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WHY??? Does my photo say, "Sensitive content. Not recommended for those under 18" It's a picture of a trail with horse ears. What makes that sensitive content? How many of you did not click on it because you didn't want to see something nasty? How many of you did because you were curious? I am certainly baffled.
Haha, I wondered about it and did click to see. My guess was going to be that maybe it showed a cut or some kind of injury, so I was definitely baffled.

I just got an email from Youtube a couple of days ago telling me a video I had posted was flagged for inappropriate content for children. The title was nondescript so I couldn’t even remember what the video was-when I went to look, it was a short clip of me test riding a horse before I bought Fizz. Not sure what was inappropriate about that, except maybe my crappy riding skills?! 😆
 

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WHY??? Does my photo say, "Sensitive content. Not recommended for those under 18" It's a picture of a trail with horse ears. What makes that sensitive content? How many of you did not click on it because you didn't want to see something nasty? How many of you did because you were curious? I am certainly baffled.
I clicked it of course!

Perhaps those ears are too phallic in terms of their shape.. good thing you don't ride a mule!! 🤪
 

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WHY??? Does my photo say, "Sensitive content. Not recommended for those under 18" It's a picture of a trail with horse ears. What makes that sensitive content? How many of you did not click on it because you didn't want to see something nasty? How many of you did because you were curious? I am certainly baffled.
I clicked on it. And it was a between the ears horse shot. Very lovely. Maybe the horse had sensitive ears? The new program is insane.
 

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Congrats, @Celeste! We hit our goal this weekend too. Although nowhere near the "big horses"- @rambo99, @knightrider , & @phantomhorse13 . 😉 But I'm still feeling very satisfied to have nearly doubled my miles from last year, with a few more weeks of decent weather to go this year! I'm trying to decide just how big to set my goal for next year. But don't want to get too far ahead of myself, we have a long winter ahead of us.
Anyway, it was fitting we rode mile 500 with our weekly riding buddies yesterday. Rifle season started yesterday, so we're sticking to the roads and open spaces for at least the next couple of weeks
Total 2020 miles: 505.2
We need the old "happy dance" icon back 🎉
You have to keep in mind that @phantomhorse13 and @knightrider exercise multiple horses. I have two, but 2000 miles would be too much even for two. I want my horses to last a long time. I don't want to wear out their joints and feet prematurely. (I also have a disability that makes it a miracle that I ride as much as I do)
Also, I am only competing with myself. Keeping up with my miles helps me to push myself just a bit more even if I am not feeling up to it. And it keeps me relatively sane.
Congratulations and I think we are doing great. 😊
(That is a wimpy choice of emoticons.)
 

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@Celeste, totally agree, I was just joking around. I couldn't be happier with the way our year went. It's the most time I've ever spent in the saddle, and to think about the improvement in my relationship and understanding with my horse from spring until now is pretty incredible. We're lucky we had a relatively dry summer, and being stuck at home because of the pandemic helped with at least a little more time for riding during the week than I'd typically have. No complaints from me at all!
 

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Just reading some of the recent posts in this, I have to say I was missing this thread and all y'all on it. 🥰 (Yes, totally wimpy emojis, @Celeste... 😭) It's just, early this year in what was our late summer, and after a summer of lovely unproblematic fun riding, Sunsmart got very ill in a space of a fortnight, when his pituitary tumour that had been giving him mild Cushings grew. We re-tested his blood and his ACTH was through the roof uncontrolled (no IR though, which is good). His medication was instantly tripled. Still, for months he was like an old man barely shuffling anywhere and with dull eyes, always drinking, no interest in life, losing weight, growing a yak coat - and I thought his chances of recovering even just to have a good paddock retirement were only 50-50.

But then about four months into his increased medication, he started to feel better and look better, and he's been up and up since. He has been galloping around with the others again for two months, and finally shed his yak coat a fortnight ago. I put him back into light work three months back because exercise helps him build his muscles back up and have some adventures.

This was him a month ago before shedding his yak coat.

