Endurance Riding

Jan 27 2011


Published by under Endurance Riding

Click The Title Of The Post To Comment And Don't Forget To "Subscribe to Endurance Riding" To Stay Updated On My Journey Towards The Tevis Cup!

After encountering some crazy drivers while riding on the road, I wrote to my local newspaper… below is a letter to the Editor that was printed in Tuesday’s paper:

Dear Editor,

I am writing because my mom and I were horseback riding on Coutolenc Road in Magalia two days ago and experienced what could have been a very dangerous situation. Many cars sped by us going well above the speed limit without so much as slowing down. Because some parts of Coutolenc do not have much of a shoulder, we were forced to travel on the pavement for a short period. With the sharp curves on Coutolenc, this does not make for a safe situation.

No equestrian likes traveling in the road. We have many beautiful trails in this area and we use them all the time. If you see an equestrian riding on the road, it is only because we are connecting to another trail that forces us to travel on Coutolenc for a short distance.

Butte County is horse country. With so many equestrians living and riding in this area, I think it is of utmost importance that citizens of this area are aware of the driving laws regarding equestrians. This is what the DMV states, according to the California Driver Handbook:

“Horse-drawn vehicles and riders of horses or other animals are entitled to share the road with you. It is a traffic offense to scare horses or stampede livestock. Slow down or stop, if necessary, or when requested to do so by the riders or herders.”

This is not only courtesy and safety – this is the law!

Could you please remind our citizens of this in your next issue of the Paradise Post?

Thank you,

Jaya Gregory


In other news: I took Gary to see the orthopedist today. He did indeed rupture his Achilles tendon. Next week he goes in for an MRI. Unfortunately, it’s looking like he may need surgery.

Jan 25 2011

Horses and Children

Published by under Endurance Riding

Click The Title Of The Post To Comment And Don't Forget To "Subscribe to Endurance Riding" To Stay Updated On My Journey Towards The Tevis Cup!

I was in charge of getting the boys ready for school this morning and then dropping them off. I also had to pick them up from school, Declan at noon and then Jakob at 2:15. It’s not that I never do these things, because I do drop them off at school on days when I too have class, but I am blessed to have a lot of freedom on most days.

My husband, Gary, works from home. This allows him to be available to pick up the boys from school, help them with their homework, and then take them to evening sports practices or Karate.

Since I’ve started endurance training, Gary has been my biggest supporter. I’ve been able to get up in the morning and focus on getting Asali ready for a ride. When out on the trail, I don’t need to worry about getting home by a certain time to take care of the kids. I can focus on training, while Gary manages the boys’ school schedules.endurance-riding

Today, Gary was laid up in bed with his disabled left foot. All I could think was how grateful I was to have a friend, my partner, who not only allows, but encourages me to pursue my dream. Gary has never held me back from anything I have wanted to do and I love him for allowing me to be me. He is my lover, my soul mate, my teacher, my cheerleader.

After the boys got home from school, I decided to take them both horseback riding. I ponied Declan on Forest and of course, Jakob rode Beauty and I rode Asali. It was the perfect evening for a leisurely ride. Jakob and Declan insisted on singing silly songs in the saddle which reminded me of being at summer camp when I too was a child. When they ran out of songs, Jakob told me all about school and the books he was reading. He’s a bookworm, just like me.

At the end of the Ridge Trail, we had to cross a ditch. Just as I had assumed, Forest took a flying leap over it. Declan held on tight, and although the jump scared him a little, he never lost his seat. Later, Beauty spooked when Jakob was pulling a sweater over his head. She bolted, and Jakob didn’t have his reins. He never panicked though. He picked up the reins, turned her, and calmly said, “Whoa.” Then he finished putting his sweater on as if nothing had happened. What little cowboys I have!

Declan on Forest, me on Asali, Caine, and Jakob on Beauty, riding in the new saddle he got for Christmas.

Jakob is turning nine this year, and he is really fighting for his independence. He wants to do everything on his own. He insists on cleaning Beauty’s hooves by himself and he wants to saddle her and do the cinch. While I always stepped in and took over for him, I am trying really hard to stand back and let him do what he can. This is just part of growing up, right? It’s hard to let go, but I’m realizing he needs to learn his own lessons.

