Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Allegany SUAR

by Ashley Kemerer

We headed to Allegany SUAR this weekend and had a fantastic time. I just started law school and unfortunately have classes on Friday until 12. Luckily my parents were heading up on Thursday and taking the horses to give them some extra time to settle in to camp. I left Baltimore promptly at 12 and arrived at ride camp at about 5:45 with an uneventful drive up. The horses were already vetted and ready to go.

Kirah and I were to tackle the 75 miler, her first distance above a 50 (and only her third “endurance” ride). It was a daunting task and the ride was to be a difficult one, but we were going to at least give it our best shot. We were riding with my Dad and Moniet as well as off and on with a friend (Dana) and her horse Charlie.

The Friday night ride briefing was held in good spirit, and I even got a serenade from the entire clan in honor of my 21st birthday. Patti, the ride manager went over all of the loops detailing lengths, holds and the like. Our loops were to be Blue (10 miles) out to our away check at Bradford for a 15 minute hold. Then the Blue lollipop (10 miles) back to Bradford for a 30 minute hold. Back to the Blue lollipop for another ten miles and then a 15 minute gate. After that we headed back to camp on Green for 12 miles, with a 40 minute in camp hold. Next was the yellow loop (12 miles), followed by another 40 minute hold with the Red loop next (10 miles). One last hold (40 mins) and another jaunt over the red loop and we were done. Our ride would start at 6:15, and there were 12 riders in the 75 miler.

The wakeup call came at 4:45 and we were up and ready to get going. The horses were eager as we walked around camp to warm them up. We got tacked and ready to go by 6:10 walking them around camp awaiting the start. We started in the middle of the pack of 12 and quickly ended up in the back when Dad’s saddle pad slipped out . We easily made it up the first big climb with fresh horses, knowing that they would have to climb it several more times today (unbeknownst to the horses!). We continued on down the beautiful scenic trail and quickly made it to the 15 minute hold. We cooled the horses out while they were chomping down.

Out on the lollipop we headed for our 1o mile loop. The loop was absolutely lovely. It started out on a rolling two track grassy lane that was perfect. We headed into the woods and went down, down, down the mountain and then started climbing right back up. Up and up we went until returning back to the two track lane. At this point the 55s were starting the lollipop so they were going against us and we all offered hellos and good lucks. The horses were still fresh and happy heading back to Bradford for our 30 minute hold. We pulled tack and cooled them out easily heading to the vets. Kirah got all A’s with a resounding wow her gut sounds are great J

The 30 minutes flew by and in no time we were heading back out on the blue loop again. Kirah still had lots of energy and we were leading most of the way. I got down and ran a good portion of the downhill this time before almost running out of breath lol. We headed back to Bradford for our 15 minute gate. We had to pulse down within the 15 minute time frame but the time we pulsed didn’t affect our hold time. We didn’t have to vet, just pulse in, Kirah’s pulse was at 48 when we headed over J. The time went by in a blink and we were a bit late heading out in a rush. We were headed back to camp on the Green loop a mere 12 miles. Kirah was still doing beautifully with no signs of fatigue although Moniet was getting a little tired. So on this loop we went slower and stopped for grass every so often. The trail was uphill and then plateaued out and we rode along the ridge for a while trotting and cantering in blissful joy.

We eventually started heading back down the mountain and I got off and ran down again, hopping back on at the bottom of the hill and continuing on. We came back to the camp and wound around the little meadow so that we would come down the common trail hill to the vet check at base camp.

We pulled tack and cooled the horses out easily, vetting in with ease and happy horses. They ate and drank well for the entire 40 minute hold and we were headed back out on the Yellow loop. We had to go back up the big hill (the same one from earlier) and the horses were far more weary this time, but had regained some of their energy and were still chugging along. The Yellow loop was the longest for us and the hardest. It started out with that first big hill, and leveled out for a bit and then started heading down in an easy slope. Once we reached the valley we cantered along on some nice flat trail for quite a while. We came out on a road and turned left and went back up into the woods. And back up the mountain. This was my low point for the day, the trail went up and up and up and it was the longest uphill imaginable. Kirah was still happily chugging along we trotted whenever it leveled out even for a few steps. I was simply astonished at her and her abundance of energy and willingness to go forward. Finally we got to the top of the hill and headed back the way we came. Descended the steep hill and made it back to camp for our next 40 minute hold.

The horses pulsed down very quickly and we vetted right through. Kirah was eating everything in sight during the hold and had no signs of soreness or unhappiness at any point. We headed back out on our first of two trips on the Red loop. We were hoping for an easy loop since we’d already gone 55 miles and we would have to do it twice. Kirah was not very happy that we were going out again and she certainly didn’t want to climb the gargantuan hill again. She picked up after we hit the flat and started back out on what had been the Blue trail earlier. It made a right up a steep hill when it split from the Blue. I hopped off and walked up the hill and when it ended hopped back on and let the horses eat grass for a while. We continued on about a mile and half to end the lollipop. The last couple miles were easygoing and we made it in short order. The first and second place 75ers came up behind us and lapped us, we followed them in, it was a great treat to see them finish! We pulsed down almost immediately and vetted in for the last time. Kirah’s CRI was 48/44 and we got some great kudos from the vet J She was by far surpassing all of my expectations for the day.

One final time to go on the red loop and we would be done. None of the horses wanted to go back out, it was starting to get dark and it was drizzling. We made it all the way to the steep uphill before it got completely dark, it seemed much faster that time around and we knew we were almost done. We made it to the last big descent back into the camp and walked slowly and soon saw the campfire and knew we were done. Without removing tack the vet went ahead and pulsed us and Kirah was at 56. Nick told us to pull tack so we could go ahead and complete. We trotted out and he finished checking and we were DONE!! We had all done it and it was awesome.

12 horses started the 75 and 9 finished, not a bad finish rate for a challenging ride. Kudos to ride management for such a job well done, this was my first time at the ride and it was awesome. The volunteers were plentiful and helpful and friendly. We didn’t want for anything. Thank you so much Patti!!!!!!!!!!! Also a huge thank you to my crew (my Mom and friend Pat), we all couldn’t have done it without you J

I learned a great deal about my horse this weekend and had a great time doing it. I can’t wait until the next ride!

No comments: