My Icelandic horse Remington passed the three thousand career mile mark at Randy Eiland`s Renegade Ride in New Mexico a week or two ago. This ride covers 285 miles over five days, from Texas accross southern New Mexico to near the Arizona border. Miscellaneous things I recall (from Renegade, not the whole three thousand miles):
Day I, a fifty five miler, started near El Paso, Texas and followed much of the same ground we covered in a 100 miler last November. Most of the ride was sandy with an enormous number of rocks in the hills near the end. Many riders were troubled throughout the five days about how to protect their horses` feet from rocks with pads or Easyboots without having problems with sand intrusion. Temperatures reached the 90`s. I rode with my buddy Richard Fuess and his stallion Jake. Jake`s easy moving gaits are so beautiful to watch. We were very impressed with the near infinite variety of thorny bushes and cacti defining this part of New Mexico. Our rig arrived at camp later than we did, no doubt helped by the fact I had disabled both the brakes and the lights of Richard`s 38 ft. trailer by accidentally pulling the plug off the connection cable earlier. Many people helped us with blankets, hay and especially beer.
Day II, a sixty miler, started with an intense rock field for the first ten or fifteen miles. There were some hills although the whole day, like the other days, had a cumulative climb of only around 1,500 ft. according to my altimeter watch. I began to count the rocks. I think there were 9,028,806 rocks on the trail overall by my calculations. Randy may have a better count. Assistant vet Nancy Cryder (sp.?) was very friendly, helpful and generally adorable. (Head vet Barney Fleming is always those things too but maybe too grizzled to call adorable.) We saw a lot of dead cows. We rode into Columbus, the site of Pancho Villa`s infamous raid, after dark. I was too tired to go raiding the bars accross the border with most of the other riders.
Day III, also a sixty miler, mostly followed the border. US Army units were constructing a new road and were very accomodating about stopping their machinery to let us pass. Still, John Teeter had a big adventure which Stephanie will probably describe in her next post. After lunch we climbed some more hills with more rocks. I began to name the rocks. Ugly names. The weather started to get stormy. There was rain and even snow at the finish for some people. Short little Remington looked so cute getting down on his knees to reach the water at the bottom of the tank two miles from the finish, I took out my camera to take a picture. It broke. Watering your horse within two mile of the finish, by the way, is an example of the kind of horse management that works at multi-days. You have to do things that may not be necessary today but will help the horse for the next day. When Barney finished checking Rem for completion, I told him he had just vetted in the world`s first 3,000 mile Icelandic endurance horse. I sure wished my camera hadn`t died twenty minutes earlier.
Day IV, a fifty five miler, headed back to the Mexican border with a climb through the rocks. The border here consists of a two strand barbwire cow fence with a cowpath on our side. Not very intimidating. By noontime, I began to talk to the rocks. Ada Carr was very helpful at the lunch vet check like she was every day. She began to sound like she wants an Icelandic, too. We rode through Little Hatchita, an interesting mining ghost town. I finished after dark again and had a temper tantrum over something minor, thus violating my cardinal principle that any critical comments at a ride should be expressed in a brief, calm manner and be accompanied by either a constructive suggestion or offer of assistance to busy ride personnel. Oh well, consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds, or something like that per Emerson.
Day V, another fifty five miler, started with another climb through rocks. The rocks began to talk to me. It`s good there wasn`t a Day VI. Later, Kat Swigart from our list said to me that she hadn`t noticed any rocks. I remember feeling glad that her father was at the ride to take her home. After a long day we finished at the ghost town of Shakespeare, a registered National Historical Site with a 150 year history. After Nancy vetted Remington in, the town`s owner and last remaining resident Janaloo Hill gave me a personal tour while Nancy played with Rem. I was having too much fun to notice that my trailer ride to our final base camp at the fairgrounds in Lordsburg had just left. We were now faced with at least a one hour wait for the next available trailer as it was getting dark, windy and cold. So I re-tightened the girth, climbed back up and said to Remington, "Shall we?" He voted with his feet and trotted down the hill to Lordsburg. As we proceeded through Lordsburg looking for the fairgrounds, I observed that many neighborhoods needed urban renewal but was glad most people kept their dogs tied up. I finally stopped a drunk on a bicycle at an intersection to ask directions. He told me to turn right and go on down the road until I hit the fairgrounds, right behind the Fiesta Club. It`s funny what non horse people use as landmarks. We got to camp after dark just in time to go to the awards banquet .......... at the Fiesta Club.
The banquet was wonderful. Sharon Dumas was the overall winner on time, overall Best Condition winner and a very happy girl. Randy had humorous things to say about everybody and passed out lovely Tarahumara Indian pottery cooking bowls as ride awards to the twenty seven horse and rider teams, including us, who managed to complete all five days. Randy`s rides, like other multi-day rides, go to the core of what endurance riding is all about. I just didn`t have the heart to tell him that his Renegade Ride was the site of the completion of the AERC`s first 5 mile point to point Limited Distance Ride by Remington and me.