Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Off to Spook Run!

We are heading to Spook Run to enter Tanna in the 50 mile ride on Friday.

I haven't forgotten my little experiment, but I haven't had time to start it yet! I'm likely going to have the horses' shoes pulled on the 1st, so should have more time to play with it then. Sorry for the tease, but I promise I WILL get to it!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Yellowhammer 2009

I will tell you up front that I had the best time at Yellowhammer this year. Everything just seemed to flow and I can't imagine having a better time.

Sunday, September 27

I'd been working on and off all the week before to get the camper and trailer ready to go to Yellowhammer. Tony, my farrier, came out at 9 AM to shoe the horses. He is going to fire-fighting school during the week, so had to schedule my appointment on Sunday to get us in. We had planned to put new shoes on the horses, but the shoes looked so good, he just did a reset. I figure Tanna is too busy doing airs above ground to actually touch his shoes to the ground and wear them! Daniel and I took turns holding the horse being shod and chatting with Tony. The other one was busy prepping for our trip.

Tony left around 11:30 AM and Daniel and I continued to fly around getting ready to go. We finally left home at 1 PM. I was driving our small Tacoma and Daniel was driving our Chevy 3500 dually pulling the horse trailer. The Tacoma is a welcome addition at Yellowhammer as we can just park our Chevy with the slide in camper and use the Tacoma for running around. We have friends that borrow the small truck as well, so it gets plenty of use during the week and certainly justifies the expense and slight inconvenience of driving separately.

We stopped at the local store to put gas in the trucks, get ice and bread and fuss around. Finally, we got on the way.

The time passed pleasantly as I listened to my audio book and followed my beloved husband and horses down the highway. The rain that had plagued us for 2 weeks had stopped and the weather was perfect. I stopped several times for breaks, but Daniel kept moving right along. I would pull off for a rest stop and then catch up since we only drive 65 mph max with the rig. Worked quite well as I generally am the one pushing for breaks.

We arrived at camp just as it was getting dark. I quickly unloaded Serts and Tanna, hoping to avoid Serts peeing in the trailer, but alas, he already had. Tamra Schoech (ride manager) and Susan Kasemeyer (all-around helper and regional AERC director) came over to help Daniel with the corral panels and invite us to eat with them. When we got the horses and cat settled, we did join them for dinner, bringing our yummy Subway subs over and greeting Sarah Engsberg (TEVIS 2009 WINNER!!!!).

The rest of the evening was spent in pleasant conversation with the small group and hearing all about the Tevis adventure. What a very cool story. Sarah really needs to write that up!

Monday, September 28

We woke up early and had a yummy breakfast before heading over to Susan's trailer (the gathering spot) to find out what the plan for the day was.

I got a couple of trail marking routes assigned by Sarah and headed back to the trailer to saddle up Serts.

Susan K. also headed out to mark trail on her horse, Rushcreek Quantum.

Tanna was not happy that I left him behind, but Serts was ready to go. Unfortunately, he wasn't too understanding when I wanted him to stand still! After a few chats about it, we got into a rhythm. We would trot until I decided it was time to put out a ribbon. Stand still for a few seconds for me to clip the ribbons (different colored flagging tape tied to a clothes pin) to a branch and off we'd go again. While trotting, I would grab my next clothes pin and let the ribbon unravel in the breeze while watching for the next perfect spot to mark.

Sarah has a great system for the trails. Each intersection is assigned a letter...a waypoint. So my instructions for marking the section I had been sent on was simply to change which ribbon colors I was putting out between each waypoint. Every time I came to a waypoint, I consulted my instruction sheet to determine which ribbons to put up to the next waypoint. Each intersection also included additional pie plates to show which loop for which distance on which day went which direction. Those are enough to get you around the trail without any ribbons. But the ribbons went up, too.

Serts and I had a great time and ended up back in camp after a couple hours. I tied Serts to the outside of the corral and gave him some hay and water. Then I ate something, swapped out my ribbons for the next route I was to mark and went off again.

