Monday, September 21, 2009

BSF 2009

Days leading up to our vacation were stressful and expensive. We took our truck in for an inspection and to look at why the brakes and steering were not working quite right. Friday afternoon, we picked up the truck, expecting it to be fixed, but Daniel still wasn't happy with it. We were scheduled to leave on Tuesday. Monday was Labor Day and nobody would be open. So Daniel worked on the truck Sunday and finally pronounced it ready.


So we spent a great deal of the afternoon packing the camper and trailer.



Tuesday, September 8

We finally loaded up the horses and got going around 11:30 AM. After a few leisurely stops, we arrived at the BSF camp ground around 4 PM.

BSF_2009_013 Parked at camp; ready to set up

Daniel unloaded the panels and we spent a long time trying to arrange the panels in a suitable configuration so that both horses would be in the shade. We were not satisfied. We finally ended up with a nice arrangement. Serts' pen would have some shade in the afternoon. We could move the dividing panel to open up into one larger pen for both horses, so we decided that would work.


We were both quite hungry, so I fired up the camp stove to boil some water. We keep freeze-dried entrees and vegetables in the camper. I chose Vegetable Lasagna, Green Beans and Corn for our dinner. After the water boiled, I poured 1 or 2 cups into each pouch and zipped them back up. I also prepared some Blueberry Cheesecake for dessert.

Ten minutes later, I served up the meal.


It was very yummy! The entire meal (including dessert) cost $20. A little pricey, but so good. Without the dessert, it was only $13 and we could have done without that. The dessert was more like cheesecake pudding in texture, but the taste was quite good.

After visiting awhile with friends, we turned in for the night.

Wednesday, September 9

We woke up leisurely and Daniel headed out to see what he could find going on. I got up a little slower, fussed over the horses and the cat and then hopped on Serts bareback and ponied Tanna for them to stretch their legs.


I ended up near the ride management area and had a great time chatting with friends and meeting Tamra Schoech's new gelding, Rushcreek Rising.


Finally, decided it was time for breakfast, so back to the camper for some pancakes for us and beet pulp for the horses.

After breakfast, Daniel went back wandering and I pulled my running shoes on and headed out for a jog. I so enjoy getting on the trails. I use my iPod and Cardio Coach to motivate me. I tend to get lost in the solitude and was quite startled by a rider out for a look at the trails on horseback. She called several times to me, but I was in my own world and only saw her when I glanced back. I apologized profusely, glad the horse hadn't been startled. I turned the volume down a little and turned back to camp.

Back at camp, Daniel showed up to help me set the shower up. We have a zodiac propane water heater. Daniel rigged up a tarp as a shower curtain. It stays in the trailer all the time, but folds out to make a nice shower stall. A bucket full of water to run through the pump and I was ready for a nice relaxing shower.

Then I walked the horses some more and headed to the ride management area to hang out with those that were there. I had a great time listening to the stories, sharing some of my own and watching folks arrive. I finally decided I had to get ready for the next day, so went to get my registration packet and vet Tanna in.


I spent the next couple hours packing my away vet check bag with hay, apples, carrots, water bottles, grain, granola bars, syringes, hand-held HRM, brushes, gall salve and all the other things on my check list.

Daniel and I had another very nice meal made from our freeze-dried stash and headed back for the ride meeting.

The vet cards at BSF are very nice. All the vet information is on one side and a map is on the back side. Very handy for a rider to have the map right there.

There were around 60 riders for the Thursday ride. Split pretty evenly between the 50 mile and the 30 mile rides. 50 mile ride had 3 loops with 2 50 minute holds. Pulse criteria was 64. Start time at 7 AM.

Back to the camper for last minute details, feed the horses, walk the horses, give Sib (the cat) her pill, and head to bed. 5 AM came early.

Thursday, September 10

At 5 AM, 3 alarms signaled time to get up. I was already awake as I am usually on ride morning. I hopped up and begin my check list. Feed the horses, make breakfast, get dressed, saddle. I dressed carefully in my favorite competition riding tights and the t-shirt I had received for volunteering at Race the Trace in May. Roger Barrett was the ride manager and he died in August from cancer. I wore the shirt to honor and remember him and I thought of him often through the day.

I lunged Tanna in a couple circles to each direction to make sure everything looked good and up I went. Tanna felt the excitement, but was controllable as I walked him to the starters to give them my number (lucky 13!) and then a warm-up waiting for the ride to start.

And then we were off. I headed out at a brisk trot, until I came on a rider trying to mount up. I stopped Tanna and waited for him to get on before continuing into the woods at a good trot.

The first loop was around 16.5 miles long out to the first vet check. Tanna pulled and fidgeted and fussed and complained to go faster. This is quite normal for him. He is convinced that he can run the entire ride. But BSF has lots of elevation change and Tanna is not a mountain horse. We just don't have mountains to train on. So we spent the 2 1/2 hours fighting.

Daniel met me at a couple places on trail and got some nice pictures.




Into the first vet check, pulled off the saddle and set it on the convenient guard rail just perfect for a saddle rack.


Then to the vet. Tanna vetted through ok and then stared at the feed, carrots, hay and apples as if he'd never eaten such things before. He has a very bad habit of not eating at the first vet check and this ride was no exception, much to my irritation. He did nibble some.

Out for our next loop. I took it easy and snapped some pictures along the way.



The scenery was nice and the trails were great. Tanna was a little doggy, but we made it through the loop. We didn't see other horses much. A couple other riders down by the river, but I was not in a mood to ride with others. Not much for Tanna to eat on this loop.

We came into the check and paused waiting for 2 or 3 horses to go out on their last loop back to camp. Tanna vetted right through with a B on gut sounds. Normal for him. Especially since he hadn't eaten much since breakfast.

Tanna did eat this check. He sampled everything he had in front of him, including the neighbor's leftovers. There were few riders left in the check. Most had headed back to camp already. I kept checking Tanna's HR, but it was hanging in the 60s which is not normal for him. Usually he will drop into the 40s after vetting in. I listened to his guts and wasn't happy with those either.

30 minutes after vetting in, Dr. Ken rechecked him. By this time, Tanna's HR had dropped some and he had a decent CRI of 52/52. The CRI is the Cardiac Recovery Index and consists of checking the horse's HR, trotting him 250 feet and then rechecking the HR a minute after the first HR check. If the second number is higher than the first number, the horse could be showing some distress. Tanna's gut sounds had gone down from first vetting in, so that was a concern.

After a discussion with Dr. Ken, I decided to head back to camp on the last loop and carry some hay with me to hand-feed along the way. If I felt Tanna wasn't recovering properly, I would use my Spot Messenger to notify Daniel to come get me. Tamra was a complete lifesaver and provided some yummy alfalfa hay for the loop.

So out we went on our last loop. Hurrying to make time where we could and me hand-feeding Tanna from the saddle. After a few miles, Tanna perked up more and we were in business. He had always been willing to trot when I asked, but now he was trotting on his own. I was watching his HR and was satisfied he was doing ok.

We crossed the river and faced a climb up. Tanna power-walked the hill, our average speed only dropped a little from the effort and he was more than willing to go. I had considered getting off and hiking the hill, but Tanna convinced me he was doing great and we made much better time than if I'd been off.

We caught up with Dixie and Cowboy and rode with them some. When we reached the top and were on the flat, I was mostly letting Tanna do what he wanted. He would canter or power trot. Finally, I had to pull off and have a quick break and Dixie went on. Then Tanna and I continued on to the finish and Nancy. How I love seeing Nancy at the end of my rides! :-)

Back into camp, I pulled Tanna's tack and threw a cooler over him and took him to the vet. He looked good. I took him to Dr. Ken for his completion exam and Dr. Ken said he looked better than he had at the check. Not that he had been really bad before, but his HR and guts were better this time. So yay! Another finish of a tough trail.


