Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Old Dominion 50: An Epic

Picture of a picture by Becky Pearman Photography

Time to curl up with your coffee, tea, or a beer if its evening. This story's gonna be a long one!

I've been traveling for work on and off for three weeks. As I write this, I'm in my third and final week away.

I was gone three days of the week of the OD. Upon arriving home, I had less than 48 hours to pack all my shit for the weekend. It wasn't too bad, as traveling for endurance rides is becoming a bit more "normal", but it was still a stress and a challenge.

Additionally, I wasn't sure until the very last minute whether or not Mike would be going with me. He's been working 3 jobs since warm weather began. His schedule has been crazy to the point that I haven't had a whole day to spend with him in over a month. He works ALL the time. So we weren't certain how his schedule would end up. And on top of that, I wasn't certain if I would stay until Sunday or not; I needed to travel 3.5 hours for work Sunday evening, so traveling home from the ride + driving more for work didn't sound ideal.

The way it played out though was like this: Mike was offered a fourth job Wednesday morning. He quit one of his current jobs that day so he could take the new (better) job that he would report to all day Thursday. This suddenly freed him for the entire weekend! Score! This helped me make up my mind about Sunday, too, because I knew I could count on him to drive when I would be tired on Sunday which would help me out for my second drive later that evening.

Wednesday and Thursday after work were a whirlwind for me. I had to haul a friend's horse Wednesday, so I didn't do much around my barn to prep. Thursday I did it all. Sorted and prepped food and water and their associated containers. Sorted and packed the trailer. Cleaned the horse area of the trailer. Cleaned and packed a lot of the car. Did laundry. Prepped human food and drink. Packed human clothing and accoutrements.

And then I went to dinner with my coworker T and her family and THEN went to the bar for an hour with T and her sister and Mike.

Q in trailer; Kenai in car.
The Drive
Friday dawned early. Mike and I had little left to do with packing the car aside from stuffing ourselves and Kenai into it. We set off for the barn a little later than planned, but that was okay. Late seemed to be the theme of the day as Saiph's fretful texts to me told - the folks hauling Lily to the ride were late as well.

Mike and I pulled into the barn about 45 minutes behind where I'd planned, but it wasn't a big deal. I hooked up the trailer while he fetched Q from the field. Once she was in, he held her while I did a touch up trim on her feet, then we wrapped her legs, loaded her without issue (funny how it works SO well with two people), and were off by 9:30ish.

Part way through our drive, Saiph sent a text alerting me that I-81 was partially closed and VERY backed up due to a tractor trailer wreck. Ugh. So I rummaged around in the VERY packed car for my Gazetteer and plotted out an alternate route for us to take (Mike was driving).

This route was far better than the original one I'd planned as it kept us from having to drive on 81 at all (very busy truck route) and prevented us from having to go over a final mountain! Big score for me as I like to be as kind to my vehicle as I can when hauling.

The new route only added about 15 minutes (maybe less) to our original plan, and it was a lot less busy. The haul still took right around 3.5 hours.

Ride Camp
We pulled into ride camp to see Saiph running over to us right away. She told us how the parking situation was going and helped us to find the volunteer in charge of assigning spaces.

The volunteer originally wanted to put us way down the road in a spot that bigger rigs wouldn't be able to fit in, but Saiph requested that we be nearer to where her ride was parked as she'd planned to keep Lily in the corral with Q and still wanted to be close to her stuff so she didn't have to haul as much back and forth. The volunteer wasn't thrilled with this idea, but with a bit of an exasperated sigh, she let us score the spot I'd been eying up that had some shade along the backside and a creek nearby.

Mike backed the trailer into our area, and Charles, Saiph and I made quick work getting the electric corral setup.

We weren't certain about putting the girls in one big area or together at first, but when geometry skills failed us, we just decided to throw them in together. This proved to work just fine; the mares got along great and I think I only heard one minor squeal/grunt from Q the whole time.

With the girls setup in their corral, it was time to get human camp setup.