Serts wasn't convinced that we should be going out again, but he didn't need too much urging before we were into our rhythm again, marking trail. This time, we ended up on a ridge and I was able to get a signal on my blackberry to be able to check my email and send a couple. Serts was unhappy about standing still so long, so was happy to be moving again. Funny how this lazy horse has blossomed into a good distance horse.

We headed back to camp where I untacked Serts and took him and Tanna for a walk about camp. Then it was time to set up the shower in the back of the trailer. So nice to have a shower!

The evening was again spent with friends, eating supper and chatting until time for bed.

Tuesday, September 29

I slept a little longer this day and ended up without much time for breakfast. I did get to have a yummy muffin fresh from Susan's oven (what luxury!) and gulped down some milk.

I decided Serts had enough riding since I wanted to ride him in the Friday LD, so Tamra was gracious enough to allow me to ride her horse, Rising, for some more trail marking.

Tamra saddled up Rising in her saddle and Daniel helped me get my kids' safety stirrups set up. The stirrups were from the saddle used by our nieces as they have a 2" neck and home-made cages. Even though the stirrups weren't deep enough for me, I decided it was better than risking my foot going through non-caged stirrups.

Susan Reid arrived Monday night with her mare, Malak. It was great to see them again. Malak used to be owned by the barn owner where I boarded my horses for a couple years. She looked great and I was happy to visit with Susan again.

Susan and Malak were also ready to go trail marking. Rather than go separately, we decided it would be more fun to go together. So we loaded the horses up with parachute ribbons and headed out.

It took us a long while to get into a good groove. As is often the case with the parachute ribbons, it took some trial and error before we could move comfortably down the trail without losing half the ribbons on the ground.

Rising was super good about the ribbons. He never batted an eye at them fluttering all around him. He is a very good horse. He wasn't so sure about standing still while Malak left us, though! It became a good opportunity to work though some separation anxiety in a controlled situation.

A side note about trail marking. Each loop or segment is colored in a different color ribbon. The convention at the rides I've been to and personally marked is to put the ribbons on the right side of the trail. When a turn is approaching, we mark the turn by putting 3 ribbons on the side of the trail the turn is. So if you're make a left-hand turn, the 3 ribbons will be on your left just before the turn. We like to put what we call a "confidence" ribbon just after the turn, visible from the turn (on the right) to give the rider confidence that they are following the correct trail.

When Susan and I came to a turn, she would go ahead and go around the corner to put the confidence ribbon and then wait while I worked with Rising to put up the 3 turn ribbons. He was quite insistent that we should stay with the mare, but I won. It took longer than having Malak stand close, but it was good brain work. Rising was never dangerous, just dancy and didn't like to stand long enough for me to put one ribbon up, much less three. But we managed just fine.

We had been out for about 10 miles when I realized that Rising felt "off" at the trot. Something wasn't right. I asked Susan to watch him trot ahead of her and she agreed that he was a bit lame. I hopped off and felt his legs and checked for rocks in his shoes. I couldn't find anything obvious and I hadn't felt him trip at all. I mounted and we walked the next 2.5 miles into camp, finishing our trail marking. Rising was sound at the walk, so I didn't feel too bad riding him. But I did feel bad I was bringing him back unsound. :( Rising didn't seem to think it was a good reason to walk as he kept asking to trot! Of course, I didn't give in and made him walk the entire way back.

Back at camp, Tamra unsaddled him and trotted him out for me. I didn't see anything going, but definitely could see it when she trotted him back to me. She put him in his pen and iced his left front, where there was now some heat and swelling. Poor Rising. :( I apologized, but Tamra was gracious and didn't blame me for his lameness. Rising was sound by the time they left for home after the ride, but it did put him out of being ridden in any of the competitions later that week.

One note about the trail marking. While out marking, we came across a couple of trail riders. The lady was riding a beautiful pinto Arab (1/8 pinto) gelding. He was about 7 and had been gelded only 6 months before. Even though Malak was right there, he had perfect manners and didn't show any stud-like behavior. He had a nice conformation and I was drooling a lot. He was short and stout and big boned without being too muscly. The lady said I could have him for $6000. Too bad I didn't have it!! I think he would make a wonderful endurance mount! Sigh.

