Saturday, December 6, 2014

Tevis, 2014, Part Three, Sunday, The Awards

 Rio in his stall at the Auburn Fairgrounds
Sunday, August 10, 2014
The day after completing the 100 mile Western States Endurance Ride/Tevis
 
 
 I always pay the extra money to have Rio stay at the Auburn Fairground paddocks or stalls versus being tied to my trailer after completing (or not) Tevis.   He can move around more if he wants to and/or lay down to sleep.  However, I have never seen him laying down after Tevis.   I have only seen him in one place, which is where he is eating and drinking.  He will move a few feet away to poop or pee, and then go back to eating and drinking. My theory is that Rio has done so many multi day rides, that he is thinking that he needs to fuel up for the next day. 
 
Rio has never been in a stall at the Auburn Fairgrounds.  He has always been in one of the open paddocks.  I guess he was put in a stall because we sent our entry in later versus sooner and that was all that was available.  It was fine.  I really liked the location. It was in the barn closet to the fairground stadium on the side that faces the stadium. I hang out with Rio a lot after Tevis, whether it is taking care of him after the race, or just relaxing in my stool.  There was a great view of the goings on below Rio's stall.  Rio seemed to enjoy it when he was not eating.
 
I sleep in our camper at the fairgrounds when I am finally done taking care of Rio at Tevis.  I asked Peter to try and park our truck/camper somewhere on dirt if possible versus the usual black asphalt parking lot.  I loved where he parked this year.  I now consider it the Riviera of the fairgrounds. 
 
After Rio's successful vet  check at the finish, Peter showed me where Rio's stall was.  Jeanlaurie,  my second crew person this year, drove home to Sacramento as planned after Rio and I left Foresthill.  Pete had everything set up as outlined in my crew list for the fairgrounds to a T.  Shavings put down, hay in the big hay bucket, water in his large water bucket, grain bucket, my stool to sit on, and my big bag of everything else I would need.  It was now about 2:45 a.m., and Peter went back to the camper to go to sleep.  He explained where it was, which was quite convenient; only a few minutes walk up a hill behind where Rio's stall was.  After wrapping Rio's legs, I went to take a shower at the fairground facilities.  We have a shower in our camper, but it is very small.  Pete had taken my shower bag as planned to the stall with a clean change of clothes and shoes.  My Tevis bubble timing continued, and when I went to take a shower, (only 2) there was no one else there!  In the past, there has always been a line with me waiting at least 20 minutes before taking a shower.  I was in and out of there in less than 15 minutes.  I walked back up to Rio's stall and took him back for his one hour post vet check.  No trot out required, but the vets want to make sure that each horses' metabolics were stable an hour after finishing.  Rio was recovering great.  Heart rate of 48 with good gut sounds and hydration.  At the stall, he was doing his normal stuff:  eating, drinking, pooping and peeing.  I was not worried at all.  I hung out with Rio for about 10 more minutes inside his stall sitting on my collapsible stool before heading up to our camper. 
 
It was 3:25 a.m. when I got to our camper, but I was not feeling tired.  Actually,  I was feeling tired but in a good way.  My horse was good for the night, I was clean, and I had just finished riding 100 miles.  Peter had set up our chairs outside our camper, which overlooked the stadium. I could see the horses finishing from where I was sitting outside.  I went inside and made myself a cocktail (oh yeah-cheers for sure!) wrapped a blanket around me and went back outside to watch more Tevis horses/riders finish.  I went to bed a little before 4:00 a.m. and fell asleep instantly.
 
Pete woke up before me and went to make sure Rio was OK and to give him more hay and water if needed.  I woke up around 9:30 a.m.  In the past, I have always gone to the breakfast at the fairgrounds and then watched the best condition (BC) horses show.  I did neither this year.  I went and checked on Rio and took him for a 10 minute walk, and then I went back to our camper and had breakfast and coffee there, outside in my chair.  I watched the BC showings from my binoculars!  Our camping neighbors were Gail and Eric Hought of Hought Tack, who I know because I have purchased much of my endurance tack from Hought tack, which I highly recommend. (Link below.)  They are also endurance riders, but neither rode Tevis this year.  They had a booth selling their tack at Robie park. 
 
(I am taking a writing break now, and I only mention this because The Black Stallion is on TCM and the race is about to start.  Probably my most favorite movie ever. Definitely the most watched movie I have seen.  Big kudos to Francis Coppala in producing this well done film.    I read all of Walter Farley's books when I was younger, in the 5th and 6th grades.  Alec to his mom:  "The Black is the mystery horse, and I'm going to ride him".  Now I am watching the end, where it goes back to when Alec and The Black are on the island and The Black is rolling in sand.  Beautiful, exquisite, movie.)
 
Back to writing.  The lunch banquet started at 1 p.m. with the awards following at 2 p.m.  From 11 a.m. to 12:30 I packed things up and took Rio for many short walks.  We would be leaving for home after the awards with a 4 hour drive with Peter driving.  I always offer to drive, but Peter is more relaxed driving than when I am driving.  Whatever.  That works for me. 
 
After packing things up getting ready to leave and making sure that Rio was well taken care of, Pete and I went to the awards banquet and found two seats that we reserved for ourselves.  Then I went to look at and purchase some of the ride photos from some of the ride photographers. 
 
Before getting our food, I ran into my friends, Rachel Lain and her mom, Janet Shackelford. Her dad, Michael, was away in Alaska on a fishing trip. 
 
 
The beautiful and talented young woman
Rachel Lain and I at the Tevis awards.
 
I sponsored Rachel on many endurance rides/races in 2008, the year that she received the AERC #1 junior national championship after meeting her and her dad, Michael Shackleford, at an endurance ride/race.  It was an honor sponsoring her and her special horse, Cody, that year, especially on their first 100, the Twenty Mule Team, in 2008 and completing successfully. I sponsored Rachel and Cody on their first Tevis in 2009, but Rio was pulled at the Red Star vet check for lameness. Rachel got a back up sponsor and had her first successful Tevis finish. She finished as a senior rider with Cody a few years later in 2nd place! This year, 2014, Rachel slowed down (riding her and her dad's horse, Missy) to sponsor junior, Jordan Rae, and picked up another junior to sponsor as well, Ria McCarthy, when Ria's sponsors' horse was pulled. Rachel and her 2 juniors all had a successful Tevis finish!  Rachel is a very special person for sure! 
 


Rachel and Jordan Rae at the awards banquet
 

An additional highlight of my Tevis weekend was having this lovely couple sit across from Pete and I at the awards dinner on Sunday.  Marjorie Pryor-Spiller and her husband, Jim Barber. Marjorie is a humble person. I asked her what her association with Tevis was, and she advised me that she completed Tevis a few times way back when, and that she top tenned most of her completions and won twice, in 1982 and 1983, on her horse, Fritz. They do not live that far away and usually come to the Tevis awards. Thanks for taking my picture when I went up to receive my completion Marjorie!
 