Saiph and Charles setup their tent as Mike and I setup ours. We were farting around with my new 10'x10' canopy tent when one of our neighbors came back and not-so-politely informed us that we couldn't set up the canopy where we were. We hadn't exactly settled on a place yet and were happy to alter our plan, but it was a shame that they had to be so damn rude about it. The guy offered to help us, to seemingly make up for his rudeness, but Mike politely declined.

With the area sorted out and things setup, Saiph and Charles and I headed over to registration while Mike stayed with Kenai at our little camp compound to keep an eye on the girls.

Registration took about an hour total with the walk to and from; the computer programs they were using were being difficult, so it was quite a fight to get everything figured and paid for, but we got 'er done.

We returned to camp where we farted around replacing cables in Q's hind Renegades for a long while prior to our vet in. With the boots fixed, we vetted in (no issues here beyond noting on the card that Q has scratches. UGH. I got her ALL THE WAY THROUGH WINTER without scratches this year only to have them crop up in the past 2ish weeks. GRRR.).

As I walked back to the trailer with Q and Mike, I saw Jen and her daughter who invited us to pre ride a little bit of the trail with them. I accepted their offer and Saiph and I tacked the girls up when we returned to the trailer.

The ride was nice and short - down the gravel road and up into the woods for a bit. We decided to turn around after the cable in one of Q's hind boots tore out and sent pieces (primarily the little circle at the toe of the boot with the screws that hold it all together) flying. Well, fuck. I took the rest of the boot off, retrieved the bottom part, and removed her other hind Renegade.

I decided right then and there that I didn't even want to deal with them the following day. I'd just put Easyboot gloves on her hinds and call it good and hope I didn't need a back up (as the gloves were my backups). The screws really need replaced in both boots, so I just figured I'd order replacement parts when I got home and deal with all of that later. It was just too much stress at that point in time!

The weather threatened to storm as we rode back to camp, though no significant precipitation ever fell. We battened down the hatches at camp anyway before heading to dinner and the ride briefing.

Right as we were starting to walk over for dinner, I saw Dom's poof pull up and park in our camp spot. YAY! Dom and Mike (her Mike, haha) had made it! She greeted Saiph as if they'd known each other in real life far longer than just seconds, and then I greeted her with a hug, too, and we both noted that it had been too long. We made introductions amongst the menfolk, and then all six of us headed off to dinner/briefing.

Nothing exciting to report from the ride meeting beyond the #s of starters: 46 in the LD, 64 in the 50, and 35 in the 100 (3 of these would be calvary riders - aka riders with no crews or help; they carry all they need with them and are only allowed water at the holds/checks). This would be the largest field of competitors I'd been in at a ride yet! Aside from my home ride (Ride Between the Rivers), every other endurance ride I've been in has been a ride that is held over two days with both the LD and 50 being run on the same course both days so a rider can either pick which day they'd like to ride, or have the option to do a multi day ride.

With dinner complete and the briefing over, Saiph and I sat around camp prepping saddle bags and things for the guys to take to the away check we'd be at for our first and third holds. I quickly discovered I had packed rather shittily in my haste and confusion about being gone so much lately, as I couldn't find anything on the first try.

Eventually though, we got things sorted and packed and were able to head to bed. Saiph and I had planned to be up at 2a for the first feeding for the girls.

Morning Preparation
I slept like a freaking rock. A first for me the night before a ride. I think this can be attributed to the fact that Mike was there and that we slept on a big queen air mattress - oh, and the fact that my tent wasn't flipped over on me in the middle of the night! HA.

The 2a feeding went well, lit by the light of the full moon complete with a soundtrack of whippoorwills and a performance of a hundred thousand lightning bugs dancing and blinking out their love songs. Saiph and I tossed both mares their grain mashes, and I collapsed right back into bed for a time.

