Sunday had us going out on the orange loop (yesterday we had done blue and white in our 2 rides) which went to an away vet check and then back a different way. The instructions for our crew to drive there said it would take them about 35 minutes to drive – so that should give you an idea of just how far away we were riding!
Let me take this opportunity to have a little rant – men! What goes on in their heads? Seriously?! Lee had asked me to write out instructions and lists of stuff for crewing. He wanted me to write LITERALLY everything down. So I did, I spent almost 2 hours making very good instructions for him, emailed it to him, and printed out a copy for his reference to read at the ride. So why was it a surprise to him when he was told Saturday night that it was an AWAY vet check? (also, why did important things like sandwiches for riders get forgotten? We were so hungry!) Why did I have to waste my valuable packing or relaxing time writing instructions that were never going to be read?
Our out-time was 8:39, not an easy number to calculate from as we had to be very careful NOT to go over the maximum allowed speed. This didn’t end up being a problem, but we calculated the “do not come in before” time very carefully again. Fortunately it was easy – 5 hours less 2 minutes.
Here is a picture of us ready to start day 2! Unfortunately Lee broke my camera shortly into Day 1 and we didn’t have any other photos than the one he took on his phone.
We set out on the ride and again we had some fresh horses, all they wanted to do was canter. We figured this was OK since Linda has had difficulty getting Sable to canter and wanted to take it, and I don’t like Bentley’s 14mph trot. I figure a calm canter is less stressful to his joints than a big pounding trot and hes a whole lot happier. Again we walked the roads, and Elaine and Dagmar caught up to us and passed us there. For most of the first loop, we rode either passing each other, or just with each other. Their horses also were wanting to canter, and the footing was good for it for the most part. There were a few tight trails where it was best to walk, Bentley didn’t think so however and kept egging me to let him trot. He was not happy walking for more than 60 seconds at a time. It began to get a bit frustrating because I don’t want to spend my rides fighting to get him to slow down. Also, there were lots of low branches and I did NOT want to have to duck under those at any sort of speed!
At mile 13, we all celebrated as Bentley hit his 100th mile in competition (assuming a completion today) We went right across the forest and came into private property, on the trail there were a few little jumps set up, what fun to practice our cross country! Then we came into a field and saw a few horses, all of whom decided to come greet us at the fence. There were some trailers and I asked “is this the vet check? Lets walk just in case” Linda pointed out there was no commotion near the trailers, but as we turned the corner, there was the commotion! We were there!
Of course, we scanned the crewing area frantically… no Rick or Lee. This was not good. We went in and tossed our saddles on the ground, offered water, and Linda whipped out the phone. THey of course had all the electrolytes, horse food (remember, they forgot people food) saddle stands, buckets etc. And of course, they were lost (despite my suggestion to follow the vetting people because they KNOW where they were going) We managed to find someone to give them directions over the phone and they arrived only about 15 minutes late. It was about that time I remembered the night before when I was reading the directions and Rick said “We don’t need to worry, we have technology” and waved his phone around with a smirk.
Bentley had pulsed down right away despite the crew failure, Sable shortly after, however Sable was missing 2 quadrants of gut sounds and her gums and skin tent were B’s. So before she would be allowed back out she would have to vet again. We saw our crew arrive just after our vetting and Linda almost had a heart attack as Rick drove the van down the side of the hill. We set up in a shady corner that was completely empty (probably because it wasnt close to the toughs) and Bentley was able to pee in private. We didn’t get out for loop 2 for about 10 or 15 mins later than our mandatory hold because we were waiting for Sable to eat and drink to have happy gut sounds.
I had forgotten to stop my Garmin on the hold, but once I realized I decided to reset it for loop 2 (not that it made any difference anyway)
Loop 2 was a lot more challenging than loop 1, mostly because of the terrain. For at least half of the ride, the footing was not the sand we had before, but baseball sized rocks up and down steep hills with lots of twists and turns. We were lucky to find any places to trot. At this point, I think the adrenaline of loop 1 had worn off and the horses were starting to feel tired: Bentley wasnt pushing me to go faster than the terrain allowed, and Sable was even having trouble keeping up with us at our reduced speed. A few miles in, I gave up the idea that we would make up the lost hold time and didn’t bother recalculating for other grade 1 speeds – our time would be our time and that was it.
I kept checking my GPS to see where we were, hoping the water trough would come up soon. We were expecting it to be 7 miles in like the first loop, but it ended up being farther than expected. We stopped there with a few other riders. At that point, someone on a motorbike with his kid stopped just out of view (for the trees) and was screaming at his kid. I think the kid didnt want to go further because he saw us ahead, but the screaming and the revving of the bikes made the horses uneasy. Of course we were all rolling our eyes about the way the guy was yelling at his kid, it was much louder than needed over the engines and very demeaning to him. Eventually they came down to the troughs and just sat there… which was much scarier for the horses and they all stopped drinking at that point. I tried to wave them on (so that the horses wouldn’t look at them and they wouldn’t pass us again further down the trail) but the guy was too busy screaming at his kid still to notice. They turned off their engines and were completely silent as we tried to mount. Bentley did not like having them there and spun in circles while I tried to mount. I asked them to talk, so that Bentley knew he was a person and settled, but it was about the only time this jerk was silent. We scooted out of there and luckily didnt have many more rude bikers in our path, but I heard of a lot of other riders meeting particularly rude ones – Barb who was our sponsor the night before had a bad fall as a result of them going by too close, too fast, too loud and BACKFIRING beside the horse. There are signs all over the forest saying “no loud vehicles” but for some reason there are people who just think “I paid to get into this forest, I can do whatever I want.” I really really hate this, they think us horses are ruining their good time, but the horses seem to get along with all the other sports in the forest. People also seem to think the horses destroy the trails, creating deep tracks, moguls etc. But that’s preposterous! Horses churn up the sand, evening it out and making it fluffy, not creating big trenches or moguls – that’s the motor bikes! If anything, we correct the damage THEY do to the trails. Anyway, Barb wasn’t hurt more than some nasty scrapes and bruises, her horse was eventually returned by some of the 50mile riders, but he did have a big gash from running frantically through the forest. The bikers offered to take her back to the general store, but refused to take her to ride camp, so she ended up walking until I think one of the ride managers found her. Anyway, thats enough about the rudeness of motorcylces in the forest! It was just a blip on an otherwise nice day.
