Wednesday, October 22, 2008

National Championships 2008 Ride Recap - by April

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I saddled up Thursday morning in the rain. Daniel was very helpful from the very beginning, helping to get the saddle straight and the girth tight enough (but not too tight). I mounted up and Tanna was a good boy. No hunching or threatening to buck. A very good start to the day.

We walked to the front of the property where other riders were starting to gather. I gave my number (101) to Nancy Gooch, the legendary Southeast timer. I picked Joe and Kit out of the horses pretty quickly as Joe was on the ground walking and had his headlamp set to red. I followed suit and turned my headlamp on red as well. I kept Tanna walking to keep his mind engaged and his muscles warming up. His rump rug was securely over his hindquarters, keeping them warm and dry.

After Joe mounted, the two of us walked around together and Joe found Laura and her mare, Mo. Our little group was complete. Now to wait for the controlled start.

When Nancy called out the trail was open, the 44 horses slowly began making their way to the end of Bill Wilson's property and down the short stretch of pavement to the trails. Joe, Laura and I tucked in near the back and followed.

Once the horses were safely on trail and off pavement, the speed increased as the horses began to trot. I kept Tanna down to a dull roar. The darkness certainly helped his brain as he couldn't see all the other horses, just the ones right in front of him. I still had a good fight on my hands to keep him off those horses. I settled into the front position of our little group.

My little 14 year old grade Arab had no idea what I would ask of him in the next 24 hours. Not only would I ask him to go 100 miles, almost twice as far as we'd ever been before, but I would ask him to carry me up and down all the hills. Normally, I dismount and give him breaks on the steeper hills, but with my ankle only 3.5 months from being broken and the pins and plates still in place, that would not be happening on this ride.


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