Helping Q finish her meal because she eats best when
someone babies her like this. Kenai...ever hopeful.
3:30a Revelry over the loud speaker for the 100s to wake up and start prepping was met with cursing from me. I'd been dead asleep leading up to the first feeding, and had managed to fall dead asleep until that damn commotion as well. Fortunately, I fell dead asleep a THIRD time for another hour or so until my alarm went off. (In hindsight now, I wonder if this was Daniel's doing, Karen? I know Saiph dreamt with him all evening and didn't have as restful a sleep as I did. Perhaps Daniel made sure I was well rested for our long day so I could help boost Saiph through some of the trying moments we experienced...?)

Awake begrudgingly, I dressed and roused Mike. We and Saiph headed over to eat at the continental breakfast. We grabbed caffeine and food, and mosied over to the starting line to watch the 100s depart.

As we walked, my red-light headlamp caught the reflection from the eyes of something in the road. I thought it was a toad or frog at first, but imagine my surprised when it flew up, flitted about, and landed on a fence line on the uphill side of the road! I realized quickly that my "toad" was in fact a whippoorwill! I'd never seen one in person before - and never had I dreamed I'd see one so closely! The perched bird let me get within a foot or two of him before he took flight again. I couldn't help but smile, convinced this was a good omen of things to come. (We in the conservation field have worried for years about the decline of these birds, fortunately, they seem to be bouncing back for whatever reason. I can't help but smile when I hear them at night. And seeing one? What a treat.)

After the whippoorwill, we continued over to the starting line, weaving around 100 milers as they awaited the start. We stood with others, watching as the 100 milers took off, cheering them on, and then walked back down to camp to start getting the girls ready.

Q bobbing her head in anticipation while I give Mike the thumbs up!
We had an hour and a half to get the horses prepped; I enjoyed having that time to slowly go about getting ready. I was already dressed myself. I put everything onto Q, except her bridle, and left the girth loose and then gave her some food to munch while I sat around with Dom, Mike, Charles, Saiph, and Mike. I'd planned to strike out of camp after the chaos of the "pelaton" had left, so I wasn't really concerned with the riders bustling about camp getting ready and warming up.

I was enjoying lazing around so much, in fact, that when the trail was opened to the 50s, I was a little taken by surprise. I'd already put Q's bridle on moments before, but got distracted between that time and the start! I threw on my helmet, tightened her girth, and mounted up, calling to Saiph to hurry! as I did so. I gave Mike a quick kiss, then turned to watch for Saiph to mount up so we could go.

As soon as Saiph's butt hit the saddle, Lily jigged off. Fortunately, Saiph got her under control, and we headed for the starting line!

The Ride
Aaannnd we're off!
With the realization that Lily was probably a bit too jazzed up to think logically for that first while, I had Q lead us through basecamp and around to the starter. She spooked at a bucket, a portajohn and a truck on the way out, much to the amusement of onlookers.

As we crested the little driveway onto the main road in front of basecamp,  I turned to see Saiph and Lily a good hundred yards behind. I slowed Q to a walk and let them catch up, Lily jigging/trotting all the while. When they'd caught up, I let Q trot again, and called our numbers out to the out-timer as I passed, "537 and 525," about 10 minutes after the official start at this point. Lily and Saiph caught up to us shortly after the out timer, and we continued down the road together.

As we trotted further from basecamp and onto the first loop, Saiph and Lily took the lead. Something I appreciated due to Q's tendency to be a spooky witch. Lily helped get us the first several miles down the trail before Q and I took the lead again. I was both surprised and proud when Q ended up leading the bulk of the rest of the first loop. She was looky over a lot of things, but relatively under control. I kept contact with the kimberwicke the whole time, which seems to help reassure her that I'm there. The combination of that ported kimberwicke with the running martingale to prevent her evasions to the bit really seems to work for this horse, she's so much more willing to be on the bit than she previously was. She's far from perfect in the dressage aspect, but she is SO improved for her - and that's what counts.

