Owyhee Fandango 2008
What a wonderful weekend! We began with P.J giving Ali a cherished
blessing for an Endurance horse "in training." The beautiful braid
with turquoise stones worked its charm. Before this weekend- Ali
had only gone on two LD rides, and only a few solo rides: the
greatest all of five miles maybe and in familiar surroundings. He
had never gone on back to back LD rides, let alone three of them!
Day One: Turtle Day: Our riding partner was running on Oregon time,
and didn't show for the start- so after waiting over 30 minutes,
off we went on an unfamiliar trail- solo!
The kid had a few nerves about being out as a heard of two (Ali and
me) but over all did pretty well. Then the 50 milers started
racing past us in the other direction. He thought I was nuts for
going the 'wrong way" but go he did. At one point after two 50
milers sprinted past us heading back for camp, he thought he saw a
horse eating monster and spooked- leaving me riding his side rather
than his back. This further frightened him thinking that the
frightful monster had indeed caught him- so he ducked out of the
clutches of said monster and dumped me on the ground. As I looked
up tom see him, I saw his eye watching the 50 milers going over the
top of the ridge we'd just come over. I thought "This is it. He's
going to high tail it back for camp and follow the 50 milers" but
he didn't. I called him and he stepped towards me, as I got up,
and so down the trail we went. This led us to a highly valuable
lesson- when he spooks badly, and I try to right my seat, he thinks
the spooky thing has gotten a hold of him. So.. For the next five
miles I grabbed his neck and tried to train this reaction out of him..
Half of the way through the first loop, we saw five riders heading
back on the homeward track, and picked up our pace a bit. 3/4th
of the way near a water stop we caught up with two riders and Ali
was very happy to have found other horses out on the trail. We
finished coming in leading the way until about 3 miles out when
another took over the lead. This left us riding with a jigging 18
year old, so Ali thought he'd try to jig as well. Oh GREAT!!!!
(NOT!) Coming down a steep embankment, (sheer drop offs and sharp
U-turns) the lead rider decided to trot down (A death wish?) This
made the jigger fight even more, and of course Ali was fighting to
follow suit. P.J.'s charms and my guardian angels were with us,
and I was able to hold up Ali in a safe landing spot before we
broke our necks and continuing our descent.
Then we "discussed" the speed, rate and manner in which we would
finish, doubling back, schooling and repeating much of the last few
miles. Our hold went well, and we hooked up with our lost riding
partner. As we finished the second loop, we nearly got run over by
racing 50 milers as we crossed the creek. That did it! Ali was
determined to join the racing 50 milers! So, AGAIN we "discussed"
the manner in which he would travel in to the finish. Ali's never
bucked, but at this point I KNOW HE WAS THINKING ABOUT TRYING.
Then the sky opened up and started pouring buckets on us, which
further tried his patience with walking. Walk three steps jig
eight. Walk two jig nine. Walk at the side pass just to walk.
Side pass right- side pass left. Then a large crack of thunder
over head and we nearly jumped out of our skins. Yet walk we
did. And thus we earned a most meaningful and beautiful "Turtle
Day Two : Mom FINALLY learns important lessons. The second day was
moistly uneventful except for a few details. First I made the
mistake of over riding my poor friend. We were riding with our
new, experienced "trail friend." The friend's youngster had a big
spook which nearly unseated his rider. This caused Ali to spook,
but when I grabbed his neck he didn't try to get away from the
monster grip! The training from the previous day paid off!
Yeah!!!!!!! ;-) We trotted off, but our new friends wanted to trot
far more than we were prepared for. Ali kept up for the first
10-12 miles, but then started pulling. I finally pulled back and
let them travel on, but Ali still came in looking as if he was half
dead. He had a few shudders that had me a bit worried- vet checked
again during our hold to make sure he was okay. We took a bit more
time in our hold, and then went out solo. All alone up on the
mesa, we took great care to travel at Ali's pace: Major lesson for
me! By the end of the second loop he was feeling good again.
Three hours after "completing" he was throwing his head again and I
was advised to go out on day three or else...
Day three: Sheer HEAVEN!!!!! The trail was beautiful, and required
a lot of both of us. We rode alone, and started out first which
was great! Ali had no one "to catch." Ali settled into his own
working trot and went merrily along. Near Brand's two mature/
seasoned horses passed us at a very fast pace, and he was fine when
I asked him to keep his own pace. No anxiety- no jig. The first
7-10 miles we went back and forth with a foursome of riders who
came up behind us. The lost us as they trotted through the deep
sand. We walked being careful of precious pastern suspensors and
tendons. I told Hadid we would have an opportunity to use his
talents to catch up, and we did! Farther down the trail we caught
up again as elevations began to climb. We trotted vigorously
through high sagebrush where the trail was barely discernible,
Stopping for technical steep ravine crossings that required
pivoting on hind quarters at the tight bottom of the ravine before
climbing out. Leg yields mighty nice!
