Monday, October 7, 2019

chamberlain creek 50

So after Wild West 50 in June, where I was stressed out and Major was a freight train, I swore off endurance. This summer I did no training rides, swept for Tevis, and meandered about. After a recent ride in the forest (6 miles of randomness) we came out into the staging area and saw a friend. She remarked how Major was all veined out and looked amazing.

And my tiny pea brain promptly forgot all the misery and signed up for an endurance ride. And no, not a simple, local one, I did at least think that a change of scenery might be good for us, so I signed up for the Chamberlain Creek ride in Mendocino county, about a five hour drive.

Major got glue on boots a few days before, and other than stuffing the trailer with more hay than he could ever eat, that was my game plan. There wasn't much about the ride online, but that is what adventures are for, right?!

Major: filled with high octane

driving though downtown Willits
Major was being cautious like the sign said!

The drive was as long as I thought, but the ride camp was very pretty among the redwoods (I've spent plenty of time in the area hiking and camping). Major vetted ok, though after that long trailer ride his gut sounds were lower than I wanted. (At the vet a lovely woman J introduced herself, said she knew Major from this blog. Hi J!!) I shoved mash in front of him, later went on a pre-ride where he was pretty fired up, and put on all my warm clothes (because 45 degrees is too cold for me, I'm pretty much a lizard and like the heat!).

out for a walk, lovely!

pre-ride creek

camp setup

vetting in (mmm, 6+ "fleshy"!) and chatting with J!
Major seemed weird that evening, so I had the vet check him (because I was being paranoid) and he checked out all ok. That reassurance should have helped me sleep, but I pretty much lay in bed all night worrying (will he eat, how silly will he be, will he hurt himself, etc). Fun way to start the day!

dark start, literally champing at the bit

At dark-thirty we headed up the hill, the start was about a mile away. At the ride meeting the night before I'd learned that the trail was mostly all logging roads. Not my favorite as they can be really hard packed and rocky (plus Major the runaway train.) I have learned to let Major let some steam off and trot right away at the start (holding him back makes it worse). So we trotted, and passed some folks, and came down a big hill onto an open road where Major's brain fell out. I pulled him up, also my ankle was bothering me a bit in the stirrup strangely, and I wanted to walk a bit. We were pretty close to the frontrunners somewhere ahead, but I did not care, I was not letting him trot at ridiculous speed on hard-packed road while not listening to me at all.

I took just one photo while riding.

So I got off and make him walk/prance behind me. A stick helped keep him back, but honestly it didn't help much. A few people passed and asked if all was ok, I explained I was just letting him get his brain back! I got back on and damn, now my ankle really hurt (not sure how you sprain your ankle while riding, but I sure managed to do it!). But at least Major was a bit more manageable. We caught up with a rider and I asked if it was ok to stay well behind and not pass. I did not want to use her horse as a brake (bad etiquette), but Major now thought he'd caught up and was close enough to "winning" so he settled down.

But my ankle got worse. I stopped and raised my stirrup a hole, that helped. But Major was then pulling to catch up. We were close to the first vet check, my horse was being an ass, I was hurt, and for the first time ever I came into the vet check crying. Fun times.

bad official photo (not the photographers fault!), leaning, hurting, Major pulling=not fun!
dejected coming in from the first loop

I could not even deal right then, and am so grateful that SO was there and knows enough to get Major some water as I hobbled about. Major pulsed right in, and we went over to vet right away. SO trotted the misbehaving Major out for the vet (sigh, so sorry vets!) and all was well for this 30 minute hold. I'm lame, horse is fine…nope, I'm going back out! Thanks to a roll of orange vet wrap in my vet check bag (yeah for being prepared!) my wrapped ankle and I headed out on the second loop (behind schedule but I really didn't care)

Major, please be more like this banana slug that SO rescued from the road
my app confirms my memory, big hill!

The second loop was a huge hill. That is seriously all I remember. My ankle hurt, I fell in with a group of mules who were going a good pace, and the hill went up and up and up. Then went down and down at some point, but it's a bit of a blur, as we ended up back at the vet check for our hour hold.

Major looked great, vetted right away, and I sat with my ankle in ice water while SO managed Major voraciously eating alfalfa (though not the mash I brought of course). How can an hour go so quickly? There was only 15 miles left, how bad could it be?

do I have to?

Hiked up my stirrup again and headed out. Trotting up hill didn't hurt so much, downhill was horrible. I had to make Major walk all the downhills, yeah, that was mostly just a fight (40 miles in!). There was a third away vet check here, just a short one, and everyone was so nice! The vet trotted out my horse, volunteers helped me limp about, and I stayed a bit and let Major eat mash as I wanted his gut sounds to improve.

whatever this mash was, Major thought it was amazing!

