Cape Town Diaries, Part 2

When I last left you, I was gearing up for our cage dive adventure.  Unfortunately, that never happened!  We were up at the crack of dawn (which is beautiful from that great room we had) and we hit the road to head into the Cape Town Waterfront, as the tour wouldn’t pick up so far out of the city.  Then we hit a sea of red tail lights, and the clock kept ticking.  I made several calls back and forth with the tour operator and it became clear our case was hopeless.  THankfully she was kind enough to reschedule us to Sunday (tomorrow).

Might I mention, last time I was in cape town, I had booked a shark dive which got cancelled due to poor weather… third times the charm?

So what were we to do?

We followed the GPS to the V&A waterfront, where we were originally supposed to meet anyway, and decided to go out for coffee and then decide what to do.  Funny part was, the restaurant we ended up at didn’t have their coffee on yet, we were still that early!


After getting properly caffeinated, we were ready to start considering our options, so we started to wander to look for inspiration.  We ended up with the most touristy option, a pass on the hop-on-hop-off bus.  Believe it or not, I have never actually been on one of these, so we had a good time feeling a bit silly like a hollywood star-spotter on the deck of a big red double decker bus.


We got off downtown for some breakfast and shopping, but a lot of the crafts are either similar to what I brought home on my last trip, or just the same as we have seen in every other market.  It helped keep our weight light for the next stop: Table Mountain.

It was a hot and very clear day, I understand this is pretty rare for Table Mountain, so we will take it that everything (including bad traffic) happens for a reason.  Even just the road up to Table Mountain offered incredible views, but we weren’t about to stop there… up the cable car we went!

My plan before I got here was to climb table mountain, but still not 100% healthy since being sick (and wearing a bikini as underpants and casual shoes expecting I would be in water most of the day) I was ok with taking the easy way up.


We got to the top and the views were striking, enough to take your breath away.  But then I saw it, a dead animal. I bit back tears for this poor furry groundhog like critter, but then Lee said “Look closer.”  It was VERY hard to tell, but the thing was breathing, merely sunning itself and sleeping like the dead. Not actually dead.  What a relief.

I seemed to only take videos of the Dassis (groundhogs) because I loved them THAT much, so here is a lizard instead (and I will get to the Dassi later)
I seemed to only take videos of the Dassis (groundhogs) because I loved them THAT much, so here is a lizard instead (and I will get to the Dassi later)


These critters made my day.  I seriously loved them.  They were so lazy, simply falling over and napping anywhere.  They also had the ugliest faces but they were clearly trying to puppy face mooch for snacks.  They tried SO HARD, but their dark beady eyes and buck teeth were just not cute.  At one point I heard a girl taunting them with a popsicle “I would sure hate to be you!” she said.  It was amazing.

There were 3 walking loops on the top of the mountain which eventually led us to a gorge.  Coming up the gorge were some pretty tired, sweaty hikers.  Felt a bit less bad about wimping out of the hike.

I walked a few dozen meters down the gorge and stopped for a photo before we returned back, stopping to eye some lizards before returning down the cable car and hopping back on the bus. We stayed on the bus for the remainder of the tour and enjoyed the coastal drive back to the city.


When we got back to the V&A  waterfront, we toured around a bit and saw seals following some of the tourist boats, and sunning themselves on the docks.  They are HUGE and they smell SO BAD.  Definitely cuter in the water when they are playing.  If you come across one on the dock… maybe find another path.


It was already 4pm so we decided to hit the road back to Muizenberg, but instead we hit traffic again.  Guess it was an early rush hour!  So the drive home was very slow and when we got back, we cleaned up, and went over to the Striped Horse Pub across the street – something we had promised ourselves we would do because Striped Horse Beer is sponsoring Race the Wild Coast! The beer and food were amazing, Lee even licked the sauce up from his plate.

This morning, we had a surf lesson booked, but due to the live band at the hostel last night, plans had to change again.  We were leaving African Soul Surfer and headed to Camps Bay, so we took the opportunity to leave early and visit Simon’s Town, where we heard… there would be PENGUINS.

Yes please!

Simon’s town is so quaint.  The buildings are incredible and the naval base and sail boats make it feel very much like our Maritimes, you really forget you are in Africa. It just seems to almost exist in its own bubble.

Simons Town
Simons Town

Slightly past the town, we found Boulder Beach signs, parked, and followed a narrow path down to the beach.  “There are the penguins!” Lee pointed to the far side of the beach where a few people were gathered.  We walked over and enjoyed getting close to the penguins hiding in some rocks, and others hanging out on a large rock by the water (maybe about 1 dozen total).  We enjoyed watching them jumping in and out of the water and shaking their tails.  We were pretty happy with that, but I was HUNGRY.


