It's been hitting the upper 80's the last few weeks around here and many
people had already broken down and clipped for City Slickers 2 weeks ago.
Hot, hot hot! Air conditioners have been running. Then this cold wave
comes through and BRRRRR! We headed out Friday morning with the forecast
saying it could hit the lower 30's. I almost didn't throw in the super
heavyweight blanket I'd accidentally bought for Josie for Christmas
because it's one of those that's just *too* thick to be useful. Josie's
horse wasn't clipped, mine was. Her horse had never had a winter blanket
on and was terrified last time we'd tried. Well, he stands GOOD for one
now. He almost put it on by himself. >g<
When we got there mid day Fri. the wind was wicked and it was probably in
the lower 40's. Not bad at all if the wind quit for a second, but it
didn't quit much. April & Angie Fura had a ton of prizes donated, and a
couple of long tables of stuff to bid on for the silent auction. You
could tell they'd done a ton of work for this ride. All the rest of the
Middle TN. Endurance Riders were out in force driving trucks, hauling
water, etc. I don't think any of them got to ride their local ride, they
were too busy keeping us taken care of.
When I got up Saturday morning at 5:15 the thermometer in the trailer
said 20 degrees F. (that's about 5 below for your Canadians). I don't own
this trailer, it's my neice's, or I'd be looking into how to insulate it
today! I'm telling you it was hard to get the cruppers hooked with the
poor horses standing with their backs humped and tails tucked!
There was a controlled start to get us across HWY 50, which was nice, I'd
watched the semis streaking past camp all evening worrying about how we'd
cross that but the local police force stopped traffic and we all had a
nice walk to the start. I believe 33 started the 50 and over 50 in the
The Natchez Trace is the old wagon route from Middle TN down through
Mississippi and there is now a beautiful 2 lane hwy. type road with
entrance ramps and just groomed shoulder, but it's not an interstate type
road. The speed limit is 55 and no commercial traffic is allowed. The
trail system parallels the road, has to cross many crossroads (they were
lettered "A" through "Q" so that's how many) and just weaves along
through the woods, occasionally coming out along the side of the Trace
allowing you to gallop along on long grassy stretches. The Trace has very
light traffic and it felt safe, so long as your horse didn't get loose.
There is no fence between the trail & the Trace. I noticed lots of
bicycle riders on the Trace.
I'd rate this trail as pretty darned technical, with lots of ups and
downs one after another as you cut across the hilly terrain. It was so
cold the only chance my horse had of getting even damp was my nose
dripping. :-/ I have never seen so many totally dry horses. They had to
use gel on the hand held heart monitors all day. My pad wasn't even wet
after 55 miles. IT WAS COLD!
Passed a rider walking a few miles out and was really worried about his
horse, nobody had seen it so it was probably running down the Trace. I
felt really bad for him but it turned out that the horse got caught
galloping down the Trace, Doug Sandlin, the ambulance driver was able to
connect with the rider thanks to the system of marking every crossroad
with a letter so riders could report his location, they were reunited and
the last time I saw him he was still in the ride.
The loops were long, 19.75 miles, 22, and 11, which was good because it
felt much better to keep moving than to sit around in the vet check
freezing. We had a little trouble when my daughter Josie started getting
shin splints by the 6 mile mark. Very unusual. She wouldn't hear of me
trying to change the stirrup length and by the time we saw the 1/2 miles
to vet check sign she had to get off and jog, they hurt too bad to post
at all. Not good. (please send advice privately, we need it!) This was
her first ride as an "adult" and we'd been kidding each other that we
could ditch the other and go on now, but I guess that's not really an
option. Your kid goes down you just can't LEAVE them there...can you...I
mean really...unless you have at least a *chance* at top 10.....or are
going for points??? >eg<
At the check I wrapped her legs snuggly with duct tape on the outside of
her tights. That had helped me once when I'd had the problem. Then I
asked Bill if we had Advil. Well...this was a first for us...we had
something more. My other daughter Bonnie had recently had her wisdom
teeth out and Bill had put her left over pain pills in his medicine
kit...he said it was for the next time I break my collar bone. There
happened to be a dentist crewing next to us and he said it wouldn't hurt
her so I gave her one. When we started heading out we made it about 10
yards and she wailed that her shins were killing her, so we stopped again
(horses shivering, wind blowing) borrowed duct tape from a crew truck and
I wrapped them *tight* this time and had her take the 2nd pill. Actually
gave her the "you can rider option pull" speech" (thinking...please don't
ruin *my* chance at completion by going out on this loop then not being
able to get back) but she swore she would *not* RO, so off we went. I
don't know if the pills helped, or the tape, but she quit complaining and
had to concentrate on staying awake and not falling off.
My husband, Bill was doing a great job of crewing at the away
check...complete with making hot chocolate for us! He also adopted a few
others who had no crew so he stayed busy. Then, when we left and I
figured he had 3 hrs. to sleep in the truck he headed out and started
meeting us at practically every road crossing and filming. I love it.
It's some of the best "on the trail" footage we've ever gotten. This
trail was great for that if anybody gets the idea of doing a documentary.
The trail had rockier sections on the new sections so I was doing what
Becky Hart recommended at her talk...trot what you can, even if it's only
10' at a time". We didn't pad, just wanted to complete so lots of trot &
walk. Killer on the old knees. Got back to the next check, vetted
through, then Josie sat down on a stool and Bill handed her a cup of hot
chocolate. I went to the porto-let and when I returned saw the strangest
thing. Josie was sitting very upright on the stool, *sound asleep*. I
mean, GONE. She had her two hands still wrapped around an imaginary cup
of cocoa after Bill had taken it away afraid she'd spill it. I think it's
very safe to say nobody should operate heavy equipment after those pills.
I took some pretty funny film of her sitting there, but it was creepy
too. For the rest of the ride I looked back often because I could imagine
just Cade galloping along behind me after Josie had toppled off asleep.
:-P She said she felt OK, her eyes were just really heavy. I think we'll
stick to Advil in the future.
I don't know the official finish, but can tell ya Bud Davidson won a race
to the finish over Ed Kidd. Libby Lop was up there, Doc Nelson's wife
(forget the first name...Rebecca??) won BC. Lois McAffee was top 10 with
her grandaughter who was 1st Jr. Jody Buttram hit 12,000 miles!! and got
a nice set of reins from Animal Tacker for that. Cool, since she'd been
eyeing Josie's set just like them saying she'd like some. June Jordan
was the turtle, finishing that whole rocky course barefoot. What
patience! Sooo cold out there. If there had been a hard luck award it
would have been James Barnett, who was looking down at the trail and
didn't notice the tree limb that caught him square on the mouth and
knocked him off his horse...this was after having lost a shoe early on
too. But he finished! Josie & I were 15 & 16. She finished fine and then
took a long nap. I believe 29 finished. Don't really know about the 25.
I was late to the meeting.
Thanks to April, Angie and all the crowd for putting on such a wonderful
ride. Very well done, you guys obviously worked your tails off...and I'm
looking forward to doing it again someday on a warm day! :-))