Category Archives: Ride N Tie

Summer’s End Ride

August 19 and 20th I packed up my car and headed to Solstice’s home, at the Ganaraska Forest for the Summer’s End OCTRA ride.

This is a particularly special ride, as it started as a training clinic a few years ago and has grown both in popularity and in size as generous landowners allowed the trail to cross their properties.  I was astonished when I drove into ride camp and saw all the rigs.  It had tripled in size since I had last attended as a volunteer in 2015.

Again, I would be volunteering.  Unfortunately, until I buy a truck and trailer, I am at the mercy of those I can carpool with.  Not to get down of course, I had volunteered to be a scribe on Sunday which would have me training toward my Lay-Judge certification.  To make the weekend even sweeter, Carissa offered me to do the Ride N Tie with her.

The Ride N Tie was on Saturday, we set off with Carissa on her horse Cannon and me running alongside.  The intention was that we would trade every mile or so and stay together (to avoid leaving Cannon unsupervised!) but poor guy was having a bit of a meltdown as his girlfriend sped away ahead of us.  Long story short, while we met each other a few times on trail for our mandatory midpoint tie and once when the entire RNT race made a wrong turn, I didn’t see the pair until the end of the race when they caught us just for the finish line.  I was pretty darn proud of myself for running the full 10km trail myself, no walking, and even technically outrunning our horse!  All that training in the gym is paying off!

From there I was recruited to do Set Speed scoring and secretarial work, it was interesting to see how the computer calculated the scores and the various reporting measures that ride managers must do.

On the Sunday, I scribed for the vetrinary judges, learning the ropes in hopes of one day earning my Lay Judge credentials.  It was a great day for this, as unfortunately for the riders there were a lot of pulls for a lot of different reasons.  As I said, this was good for me because I got to test my eye for lamenesses, see some metabolic warning signs, and even a few surface factor pulls.  Needless to say, I learned a LOT.  Good news too, is despite high pull rates, there were no treatments required, things got dealt with before they became a larger problem.  The vets and riders should be proud.

Another interesting thing about being behind the scenes is seeing how riders treat the volunteers – whether things were going great or difficult.  Lots of riders are sunshine and rainbows, but there are also a lot who are outright rude to the judges.  I understand we are having trouble keeping volunteers in our sport and this would be why.  Riders, please!  Volunteer at least once as a timer, pulse person or a scribe and see it from the other side of the looking glass.

I know we get caught up in competition, dehydrated, tired, impatient, hot and cranky, but always slap on a smile and muster a “thank you” for those volunteers and judges.  Remember, in our sport the judges aren’t there to pick at you and find reason to pull you, they want to see you succeed!  If they are telling you something is going wrong or has the potential to go wrong, listen, thank them, and apply their advice.  Your horse will thank you and your performance and knowledge will improve greatly when you engage every tool in your kit – your vet checks are critical!

Thanks to Dominic Glisinski for the video of the Summer’s End trails and Myriam Zylstra for the photo of me volunteering at the ride.


April showers bring…soggy endurance riders??

The plan for the first ride of the season was to do the 10km ride n tie on Saturday and 40km LD on Sunday.  We would have liked to do the 80km endurance ride but boyfriend and I moving into new house and my truck and trailer were needed to move the larger furniture.

Saturday was chilly but fortunately no rain; perfect running weather! Clayton was determined to beat Splash as he did at the last ride n tie we did together at the Summer’s End ride last year in the Ganaraska Forest. It was going to be interesting because he’s been training on flat roads and the Dufferin Forest is sandy and full of hills.

I love a horse that knows its job.  Splash knows the ride n tie course at the Dufferin and even when I’m not competing in ride n tie, any time I’m on the part of the trail that the ride n tie uses, she tries to GO!  She was nice and quick to our trade off point and stood still while Clayton mounted up. She walked into the vet check calmly for him and was quiet while he dismounted and ran off.  Pulsing down pretty quickly (and Splash knowing the course) allowed us to catch up to the team that had passed us during the vet check.  I caught up to Clayton who was still trucking right along a great pace, although starting to feel those hills.  I passed him but slowed down as we were coming out of the forest as I could see Wendy (the ride photographer) ahead and wanted a picture of the two of us.

ride n tie
Photo credit: Wendy Webb

Not far from the finish line, Clayton broke into a sprint to try and beat Splash so we cantered alongside him for a bit (just to get his hopes up) before we pulled away and crossed the finish line before him. Next time, Clay! I will update this once I unpack my truck and find my scorecard, but we finished in roughly 55 minutes, which is a personal record!

