On Saturday, I registered to take Liza out with Solstice in the 12 mile set speed. Upon registering we found out it was actually a 14 mile ride (2 loops of 7) or 22.4km if you are counting that way.
Liza did her best to immitate a Mongol pony while we wer tacking her up, and had all of us a little surprised of her attitude (usually being a real steady eddy). Rudely pushing us, circling, dancing and wiggling all over the place while we tried to tack up. I pretty much had to launch myself upward onto the saddle and pull her head to my knee while she was butting up against the 3 of us handling her.
She proceeded to jig jog and dance around, Solstice was on Desi and we blasted over the start line as Desi hesitated then leapt over the blue painted grass. Liza went nose to the sky and we all disappeared from sight into the forest.
After some argument from her over-excitement, she clicked into gear and became the Liza we know and love… just a little faster. She made great Derby training since despite being horse sized, she moves like a pony. She has a ton of power and a short pony stride, but very little up and down (as opposed to Bentleys big round trot). She felt like riding a cannon ball, but it was a good thing. Strong, steady and straight.
Through loop 1, the saddle was shifting like crazy on me and I was struggling. I guess with the nonsense during tacking up, the girth wasn’t tight enough. Liza stood mostly still on trail while I fixed it and Solstice giggled over my predicament.
We finished the ride in just under the 7mph maximum speed, and in true Solstice horse fashion, she had a rediculously low heartrate (for being a non-arab) at 40bpm. Of course, Desi clocked in at 31 and made all our jaws drop.
With that done, it was time to prepare for the Ride N Tie. Morgan got herself set up with Bentley and we awaited Linda’s return to start. She was a little late, apparently her ride was very exciting, with a good portion of it spent chasing after a loose horse then ponying it back to camp. Sable wasn’t tacked up when the RNT was set to start, so I just started running without the rest of the team. I realized about 1km into the race that I had forgotten to bring along my MP3 player, and groaned at the thought of doing 7 miles (11.2km) without music. I ran along for quite a while, without having a horse or runner pass me, then at mile 4 I came to the vet check, still not having seen anyone else on trail. I waited and waited for my horse to come, and several other horses and runners came in, but not mine. See its a rule in RNT that one rider rides into the vet check, and the other rides out. I didnt time it, but it felt like an eternity (perhaps it was 10-15 minutes) before the group of horses came in.
I asked what the holdup was and got some responses of Bentley being a bucking bronco, to “dont worry but we are going to walk the rest of the way” and “dont wait for us”. Concerned because Bentley has never once in his life given a buck, I got on Sable, rode over the line and tied. Then ran off worrying about all the possible situations that it could have been.
I finished the RNT, having ran everything except the steep neverending hill and the few knee deep mud areas and still feeling pretty good. Worried about what was going on with our horses, I lingered around the finish line for a whle before giving up and going to get food from the Lion’s club truck. Just as I finished off my ice cream sandwich, sharing my worries over Bentley’s behaviour with my table mates (thanks for putting up with me Nancy and Rob!), the horses came in at a slow trot over the finish line. I meandered down to get the story and help where I could.
I was eased a little while we discussed what happened. Bentley DID buck, but we think it was a 1/5 th complaint about the saddle (Morgan was using my derby saddle on him since she is used to riding western, and I really not confident about the fit. We have done a medium length ride in it, but no 50s for sure). Then 4/5ths a complaint about the speed. I had told Morgan that if she wasnt comfortable with the big endurance trot, just ask for a slow canter so she can be comfortable and they don’t fight. Bentley is much happier at the canter and will actually canter slower than when he gets into hyper brained trot. The problem was there was a 3rd horse riding with them for the mileage who woulld get upset and try to run when other horses near him cantered, and Morgan wasn’t comfortable with the big trot that throws you up and out, Bentley was out on his first ride of the season and didnt want to give the slow home trot, so the only agreeable gait with everyone was to walk with a few controlled trots. Bentley knows his job very well now, and its good when I get on him and can ride the big trot, but looking back, we should have had more practice rides with him and Morgan together so she could learn his feel better. The bucking was a result of her holding him back and him saying “but we HAVE to go this speed, I know what I am doing lady!” Everyone had fun despite it being slow (except maybe Bentley) so overall it was a good introduction for Morgan and I still had a nice 7 mile run in the forest.
I still had some nervousness dwelling in the pit of my stomach that he would be a pill over the start line and then some the next day for our 50, Linda tried to assure me that Bentley was going to be fine, but the sleep was horribly non existent that night.
To be continued…