Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Ride Between the Rivers 2012

Ah, what a wonderful whirlwind of a weekend.  My ride and story will definitely be overshadowed by Tevis - since they were on the same day - but for me, this was a special weekend.  My first race with my own horse.

Q did incredible.  Let me just put that out there first thing.  She pushed harder and stronger than I thought she could/would and pulsed down like a CHAMP.  I really couldn't be much happier with her performance.

: : : : :

I rolled out of the office early Thursday to get to ride camp since D had hauled Q down earlier that morning.  I arrived to find Q happily settled in an electric corral strategically placed under a tree line that would provide her shade for 60% of the day.  She was happily nomming on the tall grass in her corral when I arrived, clearly not missing me or anyone else for that matter.

I got settled with in an hour or so, gave her some hay and her grain etc., made certain the water crew filled her tub, and went to socialize within site of her.  Only a few other rigs and riders were there Thursday - we recommend most show up Friday, though I hear many hope to come as early as TUESDAY!? next year because they love the area/trails/etc. so much.

She almost looks dappled here...odd.

Thursday night brought a potluck and low country boil dinner with the club members and I hit the sack at 9:30p just because.

I woke around sunrise on Friday after sleeping surprisingly well in my friend Tina's camper.  Really well, actually.  I fetched Q out of her corral to walk around camp and let her stretch out and eat some for awhile.  We mozied around enjoying the misty morning, dew covered grass, and quiet.

I took the morning slowly, with no major obligations on my plate.  I hid in the shade, ate two breakfasts and then decided I ought to test out those damn Easyboot gloves on her hind feet on the hill we would encounter on the second loop.  After all, I hadn't ridden her in 3 or 4 days.  So we booted up, Renegades in the front and gloves on the back and headed out for an hour.

I wrapped her hind hooves in vet wrap pre-boot application.  We had no issues going up the steep, rocky, clay hill in them.  They stayed on through slipping and sliding and crazy mud puddles.  However, on our ride back up the gravel road I let her stretch into a canter and when we stopped I noted that one boot was completely gone.  Brilliant.  We trotted back, got the boot out of the ditch, reapplied, and continued back to camp.  I figured at this point that I would vet wrap and duct tape for the next morning's race.

My two junior riders arrived with the rest of ride camp sometime Friday afternoon.  N's mom used to be my trimmer before I got comfortable doing my horses hooves myself and she offered me some Renegades for Q's back feet for the race.  YES!  No time to test them, so we'd have to hope for the best.

Q's vet-in Friday afternoon went without incident.  She got As on everything except her cap. refill where she got a B.  Vet wasn't concerned though because she'd been standing in the heat not moving and therefore not drinking for a few hours.  I noted this and filed it into my mind.

: : : : :

We had 50 riders in the 50 miler and 43 riders in the 30 miler.  Due to the prediction of a hot race day we moved the starts a half hour earlier each; the 50s would start at 6a and the 30s at 6:30a.  I got to sleep pretty early after the ride meeting and dinner in preparation.

I woke at 2:41a and decided to go ahead and give Q and Moshka (another friend's horse who would be attempting the 50) their grain and electrolytes.  I caught a little more shut eye and then awoke around 5a to start my morning.

I knew my biggest issue would be keeping myself fed and hydrated so the first thing I did was stuff two hard boiled eggs and a blueberry muffin down my gullet.  I prepped myself and all my gear/snacks etc. as I mentally prepped the order in which I would get Q ready so it would go smoothly when I got to it.


I was so flustered at time slipping by that if it weren't for Ari showing up around 6a I don't think I would have made it to the start to meet my group.  The vet I scribed for last year had three horses in the race and had arranged for me to ride out with them promising they'd be doing an easy ~6 mph pace and leaving after the front runners.

With Ari's help, we got Q ready and suited up and headed out right in the nick of time meeting my three riding buddies at the start in time to head on out.

: : : : :

That whole thing about going out behind the front runners?  Yeah, BARELY.  Those who galloped out were the only ones in front of us.  It was a fast and stressful first 2 or 3 miles.  I knew the big black mare (BBM) we were with kicked, but the two paints weren't supposed to.  I still did my best to keep my distance, but then within the first mile Indy (Arab x TB x Oldenberg) mare nailed Q in the muzzle.  Greatttttt.  Her rider was very distressed and upset, but there was really nothing that could be done about it.  Q seemed okay and onward we went.

