Monday, April 26, 2004

2004 LBL Express - April

Tanna and I went to do the 25 mile LD ride at LBL Express. Our adventure started on Thursday morning. Normally, I like to get to a ridecamp two days before I am to ride to give Tanna a chance to settle in and get ready for the ride. But since LBL is only 2.5 hours from my house and we were "only" doing a 25 mile ride, the plan was to get to ridecamp around 12 or 1 PM on Thursday and then haul home after the ride on Friday.

Last week, we did a slow (10.5 hour ride time, excluding holds) 55 miler at Chicken Chase. This is the beginning of our second season and the first time I've attempted doing rides on back to back weekends.

After Chicken Chase, I didn't notice any rubs on Tanna and was thrilled, but on Sunday after Chicken Chase, I noticed two places on his loins on either side of his spine where the hair had been rubbed off and there was a very slight bump at each place. I wasn't sure where those came from as he also had grass and dirt stains in close proximity indicating that he had been rolling pretty good. So I wasn't sure if the saddle had caused the rubs or the rolling had caused the rubs. But it was something to keep in mind for LBL.

Thursday morning, it was blowing pretty hard like blowing in a storm. We were late to meet Laura Tichenor and her husband, Dan (not to be confused with MY husband, Daniel), to drive up to LBL together. I rushed out the door and quickly stripped Tanna's blanket off and replaced it with a lighter nylon sheet, slipped the fly mask on and pointed Tanna at the trailer expecting him to jump right on in like normal. Uh, no way. He balked hard. He was being loaded into the right side of the trailer when he was most often trailered on the left in the last few months. The dog was barking, chasing Serts around. The wind was howling. The truck was rumbling and I was rushing my horse that can not be rushed. I took my tapping stick and gave him a sharp rap on the rump. Ok, that was a bad move. He spun around me like a mad horse with the dog at his heels.

I told Daniel to take the dog and both of them to go away. I tossed the tapping stick away and tried to calm down. Tanna did not want to get in the trailer. Finally, I opened the escape door and walked into the trailer ahead of Tanna. He followed me willingly enough and I clambered out the escape door and petted him and called to Daniel to come close the back. That'll teach me to brag on my horse loading nicely. I had just been bragging to Laura how well my horse loads and then this incident. Looks like more lessons with more excitement are in order.

Anyway, we were finally on our way and we drove to the truck stop where we were to meet Laura and Dan. They were gassing up when we got there and I hopped out and gassed up our truck. Then we bought some bottled water and we all headed out for the highway.

After an uneventful couple of hours of traveling, we pulled off at the exit to head to LBL. There was a Cracker Barrel there and we went there for lunch. Laura and I chattered so much I don't even remember much of the food that I ate! Dan even ran into somebody he used to work with. How weird is that?

Back on the road, we headed on the last leg to LBL. Immediately before entering LBL lands, there is a bridge one has to cross. A very narrow bridge. And it was raining pretty good. And to make it worse, there were huge dump trucks coming the opposite direction. One right after the other. I was just positive we were going to be forced off the bridge or they would scrape all down our rig. There were only 3 dump trucks, but it was quite scary to me.

Shortly after that we started seeing markers to the camp, so we followed the road in. We pulled up to the gate house at LBL and got 2 campsites next to each other. A bathhouse was on the other side of Laura and Dan's campsite and there was a water hydrant on the other side of our campsite (across the road). Very nice, we enthused! After camping in a pasture the week before, we thought we were in paradise! :-) (But we LOVE Bill Wilson's place and are quite happy to camp in his pasture/hay field!!)

We quickly unloaded the horses and set them up on the high lines. Every campsite (that we saw) at LBL has picket line posts. Each campsite had ample room and was very nice. There are even barns with nice airy stalls, but we decided to keep our horses with us and not stall them, although it's a nice thing to have and to remember for training trips.

Laura and I gathered our paperwork and headed for sign in while Dan and Daniel took their bikes for a spin. We signed in and each got a water bottle for the "thanks for coming" gift. Also, in our ride packets we got some horse cookies and maps for our ride the next day.

After sign-in, we stepped over to visit with Teddy Lancaster from Running Bear and Laura bought a couple of knot eliminators (that we never got around to using).

