So of course by now you know, we made it to Oktoberfest! Bentley was finally going to try his first ride.
We got him all dolled up with his rainbow denim shipping boots and his new black and red shipping halter. We also tossed his birthday Lae on him to complete the whole rainbow look. Of course, he loved looking so snazzy and stood perfectly still in the crossties as we got Sable ready too. Linda showed up with the trailer ready and both horses loaded on pretty easily!
Off we went!
Once we got there, we left the horses on the trailer while Linda set up the paddock and I went to go tell Sue “oh by the way, I’m miraculously better and AM going to ride today, so pull that entry back out!” Fortunately we found everything after a bit of confusion. A little more confusion when I spoke to Marg, I had arranged with her to use her extra corral, but sent her an email saying I wasn’t going to be coming. I didn’t hear back so I assumed she didn’t get it. She did, and she assumed I wasn’t coming and the corral was promised out! Yikes! But thankfully she was able to spare a few panels, enough to make a suitable stall for Bentley. OCTRA people’s generosity and patience never ceases to astound me! I cant thank her enough!
Lee showed up around then to help us out, in other words he became a post for an hour or 2 while we set everything up and finished all these last minute changes. Everyone was really happy to hear about my improvement and how I would be riding again!
The Peciles were able to find someone to ride Desi in the 25 mile for Sunday, Laura’s horse didn’t pass vet check. So with the exception of me not riding the 25, everyone who was supposed to ride got to! And I was able to tell my sister the day before who she would be riding.
On to vetting. Bentley was very good, all A’s and his heartrate was 44 (not bad considering all the excitement!) Good enough to start. Ok, he did get one A- because he stomped his feet at Fred. There may have been a fly, but I don’t think he likes Fred to much (apparently he kicked a bit the following day!) I also made it through vetting, wasn’t sure I would be able to do the running, but I did and just barely kept up with my excited young thing.
He was very good to mount up but wouldn’t stand still. Not like that’s a new behaviour for him, we just kept walking and walking and walking throughout the ride check. Narrowly missing some red ribboned tails. At least I have the setspeed rules down pat now. All I need to know is “white loop, 40 hold white loop” Good.
I noticed someone on a pinto that looked new to the sport and introduced myself. Yes, she indeed was at her first ride, also her horses first ride. “This is not my first ride, but it is his, want to go together? I know the rules and as long as we both don’t mind each other schooling the naughties, we should be ok” And that was the start of that! Amber and I were trail buddies for the weekend.
We started at 1:20 down the drive, we walked it because of the concussion and the getting used to horses bunching thing. Several of the riders behind us passed, which upset Amber’s horse greatly. Bentley wasn’t happy, but behaved comparatively sane.
Of course, I start out with some questions about how she heard about the sport. Turns out she has been the farrier on call for 3 years! Wow, she has known about it for longer than me, but on her first ride. Wonderful! I also found out that her horse was a Tennessee walker and apparently the coloration is pretty rare.
Once we got off the road and into the bush, we were ready to start trotting (ok well after taking a good look at one SCARY rock that literally every horse i have ridden there looks at) Horses were ahead of us and our boys just ripped off! We came up behind them for a bit, but Bentley was still acting funky, on the forehand and just giving some attitude that I deemed “short rein” worthy. Nothing bad happened and he really wasn’t terrible, but man was he ever difficult to stop with a sore back! Funny thing was once we were close (with Amber behind us) he still didn’t relax. Nope, turns out hes competitive and didn’t want any living soul in his way!
We passed that group when we had a chance, only to have another group of bums to run up. I passed, but Amber couldn’t get by and told me to go ahead. As soon as we passed Bentley chilled into a big happy trot in a long low frame. I kept checking behind me for Amber wondering if I should walk (and risk the other horses coming up again) but after a minute or 2 she came cantering up behind me and the 2 of us settled into a very brisk trot with some very happy horses.
The rest of the ride, I practically rode him on the buckle. He was so darn happy with his new job and his placement, I didn’t have to worry about him at all. He was moving in such a relaxed state with a good frame, I know he will be getting a great topline if he keeps it up! For once too, I could trust Bentley over terrain and he was easily trotting through roots, stones, up and down gentle hills and even down a gentle hill with roots causing step downs! Usually he pays no attention to his feet! Love this change!