Q really handled the start well.  She handled horses around her in close quarters a helluva lot better than I'd thought she could or would.  The first 6-8 miles of the loop (18 miles total) were FAST.  6 mph pace my ass.  Canter, canter, canter, trot, canter, canter.  Q seemed okay, so we pushed on.

I checked constantly to see if our boots were all on.  Those back Rennies were SOLID.

The terrain for our ride is rough.  The vets and several riders agree about the whole 30 being like a 50 and 50 being like a 100.  We gained 3000 ft. elevation in that first 18 mile loop alone.  The terrain was rocky as all get out, muddy as hell from all the rain we've had, and interspersed with sand, clay, and deep ass mud puddles.  Keeping boots and shoes on was a challenge for everyone.

After the first half-ish of the first loop, Q seemed to be getting tired - or maybe I was paranoid.  I slowed her up and she let the group we'd been with run of and out of sight ahead of us.  Good girl.  Within seconds though, others were running up from behind.  This jazzed her up and she jigged a good bit and I had to resolve to just turn her to face them and stand still while they all passed.  We followed.

She had one "flat tire" after this where her left front boot spun off and around her pastern.  I stopped, got off, fixed it, and we continued without another issue.  We ended up finding our group of three riders from the beginning and finished the loop with them without any major incidents.

: : : : :

As Q and I arrived back at camp I slowed her to a walk for the last quarter mile.  Upon reaching the field, still several hundred feet away from the start/finish line I got off, loosened her girth, and walked her in.  We finished the first loop in 2h:45m, nearly an HOUR faster than I'd targeted.  I was in no hurry to get her pulsed down, we had 45 minutes to get her to 64 bpm and I knew she could do that easy.

Make fun of my hat, everyone does.

I handed her off to a friend and hucked my Camelbak and helmet off my head and started untacking Q as I gave direction to my first-time helpers.  We hucked all her tack into a pile and started sponging and scraping.  Tina came over to check on us, she was a pulse checker and she insisted on doing a courtesy check within 5 minutes of us getting in "just to see where we were".  Well, lo and behold, Q was at 62 bpm.  I was happy, but still not worried about getting to the vet check IMMEDIATELY.  Everyone around me however, freaked out and pushed me in that direction.

I started to get ticked off at this point. Some lady I didn't know, and still don't know who she was or why she was "helping" me was treating me like a complete and total idiot.  She was pushing me to get through the check and being a royal pain.  I went to the check quickly just to get everyone off my back.  Q passed with all As and a B for her cap refill (by the same vet as the vet in - we had 5 vets).  I got my out time and headed back to the tent to get Q settled, gave my helpers some direction, and headed off to change into non-sweaty clothes.  I stuffed a sandwich in my stomach, drank a lot of water and propel, and was tacked up and ready to go by my out time.

Ari to my right scribed for the vet Q and I used for our vet-in and hold
Feeling not so sweaty after a change of clothes

: : : :

For the second loop, 12 miles, Q and I played mother duck to 2 junior riders.  They were pretty nervous at the start, but since my first-loop group left around the same time, Q was eager to follow and we ended up galloping up the hill out of camp.  That got my junior riders jitters out in a hurry.

Parents and family friends of the girls flocked around me as I pick up my junior riders
N on Bella on the left and M on Leroy to the right
Waiting for the girls to get settled - Q got a change in pad the same as I got a change in clothes
(she had a Mattes pad for wither relief as well)

We had a mile on gravel before reaching the loop and the steep up hill.  The girls lost three boots in this time.  N's horse had 4 Easyboots and M's had Renegades in the front and Gloves in the back.  Hind boots were lost by all, with N's horse keeping one.

We made it up the steep hill without any problems, N's horse that had never crossed water crossed through all puddles unfazed.

As we got settled out on the top N's horse one of her front boots twice before we gave up and left it off (I put it in my saddle bag).

Now, this loop is pretty rocky if you recall from my test run to clear trail on it the weekend before.  I was faced with some hard strategy decisions with all these missing boots and boots that wouldn't stay on.  I decided since I knew where the trail was relatively soft vs. rocky we would push harder over those sections (4 miles or so).  The girls kept up well and even pushed me forward through sections.  As we crested yet another small rise we came to a rider check point to find N's mom and Sonya with the girls boots they'd lost.  What luck!  They got booted back up and we headed out again.  (For the record, parent and Sonya were surprised and I think a little miffed even, that we'd picked such a fast pace. The girls' horses were doing great though and I knew we'd have to walk a lot later on.  I kept close tabs on all human and horse counterparts.  I wasn't about to run anyone into the ground.)