 The food at the banquet was great! Thank you Tevis management for coordinating whoever catered this event.  A+.  Peter excused himself after he ate to go take a nap before our drive home. 
 
I stayed to receive my award and see who won the Haggin Cup.  I did not pay for a buckle this year because I already have one, so I received a certification instead.  BC went to junior rider Barrack Blakley finishing with his mom, Gabrielle Blakley.   Barrack is the youngest person to of won the Haggin Cup and his horse, MCM Last Dance, is the oldest horse to of received the Haggin Cup.
 
Heather Reynolds riding French Open (Haydea) owned by Hillorie Bachman won the Tevis Cup.
 
I would like to end with a big thank you to the  Western States Trail Board of Directors and the 800+ volunteers who make this ride possible.
 

 
I am so grateful for all the work that everyone does to support us Tevis riders as well as help to support and maintain the Tevis Cup/100 mile one day western states trail. Some photos from the awards ceremony recognizing a few of the key people who help to make this ride possible, including the head volunteers. I am very appreciative of every single one of the 800+ volunteers who make this ride such a special experience, whether we make it to the end or not. I can tell from everyone I have had contact with who volunteers for the Tevis that it is a labor of love. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
 
If all goes well, I am planning on entering Rio in next year's 60th anniversary Tevis.  It is said, and I agree, that just getting to the start of Tevis is an accomplishment in itself. 
 
The AERC 2015 ride season has begun as of December 1. Wishing all fellow endurance riders, whether I know you or not, happy trails in 2015!



Sunday, November 30, 2014

Tevis 2014 Part Two, Ride Day


Tevis, 2014, Ride Day
August 9, 2014

I had a great 5 hour sleep on Friday night and woke up Saturday at 3:00 a.m. for the 4:45 a.m. Tevis start.  I fed Rio his breakfast of grass hay, checked his water, and went back to bed just to be cozy.  I got back out of the warmth of my bed and husband to get myself ready at 4:00 a.m. and at 4:35, Rio was tacked up and we headed to the start.  There are two pens for the start of Tevis. Pen A is for those who want to go a faster pace and you have to apply for qualification to get in the pen. I did not bother applying to be in pen A because I knew I would not of qualified that year.  With Rio's being out of competition for a year and a half,  my AERC races in 2014 were more conservative than usual. I did qualify to be in pen A for our first Tevis in 2007. One of the benefits of being in the first pen is that you are less likely to get stuck behind people and groups riding a slower pace.  Much of the Tevis trail is single track and it is not easy and/or safe to pass others. 

It is dark when we start this ride/race.  It is a controlled start and at 4:45 a.m. the horses and riders leave at a walk from pen A with 3 front leaders assigned.  Then pen B follows with 3 front leaders assigned.  Riders are informed not to pass the front leaders of either pen during the controlled start.  I knew where I wanted to be, which was right behind the pen B leaders.  I thought it was a very smooth start.  My horse was so calm while waiting to start, as well as the controlled walking start, that I thought something might be wrong.  Well, once we got to the official start and we were able to move out, I knew that nothing was wrong.  Rio felt great. 

This was our fourth Tevis start.  We had successfully finished twice before, so we are both familiar with this trail.   This year's ride was the best ever.  Because of the recent rains, there was literally no dust on the first section.   I guess the riders in pen A had really moved out, because once we were 3 miles or so down the trail, there was only 1 horse/rider in front of me, who I did not need to pass because she was moving along down the trail.  When we crossed the highway, we passed one horse/rider, and we did not see any others until we got to the Squaw Valley hill climb.  It was really nice to ride with the 2 woman I rode with briefly on the first section, but we all knew that we were riding our own ride, taking care of our horse on the vet checks individually.  If we met up somewhere down the trail after the vet checks, great, if not, have a good ride.

One of the best parts of  Tevis for me this year is that for the majority of the trail, it was just Rio and I, which is quite unusual for Tevis.

When we left the Hobson Canyon vet check (trot out only), there were only 2 riders in front of me.   There was room to pass, but I did not need to pass because they were going a similar pace as me.  I did pass the two riders at one point about 2 miles before Cougar Rock.  These riders were riding mules.  One of the riders asked if I was going over Cougar Rock, and I replied no, that I was taking the bypass.  They were going up Cougar Rock.  I took the bypass, and than it was just Rio and I heading into the Granite Chief Wilderness with no one in sight in front of us.  I had the biggest smile on my face (all day).  A few miles later, a different rider caught up to me and I asked her if she would like to pass, but she said no.  This part of the trail is quite technical and a steep uphill climb.  There are parts where you can move your horse out, but other parts are just too steep. 

I soon arrived at the first major vet check, Red Star, and Rio vetted through just fine.  I am sharing some info that I have learned through experience, but it is just my experience.  I used to not let my horse eat until his heart rate got to criteria or less, because eating makes horses' heart rate increase.  After doing several endurance rides, especially 100's, I now let Rio eat if he wants to when we first arrive after he has drank..  Since changing my protocol, Rio pulses down sooner than usual.  By allowing him to eat, his head is down and he is more relaxed.  At Tevis,  the volunteers and I are sponging Rio down to cool him while he is eating.  Previously, when I did not let Rio eat until he was pulsed down, his pulse rate would go down to 60 and then bounce up to  68-72, taking sometimes 10 to 15 minutes before becoming stable.  Now, even if his HR is at criteria when we arrive at a vet check, I let him eat 5 minutes or so before I get his official heart rate taken.  It takes 60 seconds or less of not eating for his pulse to come down.  Also, for a horse to successfully complete a 100 (IMO) it is helpful if he eats more and mandatory that he is drinking well.  So, for many gate and go vet checks at Tevis, I took at least 5 to 10 minutes minimum to let Rio eat before getting Rio's official pulse. I realize that riders going a slower pace  might not have this luxury, but Rio makes up this time on the trail. 

The next 8.5 miles from Red Star to the Robinson Flat vet check is on a dirt rode.  We cantered a lot of this section and when we arrived at the Robinson vet check at mile 36, my amazing crew, Jeanlaurie Ainsworth and Peter, helped me cool down Rio and get his pulse down pronto.  Another successful vet through, and then we had an hour hold to take a break and have some food before the second part of the trail:  the canyons.

Robinson Flat Vet Check
 
Good to go!
 
After the one hour lunch hold we left 2 minutes late, but it worked out great.  Two riders were ahead of us, so it was nice for Rio to see some other horses.  There was another horse/rider behind me.  We rode similar paces.  I never caught up to ride with the two in front of me, and the person behind me only passed me when I had to take a pee break.  Rio and I left Dusty Corners (not a vet check, but water and food for the horses, and awesome volunteers to assist us riders with snacks and hydration)  with the same 2 riders in front of me and the same rider, behind me now, but we were spaced apart. 
 
In my previous post (Tevis, 2014,  Part One, Robie Park), I explained that Paul Sidio contacted me prior to Tevis to ask me if I wanted to wear his #113 Tom Quilty bib that he wore at the T.Q. endurance race (Australia), as my Tevis number this year was #113.  I said it would be a privilege, which is why you see me in the orange vest in the photos here.
 