We went back to the car where Lee was ready to get in and go home, but I demanded to be fed.  Lets  just walk down this street over here and see whats close.  There was quite a large crowd walking down the road despite it not being a main street.  Perhaps thats where the food is?  Lets follow them.  Lee wasn’t convinced  we would find food, but I was sure so many people weren’t just wandering around by coincidence.

Turns out, we were both right, because just down the road… HUNDREDS OF PENGUINS!


There was a nice boardwalk where they had fenced off the ocean side to keep people out of the penguin’s habitat.  Despite the fence, these ARE wild penguins.  We were the ones in the cages🙂  They were so close and it seemed to be breeding season, as there were a lot on nests of fuzzy babies.  Some were more curious than others, one penguin even mimicked my movements, it was adorable.


After that, we went for lunch on the water with some delicious fish and chips.  Best I have ever had, so fresh.

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The afternoon was less exciting to write about.  We moved into our guest house in Camps Bay which has an amazing view of the Twelve Apostles Mountain Range AND a sunset view of the water.  We have been up and down to the lower end of town where the beach is a few times, first to go shopping, then to tour around.  Its very busy and hard to find parking.  Thankfully, all these beach towns have what Lee is calling “South African Back up Cameras”, entrepreneurial bums who will point you to a parking spot and keep watch on your car for a tip of merely your pocket change.

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So again, I will sign off with the expectation of shark diving tomorrow.  Gonna knock on some wood.



Cape Town Diaries, Part 1

Desperately holding back a panicked cry and a stomach full of vomit, I fumbled in the dark with a circa 1800 key thinking “why would a place with a fingerprint scanner at the front door, use such ancient room keys?!”  A click and a gasp, then a race to the toilet at the far side of the hostel.

No, my trip was not off to a good start.  I spent the rest of that night wretching every hour, ensuring I met every female patron in the bathroom, who soon grew to pity me.  Perhaps it was the 22 hours of flying, or the water I drank in Turkey, but something wasn’t agreeing with me.  I spent the following day in bed, with the best trip I could do to the neighbouring bar around 8pm, to make an odd request of “Orange Juice to go please!”

Let’s rewind a bit.  On Sunday, Lee and I got on a plane at Pearson Airport in Toronto.  A little over 9 hours and a pretty decent sleep later, we landed in Istanbul, Turkey.  I know certain members of my family cringe as they read that, but we really had a lovely time!  We had pre-booked our visas so clearing customs was a breeze, then we immediately looked for a tour operator.  We found one that Lee seemed comfortable with (though I think we got a bit ripped) who offered to take us into the city for $100 USD and give us a tour around.

(Turkey photos will have to come at a later date as they dont seem to want to upload today)

They dropped us off at a rug store and a guide took us walking to the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia.  We did have to pay separately to get into the Hagia Sophia as it was a museum, but it was very beautiful.  It was a bit eerie, as the entire city seemed almost dead, and every hour or two echoes of prayer blasted across the city on loud speaker. Overall, we did feel very safe there and there were TONNES of kittens everywhere!!

We then walked back to the rug store with a couple options listed to us, and I think we just said “ok” to whatever he suggested.  Well, we ended up with close to an hour long rug sales pitch, and shooting the shit over a beer with his… cousin?… in the rug store.  So… I think we probably could have seen more for our $100 and I have a good laugh thinking about where we ended up – drinking beers out of fine glasses atop heaps of multi-thousand dollar rugs.  We did have a few minutes before our ride came and they had suggested we go to the cafe across the road for a turkish coffee.  Lee partook, I wanted to sleep so I just got a water.  Here is a tip: Get the coffee.

The light started to fall and all the shops lit up with the most beautiful lanterns.  I would love to see Istanbul at night, it must just be the most magical place!

Fast forward another 10 hours of flying and we were touching down in Johannesburg.  Side note – Turkish airlines is wonderful – good food, entertainment systems, and very low fare.  We only had a few hours in Joburg, just enough time to pick up my cell phone which I had pre-ordered online and grab a muffin.

Up in the air one last time for the shortest leg of our journey, a little over 2 hours to Cape Town.  Finally we had arrived!  All of our stuff came safe and sound too, so we headed out to get our rental car. We knew what we were getting into before we left, but it took both of us paying 100% attention to stay on the right… er left side of the road.  Backseat driving much appreciated! (to this moment, he has only entered the wrong side once)

We made it safely to our Hostel, African Soul Surfer in Muizenburg (outside of Cape Town) and immediately felt very welcome.  We also have the best room in the place, with the most incredible view.  That evening we went for a walk down the boardwalk and enjoyed watching the waves crash against the rocks.  That was all it took and we were beat… falling asleep at about 5:30pm local time.


Next thing I know, I am tossin and turning, stomach lurching.  Am I going to vomit?  No way, I haven’t done that in years.  I am never sick.  Then the cold sweats happened and I knew I needed to move fast.  No time for shoes, no time for anything, running through a lounge full of people and sliding in to hit right on target.  As I mentioned before, this continued for the entire night until I was empty and then some.  The next day was completely lost.


