Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Farewell to Silver State - Karen in Nevada

After something like 25 years (give or take), the Silver State ride
is now history. It's kind of sad, I will really miss the ride. It
was the first multiday ride (3 days) on Weaver and the flag print
bandana that I still wear on my helmet was what we received for
completing all three days. That bandana has done several thousand
more miles since then, I'm going to keep fixing it with duct tape so
it will last forever. I think all of my horses have gotten their
great starts on that ride. First Weaver as his first multiday, then
a couple of years later I rode Rocky two days in a row on that ride
and that is where he finally "got it". He was trying to eat the
cholla by the 2nd day he was so hungry and from that point forward he
became a really good eater! Then Chief came along and got to do a
day of Silver State as his first ever point to point ride. This
year, my newest horse Zenos also got to do two days of the ride
including his first point to point. I am probably really fond of
this ride simply because I have had so many great rides there over the years.

The BLM is closing down some of the trails for 3 years to all
recreation. There was a fire in the Blue Diamond area that they want
to 'reclaim'. It's unlikely that we'll ever get the trails back,
and besides a new cargo airport is going to be built at Jean,
Nevada. Claire hasn't found a new place to move the ride to
yet. :-( The BLM classifies endurance riding as a speed event
because they think we travel at "25 miles per hour".

I really like smaller rides. Especially when you know most of the
riders. This year was great, we had about 35 riders the first day,
which was the 55 mile day. I brought two horses down so that I
could alternate them. I had already vetted Chief in for the first
days ride when Dave Rabe came over and talked me into riding Zenos
instead, he said he'd ride with me. I thought about it and realized
that yeah, it would be good for Z to do more than just a one day
ride, he is definitely ready for it and it'll be great for Chief to
do just one day. I've been trying really hard to cut back on riding
him on every ride, every single day. It's not been easy for me,
since I love riding him so much! So I went ahead and vetted Zenos in
for the 55 mile day. I put Epics on his front feet, so he wouldn't
be walking around camp barefoot on all 4 feet and went over and
vetted him in (it's really rocky there). These end of season rides
are great for all of the point chasers. It is such fun to watch all
of the goings on and see who is doing what and so on. I love it! It
of course is more fun for me, since I'm not riding for points, and
already was far enough ahead in the mileage category to not have to
worry about it.

We started in the back of the pack and when others in front would
stop we stopped and fiddled around. Mostly that was so that Dave's
horse wouldn't pull his arms out trying to catch up with horses in
front. Zenos didn't really seem to care, and it was good experience
for him learning that he can stop and be patient and just watch
horses trotting off ahead of us, or by us. He handled everything
extremely well. We had a great ride into the vet check. There is
only one 'out' vet check on the ride each day, and it's remote. If
something happens to your horse out there, you won't be hauling him
back in a horse trailer. So you keep that in mind and try to be
careful out there. The trail is extremely rocky, moreso this year
because other trail users loosen up the dirt and it blows or floods
away leaving only rocks and hardpacked dirt. There are also lots of
washes so you are constantly going up and down. Zenos handled all of
the footing and terrain changes traveling smoothly and with
grace. At one spot there was a washout that just dropped off, Dave's
horse jumped off it and kept going. Zenos stopped and looked at it
and waited for me to tell him what to do! I was so pleased :). We
made it to the vetcheck, and Z pulsed down to 60 right away and we
went over and vetted. Everything A-ok. So over to find our crewbag
and get fed. I barely got the food out and mixed with water before
the horse had it all gobbled up. I put elytes in each of his baggies
of feed and he ate it all, then tried finishing off some of another
horses food.

We had volunteered to pull ribbons down on part of the next loop
since we were last and that section of trail was only going to be
done on that first day. Luckily Dave brought along a plastic bag --
which we filled up completely stuffed with ribbons on
clothespins! They really way overmarked that trail (lol). That was
also great experience for Z, as he got to stop and let me lean over
to pull off some of the ribbons, and was the only horse :* that
wasn't afraid of the plastic bag filled with ribbons. Once we got
thru there we were able to leave all of the ribbons at the water stop
with the radio guy. We stayed there a few extra minutes to let the
horses eat before heading in. We made up some time there and
finished at about 5, just as it was getting dark. That wasn't too bad
since we had until 7:45 to make it in by. We were last. We
entertained ourselves by reading the big flashing billboard on the
sign in front of the casino as we headed towards it. They had a
special, for $10 you got an hour of dance lessons, 4 hours of dancing
and 2 drinks. I don't know if anybody from the ride went or not, but
we did make it in that night to have prime rib for dinner in the restaurant.