Sunday was a miserable day.  Cold and wet weather is no fun for anything, especially riding.  However, we are distance riders and unlike many other horse events, ours are not cancelled for rain. Days like these have their own sets of challenges.  While the cooler weather helps with bringing the horse’s temperature down, you also have to be cautious of horses stiffening up, much like humans can when exercising in cold, wet weather.  The ground is also slicker, especially with all the fallen leaves still in the forest.

The only goal we had for today was to finish (which is always a goal, but sometimes I will have others such as better heart rates, faster speeds, etc.)  as I haven’t been able to ride as often as I wanted to and was just using this as a training ride.  We ended up riding with Dominic and Liza the whole way as the two paints seemed to get along and match each other’s pace well. It was nice to have someone to talk to as it makes the ride go by a lot quicker and it keeps morale up, especially with the weather!

Paint power! Blurry because we were moving so fast haha.

Although Splash drank well at every opportunity, she was still receiving B’s for her hydration levels at the vet checks.  She didn’t pee all day until the end of the ride which means although she was drinking, her body was using everything she was taking in.  Even though it was a cool day, I should have kept upped her electrolytes to encourage her to drink even more. Electrolytes are almost always a bit of experimenting and this is where knowing your horse and what is their “normal” comes into play. Lesson learned and we have something to work with for the next race to improve that hydration score!


The neat thing about this ride is that it is the first time an LD (limited distance) ride was offered in Ontario.  Although I do find the set speed discipline great for teaching pacing, especially for those new to the sport,  I really enjoyed the LD format for where I am now in my distance riding career. For the days I don’t quite feel like riding 80km, the LD provides a great alternative without having to really alter our 80km routine. We can go our pace without having to worry whether we are too fast or too slow for the set speed time (the 6 hours to complete the LD is more than enough time), plus we get the AERC miles in addition to the OCTRA ones.


Again, I’ll have to pull my scorecard to see what the actual final results were but we did finish somewhere in the top ten as we stood for BC (best condition) for the practice more than anything.


While everything is drying out, planning for the next event is taking place, the first of two Coates Creek rides. The plan is to do the 40km set speed ride on the Saturday and the 80km endurance ride on the Sunday, making this the most miles we’ve ever completed in one weekend.  If we manage to complete both of these rides successfully, it will also put us over our lifetime distance mileage of 500 miles!


If you haven’t already, head over to our Facebook page for another great contest! All you have to do is like our page, and like and share the post. Easy at that! You have until the end of the week do enter.


Weekend of high highs and low lows

October in Canada. You never know what you’re going to get. That was pretty much the theme for the weekend. The weather forecast called for rain all weekend. Rain has never stopped me from riding before but when it’s cold and you’re riding all day, it is not the most fun thing in the world. My plan was to do 18 mile championship ride n tie with my younger brother on Saturday and the 50 mile endurance ride on the Sunday. In order to run an event, there needs to be three teams entered. Unfortunately only two teams entered the 18 mile race so we dropped down to 12 mile run. Five teams were entered in this thankfully, so it ran. [Note: if you haven’t tried ride n tie yet, you really must! It’s a blast and anyone can do it. It was very cool to see so many families participating in both the 12 mile and 6 mile races!]

Although was a rather wet day and track was wet sand, we were off to a good start. We came into the halfway vet check and Splash’s heart rate was pretty much down. Heading out into the last half of the race, one team had passed us but I caught up to them at the end and galloped across the finish line. My runner had made it in before me, which he has done before at this venue. He is attempting the New York marathon next month and I’m thinking that is going to seem easier than the track he just ran!

Let’s see you not blink when blinded by a flash in the dark!

We were very fortunate to have our mom and my boyfriend come cheer us on/pit crew for us.  Thanks to the days getting shorter, awards ran in the dark. One thing I love about Sue’s rides in the Dufferin Forest are the little extras like prizes. Yes, finishing a tough course is a win in itself but sometimes it’s fun to take home a little something extra! My brother loved the medal and horse head statue.