Then we got our horses and took them to weigh in and have a look see around the camp. Tanna weighed in at 770. Which I thought was excellent. He was only 8 pounds lighter than he had been pre-ride at Chicken Chase. He left Chicken Chase at 750, so he had gained 20 pounds in the 6 days between the rides.

Then came the vet in. Tanna vetted in with all As. I pointed out the spots on his back, but Otis checked them out and said they weren't a problem, which is also what I thought, but I did want to point it out.

Next we decided to play with Tanna and saddles. I'm thinking of changing my saddle in a year or so, so I think it's time to start looking at saddles and deciding what I might want to purchase. Laura helped me try out a couple of her saddles. I discovered Tanna has a wider back than I thought.

Also, I got to ride Diamond (Laura's horse) for the first time to try out his saddle. He is a very nice horse! Laura had me get him to go soft and to do some side-stepping. He is a very responsive horse and it was exciting to feel him soften in my hands and round his frame. He wouldn't do it for me at a trot (although he does it for Laura), but he did it for me at a walk. Very nice. Makes me want to take some basic dressage lessons to see if I can get Tanna to do that.

Then came supper and the ride meeting. The meeting was long. Seemed like the 50 milers had a lot of stuff to remember! Our stuff was pretty easy. 2 loops. The first loop was 11 miles, the second 14. Vet check and hold in camp. Hold of 40 minutes. Pulse at the vet check was 64, pulse for the finish was 60. Start for the 50/2-day 100/1-day 100 milers at 6:30, start for us at 7 AM. The rest of the meeting was just your basic stuff like don't race, be careful of the trail riders we'd encounter, awards and meal would be Saturday evening, etc.

Before the ride meeting, I got to see Carla Lawson! I hadn't seen her for quite some time. Back in 1999 we both went to Longstreet's Charge to do our first LD ride. I had seen her last year when I went up to pick up a kitty she'd rescued that she couldn't keep, but I had no idea she'd be at LBL. She was there to crew for her friends, Lisa and Penny. It was particularly weird because just that afternoon, I had been telling Laura that I hadn't seen Carla in forever.

After the ride meeting, I got to see Susan Reid. I had met Susan when she came up to test ride (and buy) a mare that my barn owner was selling. I took Susan on the test ride so she could try out May. It was cool to see her! She was going to ride on Saturday and help out on Friday. She didn't bring May, but brought her other horse to ride. I introduced her to Laura and we all chatted for awhile

before I insisted I had to find an outhouse. Back at the trailer, I fed Tanna again and made sure everything was laid out for the morning. I climbed into bed and set my alarm for 1 AM to get up and feed Tanna. At 1, I dutifully crawled out of bed and went to feed Tanna. The wind was a smidge chilly, so I put his light nylon sheet on him and went back to bed.

About an hour later, the skies opened up and pelted the camp with hard rain and possibly hail. It continued with wave after wave. Thunder, lightning and that hard, heavy rain. I kept waiting for it to quit, but it just kept on. I figured Tanna was ok because he had that sheet on, but I'd forgotten that it wasn't waterproof!

Finally at a quarter to 5, I decided to go take a shower. I figured I wouldn't have much competition for the showers at that time in the morning. As I went outside, I decided to check on Tanna first. Poor thing was wet through and shivering. I threw my shower stuff in the dressing room of my trailer. I stripped the wet sheet off and replaced it with Tanna's nice waterproof, lined blanket. Then I walked him around for 15 minutes in the rain to get his blood flowing and generate some warmth. The whole time berating myself for forgetting the sheet wasn't waterproof. Diamond was tied to Laura's trailer nice and cozy in his waterproof sheet and called to us as we walked around.

I put Tanna back on his picket line and continued on to take a shower. The shower was heavenly! Warm water and a nice spray and an area to put my stuff where it wouldn't get wet and to get dressed. Very nice indeed! And like I figured, no competition for the showers at that time in the morning!