Back to our story!

While Susan and I had been out trail-marking, more rigs had pulled in. Camp was getting fuller by the minute. I got Serts and Tanna out and took them for a walk to stretch their legs and let them look about.

Then Daniel and I went to "town" to get ice and make some phone calls.

The volunteer dinner that night was provided by Holly and Jim Gage. Daniel and I are vegetarians, so we took along our own entree (freeze-dried vegetable lasagna). But the Gages had some wonderful Gouda cheese grits and seasoned green beans as well as bread and cookies that were much appreciated. Yum!!

I was good-naturedly teased when I left around 8 PM to go prepare for bed. I still had to walk the horses and feed them and tend the cat, so it's not like I actually went to sleep at 8!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I had already been out marking trail for 2 days. So I determined that Wednesday I would not mark trail and begin preparations for the 75 mile ride on Thursday. However, when I went out to see what was going on, Sarah asked me to finish marking some sections of trail as she had to go out to mark a far section. Serts was resting up for his LD and Rising was still a bit off, so I was out a horse until Susan Kasemeyer (who'd also been out marking trail during the week) offered up her horse Rushcreek Quantum, affectionately known as Tummy, for me to use.

I immediately accepted as I quite enjoyed riding Rising and jumped at the opportunity to ride another Rushcreek gelding.

This time, I used my own saddle, so I was able to have my own stirrups. My saddle didn't exactly fit Tummy to a T, but it would do the job for an hour and a half session marking trail.

The first thing Tummy did when I got on him was to move off. He's not supposed to move when mounted so I told him to stand still. He was just testing me because when I had to dismount and remount on trail later, he stood rock still until I asked him to move off.

That was the only thing he tried the entire ride. He did very well for me and didn't shy or spook. A good solid horse. I had a great time with him.

I'd be pleased to have Rising or Tummy in my pasture (and I have told their owners that, but neither took me up on it!). These two are definitely making me consider a Rushcreek horse for my next endurance mount.

Back at camp, I turned my attention to pre-ride things. I registered and received my ride card for the 75 as well as the Friday 25 so I wouldn't have to try getting to the registration table during my ride on Thursday. Tanna vetted in well as usual.

Daniel and Joe went off clearing trail using the mule.

After vetting in, I began gathering my vet check items. All vet checks would be in camp, but since Tanna and Serts get agitated when I take one of them away, I wanted to minimize that by having a vet check area away from my trailer. I consulted my list as I placed item after item in our cart to take to our chosen area. Finally, everything was ready and waiting.

I found Michael Beesley and offered up Tanna for his muscle study. Michael came to the trailer and looked Tanna over and asked some questions about his training.

The ride meeting was early the first day, starting at 5 PM. I enjoy having time after the ride meeting to finish getting ready for the ride or just relax and hang out.

The 75 mile ride would have 4 loops. The loop distances were 20 miles, 22 miles, 16 miles and 16 miles. The last 2 loops were exactly the same as some riders would be out after dark and it's nice to already have been through that trail once.

The 75 and 55 mile riders would all start at 6 AM with a controlled start. 75 mile rides have a maximum allowed time (including breaks and holds) of 18 hours. So I had to be done by midnight. My plan was a slow and steady pace which would bring me in around 10 or 10:30 PM.

Hold times were 50 minutes and pulse criteria was 64 bpm before the hold time would start. There were 11 starters in the 75. Enough for all the finishing riders to get full AERC points, which wasn't important to me personally (I don't ride enough to be in the points standings), but I was happy for my friends that did want the points.

The head vet was Dr. Otis Schmitt

supported by Dr. Ken Marcella

and Dr. Alice (sorry, her last name escapes me!).

Dr. Ike Nelson had helped vet in the riders on Wednesday afternoon since Dr. Ken and Dr. Alice were not able to get there in time for vet-in.

After the ride meeting, it was time for dinner. Daniel and I brought along macaroni and cheese and a vegetable and supplemented that with Becky Schmitt's yummy cornbread and some other goodies from the volunteer table.

