Friday, August 3, 2012

On Our Way

I am writing this as we travel up Highway 80 in Sue's friend Steven's RV.  I managed to get an internet connection with my 4G stick.  Then it suddenly blipped out when my battery ran out right after I wrote the word connection.  Now I am in camp and plugged into Molly and Paul's generator.  We had an uneventful drive up.  I rode in the RV with Stephen and two of Darolyn's crew, Dave and Page.  Sue, her daughter Sarah, and her friend Becca beat us up there with the rig.  When we arrived they were all set up in a very nice camping spot near the main area with a bunch of Pacific Northwest Region riders.  Sue used to live in that region in Oregon until she moved to her Dad's place near the Tevis trail.  Molly and Paul had a nice area set up with a canopy and lots of chairs and Paul was setting up his big grill to make a cajun dinner for everyone.  Paul is originally from Louisiana.  He made an excellent jambalaya.  A whole bunch of us sat around and drank beer and ate chips and dip until dinner was ready.

Then I took Sweetie for a walk around camp and she dragged me all over neighing like a stud and announcing her arrival.  She gets really fired up when we arrive at a ride.  She did this at Wild West too.  When we got to the main area to check in with the vets at that ride, she started in with her stud neigh and then broke into a canter when I trotted her out for the vet.  When I told him she might be part draft horse he said she moved like a draft.

That night at Wild West it rained, which was expected, and I had a water resistant blanket on her.  I was sleeping on a tarp in the trailer which was open, but it never got cold even though we were at about 4000'.  It wouldn't have been a problem if my neighbors hadn't decided to put their horses back in their trailer.  They proceeded to bang and pound the trailer in protest for a couple of hours.  It kept all of us camped around them up for awhile, but I finally fell back asleep.  I heard later that they could hear it all over camp.

The ride started uneventfully and we got off at a good clip down several miles of two track road that was a little rocky.  I had some nice conversations with a few people along the way.  We got into the 20 mile vet check in only two hours!  We couldn't believe we had averaged 10 miles per hour.  We were making excellent time.  I got off and immediately noticed she was missing a front boot.  My heart sank because I didn't think to pack a spare.  The next thing I knew, a young man walking his horse in handed me my boot that he had just picked up on the way in.  I thanked him profusely.

I parked her in front of her crew bag that was full of hay and poured her grain in the bucket.  I put her boot back on and checked her pulse.  It was hard to find, so I went up to the P&R person and asked for a courtesy check.  She was a little high so I put her back in front of her hay and got some water in my scoop to cool her down.  After about 5 minutes I had her  rechecked and she was down.  I trotted her out and she passed with all A's and B's.  I let her eat some more and soon it was time to leave.  The next section had some one lane trail and I met up with a young woman whose Morgan horse was completely barefoot.  She was one of the two women I had heard about who had gotten permission to try to finish Tevis with no hoof protection.  She had done two seasons of 50's like that on rocky and multiday rides and said she was going to carry boots just in case.  I told her I was rooting for her.  That would be something, and it would make a real good case for going barefoot.

We came back through the same vet check area and passed again with flying colors and left.  I had had more boot problems, including some missing screws and a gaiter coming off, and decided to move the back boots which were newer and had a tighter fit to the front and leave the back ones barefoot for the last 15 miles.  She did fine and we finished at 2:40 after starting at 7:00, just over 6 hours!  We were 29th out of 69 starters.  I was very pleased.  Melissa Ribley did her final check and said "good job!"  I really felt that that proved my conditioning program was on track and working.

Sue came up for the potluck dinner and was also pleased with Sweetie's performance.  The next day I started out at a good clip and did the first 25 mile loop making good time until I noticed both a front boot and a back boot were hanging by their gaiters not far from the trail back into camp.  I got off and just took them off and came in with them tied to my saddle.  Their was a vet check just up the road from my camp.  Sweetie couldn't understand why we weren't just going to the trailer and wouldn't sit still for the P&R person.  She was a little high as a result so I made her sit by the water trough and tried to get her to relax.  She finally came down to criteria and I walked her back to the trailer.  Even though one of my neighbors had lent me some Goober Glue, the boots were not staying on.  I realized that probably the Hoof Armor I had applied a few days earlier made too slick a surface for the Goober Glue to stick to.  I decided to leave the back boots off again and hoped the right front one would stay on.  The rest of the ride was mostly on pine needle lined trail, so I thought she'd be fine.

The trail took us to Bear Valley, with beautiful views on the way down, with lots of switchbacks.  It was an out and back trail, so we had to pull over quite a few times for riders coming back up.  I kept hearing traffic noise that was too loud to be highway 20, and wondered where it was coming from.  Finally at the valley floor I spotted semi trucks way up on the top of the Sierra crest, it was highway 80!  They were on their way down from Donner Pass.  The vet check was in a grassy meadow and the horses got to graze.  So far Sweetie was getting straight A's on her vet scores.  She scored all A's again, and after our hold time was up we climbed back up out of the valley.

I had been riding with Paul, who I had met for the first time at this ride the night before when Sue introduced me.  He was on a very nice Paso Fino gelding.  About 3 miles from the finish he decided to get off and walk the rest of the way in.  I decided to do the same, except I stayed mounted.  I was tired and also thought that after all her efforts, Sweetie deserved a break.  It turned out that was the right thing to do.  At least 15 people passed us on the way in.  I didn't care after her performance the day before.  When I got back to camp and trotted her out for Melissa again she was a little off on her left front.  She said she was going to be generous and give me a completion even though she was grade 2 lame and got a "C" in soundness.  Later I realized I should have taken her boots off before the check, because she had a little rub on her left front heel, which explained the lameness.  I decided I needed to back up her toes more so her boots would fit better.

My first day at Wild West

Sue returned for the barbeque and awards followed by musical entertainment by a local couple who played folk rock on  guitar and mandolin.  Finally I packed up and left and drove the hour and a half back to Sue's.  It was dark when I got there and I unloaded Sweetie, turned her out, transferred my stuff from her truck to mine and drove the hour drive back home.  I was so exhausted when I arrived that I just fell into bed without a shower.  It was midnight.  It had been a successful weekend.

Sunday, Day 2 of Wild West
Having too much fun

Well I better hit the sack, its been a long day.  I can't believe how good the internet reception is way out here!

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