With it being rainy and cold, I went to bed early to rest up for the 50 mile race the next day. About 2 hours after I crawled into bed, I was woken up by the sound of my horse lying down and getting up repeatedly. Even under the minimal light of my head lamp, I could see that she was very tucked up and her flank was twitching.  I immediately thought colic but I could hear gut sounds in all four quadrants of the GI tract without my stethoscope.

Luckily there were still some people awake and we managed to find a vet that was as well (thank you Stan for getting out of your nice warm trailer to help us!) After all other vitals checked out (nice, low heart rate, not dehydrated), peeing and pooping regularly, the twitching stopped and she was no longer tucked up, and a call to the treatment vet didn’t raise immediate concerns, it was concluded it was a spasmodic colic. Treatment was to walk her around to get the gas moving and let her eat. Her appetite was good as she kept trying to drag me to grass! It didn’t take much walking until she let out some good farts and she seemed to be back to normal.  Needless to say, I didn’t quite get the sleep I was hoping for as I was constantly listening to her outside my tent.

A few hours later in the early morning, even though we had an uneventful rest of the night, I decided it would be best to drop down from the 50 mile race to the 25 mile ride, plus they were calling for showers/thunderstorms and those aren’t the most fun to be stuck out in the bush in.

The day started off great with no issues to report and the sun even came out for a bit.  At my last vet check, I had a difficult time getting her heart rate down to parameter, which has never been an issue before. We did manage to make it down in time to get a completion and no comments from the vet were made to indicate that anything was wrong.  About 10 minutes later as I was walking back to the trailer to put her away, she tried to roll while on the end of my lead (something she has never done before). As soon as I got her up, I noticed her tucked up again and the twitching had resumed.  Heading back over to the veterinarians, Splash was treated with some Banamine to help with the pain and was walked around some more until she passed gas and returned to normal.

This was quite puzzling as she has never displayed any symptoms of colic before. Brainstorming with the vets, it was concluded that these episodes were most likely tied to the grass. I had let her eat quite a bit of it both days as it provided both fibre and moisture to my horse and she was choosing to eat it over her hay.  HOWEVER, due to the summer we’ve had in Ontario, the grass hasn’t realized that it is fall and is acting like spring grass (lush, full of sugar/fructan) which was the most likely cause of her upset stomach. So PSA to everyone out there who has their horses on grass.  Treat it like you would in the spring and only allow minimal grazing at a time until their systems are used to it!

Although stressful, it did remind me why I love this sport.  My horse gets checked over numerous times by numerous vets and it teaches you a lot about horsemanship.  Because I spend so much time with my horse at a ride, I am able to pick up on little subtleties quickly, preventing small, treatable things from turning into disasters. Even if you had no idea what colic symptoms were, you would know that something just isn’t quite right, and the resources are there to help you out.

Photo credit to Wendy Webb

Splash is now happily on vacation for the next little bit and our plan is to attend the last ride of the season in the Larose Forest in Eastern Ontario.



Good Times in the Ganny

Our most recent competition was at the Summer’s End ride where we rode in ride n tie in the Ganaraska Forest. I’ve always enjoyed the Ganaraska trails.  They are well maintained, sandy trails with minimal rocks and with just enough hills to keep it interesting.

This ride was hosted by ESRR’s own Solstice Pecile and her family. I had previous commitments that weekend so I only rode in the 12 mile ride n tie as I need it to qualify for the provincial championships in October.

My regular ride n tie partner is my younger brother, who is a marathon runner however, my boyfriend has just gotten back into running and wanted to give it a try (and who am I to discourage my non-horsie significant other from coming to a horse competition, let alone ride in it). The big key thing here is he is not a fan of horses AT ALL. He has ridden my horse a few times before but it has been almost a year since he has ridden last. Luckily his strength is running and mine is riding so we each got to do the majority of what our interests were.

With the ride n ties, the only mandatory switch is at the halfway vet check so our strategy was to run/ride beside each other for the first 6 miles then while I cooled my horse off and did the vet check, Clayton would continue on running until the end.

One thing I really liked about this ride is the format in which they did the ride n tie. I really liked the idea of staggered start times. There is less congestion at the start of the race (when all horses and runners are starting together) and on the trail. You also really have to ride smart since you have no idea how fast the other teams are going.

It was rather hot and humid but the awesome ride managers put out a kiddie pool for people (which Clayton very much appreciated at the end of the run) and made sure there was ample water available for the horses.

For the first 6 miles Splash felt really lazy but it worked out so that we could stay with Clayton

At the first check it took a little while to get her heart rate down as it was quite warm and there’s a lot of muscle on my horse for the heat to escape through but we passed the check fine.  She seemed to realize what was going on now and really perked up for the second loop, where we cantered/galloped most of the way, only stopping at the water troughs for a quick drink and sponge off.

Even though Clayton had about a 15 minute head start on us going out of the second loop, we did manage to see him at a point along the trail where the trail loops back, which gave me a good indication of how far ahead he was of us.  We never did catch up to him but Splash and I managed to close the 15 minute gap down to about 7 minutes.  Overall, we completed the 12 mile/20km course in 1 hour and 57 minutes.

It was very nice to see so many kids out doing the 6 mile one with parents and/or siblings.  This is a great way to get your kids involved in horses and give them a goal to work towards while keeping fit (and it gets rid of all that excess energy they seem to have!)

Out of 3 teams, we finished first, about five minutes ahead of the team in second. While I was just out to get the miles, if anyone knows my boyfriend, you will know that he’s super competitive so I was happy that we won (so I didn’t have to listen to him grumble on the two and a half hour drive home!) Plus it makes him more excited to try these events again.

Our next event is this weekend at the Massie Autumn Colours ride where we’ll be doing another 12 mile ride n tie, this time with my younger brother.  Will we be able to beat the time from last weekend?

ride n tie


75 Thoughts of a Ride N Tier

One of my favourite and most successful articles I have ever written was 75 thoughts of a Ride N Tier.

At Aprilfest 2016, I had the pleasure of introducing another Mongol Derby Rider, Liz Brown, to Ride N Tie.  She turned around and made a fantastic video for Horse Network which now has over 400,000 views.  Yup, Bentley’s butt is famous.

Please enjoy the video, and the re-blog of an all-time favourite.