Right now, apart from a few telltale patches of longer hair on his legs (which is still disappearing), he actually looks like a normal horse again (and I'll take photos soon). He's not quite got his pre-Cushings summer coat - it's not as short as a normal summer coat, but it's a nice-looking, even, chocolate-coloured coat, and he has now stopped being sweaty on hot days.

In other good news: A couple of days ago I was watching the horses come racing around the back of the house headed for the forest track, as is their wont. Julian and Chasseur had run off ahead of the others, which was unusual, because for the past few months Sunsmart has been right with them again (just like before his health crisis), and even ahead of them a few times lately. This time, Sunsmart came trotting along with the donkeys who are always playing catch-up when the horses decide to race off...and then he spotted the sand patch behind the house (an old cattle camp), looked speculative, and decided to have a good roll there before proceeding into the forest.

When he got up from that, he gave a series of joyous buck-jumps, threw his heels up into the air like a young horse, and turbo-charged into a gallop punctuated by long leaps that weren't necessary for getting from A to B. It warmed my heart to see him like this again.

A couple of days ago when I took him out on a half-hour trail ride, he was super-enthusiastic, and halfway through his ride, heading back out on the swamp track, he said, "Let's go!" and cantered (not sedately, more like a chariot horse) the whole way to the back boundary off his own steam, which he hasn't done since he got ill last summer. He's feeling good - he'd already galloped up the first hillside as if turbo-charged, and after the swamp track, he galloped up the ridge in the other direction in a similar manner (lots of "yippee!") before we headed back more sedately on our western forest boundary. When I got off him, he was in a fabulous mood and literally smiling at me. After the ride, he wolfed down a small extra hard feed (with a bit of salt in it) before galloping off merrily to join his friends at the far end of the hill paddock. So good to see. ♥

So that's why I've not been participating. But, I've got something for you all. A friend of mine is learning to ride on him whenever she visits, and she's fabulous at documenting things with photographs. Here's her ride from three months ago, which was only her second time ever on horseback (she does yoga, has super balance and loves animals). This was written in August.

EILEEN'S RIDE AND PHOTOS

Today we had to be home because of the driveway construction, so it was an ideal time to do a hiking adventure with two girls, a horse and a dog. Eileen had her very first horse ride on Sunsmart before Christmas last year; but then of course he got very sick a couple of months later. After three months of treatment on his tripled dose of Cushings medication, we were reasonably confident he'd have a bit of a retirement - he'd been so terrible, like an old and frail man, with mouth ulcers and tooth issues and losing weight rapidly and walking at a snail's pace and no interest in life, when he first got ill. But a while back, he began to perk up again and pick up in physical condition, and two weeks ago, he started racing around with the others again, looking like a galloping yak but clearly having fun, and keeping up.

I've not posted any photos all this time because the horse looked completely shocking. Warning: He still looks bad, mostly because of his horrendously long, lumpy, discoloured coat - and he's not in the shape he was. While he's been building up muscle again these past couple of months, and hasn't got huge hollows in his back and shoulders anymore, he's still pot-bellied and ribby and needing to build more muscle. But, he's got sparkle again and is adventurous, which is much more noticeable in real life than in still photographs.

We've had two little trail rides just recently, which I wrote about separately, and while he's enjoying them, I'll keep the little adventures coming, because they're good for him mentally as well as physically. Also, spring is coming up and that's a critical time for a Cushings horse, so he'll be far more stable in light work than completely retired.

So today, Eileen had her second ever horse ride. I'd like you to remember that when you look at the photos - she never had anything to do with large animals like this before, and yet look at her body language with the horse on the ground and in the saddle, and also her super balance and posture. Her heels aren't consistently down yet but that's something you can develop gradually rather than force; far more important is that a new rider learns to move with a horse, and she's doing that very well. She's got a background in yoga etc which is standing her in good stead, and is highly outdoorsy and completely besotted with animals. Eileen has been volunteering at a cockatoo sanctuary for years, recently started working with raptor rehabilitation (owls, wedge-tailed eagles), and is about to do a stint with the Monkey Mia dolphins, in a volunteer programme there. She's got this enormous camera and spends hours photographing birds with it when she visits. She took her phone on today's adventure, and though it can distort things, she got some lovely shots, which we're going to share here.

