20 Mule Team , February 27, 2016
For anyone who reads my posts, I apologize for not writing a blog for so long. 2015 ride plans did not go as planned, but Rio was not injured, so it's all good. Rio and I were both conditioned to start Tevis in August, 2015, but we were not able to start. I wrote this on my Facebook page:
"Caartouche (Rio) and I were on the rider list to start Tevis again this year, 2015, but I had to cancel 3 days before the ride because bad re-shoeing 2+ weeks prior left Rio too sore to start. My farrier and I worked with it the best that we could, but the problem was not fixed.
It is disappointing not to of attempted this challenging, beautiful trail. It was our goal for the year, and Rio and I were in excellent condition not just to start, but to finish as well. We had 100% completions on our AERC rides/races that we did prior to Tevis, with Rio finishing in the top 10 in 2 of our 3 competitions.
Well, it could of been much worse. Rio's soreness was temporary. After successfully rehabbing Rio from two potential career ending injuries, this was a hiccup.
Our next planned AERC competition was to be the third week of August: The Eastern Sierra Classic, which is located only 45 minutes from where I live, in Bridgeport, CA. We completed the LD distance in 2006 as our first AERC competition. We have finished the 50 mile distance 1 or 2 times. The ride was cancelled this year a week or so prior due to one of the many wildfires occurring in CA."
I did not attend any more AERC competitions in 2015; instead, I enjoyed the beautiful trails in the Eastern Sierra where I live. On October 12th, I broke my ankle/acute sprain, which put a hitch in my getti-up. No surgery, but walking cast and non-weight bearing for a month and then physical therapy for 10 weeks. Luckily, two days prior I had moved Rio back to his winter home at Millpond Equestrian Center in Bishop, where I board him. It is a 75 mile roundtrip drive from where I live in Mammoth, so I normally have my trainer/friend, Rebecca, ride/condition/train him 2 times a week.
Flash forward to last weekend's first AERC competition: 20 Mule Team, 50 mile distance, on Saturday, February 27th. I have only been riding once a week for the last 5 weeks, so my fitness level is about 10% of what it normally is. Rio is 100% fit.
We had an incredible ride day. We ended up placing 2nd out of 48 starters. It was not my goal to race to win or even top ten, but we did it anyways because of the pace that we went. A few horses passed us off and on the whole day, and I did not try to keep up. Rio is a very ratable horse and listened to me when other's passed us. His heart rate was under criteria in 2 minutes at both vet check 1 (48) and 2 (56). I especially enjoyed the company of the two riders that I rode with off and on that day: Tracy, who came in first 11 minutes before Rio and I, and Denise, who came in third a few minutes after us.
My main challenge was my lack of fitness. I did fine until the last 5 miles. I hit the wall. Riding did not hurt my ankle, but trotting him out on the vet checks was a challenge. I needed assistance by the awesome volunteers at the finish line to weigh in for best condition. Rio finished strong, alert, with a great attitude, so I showed him for BC an hour after we finished. He did not win BC, but his vet scores were amazing. 48/48 CRI and mostly all A's. I'm sure that my lameness trotting him out in circles affected his movement for the worse. The vet had to hold my horse when I was done while I threw up by the fence, more than once. Volunteers took over to hold my horse while I sat down and recovered.
I did not sign up to ride Sunday's 50 mile distance because of my lack of fitness, but we did stay for the night as planned. I did not attend the dinner that night because I was still feeling sick. Instead, I unpacked and organized everything from my ride and took care of my horse. I fell asleep at around
7 p.m., had a great night sleep, and felt back to normal the next morning (except having expected muscle soreness). Pete, Hana,and I went to the ride breakfast and awards for the 50 and 100 mile finishers at 8:30.
There is a choice on Saturday's races for each distance (35, 50, and 100 mile) to sign up as a team of four. All four riders need to finish, and the team with the fastest combined time wins. Woohoo! My team won!
Besides my physical challenges, it was a fun and successful weekend for Rio and I. It was great to see and visit with old friends as well as make some new friends. It was also great to be horse camping with Rio, as well as being with Peter and Hana. I like being close to the ones I love.