We were handily running third when we had to stop to secure my rain
jacket (incase of another downpour) Ali had an "competitive
youngster moment" and I held him back for a schooling session as
the other surged ahead. Than came the mountain!
The foursome was about half way up an 800 -1,000 ft foothill when
we started at the base. About this time Ali grew into Ali Hadid.
He finally "got it." He shifted into his hill climbing stride,
and we passed them as they reached the top of the foot hill. Then
there was a steep mountain that rose at least another 2,000
vertical feet. Hadid was moving with ease and he cruised up the
mountain with a steady hill climbing walk. By the time we reached
the top, the foursome was barely a third of the way up. We never
saw them again.
We finished up the loop, and had no issues when other rider came
speeding past. He came into the hold with no issues. We left with
instructions to go out and "try" to catch another rider IF Ali had
it in him to go. This rider was allegedly ahead of us by two
minutes. So out we went searching to the illusive competitor -
never finding them. Half way through the last loop, we had a mule
and two seasoned horses come up behind us as we climbed to the top
of the mesa. Unwittingly we "pulled" them up the rise. The mule
tried to make a move on us but was unable. Then the seasoned arabs
made a move and passed us. Ali was NOT happy about this state of
affairs. We shifted to Hadid's big trot. I didn't want to beat
theses speedsters, but thought their presence would motivate Ali to
catch the phantom rider we'd been looking for, and wanted to give
him a chance to use his BIG trot a bit. (We found out after the
ride the rider we sought had left the hold five minutes behind
us). After a few miles of trying to catch the speedsters, I pulled
Hadid back so he wouldn't over do and end up like the previous
day. We again trotted his working pace. The speedsters then
slowed their pace as well. By the time we got to the cliff, they
were only 300 feet ahead of us. We started down and by the time we
reached the creek, they were just leaving the creek. Hadid grabbed
a quick drink, and then lept back onto the trail. He did NOT want
them to get away!
On the road it was a clash of wills. Hadid desperately wanted to
catch them. Every racing gene in his body charged towards them.
Every sensibility of mine wanted to keep him safe. As we trotted
he moved back into his BIG trot- only it was bigger OMG!!!!!!
This trot is like riding an extra half beat of the post in the
upward position. He suspends over the ground and floats. He
fought me and tried several attempts to canter, only to be brought
back to a trot. I didn't want him to hurt himself. Finally I said
enough, and made him halt altogether and walk. Collect his mind,
and trot again at a working trot.
That's when I noticed the other riders were still on the road, and
had not followed the trail when it dropped off the road. They were
still trotting to keep ahead of us, but they were on the clear,
sure footing of the road. We were on the twisting, turning trail
going through sagebrush. All the while Ali would not take his
eye off of them! My heart ached for him. Ali Hadid wanted so
badly to catch them! I told him it would be all right, knowing he
didn't understand. I made sure of his footing and kept him at a
safe working trot slowing for poor footing areas. We needed to
just stay close enough to identify who the riders were that had not
stayed on trail. And so we did.
When we came in, and had pulsed down, they were told to go back out
and complete the ride. Ali Hadid, on his third consecutive day
came in fourth, just 11 minutes behind three very seasoned horses
with seasoned riders.
Hadid immediately pulsed down to 45. And again at his CRI. 45.
The vet who checked him must have been an intern, she was amazed
and said that his CRI was the best she'd ever seen. Her eyes were
the size of silver dollars. Mine were filled with tears, my heart
bursting with pride.
The vet said we HAD to show for BC, so show we did.
Time AGAIN for human error: Okay so this time I didn't let him
roll just before showing for BC. He was cleaned up, had grass in
his tummy, had Uncle Tempo standing nearby, but dummy Me trotted
him in front of Dr. Washington just before his check to make sure
he was "paying attention" so he'd be sure to pick-up his feet and
trot out. Skyla just shook her head in disbelief. MY BAD...
Live and Learn
Ali learned sooooooooooooooooo much this weekend, and he grew up
from being Ali, growing into his name: Ali Hadid.
Hadid did everything I asked. He went down the trail alone. He
faced his fears, climbed steep mountains without looking back,
learned to catch mom with his neck, developed three distinctly
different trots, and learned to stop and walk when asked as well.
And this week when I call for him, he picks up his majestic head,
and floats over the ground to reach me. He rests his nose on my
face and gently gives me kisses as his jaw is rubbed. I know he
loved every minute as much as I did. We're hooked!
I want to thank Skyla, Roz, Anne, Pam, Yvonne, and P.J. for all the
mentoring, patience and advice that has gotten my pony and me thus
far. WE would not have had this phenomenal experience with out
all of your help.
Tami & Ali Hadid ;-)