The end of daylight savings time is the bane of my existence. My work schedule only allows me to ride in the evenings and on weekends, and even then, I am at the mercy of the weather gods as I do not have an indoor arena. Keeping my horse at home means I am, more often than not, riding alone. Needless to say, I need to get creative this time of year, otherwise, I’m going to go a little crazy!
First things first, my trusty headlamp comes out of storage. Riding while holding a flashlight becomes a little cumbersome, plus if your horse decides to spook, having your hands free to grab the reins is always a good idea!
In terms of clothing, Kerrits Pro Fleece Cross Over Breeches and my Eat Sleep Ride Repeat merino base layer, paired with my Ariat Bromont boots, are my go to’s to keep toasty on those chilly rides, because as long as is it not a blizzard, you can bet I’ll be out there riding!
If your riding area is limited (or if you are not comfortable venturing out into the dark on your own), arena exercises by yourself or with barn mates are a great way to break up the monotony of just going around in circles in the arena. Find some dressage patterns to practice and master or create a pas de deux to music! Build some obstacles (Pinterest has a ton of great ideas) and work on desensitizing. Set goals each time you work with your horse so that it gives you something to work towards. It could be as simple as just having fun!
Article originally appeared in the October issue of Equestrian Ontario (formerly On The Horse) Magazine. See it here or pick one up in your local Ontario tack shop today!
If you have been following along with our series, you may be keen to load up your trailer and hit the trails with Ontario Competitive Trail Riding Association (OCTRA) for your first ride. Great! Can’t wait to see you there! By now, you should have been preparing yourself and your horse by:
Reading and understanding the rules for the specific discipline you are entering
Attending a training clinic and/or reading lots of articles about endurance riding
Conditioning your horse with LSD (Long Slow Distance)
Training trail and vet check skills
Reaching out to a mentor for advice and/or volunteering at a ride to see how it works
Compiling all necessary paperwork
Picking a beginner friendly ride
If you haven’t checked all of these boxes, make sure you go back and do so! You can find good tidbits in our previous articles, on our website www.EatSleepRideRepeat.com and on the OCTRA website www.OCTRA.on.ca
Fill out your Entry
The OCTRA website has a calendar of events with ride flyers for each upcoming event. Take a look through and find a ride that appeals to you. For your first ride, you may want to consider doing only one day and keeping it close to home so you are not required to camp. An inexperienced horse may not camp well and you want your first ride to be a positive training experience for him. Keep it short, fun and as easy on him as possible – the riding is the easy part!
From the ride flyer, you will get information about how to enter. Some rides will have online entry, others you will need to print and fill out a form and either mail or scan and email to the ride secretary. Make sure to read the flyer carefully to make sure you understand the entry fee and whether you must add on any fees such as day membership, camping fees, extra meal tickets, or late fees. Send your payment along with your entry. Also in the package you send, include a scan or photocopy of your negative EIA test, your insurance card, and any required memberships. Oh, and don’t forget to make sure you tick the box that says you are a rookie/first time rider!
At the Ride
Once you have arrived at the ride site, take the time to find a good parking spot. For your first time, we recommend that you stay away from the main camping and vetting areas as they can get pretty chaotic and could upset your horse for his first time. There are often signs or people who can direct you.
Once you have parked and unloaded (or if your horse isn’t ready to be left alone while tied, he might still be aboard the trailer), take a walk of the grounds. Take note where the following important areas are:
Secretary and registration desk – look for a horse trailer with no horses… and a line of people out the back
Vetting area/lanes and pulse timer (usually right beside each other) – look for a large rectangle of flat ground, marked with cones. You will see lanes for trotting, and an area on one side where the horses will line up and be vetted
Crewing area – look for water troughs with lots of buckets and pop-up tents set out near them, usually close to the vetting area or start/finish lines
Starting line and finish line timer (often the same place) – look for signs, a single pop-up tent with a big clock in it.