When I arrived at the Last Chance vet check, I gave them my rider number, and then they gave me the little slip of paper that indicates my time in that I give to the vet.  I looked at it and asked if that number was correct because the time said 1:13.  I thought they might of accidentally written my rider number on the paper instead of my time in, but it was the correct time in.
 
One of the benefits of riding in my own little bubble during most of the trail that day was that there were less riders/horses at the vet checks when I arrived.  I do my own thing at vet checks and often take longer than others, but when we left Last Chance, the same 2 riders that were in front of me coming into L.C.  were about a minute ahead of me, and the same rider who was a little bit behind me coming into L.C. was a bit behind me. 
 
When we were approaching the first canyon decent, 2 new riders caught up to me.  When you start the canyon decent, it is single track with nowhere to pass until you reach the bottom, and it is technical.  It was perfect timing for Rio and I.   I  asked the 2 new riders as well as the other rider who was riding behind me to go ahead of Rio and I because Rio is not a good/fast downhill horse.  All the riders disappeared from site within a minute.  I had gotten off Rio to walk this section.  We did not see anyone else on our entire decent down to the American River.  No one caught up to us, which I am very happy about because then I would of felt pressured to go faster. 
 
We arrived at the American River and took our normal 5 minute plus break to cool off.  It was just Rio and I and the volunteers.  There were more volunteers than usual  here because a fire from the previous year had burned down the Swinging Bridge, which is the normal route that we take.  The bridge is being repaired but had not been completed.  We had to cross the river to get to the other side.  The volunteers were there to show us where to cross the river and ride up to meet the trail.  Thanks volunteers! I was almost done cooling Rio and myself off and taking off for the climb up when a group of 10 or so horse and riders showed up.  2 riders left ahead of me, and the climb out was fantastic.  Just Rio and I again. 
 
When we arrived at the top of that canyon, which is not a vet check, but a great stop to cool horses off and let them drink, I got off of Rio and took close to 10 minutes to let Rio eat, drink and relax. Although this is not a vet check, there are many volunteers, port a potties, water, hay and mash for  horses, and refreshments and snacks for riders.   A super great volunteer saw me cleaning my sunglasses, and he took them from me and did a pro cleaning job for me.  The next vet check, Deadwood, is only a mile away.  Many riders who had ridden out of the canyon behind me arrived and stayed a few moments at this stop and then moved on to the Deadwood vet check,  as this is where they were planning on taking extra time to let their horse eat, drink, etc.  I was able to get in and out of Deadwood quite fast because of the break I gave Rio at the quieter place. However, after we vetted out, I took extra time for Rio to eat because he was so hungry.  I also syringed him with electrolytes before heading out.    
 
Guess what my in time was at Deadwood?  Haha, 3:13.  I was only a minute off arriving at Robinson Flat at 10:14, and only 4 minutes off arriving at the finish at 2:17.  See here:  http://teviscup.org/webcast/webcast.php
 
On to the next canyon, El Dorado, and I headed out with an endurance acquaintance, Amber Clark, and her friend.  I actually think that Amber and I are more than acquaintances.  I consider here a friend.  In any case, she is a wonderful human being and horse woman who I have been privileged to of met though endurance riding.  We rode together with others off and on from that point on until the bottom of the canyon, including endurance rider extraordinaire, Barbara White. We were riding similar paces at that point, but because Rio is not a good downhill horse, I asked to go last.  This canyon is not nearly as steep as the first one.  It was a really nice section riding with good company.  When we got to the bottom of the canyon and crossed El Dorado Creek, the horses had a drink of water/break and Rio and I started the climb out first.  Rio did great on this uphill section.  There were 2 riders in front of us, but not too close.  One rider, Barbara, caught up to us, and I asked if she wanted to pass, and she replied, when it is safe, which is the answer that most riders should ideally say.  (I did come across a group of riders later that night when I was wanting to pass who were not polite, but I will get to that later).  I pulled over when it was safe and continued our climb up to the top of the canyon to Michigan Bluff, which is not a vet check, but there is water for the horses, and crews can meet the riders there.  I have never had a second crew person besides Peter in my previous Tevis starts and finishes, but this year I had a second crew person, Jeanlaurie, who I had only met at my previous endurance competition, the Wild West endurance ride in Nevada City, CA 6 weeks previously, along with her husband and endurance riding daughter, Rachel. Jeanlauri met Rio and I at Michigan Bluff and between the 2 of us we were able to give Rio some extra cooling relief while he ate and drank, and then we were off to the Chicken Hawk vet check. 
 
Rio vetted through great at Chicken Hawk.   This was another one of the vet checks that I took extra time before and after vetting through to let Rio eat more.  There was water, hay, and mash for the horses after the horses vetted through, and I let Rio eat for an extra 10 minutes or so at this check.  He was just inhaling the mash. 
 
The next major vet check, Foresthill, was only  6.5 miles away, This is where our 2nd and last one hour hold would be, and where I would be meeting my full crew.  It is always a great experience coming into the Foresthill vet check.  The people who live in Foresthill, along with riders' crews, line the street that we ride into and cheer us on.  It is like a parade.  Rio was pulsed down when we arrived at this vet check because I had taken his tack off and hosed him down with the hose that one of the generous Foresthill residents who lives on the street that we were on provided for Tevis riders.   I went ahead to the vet check right away versus letting Rio eat since I knew he would have an hour break to eat.

Peter put glow sticks on Rio's breast collar and my headlamp on my helmet.  I put my headlamp on my helmet as well as take a small flashlight with me, but they are for emergencies only.  Horses can see well in the dark, but light hinders their sight at night.  Although it was quite early in the evening, Rio was cool and shaking, so I put his cooler on him.  I put ice boots on Rio's legs and  then sat down and tried to eat. 

Another helpful hint here I want to share is that a fellow endurance rider had recently told me about a human electrolyte called Tailwind that had really helped her on endurance rides. I had purchased some a few months previous to Tevis and tried it with great success on the Wild West endurance rides I had done prior to Tevis.  I have a really hard time eating on endurance rides, especially 100's.  This is what I ate all day:  A yogurt for breakfast, a few bites of my sandwich at lunch, a few bites of pasta for dinner, and 3 power bars out on the trail for snacks and some fruit available at all vet checks.   That's it.  I felt great and strong all day and night long because of the Tailwind.  I am not a good eater during endurance races, but I am a great drinker.  I rode all day with a Camelback filled with Tailwind electrolytes in the water.  I  also had a glass of water with Tailwind with my breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  When I arrived at the Robinson Flat vet check/ one hour hold, Peter refilled my Camelback with more electrolyted water. 

I ride with a Camelback for my water needs as well as 2 water bottles attached to my saddle to cool Rio, which I refill with horse water on the trail. 
 
 
Rio and I ready to ride home to Auburn.
New friend, Tevis Crew, Jeanlaurie Ainsworth.
 
