In May of 2011 I attended the Cache Creek Ridge Ride for the first time with my little gelding, Blaze. I hadn’t officially completed an AERC event since 2006, after totally failing at our first LD attempt together at Lake Oroville the fall before and finishing the Whiskeytown LD Overtime in April 2011. Cache Creek ride falls right around my birthday AND our wedding anniversary each year, so there was a lot going on for me at the ride.
Long story short I tried to start the ride in a hackamore, managed to stop my horse long enough to cram a bit in his mouth, forgot to zip my cantle pack and bounced all the goodies out down the trail, while the camelpak I’d never ridden with before chafed my shoulders raw for the first 15 miles. We got our first completion together in 5 hours and 25th place.
This was a singularly special experience, not just because Blaze and I finally succeeded, but because we ended up chatting with our camping neighbors, first mentioned here at the end of my 2011 post:
“Oh, we were camped next to some really nice people from Humboldt county that did the Ride & Tie and got their email, they are really cool and can’t wait to ride and camp with them again.”
The “really nice people” were April Moore and her best friend, Julia Ralsten. They were incredibly friendly and warm, offering me braiding bands for Blaze’s mane, snacks, anything we could have needed. We all hit it off and had a great time chatting in the moments we were in camp in various groupings, as April and Julia went out and completed the Ride n Tie the same day I did the LD. They also happened to the be the folks who picked up my hoofpick and other goodies I donated to the trail from my open cantle pack! We all laughed, joked, had a beer, and just generally embraced the best of AERC ride camp atmosphere. It was one of those fun, special endurance weekends where success is achieved both in ride goals and in true and total enjoyment of the experience and the people involved.
As the quote mentions, I got their email and later we all connected on Facebook. I have had the privilege to share trail and travel time with April now and am completely in admiration of her as a person, horse trainer, and shoer. I haven’t had as much of a chance to see Julia but I think of her with great fondness and always hope to see her at events. She began riding with April when she was 11 years old and is without question a wonderful young lady and a talented and tough horsewoman.
Unfortunately Julia was seriously injured in a terrible car accident this past week and is now on the long road to physical and emotional recovery at Stanford. Her family has reached out for support and I in turn ask any of you that are able to, to send what you can in support of a wonderful young horsewoman who’s life has changed forever.