The first loop involved a lot of winding single track through the woods, some ATV trails and fire roads, included a big climb up the mountain to the WV-VA state line, a traverse along the ridge, and finally dropped back down to the first vet check with about 4 miles of gravel FS road.

In the winding trails with moderate ups and downs before the big climb, Lily had issues with 2 of her boots. Both resulted due to the cables coming completely out of the Rennies. I was able to backtrack and find the bottom half of the first boot, and the second was obvious right when it occurred. Fortunately, Saiph had backup Easyboots to put on both feet.

Mmm cobble rock!
Incline not well-represented here...
The climb was steep, but doable for Q. It was steeper, more cobble/gravel, and more sustained than work she has done, but we did it at a walk, which made it a lot easier for her as the mountain we have at home I make her do a minimum of a trot up - sustained all the way to the top!

I knew Saiph and Lily didn't have terrain anywhere near this mountain to deal with though, so I didn't even try to trot much of it - though Q did ask a couple times if we could. This horse is the Lance Armstrong of hill/mountain climbs - she would much rather zip up them and recover later than suffer slowly.

The ridgeline wasn't as rocky as the ridgeline section of No Frills (no ankle rolling cobble/boulder areas, only sporadic rock), so I was pretty thrilled. Q led much of this section with Lily and Saiph trailing along behind us, yo yo-ing near and far as we plodded along. Towards the end of the ridgeline section, some RnT folks were catching up to us...

Holy shit those folks are NUTS. The runners were BOOKING it. I was astounded. Three groups of them passed us around the end of the ridgeline/beginning of the long downhill FS road section. Husband/wife, boyfriend/girlfriend teams. The men ran FAST. They paced just ahead of our trotting horses down the hill. INSANE. And the women, when they caught up and passed us all were cantering those horses down that relatively steep grade! Eegads. Cantering on that kind of incline?! Um, yeah, I'd need some work at that! INSANE.

Receiving my "in time" card. Yet another piece of paper
to have to keep track of while at the hold. Eep!
The loop terminated at the first vet check shortly after the long downhill road section. The photographer was stationed right at the base, along with Dom's Mike who also scored some kickass photos.

The first loop read as 14.46 miles from my GPS, nearly 1.5 miles shorter than what the ride information had quoted. All the same, it still took us a solid 3 hours or so.

Mike helped me untack Q and had all of her food setup in buffet fashion as we came into our little vet area. (Both men did an AMAZING job of getting all of our things setup. I was so proud of Mike especially because he'd never been to a ride before to even know what things were supposed to be like. He was going purely on what I'd described to him in conversations.) Mike and I got Q untacked and I sponged the mud from her legs. Charles and Saiph did the same for Lily.

The PR check area was a bit problemmatic. Mary (whose horse Siena I rode twice last year) was there and I chatted with her while the volunteers tried to use the handheld to get Q's pulse...from her right side. I didn't pay too much mind at first, chatting it up with Mary, but when Lily pulsed through before us I started to get a little miffed at the volunteers. They were still fumbling around and not getting anywhere with the device. I told Mary, "That horse I'm riding with just pulsed through. She's a TB. If she has pulsed through I KNOW my Arabian is DOWN." Mary took over and got Q's pulse for me, taking over from the other volunteers. 52.

Q swingin' dem woman hips at her trot out.
The vet through went well. The vet I had ignored both me and her scribe about the whole "scratches all 4" note on my sheet and gave us a B for wounds. The scabs had come off her front legs that made the areas look TONS better to me, but they also looked fresher as a result. I tried to explain that they'd been covered in vaseline under her front boots and the scabs had just softened and fallen away, but she didn't care. Grumble. Additionally, she was convinced Q didn't look right in her movement and had to have a second vet look at her. I tried to explain that the mare has a lot of action behind and that's what was going on, but the vet insisted she was swinging too much through the hips. The second vet said she was fine though, so we continued.

Mike took care of Q, getting her to eat well and then helping to tack her up while I stuffed my face with some food and prepared for the next 30 miles that would come between then and when I'd get to see this check area again.

