Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Cache Creek 2015 LD: Completion!

What are we doin?

Major and I successfully completed our recent adventure at Cache Creek Ridge Ride 2015. We competed over the hilly 25-mile course, sound and happy, with energy to spare at the end. But was it a successful ride? I’m still debating. (note: almost all photo are by my SO. I wasn’t able to manage the horse and camera at the same time this ride...)
vetting in: power trot

cute mule neighbor
ridecamp view
patiently waiting

Arriving and vetting were unremarkable, Major vetted in with a 40 heart rate, which is low for him (usually the excitement gets to him). We were near friends, but not too near, with some cute mules between us. Major thought the best part of the ride were the wild oats growing everywhere, and took awhile to start eating and drinking the real food, but then was a champ at both! Ride meeting was thorough and helpful, they really know how to put on a good ride here. There were 58 starters in the 25, and more than 100 in the 50, a good showing!

Major was eating and drinking and taking care of himself. I wasn’t doing as well myself, and didn’t sleep much, worrying about every detail. But morning came, I heard the 50s head off at 5:30, and then finally got up to get Major ready. Since I haven’t competed in awhile, and no 25s since my first ride three years ago, I was reminded of the LD “Luxury Distance” at the leisurely 7:30 start.
at the start, nice and calm

walking to the start line

Which Major was awesome for! We walked a couple times around the camp, let quite a few people go trotting off, then walked out nicely, no silliness. We got to the creek crossing, started to trot up the hill, and Major turned on the afterburners. Sigh. I knew we had to do it! Lots of hills we powered up, I was hoping to burn off a little of the excess energy. No such luck. We passed a few people, then were behind a large group, and that was fine with me! Major didn’t like it, but too bad.

We stayed with that group till the first water stop, where Major actually drank! Then we fell in behind some more folks. If there are horses ahead Major will try to chase them, so staying back a couple horse lengths and taking it easier was working as a good plan. We were moving out pretty quickly, but nothing that seemed unreasonable, Major would listen to half-halts and felt strong but controlled.

Sooner than I realized we were at the top of the long two-mile downhill into the away vet check. I got off to let Major drink and scooped water on him (no sponging out of the troughs allowed), letting everyone else go down the hill. Then I had to get back on the too tall beast (only ride management request: need more mounting stumps and rocks!), but only for a bit, then I got off and walked down into the vet check. I got off way too soon, and walked probably a mile, with Major trying to drag me faster down the hill. 
coming into the out vet check
But was greeted at the vet check by my lovely SO, where Major was untacked, sponged, and pulsed in almost immediately. Easy vet check (all As except for one gut-sound quadrant B), though I noticed quite a few of the people who had come down the hill ahead of me were still not pulsing down. I was then glad I had taken the extra time to walk in. Major stuck his face is every mash pan, nibbled some alfalfa, ate a few oats, and the half-hour hold went by too quickly.
dragon horse is impatient

As we headed out SO wanted a photo. Major was already pulling and ready, but I grimaced and said “we gotta go!” This was the purple loop, and the first part was lovely single track, lined with purple wildflowers. I ended up with a couple people behind me, but after about three miles I wanted to give Major a break, and let them go ahead at a water stop. Then we were finally in our own bubble, and was able to take two whole photos of a lovely oat-filled meadow, before Major wanted to pick up the pace again.
wild oats

meadow view

So we trotted alone, it was nice. Untill we were caught by two fast mules (our neighbors in camp), they can fly downhills! And from then on the ride dissolved into a battle of wills.

I must catch them! 

No, you don’t need to.
But there they are! Ahead!
Yes, you’re fine.
I’m not fine, I’m losing!

Yes, you are, deal with it.

It was exhausting. He did still drink at troughs, but his new trick: every time I tried to get a water bottle, I hold my reins in only one hand. And he knew it. And would try to take off. So I’d put my bottle away and repeat. I didn’t drink enough the second loop!

There were some wide-open ridges, where I did let him canter a little bit to see if it helped. It did not help, but it didn’t make him worse either. But then the long downhill back to camp came. There is a trough there, so I let people go ahead, and stayed for a little bit. Then headed back down. Major KNEW the horses were ahead, and was awful. But I dared not get off as the footing is slippery rocks and dirt, I just made him walk/jig all the way down. Toward the bottom of the hill I saw the ride photographer coming up, and while I haven’t seen the photos, that will not be a nice one: me fighting to make Major walk, probably mouthing a bad word or 10. Sigh.

At the bottom of the hill the locomotive was back, and I was just tired of it. I got him stopped, did some circles, made him listen. Which lasted all of about two seconds, he was just so riled up. So I let him power trot, though I couldn’t see anyone ahead of us. But Major could, and as we came around a corner he saw three horses ahead and just took off. Half-halts were ignored, full halts were ignored, I was just a passenger. I said a few choice words, (graceful wording like “stop it you fucker”), to no avail.

