Wednesday, June 04, 2008

That First Fifty ~ ride story: Janice Taylor

That First Fifty!!

Well, here I am again, bragging on my granddaughter…

Paige has been competing since she was 8 years old, (now 11), starting with a 15 mile fun CTR, and slowly progressing to 25 and 30 mile LDs. She wanted to do a 50 last year, but her horse just was not a 50 miler, and had a couple of bouts with tie up on 25s… so she had to wait. We've been looking for a suitable horse for some time, but unable to make a match that would also fit my pocketbook. With the ride season looming, we struck upon the idea of borrowing our best friend's horse that was about to retire… Mary Lynn has a new horse, so 18 year old, Breezz was just filling in when Mary Lynn's horse needed a break, or her hubby's horse needed a break. He is a fun little horse that always looks like he is having a blast going down the trail. Mary Lynn agreed…

So after doing a difficult 30 miler at Chicken Chase, followed by a 25 miler the next day, then going to a very muddy CTR at Sheltowee Run, she decided she was up to a 50. Breezz has done 50s, and was in great shape, so we went for it.

Top of the Rock is always a great ride, well run and the trails are beautiful, so we couldn't have picked a better 50 to start off with. Oh, it would be my horse's first 50 also, so the pace would be conservative. Another friend, Brenda Kenley was to ride with us which is always fun. Mary Lynn's horse was on rest (opps)…so she agreed to crew for us. We couldn't have had a better set up for Paige's first fifty.

We were trying the Natural Balance shoe, on Breezz as he tends to grow lots of toe, and needs a better break over with his bit of arthritis. They really have been a good decision for him, as he moves very well with them and his usual slight gimpyness is so much improved.

We took off at 6:30 on a clear morning after most of the pack had left. My horse tends to get race brain when a horse passes him, so we hung back and had a good start. Our first loop was 25 miles, and we just trotted steadily along. This trail is absolutely beautiful, but it does have some climbs and steep down hills. On the final couple of miles back into camp, Paige was giving me those long sighs, which means she was getting tired. All that steady trotting was getting to her. This was the first time she had ridden that far without a break. But, the horses handled it easily and in no time we were back at camp for the first VC. Horses passed without a blimp, and we took that much needed rest and refreshment before saddling up once again.

This loop was 15 miles, and part of the difficult 30 mile route taken at the Chicken Chase. It took us almost as long to do it as it took us to do the 25 mile loop… To finish it off with a little excitement, a kid decided to wait until we were directly across from him (on a paved road) to pull his lawn mower into full throttle start up! Weeeeeeeee…Brenda and my horse did a find flamingo dance on that slick pavement, nearly giving us all a heart attack… however, little Paige and Breezz simply walked along until we got our horses under control… It wasn't the noise, it was the sudden noise, as our horses had just passed other mowers going along this same road without even a flicker of an ear.
Oh well, we all survived and the poor kid got a hard look along with some unheard reprimands…
Again, our horses checked through, fine. Mary Lynn was starting to work a bit harder as the day was heating up, but still we pulsed down within minutes and passed through the vet check without incident.
Paige was getting a bit of heart burn, but couldn't resist the cool cantaloupe Brenda had brought along, so naturally the heart burn did not go away for a while…

Finally, the last loop of 10 miles. This one is especially beautiful and we ohhed and ahhed as we trotted along. Our conversations are a bit like this: "Goodness look at that!" "Oh yeah, it's beautiful!" "Are you ready to trot again?" "Yes, indeed." Then as the day wore on…the leader would look back, the next two would nod. Then even later, their was no need to look back, the last rider would simply 'quack' when ready to trot again…(Explanation ~ our local endurance club, the Daniel Boone Distance Riders, have a Team competition. There are currently four teams. The Bush Whackers, Jim's Harem, The Wild Bunch and ours is the LucKY Ducks ~ hence the quacking. We do a lot of quacking )

The heat was building, but there were lots of creeks and some grassy areas that we let the horses relax and cool for a bit. Well, Breezz and Brenda's horses did, my horse wants to drink and go… he did grab a mouthful of grass on occasion, but mostly we just circled while we waited for the other two more experienced horses. Then, at last the last big climb to the gravel road, which takes us home for the last time. We had them in a nice big trot headed home, our hearts were already there. But, then Paige yelled out "Oh, my gosh!" I turned around to see her stirrup and leather lying in the road… Guess that long climb worked it off the leaver… she couldn't get it back on, and finally I got off, (my horse is tall, and I try to avoid getting off unless absolutely necessary) and, I couldn't get it back on either…and darn it, people were passing us…Oh well, we weren't racing after all, just wanted to finish, and we weren't exactly vying for the top ten. Brenda had just the tool to prize up the leaver so I could force the leather over it…goodness, is anything easy?

When you ride with Brenda, you always know she will have just the thing you need! She even had a long string when I needed it earlier. Thanks, Brenda.

At last we dismounted and walked the last several yards to the timer…Paige was smiling big time!

We had to yell for our crew, but she finally pulled her nose out of her book and got us cooled, through the pulse, and the final vet check…Ya Hoo, Paige had done it! Her first fifty! It was my horse's first fifty too, so I was proud that he had all A's and B's through out the day. He'd had a hard time of it at the 30 miler here a few weeks ago, so he'd made big improvements.

As youth will do, Paige shook off her little aches and pains, ate, took a nice long nap and was good to go!

And best of all, the horses were too. Horses are amazing creatures indeed, thank you for giving us those 'ah' moments over and over. We truly are lucky ducks…

And, thank you, Mary Lynn for letting Paige borrow your favorite horse, so she could get that first fifty under her belt…no going back now… Let's just hope Granny Jan can keep up…

And lastly, thanks to Lois McAfee for putting on this ride again and again. What a great place for the National Championships this October, one not to miss for sure!!


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