As we were finishing up, a volunteer came over to ask if we were leaving...apparently the drag riders were waiting on us! Yipes! We ended up leaving about 10 minutes after our out time.

Saiph and Lily helped power us through the first several miles of the second loop, which I was thankful for. By the time we reached the second huge climb of the ride (back up the same mountain but in a different area) Q had to take over; she would remain in the lead for the remainder of the loop.

I don't even know if this was the 1st or 2nd
mountain climb. Either way, it was a bitch.
This second climb seemed longer than the first, and the ridgeline when we reached it seemed to go on FOREVER. This ridgeline was rougher than the first; it began with a mountain laurel thicket, then transitioned into forested areas with lots of rocks. Still not quite as horrible as the worst section of No Frills, but a bitch all the same. Our morale on this section dropped lower and lower and lower; we began cursing the trail with every step.

The ridgeline was tough going. You couldn't trot safely, Lily seemed to be in a bit of shock and didn't want to lead, and Q was in a state of SUPER SLOW WALKING or trotting. No in between. Additionally, Q was increasingly concerned with her surroundings and potential monsters that could be lurking instead of watching the trail and planning her footfalls. She was slipping and tripping left and right. I finally reached a point where I'd had ENOUGH of her tripping and her fear about what could be around her. I dismounted and led her down the rest of the section, jogging so she'd walk fast and trot some, too. Saiph stayed mounted behind us, her ankle bothering her from a misstep she took while fixing Lily's boots on the first loop.

The goddamn ridgeline trail that went FOREVER.
The footing was such that you couldn't risk trotting.
Thankfully, the ridgeline terminated. We watered the horses at troughs, then continued down the FS road to the second away vet check, which still couldn't come soon enough for us. We were so DONE with that loop. Gail greeted us when we arrived, and we were so grateful to see a familiar face, yet still so put out with the loop we'd just completed (which was thankfully a mile shorter per my GPS than what they'd stated; we'd completed 30 miles at this point).

This check was where we were met with more trouble than we'd bargained for. Both horses' cards were held by the vets. Q had the same vet as the first check, and she still thought Q looked off behind. The head vet, who knew me, was there and presented me with a loaded question after my trot out, "How're you doing? Have you noticed any stumbles? Falls? Off anywhere?" I told him that yes, she'd had one bad stumble, but I wasn't even on her when it had occurred (leading) and she walked off just fine from it. He nodded and noted that he didn't want to step on the toes of the vet doing our assessment, but he thought they might hold us or pull us. A scribe trotted Q out for me to see what they were seeing...I saw nothing. She swings her hips! Its just how she moves! The vet was convinced she was giving an occasional head bob, too. Umm, you're having us trot out on a slight hill...?! Its probably due to that. She's tired. She's mad at me. She wants to eat. She's moving normal for her. She bobbles her head around a lot when she's relaxed. It's her way of going. She's weird. They held our card (and we got another B for the scratches; the vet once again seemed to act like they were new injuries). The head vet told me to tack up though and told me we'd probably be fine, so to plan for that and trot her out on the flat road, tacked up, before we left. Good...but nerve wracking!

I wandered back to the area where we'd been, and waited on Saiph. She wandered over a few minutes later and told me that Lily had a heart murmur. WHAT?! I was in shock. She was in shock. We didn't say much. My mind was churning with thoughts, as I'm certain hers was. They'd also held her card and wanted her to come back for a recheck. We were both silent for a time, then I started asking questions about the murmur, I don't know much about them. Saiph filled me in. When she shared that they can sometimes occur due to dehydration, and that the vets had mentioned that maybe this was what had happened, I perked up. Lily had been drinking really well while we'd been talking. And eating well. She was taking good care of herself (Q, too). So I told Saiph, "You know, if they let her go, if its better, we could take the loop easy. We could walk and trot. Try to keep a sustained trot as much as possible, and walk as much as time will allow us. We'll make sure they drink lots. We know this loop is easier. No more climbs. Then you can dismount and walk into the check so she pulses down quicker. You'd be surprised how fast they come down if you dismount, loosen you girth, and walk them in the last quarter mile or so." Saiph perked up a little at this idea, too, and took Lily back for a recheck.

