Monday, March 29, 2010

Home on the Range

It's Monday morning and I'm sitting as much as possible, because I'm SORE! But, it's a good 'sore', as I rode my first endurance ride of the season on Saturday at Home on the Range near Washtucna, WA. We did the 50 mile ride, which was probably pushing it a bit, as I've been sick for (it seems, anyway!) most of March. The kids were very generous in sharing their colds and I got one after another. I think we went out on the trails only around 5 times the entire month, with a few more rides in the arena, so I was definately not quite as fit as I had planned to be. Galen has a pretty good base of conditioning and he's no pasture puff, so I figured I'd be the weak link.

Wendy, Monica and I drove over on Friday afternoon, giving my new truck its first real workout. It drove like a champ and kept us all very comfortable. We didn't even play with all the options, as we talked the entire way. We arrived at Ridecamp around 3 or so and got our camp set up. We vetted in without any problems and then went for a nice ride to check out the trail. Gorgeous vistas, lots of tumbleweeds, some pretty good hills and...badger holes! Lots and lots of them, mostly well marked, although we did hear of a few people coming to grief in them. We got very good at spotting them, quite quickly. Monica had brought a yummy dish for supper and then we went to the ride meeting, where we met the ranch owner, Mr. Beckley, and some of his crew (very nice people, they did a lovely job with the ride) our intrepid ride manager, Gail Williams, who always puts on a fantastic ride, and the vets, who do a super job with very little time off. Off to bed early, although a neighbor near us kept their generator on MUCH too long and a patchy night's sleep with an early morning wake up.

Wendy and I had a start time of 7 am, so we were up at 5:30 to feed the horses, feed us, get tacked up and such. We waited a little bit to ride out, hoping for a loose rein start and a nice slow warm up. Well....the reins might have been loose once or twice that first 17 miles, but both horses were rarin to go and let us know they thought we were being awfully silly to insist on a reasonable pace. Kerri-Jo Stewart and Shannon Mayfield were both in the 25 and took photos of us at the start. You can check out Shannon's blog at and Kerri-Jo has posted some photos on Facebook. We didn't take many photos that first loop, as we were too busy holding our horses in. Galen thought we should pass EVERYONE and Allie concurred with him. We finished the first loop of 17 miles in around 2 hours, so we were going a bit faster than we planned. We vetted in fine and did our hold. The next loop was a 9 mile loop and while the horses were still pulling a bit, we were able to slow down some. We had our longest hold after this loop and were able to eat some lunch and let the horses eat a bit back at our camp. The next loop was a 16 mile (now I can't remember if the first was 17 and the second 16 or the opposite...went to check the info and I had just washed it in my pants pocket. One or the other!), and the horses were a bit more content to slow down. We had more riding on a loose rein this loop and got to see some mule deer and some lovely vistas when we were up on the top of the ridges. This loop took us a bit longer, I think around 3 1/2 or 4 hours (my vet card is elsewhere and I'm too sore to get up and find it!) and we only had a 15 minute hold after it. Thank goodness that Monica was finished with her ride and met us at the vet line with beet pulp, carrots and held horses while we dashed to the port-a-potty! Then, we were off on our last loop and both horses thought we were nuts - they went, but kept politely looking back at camp and looking at us and we had no problems with them going too fast. We were all pretty tired by this time, so kept up a reasonable pace to get done. Wendy had forgotten a jacket and it was a bit cooler than it had been, so we really weren't thinking of dallying. We had 9 miles to go and a cut off in 3 hours. We made pretty good time and I was feeling pretty cheerful and smug (dangerous thing to feel until you're done!) that I was not terribly sore and feeling pretty good. Well....about a mile from camp, I started feeling nauseous and light-headed and had to get off before I fell off. I spent a few minutes with my head between my knees and then Wendy gave me some electrolyte water. Galen thought we should just get back to camp, but I couldn't get on. So, bless Wendy, we walked the rest of the way, quite a bit of it with me hanging on to Galen's tail and him pulling me. Guess we're ready to tail up hills now, although I sure hope it's not for the same reason. The electrolyte water did the trick and the roaring in my head went away, along with thoughts of keeling over. We got into the vet check and Monica trotted Galen out for me. He was tired but judged 'fit to continue'. I wasn't....but, thankfully, they don't worry too much about the humans, unless they're a lot worse off than I was. Back to the camp where some food and drink made me feel better, although I sure learned that I needed to take better care of myself! The horses all got a big feed, lots of hay, Galen got his legs poulticed and wrapped and we heard about Monica's ride. I'm sure she'll write all about it in her blog at but she said they had a lovely ride. Off to the potluck for some chili and gumbo and then they had the awards that evening too. We were all too pooped to stay, as it looked like it would take awhile, so we headed back to our camp, popped the champagne open to completed rides and birthdays (Wendy's birthday was Saturday, happy birthday!) and then pretty much passed out, or at least I did. The generator next door didn't keep me up at all, although I think both Monica and Wendy wouldnt' say the same.

Next morning, we met up with Kerri-Jo and heard about her ride - she completed her first 25 on Darginka (probably not Kerri-Jo's first, but the horse's first) and missed Shannon. We picked up our completion awards, although I have no idea where we were in the placings - not the tail enders, but probably near the end. That is ok though, as we went into this with not terribly fit horses and (obviously!) not completely fit humans. I know I'm pretty sore today and although Galen was looking his usual perky self this morning, we'll take a few days off to recoup. Then, it's getting ready for the next ride, which will probably be Grizzly on April 17th near Bend, OR.

Hope we'll see Shannon and Kerri-Jo there too, although it's pretty far from BC for Kerri-Jo. I think she mentioned doing a BC ride next.

Now, off to clean the house and catch up on some chores!