Photos 1-6: Hobnobbing pre-ride
Photos 7-8: And up!
Photos 9-10: Rider view - complete with crazy dog









 

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So, you can see the usual thing I do with new riders, which is to leadline them, and give them a rope off a halter for themselves - no bit until the rider learns to balance consistently and to steer and halt with the rope first. It's not crucial that the rope is held "correctly" like reins, and also you can't jar the horse easily with a rope (unless you're deliberately brutal, or extremely unbalanced). Sunsmart loves trails, and people love riding in a natural environment, so that's what I do to start people off, these days - I started people in roundyards and/or on the lunge during my teens and 20s, but that was because I didn't have this ultra-reliable horse you could put a new person on, who would stay relaxed. My Arabian mare was a firecracker. Sunsmart had all her athleticism, but without the desire to run all the time - he was always just as happy to walk as he was to go flat out (so long as you didn't walk forever and ever).

Photo 11: The farm dam has finally filled nicely for the first time in three years, and the dog is having a quick dip as we go by.
Photo 12: Entering our bushland via the sand track - we're going out through the valley floor, like the last time I rode Smartie.
Photo 13-14: Sand track - the calendar may say late winter, but for the past week, the bushland has been saying "spring"
Photo 15: We're in the neighbour's place, near his first dam near the fenceline - you can see where we are on the ride map posted for the last ride I did with Smartie. This dam got dug out this winter because it ran dry with three years of drought, and we're climbing the large sand plateau that resulted from the deeper excavation, to get a bit of a view, and and uphill-downhill experience.
Photo 16: Going downhill. Eileen went, "Wheeeeeee!" :lol:
Photo 17: Of course, it rained buckets after the dam was deepened, so it is now full...
Photo 18: Sunsmart was always interested in looking at views, climbing up lookouts, taking wild animal tracks instead of vehicle tracks, etc... and he has all of that back now. :love:
Photo 19: This is the start of the valley floor tracks through to Verne Road. I've taken photos of this ride before (when the Christmas trees were in bloom, summer before last) and this is our last shot before Verne Road, because we were bushbashing on animal tracks for 20 minutes and Eileen was kept too busy to be able to get her camera out. More on that in the next post.
Photo 20: After hitting the end of this block, and you turn right, parallel to Verne Road, you come out on this huge meadow, which Eileen captured off horseback here.








 

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Hahaha the camels story, @carshon, thanks for sharing, and the tiger story, @charrorider! 😂 It seems you've had some exotic adventures! @phantomhorse13, are your legs saddle-shaped yet? 🤪

Eileen always takes so many photos, I'm going to have to break this up into multiple posts despite of the fact that I only selected a fraction of them to share...

Going through the animal tracks in the neighbour's valley floor was great fun, because it's a beautiful, wild setting, and because the horse has rather odd ideas on how to proceed. You see, when I ride him, this is where he gets to choose his own way through the myriad of tracks in this section - he loves to explore. And when I'm leadlining someone else, he doesn't quite understand that it's hard for me to crash through the undergrowth while he is picking new tracks. 😁

I tried walking ahead of him, and that was OK for a couple of minutes, but then he said, "It's boring walking behind you and not seeing the view or choosing the tracks!" So I let him off the lead to choose his own tracks, while walking behind him. Eileen is learning to turn and stop with the rope, and doesn't need to be on the line all the time anymore. Sunsmart likes to walk this section and hasn't ever shown a sudden burning desire to gallop flat-out through this maze of undergrowth, so this was a good place to let him off. I walked along behind the horse for a couple of minutes; when he showed signs of wanting to trot, I put him back on the lead. This meant I was crashing through the undergrowth and having to jump over bushes while the horse picked paths for himself which are of course all too narrow to share.

