At long last, my daughter finally made it to her first ride.. No family emergencies, truck breakdowns, etc - this time!
I was a bit worried about the conditions at the Trace though.. I'm a local and fairly familiar with that eroded 'ol footpath.. Then having several inches of rain fall on friday - only made the footing more treacherous.. But, my horses are familiar with the trail, and I figured we could always take it slower than in our training rides..
Angie warned me that the parking area was a swamp. I pulled in at 5 am Sat morning, and only gravity got me to a reasonable parking spot! It's bad when a 4X4 duelly pulling just a small horse and pony gets stuck!... But we got in and unloaded..I decided against using my hoof boots, since I figured they'd just get sucked off. I've done up to 24 miles totally barefoot - I was a little concerned about going 30 miles barefoot.. But something told me it'd work out..
Found out about 'calvary' as I was filling out paperwork. Since Katie and I had no crew - heck, it only made sense to call ourselves calvary! We joined up with a gentleman named John - since he said his horse liked to lead and averages 8-10mph. Sounded like a good match for my two..
So off we went on Katie's first 30... The footing was horrid, my glasses soon got the appearance of Jockey goggles on a muddy race.. But Hope and Cherokee just gaited/cantered along without a second thought... About the 14 mile mark, we hit the second low and long wooden bridge. Hope and I were last in the group as we walked over it.. Then All of Hope's feet slid out from under us, she landed on me on her side, then proceeded to slide off the bridge. Fortunantly, we were only 3' above the swamp, and it was a soft landing in the mud for her. She Woa'd when I asked, and I slowly walked her up the trail - making sure nothing was broken on either of us. I took a double dose of my RA pain meds - then tried to leap on from a stump. (I ride bareback) ... My body was still a bit in shock, and I went right over her and hit my other side in the mud. Hope just looked at me like I was nuts. John asked if I needed a leg up. I tried again, and hung on this time.
We got to VC - and I asked the young Vet to really check her right side. Couldn't find anything.. And once she quit gaiting and trotted the 'trot out' - he called her good. (Did the same thing to my daughter's gaited pony. Guess if they didn't trot - they'd have been pulled.....) Then I found out that since I was calvary no one could help me doctor my hand, which had been sliced open on the bridge. So I searched my saddle bag, and found my emergency roll of vet wrap. I rinsed the hand in the trough, and wrapped it up.
Well, we ended up finishing 11th and 12th. The two horses looked better than I've ever had horses look after a ride! So the 'new' training method is working much better than my old one!
Well, we stayed for the awards ceremony, then got pulled out by the tractor. They set my truck on the gravel drive. Now, I had come in straight from the main road into the field, and didn't know my way back to the main road from this gravel drive.. (and I'm pretty directionless as it is...) So I turned right on the gravel road - since that was the direction to the Trace parkway... Well, when the road turned to grass - I figured I missed a turn somewhere. With just 12 inches on each side of my 24' trailer, and it being pitch black - I knew I needed a spotter to get this rig backed up the 1/2 mile.. So Katie and I walked back to ride camp.. Mr Marlow and his buddy came up and guided me out.. We even made that 90 degree turn - that I didn't figure my rig could make!!!
Got home around midnight. Dosed myself with painkillers all day Sunday.. Fortunantly, the Xrays today showed no major damage - though my doctor was quite impressed with the sheer amount of deep purple bruising covering my right leg.. Says I've got very dense bones!
So all-in-all - we finally beat Murphy's law - Katie's hooked on LDs... And I'll be A-ok in a couple of weeks....We'll be back - love Marlo's bar and buddies!
- Laura Peck