Saturday, January 31, 2004

2004 Wickenburg Ride - Lee and Dave

Okay, since I haven't seen any ride stories for this one - I will jump in and give you my account of the day. I will leave the ride results to someone else who would have better information then I can muster right now.

This ride is a MUST DO. The new ride managers, Robin Ollendick and Nancy Halsey have done a wonderful job of making this a ride you will not soon forget. The trails are varied and fun. The volunteers are numerous and friendly. The Sheriff's Posse is everywhere helping the riders stay on track. Water is every 5 miles or so, clean and plentiful. The awards dinner was just down the road at the Elks Lodge and was simply delicious and plentiful. What more can a rider want ?

I had planned on doing the 50. However, my boyfriend, Dave, had just recently started riding my ½ Arab and ½ Quarter horse mare, Kaci, and expressed interest in trying to do a LD ride. He had camped with me at the Manzanita Ride and was intrigued by this craziness we call endurance. So for Christmas I gave him a paid entry to the Wickenburg 25 AND a pair of Homeys Hey, Paddi - I will forward you a picture for the contest under separate e-mail :).

Since I would be riding slow (Dave has only been riding for four months), I decided to mentor another newbie, Trudy and Rocky (her mustang partner that I am proud to say I started and sold to her) on their first ride. Pat, definitely not a newbie, but riding her 24 year old partner George, rounded out the group.

Pat, Dave and I arrived in camp on Friday afternoon after an uneventful drive from Yuma and quickly set up camp in the spacious parking at the Rodeo grounds. Uh-oh, no Trudy. She had tire trouble and ended up arriving late. We settled the horses in and wandered about the vendors and camp, and visited with old friends. Instead of riding we opted to take the horses and let them loose in the round pen to kick up their heels. Kaci and Bravo were excited and animated but George had that "been here, done this and I cannot believe I am here again" attitude.

The ride meeting was set for 5:30 and was complete with a wide variety of munchies, including wine and cheese ! Did I mention how wonderful the ride managers are? The weather promised to be cool and the pulse criteria was set for 60, by the head vet, Dr. Barney Fleming. The LD start time was 8:00, and knowing the temps would be about 30-35 overnight I was not unhappy about that ! We checked on the ponies and settled in for the night.

We awoke early and Dave and Trudy were almost more nervous than the horses. Kaci has done this ride two times before but she had not been to a ride in over two years. Bravo just knew he was doing the 50 and wanted to get started. George was not impressed. After a few delays and waiting for the frontrunners to clear out we started down the trail about 10-15 minutes behind the pack, on as controlled note as we could manage. The cool air and nerves were getting the best of the people and horses at this point.

Bravo and I took the lead and we started on the day's adventure. The horses quickly settled into a great working trot as we wound around the saguaro, ocotillo and cholla cactus. The views all day were spectacular. The trail was perfect and the volunteers had even hand walked and raked the rocks from the two track area ! Now that is what I call dedicated volunteers.

The day remained slightly overcast and cool, and before we knew it we were at the first vet check in just about two hours. This was right on the pace I wanted to set for the day for the new horses and riders. This was to be an hour hold. The horses pulsed down quickly and all vetted through with straight As. They quickly settled into eating, but our desert horses didn't do too much drinking, since the weather was cool and the water was still a bit chilly. At 30 minutes Bravo looked up as if to say "okay our hold time is over, let's go". He never did get the idea that we were staying for an hour and just looked puzzled the rest of the hold.

We headed down the trail for the second half and by now the horses were very relaxed and comfortable. The new riders were able to enjoy the scenery and a lot of good hearted joking ensued.

All too quickly the finish line was in sight. We crossed together in a ride time of just under 4 hours. Not too bad for two new riders, one new horse and one old timer (not me, George the horse!). There was even champagne at the finish line for the riders !

However, I must admit the highlight of the entire ride was right there at the finish line, when Dave pulled out a gorgeous diamond ring and proposed ! I was so focused on getting to the P&R area and vetting through that I was shocked and speechless - and any of you that know me, knows how rarely that ever happens.

We did vet through and everyone got a completion with straight As for all the horses. George even won a bucket of Dynamite vitamins for being the oldest horse to complete the 25 mile ride. A beautiful end to a wonderful ride ! And one that I know I will never forget.

Lee and Bravo
Dave and Kaci

P.S. I did finally say yes!

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