Register with the secretary
Now that you know where they are located, grab your binder of documents. Yes, you should have a binder! Even if you sent in a complete entry in advance, keep a paper copy on you just in case. It will help you breeze through registration!
The secretary will give you a ride package. This will typically include your ride card, information about the schedule (such as when ride talk is), your meal tickets, informational brochures from the rides, sponsors, and sometimes charts that you can use to calculate your ride times.
Ask for a green ribbon for your horses tail (and maybe one for you too!) to let other riders and volunteers know that you may need a little help along the way.
Attend the Ride Talk
This is where the ride manager and members of the management team (such as vets and trail managers) will sit down with riders and talk about the course and expectations for the day. The important information you will receive here is
How the trail is marked and in what order to do the trail (often loops marked with different colours of ribbon on the right)
Veterinary parameters for your particular ride
Any particularly challenging aspects of the trail whether it be obstacles or navigational
Ride camp etiquette – things like where to dispose of your manure, and other do/do not’s
Does your ride package tell you all that stuff in a pretty brochure? Attend anyway. Sometimes things change last minute and the vets will change requirements to suit the weather or trail conditions. Also this is your chance to meet other riders, ask questions to ride management, and maybe even find someone to partner with on trail (a mentor – look for someone with an orange ribbon or bandana).
Vet your horse
We are going to dedicate another full article to this, so check back in the following issues of Equestrian Ontario Magazine. The short version is to bring your ride card and your horse to the vetting area where a vet or lay judge will check your horse’s vitals and assess their gait to ensure that the horse is fit to start. If you have any concerns, ask the judge questions – they aren’t there to penalize you, but to ensure your horse has the best possible conditions for completion. Once your horse has been approved, ask for your number to be put on your horses flank (find this on your ride card).
Get your ride time
You will be required to find the timer at the start or finish line and register with them. Show them your completed vet card. Some rides are a shotgun start and some are staggered. Find out what time you will be out and what the process for starting is.
Set up your crew area
Another article we will get to later! Keep checking back
Tack up, mount up, warm up, offer your horse water at the trough, check-in with the timer again.
Do I even have to say anything here? Yeah green is nice and fresh, but nothing beats the vibrant reds and yellows of the season. Plus, it goes with all my tack.
2. The BIG trot
Cooler weather + endurance season fit horse = wheeeeeee!!!!!!!! The giant gaits and frisky snorts are pretty much my favourite thing ever. Catch that air!
3. Chase the spotlight
The days are short. Change out those old batteries in your headlamp and hit the trail in the dark. It may seem scary at first, so stay close to home, but the feeling is unbeatable. Bentley and I play chase the spotlight, I just point my light where I want to go and he goes (of course at the big trot). For all the times your coach reminds you to “look where you want to go, not at your hands.”
4. Flannel, Wool and Pockets
Don’t get me wrong, I love my summer clothes, but once the weather dips enough for me to put on a sweater, I relish all the pockets that come along with them. Seriously, why don’t they make more (and affordable) riding tights with good cargo pockets. Give me like 20 down my legs please! Vests, hoodies, jackets, so many options for storing phones and treats! Then add in the cozy comfort of a nice flannel or wool baselayer or jacket and…. oh I am melting with comfort.
5. Change of Focus
Winter I think of my upcoming season and set my goals. Spring I am implementing the training plans I made in winter, bringing both myself and my horse up to condition. Summer is compete compete compete. Fall is just about fun. We play around in other disciplines (Bentley loves to jump and seems to know once Oktoberfest is done, he goes jumping!), go for leisurely rides, and just hang out in the paddock and play. What a relief!
No animal in my household is allowed to get past October 31 without being completely humiliated. As an adrenaline junkie, I like to push my limits of how much I can get away with before said animal turns around and bites me in the ass.
7. No Stirrups November
You mean you DON’T love this? Whats wrong with you?! Maybe I am a little masochistic, maybe I am just addicted to the great feeling that comes with improvement. Either way, my advice for those of you thinking about how sore your muscles are going to be tomorrow: that’s tomorrow’s problem. Pull those leathers right out, lube up your thighs and lady bits with some body glide, and stock up on painkillers. You can do this!