Tonight, after we dismounted and untacked our horses, I had walked into the house for a moment, leaving the horses tied to the trailer. When I went back outside, Jakob was leading Forest and Beauty back to the barn, one horse in each hand. I immediately wanted to run after him and help him because he has never led two horses at once before. But then I stopped myself. He was doing fine and I needed to just let him go.

Both horses ended up safe and sound in their paddocks. Jakob gave them extra grain, said goodnight, and walked back up towards the house.

Before the sun went down, he said, “Mom, I think when Dad popped his tendon, it softened his heart. He’s being really nice and isn’t yelling as much.” I laughed and said, “Jakob, I think it’s just the drugs.”

Horses and children, I often think, have a lot of the good sense there is in the world.

– Josephine Demott Robinson

Ice cream after our ride today.



Jan 25 2011

Three for the Price of One

Published by under Endurance Riding

Click The Title Of The Post To Comment And Don't Forget To "Subscribe to Endurance Riding" To Stay Updated On My Journey Towards The Tevis Cup!

Sunday was a full day with the horses. I rode Forest in the round pen, then later ponied him while I rode Asali. Our trainer, Sheri, came up to work with Beauty. I rode her in the arena for about 40 minutes under Sheri’s guidance, and then I took her out on the trail by herself. Beauty was a really good girl – not spooky at all, although a dirt bike we saw made her a little nervous.

Yesterday, however, was my first day back at nursing school. After an early morning orientation on campus, I drove the 50 minutes back home. I had exactly 2 hours to get all 3 horses worked before I had to return to campus for an evening mental health lecture. So, what did I do? I rode Asali, ponied Forest, and let Beauty run free on the trail. Because we have such remote trails, we are able to let the horses run free without worrying about running into anyone on the trail (I picked a trail where ATVs and dirt bikes are not allowed). We have several trails that run directly into the ranch, so if the loose horse decided to run back to the barn, I don’t have to worry about her crossing any sort of intersection. Beauty, however, stayed right with the herd. Caine, our labrador retriever, and Ellie, our beagle, came along for the ride too. So, it was really 5 for the price of 1!

My first day back at nursing school, unfortunately, ended with a trip to the ER. No, I didn’t fall off my horse. No, it wasn’t me. Gary was playing basketball with Jakob’s team when he heard a loud “pop” and went down on the court. He was unable to move his left foot, so he called me to come get him and the boys. (Surprisingly, I had to convince him to go to the ER –  he finally agreed after I consulted with my friend, Julie, a Physician Assistant and the one who got me into this crazy sport of endurance.) Gary now has an appointment with an orthopedist on Thursday afternoon. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that he won’t need surgery for what might be a ruptured Achilles tendon.

Never a dull moment in the life of the Gregorys. Welcome to our fast paced life.

Jan 21 2011

My Three Horses

Published by under Endurance Riding

Click The Title Of The Post To Comment And Don't Forget To "Subscribe to Endurance Riding" To Stay Updated On My Journey Towards The Tevis Cup!

I worked my Appaloosa, Forest, in the round pen. Although I started him under saddle a little over a year ago, I don’t ride him more than twice a week (usually, I pony him), so he needs a lot more training learning to give to the bit. We did a lot of circles in the round pen, incorporating turns and half turns and reverse. We also worked on cantering, backing, and halting.

Afterwards, I took him out on the trail. I rode him bareback. He is my favorite horse to ride bareback. I call him my “Lazy Boy Chair.”

In the afternoon, I worked with Jakob’s horse, Beauty. We did a lot of groundwork, concentrating on Parelli’s Seven Games – namely, the friendly game, the porcupine game, the yo-yo game, and the circling game. We worked on the circling game over a cavelleti. (Practicing the Seven Games with your horse is a way of communicating with him and establishing leadership.)

I decided to give Asali an easy day of training. I worked her in the arena, on the ground. First, I did some “free” work with her (meaning that she did not have any equipment on her – no halter, no lead rope). Then, on the lead rope, we worked on side pass.

