Tuesday, April 20, 2004

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

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