I was a bit edgey on Friday as we left the house for the ride, because it was raining buckets and the wind was blowing a zillion miles an hour. I told Craig that if the weather was the same as where we were going, I was probably going to be a grumpy camper. Torrential rains and 30 mile an hour winds tend to make for some very unpleasant riding conditions.
But luckily Saturday turned out to be a very pleasant non-rainy and non-windy day. A few raindrops just started to trickle down as we ended our last loop on Saturday afternoon.
50 milers heading out on their first loop. As you can see from the picture, it was muddy - and when I say muddy, it was honest to goodness really MUDDY. The road was bad enough that a big tractor had to be used to pull everybody's truck and trailer into camp. A few people joked that they had never had "vallet" parking at an endurance ride before. =:) Craig helped one lady that had a big horse trailer get un-stuck out of the mud after the tractor had pulled her up on higher ground. Even on the top, it was still slippery and muddy. Which played hell on our hoof boots for the ride...
Here we are before the ride with all of our hoof boots on. The boots lasted a grand total of halfway through the first 15 mile loop of the ride before the mud claimed them. One by one, the mud sucked each one of them off. I was getting really exasperated having to get off and on about every 10 minutes to pick up another blasted boot. I rode with Cathy Leddy and Monica Bretherton on the first loop and they experienced the same problems with their hoof boots as well. When we were about 3 miles from camp, I yanked the last boot off of Tommy and said, "screw it, we're going barefoot". The boots were more of a nuisance rather than a help. Tommy was more than happy to keep going without hoof boots, and I was a much more relaxed about not having to worry over the damned things popping off every few miles.
Aarene Storms and her standarbred mare Fiddle, getting ready for the 50 miler. Aarene is a great writer who has published some articles in Endurance News and has a nice blog as well: http://haikufarm.blogspot.com/ She always dresses very nicely in her purple ensemble for the rides, and I always admire Fiddle's big black beautiful hard hooves too. That mare has some stunning feet!
Dr. Dick Root DVM. My favorite vet. He knows his stuff very well, and I always look forward to seeing him at the rides. I've affectionately coined the term, "Dick knows the deal-io". Not only is he a super knowlegeable head veterinarian at several northwest endurance events, but he's also an avid endurance competitor himself. Dick has accumulated almost 8000 miles in AERC, which is not an easy task to accomplish. He knows what to look for when horses come into the checks, and how to handle stuff when it does occur. He's one of those vets that I'd really love to see at ALL of the northwest endurance rides. (And yes.... he does wear that signature polka dot hat just about all the time....)
I was interested to find out at this ride that Tommy's heart skips a beat. He has developed a slight arythmia that I wasn't aware of. I asked Dr. Dick what I should do about it, and he said not to worry too much. He had an endurance horse that competed 2000 miles with the same condition, so it wasn't something to get too worked up about. Cathy said that Astrakhan developed an arythmia when he got older, so I guess it runs in the family a bit. It doesn't seem to effect Tommy's performance at all, so we'll carry on doing what we're doing.
The three amigos. I rode with Cathy and Monica on the first loop of the LD 25 miler. This was Danny's (Magdan's), first ride that Monica piloted him on. He did very well for a young green horse at his first endurance competition. I complimented Monica on her turquoise jacket, as it almost matched the HOTR completion prize shirts.
Earlier that morning before the start of the ride, Galen and Danny decided to take an "unauthorized" stroll around camp to get warmed up. I was fast asleep at the time, and only heard about the tales of whoa later on. I was relieved that Tommy thought it was much more important to eat his hay in his pen, rather than joining the other two in their fun. You can read more about Galen and Danny's escaping escapades on Monica's blog: http://blog.seattlepi.com/horsebytes/
When Tommy and I were on the second loop, one lady asked me if I was riding a National Show Horse and another lady thought that I was on a straight Saddlebred. I explained what he was, and then told them that we had a trio of Teke's at the ride. There were several people admiring our little group and recognized that our horses were different from the rest of the pack out there.
Boot check. We took turns telling each other when our hoof boots were falling off. We each lost at least one hoof boot apiece - and Monica and I lost almost all of ours. Luckily, we were watching each other pretty closely going down the trail and managed to tie most our boots onto the saddle after they popped off. The deep sinking mud was hellashius on boots.
Craig snapped this photo from his phone of us coming into the vet check on the end of our second loop.
Tommy was getting a little bit "race-brainey" after the first 15 mile loop, so we split up from our riding group and traveled alone for the second 10 miles. I wanted the mind of my level headed show/trail horse to return to me. And it did. We travelled at a calm rolling walk on the last loop and the strategy made a huge difference, as we ended the ride on a great relaxed note. We cruised into camp as two happy campers. It was a great ride, and I'm already looking forward for our next one.