I was reflecting on being with all three horses today. I feel incredibly blessed to have more than one equine in my life. They each, just like people, have their very own unique personalities. Each horse teaches you something different; there is always a new lesson.


Forest is my rock. He is my friend, my confidence builder. He constantly challenges me. He is like a young child who questions your authority, but you can never stay too mad for too long because he wins you back every time. I enjoy being with him – sitting with him in the round pen, going for a slow, Sunday ride, grooming him. He is my big lap dog, honestly. I always seem to love myself a little more when I am with him.


Beauty is a sweet horse. She is soft and kind and trustworthy. I am still getting to know Beauty. When I first saw her, there was something about her that drew me to her. I can’t tell you what it was. But, she was the horse I chose for my son after looking at 30+ horses. Even after someone at the horse rescue told me she’d be “too much horse” for my son, I couldn’t walk away from her. I returned to the same horse rescue on three occasions, and each time, I knew she was the horse for us.

Asali is a reflection of me. She speaks to me on a spiritual level and I always know when I’ve got it wrong and when I’ve got it right with her. She forces me to give her my all – she will never take anything less from me. I had to earn her trust and now I work to keep it. But, she is the most loyal and willing horse I’ve known. She has taught me patience. She has taught me to slow down and ask nicely. She is also so much fun to ride on days when I want to go crazy. I believe she is going to make the perfect endurance horse because she never gives up.


Tonight, when I went down to the feed the horses, Jakob joined me. After we threw hay, I thought Jakob had gone back up to the house, but then I heard something going on in Beauty’s stall. I peaked in through the window and Jakob was in the stall with Beauty, brushing her. I couldn’t help but smile.


Jan 21 2011


Published by under Endurance Riding

Click The Title Of The Post To Comment And Don't Forget To "Subscribe to Endurance Riding" To Stay Updated On My Journey Towards The Tevis Cup!

If I ever thought I was sore from riding before, I was wrong. Today I woke up and I was sore like I’ve never been before. I hurt from my trapezius to my deltoid to my infraspinatus to my triceps. My latissimus dorsi aches, as does my gluteus maximus. My adductor longus muscle, gracilis muscle, and my vastus lateralis muscle are all screaming! My gastrocnemius is so sore, it’s hard to walk.


Okay, all you endurance riders out there, what is your #1 cure for aches and pains???

I need to know.

Because although I’m hurting, I’m still going riding today…

P.S. I hope I got the names of my aching muscles right. I enter my last year of nursing school on Monday… ugh. Less training time, more study time.

Jan 20 2011

God’s Country

Published by under Endurance Riding

Click The Title Of The Post To Comment And Don't Forget To "Subscribe to Endurance Riding" To Stay Updated On My Journey Towards The Tevis Cup!

Wow! What an amazing ride we had today. Mom had been wanting to go down into the canyon, so last night we mapped it out on the GPS. We took Doon Grade Road to Coutolenc and then connected to Jordan Hill Road. Jordan Hill Road, like Doon Grade, is a dirt road. Off-road vehicles can get down it, but it is very rocky and steep. Quite a trek!

I have never been into any canyon before and as we were traveling down, I was struck by the sheer power of the view. Everything is so quiet, yet you can hear the sound of a life force in the distance.

Water has no taste, no color, no odor; it cannot be defined, art relished while ever mysterious. Not necessary to life, but rather life itself. It fills us with a gratification that exceeds the delight of the senses. – ANTOINE DE SAINT-EXUPERY

We made it down to the West Branch of the Feather River and we stayed for awhile, to rest the horses and enjoy the beauty that surrounded us. I felt as if I was home. Nothing but life surrounded me – the trees, the grass, the birds, even the gnats. Everything had its place and was working as it should, not to be rushed or slowed, but in its own perfect time, as always.

I was struck by how many times I had passed Jordan Hill Road, never knowing what was at the bottom of that hill. Beauty lies in our backyard, but we often fail to see it.

Stopping for just a moment before our descent.

Mom and Sophie at the top of the canyon.