On the way back to my trailer, I banged on Laura's tack room door to wake them up. It was 5:15 and we had an hour and 45 minutes to get ready, if we were going to even go with the rain. They called for me to come in and I climbed in and dripped on their floor while we discussed. Finally I said I would try to find out the weather forecast and went to call my dad in SC. I had him get on the internet and check the radar. He said it would probably rain more, but that the bad stuff was probably behind us. So I reported back to Laura. Dan had his laptop out and connected to the internet via his cell phone and was also looking at the weather. After me giving him the wrong zip code at first, we got a look at the radar. Just what my dad had said. So after a few more minutes of discussion, we decided we were going to ride anyway. At that point, we had an hour before start.

So I rushed back to my trailer and spent a soggy 50 minutes saddling and shoving a bit of food down my mouth, entirely envious of Laura and Diamond, getting ready in her slant load trailer out of the rain. I was thankful that Tanna was dry and warm under his blanket. Well, at least he was dry until I stripped it off to saddle. The rain finally stopped before I was done.

Laura and I mounted up and headed off to the start line. There were lots of 50 milers around. Their start had been pushed back to 7 and we were to leave at 7:30. Now we had plenty of time! Dan and Daniel showed up a few minutes later and we hung out by the concrete water trough and let the horses play with the water. Tanna drank just a few sips, but enjoyed sticking his nose in the water and making lots of splashes.

At 7:15 we remounted and walked around. I kept an eye out for Kara and her gelding. We were supposed to ride with them to try to help keep her gelding calm for the start. I didn't see her anywhere. At 7:30, Nancy (timer extraordinaire) declared the trail open for 25 milers. Laura and I hung back and let the pack go for a few minutes, then followed along with the stragglers. I still didn't see Kara. Maybe she had decided the weather was just too miserable like we almost had.

Our first obstacle was quite scary to me. The small trickle to cross to get to the trails had been transformed into a raging creek. Tanna plunged right in behind Diamond. I focused on the other side of the creek (per Laura's instructions) and just tried to keep Tanna headed in the right direction. For a scary moment, we were being swept along with the water and then Tanna got his feet grounded again and we made it across. Then I noticed the photographer. Great. I can't wait to see my panicked face in THAT picture.

Then we got to the road and Laura and I pulled up for a minute to let even more riders pass us. We thanked the forestry personnel that were present keeping the traffic stopped (there was no traffic that I saw) for the start.

Finally we hit the trails. Tanna was pulling quite fiercely to be allowed to catch the riders in front of us. I refused, but was glad to have my pulling partner back. I had been worried about him becoming too mellow, but he was his own self and I was thrilled, even though my arm and back muscles were definitely getting a workout!

We trotted up the small hills and walked down them. To say there was water on the trail is an understatement. To say there was mud on the trail was quite accurate. To say the trails were sloppy is quite accurate as well. However, it really wasn't all that bad. There is a trail here in Nashville that will turn to 18 inches of mud with less water than was dumped on LBL. That is a gross and nasty trail. Here the mud was nowhere near that deep. There was a LOT of standing water on the trail, though. Certainly no shortage of drinking water, though. :-) Of course, neither one of our horses were interested in drinking.

The worst part of trail was a quarter mile stretch that was completely covered in deep, flowing water and we had to traverse that section twice (once each loop) going against the current.

After a couple miles, Kara caught up with us. Guess she had started after all. She passed on and we only saw her briefly at the vet check.

We came into the timers almost 2 hours after the start. In 5 minutes, we had our pulse time. As soon as we got up to the pulse takers, Tanna stretched out and peed. The pulse taker took the pulse while he was peeing. Didn't disturb him in the least. Hehee. Tanna vetted through with a B on Jugular Refill and As elsewhere. We hadn't stripped his tack since it was rider option and I didn't want to bother removing the saddle for a 40 minute hold. Daniel trotted him out and he looked good to me. It's really nice to be able to watch him move when I usually just feel him. No CRI this time. I rather like CRIs and was disappointed that the vets were only doing CRIs when they felt it was warranted and not across the board. I might should have asked for a CRI though. I didn't think about that.

