Tag Archives: Ride N Tie

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!

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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!

 

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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!

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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.

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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

 

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!)

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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 (http://www.nhassociation.ca/nha-trade-show/). 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: https://www.facebook.com/HorseCollaborative/videos/1056732151079340/?pnref=story

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!

First ‘Long Distance’ Ride – A great experience

Hi everyone, my name is Morgan and I work for LongRun Thoroughbred Retirement Society and we are so grateful for Sarah’s support as she embarks on her journey to the Mongol Derby.

An idea that formed out of this fundraising partnership was to take a turn at each others’ sport, by taking Sarah on a backstretch tour here at Woodbine, getting a behind the scenes look at the training, knowledge and care that is taken with our athletes during their first career, and to get me out to see, and even participate, in an endurance race (a whole different world to me!) Once Sarah and I can coordinate a morning schedule, I’m sure she’ll post all about her Woodbine experience!

I, personally, have been riding since I was 5/6 years old and have done a teensy bit of everything. A couple years ago I had a really devastating, confidence-killing fall. I’ve been taking weekly lessons with a fantastic coach and some amazing western-pleasure trained horses to help get over the after-effects, but Bentley has been my first non-school horse I’ve ridden in over a year! Below is a bit of lesson footage, showing off the trot my butt has gotten used to in the last year… needless to say Bentley’s is MUCH bigger!

Riding lesson
My trusty lesson steed – Romeo the blue eyed wonder kid! You can tell by the smile on my face, in my lessons the tension and apprehension from the fall is basically non-existent!

You can hear my amazing coach, mentor and butt kicker, Toni, in the background keeping me focused on all the little things that make us riders and our horses look good! Putting it all together in a neat and tidy package is a goal I’m still working towards!

As for the endurance riding, I got started this past long weekend at the Cayuse Canter, in the stunning Ganaraska Forest. Being an avid pleasure trail rider for most of my riding life, a big draw to the endurance world is getting to see some of the greatest scenery Ontario (and after speaking with many riders this weekend, really in North America if you so wish) has to offer – and this ride was living up to that expectation.

One of the most important parts of the ride (aside from actually riding!) is having an extra set  (or two) of hands at the mandatory holds. Saturday morning was perfect because focusing on keeping all the horses and riders cared for kept me from getting stuck in my own head about my upcoming adventures.

The routine for the pit crews is not unlike my work at the track as a hotwalker. You get to the track ahead of your horses’ race to make sure everything is taken care of, and to set up a kit to take with you to the test barn – because that’s where you want to be going post race (USUALLY means you’ve finished 1st or 2nd – other finishers may also be called in). After the horse has come back, you have a strict routine to help the horse cool down – including keeping a good pace walking, letting the horse stop to drink every other turn of the shedrow (about 800m) and then bath about 20 minutes after getting back to the barn, once their breathing has come down closer to normal, to aid in the cool-out process.

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Image of Devil and I in 2005 at Woodbine Racetrack – she was one of my favourite horses to work with. I think she returned my affections!
Hotwalk 2005
Cooling out Devil on the shedrow at Woodbine racetrack.

Solstice’s mom, Phylis, took the time to help me get both Linda and Sarah’s gear set up while they were both out doing the first loop of the 14 mile set speed. I got to learn a bunch of things that really complimented what I’ve learned in my time around horses (like how to take a horses’ pulse with a stethoscope! way cool!!)

After the first hold was over and done with, the rest were a breeze! Basically follow Sarah’s mandate – eat, sleep (or pulse down!), ride, repeat!

Then… it was my turn! I got Bentley tacked up and ready to go, and took a quick walk around camp while Linda got Sable vetted from the set speed. After our group was all mounted and set to go, we set off down the hill to the start line. Sarah, taking off on foot, had already started her run, expecting us to catch up and pass her on the trail. Watching a few horses start ahead of us, Bentley realized he was “in a race” and expected his usual strong trot start. Excitedly, he offered a couple (admittedly very nice) canter strides which caught me a bit off guard. Asking him to come back to me, he understandably offered a bit of protest, throwing in a several small bucks. The few people around the start line started asking “Is that Bentley? We’ve never seen him buck!” I laughed it off, saying I’d been promised an easy ride, regrouped and carried on up the first hill.