We left Foresthill at 7:41 p.m.  It was nice to leave with an hour+  of daylight left.  We trotted through the town of Foresthill on the dirt trail and walked on the asphalt sections. Soon we arrived at the California loop trail, which is a single track trail that  gradually winds it's way down, down, down, down to the American River.  At the first section on the Cal loop,  I was riding with a few other riders.  I would guess 4 or 5.   Although Rio is not good at going down steep down hills, he is good at going down gradual grades.  I was in the middle of this group trotting the same pace as me.  One rider caught up and asked to pass when safe, and we did so when it was safe.  Soon we caught up to a group of 3 or 4 riders.  They asked if we wanted to pass, and the front rider said no, but one other rider and myself did want to pass, and we did so when it was safe.  It was still light at this time.  We 2 riders passed, and the other rider who was in front of me was out of site in a few minutes.  It was just Rio and I again-for many miles of trail. 
 
It was magical.  No one in front of us and no one behind us.  We arrived at CAL2 at 9:12 p.m. It was dark now.  There is water for horses at CAL2, and there are volunteers who take the riders numbers as we go by as well as offer riders water if we want any.   A mile or so down the trail after leaving CAL2 I came across a group of 3 riders.  When I saw them walking in front of me, I slowed down to a walk and stayed a horse or two behind and let them know I was there.  They did not ask if I wanted to pass, so I asked if I could pass when it was safe.  The rider in front of me said to the other 2 riders in a tone like I was really putting them out:  "there's another rider who wants to pass".  I repeated that I only wanted to pass when safe.   I was not in a hurry.  I think that some riders are grouchy about people wanting to pass because not all of us are polite about it.

A note about riding at night.  The first time that I rode Tevis, in 2007, was the first time I had ridden at night on an AERC competition.  When I was riding at night, in the dark, it was trippy and magical.  Trippy because what I thought were rocks or boulders were only shadows from the trees.  If I would of tried to steer Rio, I might of steered him over a cliff.  Instead, I did not steer him at all.  I centered myself on him and did not lean one way or the other, as Rio flew down the trail at a fast trot. 
 
I passed when safe and then Rio and I moved on at a fast trot in the dark. We did not catch up to any other riders/horses until about a mile before Fransico's on the dirt rode.  I passed a few of them.  Rio vetted through fine here, but we stayed at least 15 minutes extra for Rio to eat.   There were many riders/horses at this vet check.  When I left, I lucked out again, and for that entire section of trail, from Fransico's to the Lower Quarry, it was just Rio and I. 
 
More magic.  Some of the section of this trail is in the open, and it was so beautiful with the full moon lighting everything up.  We arrived at the River Crossing with the usual great group of Tevis volunteers who are having a party while taking our rider numbers as we arrive.   Rio and I crossed the American river with the moonlight glistening on the water and glow sticks at the bottom of the river showing the best way to cross.  The water was high, going up past where my stirrups were.  I put my feet on Rio's back behind me to keep them dry. 
 
 It is only 9 miles from Fransico's to the Lower Quarry vet check, but Rio and I hit a bit of a lull about 3 miles after the river crossing.  I had not taken my Camelback for this last section of the trail (after Foresthill), and my energy level was low for the first time that day.  A rider's energy effects the horse's energy, so for about 2 miles before arriving at Lower Quarry, Rio and I slowed down more than usual and took more walking breaks. 
 
I always put the water from the water bottles on Rio's neck to cool him down if he is hot about a quarter of a mile before arriving at a vet check.  Then I dismount, loosen his saddle, and take his bit/bridle off of him.  He was pulsed down when we arrived at Lower Quarry, and my plan was to let him drink as much water as he wanted, vet him through, and then go back to let him eat and drink more where the food and water was.  The usual awesome volunteers came to assist us, and because there were very few riders at this vet check at that time, we received a lot of attention.  There are horse blankets available to put on horses rumps if needed.  This is a good idea, which I always do at this stop to help prevent Rio from cramping up.  This is the reason I wanted to vet Rio sooner than later.  One of the volunteers offered mash to Rio and before I could say that I was going to wait until I vetted Rio through, Rio stuck his head in the bucket and started gobbling it down.  It was hard to pull him away! 
 
I vetted Rio through and instead of leaving then, I advised I wanted to take Rio back to where the food and water was so that he could eat more.  On many of the gate and go vet checks at Tevis, there is more food and water for horses at the point where the rider out check is, but not at Lower Quarry.  I took Rio back and let him eat for 10 minutes or so.  I ate some fruit and drank some lemonade and felt fully revived. 
 
While we took our extra 10 minutes, many riders/horses arrived.  When we left, we were with a group of 3 or so.  Before the road crossing, a few more riders caught up to us.  There was probably about 6 of us.  This next section is single track until no-hands bridge.  This part is quite technical, especially in the dark; however, we were all trot/walking at a similar pace.  After crossing the bridge, the group of 6+ broke up.  Some went ahead and a few slowed down.  Even though much of this section after the bridge is pitch black, Rio knows this trail.  We passed the riders going slower than us when there was room, and then it was just Rio and I again flying down the trail, although now we were not going down.  We were going up, up, up.  We passed 2 more riders, and for the last four miles or so as well as the finish, there was no one in front of us or behind us.  Rio felt great!  I think he could of trotted up that entire 4 miles, but I took walking breaks.  We finished at 2:17 a.m. in 27th place. 
 
After Rio had his fill of water there, we proceeded to the Auburn Fairgrounds across the street and rode our victory lap. 



It's not over until Rio passed the vet check,  which he did with flying colors. 
 
We both finished feeling strong.  If I were to of given myself an overall grade at the end of this ride like the  horses receive, I would of given myself an A.  In 2012 we had a successful finish, but I was a pile.  I would of given myself a C- at best.  I had used up all my strength by mile 70 or so, and I was also nutritiously drained.  I vowed to not attempt Tevis again unless I was stronger.  I succeeded by joining a cross-fit strength training gym in May this year and discovering Tailwind electrolytes.
 
I was so elated.  What a journey I had that day with Rio as well as the last 9 years since purchasing him and riding endurance.  This last year has been a very good one for me/us. In 2012, two weeks after our Tevis finish, Rio was in a horrific barbed wire accident.  I have not written a blog about it yet because I did not start my blog until February, 2014.  Rio's rehab lasted for 9 months, and he was out of competition until January of this year.   
 
This is a photo of Rio's injury approximately 2 months after the accident.  You can see healing taking place, but proud flesh had developed so I took him back to the vet to have it cut off.  Four months of full leg wrap.
 

With the exception of the one 55 mile endurance race that I rider optioned out of, Rio has had 100% completions this year.  It is understandable why I have such a big smile here at the 2014 Tevis finish.  The icing on the cake is that after our Tevis finish, we were only 15 miles short of the 3000 mile AERC milestone as a team.  I will jump ahead here to say that we successfully finished one more 50 mile race in October, which brings our total endurance miles to 3035 for 2014.
It's been a great year!
  


I have one more blog to publish next week regarding 2014 Tevis: Part 3, Sunday Awards.
 
