No, I didn't lose my mind (and 30lbs), take up trail running, and do the Ride and Tie! But I've got a few pictures of Cartman's ears- on the ride, and a few pictures of Cartman tied- to the trailer.
I was particularly nervous for this ride, just not knowing how C was going to behave on his first real ride. This was somewhat compounded by two things that happened on Friday after we arrived.
First, Cartman proceeded to spook at one of the many trailers that was pulling in, (and rattling, and clunking and clanging over the somewhat bumpy ridecamp road). I was inside cleaning out the trailer at the time. I heard the hi-tie stretch, saw him come flying around the back, slam the door shut (with me inside) and completely flip himself over on the high tie. He jumped up, a little surprised look on his face, and shook off the loose grass and dust. No harm done, and hopefully a lesson learned.
Second, I learned there were over 70 riders in the LD! Ack. How do you find a nice safe "bubble" when starting with 70 horse and riders, especially going across a paved road and bridge to get to the trails!
Ok, so I was nervous. To the point that I didn't even want to walk around camp and talk.
Later in the afternoon C and I did a short hour-long ride solo on one of the trails that isn't included in the LD. It was really nice out there. The forest smells wonderful on the dry side. I couldn't believe all the downed trees that had been cut from the trail. Wow, they must have gone through a million chain saw blades just clearing the four miles I rode.
C was a good boy, leaving camp alone with no problems. Not really spooky at all and eager to go. We rode to the top of a long hill and turned around. On the way back here come three riders at a fast canter. Right towards us. C didn't bat an eye as they roared past. I could have hugged him I was so happy with this.
I was a little more relaxed after our ride, and could actually enjoy visiting a little when I got back.
I was awoken about 4:45 am by an earthquake. Well, technically it wasn't really and earthquake (although we do have them sometimes here in the NW). It was my little darling horse scratching his bum on the side of the trailer. Sigh. I wasn't really sleeping anyway!
Saturday morning was clear and beautiful. We saw the 50s go past camp about 6am. Around 8 o'clock I started tacking up and getting everything packed into my cantel bag. C was as calm as a cucumber. Yeah!
I had planned to go out at the back of the pack. With 70 riders this wasn't easy. I think a lot of people had the same tactic. C was calm so I simply followed Glen and Flo up to the start. As luck would have it the front runners had all cleared out, and every one waiting wasn't quite there yet. It was a perfect opportunity and I took it. We headed across the road and up the pavement towards the trail.
C started getting a little nervous and wanting to jig as Dixie and Hotshot started getting further ahead. My non-gaited horse simply can't walk as fast as the Walkers, even when they are in the flat walk. Flo pulled Hotshot back and C calmed right down when he was close by again. Whew.
We made it to the trail and were off! He was pretty good, but pretty amped up too. There was a small group of us hitting the trail together. Glen and Flo, a nice guy from Spokane (also on a Walker) doing his first ride. And two nice ladies riding a gaited horse and a QH.
C started to get a little too animated as we were passed by a few riders and Flo took pity on me and suggested I lead to see if he would settle a little. It worked beautifully. We went for about a mile like this and it really took the edge off of my horse.
The trail was beautiful, as always. I really love this ride.
Cartman got pretty sweaty as we were heading up and up. Not really steep trail but steady. We swapped our order up a few times and were passed by quite a few riders during the first three or four miles. Fellow blogger Ruth and Blue flew past us smiling and waving. Blue looked like he was all business and they were having fun:)
We stopped for water but C wasn't really thirsty yet. He was never blowing or even breathing hard, although sweating pretty good. I was happy to have left the sweatshirt behind and having gone with the t-shirt, it was warm and a tiny bit humid.
One of the ladies riding with us had a GPS watch, that was really cool. We could gauge how far along we were and before we knew it we'd gone 10 miles. I didn't really take many pictures as I had a firm grip on my reins for the first half of this loop.
At 12 miles we slowed to a walk and headed back to ridecamp.
Cartman pulsed in immediately at 56 and we went straight to the vet line. Cartman chowed grass as we waited for about 10 minutes to vet.
He got all A's!!!! And was down to 52 at the vet.
I tried to get him over to our buckets so he could have some beat pulp but he was putting on his best "pony" imitationa and dragging me toward every feed pan around. I finally got to my stuff, and got half of it dumped into the feed pan before he stuffed his face in it. He was like a horse vacuum cleaner, literally inhaling the carrots, beet pulp and electolyte mush I'd made for him.
Before long it was time to go out again. I decided to stay with the group for at least the "up" portion of the last loop. We were headed up to the horse camp. Going across the road was a lot more relaxed this time. I was on a loose rein:)
We stayed in the middle of the pack this time and C settled right in. We did lead for a portion on the gravel road. Cartman has a pretty good stride and he can really move out on open ground. The Walkers are much faster on the single track, twisty trail, and on the downhills.
Before we knew it we were at the horse camp.
Last year we did this same loop for the second half of the 25. I was riding with a friend on a Racking horse that could "fly" downhill. Dazzby was not quite so good at it and I let her jog down hill more than I should have. On this loop we almost fell. It was close enough that I had kicked loose the stirrups as I saw the ground coming up. At the last minute she caught herself but I believe this is when she clobbered her back ankle. This was the incident that got her pulled, and ultimately retired from Distance Riding.
So, I told the group I would wait a few minutes and let them get a headstart down hill. I did not want to fight with C about the downhills, or let him go down too fast as I think this is hard on the front legs for a trotting horse.
Cartman drank a ton of water and then we found a pile of alfalfa. He was hoovering away at that pile of hay as the other four horses headed back down trail. After about five minutes I decided there was no way I'd catch them and drug him away from the hay pile. More water and we were off solo.
My fears that he would get agitated by passing horses were completely unfounded at this point. We pulled over for several sets as we ambled down the downhill trails. When he'd hit flat ground he would pick up that lovely ground covering trot with no urging from me.
This was SO fun. I stopped a couple of times to give him cookies as horses passed us. He was listening well and on a loose rein.
We stopped at a water tank and he drank again:)
For the end of this 6 mile loop we were completely alone, although I could occasionally hear a horse somewhere behind us.
We were jogging along and all of a sudden there was the road again. I pulled up and loosened the girth and took C's bridle off. We walked back to ridecamp and once again he pulsed right in.
One more thing to do. I pulled Cartman's saddle and got back in the vet line. Right behind Glen and Flo!
This time we were with the same vet. He got a B on gut sounds and one other thing (cap refill perhaps?) but the rest were A's and we got a "Well done" from the vet.
One year, to the day, from Dazzby's pull for lameness her son completes his first ride:)
I was on cloud nine for the rest of the day. C did a lot of hand walking, grazing, and drinking from the troughs for the rest of the evening. He ate everything in sight and seemed pretty pleased with himself.
Here are a few photos. I'd love to put the professional ride photos I bought on here, but I'm not sure if that's OK. I don't know who was taking them to give credit to.