8. Hunts, Hunter Paces and Fun Shows
Going to a real hunt is still on my bucket list… maybe this year we will get there, but I have been to hunter paces and love it. I think Bentley did too, despite being very confused. I could practically hear his thoughts through the back of his head “Oh boy, time to ride! Wait, who cleared this trail, they did a lousy job, all these big logs to jump. Weird place for a hold, here’s my left leg forward… where is your stethoscope? Isn’t it early to start drinking Sarah? I haven’t even dumped you yet. What, its over already? Can I go again… and like ten times faster? That was fun!”
9. Fur Coats & Blanket Season
Nothing cuter than when all the horses get their furry winter coats… thick enough to bury cold fingers in. Mmmmmmm. Add to that blankets… oh yes they are a pain when you have to change them as quick as the weather changes, or when they shred them to bits, but if you have a grey horse like me, you appreciate how clean your horse remains from the neck down November through March.
10. Apples and Carrots
Ever notice that in Autumn you can get giant bags of carrots super cheap?! Not to mention all the free snacks growing on the trees down the trail. Bentley knows where every apple tree is on our route and will drag me to them… even in the dark and I have no clue why he’s beelining it into the woods. Cheers my friend, get your winter potbelly on. You have earned it.
Cute chubby animals are everywhere (not just beneath our saddles). Deer, coyotes, grouse, turkey, porcupine, skunks, raccoons… I have seen them all within the last few weeks. Every time I go to the forest I swear the chipmunks have multiplied at a rate that could only be explained by mitosis. Once I saw one pop out the side of a very steep hill (poorly placed exit you idiot) and roll a good 20 feet down the hill, desperately grasping at all the loose leaves on the ground with no avail. I laughed. I laughed so hard. Nature can be so stupid, thank goodness its not just us people! I will treasure that memory. Busy critters make for great entertainment, and there is no busier time of year than Autumn. Plus, the mosquitoes are (mostly) gone!
While we are all endurance riders here at Eat Sleep Ride Repeat, we do dabble in other disciplines and try to keep up to date with what is going on in other parts of the horse world.
A recent article on Eventing Connect (https://eventingconnect.today/2017/10/09/grow-eventing-holly-jacks-smithers-kicks-it-off-in-ontario-with-a-practical-approach/) spoke to the state of eventing in Ontario. Many events saw a large drop in entries; one show cancelling altogether. We all know that if there are no participants, there will be less events for us to go to. So rather than sit on their laurels and watch the sport of eventing fade off into the sunset, people are doing something about it. Canadian eventing team member Holly Jacks-Smither has taken it upon herself to introduce new people to the sport of eventing, in hopes that the interest will spark and grow into a future competitor, keeping the sport alive. She is offering to anyone who wants to try cross country schooling a first time free lesson. Who doesn’t like free stuff?!
OCTRA tried something along those lines this year with their first ride free program, offering to pay the entry fee for riders who have never competed in a distance riding event before. While we haven’t seen the exact numbers of people who have taken OCTRA up on this offer, we would like to know “what is stopping you from attending a distance ride”? Is it the cost? Is it just the fear of the unknown and trying something new? Do you feel underprepared or in the need of more distance riding clinics/lessons? We want to hear from you!
Here are just a few of the things you are missing out on!
The following article is a collaboration from all of us at ESRR.
I had no idea what the background was behind me until I saw this picture! PC: Wendy Webb
Photo credit to Hoofprints Photography
We at ESRR share our successes and failures. We love this sport and we want it to grow and improve. We have been addressing some very controversial topics recently. There has been good conversation. The Green Bean Movement is alive and well. There are a lot of great mentors. And tons of other goodness.
This post is about ideas. Here are some of ours. And we want to hear yours!
