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!


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Endurance History: Picking Out Our Camper

Our rig, camper roof down for traveling.

We started researching a new truck and camper to purchase towards the end of 2006.  Peter had been wanting to get a new used truck for awhile.  In the beginning of 2007, he found a truck that he liked and he purchased it.  A 2001 white Dodge (Cummins) 2500 Ram Truck. (Yah, I know, like every other truck you will see at an endurance ride.)

We live approximately 3 hours away from Reno, NV., and we go up there a few times a year for various reasons.  Sometime in early 2007 we took a trip to Reno to go to a R.V. show where a lot of different camper brands would be displayed. 

Pete had already decided that he wanted a pop-up camper versus a full size camper.  We had also already decided that we wanted a bumper pull  horse trailer versus a live aboard rig or a motor home, and I had already purchased my horse trailer in June, 2006.  I bought a 2 horse slant load Circle J aluminum bumper pull horse trailer.  We had decided we wanted a camper versus another type of rig because besides endurance riding, we like to go camping (without the horse). 

In Reno, we saw a lot of different pop up models at the show, but neither of us really liked what we saw.  They were all so small, not much bigger than our camper shell.  We did more online research when we got home, and Peter found a pop-up camper that he was really impressed with called Hallmark.  They are only sold where they are made in Colorado.  However, the owners/makers of the Hallmark campers would be at a sports expo a few weeks away in Sacramento, CA, so we drove over to check it out.  Peter's brother, sister-in-law and nephew live in Sacramento.  We stayed with them and had a nice visit. 

We both fell in love with the Hallmark pop-ups.  It was a done deal.  In the next few weeks we finalized our order.  Besides choosing which model we wanted, there were other choices to make such as choosing between an oven or a microwave.  We choose an oven.  In March 07, Peter drove the new used truck to Colorado and came home with the camper on it.

Here is the link for Hallmark campers:
This is the model that we purchased:

We love this camper so much.  First of all, it is such a luxury for my endurance rides.  It is roomy inside when the roof is raised.  Pete, our dog, Hana, and I are very comfortable in it.  We change the table area into a bed and that is where we hang out when we aren't sleeping or outside.  That is where Hana sleeps at night too.  It has forced air heating! Do you know how nice it is to be able to turn on the heat and warm up a place before getting out of a cozy, warm bed at 4:30 or 5:00 a.m.?  And to take a hot shower after riding 50+ miles?  Complete luxury!  The bathroom is small.  I have room to stand up and put the shower hose over me to shower.  Very quickly army style as to not waste water.    The walls of the bathroom fold up and down for when the roof comes down.  One of the best features of this camper are the two large windows on one side.  I am showing photos of the camper that are from endurance rides as well as various camping trips that Pete and I have taken.  Here is the whole set up with the horse trailer and the camper's roof raised. It goes up 12 inches.  It is also the only pop-up camper that  has a roof that raises up and down with a motor.  We just have to turn on a switch.

Roof Down

                                                                               Roof Up

Hanging Out Inside the Camper


2007 Endurance History Highlights:  Part II
Caartouche CS, 2014
Unfortunately, I did not have a camera to take photos of the first few (5+!) years of my endurance riding life. 
Twenty Mule Team 65 mile 2/3/07
Great ride out of Ridgecrest, CA, managed by Robert and Melissa Ribley.  There is also a 35 mile limited distance (LD) ride and a 100 mile ride.  The 65 mile is one big loop with out vet checks.

Eastern Sierra Mojave Scenic Pioneer 50 mile (Days 1 and 2) 2/17/07 and 2/18/07
Another great XP ride.  What I remember most about this ride is that we had sold our truck and shell and purchased a new used truck,  but we had not yet purchased a camper.  We had planned on tent camping. We brought all of our camping gear, but we forgot the tent!  Woops.  It actually worked out better because a wind storm started the evening before the ride with gusts so huge that it was hard to see because of the dust flying.  We slept in the truck bed, which gave us a bit of protection from the wind.  Sleeping in the tent in the wind storm would have been extremely uncomfortable with the tent flapping all night long.  The wind kept up for the first hour of the ride and then calmed down. Both days of this ride were one big loop (different trails) with an out vet check/lunch hold.  This is a 3 day ride (4 day ride now/2014), but I had to leave on Sunday after the ride/race because I had to be at work on Monday.