Riding with Dave is a lot of fun, he's always so patient, and so
considerate. He just can't hear real well. We had fun all day
comparing our horses heart rates, then finally at some point I kept
hearing a beep beep beep sound. I asked him if that was his HRM --
and he didn't know, said he couldn't hear it! Sure enough, his
HRM was not attached and was beeping. It kept doing that, so I kept
telling him "there's that bird again". Dave was able to tease me
because my horse was trying to eat orange rocks, and chew on bark on
the joshua trees (now he knows that stuff isn't edible) :P

The next day I rode Chief-- we started out in the back and I got him
thru the first part without him getting too excited. He always wants
to catch whoever is in front, as well as stay ahead of whoever is
behind. Next year I can ride him faster and he won't be mad at me
for making him go so slow. I've been practicing on the last few
rides letting him canter a little bit here and there. We do that a
lot on training rides, but in an actual endurance ride he tends to
want to gallop like his tail is on fire. So we're doing little
stretches where I work on our transitions in a speed that is in
control, and he is getting better and better about it. We soon
started to pass other horses, especially going up the steep climb up
Cave Canyon. He is great on technical trails and goes well over the
big boulders and rocks and doesn't need to stop and take a break, so
up we went up and up and over the top, then down trotting thru the
sand into the vetcheck. We caught up Kathy after lunch and rode with
her into the finish. I really wanted to let Chief go more, but
thought better of it until I have more time to back him off of doing
so many miles in a season, so I kept him at the same pace and we
finished the day with him looking as great as he always does! I was
happy and sad, knowing that he'd just finished an incredible ride
season and sad because it was over and knowing I'd never get to ride
him on that trail again. I think we finished around 13th out of 28.

The third day started out a bit windy. It had blown most of the night
at Blue Diamond. I still planned on riding Zenos. He was handling
everything so well, the day I rode Chief he was trailered to the new
camp and when he got there he spent the day eating and
drinking. Another horse got loose and ran around camp and Z just
stood there calmly and watched. About 3 a.m. I heard a loud
commotion outside, but with the wind I couldn't tell what it was. It
sounded like a horse had gotten into a wreck, or had gotten loose so
I went outside to look. Both of my horses had eaten all of their food
and drank all of their water and they wanted more! So got them all
refilled on their rations and back to bed for another hour or two
before getting up. We started at 6 a.m. I got Zenos boots on,
tacked him up and walked him over to vet. He was fine. yay! I
remember feeling his legs and checking him over and thinking that you
couldn't tell he'd done a ride, that was great. His attitude was
good too, as we headed out. He seemed happy to follow Dave's horse
again and off we went. We had a small creek crossing in the first
few miles, and he calmly walked thru it, yay! I really like how he
stays calm when horses pass or he sees them up ahead. A couple of
times I would pull him back a little and let Dave's horse get farther
up ahead just to see how he'd handle it, and he did fine with
that. I don't want him to get too attached to another horse. On all
three days, neither of my horses had their HR's go above
140. Actually, maybe 133 was the highest they got to climbing the
steep hills. I used the Garmin 301 so it measured the distance,
elevation, HR and all that jazz -- so I can put it on the laptop and
view the graphs. Mostly I use it to keep an eye on my average speed,
and also the speed that we are going at. It's almost scary how much
your average can be thrown off when you stop and fiddle faddle
around, or are pulling ribbons or whatever.

The vetcheck was shortened to a half an hour because of the cold and
wind. That was just long enough for the horses to eat well. They
had sandwiches for us along with chips and drinks and candy. The
last part of the ride went really well, we had more downhill to do
since we were riding back to Jean. Zenos was well mannered when I
led him on foot down Cave Canyon. Then I got on and trotted the wash
part. We didn't have any ribbons to pull today so didn't lose time
there. When we got to the water stop the radio guy told us that we
were 6th and 7th out of 19 riders. We'd been figuring that we were
the 19th riders . Wow, how did that happen? I guess we had been
doing a lot of steady trotting, not fast but we weren't fiddling
around and goofing off either. So we kept on going occasionally
letting the horses canter where the terrain allowed it. What a great
day it was, we had the best time. Since we'd started so early and
had only a half an hour hold, we finished at about 2 o'clock! That
was great, I had plenty of daylight left so the horse could get dried
off and cleaned up. It was sad saying goodbye to everybody. They did
a great job at the ride this year all around. The trail was well
marked, the lunches were awesome and all of the volunteers and vet
were terrific. The group of riders were also all the best. I will
miss Silver State.

Congratulations to all the riders and their horses that met all of
their goals in 2005 and good luck next season!


in NV

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