Monday, April 23, 2012

Grizzly Endurance ride, Madras, OR

We spent the weekend in sunny Madras (pronounced MAD Rass, we were told!) Oregon wearing big trail riding grins.  We (we being Monica, Wendy and I) drove down in the pouring rain on Friday.  It was such a relief to get over the pass and see sunshine!  And dry footing!  Ahhhh....

We pulled into camp around 3:30 or 4 or so (we left around 7 am), found our brand new portable Hold Your Horses corrals and set up camp.  We're starting to look very upscale with those corrals!  We got all settled in, took our evening ride and had supper (lovely steak dinner, thanks to Wendy)  Somehow, we missed the ride meeting, but the trail was very well marked, so it wasn't a problem.

After a fitful night's sleep, we got up, saw Wendy off on her first 50 of the year and then Monica and I saddled up and got ready for our 32 mile LD.  We had a slightly different strategy this time, as I figured that less time in the saddle for me would be easier on my ankles.  So, Galen and I headed out reasonably near the front of the pack and Monica held back.  We (Galen and I) went out on a loose rein and after about a half mile of walking, he asked to trot and I said 'Sure'.  So, we got into his gorgeous, long trail trot and passed and passed people.  We were zooming along with no one in front until a very nice lady and her mare caught up to us.  Liz and Twiggy were great ride partners - we rode the rest of the ride together.  Both horses were well matched and Twiggy pulled us up hills (not Galen's favorite thing) and we slowed her down going down hill (Galen loves downhills...go figure)  Liz and I chatted through most of the ride, which made time fly by.  She was local, so gave me the guided tour of the mountain ranges.  My camera was full, which is a shame, as the scenery was stunning.  The country was green and little wild flowers were all over.  It was a lovely, lovely ride!

We came into the first vet check and a very nice volunteer trotted Galen out for me.  My ankle was ok, but I staggered a bit getting off and was spotted, so they asked if I needed help.  What nice people!  I didn't get their names, but I really appreciated the help.  We went back to camp for our hold and Galen and Twiggy spent a lot of that time calling back and forth.  They had become fast friends on the trail.

We went out for our second loop (the first was 22 miles, the second 10) with Liz and Twiggy and this one flew by.  I'll have to look at the vet cards to see how fast we were going, but we were not lollygagging at all!  Our total ride time was 4 hours and 48 minutes, so we did a bit over 6 mph average.  I think we went a bit faster the first loop, but I'll have to find my card to make sure.  We came in around 1:30, pulsed through and were told we were either 4th and 5th or 5th and 6th (I don't remember if Liz was before or after me and I was 5th).  So, I decided to stand for BC, as it's great experience.  Also, as I'm bigger than a lot of those tiny, skinny riders, I do have a shot at it (rider weight is calculated in the score).  We ended up coming in 3rd out of 5 in the BC.  We got all 9s (out of 10) on our scores, except his Recovery score wasn't that great.  I'll have to work on that - I'm sure there are techniques (besides just plain conditioning) to help with that.  He was tired, but not terribly. 

I'm glad I did the LD - my fitness level is still nowhere near where it was a year ago.  But, it's getting better and I think as the season progresses, my fitness will go up.

Monica and Danny came in later, 15 minutes overtime.  She was fine with that, as Danny did great the whole ride, was praised by other riders for his 'metronome trot' and joined and left groups like a trooper.  Monica was very careful with him, as this is his first season and his base fitness is still getting there.  He looked great at the finish and while they didn't get a completion, they got all A's on his vet card and the vet told her that she had done a great job with him.  So, it was a great experience for both of them.

Wendy came in about an hour later, tired but grinning.  I trotted Allie out for her and then we went back to the camper.  We got all the horses cleaned up, fed, wrapped and blanketed and then went to the awards ceremony.  After that, a yummy dinner, a glass of wine and well deserved sleep. 

Our drive home went much quicker, as the weather was dry and sunny the entire way.  We strapped our new corrals to the sides of the trailer, which worked out just great, and made it home around 2:30 or so. 

I'm sore today, but not all that bad.  Walking is no problem, just going down stairs!  My daughter told me I should stretch...seems like I did plenty of that on Saturday, but maybe I'll try a little gentle stretching today.

Now we have to unload everything and start getting ready for the next ride, which will be Mt. Adams.

I do have some photos, just need to figure out how to download them, so I'll put them up when I get that done.

