Saturday, June 08, 2013

Powwow - or the First Real…

Powwow Memorial Day. So I call it Powwow Memorial Day, but the real name was Camp Osborn Summer Slam. Every February, a ride is held in Sylvester, GA, at Camp Osborn, a boy scout camp. That ride is called Camp Osborn Boy Scout Pow Wow and I usually refer to that ride as simply Powwow. So if I call the ride Powwow, well, that's why.

Thursday, we loaded up as much as we could, planning to head out early on Friday. Friday morning, we managed to get Tanna and Snap loaded and were on the road by 7 AM. I was hoping the trip would only take 7 hours or so, but due to one thing or another, we didn't arrive for 8 or 9 hours. We didn't have any real trouble, but the route we took went through small towns and rural highways.

We arrived with plenty of (hot) daylight left. We were thrilled to park near Joe and Tamra and went about unloading the horses, setting camp up and of course, visiting with Joe, Tamra and Susan. :-)

As it started to cool off a bit, I stated I was going on a ride and asked Tamra and Joe to join me. I was happy when they both agreed and I went off to saddle up…Snap! Yay! It was his first trail ride with horses other than Serts.

Snap is green, but coming along amazingly well. I've been quite pleased with his willingness to learn and his ability to retain what he learns. He can get plenty mad, but isn't scared of much and when he is scared, his reactions are mild compared to what Tanna used to do to me back when I first got him.

We all got ready and headed out at a nice walk. I sandwiched Snap between Joe's guy Friday (I had to…) and Tamra's Sport. Snap and Friday are half-brothers, both sired by Dr. Ike's stallion Kamaal. Snap's other half is Rushcreek and Sport is all Rushcreek. So it was kinda like a family reunion ride!

Snap has a habit of playing with his bit, but on this ride he had so much to look at and think about, he never tried to suck the bit into his mouth to play with.

Most of the time, we stayed in the same line-up with Joe and Friday leading, Snap and me in the middle and Tamra and Sport following to scrape me off the ground if Snap got rid of me. After a few scary things that Snap mostly just looked at, we passed the mule barn. That startled him a bit when he realized there was something alive in the nearest stall, but it wasn't a bad spook.

We moved on down the trail and Joe picked up a trot with Friday. I was not ready for trotting, so firmly told Snap no. We're still working on the 2 rein stop. He does pretty well with no excitement, but with Friday getting further away, I reverted to the 1-rein stop that I have worked on for a year and it worked well. I asked Snap to walk after Friday and we went back and forth on him wanting to trot vs me saying no. We caught up with Joe and Friday and off we went again. Tamra was very patient with me suddenly half-spinning Snap in the middle of the trail when he wouldn't respond to the 2-rein stop.

We continued in this vein for a lot of the ride. Joe would trot off and I would work on controlling Snap. Finally, Snap walked briskly on a loose rein while Friday, still in sight, trotted away. After several steps, I rewarded Snap and we trotted to catch up. I was able to somewhat rate Snap's speed and keep him off Friday.

The worst spook came near the end of our ride. We had to walk past a pile of boats on our right, a trash can with a flapping trash bag on our left, through an arch with red turn ribbons on the right and a long flowing "don't go here" blue ribbon stretched across the trail headed to the left. The wind picked up the trash bag and it was just too much for Snap and he bolted for all of 3 steps and then spun sharply when the blue cross ribbon swung toward him. Scared me, but I was on and he wasn't running. We turned and went back through the arch and then back again. That was enough and he didn't bolt again.

So then we headed for the bridges. The first bridge was a wooden bridge with no hand rails. Snap wasn't thrilled about the sound his feet made and let his rear end drift toward the edge. That made me nervous that he might back right off the bridge, but he didn't. He made it across without incident. The next bridge was a metal bridge with guard rails and some rubber matting that went down the middle of the bridge, but ended half-way across. Snap looked cautiously at the bridge as he walked, but he did not bolt and made it safely across that bridge as well. What a good boy!!!!

I thought we were out of the woods so to speak as we were back in camp. We paused at Samm and Lance's camper to chat when a little bullet shot out from their area right at Snap's right hind leg. Snap does not like dogs in that he will try to hurt them if he can. This was a tiny chihuahua. Snap does not always stand still. Dead dog, I thought. But fortunately, Snap didn't move a muscle and the dog was retrieved without incident. Whew.

So I had a very good ride on Snap. Proud of his progress. Just need to keep putting miles and experience on him.


Sunday morning, the ride started at 6:30 AM. All 85+ riders started together. The 25 mile ride would go for 15 miles and then stop for a vet check. The 50 mile ride would do the same 15 miles, do a trot by for the vets, and then continue on for another 10 miles before returning for their first vet check.

Since Joe and Tamra were both doing the 25 mile ride, we decided it would work nicely for us to share a vet check area. They would likely be out on their second loop when I came in for my first vet check.

I had decided to start about middle of the pack of all the horses, but when trail was open, only about 15-20 riders started and then there was a large gap with most of the pack still warming up a good distance away. Well, I was ready, Tanna was ready and we were leaving, so I started my ride.

I knew it was going to be warm, so I decided I wanted to keep moving at a good pace and finish the ride before it got too hot in the afternoon. Tanna and I had been working on consistent speed during training and I figured this was a good ride to put that into practice. No hills, just trail.

A few riders passed me, but I settled into a nice pocket where Tanna was doing reasonably well and we were riding by ourselves. I still had my hands full. I had a rocket. Tanna wanted to gallop. I insisted on a trot. Usually I can rate his trot, but this time, I was having a very hard time rating his trot to the speed I wanted. We spent the first 15 miles arguing about how fast to go and my arms were tired! I decided I was happy he was trotting instead of bucking or running away with me and tried to compromise with a 10 mph trot. That worked somewhat ok, some of the time.

