in which Confetti needs a babysitter-horse and we have a little more excitement than intended.
|pony got a pro shot in-camp on Friday! by Boots n Bloomers|
She settled in nicely at camp and alternated napping, looking around, eating, and then ignoring her food as usual. It would make me happier if she ate the whole time at ridecamp. I do not think I can accomplish that with straight grass and will consider grass/alfalfa leading up to/at rides in future.
|Hi-tie, haybags, shade. Luxury!|
I had a few goals going into this ride:
– ride with Olivia & Nilla, get LD completions for both of us
– consider riding mid-pack, or at least not feel obligated to turtle, should the speed and attitude of the mule & pony allow for such
– acquire a baseline for 2point-tober since I needed one by Monday and wasn’t planning to ride between Thursday and Monday other than during the 25. Eep.
– have a nice, sane, sound horse at the end
– finally have a second positive experience at Quicksilver: two years of rough rides here left me ready for something different
|Luxury Distance, tacking up with a bit of light|
Confetti threatened to buck me off at the start. She didn’t actually buck, but I know my horse and it was not at all a good way to start. We skipped ‘politely moseying Western pony’ and went straight to ‘I love my horse but damnit this is not the way we do things around here’. I should have ridden her hard the day before the ride, but I knew I was risking a migraine and opted out.. I will not make that mistake at this ride again. There are rides we do not need a pre-ride. This is a ride where I need to start with significantly less horse than I usually have. Would a tiring pre-ride have fixed my issues day-of? I’m not sure – I’m not actually convinced that it would have, but it is definitely something to think about.
|I have a lot of mule tail photos. This is how we spent 90% of the ride.|
So we started off by parking her behind Nilla, our friendly mule looking for a first LD completion. We are doing something a little bit backwards here if my experienced horse is incapable of handling ride starts without a babysitter. That said.. Fetti was pretty consistently awful at this ride. She gets anxious about horses running up behind her; one lady practically ran into her tail a few times. I don’t red-ribbon her: she’s not a kicker and in four years, folks have nearly always been polite. She tolerates horses behind her once she knows they’re there if they’re close. It’s the farther-away horses, and especially the horses coming up fast and with high energy, that we have trouble with. Riding turtle this isn’t a big problem after the rest of the pack gets through. Riding midpack, and having 50s end up flying past at the start of the ride (?! I don’t know why they were so late), we had a tough time. I pull over when people start flying up and let them pass. It keeps all of us safer and my horse less anxious. When they just run up and back off and run up and back off a ways, it makes both me and my horse anxious because I can’t figure out what the hell they’re doing.
|Lots of wide open spaces.|
But it’s not just the horse that was running up behind her. I’m sure that didn’t help, but that wasn’t the extent of our issues. Being able to see so many horses in all sorts of directions seems to fry her brain. Quicksilver is wide-open winding singletrack trails. You can see horses a good half-mile or mile ahead of you at times, down the hill or across the ridges. Confetti is a forest pony. We rarely see other horses on our training rides and we sure don’t see other horses a mile ahead on the trail – if we can see them at home, we can get there and we can catch them awfully fast. Wild West was kind to us – forest. Cuneo went well – forest. Fireworks is generally fine – forest. Quicksilver 2012 went fine with Funder and Dixie, but 1. Fetti wasn’t as well-conditioned and 2. it was her first ride, she didn’t know how to play the game yet. She knows the game now and she wants to run, but her anxiety level skyrockets being visually surrounded by so many high-energy running horses. I don’t know how to fix that.
|Big Trot. photo by Boots N Bloomers, used with purchase|
We made good time to the vet check, even despite grumbling at my poor horse on a regular basis. (Sorry Olivia – I promise she’s not usually that much of a nitwit.) Fetti and I opened a lot of gates and only dropped one on the way out. Sorry Nilla; it was not supposed to hit your nose 🙁 The trails were well-marked and I did not once pull out my map. I did manage to get in a minute of two-point for my baseline, woo! Olivia noted that Fetti looked a bit off on the last mile or so to the vet check, but it was hard to tell; I agreed, but also agreed it was hard to tell. Fetti was moving out well and I was not too terribly concerned since it was primarily over small gravel footing. A few ouchy steps are within her realm of normal when running barefoot.
|the offending small-gravel road that her hoof disliked, heading into the check|
It was not a few ouchy steps, and even I could see it when I had someone else trot her out at the vet check. Bring her back in 15min for a recheck, see how she’s doing. Well.. ack. I scrounged around looking for my hoof pick (and later realized it’s in my other saddlebags!!) and ended up borrowing one from a kind soul at the check who had already been pulled and had a hoof pick close at hand. I spent several minutes chipping away at the mess of rocks and dirt embedded in the offending LF and eventually took help from my boyfriend to finish it up, then did a quick pass at the other hooves that were comparatively much easier. You could still see it at the re-check in the gravel parking lot, but inconsistently, and she looked much better, so we got the OK to go back out along with a tactful rebuke to consider hoof protection if we keep doing these rides. Yes.. I just wanted one ride this year without having to stress over losing a freaking boot, and we had no problem over the exact same trail barefoot last year. I will own that it’s my fault, but it was a conscious and thought-out decision to skip booting her this year. Live and learn.
