Ali'i and I rode our races this weekend in Nevada City at the Wild West rides. We were signed up to ride all 3 days, but it was recommended by my trainer to only do 2 so we didn't have to rest my horse so long so we could get training on the Tevis trail. The weeks are disappearing fast!!
I was glad I didn't ride the first day because it was still raining off and on, and apparently up at the ride it was snowing, raining, very, very muddy and probably too miserable for my taste. I also didn't want to hurt my horse with him slipping. We did enough of that the first day of our ride.
Here is the official ride photo from Saturday.
I started 20 minutes late and dead last because I didn't want any problems with my horse. Fairly soon in the race, I passed about 7 riders (including my trainer and one of her clients). Ali'i was for the most part very good, but found he was better if I could get him in front of a group, rather than being behind. We had to fight more and that is one thing we'll be working on. I also got off and ran downhill and passed most of those 7 riders because it's faster with me on the ground than riding. The trail was very slippery so there was a lot of stop and go to be safe. In the first loop I met up with a woman named Sheila who was really nice to ride with. She was doing the 30 so we parted at lunch, but we had a nice pace and Ali'i was well-behaved. This photo is of that section of the ride.
The way most of these trails are marked are with colored ribbons. Going out, the ribbons are always on your right side. If you see 3 ribbons it means there is a turn coming up so pay attention. (Hmmmm....) Sometimes there are other signs or lime markings to help. Anyway, most of this trail was fairly well-marked but some of it wasn't. There also can be the same colored ribbons or different colored ribbons on the left side. If you see those, and you don't see any on the right, there's probably a problem. Sheila and I started talking about Tevis and somehow that race is so consuming of so many minds, we missed our turn. Not a horrible mistake, but probably almost a mile of extra trotting. I kept telling myself to remember to look for the ribbons. It also helps if you don't see any hoofprints. That's not a good thing either. On the last loop out the trail was so poorly marked I rode back at least 5 times to re-check if I missed something. The group behind me wasn't very confident either, especially when they heard I sucked at spotting ribbons.
Here's Ali'i at home on Saturday. We had a great ride, though I don't know how I placed or what my award was. (Last rides were a knife and a washing mitt.) Zoe and Parker both were locked up and I know they were clamping their little legs together so we had to get home. Ali'i got better as the ride went on, pulsed down quickly at the end and vetted out again with almost all A's. Do you just love his purple polo wraps????? We're all about looking cool!!
Here's T & Ali'i on Sunday morning. We were a little later, so he really helped me with my horse. T was awesome, took his polo wraps off and helped me saddle. This ride I started 9 minutes late, with some horses around. Ali'i was animated but not uncontrollable. We passed several people again and kept a nice pace, walking thru the slippery mud. At a water stop I saw Janine's farrier who was riding a very nice horse named Silver. We rode about a 3 or 4 mile loop together, back at the same water stop, then Matt went ahead. We caught up, got on a beautiful logging trail and compared heart monitor readings. Ali'i & Silver were pretty neck and neck with readings, so that was nice to see. (His horse finished Tevis last year, but has been off for a few months.) Anyway, Matt and I started to talk about Tevis........that all-consuming subject again. On we went, thru big mud puddles and this great road, then realized we didn't see any ribbons ~ for a LONG time. We turned around and after about a 1 1/2 miles, we found some more ribbons. We took that trail. Downhill, muddy, switchbacks. I noticed that the ribbons were on the left. Oh oh. And didn't we just do this trail over an hour ago?? So, we turned around, and I knew where we were, so I told Matt we needed to go back to the water troughs (for the 3rd time) to start again, adding an extra 3 miles. Off we were again, this time behind Janine and a different client and REALLY looking at our ribbons. (By this time I was a true paranoid about missing the trail.) We rode with them for about 45 minutes, then I passed. Ali'i loves Janine and every time he hears her voice he is kinda a little nerd. In front, he was nice to ride. About 3 miles before the vet check, I got off, he pee'd and they passed me again, then I passed her again while they were off their horses. Ali'i pulsed down quickly and we were in for a one hour hold.
After the one hour hold there was another 25+ miles, with a vet check/30 minute hold about 18 miles out. That ride I tried to keep to myself, passed some people, ran into a lot of motorcycles and quads and also tried to keep Ali'i well-behaved if he saw horses in front. At one point, I heard 2 motorcycles racing toward us and I was on a blind curve. I had already gotten off when 5 came from behind. Anyway, these two riders literally skidded and stopped 10 feet in front of me and Ali'i just stood his ground!! I was so proud of him, but not sure if it was the smartest thing to stay on his back on that blind curve. Most motorized riders are great with horses, but not all are. These guys were not so cool.
On we went, and Ali'i learned to drink out of a lot of the very, very muddy lakes in the roads & trails. (He also learned to walk straight thru them, as dodging the water holes can be dangerous.) Good thing, because the horses have to keep themselves hydrated. Several miles later I rode with a few other riders, including Matt. Mostly we walked and let the horses drink and graze a few times. There were two very long, steep hills, the second being straight up (not switchbacks) and all rock. We walked the horses up all of that, and I was so pleased with Ali'i heart rate. He was lower going up that last hill than I've ever seen him. I've heard horses get in better condition in multi-day rides and if that was true, I was seeing it in his monitor and at the vet checks. He also still had plenty of "brakes" as Matt described it, (meaning, I had to hold him back a lot of the ride).
At the final vet check, Ali'i drank great, then pulsed down below criteria within a minute and we got our vet check. Everything was great, except a B on gut sounds again, a consistent score at the last 4 races and we were off to drink more, electrolyte and eat hay. I handed my horse to Matt so I could pee, grab us some lemonade & cookies to snack on. When I got back to my horse, Matt said Ali'i was choking. We tried to get him to dislodge the choke for about 5 minutes, then the vet came and helped. He said either we could try and tube him (a huge clear tube is inserted in one of the nostrils with water down to the stomach to get the horse to pass the blockage.) The vet said if Ali'i would let us do it without sedating him, we were good to go. It's a quick process if they cooperate, but not if they fight. We tried, with 3 people helping and he fought so hard, he had to be sedated so I was out of the race. I was disappointed, but thankful that it was a freak thing and had nothing to do with his condition or how he was ridden.
After 5 Margaritaville, the vet suggest I take him to eat some green grass (which he lives on, and might have been a reason he choked as he doesn't eat alfalfa very much) and see if he'd drink. He came out of his happy state and we finally got a trailer ride back to camp. Tony was quite upset because he couldn't get the right story and of course everyone coming in had a different version of what happened so I had to set him straight. The sad thing is, things are viewed so differently and opinions formed by people who had no clue what was going on and the story goes on it's own crazy journey. I was proud of my horse, thankful for the help and insight at the vet check with everyone there and know I had a horse that was in great shape. He choked on hay. He's choked in the trailer before ~ several times, but obviously not to this extent. (Because of this he might not eat at all anymore while being transported.) It wasn't because he was over-ridden or dehydrated as I was told by one person who wasn't there. That kind of stuff makes me want to punch someone!
Here's Ali'i this morning, taking a nap behind the granite rocks. Of course in true horse nature, he jumped up when he heard me sneaking up to take a photo. He looked great last night and this morning and was very happy to be out with his family. I had a great weekend, though plenty of stuff going on to keep it interesting. My main focus is for Ali'i & I to be safe and have fun!