We flew into camp for the trot by. Kim Williams, the ride manager, hollered at me to stay to the right for the trot by. At least I think that's what she said as we flew by. We were trotting. Really. Most of the time. I was trying very hard to keep Tanna from galloping through camp. I settled for levitation. I hoped the vets could evaluate the gait of a horse that didn't touch the ground. I never heard a vet holler at me to pull up. If they did, I'm not sure I could have heard them with the wind rushing past my ears. So off we shot through camp, around the turn away from Snap and back on trail. Tanna never looked at Snap, never offered to head back to the trailer. He was on a mission.

We wound through some of the same trails we'd done on the first part of the loop, but turned right when we came out on the road. We trotted and cantered along the side of the road, slowed to a decent trot to cross the road and onto a dirt road and out on the "road loop." Why did Tanna slow down to cross the pavement when I had such a hard time rating him off pavement? Because we condition beside pavement. A lot. And that conditioning requires stretches of road trotting and crossing the road. He knows to slow down on pavement. Thank goodness for training or we might have gone splat on that pavement!

The road loop blurred by. I was able to ask Tanna for a walk and he would walk. A canter and he would canter. A trot and he would trot. I just had a hard time picking the speed at a trot.

We came energetically into camp. I slid off Tanna to walk him in. And almost fell. My legs were jelly. It took awhile to feel more steady on my legs. I went to our vet check area and there were Joe and Tamra. Oops. I'd come in too fast! I rather already knew that. Fortunately, there was room for me and Tanna right next to the tent, so I shoved some feed at Tanna and rushed around pulling his tack. He was already close to pulse criteria before I got a chance to pull his tack. Joe very sweetly held Tanna, reminded me to breath and went with me to the vet and even trotted Tanna out for me. So glad he did the trot out. I think I'd have face-planted.

Tanna got all As and looked fantastic at the vet in. Back at our vet area, Tanna ate his grain, nibbled at hay, and then stood around waiting to go back out. The holds were 50 minutes long. I had Tanna saddled and we were waiting at the out timer at our out time. We rarely do that. I'm usually late for my out times.

Off we went on our second loop. This was a repeat of the first 15 miles of the first loop. This time, Tanna was easier to rate. He was still full of energy, but since he was under control, I allowed him to canter more of this loop when he wanted to. His gait was still predominantly a trot. Tanna snatched bites of grass between trotting sessions and drank. I gave him electrolytes from the saddle. It was a very nice loop at a good clip with Tanna taking care of himself and behaving quite well.

As we approached the vet check, I contemplated my options. I could go around the lake. Or through the lake. I had determined that I was not going to go through the lake. The lake was deep. And Tanna is short. At the last minute, I decided a nice rinse was in order. So I turned Tanna down the bank toward the water. Tanna obediently bent down and drank. And then tried to back up the embankment. I urged him forward, so he went into the water and tried to turn around to get back out. I urged him forward. So he went across the lake. The water came halfway up his hindquarters. He was almost to the point of swimming. He never panicked, just headed straight across the water, up the other side and along to the vet check. The in-timer told me I was in 9th place. I groaned. I did NOT want to know that. I didn't want the knowledge to change how I would ride my ride.

Tanna's pulse was below criteria before I got him back to our vet check area. I quickly pulled tack and took him to the vet. He still looked great and got mostly As on his second vet check. A couple of A minuses. Back to our area and Tanna ate and drank and then rested for a few minutes. Again, I saddled him up and was waiting at the out timer for our out time.

Our last loop was the road loop. I set my mp3 player to play my energetic running music playlist to keep the energy up and off we went. Tanna offered to do his 100-mile jog. I declined and asked for a faster working trot of 8 mph. Tanna agreed and off we went. My main goal was still to get done with the ride and out of the sun as quickly as possible without hurting my horse. I paid close attention to Tanna's attitude, gait and heart rate. All signs looked good, so we continued on the road loop by ourselves. We caught up with a horse and rider team walking. We exchanged pleasantries and I asked Tanna to keep going which he did.

As we crossed the paved road about 3/4 mile before the finish line, Tanna asked to canter beside the road. I allowed it and gauged his level of energy. Tanna was energetic, back on his hindquarters and moving well, so I allowed him to canter until we reached the dirt road again. We trotted for a good bit and Tanna asked to canter again. I allowed it and we cantered across the finish line! I pulled up and headed back to the timer. So proud of Tanna! He side-stepped and wanted to keep moving. After I got my vet card and stuffed it back into my saddle pack, we headed toward camp at a brisk trot.

I met Daniel and Joe heading to the finish line, but I was faster than I had thought we'd be as Tanna was responding so well we didn't slow down a lot on that last loop. I grinned big at them and when I reached the big water trough, I slid off to walk the rest of the way in with Daniel and Joe.

Again, Tanna was down by the time we got him to our vet check area and we pulled his tack and walked over to vet him in. Tanna got all As on his vet card for his completion in…7th place!!!!! Our first REAL top ten. We have top tenned before, but the top tens have come because we completed a ride with 10 or fewer finishers. This was Tanna's first real, honest, top ten. And he looked fantastic. And I was super happy I had not ridden for top ten at all. I'd ridden my ride on the horse I had that day and we came in 7th out of 34 horses.

We did stand for BC and even though Tanna still looked good, he did not win BC (no surprise due to weight differences). He did get really good scores on his BC exam and I was super proud of him!

Oh, and the chihuahua that Snap almost stepped on? We managed to weasel her away from her owners and brought her home to join our pack. Look for Y-lee to exude cuteness at a SE ride near you.

A very good ride all the way around. Could not have had a better weekend! :-)

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