I had set a lofty goal for the longest days of the year – to do my longest group of rides with Bentley. I had signed us up for Saturday 13 miles during the day, 14 miles moonlit ride, and Sunday 50 miles. This was to test the waters to see if we were ready for a 75 mile ride by first attempting the distance over 2 days.
We arrived at the campsite on Friday night, the campsite already filling up quickly – very rare! We picked a spot and set up camp. Laura (who was going to ride Frankie the next day) slept over with me, however I did not do much sleeping. After we set up the corral, Bentley made a point of playing with the bungee securing the corral to the trailer. He decided to keep this up all night, but given what I watched earlier, I didnt think this to be much more than playing. When I woke (well not really, I swear I was only in “rest” mode instead of sleep mode), I looked out the window to see that Bentley had managed to drag his tub of grain from under the gooseneck, through the corral panels, open it, and of course PIG OUT! I was so mad, at him, but more at me for thinking I had it far enough out of reach (lesson learned!) and not getting up to see what the commotion was.
When I first went over to vet Bentley on Saturday morning, I did this alone… meaning no Cairo (best buddy) with us. It was a complete mistake. The whole walk over to the vetting area Bentley turned himself inside out. Vetting process was not any better, his heartrate clocking in at 60 while he screamed, kicked, pushed and spun around. The trot out was worse and had to be done twice. It was awful (please note, as people came to visit later at the paddock, i had glowing remarks about how calm and kind he was…) and embarrassing. It was hard to tell if it was just the panic of being separated from Cairo (by a whole 200 feet) or if there was something up, the vet thought Bentley was a little sore on one side, but given the chaos, it was hard to tell. We cleared to start, but would be watching.
In the first (13 mile) ride, I sponsored a junior on her very first ride. She was borrowing a horse, Splash, that I knew, but had never ridden with. We started out slow as Splash was a bit ouchie on the driveway rocks. When we hit the trail, things picked up a little bit, but Splash was still in no hurry, and Bentley seemed not to care to slow his pace to allow her to keep up. I pulled him up every couple of minutes so they could catch up, and he rolled his eyes at me. Eventually we caught up to Cairo and Frankie and rode the last mile or so in together at a good clip, getting off to walk the last bit on the driveway.
We pulsed down immediately and went through the vet check with all As. I guess having Cairo at the crew area or possibly being in work mode helped, he was a doll through the process. No more embarrassment. Vet also said he looked good and had worked out of any stiffness that we had been watching. I breathed with relief, worried that he had wrenched something during his tantrums, or perhaps his acrobatics to get grain through the fence overnight.
We set off on loop 2, this time I grabbed a branch off of a tree for the junior I was riding with, as Splash seemed to be napping, and neither horse cared about separating. Lets get her moving! Splash woke up and happily loped behind Bentley, while of course, Bentley was at a working trot. A few times Splash and Bentley decided to race, sometimes with each other, sometimes with other horses we met on the trail. It was funny to see Splash go from hum haw, diddling along the trail to ears back, nose forward and LETS GO! Her rider was grinning, and I hated having to cut them off to slow them back to a good Set Speed pace. We were having too much fun!
We crossed the line some time after our minimum time passed, I believe it was enough to get a grade 1 or 2, pulse was good, all As once again. We celebrated with pizza and prepped for round 2. The moonlight ride! To be continued!