Spring Ride 2012

Spring ride could not have been more of a success for me.

Let me start off with the thing about horses and people. The thing about horses and people is they have a way of changing your plans last minute.  The whole week leading up to spring ride changed so rapidly, I wont bother you with the details, just the result.

Thursday night at about 11pm, we decided Bentley was going to come along to Spring ride to learn how to camp and see all the action.  We didn’t really have much of a plan, but we figured we would put the horse in the trailer and figure it out from there.

Friday, I had a half day at work, and rushed immediately to the barn.  I couldn’t sleep the night before, so I had done all my packing.  Loading Bentley was pretty easy for a first timer.  Took maybe about 10 minutes and one broken lead rope.  The chain got caught in the trailer and snapped, wasn’t because he was being bad.

We thought traffic would be best on highway 407 considering it was a long weekend, and it was good, until we got off and realized hwy 7 was still under construction.  Poor horsies stuck in trailer while we were stuck in traffic.  We got to the ride site about an hour later than expected, but still with lots of daylight left.

Did I mention… we no longer have square bales at our barn and had a bit of a dilemma when bringing hay there? 

Yes, that is the major part of a round bale.
We had intended to go for a ride that night, but with the traffic delays and just “Stuff” needing to get done, we opted to postpone our ride until Saturday.  Fortunately Bob (who’s property we were staying on and horse I was riding) let Bentley and Sable have the executive suite (aka round pen) to stay in as we didn’t trust Bentley enough on high ties or in the electric fence yet.
Saturday was the 25 mile set speed.  I was riding HAF Allieena, a very experienced arab.  I rode with Bob, Val and Dave.  Dave was doing the silver level while the rest of us bronze.  Therefore the strategy was to go at the top speed for bronze level: 7mph.  2 loops of 12 (although we suspect it was closer to 14… but I had forgot to wear my gps that day) later and we had completed.  It was a fast pace, even the experienced endurance riders I was with commented how hard and fast a set speed really is.  Lots of trotting and cantering, only walking the parts which were too narrow or rocky to trot.
Leena is a great little horse, we had a bit of an argument just after the start line where she decided to do a bit of bucking… I think it was just contagious from Helfire, who was giving Bob quite a difficult time.  We came to an agreement and the rest of the ride was magical.  She is one of those horses that you just have to trust to do her job.  Point her what direction, and she says “lets go!”
Me on Leena

Helfire is living up to his name

Our group crossing the start line.

 The trail was beautiful as could be expected.  We had 25C+ days leading up and during the ride, so it was nice and dry.  Only mud we came across was towards the end on the rail trail.  Unfortunately, we were the first group out (a staggered start was chosen by the ride managers… wonderful to have!) and the water truck hadn’t been out yet to fill the troughs at the first stop.  There was still a pond we could drink out of (errr.. the horses… I didn’t drink from the pond haha).  About that time, the front runners from the 50 mile endurance ride came by too.

We finished about a minute before the minimum time allowed, so we had to wait before crossing the finish line. It was good to help bring our heart rates down a little too. I was worried we had calculated our time wrong, and cutting it so close would disqualify us. As the awards went out… working their way up the places (oh and I wasn’t expecting it to be placed, i thought we were graded) I got even more worried about this as I didn’t hear my name. But then finally, my name was called… as first place!

Big smiles as I accept my first place ribbon and get a spring ride t-shirt!

After dinner and awards, we just relaxes.  Sorry Bentley, we will have to postpone our ride until Sunday!

The good news continued as Linda won an award for last year for the most miles ridden by a first year rider/horse!  Oh and Linda received a grade 1 completion (that’s the best grade) on her 12 mile set speed.

Bentley was jealous, he wanted an award too.  Bentley your time will come!

It was early to bed that night. However, I think my pit crew must have had a harder day than I thought… couldn’t even make it to nightfall.

Sunday was another day of the same thing, with some differences.  Again, we completed 25 miles but this time it was a Competitive Trail Ride.  So it is less like a race (you have a certain time you must complete at) and judges you more based on your horses condition throughout.  We got nicked pretty good for a girth sore.  We were still allowed to ride, but had to change the plans.  I rode in Michelle’s saddle (her owner) with a VERY loose girth.  I think the first 12 miles was just me getting used to the saddle.  I must need some chiropractic work done, because I could really feel myself leaning to the left while cantering, and would grab the pommel and shove myself into the seat.