Starting line
All ready to go, our group heads out to the starting line!

Sarah had told me ahead of time that with new riders, Bentley will throw in a few “tests”. We did end up having a few fun discussions, mainly, in what I can assume, is Bentleys thoughts on the matter:

Bentley: Hey, newbie, this here is trotting territory – and I trot BIG. WEEEEEEE!!!

Me: Uh… no. My stirrups are a touch to long, Sarah’s booked you in for 55 miles tomorrow and if I can’t get up off your back, I’m a floundering fish. I will NOT risk you getting a sore back! WALK (for now!)

Bentley:Well then… I shall take the lead and show you my WONDERFUL 20m circles. Look at how WONDERFULLY I can execute them at a lovely trot or even canter!

Me: That’s nice. Now let’s follow Sable…

Bentley: NOOOOO THE HORROR! Ok I’ll walk (or trot) nicely! Just let me lead!

After we dismounted, adjusted my stirrups and did some nice trot and even a bit of canter work, Bentley settled right in and really was the champ Sarah told me he was. (Post-race we figure the slower speed and the fact that I opted to ride in the more western-style Mongol Derby saddle probably contributed most to his small bucks.)

After expecting to have us pass her on trail, Sarah was a bit nervous for us as we came into the vet hold at the 4 mile mark. Me letting her know we’d had a few bucks at the start & a few more up the big hill she’d warned us about certainly didn’t ease her concerns!

Sarah hopped on Sable, in order to comply with the ride n’ tie rules that the riders have to switch, jumped back off, and took back off as we vetted our group of 3 through. All of us passed with flying colours.

The last three miles had some of the most fun trails, in my opinion, for our white loop, including the “Rail trail” – grounds that trains used to operate on. They are wonderfully flat and smooth (great for some of that fast trot or rocking horse canter Bentley has!) but have steep sides.

I really can’t describe the ride with much more enthusiasm then that – I think I am still processing just how much fun I had! And yes, you did spot Sarah’s GoPro on my helmet (still don’t know how, after we charged it Saturday, it ended up empty for her! bummer) so I did get some footage of the white trail: I pared down my +\- hours worth of footage to about 10 minutes, trying to provide a bit of everything I caught on camera.

(I spared you all the audio of all of us talking and singing “American Pie” singing really does sooth the senses!)

All in all, I really did have an amazing time the entire weekend (crewing Sunday was just as fun!). I had a couple big take-aways that I thought I would share from my experience:

1) I can actually ride. Given my bad fall, and this being my first time back riding an unfamiliar, fresh and extremely athletic horse, I had a big confidence boost in my ability to suck it up, get over my stuff,  and get on with having an amazing ride.

2) The people at all sides of this sport were so welcoming, understanding and really put the idea of “a great experience” ahead of all the competitive sides of this sport. Linda, Sarah’s usual partner-in-crime and my guide for the ride, along with several other riders on Saturday mornings’ set speed ride took off to help a fellow rider, whose horse decided to have a bit of an “escape” after some stirrup malfunctions, round up her horse, ponied her back to camp, and they all took off for the second loop together once again – awesome work ladies!

3) There really is a ride for everyone – the 7 miles was probably just the perfect introduction for me as a rider to the sport, and the trail, although at times more on the technical side, would have been suitable to introduce a less experienced horse, who had some conditioning on it. Flexible completion times ensure that you can “ride your race”, enjoy the experience and make it a good one for rider and horse. Another huge bonus, is so many of the experienced riders are willing to mentor those new to the sport – after the friendly encouragement and welcoming nature I experienced I would 100% recommend that to anyone willing to try endurance riding take advantage of this!

Bentley sunset
Bentley says “Hi” during the golden hour, Friday night.
Sable Sunset
Sable overlooks the ride camp, surveying her domain. Friday night was perfect for testing out my photo gear after having it sit dormant for far too long

I can’t wait to get another crack at this sport – and join Sarah, Linda, Bentley, Sable, and the entire endurance community at the next ride!

