Sunday, April 29, 2012

AR ride story

It was quite an experience, with so much learned, I'm sure I'll forget half of it in the retelling (which is good, this is way too long to begin with!)

Ridecamp was already getting pretty full when we arrived at 2:00pm. I learned later there were 30 late entries for a total of 90, in a tiny parking area. The ridecamp and start were moved this year from their old location to Granite Bay because of the development of the trail (which previously consisted of the first few miles being on/next to pavement).
all the orange accents let's you know it's mine!
Luckily my friend saved me a great spot, and we were able to create a little encampment. Major truly thought nothing of it, liked looking around at everything, and ate everything in sight. I tied him to my high-tie, which I hadn't practiced before (I know, bad). But figured I'd tie him to the trailer if he showed any signs of bad behavior, but he never one danced around or tested it.
trot out: good thing they vet Major and not me!
I told the ride vet Melissa Ribley that I'd never done any of this before, and she was very nice. Explained lots, and we vetted in all "A"s. (I need to get myself a stethoscope so I can learn to take his heart rate, I can never seem to find it otherwise, though people have showed me.) I did a quick little ride, Major thought we should trot for home (5 miles away), but other than that was fine. I was incompetently braiding his mane when my SO/awesome crew stepped in to take over.
pre-ride: See Major sleeping? All an illusion

better braider works while Major wonders what I'm doing
We relaxed and had the ride meeting, which told us we'd be starting where we vetted in. If you notice in the photo, it is an old concrete road, totally straight, for quite a ways. I was pretty unsure of that, but everything else seemed straightforward, and crawled into the truck to try and sleep.

I maybe got a few combined hours, but of course kept waking up to check the horses, fidget around, and generally worry. My friends B and S were doing the 50, so were up at 4:30. I got up too, just tried to relax, and sooner than I though they left (5:30 ride start) and it was almost my turn. Major was fine, I think he just had no idea what was going on. We were having a controlled start, they would lead us down the road at a walk, pick up a slow trot till the complicated area was past, and let us go.
you only see the orange glowing reins...
They didn't walk long, and soon we were all trotting along, way too fast (Major's big trot, mostly others were cantering). We saw our friend B (who was doing the 50) walking back to camp! Oh no, something happened! But I just had to keep riding. At this point his brain fell out (were were behind about 15 people) though I was able to keep him from cantering, I couldn't rate him at all. All of this had been going away from home too. And then we turned for home, up a hill, and I got a bolting, uncontrolled gallop! Luckily we only rudely blew past two people, then Major was trying to catch the front-runners who were (voluntarily) cantering away.

I thought for about two second what my choices were, and said screw it. At the top of Mooney Ridge I single-rein-stopped him (which we practice a lot) and got off. People trotted past, nicely asking if I was OK, I assured them all was fine. I have no ego. I don't care if I finish last, I just want to finish alive! We walked/pranced down the hill, let most people get ahead of us, and when there was a nice bubble of space, remounted and tried again. Still rushy, but not so bad. I trotted along and met up with a nice man who was walking his horse too, that helped Major a lot. I especially liked when the guy seriously reprimanded his horse, in a good mean voice, and Major's ears flicked around very concerned, he was being yelled at!

A quick trot by at four miles, and I fell in with a woman on a little quick foxtrotter. Asked if she minded me, said I was new, no problem. We stuck with Dorothy from Oroville for the next 20 miles. Her mare was great, kept Major's trot back from warp speed, consistent pace, just what was needed. She first did this ride year's ago, and has lots of experience, the perfect ride partner.

The sun came up and the vet check at Rattlesnake Bar was busy. We came in and were at 44 pulse. They thought we'd been standing around a bit, but actually we trotted almost all the way in to the check. Found the vet, trotted out, everything was "A"s, and we were missing a boot! Damn. Vet hadn't noticed, even on the trot-out over gravel, and I decided one renegade would be weird, so left him barefoot, and if I sensed any change of gait, etc, I'd put the boot on. Major found some sort of mash and was happy, I felt the adrenaline from before wearing off, and managed to choke down more water and a dried fruit snack. Only a 30 minute hold, and our friend left a bit before us, and as we left Major was reluctant to go. He wanted to go home the other way! But I pushed him on, and he remembered his job, and we soon caught up with Dorothy.

The rest of the ride was uneventful, the bare foot was no problem, and Major learned a new trick of eating carrots at a trot. I just break off a piece, lean over, and he grabs it, quite cleverly. Almost to Auburn the trail goes from about 400 elevation to 1200 pretty quickly, though this year they did the Cardiac Bypass instead of the main Cardiac, probably to add in the miles. Major wanted to charge up, and he had it in him, but I just kept it quiet, and we came into Auburn with a big group of 25s and 50s. It was actually kind-of anticlimactic after the morning rush, to walk into the finish, but that was just fine. We were already at pulse, and vetted right away. Vet noted he had great feet, impulsion certainly not a problem, though a B on gut sounds, quickly remedied with a grass snack.
finish line: Major isn't tired, he's actually acting bored.
final vetting; Vet Melissa Ribley taking his CRI pulse.
We all relaxed a bit, my SO/crew had already put away tack, had water buckets/sponges ready, and food for me too. Awesome. Major stood around for awhile, had a snack, then loaded right up and we took him the 15 minutes home. He was happy to roll on home turf, have a big drink of yummier home water, and eat more. He probably put on weight during the last two days!

