Monday, June 09, 2008

How many Sponsors does it take to get a Jr. through her second 50 miler…?

Janice Taylor

The Pyramid Challenge was on our list of 'may do' rides even though it was only one week after the Top Of The Rock. It all depended on how well our horses came out of their first fifty of the season.

With Paige's first fifty under her belt, she was eager to get another one there too. The Pyramid Challenge isn't one of my favorites, just because I don't care for riding around fields, in such an urban atmosphere, and the heat was really becoming an issue… I don't do well in that kind of heat at all. Must be an age thing, as Paige was rearing to go, go, go! So, as Grannies often do, I went ahead and packed up. After all, our horses looked great, it is only a 30 minute haul, and maybe the weather would be better than expected…ha!

Our parking for ride camp was moved to an open field away from all the construction going on at the Horse Park in preparation for the WEG. Boy, when that is finished, it will be something indeed! However, there were maybe four trees for shade…and they already had trailers clustered around them like little colonies in a desert of green…so we just parked on a flat spot, out in the open, closer to the Vet Check, and enjoyed the constant, strong breeze…Thank the heavens for that breeze or it would have been unbearable. The heat index of the day before was 105! But clouds and maybe a thunder storm was predicted for ride day…

Upon check in, a ridding buddy/friend's horse checked in with a sore ankle, I actually spoke these words out loud. "Oh, maybe my horse will be lame too, and I won't have to do this ride." Goodness, never, ever do that! As my horse checked in with a grade 2 on LR…uh…wasn't expecting that, as I had ridden him the day before in the arena and he was sound as could be. Was given the choice of loosening him up and bringing him back, but two other ridding buddies volunteered to sponsor Paige. So, I got my stupid wish and bowed out. Paige's mom was going to arrive on ride day and crew for us, so now Paige had two to crew for her and Amy and Brenda, her new sponsors.

Ride day arrived cooler than expected, thank goodness, as it was a bit cloudy and still had that nice breeze. RM opted to start a half hour early so as to get a bit of a jump on the heat. Thank You!

My horse wasn't a bit happy at being left behind, but little Breezz and Paige marched right out with their new buddies for the day. Another rider friend, Lucinda, joined them, so, off the four of them went to begin their ride right beside Interstate 75. Amazingly, most of the horses don't seem to mind the noise and sight of that constant traffic at all. They did get to make their way around in the open fields for a few miles before heading into the heart of the Horse Park, thus getting those little energetic spells worked out before facing those 'real' spooky things. I understand that a few riders did get to 'kiss' the ground though. Ouch…

First VC and everyone is looking good after their first 15 miles. Paige's mom has showed up and we crew members take over and get the horse's pulse down in no time… Well, Paige has a new heart monitor and delights in telling all around her that her horse is down, calling out the number aloud so that her friend, and last year's teacher/ rider/ sponsor knows that she has beat her in this… Thankfully, Amy has a great sense of humor…ha, ha…

But then, uh oh, disaster strikes, Amy's horse is out! Then Brenda's horse is out! Small grade 2 lameness's that might get worse in that footing. Being careful riders, they opted to pull. We all look at Lucinda, and she readily agrees to take on Paige as sponsor. So, I take off to change Paige's sponsor once again…

Out they go for the second loop which is 10 miles. They pace well together and are back in a little over an hour. Still looking good, but the heat is beginning to show up with its sticky heaviness. Thankfully, both horses get through Dr. Mike Habel's (head vet, and sometimes only vet) scrutiny and gives them both the go ahead…whew, getting through with a sound horse is becoming an issue here. But, then he may be feeling the pressure of all us crew which has swollen to four, looking over his shoulder, and biting our knuckles…. Thankfully, he also has a good sense of humor…

Second VC, half done, and the horses are getting down to business. And, once again, the crew is hard at work to take care of our charges, stuffing Paige with food and drink, cooling down the horses, and cheering them on. Brenda had bought a new shade to put up for the horses at the VC and boy did that make a difference!
Breezz just wanted to take a nap for goodness sakes…Paige was yearning for that second fifty! Lucinda is working hard to see that she does too!
Then off for the 15 mile loop again. They looked good going out, and we had our fingers crossed for a good go 'round.

Third VC and, oh no! Now Lucinda's horse is off… there was a collective groan of disappointment…even Mike….poor guy, was distressed with the outcome.
I went to Nancy Gooch to see who was in, or coming in, that might pick up a Jr to sponsor…no one for quite some time, but what else could we do but wait and hope that one of them would be willing? But, Brenda marched back to our crew area where we had struck up conversations with a fellow from GA. He was already sponsoring a Jr that had lost her Mom as sponsor, but they were due out soon… I didn't have the heart to ask it of him, but, Brenda had no such shyness…

Without a bit of hesitation, he agreed to wait another 30 minutes or so of his own time to wait for Paige…Goodness, there really are angels out there and Foster Olson is one of them. THANK YOU! The poor guy now had to put up with all of us until Paige's out time rolled around…
Now, Breezz really, really wanted his nap and resented my rubbing his butt, and offers of nice cool slushy food. 'Leave me alone for a nap, PLEASE!'
Paige was holding up great even with all the ups and down's of her sponsors.

As Foster trotted out with his two Jr.'s, in tow, Dr. Mike gave them the thumbs up! Now the heat was getting hazy and the whine of I-75 was a drone of the ever increasing oppression. Could they make it that last 10 miles?

Finally, there they were crossing the finish line. Foster, being the extraordinary guy he is, let the Jrs cross first. Sabrina went first as she had had to wait those extra minutes too, then Paige, then Foster for 7th, 8th, and 9th. Foster really should have been 8th…it must be that Southern Gentleman thing… Poor guy once again had to endure Paige's crew, but, they all did get their completion! Wha Hoo!!

Now at last Breezz could get his nap without too much interference from his annoying crew.

Congratulations to Karen Cummings who won, and her husband who crossed the line second and also added another BC to his long list.

It was a tough ride, not only because of the heat that can really suck it out of man and beast alike, but the footing was tricky indeed… if I remember correctly, 29 started the 50 and 14 finished… so 'To Finish is to Win' really was the motto for this ride.

Hats off to ride management, headed by Gunnar Palm, for keeping The Pyramid Challenge going. Working with the Horse Park is not always easy… He had a great team working to make us all as happy as was possible.

And a special hats off to Mike Habel DVM for getting us through it all with healthy horses!

So, now Paige and Breezz have two fifties under their belts/girths…whew, hope the rest aren't so hard to come by…

No comments: