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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Yellowhammer 2008

Sunday, September 28, was spent packing and organizing for our first trip since the accident that broke my ankle and my thumb. Daniel finished adding slanted dividers to the trailer so we could take Serts, our 19-year-old Arabian, with us this time, too. We packed as much as possible to be ready to leave for Yellowhammer in the Talladega National Forest in Alabama.

Serts loaded
Serts loaded to go

The rig
Our rig

Monday morning, we headed south. Daniel drove the big truck with the horse trailer and I drove the smaller truck to be used as a run-around truck while at ride camp. Serena, our 8 year old heeler mix, rode in the front seat next to me. Sib, our Siamese cat that requires medication for seizures, rode in the back seat in her little carrier.

On the east side of Birmingham, we stopped for gas. There was only one gas station at the exit with gas. The pumps were running regular gas only and the card readers were broken. By the time we finished with gas, an hour had passed. Other than that, the trip was uneventful.

After we got camp set up, I saddled up Tanna for a jaunt around the trails. I headed out on a 5 mile loop. I wanted to do 10 miles, but figured if I was done at 5, I could just come on back into camp. We were both doing fine, so I turned around about 500 feet out of camp and did the loop backwards. Tanna started jumping around and wanting to go faster. He beat my leg pretty good, but I managed to be ok. It fell dark about 20 minutes out of camp. I had a trusty new headlamp that Daniel had picked out and attached to my helmet with cable ties. I turned it on about 30 minutes before dark and was pleased when I stayed calm and was able to see well. Tanna didn't seem to care about the light after the first few notices of it.

On Tuesday, I saddled up again and went for an 18 mile loop.

Headed out on a 25 mile training ride

Back at camp, I tied Tanna to the trailer with some hay and sat down for 40 minutes. Then we headed out for our second loop of 7 miles. I had some pain, but was able to keep going and get through the 25 mile training ride. Tanna ate some at the break, but ate for a good long time after we got back.

The new sheepskin girth covers I had worked beautifully on Tanna, keeping the girth galls completely gone.

While Tanna rested, I hopped on Serts bareback to take him for a short ride to stretch his legs. We ended up going on trail for about 3 miles and I found a place to get a signal on my blackberry to check my email. Serts was not his usual calm self as I was constantly after him to stand still. Where had my calm horse gone?

Wednesday, I saddled up Serts this time for trail marking. Before I left, I took Tanna around for a walk.

Hanging out with Serts and Tanna

I paired up with Sandy Thompson and we headed out for a fun couple hours of marking trail and chatter. I always enjoy hanging out with Sandy. She had lots of good advice for me for my upcoming 100 mile ride.

Serts did great. It took him a few minutes to get into the groove of stopping every little bit and standing still enough to put colored ribbons on the tree. With my trusty GPS helping, Sandy and I trotted 1/10 of a mile between ribbons. The horses seemed to be having a blast as well.

Back at camp, we hung out for about 25 minutes and then Sandy and I headed back on trail to double-check ribbons on a section of trail somebody else had marked. We rearranged some ribbons to make things clearer, but mostly just had a lot of fun. We found a small trail that headed up the ridge, so we rode up there to get a cell phone signal. Sandy made a few calls while I checked my text messages. With Sandy's mare present, Serts was much more willing just to hang out and wait. Then we headed back to camp.

Later that evening, Jean (Daniel's sister) and her two girls, Rinnah (6) and Lillie (4) arrived to camp for a couple nights and see how things went at an endurance ride. This was the girls' first prolonged exposure to horses. They have come to my house for "pony rides" around the property, but that's about it.

Since it was late, we had a quick dinner of fake hot dogs, had family worship and then retired for the evening.

Thursday morning, Daniel and I got up and went to watch the start of the 55 miler ride at 6:30 and the 30 miler at 7:30. After the starts, Daniel took the small truck and went to take trail pictures while I hung around camp. Jean made breakfast while I did my physical therapy exercises and chatted with Rinnah and Lillie.

I offered my services to Nancy Gooch for timing and to Tamra Schoech (Ride Manager) for anything that needed done, but nothing seemed pressing, so I put Tanna's hackamore on Serts and Jean hopped on him bareback.

Jean on Serts and Rinnah about to climb up

After she got comfortable with him, I helped Rinnah mount behind her.

Jean and Rinnah on Serts

I took Lillie's hand and Tanna's lead rope and our small group went for a walk through camp and across the road to the tower. At the tower, it was Lillie's turn to ride with her mom.

Jean and Lillie on Serts

Back at camp, I heard that an LD rider hadn't passed check-points in the time-frame that expected. While Joe Schoech (Ride Manager's husband) and Tim Clark went out in vehicles to look, I saddled Tanna and went to do the loop backwards to see if I could find the rider.

