Friday, June 21, 2019

Wild West 50 2019

Some people reel off endurance miles by the thousands. Some of us take eight years to make it to 250 total endurance miles, but we did it! I am so happy for a successful 50-mile completion at Wild West!

This year was a horse roller coaster: abscesses, colic, not enough miles in training (I thought), but I decided to go for the 50 mile ride at Wild West anyway. I knew Major could do the 25 (we had done one 18-mile ride about three weeks ago, our longest training ride of the year), and I thought he was capable of a slow 50. But slow was the key, I needed to keep him sensible (hah!).

in the land of orange
pre-ride: demented beaver log piles (actually for burning!)
anxious horse has to deal with it

Honestly, I was an anxious wreck leading up to the ride. It didn't help that Major's barnmate (who he could care less about at home) had parked near us, the two fool horses kept calling and dancing about when they couldn't see each other. Sigh. Even a pre-ride I thought would settle my nerves didn't help when Major kept worrying about his "friend" back at camp (but I did see a bear!).

heading out

Ride morning started out awful: I was anxious, Major was nervous about his friend, and I just had to breathe and deal with it. I headed out on trail about 10 minutes after the start, I had no idea who was ahead/behind, I just knew I needed to get him moving. I tried to keep him at a dull roar, but by a few miles in my arms were already starting to feel it! I caught up to some riders who did not mind me riding with them at their mostly sensible pace, so we hung back from them (to Major's annoyance) and tried to behave ourselves. This was a 25-mile first loop, and there were some very rocky sections of trail that I slowed Major to a walk for…those sections have been my downfall before at this ride.

it was all a blur

I could not take my hands off the reins for the entire loop. We came in and luckily he was down to 60 already, so our one-hour hold began. After untacking (much thanks to the SO for all his help!) we vetted in all good, and I proceeded to lay on the floor of the trailer trying to decide if I was going to rider-option since I did not particularly like my horse very much right then…

contemplating life laying in the trailer
best vet mash ever

But I didn't. And we headed out only five minutes late (Major was over with my SO eating the vet-check mash, much better than his own (though it looked the same!!)). I was annoyed when he pulled my arms out for another five miles or so, but then he finally seemed to get it. This was another 25 mile loop, and we settled in with a like-minded rider. Their horse was happy to be behind, Major is always happy to be in front, and now he was "winning" the race, and we didn't catch anyone else the rest of the ride.

only photo I took of the lovely view

This section featured an awful get-off-your-horse, super-steep, powdery-dirt-with-big-rocks section, as well as more rocks and not enough water. But after the mid-way troughs the horses perked up on the twisty single-track, and the rest of the ride I pretty much let Major choose what we would do: if he got tired he'd choose to walk, then trot, even a fast power trot as we got close to the finish. I was pretty impressed that he was still going, I was pretty much done!

coming into the finish among the trees

So took this photo of his hot dog!

We crossed the finish line, and then the anxiety begins. Will he vet? We untacked and gave Major a quick sponge-down, but then I wanted to vet right away. I wasn't sure if he was ready, but he sure seemed fine! We walked over to the vet and he was already at 60 (criteria was 64). Trotted him down and back holding my breath, and the vet checked everything else and declared us good. A finish! It had been a long time coming.

really happy with this vet card
four off the floor

For me, putting in all those training time and then having our success is what makes me the most happy. That I did actually judge Major's fitness adequately, that I did put in the miles (about 250 training miles this year, nothing more than 18) and elevation gain (about 30,000 feet, since we can't do much at speed I use this to increase difficulty) that it took to make sure he was fit enough. I'm sure proud of my big, brown beast. Thanks Major.


  1. Congrats on a great ride, even if Major was a challenge for that first loop. It took me 8 years to get that first 250 miles, so I totally understand how that feels!! It's a great milestone to reach, no matter how long it takes!

  2. What a beautiful ride! Congratulations on the completion. Major looks and sounds like he's fit and sassy ;-)