I have no idea in what order I finished, and I seriously don't care. We finished! Unfortunately B probably has a broken nose from a nasty impact with a branch, and our friend S got pulled at 43 miles. Life with horses is unpredictable.

Things I learned: I'll be going out WAY behind the front, and the middle too. Finding someone to ride with really helps. Everyone was nice, and thought starting with this 25 was a good idea. A ziplock bag of almonds will explode in your pack. Major WILL drink when he actually needs to (at 20 miles). Will I do this again? Eventually. Maybe I won't be quite so long-winded the second time around!

16 comments:

  1. Congratulations! Sounds like you both handled the ride very well:) And kudos to your SO for braiding for you- and preparing food- it's funny how 25 miles and a bunch of adrenaline/excitement can make a person forget to eat properly.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, after the first rush it was actually pretty fun. And I was so glad to have such great crew in my SO, just a lot to manage my first ride. And the braids he did were much nicer!

      Delete
  2. Making me itch for a competition.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, I hope you can get out sometime soon!

      Delete
  3. What a great first ride! I'm so happy for you :)

    That first start is just indescribable. The more rides Major does, the more controllable he'll be. So glad you had fun!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I'm glad I never have to do a "first start" ever again. But it was fun, in the end!

      Delete
  4. So funny, Dorothy from Oroville is a good friend of mine, she lives right on the trails I ride on all the time and has a filly a week younger than mine! Probably my first endurance buddy when I moved here 4 years ago. She's great! Tough as nails.

    So glad it went well, and YES, start WAY back, let all the other nutters go. I've only done a few 50s but I've done LDs off and on for years and can promise you the starts are almost never pretty, in one way or another. Not that there are always accidents, but there ARE always hot shoes, even in the LDs. I'll never forget ppl taking off from the Lake Oroville's LD start the last year it happened, literally cantering and galloping and a good half of them pulled for metabolic and lameness issues. For me, and sounds like for you, it's a RIDE, not a RACE, your attitude of "just survive!" is just right!

    Great job to you both, to your supportive SO, and how nice to live SO close to a ride!!

    Oh and love your orange accents :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I thought you'd know her! She is awesome, I want to be her when I grow up!

      I couldn't believe all the hot shots in the LD, but I guess some people are very competitive no matter the distance. The people I blew past and apologized to (then pulled up) were both pulled at the finish.

      I was glad it was so close, but it didn't help with the race brain. We passed at least 5 turns for home, Major thought about it every time!

      Delete
  5. A great write-up and overall a great first ride! Funder's right: It gets easier, especially the starts.

    I love your camp set-up, as another fan of all things orange. Is that an orange sponge in a bag hanging from the back of your saddle?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do think the ride went pretty well considering, I've heard much worse! I was happy with the camp set up too, and yes, it's an orange sponge. My friend B found the mesh bag and put a small sponge in it, I like that it is not as big as some, and just clips to the saddle. It doesn't have a string, but I haven't found myself to be very proficient at that yet.

      Delete
  6. Congrats on your finish!!!!!! As you learned, even glue on boots aren't worry free, BUT a big plus is that you didn't have to worry about them coming off and "hanging" if you couldn't stop, and you don't have to make a decision of whether to got back and find it. I am suprised they came off though. I've had glue ons come off when I've glued them, but after watching kirt and chad from renegade put them on, I know why - I didn't sand enough. Isn't it nice to have a horse with good feet that you can go "screw it" and just ride on? LOL.

    Sounds like a great first ride and I dont' htink you are long winded at all! I'll read all you write on a ride experience :).

    Anyways - so happy for you and major and I look forward to more ride reports in the future!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yeah, I was sad the boot came off, and super glad Major can handle that terrain barefoot. I think that it was damp and rainy out when they were installed didn't let it cure well (the glue was taking longer to dry than usual). Now I'll start working on my boot fit.

      Thanks for reading it all, I hope to have more adventures to come!

      Delete
  7. Congrats on your finish! Their brain's always fall out a bit in the beginning but lots of practice at home being left behind by other horses means that after a bit you only have a slightly antsy pony. As to the boots... well, there is always something to be working on. Hopefully Major and you will have many more miles in the future and I look forward to reading all about it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh yes, always something more to work on! Of course at home he is fine being left by other horses, only when we go somewhere,"My new best friends are leaving!" 8-)

      Delete
  8. Hey you!

    Congrats on your finish. Nice account of your LD ride on Major.

    If I see you at another ride, I can certainly show you how to take Major's pulse. And when you do get a stethoscope, buy a descent one - like a Littmann. I'm a nurse and that is the brand I use both on my patients and on my horses. I can't hear anything out of the cheap stethoscope I bought at the feed store.

    Take care and keep riding!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the stethoscope tips, from a real nurse, I think that is a good recommendation!

      Delete