Links that may be of interest:
1.   The Tevis Cup:  http://www.teviscup.org/
2.   Google map video of the Tevis trail courtesy Endurance.net: 
3.   Youtube video courtesy Jenni Smith of part of the Tevis trail.  This is how we do it!
4.    Tailwind Electrolytes:  http://www.tailwindnutrition.com/
5.   Article written in my hometown newspaper regarding my Tevis experience:

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Tevis 2014 Part One, Robie Park

Successful completion, and our best Tevis ride yet. 
100 miles of beauty, appreciation, and joy, joy, joy.



Lake Tahoe

Peter, Rio and I left for Robie Park near Truckee, CA on Thursday, 8/7/14.  I like to arrive at 100 mile races two days before the start so that Rio can have the entire day before the start to eat and drink.  We have a rather short drive. From Mammoth Lakes, CA it normally takes about 4 hours.  This is the first time we took a different route.  Instead of going through Reno and taking the 80 to Truckee, we took the 50 out of Carson City and went up and around Lake Tahoe.  This route was 45 minutes shorter, and much more scenic.

The first time that Rio and I rode Tevis, in 2007, we lucked out and picked a great spot to camp at.  I'm not going to reveal it completely, even though I am showing photos of it.  It's off the main road, and not so busy or dusty as some of the other camping areas.  We have camped in this same area on all of my Tevis starts.  

                            
We were set up by 5 p.m. and then it started raining lightly, which helped tremendously in keeping the well know dust down for the next few days.  It was lovely sitting on the entry/door of the camper listening to the rain and smelling the wonderful scents of fresh rain on the earth and trees. 

Friday morning was sunny and clear and cooler than usual.  I spent the morning hand walking Rio off and on and organizing various things, including my crew bag for the Robinson vet check, packing needed items in my saddle bags and my camelback, etc.  Around noon, I went and picked up my rider packet and checked out all of the vendors, as well as purchased some raffle tickets for the raffle to be held at the Tevis awards on Sunday.  I spoke with one of the volunteers when purchasing the raffle tickets who is one of the artist that contributed to the beautiful quilt that was donated to be one of the awards for the raffle.  The main item.  I did not win anything at the raffle, which is fine.  All the money raised goes to a good cause.  Dave Rave won the quilt!  How great is that!

After lunch, I took Rio to do his pre-ride vet check, and then I tacked up and went for a short ride. There was a woman riding in front of us, and when I passed her trotting, she asked if it was ok for her and her horse to join us, and I said yes (of course).  I meet the neatest people doing these endurance events.  We had a lot in common.  I could not remember her name, but when I looked on the Tevis website results, I recognized her name,  Patricia Smyth.  She and her horse Jazz finished!

Pre-ride vet check


Pre Ride


The rest of the afternoon was spent relaxing and talking with some old friends and new friends. Before leaving for Robie Park, an endurance rider named Paul Sidio contacted me via Facebook to ask me if I would wear his #113 bib that he wore in the Tom Quilty endurance ride last year.  He would be wearing his Australian friend's #76 TC bib.  He requested to be rider #76 from the Tevis folks.  Once rider numbers were assigned to the Tevis riders and he saw that I was rider #113, he contacted me.  I recognized him from his Facebook page when I was picking up my rider packet, and he told me where he was camping so that I could pick up the bib.  Paul is a super nice guy, and he was riding with an Australian woman named Grayson.  Paul loaned Grayson his horse to ride.  Unfortunately, Grayson was pulled, but Paul and his great horse, General Lee, finished.
Ride Meeting
Peter at the ride meeting, with the meadow in the backyard.

I took a video of the ride meeting when Peter Clayton was playing a song that he wrote about Tevis.  I will add it to my blog once I contact Peter and get his permission to do so. 

It was a beautiful evening with the big full moon as well as a gorgeous sunset.





Early to bed since I would be waking up at 3:00 a.m. to get ready for the 4:45 a.m. start.  Rio could not of been a better endurance horse on Friday.  He rarely took a break when he was at the trailer between eating, drinking, pooping, and peeing, except to take an occasional nap.  And no wasteful energy by silly antics.  This horse knows how to take care of himself, and I'm sure, this being his fourth time at Robbie Park, that he knew what was to come on Saturday. 

I'll be writing about our ride in my next blog, Tevis, part 2.

Links:
The Tevis Cup:  http://www.teviscup.org/
The Tom Quilty Gold Cup: http://www.waera.asn.au/




Tuesday, July 15, 2014

2014 AERC Ride Season: Wild West Pioneer Ride, Tahoe National Forest

Wild West Endurance Rides
June, 20, 21, 22, 2014
Tahoe National Forest

Cantering Photo Opp
(photo by Gaylor/Bore)
 
 This is one of my favorite rides that I try to attend every year (when my horse is not rehabbing from an injury).  It is located in the Tahoe National Forest in the Northern part of California near Nevada City and Grass Valley, CA.  The base camp is at Skillman Campground, which is a horse camp!  It is limited to 100 entries because  the campground has limited camping.  There are a few horse corrals at the camp, and if you pay extra and send your entry in early enough, you can get one of the corrals.  I have done this 3 times in the past, including this year.  Normally when I camp with my horse at AERC competitions, I have my horse, Rio, tied to the trailer, so it is nice to pay a little extra for the use of a corral, which is located right next to where I am camping. 
 
I was signed up to ride 2 of the 3 days, and I had planned on riding 55 miles on Friday and 50 miles on Saturday.  Rio vetted in fine on Thursday evening, and I visited with various friends after the ride meeting.  We were camped next to super nice people, Heather and Steve, and their 3 horses. 
 
Saturday ended up being a stressful day for me.  We started the ride out fine.  The weather was warm at about 85 degrees, and the first loop was about 30 miles with a one hour lunch hold at base camp before heading out for the last 25 mile loop. Rio had not drank the first loop, which is normal for him.  After pulsing to criteria, I took Rio back to his corral to untack him and let him eat and drink some before taking him through the vet check.  After taking Rio's tack off and cleaning him up a bit, I was waiting to watch how many gulps of water he drank before I went into our camper to get myself cleaned up. Rio was acting strange.  He would look down at the water, but not drink.  He started eating his hay, which was next to his water in a hay bag that was level with his head.  I went and used the restroom, and I asked my husband, Peter, to let me know how much water he drank.  Through the window of the camper, I saw Peter filling up a bucket with water and bringing it up for Rio to drink.  Rio drank and drank and drank from the raised bucket.  When I took Rio to the vet check, he would/could not bend his head down to the ground to eat the hay that was on the ground there while we were waiting in line.  This was not normal for him.  We vetted out just fine, and I took Rio back to finish his lunch for the remaining hold time, and he was still not able to put his head down to the ground.
 
I started worrying so much that I started feeling sick.  When my hour hold was up, I went and talked to the head vet, Melissa Ribley.  I told her what was going on with Rio, and I advised that  I was going to take an extra hour or two before deciding if I wanted to continue or not.  Rio ate and drank great, but I had to bring the water up to him to drink. 
 