After the water trough, the footing was a bit nicer and I wanted to pick up the pace. Unfortunately, the horses were starting to get difficult. They were clearly no longer in love with each other. Bentley was making crabby faces at Sable, and they kept pushing each other into the fast trot that we didn’t want. By pick up the pace I meant I wanted to have more trotting, but keep it quiet. It just wasn’t happening. Throughout that days ride too, Bentley was showing a preference to ride to the right of Sable and stay at the far right side of the trail… where all the trees were, and I did NOT want to be. Eventually I got so frustrated with his drifting that I slowed him right down to the walk and started schooling leg-yields. His focus to me perked back up and with only 5 miles to go, we had corrected the issue. Makes me wish I had done it earlier! Next time I may have to start our ride with leg yielding.
I cant remember at which point it was, but we also practiced some running. My right knee was very sore and I was starting to get pain in my left shin, so I decided to give me a break and get off (which you can do in set speed) We walked up a long hill, Linda practiced “Tailing” and we jogged down a slight hill and along the flat for a bit. Much improvement in my knee! Also a nice break for the horses. I plan on doing this more and more as we get to longer distances.
So our second loop was quite slow, I was getting used to hearing Linda call up to slow down as Sable was having trouble keeping up. I would try to slow down the trot, but then Sable would power past us, causing Bentley to want to power trot too. It was a bit of a surprise when as we could see the finish line I heard Linda tell me to trot in. I did, but she didn’t come in right behind me. Strange. Bentley finished well and took a drink. He was clearly very tired as should be expected, but wasn’t tired to the point he was tripping or didn’t want to trot. Sable came in one minute later than us, and that’s when all our hearts sank, she was clearly very lame.
Linda said it was less than 2 miles out she started feeling funny and wanted to canter not trot. She was shaky and barely putting weight on the font legs. We tried to figure out where the issue was but had a lot of trouble narrowing it down. Linda thought she saw it in the shoulder, I thought it was something in the opposite foot. She took off the boots (although apparently its best to leave boots on until after vetting?) and found a stone in the one I was suspicious of. However, she was still very off. At this point, Linda thought it may have been in the back end. We also found a very large girth rub on the one side. The lameness was traveling and she really was just tired sore all over. This confirmed Linda’s thoughts that Sable wasn’t fit enough to do the 50. By the time they vetted, her knee had swollen up and it was determined that she had twisted or pulled something there. Unfortunately, she didnt earn her completion as the horse needs to be “fit to continue” to earn the completion.
Bentley finished well and despite being tired and not so eager to pick up the trot (once he did, I couldn’t keep up as usual), he vetted through clear. Fred told me “Your horse looks good!” which was the best win in my books, he is more of one to tease playfully than give a compliment. Bentley’s heart-rate was higher than the day before at 53, but considering all he did that weekend, how could I blame him? Also may have been a bit of excitement at Batique (who was pulsing next to us) saw SOMETHING and flipped her head up in a panic twice. Bentley perked up but stayed still, so I am not sure how much this affected our count, perhaps a little? At the end of it all, you can’t always control your heart-rate despite all your best efforts – horses see stuff. Sue and Batique got her mileage but no grade as a result. Everyone else commented their heart-rates were higher than normal. Hard trail, second day, we finished!
I later learned that we placed 9th and won a bag of Finishing Touch. I wasn’t expecting that with our speed and HR, but I was thrilled! Again, hard trail, second day, it wasn’t easy for anyone and it showed.
Rick and Lee had left immediately after sCrewing us up (did you like that?) at the halfway point. They said they had cleaned up and got everything ready for us, but all our stuff was in a pile, no buckets filled for sponging, overall it wasn’t an easy crew area to come back to. The campsite however had all the things we needed packed up, and all the things we didn’t need in a pile on the lawn. All the corrals were put away, so instead Linda and I swapped who watched the horses while the other brought back crew stuff, arranged treatment for Sable, returned pinnies, and way later finally got food (boy were we hungry!)
Needless to say, we didn’t feel so bad about having to wait until Sable had bute (like Advil for horses) and rest before hopping in the trailer and heading home. Rick had wanted Linda to come home immediately after we pulsed down as they were to go to a friends cottage. Perhaps this was Sable’s way of sticking it to our impatient crew.
They may not be invited back to “help” us again. Its hard to say if they are just that terrible, or if they are purposely doing a terrible job so they don’t have to keep coming to these things. Someday I will write about the time we came back to nothing. I greatly look forward to having Charlotte, Dawn, and Amber return with us!