Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Faith update

Elise shared some pics of Faith with me on Facebook.  I just love that Terry adores her.

It makes my heart happy!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Time to put up or shut up...

After 2+ years, I finally mustered up enough courage to complete my first endurance ride this weekend.  My friend, Julianne, gave me the push I needed to suck it up and get it done.  She is BTDT when it comes to this stuff.

Chele and I headed out early Saturday morning.  We normally would have gone down Friday night.  However, we really weren't sure where the heck we were going, and I'd already been warned the farm was the middle of nowhere (hence the name, Far Out Farm) in Altoona, FL.

We knew we made the right decision as we crawled slowly but surely up the FL mountains of the Ocala National Forest.

When we arrived, Julianne was about a third of the way through her 75 mile ride on Indy.  Her hubby, Mario, was back at the trailer watching the puppies and her young horse, Romeo.  We set up camp and got our horses settled.

Home sweet home

Around noon, Julianne came in from one of her many loops.  She had a mandatory 40 minute hold, so we fixed her a light lunch.  She'd hurt her hand Friday night.  Chele doctored, rewrapped it, and then off she went again.
Next, I had to get registered and vetted in.  I grabbed Linc and headed up front.  Many of the 50 milers were coming in, so people were rushing around everywhere.  I felt like a stranger in a foreign land.  Rather than get in the way, Linc and I chilled out and took it all in.
How you doing?

Cheryl, the ride manager, and the many volunteers were very helpful.  They pointed me to the right place, and Linc checked out fine.  We got our "number" put on his rump and headed back to the trailer.

Chele and I saddled up for a ride, but we didn't get far.  There were LOTS of hunters along the roads running dogs.  It's still very early in deer season, so we tried to give them their space.

We lucked out when we got back.  Mario had just finished cooking a delicious early dinner (steak, rice, beans, and salad).  We unsaddled quickly, chowed down, and relaxed for a few hours.

Dinner number two was just as yummy (chicken, cheesy rice, green beans, and mini eclairs).  It was followed by the riders meeting.  Cheryl described the trails and gave us ride times.  50 milers would head out at 7 and 25 milers at 8. 

Not long after that, Julianne completed her ride with Indy.  You couldn't help but be proud of her.  It was very dark despite the full moon, and she was the only rider in the 75.  Lord knows, I would have been scared and exhausted.  However, they came in looking all fresh like they just completed a leisurely stroll through the park.

Look at Indy's ears.  Doesn't he still look happy?
Ahhhh... I bet it felt good to dismount.
Julianne trotting Indy during her vet check
Inspecting for best conditioned. (BTW, she got a perfect score!)

6:00 a.m. came mighty quickly.  Fortunately, mornings are easy.  We camp so often now that everything goes like clockwork.  We got up, fed horses, ate breakfast (coffee and oatmeal), and relaxed for a few minutes.  Then, we saddled up.
Linc is ready to go
Somehow, Julianne and I wound up as the "PU" team.

Linc sporting his "P"
Romeo with the "U"
Walking around while the others head out.
Off we go
Our first loop was 15 miles (pink).  It was somewhat challenging as there were trees to go over, limbs to duck under, and stretches of deep sand.  Linc and I absolutely LOVED it.  Nothing like a trail that makes you think and keeps your ADD in check.

One of the lakes we had fun cantering around.
Romeo takes the lead for a little
You can see Cheryl and another rider way up in the distance.
Julianne and Romeo trotting
Linc and I having a good time

While we were out, Chele and Dawn held down the fort and got things ready for our first vet check.

Dawn was not sure about the sandhill cranes visitng the camp.
Sandhill cranes
Coming in

We unsaddled and tried to get them cooled down and drinking.
Trying to get a heart rate
Linc is watching and learning.
Linc thought we were racing
I was huffing and puffing more than Linc.  Thank God they did not check my heart rate.
Listening for gut sounds
40 minute hold (aka beer time)

It was amazing how fast the 40 minute hold went.  By the time I went through the vet check and hosed off  Linc, I barely had time to choke down the yummy sandwich Chele made me.

The second loop (white) was much more difficult for me (even though it was only 10 miles).  Most of it was on long, boring roads that never seemed to end.  It gave me way too much time to think about my aches and pains.  At one point, I even got down and walked.  My crooked hips were bothering me (bet you didn't know I that I am not comformationally correct).  Just about the time I wondered what the heck I was thinking, we made the final turn for "home".