Off to find a rider on trail

I found her about 2 miles away from camp. Moseying along enjoying the day. Her horse hadn't been drinking well and she was worried about him. Fortunately, we were close to a water trough. Tanna tanked up and the other horse soon followed suit. Good Tanna! When did he become such a good role model? :-)

Safely back at camp.

Tanna's ready to go again

I hopped on Serts bareback and took Lillie for a ride out the back of camp. Lillie repeatedly asked to trot and seemed to be having a great time.

Serts eager to go. Lillie sure looks happy!

While preparing to take Rinnah on a ride, Jean and I decided it might be fun for all of us to go for a ride. Tanna isn't what one would term a child's horse, but in the company of Serts and at a walk, we decided it would be safe for Lillie to ride with me. One issue. I only had one child's helmet. So I went looking and found a generous rider that loaned me a small helmet out of her trailer.

So I saddled Serts with the 16" Abetta saddle for Jean and Rinnah to ride. Then I saddled Tanna with my 15" Specialized saddle for Lillie and me to ride. Since Rinnah is a bit bigger than Lillie, it made sense for her to ride in the larger saddle with her mom. Besides, I needed to see above the child's helmet so I could see where we were going!

Jean and Rinnah on Serts

All of us on horseback

We decided to ride a 4 mile loop that the LD riders had taken. It was the last half of a figure 8 loop and was marked with green ribbons (among many other colors). I took the opportunity to explain ribbons and pie plates to the girls. I encouraged them to look for green ribbons and let me know when they saw them. At every intersection, we stopped and I asked the girls to decide which way to go based on the pie plates and ribbons. They both did wonderfully! I was so proud of them. At one point Rinnah said to turn left at a 4-way cross roads. So we moved that direction. But there were X pie plates and NO pie plates. So she looked closer and chose the right direction the next time. Important skills to build!! :-)

On the way back to camp, Tanna began to get super excited. He knew where he was and that the finish line was ahead. He wanted to move out, but with Lillie, that was not an option. So he danced and snorted and threw his head. I talked quietly to Lillie and had her keep her head back against my shoulder so he wouldn't smack her in the head. Lillie was very good and did what I told her. She admitted she was scared, but she didn't cry or complain or whine. My kind of kid! :-) I never felt out of control of Tanna. Never felt scared that we were in danger. I was so proud of Lillie for being so calm and good and not contributing to the situation. She did mention that he was "bouncy" especially when he jigged.

When we reached camp, Tanna calmed down some. Lillie mentioned that her legs hurt. No wonder. This was the longest ride she'd ever been on. Her first ride on an endurance trail. And on a jigging horse. When we saw Daniel, I asked him to take Lillie so her legs could get a rest. As we walked toward our trailer (Jean, Rinnah and me still on the horses), I noticed Lillie's downcast expression. When I asked what was wrong, she asked "why did I have to get off??" I laughed and had Daniel put her back. Definitely going to have to take Lillie riding more often!!

The rest of the afternoon was spent hanging out in the vet check. Here they are with Dr. Ken Marcella, the treatment vet.

Dr. Ken chats with the girls

And Rinnah with Dr. Otis, the head vet.

Dr. Otis imparts wisdom to Rinnah

Lillie had a long day and needed a bit of a snooze!

What a long day of riding!!

Friday morning, Jean, the girls and I spent more time in the vet check, watching vets vet out horses and they also got to watch Sarah shoe a horse. Sarah was very patient and great about explaining what she was doing to an inquisitive Rinnah.

Just about noon, Jean decided it was time to head back home.

I wandered around lost for awhile until Nancy gave me the job of in-timer for the second loop of the 50s while she went to the finish line for the front runners. Daniel dropped a camera in my lap and told me I might as well take pictures, too.

Friday night at the ride meeting, Otis Schmidt and his wife of 2 years, Becky, provided cake for everybody to celebrate their anniversary. In 2006, Dr. Otis and Becky snuck off on Wednesday before the ride to get married! So Yellowhammer is now their anniversary trip! Daniel and I also celebrate our anniversary every year at Yellowhammer as we got married on October 1st, 2000. Becky gave Daniel and me each 2 pieces of cake. One for their anniversary and one for ours. :-)

Even though I didn't compete at Yellowhammer, I spent a lot of time on horseback. Tanna and I went 43 miles together over 3 days. I rode Serts for another 11 miles (not counting the bareback trips). My leg held up quite well through-out the week.

I always enjoy Yellowhammer. I like the trails and I totally enjoy helping out the ride management there. Tamra and Sarah do such a great job putting on a 3-day ride. The weather was perfect!

Next stop? National Championships!! October 16, 2008, Bill Wilson's farm. 100 miles in 1 day!

1 comment:

Tamara of In the Night Farm said...

This is fantastic! It's so good to see you riding again, and Aaruba and I have hooves and fingers crossed for your upcoming 100. :-)