I was scheduled to ride Serts in the LD on Friday, but I wasn't sure I was ready or Serts was ready for the ride. I was afraid Serts wouldn't be able to do the tough trail Tanna and I had just done that day. But others who knew the trails better convinced me that the Friday trail was easier and I should go for it. So, thanks to Tamra and Susan Kasemeyer, I finally decided to go ahead and go. However, dinner was already underway, so I couldn't vet in that night.

We had dinner and hung out for the awards and ride meeting. I chose a pretty purple shirt for our completion award. It would be my shirt during the next day's ride. I listened to the instructions for the 30 miler and then headed back to camp to ready my vet check bag for the next day's away vet check.

I finally got to bed after 10:30 PM.

Friday, September 11

I got up at 5:30 AM and took the horses for a walk to limber them up a bit. Then back to the trailer for their breakfast and mine.

As I filled out the date on Serts' vet card, I reflected a bit on September 11, 2001.

Just before 7 AM, I took Serts up to the start area where the 50s were gathering to start their ride. I did not expect the spinning idiot I ended up with. Serts was beside himself with excitement.

After the 50s took off, I asked Dr. Ken to vet Serts in for the 30. Serts would not stand still. He side stepped and jerked his head and was a major pain. I apologized several times. Note to self: vet Serts in the day before the ride at all costs, even if you don't think you're going to ride. Sub-note to self: let Serts watch as many starts as possible. At least he had great impulsion at the trot out.

After the vet in, I hurried back to the trailer to saddle up. I still wasn't sure what the day would hold, but I knew I had a lot of horse to face it with!

Daniel usually helps me mount Tanna at the start of a competition because Tanna has been known to be silly and buck like crazy when I get on. Having somebody at his head helps with that. But this morning he wanted to take off to go a-wandering before I was ready to mount, so I cheerfully told him to go on as Serts is much easier to deal with.

I led Serts out of the pen and tied him to the outside of it. Then I went in and opened the divider so Tanna would have the entire pen while we were gone. Despite the dancing Serts and the snorting Tanna, I mounted quickly and headed for the start to give my number (L14) to the waiting timers.

Serts was a bundle of energy, but he has a completely different feel than Tanna. I always feel like I'm on a powder keg with Tanna. About to explode. But Serts just dances and doesn't really feel scary. More fun than scary.

After giving my number to the timers, I continued to warm Serts up and spotted Tamra and Rising. We chatted for a minute. Rising was quite calm and steady. Like an old hand. Very impressive. I teased Tamra a bit about waking him up. She took it good naturedly and said she quite liked it, thank you!

Since this was only Serts' second LD ride, we hung out near the back of the main pack until trail was open, then I let him trot easily past the vets doing the second day trot out (looking for soundness issues).

And we were off! I found my self tucked behind Tykee and her granddaughter Lily. Lily was riding Mazon, a 25-year-old Arabian gelding with lots of experience. Quite a fun pair to ride with.


We passed a couple of small groups, including Tamra whose horse had quite miraculously awakened. ;)

After awhile, I decided the pace was too fast for Serts and let Tykee and Lily pull away from us. Of course, Serts thought that was awful and snorted and side-passed and did all sorts of fun moves. Still didn't scare me. I laughed at him as his HR kept dropping even with all his antics.

We let a couple more riders pass us and I settled him into a good 8 mph trot. He startled when another group of 3 came up behind us so I quickly pulled him off to the side to let them pass. I was happy to see Tamra and happier still when she pulled off with us and declared she'd hang with us for awhile.

What fun! I've ridden with her husband Joe (National Championship 100 anyone??), but hadn't had the pleasure of riding with Tamra.

We discussed our plan and found we had about the same goal in mind. 5.5 - 6 mph average for the loop.

We rode along and I admired Rising. We came up on another rider at a creek crossing and she fell in behind us.

We fell into a fun pattern of walking and trotting. Sometimes Serts in the lead, sometimes Rising. Our average speed was dropping with each walking stint and our average speed neared our desired 6 mph.

I was a bit concerned about Serts' HR. It was running between 150 and 170 at a trot. Much higher than Tanna's HR. But as I observed his attitude and energy, I began to relax and just enjoy the ride. The walking stints allowed his HR to drop, so as long as he was recovering, I was ok with his HR. I did mention it a lot, though! LOL. However, the trail was gradually climbing for a good portion of the loop and is deceptive about taking energy out of the horses.

