Let me start off by explaining what a Ride and Tie (RNT) is for those of you who have never heard of the sport. For this, there are 2 riders, and 1 horse. One rider starts off on the horse, and the other person starts off as a runner. When the trail opens, everyone starts together in a flurry of activity, the horses SHOULD be going faster than the people, and get some distance on the runners. Somewhere along the line, the rider stops, gets off the horse and ties it to something – a post, a tree etc. They then run away, leaving the horse alone. When the runner of the team comes across their horse, they untie it, mount up and take off. Again, the horse should go faster than the people so that eventually the horse catches up and passes the runner. They can switch as many times as they like until the race is over. First whole team to cross the finish line wins.
Linda and I have done this twice before and are starting to figure it all out. This was our first time doing it at the Dufferin Forest. Since there was a vet check halfway (3 miles) we decided that Linda would ride first, tie at 1.5 miles, and I would tie at the vet check, tie again at 4.5 miles. So we divided it up into quarters. I was doing pretty well at the running, but at the start it was rough and I found myself thinking “why in the world did I want to do this” Dufferin is deep deep sand footing, had been churned up by all the horses that day, AND has very large and steep hills. I resigned myself to walking up the hills, but jogged the rest. Of course I kept passing other tied horses, and thinking “I have to be close!” but still nothing.
Just as it was starting to get easier for me, there they were! At the top of a big hill, Sable was all decked out in her bright blue bling and easy to spot! Tracy was there with her horse Summer as our sponsor. Boy was I relieved! Sable was very well behaved and I mounted and rode easily. Linda had made good progress running and we passed her whooping encouragement. Of course, we are good sports and whooped at all the runners! I tied at the vet check, and started running. I am not sure exactly where it was, but somewhere running after the vet check, I had the sneaking suspicion I was in the lead. I kept getting a glimpse of Solstice’s dad maybe 50m behind me, so that kept me from slacking off until he would disappear again behind a bend. Still walking the hills, but the running in the sand got a lot easier the farther into the run I got (despite my right ankle rolling around a lot). They did manage to pass me at one point, but I passed them again when he ran past a turnoff to the steep hill (seriously, I had to pull myself up it by the trees)
Eventually I heard our horses coming up behind me, and we agreed they would tie up just far enough ahead that its worth the time to tie and untie. Again, I hopped up on Sable, and to my surprise, we were JUST outside of the half mile marker! I had run THAT far! We passed Linda, this time she was running side by side with Solstice’s dad. I came up with the idea that I would tie a few hundred meters from the finish line – should be enough for Linda to get on, and gallop past the runner, earning us a first place!
The thought was nice, but it didnt end up working that way. Yes, I WAS the first runner over the finish line (Solstice had ridden over shortly before me) but her dad came around the corner, much too far ahead of Linda. I jumped and squealed, but turns out it didnt make any difference because their team had started one minute later than us, so even if they arrived at the same time, we would still be one minute behind them. Oh well! I ran back a few feet and pretended like I finished with Sable and Linda for a team photo. I will be sure to post a link to it once its published! We were happy with the results regardless. We finished in an hour and 4 minutes (my goal had been 1h15 mins). Well, at the awards we found out we actually came third, another group which left late got a slightly better time than us. All of us were within about a minute of each other, so I take solace in that! Plus, these kids are good!
But again, I had the live and learn – had I known we could start the RNT late, perhaps we wouldn’t have shot for the fastest time for the set speed and ended up disqualifying ourselves (since technically we could have done 6mph, not 7mph and gotten the same grade result, we just pushed so we could have more time to prep for RNT). Rest assured, I am taking all these lessons to the next event with me!
Also, watching the winning team, I think I know where we need to improve… more ties! I can guarantee we will be tying a LOT more next time. Perhaps I may start running at home a little more too. We loved having Tracy sponsor us, the plan for next time is to have Charlotte (our crew from this weekend) ride Bentley as a sponsor. That way I can up his mileage without putting too much pressure (by going straight to 25 mile CTR) and Charlotte gets to see what its like to do distance riding. I know she will be hooked 🙂