Amber kept up well with us too. Her gelding is about the same size and clearly a good mover also. He was breathing a bit heavy after some of the bigger hills, but really we were almost perfectly paired up. So lucky!
We caught up with Jess on Earl after a little bit and continued the ride with them. I believe she was out 2 minutes earlier than us with Michelle and Solstice. In fact, Lee caught her on her way out! Apparently she had yelled to me as she passed the start line that she would meet up with us on the trail. I didn’t here it as I was far too excited and distracted. I am glad we caught up anyway!
We walked in the last half mile, we knew it was that because of the CTR corner that we all remembered from Summer Solstice ride. We were hoping to get the pulses down.
Well, I don’t think it did much. Bentley was so darn pleased with himself and excited for what he had just done that he was sitting at 15 beats in a 15 count, and we needed 14 to enter our hold! Geeze! He pulsed down almost immediately, but just couldn’t break that threshold. 7 minutes later and we were able to enter our hold. That’s 7 minutes added to our total time. Another factor could be that we arent able to sponge Bentley yet.
For once, Bentley was too excited to eat. He never misses anything edible, so this surprised but didn’t worry us too much. Vetting resulted in all A’s but he was being a little brat. The one time he actually acted like a 4 year old! He was dancing and wiggling and rubbing his mouth all over me. Then we got back to his food and crew area and he aggressively tossed over his food bucket, knocked over the crewing bucket, an array of my water bottles and then dragged us to other peoples crew areas to find more things to knock over. He was much like when toddlers try and knock stuff off tables and laugh and laugh and laugh “what happens if I knock this over….”
Hold went by quickly with these antics, and saddle went back on and we were back out on trail. Oh and Amber pulsed down only 1 minute later than us, so we just went with her! This time there was no bunching of other horses in front of us (since we passed most of them on the first loop) and we settled into that wonderfully large trot. Even decided to canter a bit in some of the straight wide areas on this loop as he had proved himself trustworthy when leading. We caught up with Jess again (who had pulsed down faster than us) and the 3 horses happily continued their journey.
We took it a lot faster and Bentley was so professional feeling! No trouble at all, and we were both having so much fun. A few more canters all together including a good bound up a few of the larger hills (ok not all them needed it, but we were having fun!). Instead of walking the last half mile, we let them canter in… victory gallop!
Bentley pulsed down under 56 really quickly this time. He seemed to know he was done and I think the victory gallop satisfied him enough to not act up. In my mind, that victory gallop was the whole ride, I feel like we just flew! Oh and we did, our last lap was 7.3 mph. Making up for our slower first lap and pulse down.
Much better behaved for pulsing and vetting. All A’s and good behaviour. Even after our fast loop and victory gallop Bentley wasn’t blowing, no pink in the nose! What a natural!
We learned that he may be the only horse in OCTRA that actually has his pulse LOWER when eating. Unfortunately the pulse person we had on completion was different than the other checks and she couldn’t hear when he was eating. So instead we had to keep his head up and he saw everyone else finishing and got a little excited. His heart rate was 47. I really wonder what it might have been if he were eating!
All of that earned us a grade 2 completion. What an incredible start to his career! Better yet, we broke the curse and had a fantastic ride. I cant even describe how great it felt and how much fun I had!
Oh and my back? Yes, it was practically cured after. It was tired, but the soreness is almost gone completely.
More pictures to come, I wasn’t sure if Wendy (the official photographer) would be there, but I was so pleased to run into her not once, but twice on the trail and at the finish line also! I will be ordering some of those for sure! I am so happy she was able to capture our first ride and I cant wait to see what she caught (probably a huge goofy grin!)
Even more interesting, Amber finished with the exact same heart rate, and of course the same time. So we tied exactly! On both our first rides!
Here’s a link to loop 1 http://connect.garmin.com:80/activity/embed/228943506 and loop 2 http://connect.garmin.com:80/activity/embed/228943489 from my garmin records in case you want to ride along with us 🙂