It was at dinner that my plan for the 75 began to change. Joe Schoech had arrived earlier in the day, but I hadn't had a chance to talk to him all day because we were both super busy. But we had briefly talked about riding together on the 75 as we had done on the 100 last year.

Joe began the conversation by saying he wanted to be done by dark. The second I heard that, I figured we would not be riding together. Sunset was around 6:30. That's only 12.5 hours, including 3 holds, to do a 75? I've done 55s slower than that!! Um, yeah, ok, whatever!! We would have to average 7.5 mph on every loop to do that. I have done some 7.5 mph loops, but for this slow poke, that seemed way too aggressive. And that doesn't count time in the vet check before the hold started.

We discussed these very concerns and Joe conceded that by dark might be a bit aggressive and we could dial it back a little. So we agreed to start the ride together and see how things went. If I got uncomfortable with the speed, I'd back off and he could decide whether to slow down with me or go on.

With that settled, I headed off to do the evening chores and to bed for the big day coming up.

Thursday, October 1 - RIDE DAY

I always get up 2 hours before start time, so this morning I was up by 4 AM. I slipped out to give the horse breakfast and some alfalfa hay, then back to the camper. Breakfast was an egg patty, a fake chicken patty and a hashbrown patty.

Then outside to tack up. Things were going fine until I put the bridle on and realized the chin strap was dangling. The clamp to hold one side on had been open for awhile, but now it was missing completely. Daniel helped me out by trying some different solutions until he managed to find the missing clamp and reattach it. This time closing it so it wouldn't fall off! Whew. This is why I get up 2 hours before the start!!

Once tacked up, I took Tanna to find Dr. Ken to pull his blood for the blood analyzer. Then mounted up and ready for a warm-up. There were around 25 riders in the two distances (75 and 55 milers were starting together). I saw Joe and a few minutes before the start, fell into step beside him until the controlled start.

It was still quite dark when we started, so the controlled start lasted more than a mile to the first paved road. Tanna was mostly controllable as nobody was going anywhere very fast. It was a very nice extended warm-up! :-D There was some trotting, but no run-aways that I heard about, so quite successful. At the road, I bid farewell to Sarah who had started us off and let Tanna settle into a good trot.

Tanna and I have a love-hate relationship the first loop of a ride. I love him, really I do, but most first loops I'm ready to kill him or sell him. He fights to go much faster than I believe we should and this makes for two very mad individuals. However, I was determined to break the cycle of anger and decided that I would still be in control (big brain/little brain!), but I wouldn't get mad at Tanna's antics or insistence to go faster. Getting mad never helped anyway and just made me unhappy.

So we start off from the controlled start and I allowed Tanna to move out with Joe and Kit coming along behind. We come on some riders, of course, and we hang back and wait. When the trail spit us onto another gravel road, I let Tanna canter around the rider in front of us to enter the next section of trail with nobody in his path.

Tanna was amazingly under control and not flipping out. He was focused and business like. Adrenaline was coursing through both of us, but I didn't feel like I was on a run-away. It was a heady, incredible feeling. I noticed Joe did not pass the rider behind, but I let Tanna stretch out into a good trot and knew that Kit and Joe would come along as they had time.

Suddenly, I see an Easyboot Glove in the middle of the trail. I was a bit in front of the other riders, but knew I only had seconds on them. I wasn't racing, but didn't want to slow down either or slow the other riders. I was going to go on by, but at the last second, I asked Tanna to stop. He did, quite quickly, and I dropped to the ground, grabbed the boot and swung back into the saddle and was off at a trot again before the riders caught up with me. What fun!!!

We continued on and I noticed we were 4 riders now. Joe was followed by Don and Nicki Meuten, whom I had never had the pleasure of meeting before. Joe offered to take the boot, but I refused, holding it in my right hand and controlling Tanna with my left.

