I spent Thursday night at J’s in Wheatland and we were up bright and early at 4 am to head to her significant other’s house to hitch up the trailer and collect him and the horses. I have never left for a ride this early but I have to say it was worth it. After a smooth 4 hour haul we pulled into ride camp at 10 am and got about the best camping spot in the place! There were only a few rigs there and we scored a spot with a good spot for the horses and a concrete barrier 10 feet behind them that made it a sort of blocked private site. There was a friendly camper on the grass about 5 ft below the barrier but we had our own little triangle of space complete with a concrete pad which made a great clean hang out spot.
J and her steeds, Sedona the buckskin Mustang and Chief the PintaChief
The 3 amigos: Raider, Chief, Sedona
We had lots of time to unpack and relax, though since we all slept in the trailer one way or the other, there wasn’t much unpacking/set up. We emptied the bins out of the tack room/goose neck and I swept and set up a cot in the stall area.
Beautiful camp in the redwoods
My “bedroom” and yes that is a porta potty in my room, ah thank you. Quite handy since I always have to pee at least once a night! And no, my fellow travelers didn’t treat me to peeing next to me while I was sleeping–that I know of! 😉
Walking the colorful boys in camp
Already drinking! Good endurance newbies
After relaxing and socializing for a while we tacked up and went for a ride. Sedona was pretty forward and perky, Chief was mellow with his friends as usual, Raider was ready to go!
J and B
We rode back into camp to see my mom standing with the parking greeter! So I promptly handed her the camera to get all three of us in a shot or two:
Who knows what is happening here..
We un-tacked and took the horses over to the troughs while visiting with my mom, when suddenly Sedona rearranged the faucet on the trough for us! Her halter caught on the spigot and she panicked and broke the pipes off to the ground! We had a fantastic geyser spouting about 30 feet in the air just in front of the windshield of a big r.v. (glad their windows were closed!) There was some panic and general profanity but the water was shut off pretty quickly and J’s man, B, started digging down to the pipes while my mom assured him we could get parts in Fort Bragg, about 15 miles away. A Cal Fire guy showed up before long with a prisoner worker from the Conservation Facility across the street and they quickly repaired it. Oops! If it wasn’t her it would have been another horse, crisis averted!
the calm before the storm
My mom stole a horse! jk, she walked Raider back with me and Chief while the geyser drama was happening
Vetting in went well. Sedona was a little squirrelly as she really doesn’t enjoy being handled by strangers. Chief was actually more restless about it than I thought he would be, constantly trying to itch on me or sidle away from the vet, but his pulse was 40 and he got all As. Chief and Sedona had good first vetting trot outs while B’s Raider needed a little encouragement. Hey, he isn’t an Arab, give him a break! His mild trot out got lots of smiles.
New friend I always see at rides now on the left, the first vet I ever used vetting in Sedona, and on the right another friend from the valley! Ahh, endurance is a small world & home town rides are great 🙂
Vetting Chief in
Enjoying endurance already!
Houston, we have numbers!
After saying bye to mom, more socializing, walking and tucking in the ponies, we headed off to the ride meeting, got our instructions, and were soon off to bed.
Ride start was at 8 am but we packed our saddle bags and drinks and sent off the crew box Friday night and it’s a good thing we did as we ended up chatting over coffee and tea at a leisurely pace Saturday morning and it was 7:30 before we knew it! I even managed to eat some breakfast which is pretty unheard of for me. I usually manage a yogurt but I had hot tea and a small breakfast burrito and felt great! Fortunately we weren’t looking to be anywhere but back of the pack and after a quick tacking up we were on the road walking the approx 20 minutes from camp to the start. It was a walk on pavement with a potential for light traffic and I think it was a very responsible choice to have the start out a ways so people weren’t racing away on the pavement.
Walking to the Start, Saturday a.m.
Off they go on their first ride!
The trail was beautiful, shady, the footing fantastic, just as I remembered from years ago. The morning was cool and I think the high was around 80 or so, but we never really hit any sun until the last few miles. We did some climbing but the trail was all very friendly, mostly wide, with virtually zero rocks or technical footing. Basically an ideal first ride for new horses and riders and I am really glad we chose that one and am happy to say it went well!