  1. What a beautiful day for a RNT!
  2. Here goes, we are over the starting line.
  3. Time to run really fast, everyone is watching.
  4. Eek, I hope none of these horses kick.
  5. Pass me horse, pass me! Why are you going so slow?
  6. Ok, I guess I will just run faster than the horse – I feel sick
  7. Seriously, horse is passing now? Ok I will hide in these trees over here.
  8. Ah good, the horses are all gone, I can run freely now
  9. Or maybe I will walk, I am probably close to my tied horse anyway.  Quarter mile? That’s it?  But my horse isn’t tied until mile 1.  Ok get back running you lazy bum.
  10. Ok this isn’t so bad
  11. Half a mile, good time for a walk!
  12. Oh crap a rider ahead getting on their horse… better run again.  Can’t let them see me walking.
  13. Geeze, get out of my sight line already, I want to walk!
  14. Finally, walk time.
  15. Oh look, my horse will be tied in 0.1 miles.  Ok, I can run that! You go girl!
  16. Where is my horse? Its supposed to be in 0.05 miles, I don’t see anything ahead on the trail.
  17. OMG my GPS says 1.05, but no horse.  Am I off trail?
  18. I haven’t seen any other runners or riders recently, I am most definitely off trail. I am going to die lost in this forest.
  19. Or maybe I am not… I see hoofprints, do I run forward or back?
  20. Ok keep going… maybe I will see a trail marker
  21. Yes, a ribbon!  I’m on trail, but where is my horse?  She was supposed to be 0.1 mile ago
  22. Oh there is my horse ahead
  23. Nope, its another similarly dressed horse.  Damn
  24. Why am I still running?  Clearly my rider forgot about our agreement.
  25. I hate this so much. Why did I think this would be fun?
  26. Well, since I am never going to see my horse on this trail, I might as well work on my personal best running time. Ok, I can keep this pace for a while.
  27. Oh look, its my horse.
  28. Perhaps I was a little dramatic.
  29. Hi horse!
  30. What kind of knot is this?!?
  31. Ok, knot untied… now what do I do with this rope.  I saw another horse with it tied around neck, ok I can do that.
  32. Stand still horse, cant you see i’m trying to mount you?
  33. Fine, I will just swing up like i’m in an old west movie.
  34. Moving on… finally!
  35. Ahhh, this view is much nicer.
  36. Hey there’s my partner, hi friend, keep up the good running
  37. Oh no, my rope came undone.  I guess I can hold it in my teeth.
  38. Woah big hill, muahaha I don’t have to run it.
  39. I should tie up here, give my partner a break after doing that nasty hill.
  40. We need some sort of pully-system to bring the horse to the bottom of the hill – like reverse of the ski hill lifts
  41. I should invent that. I could make millions.
  42. Ok, shes tied.  Here i go again
  43. No horse, stand there… don’t try and follow me! Ok shes fine, keep running
  44. Wow i’m at 2 miles already.  Ok this isn’t the worst.
  45. Oh another runner.  Hi runner!
  46. I bet I can pass them
  47. Or maybe I should just stay with them.
  48. No I can pass, I am going to do it.
  49. Oh crap, there is their horse.  Guess I won’t be seeing you for a while!
  50. Almost at the vet check, where is my horse?
  51. Oh here comes horse.
  52. You want me to ride into the vet check? Fine lemme up.
  53. I see the vet check ahead… really, you couldn’t have given me more ride time?
  54. Drink faster horse, I have to run away now.
  55. Ok, off again.  Halfway done, that’s not so bad!  Hey I can totally do this!
  56. Where did this blood come from?
  57. Oh well, just run, or walk.  Whatever.
  58. Big hill, is my horse coming yet?  Crap, I shouldn’t have been so cocky riding that last hill. Just walk it, that’s cool
  59. Ok  i’m halfway up.  Sit down just for a minute
  60. Don’t puke
  61. Hey look a half full water bottle… I am thirsty.
  62. I wonder if its safe to drink.
  63. No! That’s gross are you kidding me.  Ok grab the bottle and carry it home, if you get really desperate THEN you can risk your life drinking it. Worst case scenario someone thanks you for returning their lovely bottle.
  64. Ok lets finish this hill.
  65. I reached the top… oh yay I hear hoofbeats!
  66. What?  No horse?  Oh that sound was the blood pumping in my ears.  Maybe I SHOULD drink from the bottle.
  67. Oh gross, it was horse electrolytes.  Bad idea.
  68. Ok seriously, where is my horse?  The finish line is only a mile away.
  69. Finally, here she is!  Quarter mile to go… might as well just run it together.
  70. I should really train for this next time.
  71. Wait! Next time? Did I really just think that?
  72. The finish line… run like you didn’t drink strange electrolytes while weeping on the forest floor.
  73. They all think I ran the whole thing, that’s right, keep smiling and waving – you are the queen of RNT
  74. Weee all done!
  75. FOOD NOW

Bonus thought:

What do you mean you lost the vet card?



Tipperary Product Review

Last weekend we completed our first ride of the season.  We sponsored a team on the 6 mile ride n tie and the 50 mile endurance race.  Our ride n tie team came in second and I completed my 50 successfully. My goal was to just finish as I needed just one more completed 50 in order to get my Novice qualification which will allow me to compete at my first FEI ride in July. Not only did we finish in roughly the same amount of time as my first one back in October although this time I had rain, deep sand and slippery terrain to contend with, we also finished with perfect vet scores, which means our winter training and preparation paid off!

As you may or may not know, Tipperary Equestrian/Phoenix Performance Products (based out of King City, Ontario) provided me with a new helmet and eventer safety vest for the season (in our trademark black and pink colours!). I’ve always been a big fan of Tipperary and have used their products for a number of years now so I am super excited about this partnership.  The sport of endurance not only pushes my horse and myself to our limits, but the strength and quality of my equipment is put to the test as well. Aprilfest was a great ride to put Tipperary’s equipment under pressure because I completed both a long and short distance race and the weather on both days was two extremes: sunny and warm on Saturday for the 6 mile ride & tie and cold and rainy on Sunday for the 50 mile endurance race. Here is my review on both the helmet and the vest:

Colours: come in a variety of colours to match your tastes, plus they can do custom embroidery (perhaps I’ll have to get one with the Eat Sleep Ride Repeat logo on it!)