I decided to Rider Option (RO) out and not continue.  It was a RO because Rio was not lame in any way as far as the vet judging goes, and his metabolics were great as well.  My thoughts were that if my horse can not bend down to drink the rest of the ride without me bringing a bucket of water up for him to drink from, then he could of/most likely would of, developed a metabolic problem.  I do have a collapsible bucket that I could of brought with me on the rest of the ride to use for water, but I just did not feel right taking Rio back out for 25 miles with this very bizarre neck issue that he was experiencing.   
 
After making that decision, I was able to relax.  I took a shower, drank a beer in the sunshine and enjoyed a relaxing afternoon.  I was scheduled to ride 50 miles the next day, but I had decided that unless Rio's neck problem worked itself out, that I would not ride the next day either.  I went ahead and vetted him in for the next day's ride.  This time the vet was Rob Lydon.  I told him what was going on with my horse and advised that even if Rio's vet check was fine, I would not be riding the next day unless he was able to bend his neck/head to the ground by the next morning.  Rio vetted out fine with all A's, and then Rob asked if he could do a few adjustments on him to see if it would help his neck.  I normally have body work done on Rio, but not as much as I would like to.
 
Whatever Dr. Lydon did, it helped.  Rio was able to bend his head to drink out of his water bucket as soon as I walked him back to the corral.  The next morning, I got up early to feed Rio his breakfast with the intention of riding that day, but I had decided to have the vet recheck his gait and impulsion before making my final decision.  A's on both.  I tend to over worry.  Since I finally felt good about riding 50 miles with Rio on Saturday, I decided to not worry and enjoy the day, and man,  did I enjoy the day.
(photo by Gaylor/Bore)

The trail that day was spectacular.  Lots of single track that winds around and around, with big pine trees providing shade, and a lush forest floor with ferns and other beautiful greenery.  I normally do not ride with others for that long of a time, but after about 5 miles or so, I ended up riding with Gretchen, who I have known since I started endurance in 2006, and her friend Nick, for the entire ride.  It was a nice change and good company for Rio and I.  Rio and I were going slower than usual (we finished 2 hours later than the last time we rode the same trail 2 years previously), because I was being cautious because of Rio's neck issue the day before.  The 2 vet checks and holds were out of camp, which I prefer, but when we headed for home, Rio knew it.  I think we had about 12 miles or so to go, and I did not let Rio lead.  I put him in the back or the middle of us 3 riders, which he is normally fine with.  Well, not that day, or, that section rather.  I guess his muscle memory was remembering that he had flown home in the past on this section, and he was being totally obnoxious and fighting me to go faster and not looking where he was going, which is what he needed to  focus on because it was a technical, single track, twisty, turney, trail with lots of tree roots sticking out.  I think Rio hit his front hooves on every tree root on the trail.  We got to a water stop about 4 miles before the finish, and after the horses had a drink and we took off, Rio was completely lame on his right front.  I told Gretchen and Nick to go ahead because Rio was so off that I thought I was going to have to walk him home the rest of the way.  They watched Rio trot and could see that he was lame, but they saw that he had lost a shoe.  He must of just lost it, because he was fine until the water stop. 
 
Nick saved the day by lending us his Easyboot that just happened to fit Rio.  For the first 3 or 4 years, I always brought an Easyboot with me on my rides in case Rio lost a shoe.  In the 9 years of competing in endurance, this was the first shoe Rio had lost.  I will now be taking my Easyboot with me again on all future rides!  Not only did Nick loan me the Easyboot, he put it on Rio for me as well. 
 
It was a privilege riding with Nick and his horse, Donny, that day.  Nick is one of those A+ endurance horse people who I have heard about.  He is very experienced, knowledgeable and helpful.  I have extra respect for people who ride mainly one horse, since that is my situation, and Donny is the one/main horse that Nick has competed/rode for many years.  They are almost a decade team with many accomplishments.  I hope they get the AERC Pardner's Award some year.  They are a great team.
 
Once Rio had the Easyboot on, he was sound to continue the last 4 miles.  After finishing, I waited about 20 minutes before taking Rio to the final vet check so that he could eat and drink.  When I wait a while before vetting, Rio always has better gut sounds.  He vetted out with all A's,  accept his trot out, and a heart rate of 48.  He got a B on his trot out because he took a few bad steps on his front right, even though the Easyboot was still on.  I explained to Dr. Lydon what had happened and that I wasn't riding the next day. We received a succesfull completion!
I am not too good at the selfie photo with a horse.  
Not even cleaned up yet after the finish, but I look glowingly happy if you ask me. 
Rio cleaned up and fed etc. first, and then made to pose. 
 
Rio looks more like a Quarter horse that an Arabian. 
His nice corral at the Wild West Ride.
 
Our horse camp set up at Skillman Campground.
 
We had some hiccups on this ride, but overall it was a successful ride weekend.  The one thing that I still do not understand is what caused Rio's neck issue.  He had drank the night before.  Did he sleep on it wrong? Well, whatever it was, luckily, it worked itself out, with the help of Dr. Lydon.

 My shoer was able to come out a few days after we got home and reshoe Rio. 

I highly recommend this ride.  Besides the beautiful area and excellent trails, the ride managers, Melissa and Robert Ribley,  have managed this ride for many years and it is very well organized including great volunteers, vets, well marked trails, potluck dinners, ride photographers, nice completion awards, and even live music!  There is also a really nice catered dinner on the last night. 
 
Our next AERC competition:  The Western Sates Endurance 100 mile ride/race (Tevis Cup), August 9th, 2014.
 
Captain Shack!  Michael Shackelford and Miss Independent/Missy.
Successful three day horse and rider team.


Endurance youth at the 2014 Wild West Ride.
 
Trees at basecamp.  I love this ride!


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Endurance History: 2007, Part III, Our First 100 Mile AERC Competition: Tevis and More

Our First 100 Mile AERC* Competition:  The Tevis Cup*, 2007
Next:  Virginia City 100 mile, 2007.
Swinging Bridge, Tevis, 2007
 
I have not written a post related to my past endurance competition history for a few months. Now that I am back at it, I realize that writing this blog about my last few races of my first year of AERC competitions in 2007 are huge events.  Two challenging 100 mile races and ending the season with a two day, 50 miles a day competition. 

My/Our First Tevis Attempt
If you read back in my previous blogs regarding my endurance history, I state that my first competition was a LD (limited distance) ride in August, 2006, and my horse, Caartouche CS (Rio) and I were both newbies to endurance.  I had read everything I found about the 100 mile endurance ride, The Tevis Cup  (Tevis), and I decided to enter it in 2007 after having a 100% completion rate our first year (9 AERC 50 mile+ races at that point) and being able to complete the two-day Tevis educational ride a month prior to Tevis.

Tevis is one of my favorite AERC rides/races.  I live in the Eastern Sierras in Mammoth Lakes, CA., and Tevis is practically in my backyard. 