Saiph, Gail and I right before we left the second hold; right after I'd found out
Q and I could continue.
I waited with bated breath (and a visit to the porta john) while she got her recheck, taking time to make the decision to leave the open front boots off her forelegs for the rest of the day, worried that they were agitating her scratches more than helping. She came back grinning - the murmur was gone! They could continue! Yessss! Now, I just needed to pass my recheck!!

Before our outtime/my recheck occurred though, some other riders, some of the only few behind us, came over and asked if they could have Q's grain. They'd not been able to send any out to this check and their horses really needed something. Q was more interested in hay at this point, so I told the lady to yes, please, take it all! Saiph even donated Lily's extra as well. Those other riders were SO thankful. I was just really happy to help their horses out.

...and then it was time for our recheck. My stomach was cramping something AWFUL at this point, impending bowel movement from hell threatening me after I'd chugged two bottles of water at this check, something that always happens during vet checks at hot rides for me. Fortunately though, my stomach eased a little as I started jogging Q down the road. They passed us to go on, with instruction to switch diagonals lots and canter some to stretch her back. Yes, yes, I will.

And I did.

Q and I led most of this 13 mile loop that went predominantly along gravel FS road. Lily and Saiph trailed behind us, yo yo-ing near and far, almost out of sight. Lily wasn't overly motivated to go unless she was out of sight of Q, so I just let that be and focused on keeping pace.

What Mike and Kenai and Charles were doing at about the
time Saiph and I were suffering through the third loop.
We were REALLY hurting for time at this point. Racing the clock now, not other riders. I was DETERMINED to get Lily and Saiph through their first endurance ride within time. I didn't want them to complete all those miles and not be recognized for them!!

A lot of this loop was in the sun, so I told Saiph that we'd trot the sun bits and walk the shade bits until it was solely one or the other. This worked well. Both horses were deep into the afternoon doldrums of NOT wanting to go anywhere. I had to ask Q pretty insistently to get her to trot for the first while. With time, she did perk up and was very slow to walk at my requests, picking up the trot on her own, surging forward.

However, there reached a point about halfway through when the girls REALLY needed some water. There had been no stream crossings that weren't culverted with steep access along this route so far. I had been eyeing the access to these culverted areas for awhile now. Finally, I found one with a little bit less of a dangerous approach. I guided Q over and down through the woods off the trail. She carefully picked her way, Lily and Saiph catching us as we dropped down into the stream. They followed.

Lily had a bit of a tie up in a small sapling, getting it caught trickily between her forelegs as she refused to step around it for whatever reason. I held it still as best I could, trying to prevent something really bad from happening, and told Saiph to dismount now. She did, and she got Lily to lift her leg up so we could maneuver the sapling away.

Both horses drank long and hard at this stream. They were in dire need of that water. We took nearly 10 minutes to let them guzzle down water here. It was time well-spent. Both mares were much perkier after.

The tail end of this loop was doubled back on familiar terrain that both girls recognized. They perked up considerably and moved forward a lot better. Q was still in the lead. Despite covering ~40 miles at this point, Q offered me two spooks. The first one was big, and it ticked me off a lot, but the second one was HUGE and I got REALLY PISSED at her for it; I overreacted a bit, but the way she goes about spooking like this HAS TO STOP. Saiph noted how dirty both of these spooks were even - so I'm not crazy.