We cruised through the first 15 miles and B and paint Raider came into the first vet check ahead of us. Raider got excited and he went on ahead, but they came into the check a little briskly and were cautioned by friendly ride staff and vets to take a more conservative pace before checks. It’s really nice to have information imparted kindly to new folks. I was doling out every bit of wisdom and ride advice I could come up with while out on the trail but it’s good to hear from multiple sources and people of authority.
Chief and Sedona pulsed right through (Chief @ 52), their pulses taken by an old friend of mine, the gal who sponsored me through Chamberlain Creek as a junior some ten years ago. She is also the wife of my first ever farrier, who I also had the pleasure of seeing at the ride.
Mugging at the hour hold
N and Willow were on the LD and finished nicely ahead of us! Congrats!
Chowing at the hour hold
Sedona and Chief vetted through with all As! There was a lot of interest in our Renegade boots throughout the weekend and I was surprised to hear how many people hadn’t seen them before! Sedona and Chief both went in Renegades this weekend absolutely flawlessly, no issues, no rubs, no messing with boots. Hallelujah.
4 mile climb out of the 15 mi vet check
The trails were very well marked with dolomite, ribbons, and plates. There were warnings for the vet checks and for the photographer of course. I don’t know if anyone got lost but I do believe it would be quite hard to on that ride! With the shade, temperatures, footing, plenty of water, and great trail marking, it was a luxury all around!
We climbed the hill out of the vet check which I must say, after Trinity River Challenge a few weeks ago, seemed like nothing! The trail was wide and the footing was nice, Chief found a fifth gear trot like he never had before, and we were having fun!
N is heading toward us out of the vet check while we are heading in, I just got out my camera randomly and she appeared around the corner!
There was a vet check and 15 minute hold at 22 miles, since it was the last place they could haul horses out and wanted to be sure all handled the climb well. Raider and Chief gave very lazy stock horse trot outs but pulses were good, in fact Chief was a 44/44 and got all As which seemed to surprise the vet and scribe after his lazy/tired trot out. I did feel him start to slow down before that vet check, but he was still eating and drinking. pooping etc just fine–I sort of think he was getting a reality check on the distance about then!
Sedona 22 mi vet check, still peppy and an all As check
B and I were ahead of J for a few miles then decided to stop and wait for her since we weren’t sure if there were even any other 30s behind us. Chief had snoozed for a few minutes until he heard trotrottrotrot here comes Sedona!
Here they come around the corner! Looking good at about 26 miles
We all three had a nice gradual descent with some good trotting stretches to the Finish. Chief was flying along at a nice trot with Sedona which was good since we were starting to push the clock a little.
Almost to the Finish line of their first AERC completion!
With a 3:15 cut off time we pulled into the Finish at 2:59 and Chief pulsed in at 3:01. We had been trucking to the Finish to make sure we made cut off and I was pleased he dropped so quickly despite being tired. Sedona pulsed in immediately and after a few minutes Raider did as well. They were all eager to suck down water and gobble mashes and hay provided.
Final vetting went well, Chief was definitely tired and had to get a clipboard smacking encouragement from the scribe on the way out, but trotted briskly enough back toward his buddies. He had great pulses and took care of himself through the day, I think finding that big gear of trot and maintaining it got him muscularly tired. We had a mile and a half walk from the Finish back to ride camp, again to prevent people from racing across pavement, and we could smell ride dinner cooking the whole way! MMMM BBQ
These boys are plum tuckered
The chomping didn’t stop for hours!
I think we finished something like 27-29 out of 32 completing riders. N finished, as did valley friend D and her Foxtrotter mare, and some other coastal friends. I got to see and hang with my redheaded soul sister A, she of the gorgeous stallions, but unfortunately she felt a little something off in her stallion on the 50 and wisely pulled. Risking our horses is never worth a completion and I applaud her horsemanship as usual.
I had a pretty rough night after the ride, I fell asleep a few times but the horses banging or pawing and shaking the trailer woke me up every time and then around midnight I started feeling sick and had a weird bug for about the next 8 hours. I would feel okay and then get the hot sweats and throw up, even when there was nothing to throw up. Not fun! It wasn’t all that bad but any illness feels a hundred times worse when you’re cold and filthy camping, so I was glad to get on the road for home.
I slept a few hours on the ride home and woke up feeling fine, though it was another system shock to be back in the hot valley after the gorgeous weather in the Redwoods. J and B had a great time and are already planning what their next ride will be. I’ll consider that and our completion certificates and great ride photos proof of success! 🙂