We laughed and laughed and I got terribly out of breath, so I didn't notice on time that Sunsmart was heading for a path that had low tree branches across it. I yelled, "Duck, Eileen!" and though she ducked, and flattened herself to the top of the horse, the branches were too low for her to pass, and she got caught just as I was turning the horse sideways back out of this tree trap. To her great credit, she held balance and stayed on and they found daylight again. She must have got some scrapes in the process, but she just laughed and said, "Good thing I was wearing a helmet!" :cool:

By the time we turned out of the valley floor, onto the firebreak near Verne Road, I was hyperventilating and Sunsmart was wanting to gallop up the hill, which I knew would probably be the case, so I forestalled it; but the extra animation made Eileen go "Wheee!" again.

By the time we were on the ridgetop, and in the huge meadow which is one of the first places to grow clover in the spring, the horse was interested in sampling the clumps of this highly prized food, so I was able to gradually recover my breath.

Photos 21-27: In the meadow
Photo 28: We got back through the gate into our property, and then turned right to go the long way home, through the swamp track in the centre of our own valley floor - not marked in the most recent ride map, but you can see it, starting opposite the neighbour's dam, which Eileen took a photo of passing from our side of the fence on the way back.
Photos 29-30: Heading back on the swamp track.









 

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Phew, last post for this. 😋

After the swamp track comes the middle meadow, and then Scary Brook, none of which we photographed. Sunsmart doesn't like wet feet and jumps Scary Brook, so I prepped Eileen on what to do for her first jump. We had a dry run posture practice and then - wheeee! 😄 She was in a good position and moved with the horse, so excellent first jump - and she was going, "Oh wow, oh wow, amazing!" afterwards. She asked, "Did you jump too?" and I replied, "Yes, I don't like wet feet either!" 🤪

The dog went for another swim in our farm dam on the way back to the tiedown. The machines were working on the driveway we had to cross, and the big truck was coming our way, but the horse wasn't fazed and we walked ahead of the truck, to the utility area, where Eileen did a lovely dismount (she's on and off a horse like she's been riding all her life) and we took the saddle off. I then walked Sunsmart around a bit so he could watch the truck about to dump a load of dirt in the gateway 10m from us, rather than be surprised by sudden noises. Once the truck was done, we moved around each other and I returned the horse to his herd. He'd been fed before the ride - carrots and a big scoop of oats - and we girls were ready for a big cup of tea.

Photo 31: Happy rider
Photo 32-33: Whoosh into the dam goes Jess
Photos 34-37 : After the ride








Well, that was a notable recent-ish ride - with lots of photos...

I like going leadline on a trail with a reliable horse when introducing people to riding. It's more fun than just going around in an arena, and then after a couple of rides like this when they're relaxed and confident and have learnt a bit about seat and balance and communication, you can stick them in an arena with a few obstacles to steer the horse around as a challenge, etc. It's much nicer than group arena riding, which is how I learnt when I was a kid - that was quite stressful, and this approach is so relaxed - the rider always feels safe and is attended to, the environment is gorgeous, the horse is enjoying the outing, I get some exercise and everyone has fun...

@rambo99, I hope you're feeling better! Lovely sunset photo. 🥰
@Celeste, gorgeous photography as always, and love Dillon's face.
@egrogan, totally agree about missing "happydance" etc etc
@knightrider, finally found your camping trip report! 😍 Hahaha the "zebra"! You have so much horsey fun, and it's lovely to experience it vicariously...
 

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@SueC beautiful pictures love the scenery. Sunsmart is lucky to have you for an owner. Glad he's feeling so much better. Wow he had quite the coat on him.

Looks like your friend had lots of fun riding. Good safe horses are a must for new riders.

Yes I'm much better just had a few dark days ,happens with depression. Not much riding just to slippery with ice and melting snow.

So horses are getting some time off. Rode once this week just around the yard. Just walking horses an working on collection leg yielding. Doing back up an turn. Ice's backing up an turning to left is a bit sticky.

Got off and did it from the ground, Sometimes he just needs a little extra help. My daughter was on him asking for the back up an turn. I just helped guide him from on the ground.