Most of the time, Q is looky. She'll give wide berths to things, and give them the stink eye, but she doesn't always balk from them. These spooks though? The ones that piss me off? These spooks occur when she sees something FAR ahead that is barely visible (white rocks today, small white rocks). She goes from moving forward to SLAMMING her front legs into the ground and balks HARD to the left (like a cutting horse might do to halt and change rapid direction when sorting a cow out). What she's trying to do is turn around and run. Stop. Lunge. Whirl. Except, she doesn't typically get that whirl in because I'm reacting. They SUCK to ride. And they suck more when she's doing them with increasing frequency. They suck even MORE when I cannot find a single thing that caused them, and I'm a PRO at figuring out really trivial things that cause these spooks.

Lily and Saiph led us for a time for the remainder of this loop - two other pairs of riders passing us toward the tail end that allowed Q to surge forward in front of Lily and still have something else to focus on that wasn't the trail (helping to prevent the occurrence of spooks).

The end of this loop also marked the end of our legs for downhill riding. Saiph and I were both in worlds of pain when we had to move at any gait above a walk downhill. Hurt. So bad.

We both dismounted about a quarter mile out from our final vet check, walking the girls in. We were greeted with the following upon giving our rider numbers to the in-timer, "You have 15 minutes to pulse down and get to the vet. No more."


Mike took care of Q and I all day. Really couldn't have
made it through the weekend without him. <3
We rushed over and stripped tack FAST. We and the men began sponging with a vengeance. I knew Q would come down, but I was worried about Lily. We sponged and sponged and scraped and scraped. We sprayed her with rubbing alcohol/water mixture to help cool her faster. We went into the shade for all of this. She was pissed she couldn't have her mash, but I'd cautioned Saiph that some horses HR's become elevated when they eat, and it could be risky to let her eat when time was so critical.

With time running out, we headed over to the PR folks. Q was fine. Lily hung for a bit, but did reach the 64 criteria.

I had Mike trot Q out for this vet check. She likes him more, and I knew she'd move better for him. In her mind, I was the evil redheaded bitch making her go over some evil trail right now.

We had a different vet at this point. As Mike trotted Q out (his first time ever trotting her out! once again going off verbal direction only, no demonstration), the vet said aloud as he watched Q trot back toward him, "La dee dah. Dum dee dah." Which matched perfectly with my little mare's swinging go-lucky gait and loose body motion. I couldn't help but laugh. This vet got it. Thank god. She had A's or A-'s on most things at this point with a B for anal tone. Understandable. She was tired!

We walked over to the other vet and Lily at this point. Her CRI was 64/72. They kept her card and said to keep her in the shade and let her eat and drink; we'd see if she could come down more before our out time and then determine what would happen.

Mike tacked Q up for me while I rearranged some things with my saddle bags for our final 6 miles so that I could take the cantle bag only. It was CRUCIAL that we make our out time. We were REALLY racing the clock now!!

Lily's trot recheck was a 60/68 CRI. The vet doing her check was slightly concerned, but comfortable letting her do the final 6 miles since she'd been eating and drinking so well. The vet who did Q's vet through agreed.

And so we tacked Lily up FAST and we were off. We had an hour an fifteen minutes to complete 6 miles before we went over time. YIKES.

We trotted all the flats and the ups - which were mild to moderate. We walked all the slight downhill inclines, our legs refusing to withstand riding them. Q spooked dirty a time or three more, and became increasingly tense and spooky about EVERYTHING around us. We plowed on though. We had no choice. We HAD TO MAKE TIME! I was determined.

Finally, we reached a stretch of familiar trail. The trail we'd pre-rode the day before. I knew we were close. No more than 2 miles out. We had 20 minutes. We trotted. We even cantered some. Lily and Saiph took the lead for the tail section.

And then we could see ride camp. It was right there. We kept trotting.

We tried to cross the finish line hand in hand, but Lily would have none of this. She deigned things in ride camp to be scary and refused to trot suddenly. I urged Q forward and we crossed a horse length in front of Saiph and Lily at the finish.....with one minute to spare. We'd done it.

We dismounted and walked the girls down to the crew area, getting them untacked, cleaned up, and fed. We (Charles, Saiph, Dom, Mike, me, Mike) headed down for our final vet through, making it there RIGHT at our 30 minute cut-off for vetting.