We finished!  Not only did we finish, we finished strong.  16th place out of  183 riders that year.  Tevis has about 50% completion rate every year.  I figured that one of the reasons I placed so well was probably because 30+ horses were pulled at the vet checks who were riding ahead of me.  Tevis is an extremely challenging trail.  It is considered the most difficult endurance race in the world.  100 miles in 24 hours, including all of the holds and vet checks.

Rio and I finished Tevis with only a 1 crew person:  my wonderful husband, Peter.  Besides having a conditioned horse, I was also in good condition that year.  I was a runner and ran distances/races from  10k's to (2) marathons.  Unfortunately, when I was riding the Tevis educational ride, I sprained my left ankle when I was off my horse jogging down one of the canyons.  Because of this, I could not get off my horse at all in the canyons during the actual ride/race.  To this day, I still have issues with my left ankle.

Besides Rio and I both being in good condition, I was VERY organized for this event.  I had lists for each major vet check on what was needed, and I went over them in detail with Pete.  Before starting Tevis, I had already decided I would not be going over Cougar Rock.  I would take the alternate trail.  I know why people ride up and over Cougar Rock, but my thought, especially after taking the alternate route is-really?  Also, my horse has steel shoes which makes for less traction.

My favorite parts of riding (and completing-Yay!) Tevis that year:
1.  Having a well conditioned horse and being able to enter Tevis.
2.  Nothing seriously bad happening to my horse ("Tevis Gremlins") after entering Tevis and prior to arriving.
3.  Being at Robbie Park in Truckee and going through the pre-ride events: getting my rider packet, checking out all the vendors, vetting in, going to the ride meeting, and seeing friends.
4.  Going through the high country (first section/36 miles), especially after the first 10 miles or so from the start, which is congested and DUSTY on the (mostly) single track trail.
5.  Taking Rio down to the American river below the swinging bridge (in the canyons) to take a 5 to 10 minute break and letting Rio drink and cooling him off with the refreshing, cold, river water before our next climb out of the canyon. 
6.   The wonderful and amazing volunteers at this race.   Crew are not allowed for most of the many vet checks, but they are not needed.  For each vet check that I arrived at, I had a personnel crew of 1 to 4 volunteers.  Someone sponging my horse down on the right and someone on the left.  Someone holding my horse for me if I needed to use the restroom.  Someone offering me watermelon or some other refreshing nourishment.  Someone offering my horse mash.  I had my own pit crew! The volunteers at Tevis are one of the major perks of attending this race.  I appreciate it very much.  Thank you so much all you wonderful volunteers!
7.   Riding into the Foresthill vet check. People are lined up in the street 1/2 mile or so and cheering all the horses and riders in.  Endurance racing is not much of a spectator sport since we are out there in the wilderness. This is one of the few times where I have seen spectators. 
8.  Riding the last section, from Foresthill to Auburn, when the sun goes down and I was riding at night.  That was magical for me.  Mainly single track, a full moon but lots of trees with shadows.
I could not see the trail. I had glow sticks on Rio's breast collar, and I rode with a headlamp in case I needed it for an emergency, but I never needed to turn it on.  Horses can see at night, but lights hinder their sight.  Rio was flying down the trail at a fast trot, and I did not steer him.  If I did, where I thought the trail went at times would of been off a cliff.  Instead, I just focused on centering myself, and I did not look or lean in any direction.  I had to trust him completely. Not only did Rio keep us moving fast and correctly on the trail, he missed most of the rocks!

And then we finished and past the final vet check.  Finish time was 1:25 a.m.  At that time, there were no spectators at Auburn stadium watching the horses who finished.   That did not matter.  My husband/crew was there for me, and my good friend, mentor, Dick Dawson was there as well. Dick had volunteered that year, which is what he and his wife, Carolyn, to just about every year, except when Dick is riding the Tevis.

I love my horse.  I had Rio in a paddock with many of the other horses at the Auburn Fairgrounds, and every time I checked on him he was eating.  I had done so many multi-day rides with Rio that year prior to Tevis, I think he was thinking that he better eat and drink as much as he could in case we were doing another endurance ride the next day.  Most of the other horses all around him were laying down sleeping. 

It was a bit hard for me taking care of my own horse without a crew.  My husband helped me in many ways by driving to the two major vet checks and then to Auburn and setting everything up for when we arrived, but I took care of my horse.  It was ok.  The experience made me stronger. 

I give some of the credit for the successful completion to myself, but really, it was Rio who did it.  I just didn't screw it up.  I am lucky to have a horse who loves doing what I love to do. I am also lucky to have a non horsey husband who supports what I love to do. 

Today, June, 2014
We now have 2 Tevis completions out of 3 starts.  Rio was in prime condition in 2008, but Tevis was cancelled that year because of the fire that was occurring at that time.  I entered in 2009 and Rio was pulled for lameness at the first vet check at mile 36 at Red Star.  Rio was experiencing an off and on lameness issue that year that was not properly diagnosed by my local vets.  I will be writing in more detail about that in a future blog.  Briefly, Rio was diagnosed in October, 2009 with a suspensory injury.   I successfully rehabbed him and in 2012, I entered Tevis and we had our second successful finish.  A month after Tevis, 2012, Rio got caught up in barbed wire and had a horrific injury to his right hind leg.  15 months of rehab for that one, which I will be writing more about in another future blog.  In January of this year, we entered and completed a 50 mile AERC race and had a successful finish.  We had another successful endurance race in April.   We are entered in 2 of the 3 days of the upcoming Wild West ride this weekend, 6/20 and 6/21.  If Rio does well, I am thinking of entering Tevis again this year for our fourth attempt.

Virginia City 100, September, 2007
I entered and completed the Virginia City 100 mile race 6 weeks after Tevis in September, 2007.   That ride was more challenging for me than Tevis.  It is very rocky.  The most difficult part for me was coming back and leaving base camp 2 times.  Once is not too bad, but the second time arriving at basecamp at 9:30 p.m., neither Rio nor I were feeling enthusiastic about going back out for another 30+/- miles.  We finished at 2:30 a.m.  My favorite races, whether it is 25, 50, 75, or 100 miles, is either one big loop with out vet checks, or point to point like Tevis.  Although this race is not on my list to ride every year, I most definitely want to attempt it again.  The last time I rode it was their 40th anniversary.  If my horse is ok to go, I think I will attempt it again on their 50th anniversary.  Rio will be 17. 

High Dessert, Two Day 50's.
 
We did 2 days of 50 miles a day at the High Desert race in October, 2007 for 2 more successful completions to end out the year.  13 starts and13 finishes. We had done this same 2 day race the previous year.  This time, we had our warm camper to sleep in.  Rio felt great.  We finished in the top 10 both days.  Sorry about the below photo.  I don't know how to switch the orientation. 
 
 
Moving On Down The Trail
 
 

* The links below are  helpful/informative to learn more about AERC and the Tevis Cup.
 