So no real trail riding going on this week. Dirt road on Sunday was a ice skating rink. Maybe with today's temps being mid 40s it hopefully melted off. Tomorrow will be mid 40s again. Maybe we will be able to venture out after dark.

Firearms deer hunting so safer to ride at night with head lamps. Ice does really good riding at night. We shall see if riding tomorrow will happen. Road has to be pretty melted off. Won't put my horses well being at risk.
 

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@SueC beautiful pictures love the scenery. Sunsmart is lucky to have you for an owner. Glad he's feeling so much better. Wow he had quite the coat on him.

Looks like your friend had lots of fun riding. Good safe horses are a must for new riders.

Yes I'm much better just had a few dark days ,happens with depression. Not much riding just to slippery with ice and melting snow.

So horses are getting some time off. Rode once this week just around the yard. Just walking horses an working on collection leg yielding. Doing back up an turn. Ice's backing up an turning to left is a bit sticky.

Maybe with today's temps being mid 40s it hopefully melted off. Tomorrow will be mid 40s again. Maybe we will be able to venture out after dark.
You are a braver soul than I am. I don't mind 80, but hoping for mid 40's is incomprehensible to me. So cold!
 

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Something fun happened after my ride today. It has been a bit brisk in Florida these last few mornings, and this morning I rode with gloves on. When I was coming in from my ride, it had warmed up enough that I didn't need my gloves to untack. I stuffed the gloves in my pockets and untacked Isabeau in the sacrifice pen. Imagine my surprise when Chorro walked up to me with my glove in his mouth! It must have fallen out of my pocket, and the sweet horse picked it up and brought it to me! He's a wonder!

My sweet and beloved Chorro
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We had a gorgeous 40*F day with bright blue skies, so took advantage of the nice weather to do a long ride with our riding buddies. We still have to stay on the roads because it's right in the heart of rifle season for deer, and there are clearly tons of people out in the woods. Can't count the number of trucks that passed us with everyone inside in camo. No one seemed to have a deer though 🤔

We did a 9 mile loop we haven't done in quite some time, maybe even a year. But it's a really nice ride, passing several beautiful old farms and really old little cemeteries.





Total 2020 miles: 515.95
 

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@SueC - Loved all the pics!! And looks like you guys had great fun!

@knightrider - too funny on Chorro bringing your glove!

I had a great ride today.... I have happy feet! My neighbor is back (she takes her horses to the mountains in the summer)!! Yay! That means rides to the lake more! Though there was some construction going on so we had to pick our way through and the trail was a little in need of repair so had to get off and go around a few obstacles but it was still soooo much fun! I'm soooo glad she's back! Even got a lope and some long trotting in!

Then came home and saddled Captain and put his headstall on then ground drove him around the yard then on the road and he did so great!! Go Captain!! Wish a car had gone by but next time!
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Got an unexpected ride in. I thought my riding for the year was over as all of the State parks close equestrian trails on Nov 15. A riding center in Galena IL was having a food drive for a local food pantry. Bring in a donation and get to ride their private trails for free. It just so happened that my daughter was coming home from college late Saturday night and the ride was Sunday. She was lamenting the fact that she could not ride when she got home - so off we went! We met our friend W there and saddled up and off we went. Tillie and Sawyer were in fire breathing dragon mode. W's horse Gryffin was not sure what to think of the two crazy mares. Poor guy. The trails were not anything great - private bridle trails in an extremely upscale community. But it was for a good cause and DH needed some horse time after a crazy semester at school. The weather was in the low 40's with no breeze - so not too bad. We rode just under 11 miles. I am feeling it today but so happy to have gotten another ride in this year!
 