Not far from the vet check, I could see Daniel in the distance and dropped back so Tamra could have her picture taken. Daniel was not the official photographer, but I really wanted a good picture of me and Serts on trail as our first LD had been rainy and icky and no trail pictures out of that ride!


After Tamra passed Daniel, I sent Serts on.


He was focused on Rising and didn't see Daniel until we were quite close to him. Serts spooked a little, but I was prepared for it and it wasn't too bad.

On into the vet check we went. I dismounted when I saw the check and walked him in. By the time we found our vet check area, Serts' HR was already down to 54. We quickly stripped the saddle and went into the pulse box.

Serts vetted in quite mannerly (whew!) and quite well with only an A- and the rest all As. Back to our area and Serts went after his hay and grain and apples while barely noticing the other horses around. I was having a blast and chattered like a magpie to Joe and Tamra and Dr. Ike and Rebekah during the check. I ate a granola bar, drank some water and bounced around. I didn't even realize I never sat down that entire check.

Soon it was time to saddle up again and I spent some time cleaning off Serts' neoprene girth, removing the sand. I borrowed a nearby mounting block (thanks Nelia!) and was mounted and ready before my out time. Anybody who knows me at a ride knows that's a feat! Tamra and Rising had pulsed in before us so they headed out on trail. I hung back to give Rising the thought that he was going out all alone and Rising took off like a champ. Wow, what a great horse! Joe tightened my girth for me and then off I went to catch Rising and Tamra.


Serts felt and looked great. No hesitation, no worries. What a fun day we were having. Great weather, great trail, great horse, great company. What more could one ask for???

We caught up with Tamra and Rising and we moseyed on down the trail. We came on Becky Siler-Pearman, the official photographer and she got an awesome shot of Serts and me.

Then the trail dipped and we followed it down, down to the creek crossing. Serts drank and drank and I sponged him off. Then off we went on a flat trail in the valley for awhile. We passed another rider who was having an issue with her horse. We promised to let management know to come get her and after making sure there was nothing else we could do for her, moved on.

Then the climb started. We rode for a bit and then both Tamra and I hopped off and walked for a good while. When we finally thought the trail was leveling out, we mounted up again. Only to find the trail continued to climb! I figured I'd walked enough, so stayed mounted.

Finally the trail did level out and we were headed for camp! The horses were strong and confident, doing well, working well together. Serts' HR was no longer a concern and we just had a great time.

A couple miles from camp, I dropped my sponge in a creek and had to hop off in shin-deep water to grab it. I had just bought a new biothane sponge leash and wasn't about to let it disappear! I took the opportunity to get some of the sand off Serts' belly and then mounted up again.

When I caught up with Tamra and Rising just up the hill a bit, Serts started acting ugly. Just putting his ears back and giving Rising dirty looks. I couldn't figure what his problem was. We'd gone along well all day. Sometimes Serts in front, sometimes Rising. I let Serts pull up along Rising and the second we were level, Serts' ears popped forward. I asked him to back off and when Rising nosed ahead, Serts' ears went back. Goofy horse! I scolded him lightly and backed him off so he had to stay behind Rising.

Before we knew it, we were coming out on the road and the in-timers were not far away! We were done! Serts looked great!

I dropped Serts' saddle on the ground and took him immediately to pulse in for his finish time. He did great in his vet out. All As again! He'd done it! Our second LD together! What a great feeling. I had such a great time with Serts! So proud of that horse!

The rest of the day was spent showering, packing things up for the drive home and attending the awards, dinner and ride meeting. I filled out my Yellowhammer entry form for a 75 for Tanna and a 25 for Serts the following day. I handed it to Tamra with my deposit.

Can hardly wait!

Seems like the curse of BSF is over!! At least for this year. I was so happy to be able to ride both horses and have two completions.

The ride management does a great job at BSF. I hope to be back next year to ride again. :)

More pictures on my Flickr account.

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