After a little bit of riding, Tanna stumbled a bit and the reins flew out of my hand and over his head! They were hanging straight down, almost to the ground. Oh, my! I leaned down and grabbed the reins and hollered back over my shoulder "I'm going to STOP now!" I pulled on the reins (both sides going to his left side). Tanna slowed and stopped. I flung the reins back over his head (still one-handed as I had that boot in my right) and we took off again!

What a rush. I has having the best time! This was by far the best first loop I'd had in a very long time. Maybe ever. Tanna seemed very happy, too. We were a well matched team! THIS, THIS is what I do endurance for!

At a drinking spot, I passed the easyboot to Don, electrolyted Tanna, and then we all took off again. We left the easyboot at the next checkpoint we saw.

At many of the waypoints, there were ham radio operators reporting our numbers back to base camp. It's a handy system to be able to keep track of riders and know where to go look if one doesn't show up in a timely manner.

After awhile, we split off from Don and Nicki as they were riding the 55 and had a shorter loop than we did. We continued on for another 4 miles and caught up with Terry Price and Jim Gage just before coming into camp for the vet check.

We took just 2 hours and 25 minutes to do that loop. Tanna's HR had been fine through the entire loop and we entered the pulse box just 5 minutes after reaching the in-timers, which was a little bit of a walk. I didn't have to pull tack for this first vet check, so that helped with my time, but I was quite happy with his recovery.

Kit also recovered quickly and both horses were settled back at their vet check area in short order. We had the horses a bit apart due to layout of the vet check area.

I put a feed bag on Tanna to see if I could convince him to eat that way. He did eat some. Probably more than he would have otherwise, but it wasn't a rousing success. I finally removed the bag and Tamra brought us a flake of very yummy Timothy hay. He picked at that and the alfalfa and took a long drink. Drinking in the vet check is actually a big deal. Usually he waits until we're back on trail on the second loop to drink. All in all, I was pleased with his eating during the first check.

I also ate, remembering 100 last year and the problems I had at the end.

Our out time was 9:20 and off we went again on a 22 mile out and back loop. The horses were alert and energetic. Tanna was not pulling on me. We were by ourselves at this point; the field having spread out as it normally does.

Joe and I chatted. This time Joe was riding in front. After about 4 miles, we began to see other riders coming back on the same trail. All the riders were doing this loop. The LDs would turn around at an earlier spot. I love being able to see all the riders on an out and back. It doesn't bother Tanna at all and he doesn't usually get morose or think he has to go back with them. He's done enough out and backs to realize he has to go to the end before he can turn around.

We saw several more riders before we caught up with Jim and Terry. We rode with them the rest of the loop, chatting about current AERC issues and various other topics. Terry and Jim were both riding mares. Terry's mare was particularly a non-stop mare. She just motored right along.

We got back into the vet check after 4 hours. Our average had definitely taken a hit on this loop! We moved along at a decent speed, but there were more walking breaks on this loops and we lolly-gagged around water, trying to get the horses to drink more.

This time, when I got back to my vet area, I pulled the saddle as the sun was high and the day was a bit warmer. It still only took me 8 minutes to present for a pulse.

But when I pulled the saddle, I was disappointed to find Tanna's back was sore at the loins. Michael came by and checked him for me and said that he thought it wasn't awful. I definitely thought it was awful!

We pulsed in and then had a short wait for a vet. I fed Kit and Tanna hay out of a Yellowhammer bag.

We got to see Dr. Ken for the vet check. Tanna was also a little girthy and had a small lump under one elbow. Other parameters looked ok. Dr. Ken held our card and asked to see Tanna before I tacked up to go back out. I had two loops to go. 32 miles. With a sore back. I was sure we would be pulled. Wasn't sure it'd be a good idea to go back out.

I found out that Kit had the same issues as well as a loose shoe.

Well, this isn't Guy fixing Kit's shoe. But it's a good picture!

During the check, I forced myself to think rationally and not panic. What should I do? Michael worked on him a bit and advised collecting Tanna more and staying off his loins to alleviate the back pain.

