May 18 2018
by Jessica Cobbley
Well, we made it through the Owyhee River Challenge CTR and 55 mile endurance ride. It was a little more exciting of a weekend than I had planned.
Almost as soon as we unloaded, Khalid got his lead rope under the handle of the back door of the trailer, freaked out and snapped the latch off. Mike headed in to town to see if he could find a new latch, basically scotching his plans to ride the CTR on Khalid.
I saddled Brass about 10:30 Friday for a 25 mile CTR and he blew up at the trailer, indulging in about a 5 minute fit of hysterics. After the pre-ride meeting, I bridled up and started moving Brass around from the ground, and watched with growing skepticism of my survival as he bucked so hard and so long that my water bottles went flying, then got bucked on. He kept bucking until my saddle started climbing his neck. Eventually he sort of came to terms with the situation, but I walked him out of camp on foot for about a mile, then spent the rest of the loop basically sitting on an irritated lit stick of dynamite, hoping we would get through before the fuse ran out. He vetted through fine (if still freaky) and Mike decided to take Khalid out on loop 2, which made for a much less exciting loop.
Brass finished the CTR with Reserve Champion score of 97 out of 100, but his back was sore. Not sure if it was sore when I saddled and that’s why he bucked so hard or if he bucked so hard he made it sore, but either way he was a no-go for the 55.
After a quick conference with Mike, we decided I would take Dega on the 55 and Mike would take Khalid for a slow, first 55. I debated riding with him, but decided to go on out on my own. However, as Dega and I zig-zagged out of camp Saturday morning I realized my stirrups were about 2 holes too long and probably I was gonna die if I couldn’t get my legs under me. By the time I got my stirrups straightened out, I decided to just hang with Mike and Karen. Dega punished me for this decision every time his hooves hit the ground for about 15 miles. If you’ve ever ridden a super-pissed off pogo stick- it was like that. Finally, I decided to go on ahead and Dega took off like a bat out of hell. We ended up coming into the hold about 1/2 an hour ahead of Mike and Karen- even though we only left them about 6 miles from the hold.
Back on the second loop, we left camp with Cortney, but Dega was on a serious mission and she dropped back after 6-7 miles. Several miles later, Dega had passed about 6 horses. We stopped to drink at a creek and he somehow managed to slip without actually moving. He went clear to his knees and dunked his face but was unfazed. On we went, with Layne and Harley in his sights. We caught up, and slowed to ride with Layne. Jill and Trish caught up, too, and we cruised along the road for several miles.
I was struggling with my left stirrup for about 8 miles and couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t get my weight onto the ball of my foot. Suddenly, as we were trotting along, my left stirrup bar just came apart. The stirrup bounced and hit Dega in the leg while I was looking down trying to figure out wtf just happened. Dega took exception to this entire scenario and freaked out a little, launching me essentially over his head because I was so unbalanced by the loss of my stirrup. I landed mostly on my feet and Dega didn’t leave the county, so back up I went with one stirrup. I was pretty exhausted after a mile or so of that, so Layne whipped out some cable ties and engineered a solution.
We had gotten passed by several people during all this and Dega was dead set we were gonna pass them all again. I disagreed. So we mostly argued about it the rest of the way in to camp- a really, really, really, really long way.
Layne and Jill stuck with me and we all commiserated about how tired we were. I was entirely over it well before the finish line, but eventually we did get back to camp. We finished 8, 9, 10, with Cortney and Trish just behind us.
Mike and Khalid finished about an hour and a half behind us after a nice quiet ride in which Khalid showed a ton of heart and willingness. He’s going to be a hell of a horse with time and miles.
I feel like someone beat me with a brick stick this morning and Mike is getting a nasty sinus infection. And I didn’t take a single picture all weekend because I chose life. Mike got a few though.