Cleared to go, I quickly inhaled a sandwich, switched out my Camelbak bladder (thank you, Olivia’s husband, for taking it to the check for me at the last minute!), gave the pony half a bag of grain, and gifted the leftover grain to another horse still at the check. We were off. Now just to get the four of us safely home, sound, for our completions. Plenty of time, should be easy going.
|That Damn Hill from last year was not bad this year with a friend.|
I think we sort of moseyed our way along, trotting the flat spots, walking the downhills. We had time. No sense rushing anything we didn’t have to. (Confetti, 15 miles in, still thought it was dumb we weren’t trotting down all the hills, and up all the hills, and the flats, and and and.) We kept passing/getting passed by another pair of riders but aside from them seemed to be in a pretty good bubble. We moseyed on, and on, and I saw a horse in the distance that registered in my brain as looking a bit odd, but being still several switchbacks and at least a ridge away, I couldn’t tell why my brain thought the scene looked odd, only that it did.
Then we came upon two riders, horseless, and one rider (in the 50, going the opposite direction) walking her horse and on the phone with camp explaining that the riders had come off and the horses were loose, but everyone appeared generally OK. I gave my full spare waterbottle to the riders and reassured them my Camelbak was plenty for me, we told them we had not yet seen their horses, but we promised to keep looking. No sense going off trail with no idea where they had gone, so we stayed on our trail, left them, and headed on. Suddenly we had things to worry about. Another 50 came by and said something about seeing the horses, but didn’t specify where. We got our hopes up but still nothing. And then, around a turn, the LD rider ahead of us with three horses: his one and the formerly-missing two. I dismounted, handed my horse to Olivia (sorry Olivia!), grabbed the two horses and turned around to hike back up. It’s one thing to lead just one loose horse with yours.. but to lead two plus a third seemed unreasonable. I figured Olivia hadn’t ditched me yet and would probably tolerate me throwing the pony at her for a few minutes.
Hiking back, it dawned on me that I should call camp and let them know the horses had been found. Management had given out a paper with phone numbers, so I dutifully put that.. in my horse’s saddlebags. Which was no longer next to me, since I was leading not-my-horses. Oops. Lesson learned: that paper needs to be on my person, or I need to save the numbers in my phone! I called my boyfriend who was volunteering at camp. Evidently he was busy volunteering at camp – the nerve! – and didn’t hear his phone go off. I found the number for the out-check manager and called her instead, figuring she could get the information to the right place. Horses made it back to their humans. I was working on the theory that if we could get them the horses they could make it home. In hindsight, perhaps I should have stayed to make sure they could get on, too… but instead, I jogged back up trail, retrieved my pony, hopped back on, and moseyed my way into the finish, complete with calling boyfriend-at-camp again and reiterating to him that the horses were found and please let management know. Again: smarter answer would have been to pull the paper with phone numbers out. I evidently do not claim to be smart 20 miles into a ride with full sun.
|Cows left. Water trough center. Pony ears say RUN HOME.|
Except for when we hit the water trough shortly before the finish: then there was no moseying present. We’ve done this ride four times now and Confetti knew exactly where we were. Suddenly I had a full-of-energy horse who would like to go running now please. I parked her back behind Nilla’s butt for the last half-mile into camp. Oh, pony.
As I’d expected, Confetti vetted through fine at the end, no lameness present. Hindsight says I should have cleaned her feet prior to vetting her through at the out-check and then there would have been less stress there! We didn’t quite manage to turtle, but our horse-handling adventures took us from a solid mid-pack to near-turtle. Oh well. I’m happy with the thought that we could have been solidly midpack.
Overall: pretty pleased. I had plenty of horse, she pulsed down well at the checks, and she was respectably polite if not as good as I’d hoped. If we do this ride next year and things don’t change dramatically, I expect we’ll do the 50 instead – it’s a hard ride for my migraines, but I might as well let her run through more of the first loop and find her brain in the second 25 miles.