AERC (American Endurance Ride Conference) Yearly Convention, Reno, NV 3/7/07
It is very convenient for me that most years the yearly AERC convention is located in Reno, NV, which is just a 3 hour drive from where I live.  AERC holds it in Reno a lot because their office is located in Auburn, CA, which is close to Reno.  I learned a lot in the seminars I attended and purchased a few things at the trade show.  Approximately a month before the convention, my friend/mentor, Dick Dawson advised me that the Tevis ride management was going to hold its' first educational ride approximately one month before the actual ride.  There would be a limited number of riders who could do this ride and management was going to start taking entries at the AERC convention.  I was able to get in!  I will be writing more about the Tevis ride in my next Blog/post, but briefly,  Tevis is a 100 mile ride/race that takes place on the Western States Trail from Truckee to Auburn, CA. It is the oldest endurance ride and considered the most difficult one in the world.  Like all 100 mile AERC competitions, it must be completed under 24 hours, including all the holds.  It was my goal to enter and complete Tevis, but I had not planned on doing it in 2007 because I wanted more experience with my horse (this was my first full year competing in endurance for both myself and my horse).  I decided since I would be able to do the educational ride, that I would sign up for Tevis that year if the educational ride went well. 

Rides of March 50 mile, 3/17/07
I can not remember much about this ride.  Another successful finish.

Square Nail 50, 4/7/07
Same as above (Rides of March)

Washoe Valley I and II 50 mile, 5/17/07 and 5/17/07
I love this ride!  Two days, but you can only ride one day if you want.  I really like the 2+ day competitions because I get more bang for my buck.  The ride entries are the same each day, but I save a lot on gas money.  Also, it makes a horse stronger if riding conservatively. The trail both days are quite challenging, with a lot of steep hills to climb.  The base camp is located near a lake, and there are facilities to take showers.  The ride managers, Connie Creech and Gina Hall are outstanding horsewoman and put on a great ride weekend.  The evening meals are excellent and the completion prizes are great.  Wonderful vets and volunteers as well.  A+.  Many thank to these women!

Tevis Educational Ride, June 2007
The educational ride took place over 2 days.  The first night we camped at Robinson's Flat, which is the second vet check and the first 1 hour hold at mile 36 of the official Tevis Cup AERC ride.   We would be riding the last 2 sections of the Tevis/Western States Trail over 2 days.  We arrived on Friday afternoon and attended the educational seminars, which were extremely helpful.   There was a choice of 3 rider groups to ride with:  Fast pace, moderate pace, and slower pace.  I rode in the fast pace group.  We were told that if our horse took longer to pulse down at the vet checks than the others, we would need to wait for the next group and ride with them.  I rode with the faster paced group because  my horse and I had consistently been finishing in the top 20.  This was not an AERC competition, but the educational ride had vet checks to make sure the horses were fit to continue and to get the riders and horses familiar with the Tevis vetting procedure.  The first day we rode approx. 35 miles from Robinson Flat to Foresthill (the canyons). We had more educational seminars and a great dinner that night.  The next day we rode the last section of Tevis, approx. 35 miles, from Foresthill to Auburn. It was incredibly helpful to be able to pre-ride this trail before attempting our first competitive Tevis.  My horse and I both did great, and I sent in my Tevis entry when we arrived home.  The  Tevis ride date that year was on 7/28/07, 4 weeks away!

Today, Thursday, 4/3/14
I am getting caught up in my endurance history blog, and today I am organizing and packing for our 2nd 50 mile endurance competition of the season, which is this Saturday, 4/5/14.  I am competing  on day 1 of the 2 day rides of the Nevada Derby. The link is below.  I was not planning on doing this ride.  I was planning on riding 1 or 2 days of the Washoe Valley I and II rides, which are held the first weekend in May.  The ride managers of Washoe Valley have decided to take this year off.  The Nevada Derby has changed their normal ride location in Lemmon Valley, NV. to the Washoe Valley ride location.  This is the reason I decided to do it.  It is also the first test of the NASTR Triple Crown.  The second test is the NASTR 75 mile ride at the end of May, and the last test is the 100  mile Virginia City ride in September.  At this point, I don't have the goal to do the triple crown this year, but I may change my mind.  My main goal this year is to ride Tevis again. 

I am excited about this ride.  We leave tomorrow.