We conquered the steep hill and the girls weren't nearly as freaked by it as I worried they would be.  I psyched them out about it pretty bad, so it wasn't nearly as bad as they thought it would be.  We all got off and walked the last section of it for safe measure though.

By the bottom we'd run into my first loop group again.  We'd bee yo-yoing with them along the trail but had lost them when we booted back up.  I let them head off in front out of sight before we took off again.

The second half of the 12 mile loop was flat, but very slick and muddy most the way.  We were able to trot most of it, a couple cantering stretches, but mostly a fast walk.  Q was agitated as all hell by this point in time and really pulled on the reins.  She knew she was headed back to camp and had a LOT of energy in her.  I was cranky with her and with myself for my choice in reins and lack of gloves (they were soaked and had made my hands pruny - thus reins were slipping like mad thru my hands).

I had my second "flat tire" on the opposite foot on this little stretch.  It was the same as the first, just the opposite foot and I fixed it quickly and we moved on.

The rest of the loop went without incident and those back boots stayed on SOLID for the whole ride.  WIN.

We came into camp the same way as before, walking the last ¼ mile and then getting off, loosening girths, and walking in the last few hundred feet.  Once in camp, with the girls taken care of by a flock of concerned parents and their friends I let my helper from the vet check after the 18 take my horse and we went through our first routine, but faster.  I anticipated Q pulsing down quickly by this point.

I got myself and Q untacked, sponged quickly, and scraped off.  For this final vet check we had to be down to 60 within 30 minutes.  I immediately took her to get a courtesy check of her pulse after one sponging to find she was at 56.  Excellent!

Bandanas keep sweat at bay and help me to look like a trucker, weee!
Talking with my vet and scribe about Q
Hot and tired, but a successful completion of our first LD!!!

There was a slight line (we were down one vet because Bob was helping his three riders/horses who had come in 5-10 minutes ahead of me) so Q and I stood in the shade of the vet tent and waited.  The head vet freed up and came to vet us through.  All As except a B in skin tent this time, and 60/60 on her trot out.  Good girl Q!!

And with that, we'd completed our first 30!

: : : : :

I have yet to get my official ride time, but it was somewhere around 5 hours.  I know we did the first loop in ~2h:45m and the second in ~2h:15m.

Parents were beyond thrilled that I'd taken the kids.  I was proud of the girls for doing so well.  M now loves speed (she was very hesitant to even trot prior to this!).  Q was a champ and ate very well throughout the ride and drank pretty well at all water crossings (her favorite place to drink being the most disgusting of deep mud puddles).

I'm beyond thrilled that Q pulsed down so quickly, and thankful I've read enough from several of your blogs about how to go about things and knew what to expect with everything.  To the endurance riding bloggers out there: y'all were like my little crew within my head - thanks for writing about your own experiences and things you learn for me to file away in my mind.

So, so, so proud of my little mare.  Her neck is a bit swollen where that kick may have nicked her in addition to getting her in the muzzle.  I've reviewed the footage a couple times and I really don't think she got her in the neck...but she very well may have.  Updates on that will continue as the days go by.

Our next ride will be the second weekend in October (can't do the OAATS ride due to a NSP conflict) at the Kentucky Stampede.  While I can't wait to get into 50s, we will likely only be doing the 25.  I have lots more time to train her and hope to push her harder in this ride now that she's proven she's not a delicate flower.  Love my little mare!

...watch out Griffin, your time to become a fit horse has arrived.  *evil laughter*


  1. Awesome!! And we'll definitely have to ride a bunch this fall if plans mesh. :) Orion needs to build a little bit more muscle now that he's got his weight back. He's not used to doing much anymore. *my own evil laugh*

  2. Excellent ride story! I'm so happy for you and Q!

    I don't always rush to vet at lunch, either. I figure if she pulses down, then eats while I change clothes or pee or whatever, THEN vets, she'll have better gut sounds. So nyaaaah, pushy lady, not everybody wants to vet right away.