Poor Linc had to tote around 217 pounds.
Romeo being inspected for best conditioned
Linc and I went through the motions for BC even though we weren't really "conditioned"

We did it! Mind you we weren't anywhere close to the winning time, but we finished. That's all that mattered.  I wound up coming in 9th out of 12.  The last 3 riders went over time, so that put up in last place.  Therefore, we wound up winning the turtle award.  Julianne was 8th because she vetted in first.

Linc's score card.  4 hours & 48 minuts.  "A" overall.

Turtle Award - some sugar to make us go faster.

This still makes me laugh.  Top 10 doesn't seem impressive when only 9 finish.

I love my shirt!

Random thoughts after the ride....

  • I was scared and nervous over nothing.  Everyone was very helpful and kept me pointed in the right direction.
  • 25 miles feels a lot longer than 18.
  • Even when your puppies are strapped down by 2 sports bras, you can still get rubbage.
  • 3 hours on dark, country roads is harder than you think when you are pooped.
  • To heck with unpacking.  The trailer can stay dirty a few more days.
  • I hurt in places that I didn't think were possible.
I must give a big shout out and thank you Chele and Julianne.  I would have chickened out if it weren't for you guys.  I also have to thank Cheryl and all the volunteers.  I appreciate all of you holding my hoof and taking care of me all weekend.

As for future endurance rides...

I won't say that I am hooked yet, but I am looking forward to completing my next 25 with Cory.  She was very disappointed that she had to stay behind this time.

HERE is a link to the rest of the pics.

Edited to add - Long reins were a PITA over long distances.  Believe it or not, they got heavy, and I got tired of gathering them up.  Also, cotton reins might feel good on "normal" trail rides, but they are nasty and annoying when wet.  I am now on the hunt for a better set.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

River Rise - 11/11 - 11/14/10

It's not often that Erik, Cory, and I take a "vacation" together.  Veteran's Day gave us an opportunity to spend four days at one of our favorite places, River Rise.

We headed down Thursday morning.  There was no agenda or rush for a change.  We got there, set up camp, and got the horses settled.  We spent most of Thursday holding down the chairs around a campfire and doing 12-oz curls.  Chele had stopped at the IGA along the way and picked up a slab of ribs and some cheesecake.  We pretty much had the place to ourselves so we enjoyed a very relaxing night under a blanket of stars.

Chele & Erik
You don't see me do this very often.  Life was good!
Ruby's first camping trip
Doggie high tie

Friday morning, we got up early and headed to Fleetwood Diner in High Springs.  It's a cool place with great food.  If you like to try new things, I highly recommend the Meaty Hippie Hash.  Super yummy!

By the time we got back, the rest of our group had arrived.  We saddled up and headed out to tackle the yellow loop (16+ miles) for the first time.  We're so blessed to have such a good group of horses and riders.  There were several spots where we split up to add milage and speed.  Eventually, we would always meet back up.

Julianne & Romeo
KD & Stylin
Linnelle & Bandit (who found his inner mustang)

Donald & Thelma

Chele & Dawn
Linc & I
Cathy & Busta
Drive thru package store
Dawn waiting in line

Our adventure took about 5 hours.  When we got back, Cory wanted to ride Linc.  This was really her first "real" ride on him.  It made my heart happy to see them.

Back at camp, Erik had dinner started - oysters, hot wings, black beans, and several dips.

Many of us were moving slow Saturday morning. A few went for a short ride.  The rest of us hung out and waited on the lunch feast with Santa Fe Trail Riders. Talk about a spread - turkey, stuffing, green beans, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, rolls, and many deserts.  After all that food, a nap was in order for some.

Once the food settled, some of us headed out for an afternoon ride. It was beautiful out along the river. We made it back right at dark. We had some oysters again, pork roast, potato soup, and dips. Polished it off with some cookies and stories around the fire.

Cory & Rocky; Erik & Poca
Susan & Apache; Curtis & Sparky
Waiting for Curtis.  Had to make another stop at the liquor store.

Sunday we got up, relaxed around the fire, and enjoyed several cups of coffee.  We then went out for a 7-mile ride down the green trail.

We took our time and enjoyed the day. Got back and broke camp. Headed home very relaxed and ready to do it again soon.

HERE are the rest of the pics.  There are several, and they are out of order because they came from multiple people and cameras.