Moseying back to camp after the final vet through
Mike trotted Q again, and Art gave her all As and A-'s; he was the only vet all day to note that YES she DID have scratches before the ride. Finally, haha!! And just like that, Q had completed her 3rd and hardest 50 to date! I'd completed my 6th and hardest.

We turned then, bated breath, watching and waiting on Lily's vet to reach a conclusion on her.


SHE PASSED! Hugs. Congratulations. All around.

Their first endurance competition ever. Their first completion. STELLAR.

Photo by Mike Turner

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The Aftermath
We took the mares back to the trailer. Got them fed, poulticed, Q's scratches medicine on, and settled in for the night.

Charles had to head home because he had to work tomorrow, so we all bid him a sad adieu.

After his departure, Dom, Mike, Mike, Saiph, and I all headed into town for dinner - our neighbor at camp would keep a watchful eye on the girls in their corral.

Dinner was home cooking. Slow, but we understood the small town wasn't used to so many people - the place was packed. We had fun joking around while we waited on our food. No great concern for the long wait.

After dinner, Mike took Saiph and I to the place he'd been directed we could get showers. It was dark and deserted, a camp counselor-type guy stationed nearby worried Mike, so he stood guard outside while Saiph and I snagged quick, hot, rejuvenating showers.

With full bellies and clean bodies, we headed back to camp to go sit up on the road and await the first 100 milers to finish. Dom and Mike, me and my Mike, and Saiph sat drinking and joking around to an obscene level while we waited. We weren't even DRUNK at this point (well, Saiph and I weren't)! Drunk on lack of sleep perhaps, but not alcohol.

Some of the very best people - and to think, I wouldn't know these people at all if it weren't for the blogging world!
L to R: Mike, Dom, me, Mike, Charles, Saiph

We joked and cajoled. Every person or car that appeared at the end of the lighted runway for the 100s was greeted first with bated breath, "oh! oh! oh!" -ing, and then an "Ooohhhhhh," of disappointment when it wasn't a person on a horse.

All the same though, we bounced back from these obvious non-completions and cheered and whooped obnoxiously drawling out a very southern, "Woo! You completed 100 miles! How do you feel?!" to the pseudo-racers.

The volunteers sitting at the finish were highly amused with our antics, a plus because I'm pretty certain we'd have otherwise been viewed as highly obnoxious!!

We laughed and laughed and talked and talked.

And then the first horse - for true! - appeared at the end of the runway.

His rider was Bryna, a 14 year old, the youngest person to ever complete the OD 100. A really incredible sight to behold.

We congratulated her in kind, waited to see if anyone else would come, and ended up turning in. Exhausted from our long day. (The other 100s would be 1hr. 15min. behind her we would learn the following morning.)

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Laughter. (Photo obviously by Saiph since I was driving lol)
The next morning we all woke slowly and broke camp slowly. By 11a, the awards brunch, we'd
broken down all of camp except the girls' corral. I drove my 4Runner with Saiph in the passenger seat and Mike, Dom, and Mike on the tailgate as we drove over for the brunch (I really didn't want to walk at this point).

We ate, I bought a surcingle from the OD yardsale, chatted with the owner of Asgard Arabians about his studs (for a friend), bought my photo from the photographer, and received my completion shirt and belt buckle as did Saiph. Saiph also scored the turtle award, a hand-painted rock from the trail that was made to look like a turtle.

Because I had to get home to meet Father's Day obligations & turn around to be gone all this week for work away from home, we left right after we got our awards and went to complete camp breakdown. 

Not too bad for the day after her hardest 50!
We bit our adieus to friends, and were on the road by 12:30p. I was able to meet up with my dad, do a shotty packing job, and make it to my destination for work by 10:45p that evening. (WHEW!)

Tomorrow, I'll post my summary thoughts on the ride, what worked/didn't work, and what I plan to do differently with training for the future.

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