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More Dog Trouble

Animal control supposedly went to the Anatolian dog home and warned them that they must keep their dogs up. Last week, my neighbor rode his horse Cowboy and I rode (somebody--can't remember now) to see if that was true. The problem is that 2 of my best riding territories have been closed off to me by landowners. I still have permission to ride gorgeous trails a little further on, but to access those trails, I have to ride past these noisy aggressive Anatolian shepherds. I used to be able to ride through another landowner's farm to get there and avoid the dogs, but that landowner's 2 sons have fussed with me so much and limited my area so much, I decided "forget it." Yes, I could go to the true landowner and whine about his sons being so difficult, but I feel it is wrong to come between a very kind thoughtful man and his two (in my opinion) selfish sons. Does it make the world a better place to cause a family discord?

So, that leaves me having to ride past these Anatolian shepherds. Last week, I stayed back in the privately owned hunting lands taking pictures as my neighbor rode his good level headed horse Cowboy past the dogs to see if they would come out and bother the horse. The aggressive one was tied up (barking his head off), and the older less aggressive one ran out into the road and nipped at Cowboy one time, then just contented herself (I think she's a she) barking and walking around Cowboy. I took a million photos to prove that at least one dog was still out on the road bothering passersby. But I did not contact Animal Control because the really scary bad dog was kept up, and I thought I might be able to live with the older (she looks older) less aggressive one.

So, today, I had my good sensible quiet Chorro and my neighbor had Cowboy. It was a gorgeous morning. We had some time to ride. We headed out to see how bad the older female less aggressive Anatolian would do. Turns out both dogs were loose. We got to the fun trails before the dogs got to us and had an amazing ride.

On the way home, both dogs were out and ready for action. I told my neighbor that my plan was to go very fast past the dogs--get the heck out of Dodge--and just get away. The aggressive (I think male) dog immediately nipped Chorro. Chorro leaped forward and took off at a brisk canter. The dog came after him, but, as I have said before, the dogs want us gone and I want to be gone, so it kind of works (and kind of doesn't because what horse likes to be nipped every time). But Cowboy had had enough. He has been nipped more than any of the horses because I have 4 horses who get nipped, and he is just Cowboy and gets nipped every time. Cowboy said HE WAS NOT GOING PAST THOSE ##%^ DOGS! Not gonna happen. He bounced and juked around and leapt sideways and backed up. In the meantime, I am cantering away. Cowboy's owner would have gladly cantered with me, but Cowboy wasn't having any of it. The dogs came after Cowboy, and all he would do is bounce away backwards, away from home, away from me.

When I got to the entrance to the hunting land, I turned around to see Cowboy going the wrong direction, very agitatedly. His rider was yelling to me that Cowboy wasn't going to go past those dogs. Luckily, he is friends with the landowner across the road from the dogs, so he went through that man's property, I went through the hunting land, and we met at a place we both knew.

As soon as I got home, I called Animal Control, and left a message, but have heard nothing back yet. I'd like to avoid the dogs by going through our friend's property every time, but my neighbor thinks it would be too presumptuous and inconveniencing to be riding there several times a week. Also, my neighbor thinks that it would be only a matter of time before the dogs see the horses coming down the driveway across the road and bother us the same as us riding down the street, which is probably true.
 

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[QUOTE="Animal control supposedly went to the Anatolian dog home and warned them that they must keep their dogs up.
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@knightrider I don’t understand how they don’t take this seriously. Are you not able to involve the police? Here in Ontario animal control is pretty useless as well. But if I was repeatedly attacked by the same dogs I would contact police and esp if you have proof that the dogs are not just barking but actually causing the horses to react dangerously and especially if the dogs are biting and on public property, those folks would be charged. And the fine would get bigger every time.
I wonder if you were still going to brave it past the dogs, if you could spray pepper spray behind you as you’re trotting away. So if the dogs chase they’ll get a dose of it but you and your horse are safe as you’re moving forward. I bet a few times of being sprayed they would keep more to their own yard.
 

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I got some saddle time last week. The whole story is in my journal.

Last Monday, I got Phin out for a bareback mosey:
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Tuesday, I got George out:
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2020 mileage
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11/16phin3.06 miles338 ft climb3.4 mph31F2238.66 total miles
11/17george3.67 miles446 ft climb5.1 mph21F2242.33 total miles
 
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