Equal enforcement (or non-enforcement) of rules – This one is very polar- some say “yes, I have been there before” and others say “what are you talking about, this never happens.” This shows that there is no standardization. If there is no standard enforcement of rules, it looks bad on the organization as a whole. Example, not every rider in the Group 7 middle east is going to ride til their horse drops dead, but the few bad apples taint how we see their entire region. The terrain will be different, and the climate, and many other things (we love the variety). People love and embrace the flexibility that you can do things in a ton of different ways and ride your own ride. How do we do we keep the variety and still have a sanction mean the same thing across the board? – R & S
Ride Rating System (difficulty) & feedback form – the beauty of endurance is its done through many different terrains and climates. ESRR tries its best to review rides we attend and share information we think might be relevant for someone considering that ride, but we only get so far. Those who are going to a ride for the first time (no matter how many times they have ridden elsewhere) could benefit from more knowledge. Better preparation will lead to better completions. While we don’t have a set formula for this, we want to open up discussion on what you would like to see rated – things like trail surfaces, average temperatures, quantity and type of trail markers, shade in ride camp… hey even the ride meal if you want to go that far. What do you want to know before deciding to go to a certain ride? Get creative and tell us in the comments! Our vision would be that for new rides, this is completed by the ride manager and/or trail master, and as the ride continues, riders can rate the various factors. How do we do this? Perhaps a sliding scale? Maybe checking all boxes that apply? Surveys are great, but something that can be public and found in one place (rather than googling the $4!+ out of something). -S
Ride Review System – The USEA does a great job on this. Of course the AERC suggests you talk to the ride management. And says there is already a process in place (to pay them) to consider your grievances. Or that you can ‘vote’ by attending or not attending. But new riders are not likely to speak up. And few are willing to pay to have their concern heard. The AERC at the organization level would benefit from event feedback to understand what members like/don’t like and perhaps when there are consistent issues that merit review of event sanctions. -R
Are you an endurance rider even if it’s <50 miles? While the intent of comments like, ‘it’s ONLY an LD’ may be benign and traditionally ‘endurance distance’ starts at 50 and involves physiological changes to the horse, what’s the real harm in letting everyone in under 50 mile rides be endurance riders too? – R
Race vs ride… why is “race” a dirty word? (PS my boss is more likely to give me the day off if I say I am going to a race). Do marathoners say they are entering in a run? Maybe… i have never run one. Anyone want to weigh in on this? – S
Veterinary grading standardization – A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of scribing for and training under some particularly wonderful vets (story to follow). One thing that I found remarkable was we had a sit down at the start and discussed what would constitute a mark outside of perfect – what EXACTLY is a B skin tent (assign it a value in seconds), how long should we wait for gut sounds before we give them a – or a 0 (and what exactly is the difference between a + and – and 0, or do we even bother with using the 0?), what is going to constitute a re-check? This was great, it meant that we were judging a little harder on the riders, but it meant that everyone was treated fairly. This would be great to see across the board – not just setting a standard for a ride, but for every ride. Continuing education plays a huge role here. And riders, take judging courses and study under the vets as their scribes so you can learn exactly what they are looking for and know when you are getting a fair shake (also helps to understand that vets DO want to see you complete!) – S
Rider skills development program – having done a lot of publicity for our local club, I first came up with this idea when doing Ride N Tie demos at the Royal Winter Fair – I want to learn to ride, I think I might like RNT/END, where can I learn? Ugh… huge barrier here. There is no such thing in our neck of the woods where you can start as an up-down rider with the goal of riding endurance. Whenever this comes up I have to refer them to a hunter or dressage or western barn… and do they ever end up in our sport? I haven’t heard of one yet… no they get sucked into something else. So what I would like to develop is a system of levels that can take someone from never touched a horse to first ride (and eventually beyond). Like what the pony club does. A list of skills, broken down in a logical path, that we can give to trainers in other disciplines to help them bring along new riders and have them be competent alone on trail and managing their horse. Eventually, I would like to extend this to the higher levels – work in things like better equitation, presentation, advanced crewing skills. Things that will take you from competent to great. So again, please comment away with what you think the skills required to be competent and great are – because I need the collective experience of all AERC to build this. -S