1.  AERC (American Endurance Riding Conference):
2.  The Tevis Cup:
3.  Excellent Google Map video of the Tevis Trail (thanks to Endurance.Net)
 
 
 


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

2014 AERC Ride Season: Our First Two 50 Mile Competitions

Fire Mountain I, Ridgecrest, CA
January 18, 2014
Earlier this year I started a blog writing about my endurance riding history, which started in 2006.  I am not caught up to the present yet, but I want to write about my current AERC competitions that my horse, Rio, and I  have entered this year.  Our first ride of the season was the Fire Mountain I 50 mile competition in Ridgecrest, CA, which is located about 2 1/2 hours from where I board Rio.

This ride/race was very emotional for me because it was the first ride that we attempted since Rio's barbed wire injury in August, 2012.   I will be writing about the injury and rehab process in detail in one of my endurance history blogs.  Here is a photo of his wound about 2 months after the initial injury.  You can see healing taking place, but in this photo proud flesh had developed and I took him back to the vet to get it cut off.  4 months of full leg wrap.


15 months later, we were  back at it with a great ride and completion!  Wow-Rio never felt so good.  He felt more powerful and forward than ever.  Another really nice thing about finishing this ride is that this is the first ride that Rio got pulled (for a cramp in his hindquarters) in 2008.  We were able to finish the ride this time.  Yay Rio-we're back!

Nevada Derby I, Washoe Valley, NV
April 5, 2014
 

 The Nevada Derby I and II took place this last weekend.  Rio and I rode 50 miles on Day 1, April 5, 2014. I normally would of rode the second day 50 as well, but neither Rio or I are in condition (yet) to do a 2 day 100 miler. 

The ride location for this competition is normally in a different part of Nevada, but they changed it this year to Washoe Valley, NV.  where the Washoe Valley AERC rides take place in the first weekend of May.  The ride managers of the Washoe Valley ride, Gina Hall and Connie Creech, had posted that they would be taking this year off from managing the Washoe rides, so the rides were cancelled for this year.  This is the reason I decided to enter the Nevada Derby.  I love this ride location.  It is about 3 hours from where I board my horse.  The trails are challenging with a lot of hills, and the scenery is beautiful. 

Peter and I arrived at ridecamp about 4 p.m. and parked in a place that we have set up our camp before that we love.  Since I only have one horse,  he is most comfortable when he can see some of the other horses camping.  We were parked where he could see other horses, including one right next to us. 

The weather Friday evening was cool and windy.  We had about 10 minutes of light rain that changed to snow.  The sky was beautiful and dramatic.  
Unfortunately, the photo came out blurry.

When I did the pre-ride vet check,  the vet said that Rio had taken a few bad steps on his front right on the trot out.  Rio has always received a grade of A in every category on his pre-ride vet checks.  I was now worried and I had reason to be.  Rio had been reshod about 2 weeks earlier, and for the first time in the 9 years that I have owned him, he was lame when I went to ride him 3 days later.  I trot him out before I tack him up, and he did not want to trot.  Not normal. I did get him to trot out, and he was off on both his right and left front.  That was Saturday.  I called my farrier, Troy, to give him a heads up and left a voice mail message.  I have an excellent farrier.  My horse has never lost a shoe or been sore from getting his trims and new shoes (prior to this last time). Troy and his wife came out on their day off, on Sunday morning.  Troy took Rio's front shoes off and replaced the pads with Equipedic and put the shoes back on.  I went to check on Rio Sunday afternoon to hand walk him and turn him out, and he was 110%.  No more lameness.  I rode him lightly on Wednesday and Thursday and he was 100%.  I felt confident taking him to the endurance competition, that is, until the pre-ride vet check. 
Well, there was no need to worry. Rio felt fantastic the whole day and received A's on the 2 vet checks as well as the final vet check on his trot outs. 

We had an incredible ride.  It was a beautiful day with cool temperatures with a high of about 55 and little wind.  Many people clip their horses this time of year, at least a partial clip.  I did not clip Rio because I am not planning on doing a lot of endurance competitions this year.  The next planned race is at the end of May, and he will shed out his Winter coat by then.  So, I was happy with the weather conditions being on the cooler side.  The scenario was outstanding.  Beautiful views of Washoe Lake below after our climb, with snow on the Sierra Mountains on the other side of the valley. 

Rio is normally a very ratable horse, but I have had a hard time rating him these last 2 races.  Our normal pace is faster.  We do not  normally race to win or top 10, but we used to place in the top 10 often because of the pace we went.  I say I pace my horse-not race my horse.  However, because Rio had not done an endurance competition for 1 1/2 years, I was pacing him slower than usual for these first few competitions.  Rio was not agreeable.  A lot of head tossing and pulling on the first loop.  It wore me out.  My wonderful, awesome husband surprised me by being at the vet check when we arrived and helped me out a lot.  I normally take care of my horse and my self on vet checks, but it was very helpful to have Peter help me out on the 1 hour lunch break.  After taking care of Rio(vetting in, going back to our camp, taking Rio's tack off and giving him his lunch), I went and got the lunch that management provided along with a big glass of lemonade.  I think it was the lemonade that revived me.  I also wore my camelback on the 2nd and 3rd loops and drank a lot of water.  I felt back to normal leaving on the 2nd loop and felt strong the rest of the day.

Rio was back to his ratable self going out on the 2nd loop.  One of the best things I liked about this ride were the people I rode with off and on.  Everyone I caught up to or who caught up to me, were riding their own ride.  We rode with each other for awhile, had some nice chats, and then I moved on or they did.  Sometimes I caught up to others I had been riding with.  Sometimes others I had been riding with caught up with me.  None of us tried to keep up with anyone.  There were 2 riders in particular that I rode with off and on that day who I especially appreciated.  Michael, who I've known most of my endurance life, who is the father of Rachel, who I sponsored a lot as a junior one year and Lisa, who I had never met.  I met her on Friday evening because she was camping next to us with her one horse.  Both of us were riding conservatively on Saturday, and by the second loop we were headed out at the same time.  She is one of the most thoughtful, polite, experienced, smart, riders who I have been privileged to ride along with, for awhile. I loved watching her and her horse, Sammy, move on down the trail.  That horse seemed to be full of joy moving along with his ears pointed forward. Perky!.  I love seeing horses ridden by riders riding within their horse's limits, which includes doing endurance in the first place.  Endurance horses should love what they do as much as us endurance riders love it.  IMO, Lisa and Sammy are on the same page.  I heard a few days later that Lisa and Sammy came in 1st place the next day on the 50 and Sammy received the BC (best condition) award! 

I was also able to see and visit with some previous friends who I have met through endurance. It was especially great to see Michael, Amber, Gina, Dan, and ride photographers Renny and Bill.  A big thank you to the ride management, vets, and wonderful volunteers at this ride. 

Both Rio and I finished strong.  We came in 24th out of 93 riders.  I felt much better at the end of the race compared to how I felt at the end of loop 1, and Rio ate and drank like the champion he is when we were done.  His overall vet score at completion was an A with an A+ for gut sounds. This horse knows how to take care of himself!