Movement: I did not feel restricted in my movement at all and at times I forgot I was wearing the vest. I really like the lacing up both sides so I can adjust the vest as needed.  The helmet is also very light and like the vest, I occasionally forgot I was wearing it. The harness is comfortable and doesn’t move around.

Breathability: I chose a Tipperary helmet because I do a lot of riding out in the elements. The hard outer shell holds up in the rain better than a velvet covered helmet and all of the vents help keep my head cool. Despite the warmer than average temperatures on Saturday, I did not overheat or sweat more than normal while wearing the vest.  In the cold and rain on Sunday, the vest did keep me warm (and fit under my jacket!). However, when I switched over to a lighter jacket as it warmed up, the vest sadly did not fit under it. In the future, I’ll have to test how well repels or holds water and how heavy it gets if it does.

Safety: the helmet has extended coverage on back of helmet, which many helmets out there do not have. Not only does this make the helmet fit more secure, it will protect more of my head should I fall off. There are lots of hazards out in the forest plus with varying terrain, you never know when your horse could take a misstep and fall. While the vest isn’t going to prevent everything, it can definitely lessen the impact of an injury.

Other: the Tipperary helmet is super affordable (less than $100!), it doesn’t give you that “mushroom head” look, they have an accident replacement policy (keep your receipts!), and the equipment gives me increased confidence. I’ve evented in the past and still take jumping lessons and wearing the vest has made me less nervous when it comes to jumping. While the vest doesn’t make me invincible, that extra bit of confidence helps me get through the ride and is conveyed to my horse as well, which increases our performance. If you’re a rider who is nervous about taking your horse out on the trail, consider picking one of these up! Thankfully, I did not test the helmet or vest to see how they work and hold up in a fall situation (and I hope I don’t have to!)

Eat Sleep Ride Repeat member Ashley sporting her Tipperary Sportage helmet and Tipperary Eventer vest

Since we have completed our Novice qualifications, Splash and I are going to take it easy at the next ride on May 22-23 at Cayuse Creek Ranch, competing in the 28 mile set speed event. Hope to see you there! If you are looking for something to do the weekend of May 28 and 29th, come visit Eat Sleep Ride Repeat at the Natural Horsemanship Trade Show at Partridge Horse Hill in Pontypool, Ontario ( We will have a booth set up with a trade show deal of receiving $10 off your purchase of $50 or more on anything we have. Come stock up on your riding gear for the season!

If you haven’t seen it already, check out the vest and helmet in action in this awesome video from the ride & tie on The Horse Network:

Eat Sleep Ride Repeat receives awards for 2014

On Feb 21, 2015, Ontario Competitive Trail Riding Association (OCTRA) held its annual awards ceremony for the 2014 ride season.  We are very proud of our Eat Sleep Ride Repeat bloggers/riders and their horses for receiving several awards throughout the season.

Solstice Pecile:


High Point Junior – Champion (3 years in a row!)

High Mileage Rider – Reserve Champion

1500 mile plaque

200 worker credits


Glorius Song IA (Angel) Owned by Solstice Pecile:


Endurance Horse – 4th

High Point Arabian – 4th

High Mileage Horse – 5th

High Point Overall – 7th

1000 mile plaque

3 high vet scores


Sarah Cuthbertson:


Senior Ride N Tie Team – Champion (with Anastasija Neseverenko & Cricklewoood), 8th (with Linda Klarner and I’m No Angel ++)

500 mile plaque

200 worker credits


Cricklewood (Bentley) Owned by Sarah Cuthbertson:

Bentley and I bouncing up the hill at the start of the white loop

High Point Part-Arabian – Champion

Senior Ride N Tie Team – Champion (with Anastasija Neseverenko & Sarah Cuthbertson)

Endurance Horse – 5th

High Point Overall – 5th

High Point Best Conditioned Horse – 6th

500 mile plaque

High Vet Score – Masterfeeds Challenge


Oktoberfest RNT

Cool weather and home trails had me hopeful for the best ride of the year last weekend.