But it wasn’t all that bad.  If you are going to be sick anywhere, you should at least be somewhere you can gaze out at the ocean, mountains and continuous surf entertainment.

Today was much better, we actually got up and I stuffed a blueberry muffin in my face, food! At last, I could fathom the thought of eating.  We headed downstairs for our first surf lesson and squeezed into wetsuits.

Our teacher Doug, took us out to the beach and through some stretches and a brief jog as a warmup (I might mention, the day we arrived was 16C) before some practice pop-ups in the sand on our boards.  Then it was out to the water!  It was cold at first, but we warmed up quickly as the trapped water in the wetsuits heated up.  The waves were huge! (for our standards) but very choppy.  There were not a lot of surfers out there.  Doug helped us with the timing “Paddle paddle paddle… up!”  I nearly got up on my first try but my balance was a bit to one side.  The second try i stayed righted but only came up as far as my knee.  Several tries later and I was exhausted.  I had expected that I wouldn’t make it through the whole lesson (the most tiring part was fighting the choppy waves to get back out) and I told Lee “Last one and I am going in”.  Well wouldn’t you know, I managed to get a full stand in, for only a micro second, then the wave ended and it was much harder to balance.  So I jumped back in and waded back to the beach, I was happy with that.  Not a moment too soon too, because as soon as my board hit the sand and I lay down on it, the spins set in and I lost consciousness momentarily.  Yup, thats 2 days worth of lost food for ya! I came to quickly and watched Lee finish his lesson.  He managed to catch a wave and surf for several seconds and had to be a good 30m (way longer than you think!).  So proud!  I think next time we will see if Doug will hold our gopro for us!

In the afternoon we drove up to Somerset West to the Cheetah Outreach, where they have ambassador animals who they allow the public to interact with.  We visited with the cheetah first and learned a few things about them – apparently they only like lean cuts of meat so they can keep their svelte figures – us chubby north american tourists can pet without worry🙂 We also visited the meerkat, who was a glutton for snuggles, and if you stopped scratching his chin or head, would stand up and start barking at you until you started back up again – no rest for the wicked.




We finished the day with a long walk on the beach at sunset, which you cant really see from here as its behind the mountain, but made for beautiful photos.



Tomorrow we have a tour booked for a cage dive with the great white sharks.  I will be sure to bring home some video to share!




Goldilocks and The Quest for The Ultimate Riding Tights

As you are reading this, I am somewhere several thousand feet in the air, probably knocked out with sleeping pills, on the 22.5 hour (over 1.5 days) on my way to South Africa, for Race the Wild Coast 2016.

If you have just come to the blog recently, let me brief you: I will be riding 350kms, swimming horses through rivers, running down steep rocky cliffs, and camping in some of the most remote and beautiful country of South Africa.  So as you can imagine, picking gear to get me through this adventure was a bit of a trial and error.  Thankfully, the great folks at FITS Riding have offered up a few options for me to try. Lets take some time to go through my process and review the options!

I often tell people, once you get a pair of FITS, you will never need or want another pair of breeches again. 3 years later and it’s still holding true. In fact, I wouldn’t ever consider wearing another brand for this adventure – whether they sponsored me or not!

PerforMAX All Season Full Seat Breech

In my all-seasons in 2014 at the Mongol Derby

Ok, so I already owned these guys, and they are the reason I reached out to FITS earlier this year.  They are the greatest pair of riding pants I have ever owned.  I get a lot of people asking about them, and if they know FITS, they tend to sneer about the price tag – particularly in my endurance world where expensive things are reserved for those frilly folk in the hunter/jumper/dressage world.  Yes, these are on the upper price range when you peruse the rack at your local tack shop, but hear me out, I have saved so much money thanks to these breeches!

Why?  The quality is superb.  Yes, I can buy a pair of decent riding tights for 1/3 of the price and they are OK, but do you know what happens to those ones? I will tell you!  My beef is mainly with one mainstream brand… I wont mention who, but I have had 2 pairs of tights rip when dismounting, 1 wear see-through on the butt, and 2 wear holes through the knee patches.  Not a single pair of these tights could take my abuse for more than a year (in fact one pair ripped only on their second ride).  Total bill about $600 since I started this sport a little over 5 years ago.

I have had these all-seasons now for 3 years and they still look brand new.  They came to the Mongol Derby with me, they have thousands of training miles, and are my first pick for every endurance race I enter.   Cost of my FITS breeches?  $269.  That’s some serious savings!

If that is not enough to convince you, just try on a pair.  Seriously, try it, you will like it!  You will instantly notice the quality is far superior to other brands.  The material is thicker without being hotter, but they still manage to keep you warmer through spring and fall seasons.  There is more stretch and compression than their competition – I can actually FEEL the difference the compression gives, allowing me to perform better, longer, and feel less sore/tired following my rides.  Plus, compression = more flattering fit, and the cuts and details in these pants make it hard not to check myself out in reflective ponds or in ride photos.  Instant confidence boost when you ooze into a pair of these.