Cayuse Canter – Saturday

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…

 

Queen’s Bush Training Ride

This past weekend, we headed up to Chatsworth to do the QBTR.  Doug (the organizer) was offering a 12 mile Set Speed and 6 mile RNT.  Being difficult, I convinced everyone that Linda and I should do the 12 mile trail as a RNT, promising that I would do most of the running (and I made good on that!).  We later discovered it was actually to be a 14 mile trail (22.4km) but that wasn’t about to change my mind.

Team Eat Sleep Ride Repeat ready to get started - Me as the runner, Linda on Sable (I'm No Angel) and Amber on Black Barts DeNiro doing their first ever distance ride!
Team Eat Sleep Ride Repeat ready to get started – Me as the runner, Linda on Sable (I’m No Angel) and Amber on Black Barts DeNiro doing their first ever distance ride! Thanks to Mary for capturing this on Ambers’s camera.

Before I get into it, here is a link to my nike+ tracker.  It is slightly off because 1) I forgot to start it when I crossed the start line and 2) there are a lot of tight switchbacks so it doesn’t always register correctly.  That being said, mine seemed to be more accurate than Linda’s garmin (which I think she said pegged the whole ride at 5 miles).  So lets say I had a 10% margin of error for my Nike.  Not too bad.

Dougs trails are always my favorite (except last year when it snowed!) Tight “Mantracker” trails, big tough hills, nice views, variety of terrain.  It is NOT an easy trail despite being a training ride – the nice part is there are no time constraints and a tough trail makes for a very fun trail.  We also had perfect weather this year, which was well appreciated by all.

You might notice from my nike tracker that I was a little slower than I usually run.  I did have to walk quite a lot, but it was suitable for the terrain.  If you have never done a RNT, you may not understand what its like to run around hoof divots – its like running an obstacle course the whole way.  There were also a few areas that were muddy enough that I climbed neighboring trees to try and save my shoes.  Though shortly after starting loop 2, I said “@*%# it, I am just going to get new shoes” and plowed through tough mudder style. I also did manage to take one good faceplant running down a hill getting my toe caught on divot or rock or something.  Fortunately it was soft dirt/mud and no damage was done.  Just get back up and run dirty!

I wore my helmet cam on loop #1 and got some nice footage.  I did manage to get on Sable twice, but with the twisty turny forests, the horses could never get too far ahead of me so switching off wasn’t really useful.  They had a half hour hold (we were riding with Amber, who was doing her first ever set speed!  So she was held for that) so I took off running with a head start.  I was planning on leaving my helmet behind, my math gut telling me the horses would never catch up so I wouldn’t need it and if I really did, just take Lindas helmet.  I tried to explain to Linda and she said, no wear it so we don’t have to fuss around.  We both had rider/runner brain and I took off in helmet.  Next time I will trust my math gut – as I finished a good half hour or so in front of them.  They came back to me yukking it up with the vets, chowing down on granola bars and pondering sunburn or trail rash? Of course, still dirty as can be having taken no steps to cleaning myself up – more training as far as I am concerned, plus its more fun to play “guess the colour of the bath water” that way when I get home – the traditional post ride game we play.

Lee asked “Did you win” well of course – we were the only ones doing the long distance as RNT.  Haha.  I certainly considered myself a winner, very proud to say I finished the whole thing despite a very challenging course, and more than double my usual run distance.  I did about 20k of it and finished grinning.  In fact, I was choking up a bit at km 19 or so as a kinda-sorta-sappy song came on, and had me reflecting about how fortunate I was to be allowed to be out here running such beautiful trails on such a beautiful day.  Thank you so much Doug!

Without further ado, here are a bunch of helmet cams for you to scope out (unedited… some day my video program will decide to stop losing hours worth of editing work and I will get a nice tight RNT video made!)

75 Thoughts of Ride N Tier

I saw this post the other day, and it got me thinking about my favourite type of running: Ride N Tie.  I suppose I could make an “Endurance” one of these too, but to be honest, I am really looking forward to RNT this year… even more than Endurance.

So here goes!Aprilfest sat IMG_9352

  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 elytes.  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?

 

Summer solstice sat IMG_0590
RNT Champs earned a well deserved sit