Wednesday, June 06, 2012

I’ll get by with a little help from my friends

Horsebytes Blog - Monica Bretherton

“Do you guys like champagne?” Mary Krauss asked Cathy and myself as we grazed Danny and Galen near her rig.

Silly question. Ten minutes later, we were hosting the champagne in the refrigerator in Cathy’s camper, held to celebrate when Mary’s daughter Clara finished her fifty-mile ride on her pony, Benny.

Mary and I were only digital acquaintances prior to the ride, but after she mentioned Danny’s elegance several times, it was obvious we were on the same wavelength. Bringing champagne to a ride only underscored our shared interests. Before the celebration, though, there was work to do.

Cathy and I were waiting on Susan Bhatt, who hauled with us down to the Klickitat Trek with the intention of riding the 25-miler both days. Cathy and I had ridden the day before, and that was quite enough. It is actually harder to do that second day than to do the extra mileage all in one day, and a harder test for the horse. Susan was either completely insane or just a lot younger and more resilient than us. A lot more durable than many others, too – by Sunday the spot we had found on the fringes of ride camp, just shy of the “no camping” sign at the Glenwood Rodeo fairgrounds, was now a lonely outpost far, far away from the vet check and other rigs.

The over 100 riders the day before were down to a third – a few were doing a two-day fifty, others were riding a different horse the second day, and some were repeating the limited distance like Susan.

The meaning of “limited distance” had been expanded a bit on Saturday’s ride. A surprise release of irrigation water turned the crossing on the orange-and-white loop from moderate to dangerous, with slippery banks leading down to belly-deep, fast-moving water. More than one rider took a bath as their horses lost their footing in the current.

It was a reminder that when we ride even in managed forestry areas, not every element of the ride can be controlled. The surge in water level was man-made, sent down to fill irrigation ditches in the valley, but could just as easily have been the result of weather. Either way, ride management had to scramble. They rerouted riders to another water crossing where the approach and the channel depth were more manageable...

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