Lastly, the deerskin leather is wonderful.  It seriously sticks when it needs to (like when Bentley pulls a 180 spook), but it doesn’t restrict my movement in any way.  The deerskin can also be machine washed which is a MUST in my household.  The design of full seat – with those lovely butt cheek circles, keeps everything tight to my body without rubbing – as opposed to standard full seats which have a tendency to droop and shift on my particular body type.

Pros: Superb quality, fit and comfort

Cons: The up front cost is quite high at $269 USD (but they pay off over the years)

Coates Creek 2016-341
over 2 years and several thousand miles later (and about 15 lbs heavier too!), the SAME pair of pants, still like new.


Free Flex Full Seat Zip Front Breech

While I am seriously in love with my all-seasons, swimming in salt-water could prove uncomfortable and damaging for them.  This was my main reason behind contacting FITS to discuss some other options.  The next pair that they sent me were the Free-Flex full seats.  The seat is synthetic, so it would be more suited to frolicking on the beach than the deer skin.  Everything else is pretty much the same – the compression fabric, the cut, the mesh panels etc. but it does have two hip pockets instead of one, and a front-zipper in case you have trouble squeezing into a pair of pull-ons (particularly difficult when you are wet or sweaty!)

I was a little skeptical at first with the full seat, worried that because it wasn’t the standard circular patch, I would still have some drooping.  I was thrilled when I tried them on, they hugged me just as well as my beloved all-seasons, and wow, did I ever look good!  Put on a nice belt and a polo shirt, and I looked like a professional jumper rider!  Clean me up and take me out!

My first ride saw some epic spooks from Bentley, as he faced off with some baby deer.  I sat these leaps and twists like a hula figurine glued to the dashboard of an outrageous taxi driver.  These things have serious stick!  When I hear riders say “I wish I could just velcro myself to my saddle”, I will now tell them this is the next best thing!

Unfortunately, for me, the stick was actually a bit of a downside.  This race in South Africa will have me running down hills, and running in these pants had my thighs sticking together uncomfortably which caused some chafing.  There are no perforations like the deerskin had, so I could feel some moisture (sweat) building up behind the panels on my leg. Add salty sea water to that, and I knew I would be in for trouble.

These are some seriously wicked pants, but I am going to reserve them for times when I need extra security in the saddle… jumping and working on greenies.  I do want to try hunting this year, and these would be perfect for that. I would highly recommend these to jumpers or those who need the confidence that comes with extra stick. Its nice to have these in the tool-kit!

Pros: Same comfort as the all seasons but with extra stick, more traditional appearance

Cons: Not suited to swimming or running (if you need to do that), or long hours in sweaty/wet conditions.

Would you like to win a pair of Free-Flex’s?  Go to the ESRR Facebook page and shoot us a message.  We are raffling off a pair to help fundraise for my adventure.  Ashley and Solstice can sell you tickets and/or you can come visit us at an upcoming event to buy tickets.


TechTread Full Seat Pull On Breech

Setting out for loop #2 in my FITS Tech Treads
Setting out for loop #2 in my FITS Tech Treads

These are the ones that are JUUUUUSSSTTTT RIIIGGGGHTT for me.  Again, I found the quality, fabric and fit to be impeccable.  I would say they are like a second skin, but my skin isn’t this tough while still being soft!  The two main differences here are that instead of the deerskin, we have silicone grips, and there are no mesh panels near the ankles.

First off, I didn’t miss the mesh panels.  I will be riding without tall boots or half chaps, so the lack of mesh is actually bonus… less chance the nasty bugs will get me.  However, it is a nice feature on the other models to keep things light under the boots.

Next, the silicone is not nearly as grippy as the deerskin or the synthetic full seat.  I am also quite alright with that.  It will make it more comfortable for me to run along with my horse (and I tested this by doing essentially a half marathon RNT in these last weekend), and keep me pretty mobile in the saddle, while still being grippier than many of the competing breeches and compression garments.  Yup, just right!

They are comfortable enough to sleep in, and I was amazed at how quickly they dried during my test rides (2 days back to back – ride N tie, then a set speed).  Despite being soggy all weekend, I didn’t have any chafing, minimal rashing, and really only felt wet when it was actually raining (as far as my pants go that is!).

One other thing, there is a large cargo pocket on the one leg.  Perfect for a phone or treats.  I prefer this pocket to the ones on the other models (located more on the hip) as its easier to access and can fit more stuff without pinching.

These also have a significantly lower price tag at $129 USD.  Any other silicone grip pants I have seen and tried are about the same price.  Maybe a few bucks cheaper, but nowhere near the quality of FITS.

Pros: Great price and value, cargo pocket, pajama like comfort.