Monday, April 2, 2012

First Ride of the Season

Cathy on Galen, Shannon on Tommy and Monica on Danny. Thanks to Craig Mayfield for the photo op!
Today is a resting day after our fun weekend. We just finished our first Endurance ride of the season, Home on the Range.
The original plan was that I would take Galen, Monica would take Danny (his first endurance ride ever!) and do the 25 and Wendy would take Allie and do the 50. Cindy Balogh was coming as camp chef and crew. Wendy ended up cancelling, as she's aiming at Tevis and has to be very careful about her vacation days. So, it ended up me, Monica and Cindy and our two boys.
We drove over to Washtucna on Friday, after hearing dire weather reports and even rumors of ride cancellation. We perserved though and made it over the pass (not too bad) and to the Ridecamp on private land in S. Eastern Washington. Our first small adventure was as we came into camp. There was a line of rigs ahead of us, seemingly waiting for something. We soon found out what. It had been raining there (the landowners thanked us Western Washingtonians for bringing said rain) and the mud had made passage under our own power not happening. So, out came the enormous tractor (I had tractor envy) and the driver dragged each rig through the mud to higher (and drier) ground. It was an interesting experience - sort of an amusement park ride.
We then found a good spot, said hello to a few friends and set up camp. We did miss Wendy at this point, as she usually sets up the portable corrals. But, we muddled through and had everything set up in time for a nice ride to check out the trail. We rode what would be the last bit of our second loop and were a bit dismayed by the soft, muddy footing. Happily, the night was clear and a bit windy, so the mud dried up a bit by the next day.
Then, we socialized some; our friend Shannon Mayfield was there with her Teke gelding Asil Tumay (by Astrachan out of Anastasia) and we met up with Susan Bhatt and her Arab mare Capri, who had boarded at my barn for a few months when she moved here from Florida. Of course, there were plenty other people we said hi to also! We then went to the Ride Meeting and then off to bed.
Of course, people (and horses) started stirring around 5 am or so, so we were up fairly early. Our ride start was at 8 am (50s went out at 7 am) so we had plenty of time. I went off to the Port-a-Potty and came out and saw Cindy walking around with a leadrope. Whatever for? I wondered. Well, our horses had decided to do a little warm up of their own and broke out of our tape paddocks. They led us (and a bunch of other people) on a merry chase for a good ten minutes. Then, when both they and us were properly warmed up, they allowed (OK, GALEN allowed) us to catch them. Besides the humiliation factor (everyone dreads the 'your horse is loose' shout) we now have to figure out a better containment system. I later watched Danny leaning on the electric tape, trusting his winter blanket for insulation. Darn it! That is one thing I didn't think we'd need to change.
Anyway, we caught our bad boys (and they didn't seem sorry at all) and tacked up. Shannon, Monica and I had a strategy - our plan was to leave last from camp to avoid race brain. Unfortunately, other people had the same idea and instead of getting into a race- of sorts- to see who could be last, we just went. Danny was a bit up, which was to be expected, as he's never done this before. Tommy was a little high too, but neither were terrible, just young. Galen, of course, thought that we should start catching people and passing. I did a lot of half-halts that first 15 miles! All three did very well, pacing well together, playing leap frog without a problem. The biggest issue we had was...hoof boots. We started the ride with 12 assorted hoof boots on 3 horses - we had Easyboot Epics, Easyboot Gloves, Easyboot originals and two Renegades. During that first 8-10 miles (or maybe less) we had 10 boot malfunctions. I lost one back original Easyboot and poor Monica and Shannon lost all of theirs. We didn't notice 2 of Monica's come off, so those are out there somewhere, but the rest were noticed, so Monica and Shannon got LOTS of experience getting off and on. We ended the first loop with 3 boots left on Galen. I'm sure a lot of the problem was the sucking footing. I didn't hear if other people had the same problems, but I sure wouldn't be surprised.
We finished our first 15 mile loop in around 2 1/2 hours, so even with the getting on and off and the necessary walks, we made good time. We came back into camp for our vet check and vetted through with good scores. Danny was all A's; in fact, his scores were better after the first loop than his check in. Galen's were ok - he had some Bs for gut sounds, which isn't all that abnormal. He's too busy thinking about the horses ahead to eat on the trail!
My only problem was that as I got off to walk into camp, my left ankle let me know that it was not happy. I sort of staggered in and Monica (thankfully) trotted Galen out for the vet.
We had our hold and appreciated Cindy being there to feed us, feed our horses and help us get ready for the next loop. Shannon decided she'd go alone, as Tommy was a bit wound up with his two buddies. So, we stripped off several layers of clothing and headed out for our second loop. This was a much more boring start, with both boys asking politely if we were out of our minds. Weren't we done? Didn't we come back to camp? But, we got out of camp and rode for a bit with some new friends. I got to put a name to at least one person. This loop was through a lot of deep footing, with grass covering up holes. Often we couldn't tell if a lump was a cow pat or a badger hole, so we trotted when we could and walked the rest. We were able to really appreciate how lovely the terrain was and we were grateful we'd put sunscreen on. We finished this 10 mile loop in around 2 hours, so while we trotted we must have been moving, because we walked a lot. I was able to trot Galen out, although the vet might have preferred someone else doing it, as I staggered so badly we ended up two vet lanes over. Glad they don't vet the human as I'm pretty sure I was grade 3 lame. Danny did his trot out like a pro and Tommy and Shannon were right behind us. I think we ended up coming in 25th, 26th and 27th out of 40, which was perfect. We had planned for a reasonably slow pace, the boys came in looking great and no minds were blown. I did realize though that my fitness still isn't where it was a year 'medical adventure' has taken a toll. So, more riding for me, darn.
We got the boys tucked in with huge pans of beet pulp and knee deep hay and went for our stew feed and then the awards ceremony. We put them in the trailer (two box stalls) for the night, as I didn't want to wake up every two minutes thinking I heard hoof prints. Also, it was quite wet out and there was talk of wind and more rain. I don't think they minded a bit. In fact, the next morning when we unloaded them to get ready for the journey home, they were a bit miffed. You'd think Western Washington horses wouldn't mind a little wind and rain. But, we took down camp and then waited in line (worse than Seattle rush hour traffic) for rigs to get dragged out through the mud. We were lucky in that enough went out that we could finally go around the worst of it. I put the truck into 4 low and we powered through. We had an uneventful ride home and were pretty much unpacked by 3 pm or so.
Monica has taken a bunch of photos and Shannon took a few that she gave me permission to use here. I really need to get a camera!
All in all, a great way to start our ride season.