When we left it was a nice uphill so I let him trot. The we got to the longest downhill of all time. I couldn't get off and walk. I couldn't let him trot. I had plenty of time and thought walking the downhill was a great idea. Major vehemently disagreed. Especially when we were passed by two groups who asked if everything was ok, you know you're top 10. I DON'T CARE! OK, I did not know that, nor did I care, but instead of losing it and bursting into tears I summoned up my politeness (as I knew it was not their fault!) and I just said we were taking it easy, have a good ride!

It was the longest probably five miles of my life, Major trying to jig, me trying to stop him, just walk, please Major? The scenery was pretty here, following the creek, and I could appreciate it a little bit. I was convinced my crooked riding and horrible equitation (leaning forward to take pressure off my leg) were going to lame Major. And then we were finally at the finish. Plus, slowing down had benefits, Major vetted in right away and was mostly A's, yeah! Completion!


mostly successful vet card

We were still a mile from camp, and Major was still on fire, so I got to ride my jigging horse without stirrups, that last section. Are we having fun yet? Back at camp he had a hard time settling down, but he had mash, water and hay in front on him (even if spinning on his high-tie after 50 miles seemed like fun, sigh…).

Pausing on the way back for a one room schoolhouse photo

I took the best ever slightly warm water cowboy shower in the back of the trailer and iced my ankle from the horse emergency supplies (instant ice packs are the best). An ace bandage and I was hobbling around while Major looked great. Really not the way I wanted the ride to go, being hurt added another dimension that I was not prepared to deal with. But it wasn't Major hurt, and for that I was grateful! Having an awesome SO/crew, helpful volunteers and vets made a mostly miserable experience much better.

50 miles and and approx 10,000 feet total ascent/elevation gain, oh boy!
heading home: Mt. Konocti over Clearlake

california gold

That night, bundled up with hot tea (and lots of advil), listening to Major eating and drinking (finally) I again swore off endurance. I was stressed and hurt most of the ride, even if Major was amazing, how is this fun? The drive home was long but uneventful, and Major was more than happy to get home, roll, drink his own water and show off to his friends!

tough life

This week Major (and me too!) just got to rest (used the leg compression socks on Major after the ride, so much easier than wrapping, and he recovered great, and I've rested and iced my ankle and it is much better). I finally pried his glue-on boots off this weekend. Of course he looks amazing, ready to conquer trail. I felt my resolve wavering…(really, we horse folks are crazy)

We'll see what next year brings, but I'm pretty happy with his success (and to be done) this year!

ignore the stories, I'm innocent I tell ya!


  1. Holy shnikeys those CRIs! What a BOSS! And you're a total and complete badass for carrying on with your ankle the way you did. I'm in awe. Congratulations on a successful ride (minus that Major attitude ;-) )

    1. thank you! Yes, Major attitude for sure! His CRIs were amazing, I literally asked a vet "are you sure?" at one point when were were down to 44 at the third vet check!

  2. Major can't help it if he's an elite athlete! The orange glue-ons kill me... :D

    Either a freight train pony OR a tweaky ankle, but how 'bout not both in the same ride. Big props to you for sucking it up. Well done!

    1. He loves his orange dancing shoes…black would be so boring!

      I agree, one issue to deal with is bad enough, thanks!

  3. arrghhhh, I feel your pain...except, no, actually I'm sore in completely different parts of my body.

    But I do empathize!

    1. I think your multi-day trip was more exhausting! (and fun!)

  4. Congrats on the completion. Sounds like it was hard earned. Also sounds like we were in a similar boat this past weekend. My ride involved my horse rearing and flipping over one mile in, kicking another horse, and bucking at the TROT for no reason. Oh yeah and my stirrup came off my saddle and my horse STRUCK AT THE VET!!! I was PRAYING he'd be lame at the first hold, but no such luck... we went back out. I have also sworn off endurance -_- Sorry this is how your ride went. The scenery is beautiful at least (I got to stare at sand and pine trees for 30 miles of hell).

    1. Thanks, but damn, your adventure sounds much worse! I'm sorry you had a bad time, I am usually actually grateful that Major's antics only involve wanting to go fast (no airs above the ground).

  5. Great ride post! Sorry he was so difficult- mine will always walk when things get too hectic, but it sure slows us down. I spent a half hour on foot looking for his brain- finally pulled as overtime so didn't have to finish (or not) in the dark...

    Good job on your completion. Happy trials, Robin (spelled with an R not a J!)

    1. Eek, sorry Robin, met too many people and am bad with names! 8-)

      So nice to meet you, and glad your ride was safe (smart!), even if not what you'd hoped for! Hope to see you on the trails another time!

  6. Catching up on feedly (for the first time in a very long time) and found this! Congrats on your ride, and bummer about your ankle. I remember you mentioning this on a comment on my blog and it was nice to finally read the entire story. I'm having a hard time finding my mojo for endurance lately. And I'm hoping I'm tough enough like you to get my 100 done in a couple of weeks. Nice to hear that Major hasn't mellowed any.....**snickersnort** I guess he's always going to be Major! - Melinda