It started on Saturday with a 6 mile RNT.  Ana was my partner again, and to our surprise, we were up against what may have been the largest field I have seen since I started RNT!  Looks like a lot of riders were bringing in ringers – marathon and ultra-marathon runners.  Woah Nelly, this is getting serious!  What a joy that my favorite distance sport is growing in both the horse and non-horse world!  But seriously, am I ready to look bad?  Groan!

Bentley hyper and bouncy.  I tied just after a mile in, and got running hoping he was settled enough that he wouldnt be a prick for Ana.  I found out later that he decided to trot away as she was mounting.  He also did it to me later too… we joked that we are going to take vaulting lessons this winter, but for sure Bentley is going back to some mounting training.  He had gotten so good, but for some reason that day it all just flew out his ears and he was determined to win despite his slower team mates.

At one point too, I had tied and forgot to take off the helmet!  Oops!  I ran back and saw Ana running toward me, I figured it was because she was looking for the helmet.  Apparently she was looking for the horse!  Oops again!  I gave her the helmet, she turned around, and Bentley called through the forest “I’m over here you fools!  Do I have to carry this whole team?”

Ana rode him into the vet check, and when I got there he was being held by Mike… apparently he was getting too friendly with the other horses and causing a ruckus… perhaps some sort of intimidation for his competition?  I wonder what his go-to jab is? Something tells me he has a potty mouth – he gets a lot of grinchy faces from mares.

We waited in line to vet, and shortly before our turn, what should appear from the woods… but a great horse eating bicycle!  Apparently the bike trail goes straight through the vetting area.  Bentley had a meltdown and his heartrate was estimated around 150.  Guess we weren’t going through the gate yet!  It took ages for him to come down, horses behind us would come in and have no clue about the event that had just transpired, vet right through and disappear… of course, causing more stress.  Bentley wasn’t the only one panicking however, it wasn’t completely unreasonable, but guess who is going to start bike training?

Ages later we hit the trail again.  We found poor Ana 0.5 miles from the finish.  She was happy to take over Bentley for the last bit of the race, and I sprinted over the finish line (gasping for air).  Bentley didn’t exactly want to wait for me, but it was almost a team finish.  Apparently despite the chaos at the vet check, we were only 8 minutes behind the winner, and placed 6th!  Not bad at all!  We got a pretty pink ribbon to go with our pink shirts.

Massie Autumn Colours Ride

While I know you are all waiting to hear my Mongolia stories, I want to interrupt that flow to write a post while it is still relevant.  Though I am trying hard to get all my Derby stroeis in writing, I am still riding and competing at home.  In fact, 4 days after my arrival in Toronto, I was already  riding with OCTRA again.

To be honest, I was planning my return to riding in the Mongolian airport, e-mailing friends to find out who was going to Massie.  Carol was planning on going and I could hitch a ride, and back in May Anastasia had mentioned she wanted to do a Ride N Tie (should I ever be willing to separate from Linda).  Well Linda wasn’t going, so I messaged Ana, and it went something along the lines of “yes lets do the RNT” “what distance” “why not the 15” “why not indeed!” So Bentley was booked in to do his first RNT, plus an additional 45 miles.  PS it was Ana who was the eager beaver suggesting the longer RNT distance!

So on Friday night, I went straight to the barn from work, Carol and Esau had packed up my stuf which made things so easy for me! I am so thankful they did this (considering I hadnt even unpacked from Mongolia) as there was no way I would have been organized enough on my own.  We camped out that night, and I felt pretty fantastic having been upgraded from a ger with my saddle as a pillow, to a personal tent with a real FEATHER pillow.  Nice.

Still being between Mongolian time and Ontario time, I was up early, went into the little town and got some coffee.  A perfect, quiet morning.

RNT was first, we vetted through, barely being allowed to start – Bentley was not happy to be away from Cairo, and had the worst behaviour I have ever seen him pull in vetting.  He was trying to kick the vet, heartrate way too high to start (but they let us anyway because they could see the situation) leaping and running in the trot out.  And boy is he ever big compared to Mongol horse.

