Endurance Racing

Oktoberfest – Part 1 by Sarah

I dutifully sent in my forms for Oktoberfest, the day of the deadline.  I had arranged with my friend Linda to ride one of her horses in the 14 mile Set Speed on Saturday, followed by the 6 mile Ride N Tie with Ashley on Bentley, and the 50 mile Endurance ride on Sunday.  I had some reservations about doing the 50, as because of our finish at Flesherton and my trip to Iceland, I hadn’t been riding as much as I would have liked, and Bentley had lost some fitness.  I NEEDED to ride 20 miles on the Saturday to earn my 1000 mile badge, because I worried if I just rode the 50 on Sunday, I would somehow fail and would spend the winter still 20 miles short.  Thanks to Linda, I felt more confident that Bentley could do the 50, and I would be able to get my miles in early.

We packed up the trailer on Friday and brought the first 2 horses over, camping out for the night.  Karen was so kind as to offer to trailer Bentley over the next morning so we didn’t have to make 2 trips.  Unfortunately by the time we reached the ride site, I had received a call from Linda: her second horse had refused to load, and cut his face badly in the process.  What to do, what to do?

I looked at Bentley, really my only option at such short notice.  No question, I had to get the 20 done that day, so Bentley would do both the Set Speed and the Ride N Tie, but what to do tomorrow?  I decided to register positively for the maximum and decide if I wanted to downgrade after I had finished Saturday’s rides.  Phyllis caught me on my way to register and asked if I would sponsor a junior in the Ride N Tie, I asked Ashley… she was very eager to NOT run that day, so I agreed.  Lots of changes had me confusing everyone at registration, but I figured it out!

So we started the Set Speed, I was out with 2 other fast riders as the first riders in the staggered start.  Perfect to get us back in time for Ride N Tie.  The pace was a little too fast for set speed at the start, so I held Bentley back to find my own place on the trail.  Eventually I caught back up to Jessica and her stallion, who Bentley seemed to adore (read: didnt make grinch faces when we rode 2 abreast). And we rode together for most of the loop.

Imagine my surprise when we came into the control check, and there was Linda, already untacked!  She had managed to squeek past us when we went a short 50m off trail.  Yes, things can happen that fast!  Good part was that she was only out a minute ahead of me, and I was able to catch up and ride with her for the majority of the second loop.

Bentley seemed to prefer his boys club to Sable, and they both tried to kick each other at least once through the loop.  Very uncommon for Bentley, hes usually a biter if he gets really pissed off.  Weirder still, he gave no warning, no ears pinned, just humped back and kick out at her.  Thankfully nobody connected and the divas would live to see another ride.

In the last half mile, we reconnected with everyone we started with, and came in exactly on the 7mph mark.  We pulsed down wonderfully and earned a grade 1.  Carol and Laura came in later and also earned grade 1s.

Bentley felt great, like we had only been out for a casual hack.  Nothing drained from the tank.  Now… ready for the RNT.  To be continued in part 2!

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