Tuesday, August 07, 2007

2007 Tevis - Sue Walz

Tevis has become my yearly adventure. 2007 was an eventful one. I caravaned down with Krista Snyder & her Tevis bound paint, Corky. It made the drive more interesting, though I scared her with my freeway speeds! ;-)

We started the week before Tevis with the Gold Country Ride & Tie. My friend, Cash, teamed with veteran Ride & Tier, George Hall. They took my mare, Ruby, on her first Ride & Tie! They did great with her, although tail ending the 25 mile distance. It was a fun experience!

The next day we all pre rode the Foresthill to across the river section of the Western States trail. I saw some signs that looked like a shortcut home to my dad's house off Sliger Mine Rd. We tried that & got lost! Krista tied up Corky & hiked in to a house that we passed. She found out where we were approximately & we rode out on some very steep trails. We made it home safe!

The prep for going to Robie Park is a routine for Raven & I. When I went out to halter him & bathe him he didn't do his usual keep away game. He walked up to me & put his head into the halter. He then took me over to the bathing stall & walked in! Can you tell he is anxious to get to the Tevis ride? He loves it!

On Thursday we drove up to Robie Equestrian Park near Truckee. A beautiful camp to start this incredible ride on. Cash & Jeff crewed for me there. Kara found her way up there to crew for Krista. We intermingled our crews throughout the ride in a cooperative effort. My dad, Steve Elliott & Kara were at Robinson Flat hour hold. Everyone was at Foresthill!

I got to start in the first pen this year! Halfway up the controlled start one of the lead horses flipped out & backed into Raven. He bulldozed his way into the lead after that. So I kept him in a walk & kept circling back to stay near the first group. We had a 5 minute wait at the starting line & were off!!

Raven stretched out & was on a loose rein quickly. Flying down the trail with the other front runners! We were fourth crossing hwy 89. His usual explosion of speed at Squaw Valley didn't happen because I didn't have to hold him back this year. At Granite Chief Wilderness they had changed the trail to be safer, less rock. Raven kept trying to go on the old trail! Amazing memories horses have. He picked his way through quickly & deftly. We continued on towards Cougar Rock enjoying the incredible High Sierra vistas. I decided to approach Cougar on a loose rein & see if Raven would choose to climb it like last year. He sped up to the right & went around! No awesome picture this year!

Heading to Red Star Ridge I noticed Raven was already missing his left front shoe. I wasn't worried, he's a 100 mile barefooter on other rides. He vetted through well & we continued the six miles to Robinson Flat. I vetted him through again before we had the shoe replaced. I always have extra plastic shoes in my vet bag now. The farriers were great! They made sure all the shoes were on well.

On to the canyons. The first one Raven went down fast. He has an awesome downhill gait. A mile or so before swinging bridge he slipped & fell, though. He fell on his right side, the mountain side, luckily. I got quite bruised & scraped up. I kept ahold of the reins & was dragged a few feet before Raven stopped. I stood up & ran with him a ways until I found a safe place to mount. On the other side of swinging bridge the ascent was slower. I was assessing my injuries & sponging the blood away after sponging Raven. He had no abrasions, luckily. I felt like I had abdominal injuries. At Last Chance I let them know about the fall. At Deadwood vet check the volunteers were great. They knew I had fallen & I was given Advil & three Platinum bars with an anti inflamitory in them. I ate all three that she gave me & they really helped! I got through the next canyon slower. My dad & Steve were at Michigan Bluff & helped cool Raven down & gave him a bit of hay. I got going quickly.

I got through the new Chicken Hawk vet check. I let Raven eat a smorgasbord of soaked feeds. Then I left for the four miles through the lovely small canyon that brings you to Foresthill.

The volunteer from Platinum came running up to me at Foresthill to see how I was doing. She had been so worried about me! At that point I could honestly say I was in no pain. She gave me more bars for me & for Raven! So nice & caring!

As I was coming into Foresthill I saw my friend Judy Houle. She's a wonderful equine massage practitioner. I asked her if she had time to work on Raven. So he had a great 40 minute massage as he rested & recovered at the hour hold! My crew was great & got me out on time.

Raven gets excited when he hits the California Street trail! He knows it's the last leg & knows the trail well. I can pretty much drop the reins & let him go. Getting down towards the river, before Francisco's vet check, I was joined be a couple more riders. We came upon Roger Yohe running with his horse. We passed him & continued down the trail. We were four riders when night fell. Behind us a ways we heard cries for help! Roger & his horse had fallen! Two wanted to turn back but we were close to Francisco's & agreed that it would be the best help to get there as soon as possible & tell them what we heard. They ended up having to air lift Roger out. The horse scrambled back up the hill & I believe ran into Francisco's & was treated for abrasions.

It's always difficult for Raven to get his night vision back after leaving the well lit Francisco's. We may have briefly gone off trail. I couldn't see either! When he got his vision back we were flying down the trail again. Quickly, we were at the river crossing. It was pretty deep, I had to hold my feet up or they would've been soaked. we climbed out & up the hill & quickly the other riders caught up with me again. That inspires Raven to speed up & soon we were approaching the Lower Quarry vet check. Raven saw the lights of the vet check & flew down the trail to get there! A volunteer took him from me & got him eating mash & hay. I perused their selection of snacks & chose a nut bar for myself. Raven quickly pulsed down. After we had eaten & rested I walked him to the vetting area. As soon as he took the first few steps I saw something was very wrong! He was very off at a walk! I told the vets we were out. They saw the lameness & arranged transport. Tevis was over for us with six miles to go. One of the volunteers was running her hands up & down his legs & noticed a thorn in his knee! She pulled it out & it was a big one! Enough to put us out. He steadily improved as soon as it was removed. The next day he was barely off & by Monday he was fine. I'm so thankful it wasn't anything worse!

Raven showed me that he's got what it takes to be a contender for top ten on Tevis! We were running up with the top ten & never out of top 20 all day! He is an amazing guy!

We will be back in '08!

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