I also looked at my Specialized saddle and removed some shims from the back to take the pressure off the loins and at the least move the pressure. I changed out my girth to a different length with a longer woolback cover. Finally, I sat down and forced some food and water down while Tanna ate and drank and rested.

With 10 minutes left in my hold, I presented back to Dr. Ken. He said the back was better and I could go on out if I wanted to.

So with a prayer in my heart and a pat for Tanna, I mounted up.

Joe and Kit were going back out, too. With some changes to their tack as well. We were worried and spent a good deal of the next 30 minutes quiet. I focused on riding balanced and collecting Tanna.

We caught up with Jim and Terry again and rode the rest of the loop with them. Unfortunately, with still 4 or 5 miles left in the loop, Kit pulled a shoe! We held up while Joe slipped an easy boot on. At that point, Jim or I always rode behind Joe to watch the boot to make sure it stayed on.

We arrived back in camp just after 4 PM, passing a few riders completing their 55. We still had miles to go, so trotted on past them into camp. Tanna had done well on that loop, I thought.

Jim and Terry and their mares.

When I pulled tack, Tanna's back was still a little sore. Tanna pulsed in ok and I purposefully went back to Dr. Ken. He said the back wasn't any worse than it had been at the end of the last check! Which is pretty good considering we'd just done 16 miles. His girth was still bothering him enough to make his HR a little high when a stethescope was pressed into it. Jugular HR was fine. We were told we could go out again. Kit also vetted through.

I decided not to change anything in Tanna's tack. Things seemed to be working ok. Nothing was getting worse. So I settled to rest and eat and wait. One more 16 mile loop; some of it in the dark.

I was saddled and ready at our out time, but hung back, waiting for Joe. He had decided to leave the easyboot on Kit, rather than tack another shoe on. Pulling that shoe had done some damage to the hoof, so we'd just keep an eye on the boot.

We checked at the out timer and learned that Terry and Jim had gone out again. Joe went in front so I could watch the easy boot and away we went on our final loop. We did catch up with Terry and Jim and took turns leading.

About half-way through the loop, we stopped at one of the checkpoints for about 10 minutes as the sun set and darkness descended. There was soaked alfalfa hay and water and the horses tanked up. Finally, we had to pull their noses out of the hay and go on. We only had about 8 miles left, but it would be in the dark.

The four of us continued on, our speed slowing some as we were cautious. We were close to our goal. No point in chancing a twisted ankle on rocks. We were all wearing headlamps and being cautious.

A few miles from camp, we realized Kit had lost his boot. Fortunately, Joe had another one along and put that one on.

Tanna led for awhile. We were nearing camp and we all knew it. When we reached the 1/2 mile to Finish markers, we re-arranged ourselves in the order we wanted to finish. Tanna and I would top ten AND turtle this ride if we passed the vet check. Does it get any better?

We were very happy to see Nancy! We all dismounted (some more gracefully than others, which caused a bit of hilarity) and walked back into the vet check area.

I quickly stripped Tanna's tack and presented for a completion. Dr. Otis checked Tanna over and declared him Fit to Continue and Completed! Yay!!!! So proud of my boy! And while it wasn't a 100, I had taken better care of myself. No sickness, so I could enjoy our victory.

The other horses, all 3 completed as well, so we were all thrilled.

Daniel had vetted Serts in for me while I was out on the last loop, so I had some work to do to get ready for the LD. First, I walked both horses for a bit, then settled them with their supper.

Then I cleaned up my vet area of Tanna-specific stuff. Then back to the trailer to prep Serts' tack and prep my stuff. At some point, Daniel brought me some vegetarian lasagna from Tamra. Yum, yum. I scarffed it down between chores.

Just before I went to bed, Dr. Ken came to take Tanna's blood for his follow-up analysis. Then I went to bed. Plenty of time to sleep before the next ride!

Friday, October 2: RIDE DAY

This morning, I got to sleep until 5:30. Wow! What a treat! I actually got up a little earlier than my alarms. So I took both horses for a walk around camp before settling into my normal pre-ride routine.

