Monday, June 29, 2015

Black Sheep Boogie 50

This past weekend I met my friend Mary Howell in Ohio for the first annual Black Sheep Boogie 50. It was held at a horse park near Pedro, Ohio. I would be riding her mare Siena in our third competition together. I rode this mare on my (and her) first 50 two years ago in Ohio during much more miserable weather conditions (mid to upper 90s with HIGH humidity).

What 85% of the trails looked like!
The trails are predominantly wide, dirt/sand with moderate to easy climbs. We traversed about 2/3 of the available trails at this horse park for the ride and never had to repeat the same loop! There are still so many other trails available.

Unfortunately, the east has had a VERY rainy June so far. The area received nearly 2 inches of rain Friday morning before the ride. As if it wasn't enough, it stormed and rained all night prior to the ride and through the first half of ride day. While the rain was fantastic for keeping the temps low and the humidity to a bearable level, it was shit for trail conditions - especially on the section of trail used to enter and leave camp, a 1.5 mile climb of what was nearly 10" deep mud by the end of the day. YUCK!

Despite the wet conditions though, the bulk of the trail we traversed was in great condition. Mary and I had a phenomenal day with minor bobbles along the way.

Siena has matured SO much in two years. She's truly a dream to ride. Her worst trait is the little bit of sass she exhibits with her facial expressions. I'll take it! She's a mare who really knows and loves her job. She's so confident and happy to move out and lead down the trail. She was game and happy all day. I had a blast!

The ride was setup with a 13 mile loop, 24 mile loop, and a final 13 mile loop. Beyond that shared trail in and out of camp for all three loops, the mud wasn't too bad on trail. The 50s started at 6a and pulse criteria was 60 for the day - something that the head vet in that area loves apparently! Two holds would be 45 minutes each.

Mary and I rocketed through the first loop at fast 8.3 mph average pace. The horses vetted through with zero to minimal issue. I stuffed a sandwich down my throat, changed into dry clothes (I'd been smart to bring a change for every check in anticipation of a wet day!), and we were back out on our 2nd loop in no time.

We spent much more of our second loop in our own little bubble. For short period we rode with others, but mostly, we rode our own ride. Mary's two horses were game and forward and happy to be riding together. They do well changing leader to give one another breaks along the day when they need it most. Such a great team!

Throughout the second loop, Mary and I slowly passed those in front of us. By the end of the loop we riding with the two front runners, toggling back and forth between 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. That long loop definitely passed faster than I could have imagined! The trail was so fun!

We made it through the second hold with minimal to no issue, we headed out a little after noon for our third and final loop. Not interested in winning so much as getting the horses through it with completions and happy vets, we didn't worry much about catching up with or passing the two front runners. We were right behind them for nearly all of the final loop, in fact. Every time we got within 100-200 feet, we'd slow to a walk, let the horses graze, and generally poke along. As Mary put it, "I like being here. We have time to go slow without anyone rushing us along. If we passed them we'd feel rushed." It was a very nice place to be!

At the finish with Mary. Gryphon loves smiling for the camera.

Siena and Gryphon were both so happy and game through that final loop. It was the muddiest of the three, but the horses tackled it well. Mary and I finished in 3rd and 4th around 2:15p. A sub-7 hour 50 with PLENTY of horse left to have tackled more - though with all of that mud we definitely wouldn't have been up for it. Yuck!

It was a great ride and I had a blast (as usual) riding Mary's Siena and spending the day chatting it up with Mary as the miles flew by. 

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I'd highly recommend the ride to anyone interested. The location is great (there are SHOWERS!), the trails are moderate-easy once your up the initial hill out of camp, and the volunteers are kind. If you boot your horse and the weather has been as it was prior to my experience, you may not have as great a time as wet + mud + hills/speed make for boots flying everywhere. Also, if you have a critterbeast that doesn't pulse down to 60 quickly and easily, you may want to avoid this ride. (Especially if the weather is hotter and more humid than it was on this day...which is very possible in June.)

I came out of this ride the least sore I've ever been coming out of a 50. Rider fitness is real, y'all, and all that mountain biking and hiking I've been doing coupled with bareback dressage workouts on Griffin for my abs made a huge difference! I've got a bit of tightness in my left calf, but that. is. it.

Finally, I'm pretty thrilled with my lack of saddle bags or anything on this ride. I rode with my small camelback all day and it was all I needed. It has a small pouch for a few this and thats, but I didn't even need that space. I enjoyed having less on the saddle as we trucked along. When I compete my own barefoot beasties I'll probably attach a boot bag with a couple spares, but I think my days of carrying much more are over. It's nice to not be so burdened down!

My next ride (and probably only ride for the rest of this ride season) will be August first at Ride Between the Rivers. Hope to see several of you there!

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