After Diamond and Tanna were vetted in, Dan suggested we head back to the trailers for our hold rather than stay at the vet check area as we'd intended. So we gathered up our stuff and went back to the trailers. Tanna was being prissy and didn't want to eat. I fed him by hand, changing the offering when he balked at eating what I offered. He ate 2 handfuls of grass hay, several handfuls of alfalfa hay, a few bites of beet pulp/sweet feed, and one bite of apple. The only thing I didn't try, that I will next time, is dry beet pulp and/or dry sweet feed. Maybe he was just sick of everything being wet. I knew I was. I ate much better as Daniel fed me a sandwich while I was trying to hand feed Tanna. :-) :-)

It had started raining during our hold. Ugh. I had been hoping to dump my jacket, but at least it started raining before we left the hold and I was without my jacket! Laura had mounted and was heading toward us with a bright orange poncho. I told her to stay over at her trailer while I was mounting. Last thing I wanted was for Tanna to freak out while I was trying to mount. I quickly mounted and rode over to her trailer. Tanna looked at the poncho but didn't seem concerned. Good boy. So we headed toward the timers. Almost there I realized I had left my vet card at our campsite. Sigh. Laura waited there while I headed back to the trailer to get my vet card. As a result of my forgetfulness, we left 10 minutes late from that hold.

That second loop was miserable. A lot of the trail was part of the first loop, including the 1/4 mile stretch of river we had to walk up. After 30 minutes, I was soaked from head to toe despite my jacket. I was thankful for the jacket, though, as it probably kept me from being too cold. I was glad for the rump rug I'd left on Tanna. Tanna was still good to go and he would ask to catch up to any rider he saw in front of us. We only saw a couple riders though. We passed one and another passed us. No trail riders at all. Hmmm, wonder why THAT was!

The only problem Diamond and Tanna have riding together is that Diamond is bigger and has a longer stride than Tanna. So when Diamond is walking (if he's not dragging his feet, which he wasn't), Tanna has to do a slow trot to keep up. It's not really a big deal until I really want Tanna to walk, like to let his heart rate recover or to walk down some of those slippery slopes. Then Tanna got mad because Diamond was ahead of him and I wouldn't let him trot to catch up. So we had some discussions there. Tanna also cantered more than Diamond as Diamond can do a bigger trot without extending. When Tanna gets to his huge 11 mph trot, I nudge him up into a canter. But Tanna and I train the canter so we weren't doing anything we don't do in training.

It was really funny to hear their heart rates, though. They were almost always within a couple of beats of each other. It was like they were sharing the same heart. Would have been interesting to see their CRIs. There was no way we were picking up each other's HRM either. We were sufficiently far enough away from each other that that wouldn't have been an issue at all.

It took us 2 hours 15 minutes to do that second loop (2 hours 25 minutes since our out time). Shortly before we finished, it stopped raining and the sun came out and it was pretty. We walked in the last little bit. I was letting Tanna grab grass while Laura was trying to see if Diamond wanted to pee. As we got closer to the vet check area, I spotted my truck and trailer in the parking lot! Soon we saw Laura's truck and trailer on the other side of mine. Guess the guys took it to heart when we said we wanted to leave after the ride and to pack up while we were on our last loop.

We took the horses to the water trough and both horses finally drank long drinks of water. Probably a gallon or so each. Just sucked it down. Tanna was at 52 for his heart rate, so I headed for my trailer and Daniel took Tanna while I loosened the girth while walking. At the trailer, we stripped him and threw his cooler over him. Straight to the pulse takers where Tanna again stretched out to pee. Guess that was a good pee spot! Susan K took his pulse and called for time. 12:39. Ride time of 4 hours 29 minutes. Good for 32nd place. :-) Nice back of the pack pace. There were 8 other horses they were waiting on for the 25 milers.

Took Tanna to the vet and Otis pronounced him finished and gave him all As on his vet card. First ride that Tanna has had As on his guts at all the checks!! I thanked Otis for standing in the rain and mud to vet us all.

We weighed Tanna. He lost 30 pounds! Sheesh. Lots, but he seemed A-ok. Daniel took Tanna over to the wash rack while I recorded the weight loss on the clipboard and my vet card. Some nice gentleman was holding Tanna while Daniel sprayed him down. Tanna apparently hadn't liked the idea of cold water on him and had been giving Daniel a hard time. Goofy boy, we just wanted to get the caked-on mud off him!

Then back to the trailer where he got his blanket on and he began to eat his beet pulp he'd ignored at the vet check.

