Things never go as expected

First off, let me say “Ow”

I am so sore today.  I didn’t fall or anything, but considering I hadn’t really ridden in 3 weeks, a long ride may have been a bit too ambitious.  I cant wait until I have to go fetch something from the other side of the building at work and everyone can see my hobble and make a fuss over me (sarcasm).

The weekend started out great.  Signs were looking good for me.  In the last few weeks, my riding boots had given up every last will they had to live.  I’m talking duct tape from the heel to the knee, and even that might not have been enough.  So I was set to ride in my running shoes because I am too cheap to buy new boots when there are no good sales on.  With that history in mind, I was perusing the EMG classifieds before leaving work on Friday, and what would you know it… a pair of used Ariat Terrains for sale, in a size that is 0.5 too smaller than I usually wear, but might just work.  I immediately respond and ask where she was located… right on my way home from work.  Met up with her, she was selling them because they stretched and were half a size too big for her.  It was meant to be!  She was also very interested in the idea of distance riding, and we chatted for quite a while, promising to send her info on the sport and how she can give it a try. Oh and when I went into the tim hortons, ordered an iced capp, it was a little runny so I got it for free.  Lucky Lucky me!  After coming home, our evening double date had cancelled, so Lee and I went to his hairdresser hoping that they could squeeze us in for haircuts (it had been since November since I last had this done) At first they said “no way”  but then for some reason they changed their minds and voila, I no longer look raggedy on top anymore.  We also ended up having a double date +1 with Heather and James and Owen (their newborn) at Norval by Night and had a delicious meal and great company. 

Saturday we weren’t due to Mansfield until 3, so in the morning Heather (this time my sister Heather) and I went to the barn to play with Bentley.  Hes still bobbing a little bit, but its decreased a lot.  Hes clearly feeling good too, and wants to explode.  Nonetheless, I decided to see what he would be like bareback for the first time.  Here comes in my other “ow” due the the fact he seemed to get the sharp Arab spine in his breeding.  We walked around for a half an hour or so in the ring, stopping frequently to nibble, then to decorate him in pretty daisy’s.  Photos of this to come.

I believe it was right around when I got to dufferin that my luck started changing.  First, the 50 had been cancelled due to lack of entries.  Second, in the tack sale, someone was selling a used biothane bridle in the EXACT same colours that we just picked for GEC for about a third of what it would cost new (making it a perfect prize for mileage program) but by the time I came back with the intention to purchase, it had already found a new home.  Im actually debating going to the forums to find out who got this and offer them a quick buck to get it.

The bad luck also continued into the night, where campfire noises (aka rowdy riders haha) kept me awake past the point of no sleep.  That just seems to be the way I work, if I cant fall asleep by a certain point, it is just going to never happen.  Part of it is me thinking about how desperately I need sleep if I expect to ride for 7 hours and getting frustrated that it isn’t happening, then the other part is knowing I have to wake up super early in X amount of hours and I dare not sleep in.  So to sum it up, I had literally 0 hours of sleep Saturday night.

Val didn’t get much sleep either due to the same circumstances I endured, and we had jokes in the morning about how we couldn’t complete the most simple of tasks.  I’m having difficulty remembering exactly what our problems were, but I distinctly remember it took me several tries and probably about 10 minutes to put on my pinny, and Val calling “saddle” a “salad” several times.  A promising start to our day, good thing we were together (more sarcasm there)

Dave was not able to start due to Gringo being off (so that subtracts one member of team Cayuse off the bat).  Jess and Earl were also not able to start for same reason. Did I mention this was the ride last year that Linda couldnt start because of mysterious soreness too?

Surprisingly our lack of mental acuity did not result in us losing our way along the trail but it felt very rough.  The first loop I kept thinking “there is no way I can finish this, I’m going to have to pull, I am letting this horse down”  because my brain felt about a foot above my skull.  I was also getting joint pain after the first 5 miles, which could have been lack of sleep, or my lack of riding the previous 3 weeks.  In the first loop too, we had a scare when Pretzel slipped and fell in the very loose sand footing around a turn and Val flew over his left shoulder.  Luckily Bob had caught up to us well before that point, so he could help her while I rode ahead to catch Pretzel. She was able to get back on and keep riding, but you could tell she was really sore.

We cleared through our vet check with perfect scores, no surprise for Allieena, shes a great CTR horse.  The second loop felt a lot better for me.  I could feel myself riding better, using energy more efficiently, and my joint pain had magically vanished.  We trotted basically the full loop, and my posting was great, light and easy on Leena, not the bumpy posting from the knees of our first loop.  After that loop, I felt confident that I would be able to pull myself through and complete the full 37 despite my swirling head and exhaustion on the first loop. As we did our 1/2 mile trot in, Val mentioned that pretzel was feeling a bit off just then, a slight bobbing of the head. 

At the vet check, Pretzel was asked to run again, never a great sign.  Diagnosed as muscle soreness in both shoulders and he was pulled.  Then came our run, Leena had felt fine on the trail, no bobbing and was eager to move forward.  But as I asked her to trot out, she needed a lot of encouragement.  The dreaded second trot was asked of us, and circling confirmed that Leena too was sore, had knots in both shoulders and we had to pull.

This was very disappointing for me on many levels.  First off, I was hoping so dearly to complete this for Shyla (I came very close to tears because of this), second was my track record with Dufferin forest and how badly I emotionally needed a completion for that course, and lastly, nobody ever likes their horse to pull up lame and when you are riding someone else’s horse its always so difficult because more people have to pay the price.  I know there was nothing I really could have done, but it was very painful not to complete.  3/4 riders on our team didn’t complete, so very disappointing.

I am guessing the problem was the very loose sand footing throughout the whole course.  Especially since both Pretzel and Leena were pulled for the same reasons.  Both of them too have now had falls on this course this year.  I know deep sand is particularly hard to run in.  So as much as I hate the thick stuff in the back ring at GEC, I may have to start conditioning through this too for when Bentley makes his first ride at Dufferin during Oktoberfest.

Michelle (Leena’s owner) was very positive and tried her best to make me feel better, saying that bad things happen in 3s and I had fulfilled my quota (Abby at last Oktoberfest, Foxy at Aprilfest and now this).  But a lot of what is helping perk me up happened today when I saw the results.   Solstice, an incredible junior rider, won the ride, which is very appropriate since it is the “Summer Solstice” ride.  She is a great little kid and really deserved it.  Plus, not completing means I still have my novice status and can take advantage of this with Bentley, as well as a lot of knowledge of the trail…25 miles worth.  I also was able to come home early with Rick and Lee, and slept from about 2pm clear through to 7am this morning with a brief period of alertness around 7pm to shower, eat a sandwich, and give Heather a key to our parents house since she had forgotten hers.  I think I still have some recovering to do however. 

Also, for Shyla, this must be the universe’s way of telling me that the ride isn’t the way to lift her spirits, and I have thought up something to do in my video message to her to make her laugh instead. 

Hopefully Bentley is better soon, we both have to get back in shape fast if we expect to do 2 15s in his debut at Coates Creek!

Oh and did I mention?  Linda won the novice division, and Heather earned her completion.  At least those of us who made it to the end of the trail had a good day!

Photos and garmin map to come, I just haven’t had the time to unpack and upload all my stuff… too busy sleeping.  So sorry for the text heavy post.

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