First of all, I want to say I LOVE MY NEW HORSE, I LOVE MY NEW HORSE! I LOVE MY NEW HORSE! Thanks again to Brett and Katey Gies, of Twin Falls, Idaho for picking me to be Tank's new Mommy. I had the most perfect ride a person could ask for on my new Arab cross 10-year-old gelding. If my first ride of the season is a sign of things to come, I will have pretty much effortless rides for as long as I choose to continue in this sport. What a guy!
Second, I want to thank Jackie Bumgardner and her volunteers for putting on such a beautiful ride. It was just a WOW all the way through!!
Now, on to the ride ...
We woke up to the hustle and bustle of the 50-milers getting ready to go out at 6:00 a.m. The usual kicking of panels and banging of buckets and whinnying everywhere. Tank watched the whole thing, resting one leg, with an amused look. "Yeah, been here, done that. WHATever." Not knowing how this horse would react when I got him to our first ride together, I had no idea what his reaction would be. It never changed. I marveled. The 50's went out on a controlled start with much screaming, dancing and prancing and and at least dump of a rider. Of course, there were equally as many not-so-antsy-to-get-out there mounts. There was even one with only a neck rein. Boy, was THAT impressive. No bridle, no halter, no anything.
So, now, what do we do? 30's weren't due to start until 8:00 a.m. We enjoyed a cup of coffee and just sat down and did nothing for awhile. The only two LD rides I did last year started a half an hour after the 50's so the general "air" was quite different. Finally around 7:30 I saddled Tank and went out to walk around for awhile. To my surprise, only one rider, Kelly d'Andrea, was out warming up her horse in the main area. Knowing her to be a usual Top Ten finisher in 50's in her previous ride career (she's been off for a few years raising 3 kids), I knew I wouldn't be going out the gate with her since I intended to start at the back of the pack. But we had a nice time chatting wondering where the heck everyone else was.
8:00 a.m. came and we're still the only ones there. Kelly took off since she was planning on finishing first. And a nice gentleman on an 18-year-old Tennessee Walker went. I'm still sitting there on my "cow pony" waiting for all the rest of the people to leave and Potato Richardson (who was helping out), yelled "People, it's time to go!!!" Still nothing. It's 8:02 and I said "Oh what the heck, I'll go out and as people catch up to me I'll let them pass." I didn't have long to wait before three people riding together (Bill, Diane and Robin ... I'm bad at names, hope I got them right) passed me. Tank was having nothing to do with being left behind. Fortunately for me, they were traveling at the pace I intended on going, 5.5 mph. My goal was to let him follow them for awhile and then pull him back if they got going any faster. After all, I wasn't trying to finish fast, just go out for a nice jaunt through the woods.
As loop one wore on, I was positive we were doing the loop backwards because there was nobody coming behind me. The trail was so oustandingly gorgeous, I really didn't care one way or the other. I was just having such a good time looking at those beautiful mountains and meadows. Finally, one pretty little 5-year-old pinto or paint (I can never remember the difference, sorry) arrived on the scene for awhile. I rode the entire first loop with Bill, Robin and Diane and the Tennessee Walker, and occassionally the Paint. Kelly was out in front and got lost in the meadow and we caught up to her there. By the 30-minute vet check, my horse was still doing great, we were still averaging 5.6 mph and outside of the fact that my back was screaming and I was threatening to pull myself (I'm 45, fat and overweight and out of shape), Tank was doing great. He's only had 10 conditioning rides this year, another reason why I was just out for a jaunt. However, last year he completed eight 50's, so if I can get my fat body into shape, next year we'll be doing 50's together.
The vet check saw me spending most of it on the my back with a bag of grain under my head, pouring water over my red face, as my ever capable husband took care of my horse. Boy, do I love this guy! What worry, just lay there. I was so pooped you'd think I was racing to win a 100-miler. What a wuss I am.
I found enough energy to get back on the horse and finish the ride, but this time, I let my trio of fellow riders go out without me so I could see how my new boy handled the trail by himself. I can tell myself that's all I wanted, but my back was so trashed I just couldn't see that I could keep up with them any longer. (Oh yeah, 5.6 mph is a real killer speed ...) But I did find out my new horse knows his job. I let him set the pace and he trotted where he could trot and walked where he needed to and watched where he was going and just generally I couldn't be happier!!! I did try to get him to walk on the nice jeep road back into camp but he was having nothing to do with that. He knew we were on "trot ground" and almost there and he wanted to jog along the trail and get there. I was going slow enough for the girl on the Paint to pass me and that was great with me.
I managed to finish the ride 6th horse in, with a ride time of 4:02. I was totally astounded. So ... where are all these racing people RideCamp is always talking about? I saw none. Unless I'm it? Kelly D'Andrea finished with a ride time of 3:40, first horse in. There were 38 starters and no pulls of any kind. My husband says the majority of the LD'ers left the start gate 15-20 minutes after start time. Apparently, everyone wanted to be last! :)
I will say I love my Timex GPS for training rides, but obviously, you kind of have to take it with a grain of salt when you get to a ride. It kept loosing the radio link for several minutes at a time so it's a given that I was going faster than the 5.6 mph I thought I was. I did learn that one should not totally rely on "toys."
The only concern I had at this ride was that Tank would not eat after the ride for awhile. He pulsed down immediately and I took him back about 45 minutes later for vet out. He got all A's on everything except that his pulse was up a little. I asked if I could bring him back an hour later and had him checked again, and it was still going up and down a little but the vet said surprisingly enough he had great gut sounds and he was definitely in no danger of anything, just tired. With only 10 rides on him this year, I was feeling bad that I let him go as fast as I did. He's only been with me for three weeks and not settled in yet. And I don't know his eating routine. Equine massage therapist Tom Cerino was there so I made Tank a 2:00 p.m .appt. He LOVED it! 45 minutes later, he was eating everything in site and he continued eating all night long. Boy, was I relieved! I would highly recommend Tom to anyone!
Our spaghetti and meatball dinner was luscious and we had a wonderful evening visiting with our fellow Lodians Abe and Sharon Kirkpatrick, who finished 13th and 14th in the 50, and who also took home gorgeous horse blankets for having completed all of Jackie's rides this year. Tank and I took home a lovely little first aid kit for our completion award.
As we left camp Sunday morning, I looked longingly at the beautiful high peaks on the 50-miler's first loop, thinking how eager I will be, to be back next year, to ride the 50 and experience all the Easter High Sierra Classic has to offer.
Thanks again, Jackie, for doing such a great with your ride. Looking forward to seeing you again next year!!
:) Jackie Floyd (and Tank, my new best friend)