Morning dawned and it was time to leave the UB Ramada. All the riders and crew met on the steps of the State Department store and waited around to board the buses to take us to the start camp. Mongolian time had us arriving on the steps at about 8am, but not leaving until 10:40am. I hear thats a whole 20 minutes better than last year.
The ride took about 4 hours and I sat with Barbara and Katherine at the front of the bus… I wanted that first look at start camp and was not disappointed!
We unloaded our gear and were told to pick a ger. I ended up in one picked for its beautiful door with Madison, Lisa, Anna, and Krystal. It also had the benefit of being directly across from the bathroom which would come in handy in the dark. Smart move.
Sometime in the afternoon we were called upon to get our tack – I already had my saddle, so I picked up my bridle and hobbles.
Later we saddled up for our first ride. (somehow I managed to forget my cameras for this event – of course!). We got to the horse line and it hit me: I had no clue what I was doing. Do I pick a horse? Do they assign me one? What am I going to pick?
There was one small mongolian boy who kept trying to hand the lead to riders and being rejected… as if “do you want this horse” “please take my horse” he looked sad, so I accepted the horse. I will admit, I was nervous. We tacked the chestnut gelding up, and I swung my leg over, expecting the wild horse shenanigans. Nothing.
Actually, the horse was quite the opposite. We took off at a blazing CTR trot, and he was just so quiet. My nervousness instantly vanished. We had a lovely trot, occasionally with 5 strides of canter to mix it up a bit. Some people whipped by us, practicing their gallops for the race, but I was not really interested in racing – I just wanted to stay on that horse forever. I called him Abe because he was honest (and I was working my way down the alphabet). We trotted into the vet check with a heartrate of 60. I wish I could have ridden him longer.