Cons: Not as grippy, I can only find these in US stores (though have seen the winter versions on shelves here).

Still feeling good, miles later with the pants drying quickly and not causing rashing or chafing!
Still feeling good, miles later with the pants drying quickly and not causing rashing or chafing!


Weekend of high highs and low lows

October in Canada. You never know what you’re going to get. That was pretty much the theme for the weekend. The weather forecast called for rain all weekend. Rain has never stopped me from riding before but when it’s cold and you’re riding all day, it is not the most fun thing in the world. My plan was to do 18 mile championship ride n tie with my younger brother on Saturday and the 50 mile endurance ride on the Sunday. In order to run an event, there needs to be three teams entered. Unfortunately only two teams entered the 18 mile race so we dropped down to 12 mile run. Five teams were entered in this thankfully, so it ran. [Note: if you haven’t tried ride n tie yet, you really must! It’s a blast and anyone can do it. It was very cool to see so many families participating in both the 12 mile and 6 mile races!]

Although was a rather wet day and track was wet sand, we were off to a good start. We came into the halfway vet check and Splash’s heart rate was pretty much down. Heading out into the last half of the race, one team had passed us but I caught up to them at the end and galloped across the finish line. My runner had made it in before me, which he has done before at this venue. He is attempting the New York marathon next month and I’m thinking that is going to seem easier than the track he just ran!

Let’s see you not blink when blinded by a flash in the dark!

We were very fortunate to have our mom and my boyfriend come cheer us on/pit crew for us.  Thanks to the days getting shorter, awards ran in the dark. One thing I love about Sue’s rides in the Dufferin Forest are the little extras like prizes. Yes, finishing a tough course is a win in itself but sometimes it’s fun to take home a little something extra! My brother loved the medal and horse head statue.

With it being rainy and cold, I went to bed early to rest up for the 50 mile race the next day. About 2 hours after I crawled into bed, I was woken up by the sound of my horse lying down and getting up repeatedly. Even under the minimal light of my head lamp, I could see that she was very tucked up and her flank was twitching.  I immediately thought colic but I could hear gut sounds in all four quadrants of the GI tract without my stethoscope.

Luckily there were still some people awake and we managed to find a vet that was as well (thank you Stan for getting out of your nice warm trailer to help us!) After all other vitals checked out (nice, low heart rate, not dehydrated), peeing and pooping regularly, the twitching stopped and she was no longer tucked up, and a call to the treatment vet didn’t raise immediate concerns, it was concluded it was a spasmodic colic. Treatment was to walk her around to get the gas moving and let her eat. Her appetite was good as she kept trying to drag me to grass! It didn’t take much walking until she let out some good farts and she seemed to be back to normal.  Needless to say, I didn’t quite get the sleep I was hoping for as I was constantly listening to her outside my tent.

A few hours later in the early morning, even though we had an uneventful rest of the night, I decided it would be best to drop down from the 50 mile race to the 25 mile ride, plus they were calling for showers/thunderstorms and those aren’t the most fun to be stuck out in the bush in.

The day started off great with no issues to report and the sun even came out for a bit.  At my last vet check, I had a difficult time getting her heart rate down to parameter, which has never been an issue before. We did manage to make it down in time to get a completion and no comments from the vet were made to indicate that anything was wrong.  About 10 minutes later as I was walking back to the trailer to put her away, she tried to roll while on the end of my lead (something she has never done before). As soon as I got her up, I noticed her tucked up again and the twitching had resumed.  Heading back over to the veterinarians, Splash was treated with some Banamine to help with the pain and was walked around some more until she passed gas and returned to normal.

This was quite puzzling as she has never displayed any symptoms of colic before. Brainstorming with the vets, it was concluded that these episodes were most likely tied to the grass. I had let her eat quite a bit of it both days as it provided both fibre and moisture to my horse and she was choosing to eat it over her hay.  HOWEVER, due to the summer we’ve had in Ontario, the grass hasn’t realized that it is fall and is acting like spring grass (lush, full of sugar/fructan) which was the most likely cause of her upset stomach. So PSA to everyone out there who has their horses on grass.  Treat it like you would in the spring and only allow minimal grazing at a time until their systems are used to it!

Although stressful, it did remind me why I love this sport.  My horse gets checked over numerous times by numerous vets and it teaches you a lot about horsemanship.  Because I spend so much time with my horse at a ride, I am able to pick up on little subtleties quickly, preventing small, treatable things from turning into disasters. Even if you had no idea what colic symptoms were, you would know that something just isn’t quite right, and the resources are there to help you out.

Photo credit to Wendy Webb

Splash is now happily on vacation for the next little bit and our plan is to attend the last ride of the season in the Larose Forest in Eastern Ontario.



Show Days

From riding my coach’s horse Beau, to riding my own horses in both endurance and mounted games, I would say I’m pretty busy. This past weekend was quite busy, with having a show each day this weekend. Over the whole weekend Beau was a good boy. With some classes better than others because you can’t be perfect all the time right?