By the end of the ride, I could also feel me right knee acting up.  I am pretty sure I rode the last 2 miles without stirrups (yes trotting too)  So kids, if you are reading it, your coach isn’t being mean making you post trot without stirrups… there may be a day you will kill for that skill!

We completed with 3 penalty points, largely from that girth sore, and earned a 3rd place in my division (middleweight), 5th overall. 

Lee didn’t take any pictures this day, but at least I remembered my GPS this time!
http://connect.garmin.com:80/activity/embed/184075710

But wait… we weren’t done with Sunday. Not even close!

Linda and I had decided we were crazy enough to try our first ride and tie.  So after 37 and 50 miles of riding respectively, we set out for 6 miles of running/riding with Sable.  I started out as the rider, Linda as the runner.

Our strategy was to switch every mile.  So I rode up about 1 mile, tied Sable, and ran off.  I later found out Sable wasn’t too happy about being left, and got herself into quite the tangle.
I jogged for the first mile.  Congrats to me!  Then I did about 50% walking, 50% jogging, as I hadn’t seen my teammates after the first mile.  Also, Sable was carrying my water and I was sooooo thirsty!  I will never do that again!  2 miles goes by and I start to wonder whether I had turned down the wrong trail, not only had I not seen my team, but any other horse or rider.  Around 2.5 miles, I swear i hear trotting hooves coming up behind me.  Checking several times with nothing materializing, I realize its the sound of my blood pounding through my head.  Ok… lets just walk.  Then what do you know, there they are!  I know we are almost at the vet check so I tell Linda to go on.  Since she started out running, she has to be the one to ride Sable into the check. 
I came up to the check shortly after, and with some confusion over the rules, and Linda having to backtrack a bit (forgot to leave me the helmet!) we vetted out and hit the trail again.  While I was riding down a steep hill, I look down and notice the water bottle I had lost on the CTR earlier.  See, it pays to do ride and tie!  We meet up with Linda somewhere down the line and switch off again.
I walked and chatted the rest of the way with Rob, who I met in the last mile.  We agreed when we got to “that gate up there” we would jog in.  Well I did, Rob decided to save it for the last stretch where there was an audience, so I came in slightly ahead of him.  Maybe that wasn’t so fair haha.
It was so wonderful as I ran up the hill and through the treeline, everyone started cheering!  Something I haven’t had for any of our rides yet.  Really made the accomplishment feel that much bigger (however I wish I had somehow mustered up a bit more energy to run more)  Turns out, we came in second too!  That last little push really helped.  Finished only 5 minutes behind the leaders, and everyone else followed closely too.  I was a little surprised I didn’t see more people on the trail!
I would highly recommend you try ride and tie.  It was so much fun.
Kind of cool to see, you can tell when I started to get tired!
Needless to say however, I was DEAD after that.  I managed to keep up for some of the campfire, but still called it an early night.  Oh yeah, sorry Bentley, we will ride tomorrow.
And we did!
Bentley was a good boy for our ride.  He was fast, probably clocking a 12mph trot.  But good.  At first I thought he was being naughty and running, but I relaxed and realized it was just him being fast.  About a 2 hand  (8 inch) difference between him and Leena, so that made a pace difference AND the trail looked very different from way up there.  Just had to relax and let him trot fast.  Did about 6 miles, and called it a completion!
Solstice and Phyllis were there when we came in.  Solstice had met Bentley a few nights before and the two of them had hit it off.  Bentley has a way of luring children in with his charms.  Thankfully they helped us load him in (which took less than 60 seconds this time) and we scurried to get the last of our stuff together.  At one point, I had lost track of Solstice, and found she had crawled into the hay shelf of the trailer and was cradling Bentley’s head as the 2 of them snuggled.  It was so cute… oh darn, where did I put my camera? Maybe we will have to stage that photo again next ride.

We had smooth sailing the whole way home.  We pulled into the driveway and ALL the kids came out to see us.  Bentley had a huge cheering section to help him off the trailer.  He still wont back up off it, but Mr. Jack B. Nimble Gianthorse somehow was able to turn around in the tight 2 horse with the divider swung to the side.

We had just gotten them off, when the trailer carrying the show kids came in behind us.

I cant remember how I spent the rest of the evening, but I am guessing I took a well deserved nap.  And that’s it for Spring Ride.  I told you it would be worth it!

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