Wendy Connell and I drove the 400 odd miles down to Madras, OR this past weekend and did our first ride of the year. The weather was a bit nasty on the way down (mainly in Washington), with heavy rain and wind. We went over the pass at Sandy, OR and were a bit apprehensive about road conditions, but they proved to be fine. There was snow on the sides of the road, but the road itself was ok. We got into Ride Camp about 2:30 and set up our electric pen and camper. The fence charger didn't seem to be working very well, (probably our ground wasn't deep enough), but the horses stayed in all weekend, so we were ok. We got the horses vetted through with no problems and I was very pleased that Galen was not wiggly at the vet check, as he used to be. Guess he's grown up a bit in the last few years! We helped our friends, Jennifer and David LeBlanc as they set up camp, made sure the horses were cosy in their blankets, as there was quite a high wind and went to bed early.
Saturday morning dawned clear, cold and lovely. Jennifer, David and Wendy were doing the 50, so they left at 7 am. I got Galen tacked up, as my shoulder had been bothering me and I wasn't sure I could lift the saddle by myself. He wasn't thrilled when ALL of his friends took off, and spent a good half an hour crying at the trailer for them. We left for our start at a few minutes to 8 am and I let a bunch of the other horses go first, so we wouldn't be in a huge crush. Our first loop was 15 miles and Galen did a fantastic job. He caught up to and passed most of the other 25 milers and we also passed a lot of the 50 milers. He was trotting and cantering easily, mostly on a loose rein, barely sweating (although it was still pretty cold with a nice, light wind which probably really helped that). I was able to take some photos while trotting along, which mostly turned out ok. I was also able to drink while trotting and cantering, although I did end up with a fat lip, from bonking myself with the water bottle, so I guess I need to practice that a bit more.
He wouldn't drink at any of the water tanks, but that has always been par for the course, so I didn't worry. I had a big tub of watery beet pulp waiting back at the trailer for him. We came into the vet check, pulsed down within a minute or two, vetted through with good scores, although the vet did ask if he was drinking and eating. I told him I had lots of beet pulp and that Galen has never been a good drinker, at least at the beginning of rides. Back to the trailer then, I loosened the girth and put his blanket on him, so he wouldn't chill, and stuck his nose in his pan of beet pulp. He did a pretty good job at it, I got my lunch and then Wendy came in after her first loop. She was able to get a few photos of us heading out for the 2nd loop. Wendy was very happy with Allie's first loop - she said Allie (who has never done a ride before!) was very good, happy to be rated and strong.
We headed out on our second and last loop and had to leave Allie behind. He thought that was a bit much, and tried to turn around for quite a while, until some other people joined us out on the trail and then it was "catch that horse ahead of us". Galen was actually stronger this second loop and I ended up with very sore shoulders from the constant half-halting I had to do. No loose reins this time! This was a 10 mile loop and it passed very quickly. No drinking this loop either, but I think that was due to him being so worried about catching the horse ahead of him. I kept him as slow as I could, riding behind slower horses for a bit to give him a breather whenever possible. He didn't appreciate that and actually bolted on me once. He's NEVER done this before and I was so surprised that it took me a few minutes to slow him down. He had seen a horse up ahead of the one we were following and thought we should overtake that one. Well, I was much more vigilante after that, cause we sure don't need more of that. I ended up riding for a bit with a very nice lady on a heavier arab and as we were coming in to the camp, we both got off and walked, as she said her boy took awhile to pulse down. As we were walking in, we were passed by at least one horse and rider (probably #10 in the top ten), and we were down at 50 for a pulse as we walked into camp. Galen vetted through with better scores than his mid-ride vetting - better gut sounds, better muscle tone and his impulsion in the trot-out almost left me in the dust. He also went right for the water tank and drank very well. I did pretty well on the ride and am only mildly sore today (Monday), although my right ankle, which has some old injuries, was rather sore at the trot-out. Good thing they didn't judge me on gaits and implusion!
Wendy came in from her second loop, Allie was eating and drinking like a champ and Wendy was doing well after 40 miles. We got some photos of them going out on their last 10 mile loop. They got back in around 4ish, and Allie vetted through with excellent scores. They ended up in 26th place, right around the middle of the pack and Wendy couldn't have been happier with Allie. Galen and I were 12th out of 38 and he finished stronger than he started.
We tucked the horses in and went to bed early Saturday night, which was cold and clear, and woke up to a cold camper - the propane had run out around 4 am! So, we sat in the running truck to warm up a bit, broke camp and after the awards meeting at 7:30 am, headed for home. We got home in about 7 hours and I know I sat down and barely moved until I dragged my butt to bed.
And, we're going to do it all again this coming weekend, going to the Milwaukee Trail ride in Ellensburg, WA. I'll write about that when we do it.