Friday was Lindsay Ex. This was my first Morgan show ever. We competed in 4 classes getting 2nd,3rd,1st,2nd. Most of the classes had about five people in it, with some pretty good competition too. There was also tough competition in the Saturday Roseneath Fair. Friday was quite the cold day though. All the girls riding for my coach we huddled up in the trailer pretty much until we showed at 11. Luckily Saturday was much better. It was cold in the morning, but it got warmer as the day went on.

At the RoseneathFair we got 5th,2nd,1st,2nd,3rd. Both Friday and Saturday were flat class only, so Beau wasn’t super happy, he’d much rather be jumping. Sunday we competed in two divisions hack and x-rail. For the flat part of the we did relatively the same as the other day. For the jumping part Beau was in his glory. Out of 11 we got 2 in hunter over fences and 3 in equitation over fences.

So what next? This weekend I have Oktoberfest. 14 miles Saturday and 50 miles Sunday on Linda Klarner’s horse Jack. I can’t wait to see how much better he is compared to his first ever 50 mile. Boy I really hope it doesn’t rain, October rains aren’t exactly the warmest showers you could say. I don’t especially like feeling cold and wet for a whole day either.

Have a great weekend, TGIF.


SeeHorse Device Review

I won a SeeHorse device back in April and finally received it in August. I was very excited to try it out as the way the device was portrayed, I was expecting it to take my endurance training to a whole other level.  I took it for a test ride a few weeks ago and nothing really seemed to work as it should, plus the battery died after about an hour so I decided to really read up on it and make sure I understood the instructions that came with it and set out to perform a real test.




First things off, the size.  While not huge, it is rather large and does have a little bit of weight to it.  The instructions say to put it as close to the browband as possible so I attached to the throatlatch just above the buckle so the device wouldn’t slide down.  There really isn’t a way to get it nice and snug so the device could move freely up and down the throatlatch (which it did multiple times and flipped around when my horse shook her head). Splash did not seem overly thrilled with this device on and at one point, shook her head so violently that the device came off the bridle.  Due to the weight of it, my throatlatch also moved throughout the ride and the buckle was under my horse’s jowl by the time my ride was done.


Once attached to my horse, the next step was to sync to the app.  Now the app is only available on iPhone or Android devices, so Blackberry users, you are out of luck. You need your data and Bluetooth on in order to sync to the app (which was a fairly easy process) but it kills the iPhone battery like crazy.  You do need a log in name and password which you have to provide to SeeHorse when you purchase the device so they can set it up for you.  I wasn’t super crazy about another party knowing my password so make sure to pick a password that you don’t use for anything else.  One thing I would like to suggest to SeeHorse is to have an option to keep yourself logged in so you don’t have to log in every time you use the app.  It was also a pain when riding as locking your phone not only stops the device from recording, you have to log in again. I also had some issues getting the app to work again after locking my phone as the pulse counter kept sitting at zero even though the graph at the bottom was still moving (also don’t know why there’s a graph at the bottom.  It doesn’t tell you what it is showing and you can’t go back and look at it after a ride).  I don’t know about you, but I don’t ride with my phone on and in my hand, especially when I’m doing trot or gallop sets. Plus that kills the battery even more!  For the sake of this experiment, I did ride with my phone open and in my hand the entire time (which was quite fun with a frisky horse!)


After my phone was synced with the device and calibrated, I checked to see what the resting pulse was, figuring this was a good parameter to start with since I am well aware of what Splash’s resting heart rate is due to this being checked at every endurance ride.  Normal horse heart rates average between 28-44 beats per minute.  At competition, Splash’s resting heart rate is anywhere from 36-42 so I was very surprised to see 24 on the screen. I figured the device needed some more time to get adjusted so I hopped on and walked down the driveway towards the trails.


Now, the trails I train on at home are anything but flat.  We have lots of rolling hills and some steep climbs so I was hoping to see what Splash’s heart rate spiked to as we tackled these hills. Needless to say I was disappointed when the number on the screen didn’t waiver from the high 40s.  Either my horse is extremely fit or the app is extremely wrong. The highest I was able to get the app to record was 72 beats per minute but when looking at the results from the whole ride, not only did the heart rate jump from 58 to 72, it dropped back down to 52 in about a minute and the activity tracker has me standing the entire time.


In addition to checking pulse, the device is supposedly able to track respiratory rate, steps, activity and temperature.  The respiratory rate feature doesn’t work when you attach it to the bridle for whatever reason so another test will be done where I will lunge my horse with the device attached to her using the belly band that came with it.  Temperature was another failure with my horse’s temperature range going from 84.08 F at the lowest to 99.82 F at the highest. The normal range for a horse is 99-101 F so my horse was apparently dead for most of the ride.  The step counter was the only thing that was even remotely accurate at it clocked me travelling 13.74km (roughly 8.5 miles), My gps watch had me at 8.15 miles but I started the app before the watch as it took some time to find the satellites.



