Fire Mountain I, Ridgecrest, CA
January 18, 2014Earlier 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
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!