With Tanna taken care of, I finally went into the camper and changed into dry clothes. I was mostly dry (except for my hair and my feet) for the first time since 5 AM. Felt great, even though I had to wear my wet tennis shoes since I didn't have any other shoes with me.

Laura and I hunted up the ride manager, Diane Fruth, and asked for our completion awards since we were gonna head home. While she was off retrieving our t-shirts, Laura remembered that she hadn't weighed Diamond after the ride. So I stood around under the vet canopy eating the food there (I wasn't going to eat my ride meal, so I wasn't shy about eating a couple of oreos from the table), watching other horses vet through and generally just feeling good about being where I was. Diane returned with our shirts and I took them both and thanked her for the ride.

After a brief pause at the gate house to tell them we were out of our campsites, we were on our way. Daniel was driving this time and I was babbling on about the ride and Tanna and the changes I wanted to make. We were home in short order and I turned Tanna loose with his pasture buddy and they went galloping, bucking and trotting around their field for the next 30 minutes. Goodness. Too bad I wore him out on that ride!

I feel quite proud of Tanna. Even though we hardly ever ride in the rain, he did great and never balked at where I wanted him to go. He carried himself very well and handled the slop like it was dry. Amazing what my little guy can do. I love him to death and he is now going to get a very well earned 3 week rest. Then it's back in training for Hoosier Daddy at the end of June.

I have some changes I'm going to make. First and foremost, I'm going to quit using my Dixie Midnight pad for rides longer than 15 miles or so. He got some more rubs on his loins at LBL and Daniel and I are suspecting the DM pad is contributing to that as we didn't have that problem at Liberty Run (50) or BSF (25) last year which was before we got the DM pad. So I'm going to use the DM pad for shorter training rides to keep me from having to wash my woolback pads as often, but we'll try using just the wool pad for Hoosier Daddy and my 25 mile training rides to see if the rubbing disappears.

Second, I'm going to quit girthing him up so tight. That also contributed to some light rubbing around the girth area above the girth itself. (which also might be contributed to by the DM pad)

Third, he is going into crupper training as soon as he comes back into training with the goal to ride Hoosier Daddy (a reportedly flat ride) with it to prepare him for more hilly rides with it. Having the crupper and the breast collar (which he is already used to) should help me be able to keep his girth a little looser and still keep the saddle in place.

I had a lot of fun these last 2 weekends and I am looking forward to Hoosier Daddy in a couple months. Thanks to Diane and Jerry Fruth for putting on LBL this year and for it being a 2 DAY RIDE! :-) I had a great time despite the rain, the campsite would be hard to beat, the volunteers cheerful and bright despite the rain, and the trails were well marked. Every time we had a question of which way to go, there was a pie plate with an X on it to tell us NOT to go there. Thanks to the volunteers and LBL AND the ride managers for a great ride!

Nashville, TN

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Chicken Chase Ride Story - Roxanne

Well, I have lurked on ridecamp for years and have always enjoyed those first time ride stories, and am happy to finally have one of my own!! This past weekend I attended the Chicken Chase ride in Indiana. It was a first ride for both my horse (Eddie) and myself ( I had done a few CTR's a few years ago with a different horse). To make a long story short we had a great time. The weather was beautiful, Bill Wilson's farm is a wonderful place to camp, and the trails were well marked with good footing.

So here goes....I followed my training partner up to Bill's on friday, set up camp and settled in. Registered, vetted in and weighed Eddie on the SERA scales, he weighed 1065#. He drank and ate all night...had some excitement at 2:30AM when a herd of horses came blasting through and ran through an electric corral next to my truck. I sleep in my suburban and it was very comforting to have a solid wall around me - however as I came instantly awake and tried to get out the door to check on Eddie it looked like a comedy routine since I had locked myself in and was yanking on a locked door handle in a panic! Calmed Eddie down, lots of activity - people milling about, lights all on....well, you know the drill....fortunately the horses were all found but some not till much later in the morning.

Day one: We did the 25 mile ride on Saturday. I knew we could do the distance but I wanted to see how Eddie handled all the other activity that goes on and I wanted to make sure I took my time to pay attention at the vet checks. 1st loop was 10 miles - we left five minutes after the start and rode the pace we have been training at. At the hold he pulsed down right away passed the vet check and went back to the trailer to eat, drink and relax. 2nd loop was 15 miles - he started drinking on this loop and drank at everything we passed. Finished fine, no problems, mid-pack, 20th out of 57 starters. Weighed him later in the afternoon after a few hours letting him eat and drink and he was 1060#. Couln't be more pleased with how he handled himself. Had so much fun decided to do it again on Sunday!