The activity tracker was also a joke.  Even though it had counted me travelling around 8.5 miles, the activity tracker shows me as “standing” or “walking” for the majority of my ride.  Perhaps the leaps of my horse were counted as teleportation?  The app did track us as “catering” once or twice, although I’m not sure what we were “catering”. A wedding or bar mitzvah perhaps?  Very odd considering the majority of the ride we were trotting and the app didn’t show us as trotting once.


Overall, I am very disappointed in how this device works.  I was very excited to get one since on paper, it sounded like an extremely useful tool for endurance training. What makes my frustration worse is that these devices retail for $499 (before taxes and shipping!) At that price, you would expect it to actually do what it is claimed to do! I invite SeeHorse to come out and demo this device for me because I’m either doing something very wrong or this device is not worth even $20.


Better late then never!

September 10 I was supposed to go to a mounted games meet in Newmarket, but unfortunately rain loves to happen on the weekends so sadly it was canceled. The 11th was another horse show for me and Beau. The show was in Bethany at Sky haven. They have a huge arena and outdoor ring with beautiful jumps from your dreams.

I decided to compete in the hack division and 2″3. With 4 classes in both divisions. In the hack division Beau would not cooperate whatsoever. I ask for a halt and he backs up, I ask for a walk and he canters I ask for a straight line and he goes sideways. So to say the least he had a lot of energy. By the last hack class he was starting to get better, but was still being a bit of a bum. I was so mad and frustrated I was almost ready to cry, I literally asked myself why I ride this horse.

We had our warm up for our jumping course early so we could take his bridle off for him to eat. Luckily this worked out in my favour; I think taking off his bridle calmed him down. I started my flat section of my 2″3 division and he was much calmer by that time and did much better. Like most judges though they prefer big clunky horses with no brain rather than a horse that actually has something fancy with a stride. So we didn’t place in the hunter flat portion. Equitation was next and boy was it a challenge.

We went for around 5 minutes to get down to 6 out of 11 and then we went for another 5 minutes. We had to do sitting trot, collected canter and halts in the first group. The top six then became much harder. With having to do sitting trot without stirrups for what seemed like forever, we crossed the diagonal and then finally pick up our stirrups with no instructions of what pace. Many people stopped or walked, but she never said to stop. I continued trotting along picking up my stirrups and posting on.

Can you guess what I came? 1st!! I couldn’t believe it. For our jumping class Beau did great. Happily jumping over every jump and getting every canter lead around the whole course. To say the least I was happy to tell myself this is why I ride this horse.


Massie Autumn Colours Ride

Getting off Jack to jog the roads - he's barefoot on all 4 and I rode him in the rope halter for most of the miles.
Getting off Jack to jog the roads – he’s barefoot on all 4 and I rode him in the rope halter for most of the miles.

On the Labour day long weekend (September 3-5, 2016), I rode my friend Linda’s horse Jack for 3 days, culminating 80 miles (128km) of riding on one horse… my first “pioneer” ride of sorts.   I finished up on Monday with Trixie and Bentley to total 100 miles of riding (160km).

Yes, it was a lot of riding, but the real catch was I was riding in my full kit for Race the Wild Coast.  I wanted it to be the real test while I still have time to tweak things.  I rode with the fenders and stirrups I intend on wearing, the clothes I intend on wearing, and my backpack full of “stuff” (my kit list isn’t 100% complete as I still wait for things ordered online and some resulting changes from the test).  Every morning I packed up my gear into their waterproof pouches before saddling up, and every night I unpacked my meager allowance to sleep in the bed I have selected with the painkillers I had rationed.

For the most part, it went really well, but we did have some hiccups!

Day 1 was a 25 mile ride which ended up being closer to 26…27…30???  Linda and I got lost, as well as every other rider.  The ride manager does a great job of making the best use of a small space, but it results in a lot of switchbacks, crossing trail, 2 way traffic trail, and other trail in your sightline.  Our particular issue was we missed a turn that wasn’t well marked (apparently this happened to most riders, and was thankfully corrected for the following days).  All of a sudden, we saw a marker that said “2km to home.”  Knowing our last marker had said 10km (of a 20km loop) and had been about 15 minutes ago… we knew something was wrong!  Instead of doubling back the way we came, we redid the portion of the loop again (we were at an intersection of 2 way trail that was a lolipop), and with the words from ride talk ringing in our ears, kept our eyes peeled in the top corner.