We agreed that I would take Bentley out of camp.  There would be a midpoint vet check 3.5 miles or so on trail for the 7 milers, so I said I would tie him there since there would be people around if he had a panic about being left alone.  He was pretty looky going out of camp, but quickly settled into trail mode and was just wonderful.  I tied at the check, and after some pulling which had me thinking “OMG he is going to break his neck” he realized he wasnt going anywhere and I walked away.  Out of sight, I started jogging.

I ran all the way into the halfway point for us, but no Ana yet.  She came shortly after, and apparently got a little lost along the way.  No sweat, she took off running, and I cooled and vetted Bentley – it took a little longer than usual as it was VERY hot and humid which isn’t Bentley’s forte.

We met up with Ana after a little bit, and I asked her how he was when he was tied.  He was good!  Hey lets try tying then.  I found a place to tie where we could both see him, and to my surprise, no panic.  Hm.  Tie again, and go a little farther.  Great!  We eventually left him with no sight, but he did not seem to care.  In fact, at one point he was actually ignoring me after tying and looking down the trail waiting for Ana to appear.  Goodness, this is a RNT horse!  He gets it!

Ana riding bentley in the RNT
Ana riding bentley in the RNT, Photo by Wendy Webb

Ana had nothing but good things to say about Bentley, a huge relief to me after his shenanigans during vetting and having not seen him for over 3 weeks (he was being ridden, but it was long for me!)  We finished the ride together (ish) in our hot pink shirts – looking quite fabulous.  We were the only riders who toughed it out in the 15 mile ride (24km), so completing meant we got automatic first (and last haha).    I was so proud of all of our performances.  Oh and it was very tough terrain – if you werent going uphill, you were downhill, and lots of rocks, trees, stumps, twists, turns, mud, lumps – but boy is that stuff ever fun to navigate.

Two other teams were wearing my Eat Sleep Ride Repeat shirts in hot pink... good thing we didnt get our riders confused!  This is Hailey and Jenna doing the 7 mile RNT with Chester.  Cute arent they?  Photo by Wendy Webb.
Two other teams were wearing my Eat Sleep Ride Repeat shirts in hot pink… good thing we didnt get our riders confused! This is Hailey and Jenna doing the 7 mile RNT with Chester. Cute arent they? Photo by Wendy Webb.

Once we were ready, wBentley and I set back out on the trail again to do a 15 mile set speed.  For those of you just tuning in from around the globe – set speed you have a maximum and minimum time/speed you can travel, and your score is based off being close to the fastest possible speed, but also having a low heart rate after completing the ride.

Bentley and I bouncing up the hill at the start of the white loop
Bentley and I bouncing up the hill at the start of the white loop, photo by Wendy Webb

By the 2nd loop, we caught up to Veronica and her horse Ella.  Veronica had asked me previously if I wanted to ride together, and I was happy to slow things down and enjoy the scenery – the Massie ride is really quite beautiful!  Together we got through the last half and both completed successfully.

Sunday, I decided to drop down from the 30 mile distance to the 15.  I knew Bentley could handle the 30, but the point of this ride was to have fun, and I really wanted to ride with Carol.  Plus, I got to sleep in!

Together, we had a great ride.  Bentley and Cairo are best friends, so it was a welcome change to have them together and happy.  Bentley was so easy in this ride, that on the second loop, I decided to tie my reins in a knot and not use them… for 6 miles or so.  Just because, why not!  It was fun navigating the gnarly pole-bending forest with all its switch backs from my legs and seat.  Only once or twice I had to puck up the reins to say “yeah we actually DO turn 180 degrees here” in some places where it wasn’t obvious to Bentley.  He is a smart horse and knows his job – its not hard to tell him stop and go for terrain, he just gets it, and steering doesn’t take much more than looking where to go and changing posting diagonal when presented with a fork in the road.

I decided to wear my Derby shirt for the Sunday ride.  It came in handy having the pocket for my ride card!
I decided to wear my Derby shirt for the Sunday ride. It came in handy having the pocket for my ride card!
Carol on Cairo, having a good ride now that his Buddy was riding with him!
Carol on Cairo, having a good ride now that his Buddy was riding with him!

We both earned Grade 1s (best possible) and most importantly had a great fun ride in the forest!