep riding like that and you'll be hitting that 1000 mile marker in no time!

Jenny said...

I wish!! I must get back in the office for the next month and get things I have neglected taken care of before I take off for two weeks of the Alaska State Fair. I show my sheep in the open shows and my daughter has a market steer, a market sheep, and several breeding stock sheep for the 4-H shows. We also have a business display there so I will be at the Fair for the whole 12 day run. That will put a dent in my riding time.

Then we will probably have snow on the ground by the first of November. Ack!!

Jenny said...

The CTR is over and we all survived. Several horses pulled due to lost shoes, lameness, and some general overall soreness. Some riders pulled because they were ill, and because of the rain.

Not me. As one of 4 safety riders I was responsible for sweeping the trail for lost riders. We also parked at all the river crossings to be sure all the riders made it safely across the river. I had a great time and look forward to performing the same tasks at the 2014 Bald Mountain Butt Buster.

I rode Voosh on July 18 setting flagging and clearing trail for 4.39 miles and on the 19th for 9.48 miles doing more of the same. Saturday the 21st I rode safety behind the Novice/Competitive Pleasure division for 20.2 miles in the rain. Sunday the 22nd brought many challenges due to the amount of rain that fell overnight. The routes had to be reset since one of the river crossings was deemed unsafe as was the loops on the mountain. Two of the safety rider horses has to be pulled so we scrambled to get enough safety riders on the trail to keep our competitors safe. I only put 14.0 miles on Voosh that day.

I gave her the day off today but we will need to go de-flag all the trails this week. Then my poor Hamley saddle will go to get cleaned and reconditioned and my mare will get some time off.

Jenny said...

We took a few days off after the CTR but are "back in the saddle" for de-flagging on Thursday for 5.8 miles on the mountain and 6.2 miles in the river bottoms. There are still trails to be de-flagged so I'm hoping that we can get out this week for a coule of days.

The weather here is perfect for riding - low 70s and overcast with just enough of a breeze to keep the bugs away.

Jenny said...

August 9 we rode for 12.1 miles de-flagging the last of the CTR markers. The trail was in better shape than I had expected and we climbed from 525' elevation to 1300' in just about 6 miles then turned around and came back just about the same way as we went up.

Our weather has been awesome - high 60s, blue skies, a bit of a breeze. The raspberries in the river bottom are almost ripe enough and the watermelon berries are being gobbled up by my horse.

I never thought I would say this but.....after 225 miles on the same trails, I am officially bored with these trails! Off to find some more to ride.

Jenny said...

August 14 was a red letter day for me. I accomplished something that I have wanted to do since I started riding Voosh seven years ago. I rode my horse by myself on the trails. To most of you that would be something that you would not consider a monumental event. To me though that is huge.

When I was a kid I was fearless. But I am old now and don't bounce like I used to. I bought Voosh as an un handled two year old. She used to scare the crap out of me with her leaps and bucks. I came off her a time or two and it made me really cautious. She is very reactive to other horses and is picky about who rides with us. She once jigged for ten miles because she didn't like a horse/rider pair that was riding with us.

This year though she has made a huge leap in her training. All those miles we have ridden have given both of us the confidence to work outside our comfort zone. We rode 2.2 miles on our extremely well known trails and had a blast. Now to carve out some time to take another ride!

Tammy said...

Jenny, that is great and I do consider it monumental because I too had all these horses but was afraid to ride alone. It is quite the "independence day" feeling when you finally have a horse you trust enough to do it and the confidence to go with it. I am so happy for you!

Peggy Ann said...

Do you know, I just love reading about your adventures! It's so wonderful that you work so hard for the CTR ride. And what a great way to put miles on your horse! You inspire us!

Peggy Ann said...

Do you know, I just love reading about your adventures! It's so wonderful that you work so hard for the CTR ride. And what a great way to put miles on your horse! You inspire us!

Jenny said...

Where has the last month gone? It got washed away in the record amount of rain that we have had. If what is happening here had happened in America, Jim Cantore and the Weather Channel would be camped in the Mat Su Valley. Over 40 acres of our CTR trails have been under water, several miles of trail has been washed away by the Little Susitna River, and many trees have blown down. We can't even get in the river bottom to asses the damage. Needless to say I have not been riding at all in the past 30 days.

My farrier came out yesterday and I usually have Voosh's shoes pulled at this time of year. The shoes were as good as new though so Josh reset them and I intend to do some trail riding before in snows.

Peggy Ann said...

Wow! Your rain sounds AWFUL! Hope your weather clears enough to get some riding in... and dry up your trails!

Jenny said...

I got tired of not riding so I saddled up the Mare (Baby's double) and ponied Voosh for 4.2 miles on the roads. We never made it onto any trails. I really don't like road riding but it is better than NO riding!

CTR girls are going to do a ride this weekend on the river bottom trails. It will be interesting to see how the river has changed our trails.

Jenny said...

Yesterday it was windy but not raining so I bribed my daughter into riding. It was a short ride 4.7 miles but so much better than sitting at home. We rode down to the river bottom to check out the damage from the flood. Mother Nature had her revenge on the beavers and completely wiped out the dam. Although we did not cross the river we could tell that we have our old crossing back!

Briar took pictures and I will post them when I can.

Jenny said...

Riding horses in Alaska is a challenge this time of year. We bundle up and head out. Yesterday's ride was from 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm, 8.44 miles. We rode beside the roads on ATV trails to Burger King in town, then along the main highway for a bit and back on the ATV trails. We crossed the road at one of the major intersections in Wasilla. It was full dark from the midpoint on, good thing three of the riders had on headlamps. I have come to the conclusion that my horse is not a town horse, definately a trail horse.

Tammy I don't know how to send you pictures. Can you steal the one from the horsetrailriders facebook page and post it?

Jenny said...

The temperature was 22* and the sun was shining so we saddled up and went exploring. What a difference a flood makes to river bottom trails! Large sections of trail are just.......gone, washed away completely. We had to bushwhack around several places and carefully step over lost of downed trees. The ground is frozen tight but it froze in the churned up mass that was left by the 60 some riders at the CTR. There will be much trail clearing and re=routing done in the Spring. We rode 4.8 miles in 2 hours. The moon is very full and it would have been a pretty night for a ride but it gets really cold when the sun goes down!!

Jenny said...

No additional miles for me in 2012!