Trail delegate – someone unbiased to check the trail conditions and marking prior to the ride start. Basically we would like to see someone representative of AERC on site to ensure that the it meets the standards/guidelines that AERC sets out, that the marking and/or GPS are correct, and that there are no safety concerns with the course (FEI does this). We never expect it to be perfect, and no doubt we love a challenge, but some hazards are unnecessary. Notice a trend here? You should! Standards and enforcement, enforcement and standards. -S
Safety – Two sides to this one –
First is that helmets should be mandatory. No excuses. We don’t care if the ride is older than AERC and is too old to change. Its a hot region? Great, lots of helmets have amazing ventilation these days (and can be used as a bucket to dump water on your head at the troughs and holds!). No more black velvet hunt caps. Too itchy or uncomfortable? Its endurance… endure it. It’s my decision and only affects me – Nope, it affects everyone who rides with you and has to clean your carcass off the trail, it affects your family who has to feed you through a tube and change your diapers for the rest of your life, and it affects your horse who may get caught in limbo when you can’t take care of it. Grow up and buckle up. – S
The other side, paramedics or dedicated first aider on site (not riding or tasked with other jobs). I recently talked to someone who surveyed riders to see if they would pay an extra $5 to have a paramedic on site for their ride. The response was overwhelmingly no. Seriously? Do you know what difference it could make (especially in remote locations) to have a paramedic onsite vs having to wait for them to arrive on scene? In some cases it could literally be life or death. We spend a lot of money to be able to compete in this sport, what is an extra $5 really? I would like to see a rule put in across the board mandating this. It shouldn’t be a luxury, it should be the new standard. – S
Mandatory Volunteering – in my area many of the small, local saddle clubs and associations are becoming defunct and no longer putting on events because there isn’t enough manpower to go around. To tackle this, some are requiring that riders volunteer at at least one event in order to be eligible for year end awards, whether it is the rider themselves or someone the rider designates, such as a friend or family member. Not only does this help address the lack of volunteers that many events seem to encounter, it also gives the participant a better idea of how much work goes into making an event happen. – A
Cavalry – Like Old Dominion offers. “The concept of the cavalry is to mimic the rigors and primitive conditions a lone calvary rider would have faced in crossing the wilds of uninhabited territory far from human intervention. The modern test of a solitary horse and rider is to compete on their own, without help, across 100 miles of natural countryside.” Perhaps in some areas where there is no grass hay would be part of what is provided. New riders don’t always have crew. Maybe it would be good to recognize the extra effort needed. – R
Outreach – What do we need (besides ponies) to have our events? Land! And access to land! I see cyclists and hikers with more sway to influence policies. And make trails. Granted there are WAY more of them…so until there are more of us, can we coordinate with any other horse groups with a common interest? Foxhunting and Eventing comes to mind. Maybe we all benefit if we pull together! This ties into #6. In the off season, both eventers and foxhunters would benefit from endurance riding! Let’s invite them! – R
What are your ideas? What does your favourite ride do?
Even little things like putting your ribbons in bottles to keep the cows from eating them is an idea worth sharing!
I’m popping in here to let everyone know that time has NOT yet run out on our contest. You can still post photos of you wearing our ESRR gear for a chance to win. If you missed out on the Erin Fall Fair last weekend, we are giving you a third way to win!
Take a photo at the ESRR table at the Caledon Tack swap this weekend, or take a pic of you repping ESRR at the Dodge RAM Rodeo Finals in Newmarket, share it on our instagram or Facebook (see directions in previous post) and you are entered to win! That easy!
PS its supposed to be cold and rainy, and I am in the notoriously cold Agriculture building… so make sure you dress appropriately (or you know… invest in an ESRR hoodie!)
The ride [competition] season is over for many of us… not long now and we will be curled up in a blanket dreading going out to chip ice off water troughs. Gross.