So we caught up to the other three horses, who were not being idiots, and just stayed behind them to the finish. The finish is under a huge oak in a grassy meadow, I was happy to be in the shade. They took our numbers, and then told us to untack. What? Why? Because we were top 10, fifth to be exact.

Damn. OK, I know some people who would be happy with this, but this was not in the plan! I wanted to bring Major back more slowly so he wouldn’t be such a stupid hot head…

But I took the tack off my spinning horse (who did not think we were done already) and did the weigh in, before I unceremoniously dumped my saddle on the ground and told them my SO would be back to get it (I was not retacking my idiot horse). I walked back into camp, surprising my waiting SO (who thought we’d be back later, so did I!) and issuing demands to help sponge my horse (SO is very tolerant, I apologize later).
"Circle your horse!" What?

We went and vetted in, pulse was already 56 and dropping. All A’s, completion success! I was happy about that part, a healthy horse, who proceeded to literally try and drag me around camp, certainly not tired! We went down to the creek, a much nicer place to clean him up with lovely running cool water. I did go back an hour later and did the best condition judging, where I had no idea how to run my horse in a circle and probably weaved about like a drunk!
coming back from the creek
in the meadow

hills and hiney

There was an early LD award ceremony (where we did not get BC) but top 10 did get a pair of gloves and everyone got a shirt. A lot of folks left, but we were waiting for friends to come back from the 50 (so tough and hot) and have dinner too. Major napped on his high-tie, finally relaxed, and ate another pan of mash (he loves these weekends just for the mash!).

So I am both happy and disappointed in this successful finish. I really think the first part of the ride was just standard crazy, not too fast. But I think we got through the vet check so much faster, and then maintained pace. It really wasn’t until the last 6-8 miles that I wanted to leave my horse behind (there were ride and tie folks on trail, maybe they would have taken him!)

Major was exceptionally naughty trying to catch horses ahead on trail. I need to work on him listening to me and not playing chase. Oddly, the last half was much worse than the first. I had a lot of fun doing the 25, but I think Major needs to move back up to the 50s and learn how to rate himself (and listen to me).
at home: a perfect dust bath

Through I’ll the stress, I’m glad I did it. I don’t know how much endurance I’ll be able to do this year, but I have a bit more confidence that with some remedial training we might be able to have some fun.
I do not like your ideas, small human.


  1. Lucky me! i got ten minutes on the computer for the first time in ages, and there was a new post from you! Congratulations on your top-ten, hotshoes. ;) And yeah, that's a mixed bag - but overall I'm delighted that Major finished sound.

    I've heard from several people that it's really quite hard to downgrade a horse - going from 50s to 25s kinda fries their brains. You did the best you could.

    Really happy to see you and Major enjoying yourselves :D

    1. Lucky you! 8-) thanks, I agree that downgrading may not have been the best choice, but since it had been 2 years since we'd done more than 20 miles in a competition, I thought we'd be ok. Guess Major remembered otherwise!

  2. Congrats. A completion with lessons, I think all rides are like that. You did great!

    1. thanks! For sure all rides are training rides, we have some holes to work on, but being forward isn't one of them!

  3. Congratulations on your completion. It looks like it was a gorgeous ride, and I'm glad to hear Major did well, even if he was bull headed at times.

    1. thanks I was glad to survive, but a few days later I'm thinking about the next one...

  4. Top ten, he's sound, you're sane (?) Good 'nuff! 8-)

    1. sane? I'm not sure about that...because I might want to do this again...

  5. Big congrats on top 10! Even if it wasn't exactly what you'd planned. :) Glad you had fun overall and that Major listened for the most part. And what a beautiful ride!!

    1. thank you! Do any horse things ever go as planned? 8-) It is a lovely ride in a beautiful area.

  6. Please remind me of this ride when I decide to do an ld on ny poor unfit horse. Bc im pretty sure I would have similar results. Sigh. Congrats on managibg a diffucult finish. You guys looked great.

    1. Yes, my "unfit" horse managed pretty well. I'm sure Farley could have done great, but I'm so glad I saw you and you got to do some vetting too!

  7. That's a tough one but you two sure look great in all the photos! Personally I'd do a multi day on that sucker after this!! Wild West is nearby??

    1. oh yes, we're going back to 50s, and possible a multiday. I love Wild West, so I'll see how training goes.

  8. Congrats on your unexpected great finish! My top 10 finish was alot like that, the damn horse pulled me along the entire way, wanting to chase the front runners. In spite of his speedy times, he finished sound and it seems like it wasn't terrible.. nice job and now you have homework to focus on!

    1. homework for sure! I thinks some horses are just more competitive than their owners...

  9. Good for you two! Loved the photos, Major looks Great & you do too! Looks like a beautiful camp & very nice trails!