Miles and miles of backcountry to explore…

Jordan Hill Road

West Branch of the Feather River

“Little Falls”

Sophie enjoying the view.

The entire trip was 16 miles. Originally, we had thought it was going to be only 8 or 9 miles, but Mom failed to realize that her GPS was calculating a one-way trip. Double that and you’ve got a round-trip at 16 miles! Great for Asali and I because we need the training, but next time I’m bringing some emergency peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. A banana and one granola bar didn’t cut it for this trip.

Jan 20 2011

Super Handy, Super Fancy

Published by under Endurance Riding

Click The Title Of The Post To Comment And Don't Forget To "Subscribe to Endurance Riding" To Stay Updated On My Journey Towards The Tevis Cup!

Today, Mom (and Sophie) joined Asali and I for our endurance training. Before we started out, Mom taught me how to wrap Asali’s legs. I decided that it would probably be a good idea to start using those polo wraps Mom got for Asali, to allow for extra leg protection on our long rides.

Mom brought her super handy, super fancy GPS system on the ride with us today. And when I say “super handy, super fancy,” I mean it! We were able to calculate our exact distance. Plus, the GPS system will tell you how many mph you were going, and you can print out a map of your trail when you are done tracking it. Just what an endurance trainer needs! No more guessing on our rides now; although I think my educated guesses haven’t been too far off, there is nothing better than accurate!

So, what did the GPS tell us??? We did 8.9 miles going at 5 mph. We traveled along the South Loop, which circles around our ranch, then we took Doon Grade Road (a dirt road which is closed to thru traffic) out to Coutolenc. Once on Coutolenc, we had to travel on the road with cars for a short distance. Although Coutolenc is a quiet road, we did run into 4 cars. My silly dog, Caine, was not being cooperative about staying on the shoulder. Luckily, everyone that passed us looked out for him, but that’s the last time I take him out on a trail where we may have to travel on a road.

Me with my endurance horse (and the energizer bunny, better known as my dog, Caine).

Coutolenc reconnected with the South Loop. Before getting to the South Loop, however, it was all up hill. I was surprised at how quickly Asali tackled the big climb. Even after going for quite a few miles, she still had plenty of energy. In fact, at the end of the ride, she began to speed up and broke into a full gallop before crossing the “finish line.”

Tonight, Mom came by Asali’s barn to give her some alfalfa pellets and beet pulp. I’ve been increasing her grain since we started endurance training, but Asali still seems to be losing a little weight. She has always been a horse that doesn’t keep weight on well… certainly not what you’d call an easy keeper. Tomorrow I’m going to make a run to the feed store. But not before our training… Mom and I brought up maps of our area on her GPS and we’ve chosen a new trail for tomorrow… the GPS system calculated it to be 9 miles. We’re in for an adventure… going down into the canyon – a place we’ve never been!

Mom on Sophie, using that Super Handy, Super Fancy GPS!

Asali and I after our 9 mile ride.

Caine is (finally) pooped.

Jan 18 2011

Why Am I Sore?

Published by under Endurance Riding

Click The Title Of The Post To Comment And Don't Forget To "Subscribe to Endurance Riding" To Stay Updated On My Journey Towards The Tevis Cup!

I woke up feeling sore this morning. I couldn’t figure out why. Although Asali and I are doing longer rides than we normally do, my legs are pretty fit for riding. And yesterday, I did not dismount and walk for very long on our ride. We did approximately 9 miles, averaging a speed around 4.5 mph, so this was not a challenging ride.

Then it occurred to me… it must have been the 20 minutes of basketball I played with Jakob last night. I played defense and he had me chasing him all over that court! I haven’t played basketball since seventh grade. Yes, it’s true, I was beaten by an eight year old last night. Note to self: Don’t play sports with children when you are out of shape. I definitely need to incorporate more cardio into my workouts!

After endurance training with Asali, my little basketball player joined me for a trail ride.

Jan 17 2011

I Am Thankful

Published by under Endurance Riding

Click The Title Of The Post To Comment And Don't Forget To "Subscribe to Endurance Riding" To Stay Updated On My Journey Towards The Tevis Cup!