Day two: Did the 25 again, this is now Eddie's and mine 2nd ride. Since my riding partner had left after the ride on Saturday, I decided to ride this day by ourselves and concentrate on pacing. Wanted to just maintain a nice trot and not get distracted by other horses. Well, all I want to say is now I know why people get so hooked on this sport. We had a blast! Eddie was having a great time and we just kept going and going. There is a section on the second loop where you are riding a narrow trail through trees slightly uphill for a long time ( I need to be a better judge of distance ) where it felt just like riding a motorcycle. Eddie was just going along and leaning into turns - that was way too much fun. Like the first day, he didn't drink on the first loop but drank at every stream the second loop. We finished in great shape, he pulsed down and looked terrific. We finished 12th but I'm not sure how many started the second day. Kept a nice even pace.

Thanks to my riding partner Robby Doll for training and getting me through my first 25 miles. Taught me pacing and strategy. And introduced me to what felt like a million people this weekend - is there anyone who doesn't know Robby?? Thanks to Connie Caudill for selling me such a great horse. Thanks to Amy Whelan for putting on such a wonderful ride. Thanks to Bill Wilson for the use of his farm. Thanks to the ride photographer - even the photo's came out great. I'm hooked and already planning for our first 50!!

Roxanne and Eddie

I Went to Chicken Chase This Weekend - April

I went to Chicken Chase this weekend. We got back today as I just rode the 55 on Friday and am planning to go to LBL for a follow-up 25 miler.

The weather was creepy. From snow on the ground (3 inches!) on Tuesday to a high near 80 on Friday with full sun. Very weird.

We arrived Wednesday night to give Tanna time to settle in. This was his first ride of the season. I was planning a very slow, tail end pace.

Friday only had a 55 miler with 2 away vet checks. 34 riders started, 32 finished, with the 2 pulls at the finish. Betsy Knight won 1st place and BC.

I started 5 minutes late and played leap frog with the three eventual last place riders pretty much all day. Tanna never pulled on me. He settled into a good working trot and only a couple times asked to go faster than we were going at the time. Made me wonder where my freaky boy was in that model of work ethics. I didn't even need the full cheek French link snaffle I'd put him in for the first loop.

First loop was 21 miles. Took me right at 4 hours to ride it. Back of the pack. Right where I wanted to be. Daniel, my husband, was right there helping me unsaddle, sponge, take care of my horse and me and the GPS technology. We vetted in with a B in guts and a B in membranes. He hadn't drunk until around mile 18, and then sucked down lots at each small creek crossing for the 3 miles into the check. Consequently, he didn't drink much in camp, but he did eat half his beet pulp and some alfalfa hay. He turned his nose up at the offering of carrots.

Saddle back on and headed out for the 11 or 12 mile second loop. I was hoping to make some time up on that ride, but it wasn't to be and it took me 2 hours and 15 minutes to ride that loop. Still well within time limits, so I was content, but knew I'd have to watch the clock on the last 21 mile loop or I might not finish in time.

Tanna drank well on the second loop and I was pleased. He also grabbed grass at every opportunity. "Eat and walk" was the most oft heard phrase out of my mouth as I hiked down the hills and he grabbed the grass along the edge. I also walked up a couple of the hills (he hasn't learned to tail yet) and I had lots of respect for my little horse carrying me and him up the rest!

Back in the vet check for the second 50 minute hold, Daniel and I repeated the routine of strip, sponge, vet, eat, resaddle, head out. Tanna got all As except his guts were a B. We got really good at putting the saddle back on. I'd put the pads on, he'd drop the saddle on top. He'd attach the girth on the right and I tightened it on the left while he clipped the breast collar and reattached the heart rate monitor leads.