We want to cheer you up a bit, because we still have lots of good riding time left before the snow flies, we want to treat one of our followers to a ride card holder and hot pink socks (or equivalent credit in our store).
You can enter unlimited times, let me tell you the many ways…
Post a photo (or many many photos!) of you wearing your ESRR branded gear on Instagram. Tag us @team_eat_sleep_ride_repeat and use the hashtag #esrrcontest
Post a photo (or many many photos!) of you jumping over the ESRR jump at the Erin Fall Fair this weekend on Instagram. Tag us @team_eat_sleep_ride_repeat and use the hashtag #esrrcontest
No instagram? No problem! Email us your photo at firstname.lastname@example.org with your permission for us to use it on our social media channels.
If you’re not already aware, Splash and I are members of the Ontario Mounted Special Services Unit. Last week I had the opportunity to travel to Kentucky with a few other team members to participate in the 33rd annual National Mounted Police Colloquium at the Kentucky Horse Park. This would be my 3rd visit to the park. The last time I was there was over 10 years ago with the Canadian Cowgirls to ride in the Kentucky Derby Parade twice and we were very fortunate to be able to be stabled at the Horse Park and participate in their daily Parade of Breeds show. One things I noticed right off the bat was that the iconic white fencing for miles was now black. Fun fact: black paint is wayyyyyy cheaper than white paint so it makes complete sense (and it doesn’t make the horse park look any less impressive!)
The Colloquium consists of both training and friendly competition. Units from all over the United States were in attendance: mounted police, search and rescue units, posse groups. We were the only ones from Canada this year. They’re going to have to change the name to National to International! There were training classes in equitation, jumping, crowd control, sign cutting (mantracking), horsemanship, formation riding, and officer safety. Competition consisted of an equitation test, team and individual obstacle courses. There was a uniform class competition but a Class A uniform was required (which our unit does not have). The Colloquium was Hosted by Kentucky Horse Park Mounted Police and Lexington Police. The instructors included retired RCMP, Toronto Police, US Border Patrol, and Maryland National Capital Park Police.
While any sort of vacation is good, it’s even better with horses. We had an uneventful drive down (and back) and arrived a few days early to ensure the horses were well rested before the week of activities. We went for a hack every morning on the cross country course; what a great way to start a day! The temperature during the day was very hot and humid so we tried to get rides in in the mornings and evenings when it was cooler. The horses did seem to handle the hot temps pretty well, but they got spoiled when we went and bought fans for them while they were in their stalls.
On one of our days off, we went on a farm tour, arranged by the Colloquium and got to see some pretty impressive farms. The first one we went to was Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm. For those of you who are interested in Thoroughbred history, this farm is where Seattle Slew is now buried. If the name sounds familiar, it could be because there are Canadian ties. The original Hill ‘n’ Dale was founded in Canada in 1960 by John Sikura Jr., the father of Hill ‘n’ Dale owner and president John G. Sikura and there is a Hill ‘n’ Dale in Aurora, Ontario, that is owned and run by by R. Glenn Sikura.
The second farm we visited was Four Winds Farm. If I recall correctly, this farm supplies the hay to the Kentucky Horse Park police horses and is also home to a number of retired police horses.
The last farm we visited was Katierich Farms. Not only did we get to see an adorable American Pharaoh baby (for those not familiar, American Pharaoh won the Triple Crown in 2015), this farm also had an indoor track to help with breaking young race horses during the colder months.
We also toured Keeneland Race Track. While this course hosts some of the major prep races for the Kentucky Derby (which is held at Churchill Downs about an hour away), most people may know Keeneland for their sales. Their September yearling sale is the world’s largest sale of yearlings; it’s like a Barrett-Jackson auction but instead of cars, you have horses. If you want to see the cream of the crop (and horses go for more money then I’ll probably every see in my lifetime), this is it.