Before I decided to train today, I sat down at my sewing machine and finished a quilt I had been working on for a friend and fellow horseman. He had been admitted to the ICU where I work. It is always difficult to see someone you knew as a healthy, active person fighting to recover and regain strength he once possessed.

Everyday that I work in the ICU, I am thankful for my health. I am inspired by my patients and their endurance to keep fighting sometimes debilitating diseases. Everyday, I am encouraged not to waste any part of my life. Maybe this is why I am constantly busy, filling up every moment with something meaningful. I often wonder if I’ll ever slow down. I am always being told that I am young, I have time. But to me, the time we are given sometimes seems so short.

I spent some time writing in my journal the other night. My last diary entry ended with:
I decided to enter the Tevis Cup because I wanted to celebrate life. I am thankful for the health, the strength, the talent, and the ability that God has given me. To waste that would be a sin.


Jan 16 2011

6.2 Miles in 83 Minutes

Published by under Endurance Riding

Click The Title Of The Post To Comment And Don't Forget To "Subscribe to Endurance Riding" To Stay Updated On My Journey Towards The Tevis Cup!

My last ride with Asali was uneventful… we covered four miles, with me in the saddle for two miles and then on foot for the last two. After the ride, I found a great article on the AERC website about conditioning your horse for endurance riding. Some key points that I took from that article were:

*Worm your horse and make sure his feet are in good shape before starting training.
*Expect at least 3 months of training before your first limited distance competition.
*Concentrate on long, slow distance work.
*Make sure hill work is incorporated into your training.
*Keep a steady pace from start to finish rather than focusing on frequent speed work.
*Buy a stethoscope and learn how to use it.

Today, the first thing I did was worm Asali and then get out my stethoscope. I calculated her resting heart rate to be 32 beats per minute (bpm). (This is important to know because how fast your horse returns to his resting heart rate after exercise determines how fit he is.) I packed my stethoscope in my Camelbak and then set out on the ride.

Assessing Asali’s heart rate.

Asali and I completed our first 2.6 miles in 28 minutes! We kept a steady fox trot going along the entire trail, with one short distance of cantering. After climbing a hill at the end of the 2.6 miles, I dismounted and took Asali’s pulse. It was 65 bpm – a normal rate for an equine who has just exercised. After ten minutes, Asali’s rate dropped to 44 bpm, with a return to baseline after thirteen minutes. This wasn’t bad, although I would like to see a return to baseline within the first ten minutes.

Once remounted, we climbed two extremely steep hills. Although Asali has climbed these hills before, she really worked up a sweat, so I allowed her to slow down a bit. We completed the last 3.6 miles in 55 minutes. Three minutes after completing the ride, her pulse was 60 bpm, with a return to baseline in ten minutes. I was very pleased.

We covered 6.2 miles in 83 minutes. That means we averaged a speed just over 5 mph. According to the article on conditioning, “a pace of six to seven mph is a reasonable goal.” I think Asali and I are well on our way!

After my ride with Asali, I took my son’s horse, Beauty, out for a ride. We rode with my mom and a friend of hers on a 3.5 mile trail. We mostly walked and trotted, but since Beauty isn’t as conditioned as Asali, this was enough for her.

On one muddy hill, Beauty slipped and fell completely down. Before she lost her footing, I felt myself falling to the left. Instead of fighting the fall, I let myself go. I swung my other foot out of the stirrup and landed on my feet, still holding the reins. I hadn’t wanted to stay in the saddle just in case Beauty fell on her side. (Just before Christmas, I had an accident with Asali – she lost her footing when Forest pushed her into a ditch. She fell, rolling on top of me and wedging my foot in the stirrup. Luckily, she jumped up immediately and stood perfectly still while I got my foot out of the stirrup. While I was disappointed my brand new Tucker stirrup had been crushed, I was thankful I had not been dragged.)

Because of my ride on Asali and then Beauty, I got plenty of saddle time today. And to end it all, I worked with Forest in the round pen before bathing him and then feeding all the horses. No wonder I’m tired! It’s only 7 pm and I’m already ready for bed. Another day of training awaits tomorrow…

« Prev - Next »