Finally back out for the last 21 mile loop. We had 4 hours and 45 minutes to do the loop. Since we'd done the first loop in 4 hours, I figured we had plenty of time, but since it was hot and he had already gone 32 or 33 miles, I wasn't sure what would happen. We stopped about 9 or 10 miles from the finish for a 15 minute break and grain/beet pulp/grass. We had stopped at the same location on the first loop for the same purpose. Tanna ate and peed and took his mid-loop electrolytes like a veteran, even though this was only our 2nd 50.

After he had taken his first drink of the ride at around mile 18, he drank very well the rest of the ride and I was very happy with him for that.

We walked a lot of the last 9 miles. Trotting up the hills and a few good trots on the flats, but mainly walking and enjoying the scenery. Finally, we were a mile and a half from camp with plenty of time to spare. Tanna was spooking at the same stuff he'd spooked at in the morning on the way out. So he was still feeling good and his ears were forward the entire ride, ready to go where I pointed him (unless he saw other horses going another way, then he was convinced I was having him go the wrong way for a few minutes).

When we reached the pavement a quarter mile from camp, I dropped off and loosened his breast collar and walked him on in. I got my finish time and Daniel met me to take Tanna back to our trailer to untack. We stripped him for the last time and sponged him down and took him back to the vet. Still a B in guts, but all As on the rest and a good CRI of 54/48. A clear win! We had completed our second 50 together! With 55 minutes to spare. :-)

SERA had the scales set up Thursday night for weighing the horses. I was glad of that and weighed Tanna Thursday after the ride meeting. 778. Which is good, I'd been feeding him lots to get his weight up after I noticed his ribs peaking through several weeks before the ride. He gained 10 pounds overnight for starting the ride at 788. Since the vet checks were both away, I didn't have a chance to weigh Tanna again until the finish, so after we successfully vetted in for the finish, we weighed him again. 744. He lost 44 pounds from start to finish. He only gained 6 pounds overnight to have a weight of 750 before we loaded him to bring him home.

After the finish, my friend Laura came up to me. She was riding her horse Diamond the next day and was waiting for me. Before I went to bed, I took Tanna over to visit with Diamond as they are good buddies from training rides back home.

Our completion award was a nice picture taken by the ride photographer. I liked that.

Overnight on Friday, I got up and walked Tanna around a couple times. The second time I got up, I was awakened by horses trotting outside our camper. I thought maybe I'd slept through the night and people were warming up their horses, but when I checked my watch, it was way too early. I hopped out of bed and grabbed my shoes and jacket and heard Amy (ride manager) calling out that she had a grey gelding. Apparently some horses were loose. Fortunately, my grey gelding was still standing in his metal corral. I haltered him and took him for a walk since I was up already.

I spent the next hour watching, listening, letting Tanna graze and talking to Amy. A total of 8 horses had gotten loose. Four (including the gelding she held for much of the time we talked) were recaptured in camp, but four were still missing when I went back to bed. They had been tracked several miles away on the pavement. Horses running and leaving tracks on pavement. Not good.

The next morning, Daniel and I packed up and headed out to come back home. Before we did leave, though, I was able to find out from Amy that the lost 4 horses had been recovered. 3 of them were fine, the other was being checked by a vet when we left for some skinned up legs from falling on the pavement. Hopefully, it wasn't serious.

I was also able to chat with Laura who was in camp on her hold. She and Diamond were doing well and they headed back on their last loop and then Daniel and I left.

I love Chicken Chase. What can I say? Amy and Bill are great ride managers and the trails were perfect and very well marked, even though it could have gotten confusing, I never got lost once. It's great to camp in Bill's pasture. The trails are pretty, in great shape, and the 55 was a nice challenge for the start of the season.

I spent some money at Running Bear's trailer, too. Bought a crupper and some nice syringes for electrolytes. After LBL, I'll train Tanna to the crupper. I used the syringes immediately.

I had a great time. I am not very sore at all. Tanna has NO RUBS! Notta one. He looks great. Perky, running in his pasture. We're headed for LBL on Thursday to do an LD on Friday.

The only thing I have to change is to lengthen my right stirrup. On a picture my husband took, I noticed his breast collar was crooked due to the saddle being crooked due to my right stirrup being too short so I pushed down hard on that stirrup and twisted the saddle.

Thanks to the ride management and all the volunteers that made Chicken Chase a great first ride of the season. Can't wait to go back next year!

April - Nashville, TN