Fun Times in Briones

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So here we are a week out from Tevis (ahhhhhh!).?

On Tuesday Jenn and I got Stella and Bear out for one of their last pre-Tevis rides.? We took them into Briones Regional Park, east of San Francisco.? The ponies are looking really good at this point; they are fit and showing very nice muscle development, their weight is good - Jenn's been working to keep Bear's down a bit and push Stella's up a smidge, and their attitudes are eager and raring to go.? So we want to walk a line between wrapping them in cotton batting to preserve their perfection and keeping them interested and primed before the ride.

We headed out for a medium-length ride with some gradual hills, looking for?a good leg stretching without stressing any joints or muscle groups too strenuously.? We've really liked riding at Briones, it has miles of trail with good hills and great footing.? And it's really convenient for me because it's only about a half hour from my house, but poor Jenn has to drive an hour from Napa with the horses and then take them home again.

We did a couple of familiar loops and had them trot and easily canter up a few long grades.? Stella kept getting rid of her front boots which were the only two that Jenn hadn't glued on, so our ride was interrupted by a few stops where both horses stood patiently - they've really learned how to do that well during this period of figuring out the glue on boots.

Briones has cattle running on it, so there are quite a few gates that you must maneuver through during a ride.? Jenn took a video of Bear doing it about as good as he ever has - he's no NATRC professional but I think his performance wasn't too shabby at all.? Certainly showed more finesse than the video operator (Jenn)...

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We also made the ride a break-in trip?for some new Ariat boots that we want to test ride at Tevis.??In case you haven't already guessed, I work for Ariat -?as the director of brand marketing - and?Jenn serves as our copywriter extraordinaire.? The new boots (available in Spring 2012) are called the Volant XT and were?somewhat designed with endurance riders in mind (breathability being key).? Jenn took another fun little video at the top of a hill, panning around?to see the Bay Area landmarks and then our great new shoes.

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We'll do another easy ride this coming Sunday - this time in Jenn's neck of the woods.??I'll meet her at Tamber Bey (Jenn and Barry run a vineyard just north of Yountville in Napa County - it's a gorgeous place and their wine is really spectacular http://www.tamberbey.com/) and we'll head to Las Posadas State Forest in Anguin, CA for a little spin.? I'll let you know how it goes!