On to the training. Day 1 we had classes in equitation, formation riding, and sign cutting/tracking classroom session. In the classroom session (which actually took place outside), the US Border Patrol showed us different types of tracks and we compared how speed, number of people, disguises, time, and light all affected how we saw the tracks. On Day 2, we did jumping, crowd control, and a practical tracking session where we were on our horses to find an “item of value”. While it was just a backpack full of horse treats, I’m sure the horses thought it was pretty valuable! Days 3 and 4 were dedicated to competition with the team obstacle challenge and equitation test on Day 3 and the individual obstacle test on Day 4.
We didn’t get any information on the obstacles until registration day and we didn’t get to see the obstacles until the day of when we did a course walk through prior to riding. That didn’t stop us from trying to recreate everything during the week though – including porta potties and bubbles!
They do say that horses keep us humble and Splash did just that. We had literally done the exact team obstacle course the weekend before with no issues, but we had a few bobbles that surprised me (especially when she balked at the car wash obstacle during competition yet walked right though it with no hesitation in the warm up ring! The same thing happened with our bridges in our individual obstacle test. You wouldn’t have known that just a few minutes before she was helping lead other horses over bridges, mattresses and a water box! As frustrating as it can be, it was a great learning experience because now I know where the holes in our training are and we can work on improving them. The only obstacle I 100% wanted to conquer was the carousel on the individual course. Not only was it visually spooky with bright colours, balloons, mirrors all inside it, and that it moved, it was also playing circus music and made a horrible racket once you started to turn it. She wasn’t crazy about approaching it from her left side but quick thinking had me try it on her other side, and she took it with little issue!
Side note – I was asked why I didn’t stop and work on the obstacles when Splash refused. We had a 6 and a half minute time limit on both the team and individual courses and instead of timing out and receiving no score, we opted to take a lower score.
I messed up my equitation pattern by not walking down centre line at the end but I was pretty happy with my other transitions as we had been having some difficulty with that (pic of test score); love that we got a score card back so we know what to work on and improve for next time!
Next year’s colloquium is held the last week of September but as of right now I’m not sure if I will be attending or not because I’ve been accepted to ride in Race the Wild Coast in South Africa just a few days after the clinic! There will be a bunch of fundraisers including a horse-themed paint night, massive garage sale/tack swap and more! In the meantime, if you want to get a head start on your holiday shopping (or any shopping for that matter), use our FlipGive link to do your shopping. It doesn’t cost you anything extra and we get $$ from FlipGive just from people using the link! https://www.flipgive.com/teams/51832-eat-sleep-ride-repeat?fundraiser_id=167720
In October 2016, team riders Sarah and Rose rode in the inaugural Race the Wild Coast from Port Edward to Kei Mouth in South Africa. Throughout the race, they and ten other riders were filmed on their journey… the product of which will be coming soon to your screens! Stay tuned here and at the Rockethorse site and we will keep you informed of the release date as it becomes available!
What was it like to be filmed while riding this epic race?
“I am not going to lie, I avoided the film crew at first. I was worried that taking time to interview with them on my holds would slow down my vet checks – and having efficient vet checks and horse changes was my strategy for the race. Any time I saw them approaching I would make myself busy… fussing over my horse or my pack. Once I had my routine down later in the race, I took some time to let them in.”
“We would be riding on a goat track the edge of a cliff with a hundred metre drop straight to the ocean. Then we would hear the whip whip whip sound of the helicopter approaching and just think ‘oh crap, what is coming next?’ ‘don’t spook, don’t spook, don’t spook’ and of course ‘don’t look at it you fool, they told you not to and wave at the cameras. Slap a smile on your face and pretend that your chafed damp legs aren’t stinging like a thousand wasps got in your pants. You are having fun remember?’ Later in the race when I was alone fighting to keep Asad moving, the familiar sound of the chopper told me that Sam and Monde were closing in. It was a telltale sign that something exciting was about to happen.”
“My headlamp turned out to be water resistant, not ‘swim rivers’ water proof. The second morning, getting ready in the dark, I was quite happy to have the camera crew following me around with their bright lights.”
