Question: "Is it necesarry to have a crew if only riding 25 miles and only planning on riding to finish this first time out?"
Question: "How are the P&R stops different than CTR's. I remember reading once that the stops were half an hour or so."
No. Don't be shy asking some other crew person who doesn't have a rider in right then to hold your horse while you run to the porto-john. They're usually bored anyway and I've never met anyone who wasn't just very cheerful about helping if you'll act appreciative and ask them "with your hat in your hand" instead of demanding help. Usually they'll jump in and help in other ways once they see that you need help. There's no better crew than an endurance rider who doesn't get to ride that day. They have a lot of nervous energy to burn off. >g<
From what little experience I have with CT, they make a much greater effort to bring the horse in at an extremely low pulse and don't use water to bring the pulse down. At an endurance ride you pretty much keep up your average speed till the vet check is in sight, then just sort of ease in the last 100 yards or so. It's O.K. to hop off and loosen the girth and drop the bit and walk in on foot if you think the pulse is a little up. When you get to the check you will give Nancy your card and she gives you an arrival time. You have 30 minutes from that time to meet 64 (at the 1/2 way check, 60 at the finish). That's *all* that number is for, disqualification if you don't recover. Next you go to your crewing area. For my crewing area I have 2 sponge buckets full of water with loose sponges, a muck bucket for drinking water, a saddle rack, a pan of beet pulp with carrots and apples in it, and hay. Try to keep him out of the food when you first arrive because eating will keep the pulse up (it's best to hide the pan behind the saddle rack). THIS is the race. You yank your tack, slop some water on that horse and then take his pulse. As soon as he's 64 get him to the P&R area. When you enter the P&R area and they take that time, THAT'S when your 30 minute hold starts. Is that clear as mud? >g<
Jennifer, Hello...I haven't been to Leatherwood but I think the checks are in camp. That makes it pretty easy to crew for yourself - esp. on a conservatively ridden 25. Since you've done CTR and already have an idea of what it's like to come in off the trail and get your horse ready to present you won't have any problem. Not sure how different the vet checks are since I've not done CTR but I can tell you basically what will happen at a ride check:
-you'll come in from the trail and get an in-time on your card - you now have 30 minutes to get your horse down to parameters (usually 64bpm but sometimes 60 depending on the conditions - the vet staff will tell you that at the ride meeting). The less time you take the sooner your hold time starts.
-you'll untack/sponge/whatever your horse. If you're riding conservatively (and even if you're not but your horse is in great shape) he'll be down by now or within another minute or two. He can (and should be) eat/drink while you're doing this.
-you'll take horse and vet card to the P/R area where his pulse will be taken. If he's down, someone will yell "Time on Number XX". You like to hear those words :) Your hold time (will be anywhere from 20 - 45 minutes set by the vet staff depending on the conditions - probably will be 20 - 40 minutes)
-You'll get in the line (if there is one) to have your horse vetted. If there's a long line you might want to bring several carrots or a flake of hay for your horse to eat while in line - at a few rides (and again, I've never been to Leatherwood so have no idea what happens there) you'll spend your hold time in line but that's not too common.
-You'll get to the vet where your horse will pass with flying colors :) and you can go back to your crew area where your horse can eat, you can potty, you can eat, you tack back up if needed, etc...
Depending on the camp set-up (and again I've not been to this ride) you'll either set up a little "station" with maybe a saddle rack, sponge bucket, feed tub, sponges, cooler/sheet depending on weather, hay and any other things you want to have handy or you can just crew from your trailer. If the vet check area is a good ways from the trailers you'll definitely want to set up a little station.
This kind of check is called a gate into a hold and is the norm in the SE (at all AERC rides??) for vet checks.
Hope this helps,