I saddled Serts without a problem and mounted, ready for the ride. Since we didn't finish the 75 until 8 PM, I had missed the ride meeting. But I knew the important stuff from asking ride management. Start time (7:30), pulse criteria (64 at the check; 60 at the end), hold time (50 minutes), and loops (Pink - 16 miles & Red/White - 9 miles).

I settled Serts in the middle of the pack during the controlled start and waited. When we were released, I let Serts move out. As long as he didn't canter, I left him alone.

A couple miles out, we went through a yellow jacket nest. We were in at the back of a line of 6 horses or so. The ones at the front started hollering bees and the horses were not happy. I felt a sharp sting just above my ankle brace on my left leg. But Serts just motored right through. I don't think he got stung.

I let Serts move out, but kept an eye on his HR and backed him off if he became too high. We were riding by ourselves today. We occasionally were with another group, but that didn't last too long at any one time. The weather was over-cast and even a little drizzly. But that's perfect weather for Serts.

When we reached the vet check, I hopped off and walked to our vet area. We presented for pulse quickly and Serts pulsed in at 52. His HR recoveries amaze me!

Serts and I ate during the check. Serts wasn't so sure about all this. He wanted to go back to the trailer and Tanna and was not entirely happy with me that I was not allowing him to do so. The check seemed quite long to me, but it was fine. When it was time to saddle again, I caught sight of Daniel and called him over to help me. Serts is taller than Tanna, so I welcome a little help getting the saddle on straight.

When I went out on the last loop, Serts pinned his ears and was generally in a bad mood. I let him work it out and we headed back on trail. He perked up as we left camp. His motivation to keep up the speed was much less as he didn't have horses directly in front of him. I encouraged him to keep up the pace. Our pace was slower than the first loop, but still a good solid trot and some cantering.

The middle of the loop had us coming in the back of camp, continuing past the vet check and back out the front of camp. Serts was completely unhappy with me. His ears went back and his mood blackened considerably. I did not let him pause, but kept him moving. It took a bit longer before his mood brightened again. Clearly, I was out of my mind to by-pass camp that way!

Near the end of the loop, I ended up riding in proximity with some other riders. That helped Serts' mood. We followed them into the finish. I hopped off again and took Serts' bridle off.

Then I pulled his tack and quickly worked to get his HR down by putting water on his belly mostly. He pulsed in at 56 in 14th place! Yay! His vet out was good, too, except for his ears back when I trotted him away from Tanna and the trailer. I was happy to get Dr. Otis for the vet out and he gave me some encouraging words about Tanna and his 75 the day before.

The rest of the day went by like a blur.

I settled Serts with Tanna, then showered and hung out around camp, just enjoying being there with nothing to do!

Angie Fura arrived and I snuggled with her new puppy, Reese, and introduced the puppy around while Angie got settled.

Serts remained quite ill-tempered. When I took the horses for a walk later in the day, he even snapped at Tanna, which is unusual. I could not understand his attitude. I definitely didn't like it. He seemed fine physically. His HR was elevated (60) at one point, but I pulled off his cooler and the HR dropped, so I think he was just warm. He did eventually get into a better mood.

That evening, we attended awards and the ride meeting. It was packed. I got a bit claustrophobic, so moved my chair off by myself to enjoy the meeting. The 75 mile awards were first and I received a very cool flexible bucket and lead rope for top 10, a turtle donated by Mrs. Barnett for turtle and a nice green t-shirt for our completion. For Serts' completion in the 25, I chose a waist pack with reflective tape.

We had such a great week! I didn't want it to end. Even though Tanna had some back issues (he was much better by Friday AM, btw), the 75 was wonderful. I had the best connection with Tanna. We were in sync and I haven't had a better first loop! Marking trail earlier in the week, with 2 Rushcreek horses, no less, hanging out with friends every night. Just the best time. God blessed me with a relaxing week. I could do that again. :)

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Small update

Went to Yellowhammer last week and had a blast. Will work on my ride story in the next week.

While there, got a great idea to play with. So new experiments coming up over the next few weeks. As soon as the supplies I ordered get here. I'll give you a hint. It's hoof protection, but not boots!