“At a certain point, I found myself looking for the camera crew when something hilarious or frustrating was happening. It started to feel like a natural extension of whatever it is that drives me to blog in the first place. Sometimes when I’m trying to write a blog and reconstruct an event and find the right pictures, I think how much more convenient it would be if I just had a camera crew. That said, I don’t like seeing myself in photos or on video. Seeing myself on video, I can’t help wondering if I look that goofy all the time.
I’m always excited to see new distance rides pop up in Ontario. Not only does this mean new trail to ride, but it means the sport is growing. Last year I had the pleasure of attending the inaugural Madawaska Highland Pioneer Ride and Lopin Larose (unfortunately scheduling did not allow for me to attend either of these rides this year). Now, new trail is enough to get me out to a new ride but ride manager Pauline went above and beyond to attract riders.
This ride location was about 6 hours from me but having driven to the Eastern Ontario rides before, having a traveling buddy, and the enticement of a chocolate fountain all made it worthwhile. Something else that made this ride fun was that both mine and Sarah’s significant others agreed to come. The area surrounding Calabogie had enough to keep the two of them occupied while we rode; golfing for Lee and off-roading trails for Clayton.
Friday morning we picked up Sarah and Bentley on our way to ride site and Bentley was very happy to see his girlfriend, even though he had just seen her the weekend previously when we went up to visit for a ride in the Dufferin Forest.
The plan was to ride 25 miles each day but due to Splash’s headshaking rearing its ugly head again, we opted to ride in the 10 mile training ride and help with the clinic and play it by ear for the second day.
The weather for the first day of riding was lovely and ride started out great. The trail for the 10 mile ride was a mix of field, bush, road, and a bit alongside a golf course. We were told at the pre-ride talk that there was going to be a pasture to ride through (with people manning the gates at the entrance and exit) that was home to cows and a donkey. I didn’t think too much of it since we’ve ridden through cow pasture before and Splash’s best buddy at our previous barn was a mini donkey.
When we got to the first gate into the pasture, said donkey was there and kept trying to rush the gate so we waited for someone to arrive to hold the donkey. Unfortunately donkey escaped the hold on its halter and proceeded to find us in the pasture and follow the horses, spooking some of them in the process. I will use this as a reminder to riders to request or take a picture of the important phone numbers (ride manager, trail master, farrier) in case something happens out on trail. Thanks to quick action on part of the ride manager and trail master, the trail had been rerouted around the pasture.
We finished the first 5 mile loop by ourselves with Splash’s heart rate almost at resting (probably due to slow traveling speed and the break in the middle to donkey wrangle, even though it was a warm day and she was tossing her head quite frequently). On the second loop (same as the first), we rode with a rider on her first distance ride. We received completion for the day.
Pauline did not disappoint with the awards thanks to so many generous sponsors, even volunteers received something. Something fun that was added to the ride courtesy of Rick Fleming and Highlands Golf Course, the VIP use of a golf cart each day was awarded to two lucky people, for which I won on Saturday night for 24 hours.
Day 2 was rainy and while I have no problem riding in the rain (see every other ride this season!), with the slippery conditions and the head tossing, it may not be the safest so we rider optioned and volunteered to vet scribe instead (as much as I wanted to see the other trails that boasted water to take the horses in and galloping across the gold course, but I guess that means I have to come back next year!) It is often suggested that you volunteer before your first ride but I’m of the thinking that it’s good to volunteer periodically throughout your distance riding career, not only to give back to the sport, but to keep you in touch with everything the vets are looking at.
Again, the awards/dinner was well done. It seemed like everyone walked away with something.
Dinner provided by the onsite food truck was delicious and of course, the infamous chocolate fountain was in attendance. The festivities were held in a beautiful done up barn with a stage, sound system, bar, and games. It was a nice place just to hang out to warm up and get out of the weather.
Thank you to everyone who made this ride happen and the Jastremski family for their hospitality in hosting us and letting us ride on your land. It was an absolute blast and well worth the drive. This ride is already on the list for next year.