Linda saw the markers and our conversation went a bit like this:

“Wait, Sarah, here is the turn!”  “what, I don’t see it, where?” “In the forest, to the left” ” but there is a fence there, do we go over the fence?” “I think so!” But there are no arrows at this turn, and there’s a ribbon on the right up here”  “but look into the forest over there, an arrow”

So we went over the fence and into the new trail (no path had yet been worn down) and sure enough, we found the 9 or so km we had been missing.  Because the trail was tight, when we missed the turn, we ended up on the part of the trail where the 9kms was supposed to finish, blissfully ignorant to the fact we missed the toughest part of the trail.

Needless to say, we didn’t make that mistake again.  But wow, was it ever tough trail.  Its a bit of a mind game… you go and you complete a 50 mile ride in a little over 5 hours at another venue, and then it takes you about the same time to do 25 miles here!  Lots of twisty turning forest, rocks, and difficult climbs.  Even by day 3 where we galloped all the fields and missed no turns, our speed for the 25 mile distance was nowhere near what it would be at the other rides.  Its frustrating at first, but becomes a relief in the end – no longer racing your peers or the clock, you just get it done.  I think we needed that, and we had such a great time riding these trails.

As for my body, I was surprised how well I handled the task.  Day 2 I was a bit sore from my new equipment – some bruising on the inside of my calves since I usually use boots not fenders, and lots of bruising on my thighs because Linda’s saddle has bucking rolls I kept posting into, shoulders a bit stiff from the backpack, but it was not enough to get me to stop.  Miraculously, my body had become accustomed to these things by day 3 where I felt the best and the perkiest of all 3 days!  I certainly got stronger every day, which is very encouraging because I had not believed myself to be as fit as I should – my weight being the main factor (I had lost lots of weight prior to the derby, not so much this time!), but the endurance is there and I feel like I am in a good place mentally too.

Day 4 – or back to real life at the office, nobody even suspected I had ridden 100 miles that weekend.  I felt great.  Ready to do another 100… or more!  Bring it!

(and to that I will bid you adieu to go back to weighing tiny toothpastes and spooning diaper rash ointment into tiny jars)

Enjoy today’s daily helmet cam from the Massie Ride, and subscribe to my youtube channel to get something like this every day!

Good Times in the Ganny

Our most recent competition was at the Summer’s End ride where we rode in ride n tie in the Ganaraska Forest. I’ve always enjoyed the Ganaraska trails.  They are well maintained, sandy trails with minimal rocks and with just enough hills to keep it interesting.

This ride was hosted by ESRR’s own Solstice Pecile and her family. I had previous commitments that weekend so I only rode in the 12 mile ride n tie as I need it to qualify for the provincial championships in October.

My regular ride n tie partner is my younger brother, who is a marathon runner however, my boyfriend has just gotten back into running and wanted to give it a try (and who am I to discourage my non-horsie significant other from coming to a horse competition, let alone ride in it). The big key thing here is he is not a fan of horses AT ALL. He has ridden my horse a few times before but it has been almost a year since he has ridden last. Luckily his strength is running and mine is riding so we each got to do the majority of what our interests were.

With the ride n ties, the only mandatory switch is at the halfway vet check so our strategy was to run/ride beside each other for the first 6 miles then while I cooled my horse off and did the vet check, Clayton would continue on running until the end.

One thing I really liked about this ride is the format in which they did the ride n tie. I really liked the idea of staggered start times. There is less congestion at the start of the race (when all horses and runners are starting together) and on the trail. You also really have to ride smart since you have no idea how fast the other teams are going.

It was rather hot and humid but the awesome ride managers put out a kiddie pool for people (which Clayton very much appreciated at the end of the run) and made sure there was ample water available for the horses.

For the first 6 miles Splash felt really lazy but it worked out so that we could stay with Clayton

At the first check it took a little while to get her heart rate down as it was quite warm and there’s a lot of muscle on my horse for the heat to escape through but we passed the check fine.  She seemed to realize what was going on now and really perked up for the second loop, where we cantered/galloped most of the way, only stopping at the water troughs for a quick drink and sponge off.

Even though Clayton had about a 15 minute head start on us going out of the second loop, we did manage to see him at a point along the trail where the trail loops back, which gave me a good indication of how far ahead he was of us.  We never did catch up to him but Splash and I managed to close the 15 minute gap down to about 7 minutes.  Overall, we completed the 12 mile/20km course in 1 hour and 57 minutes.

It was very nice to see so many kids out doing the 6 mile one with parents and/or siblings.  This is a great way to get your kids involved in horses and give them a goal to work towards while keeping fit (and it gets rid of all that excess energy they seem to have!)

Out of 3 teams, we finished first, about five minutes ahead of the team in second. While I was just out to get the miles, if anyone knows my boyfriend, you will know that he’s super competitive so I was happy that we won (so I didn’t have to listen to him grumble on the two and a half hour drive home!) Plus it makes him more excited to try these events again.

Our next event is this weekend at the Massie Autumn Colours ride where we’ll be doing another 12 mile ride n tie, this time with my younger brother.  Will we be able to beat the time from last weekend?

ride n tie