I have not ridden an endurance ride since Aura & I got pulled from the VC 100. I decided at the last moment to go to this ride which I've never been to before. It's pretty close to home (2 1/2 hours pulling a horse trailer) and this year was going to be great weather.
I wanted to do a barebones trip and sleep in my horse trailer. Something about roughing it appeals to me. I think it's genetic from my dad's side. I remember when I first moved to Agua Dulce there was this small shed on the property that my BF & I used to throw hay in. I told Don I could live in there. He of course was so worried he knew me much less was living with me, feeling there was something seriously wrong with my sense of what a normal human being should think. I thought it would be so simple and raw and therein lies happiness to me.
So because I could live in a shed, I was looking forward to my trip with Ali'i and 2 girl collies (Sage & Soleil). I cleaned my tack room and took out 5 extra buckets and a pile of other junk and figured out my bed. It would work out perfect.
Then I had to wash Ali'i's headstall and reins. I think the last time this happened was before Tevis 2012. You can be mean to biothane and it still works for you.
Then I took an iPhone photo of Ali'i's new blue boots and sent them to Donna to make her jealous.
And another showing the boots modeled on his fluffy & excessively cute legs.
After I tried out my bed, washed Ali'i, ran to a few stores for stuff, I was off. What's really nice about a barebones trip by yourself is you can buy only bagels & cheese & wine for your trip and be totally happy about it.
My compass has always been set to North since as long as I can remember, so driving up I5 out of Sacramento was the first bit of bliss for me. A girl with her horse & 2 dogs driving North. Perfect.
I have never ridden Cache Creek, but have heard plenty of stories about how hot it can get. Last year I think the temperature was about 110 degrees. It's a hilly ride, but great footing and a must do for many Tevis riders. I was only riding the 25 miler as I felt Ali'i was not quite up to doing a 50. When I took him in for his vet check I was worried he'd get a high (fat) body score. The vet was very kind. He gave him a "5", but I thought he was like a ......"7". So, he finally said, "Well, yeah, he could be a 5.5". Lyin' vet.
Ridecamp was so packed, though still easy enough to fit a huge entry of 160+ 50 & 25 milers. I drove in and saw Janine set up already and was able to get my van & horse trailer smooched next to her. Soon after that I saw Charlie and he offered to get me a 7 & 7. Omg. Yum. But he forgot so then I was offered a beer by our resident photographer Bill. I was holding off for the 7 & 7 which never came. Charlie said something about having a few drinks himself so I think he forgot. I set my horsey up, signed in, took him thru his pre-ride vet check then grabbed the dogs to go find Charlie and my beverage.
On the other side of camp I found my favorite Brokeback Mountain friends (Charlie & Jeremy). They were set up next to a guy named John who said he used to show dogs. Since he was so extremely good looking I asked if he was gay. Luckily he laughed and we all determined secretly behind his back that even if he was married with children he still could be gay. My 7 & 7 was kickin' in. We were a laughin'!
After discussing dogs for a long time, John went to cook something on his camp stove. Soon after we saw a huge plume of smoke blowing past the end of his big horse trailer. We're not sure what happened but apparently he shouldn't cook alone.
And this made us laugh more than it should have. Good thing for green grass.....MrNotGay&ExtremelyHandsome passed me & Ali'i on the trail the next day riding with Jeremy and I thought he was quite the posting fool. Like he should go back and show dogs again. And if I keep getting dumped with Sage he can show her.
From there I stopped by Melissa Ribley's set-up and officially met her husband. She complimented me on my excellent vet secretarism and we socialized with some more people including our camera guy. I told her MrNotGay&ExtremelyHandsome used to show dogs. This is always exciting news for dog people and she was no different. Her eyes were glowing with love.
The night wore on with lots of things to do and socializing more. At 9 pm I rolled out my beddie of 7 blankets, brushed my teeth behind my truck and the collies & I went to bed.
At 6 am, the 50 milers were leaving. I didn't have to get up til then as we were leaving at 8 am. Ali'i stood at the trailer and ate all night like a good boy. I had to hunt down coffee and the first place didn't have it (the Keurig was not working) so I went to the Brokeback Mountain camp. Charlie had Jeremy's coffee which he didn't drink so I did. I felt like a freeloader but it was too early for me to care. It was made just right.
I got back to my trailer and several people stopped to say hello to Sage & Soleil. One woman walked up and said "Oh my gosh, beautiful collies with tipped ears!". Her name was Dorothy Foster and I had to take a photo. She had read all the Terhune books (and even met a great grandson of Terhune's in a bank who hadn't read his famous relative's books) and knew what a collie should look like. After chatting with her it was time to dress, sunscreen & tack up. I was ever so slightly nervous.
Ali'i was totally relaxed and asleep at the trailer while I tacked him up and then I put my foot in the stirrup he was like Rosemary's Baby. I am never quite sure how he's going to be because we've had a wide range of interesting starts. Bucking, rearing, pulling, spooking.....but my last several rides (including both Tevis's) he was managable. So I was hopin' for the best.
We started last, caught up with a couple who had a young horse they were riding, and rode on to the next group. I knew there were some bogs & a river to ride thru, but Ali'i wasn't at the ride meeting and when we came up to the bogs he was suddenly a DICK. He decided he could not ride thru that icky footing and started to do these mini rears. W.T.F. Then he spun around (which I figured he would) and started running back up the trail back towards camp. The couple with the young horse had to move out of the way because Ali'i was slightly out of control but I was able to get off of him and get him calm. We walked thru the bogs, and the creek and I was the one to get sucked into the mud in my freshly washed Ann Kratochvil's purple & black Flingy Blingy Half Chaps. Across the creek and up a short grade. I passed 2 other rides, then heard yelling, rode closer and heard "We need a paramedic!!!!!". Oh fuck. Since I wasn't in this ride to win it, I told them I would go. I rode back to camp, getting off of fuck-head at the bogs and then back on. A 3 mile round trip and a 3rd time getting off of fuck-head at the bogs and we were off again up the trail. I met up with the woman who was riding with her friend who got dumped and when we got to the injured rider she was walking, albeit with a serious limp. She apparently had had some metal in her back and her hip and it was her hip that was bothering her. Having said numerous prayers for this woman (and Thankful ones that Ali'i didn't dump ME too), I was happy to see her up. Cal Fire did airlift her to a hospital and I'm assuming she'll be ok.
Ali'i & I were off alone again and it was beautiful.
I was so far behind (or so I thought) I thought I would miss my ride photographers. Gore/Baylor are at all the rides in this area and NV and they give the riders such a deal on photographs. Like you don't have to sign your first born away to get your photos. Anyway, I needed some for the blog and was concerned to think I'd miss my trot by. Rene Baylor injured his shooting eye so he hasn't been at any rides recently, so Bill Gore brought his son Chris to shoot. I rode up to a guy taking numbers and then saw Chris but he wasn't ready with his camera so I turned around to trot by again. He must have thought I was some wacko. He told me his father was up the trail, but I wanted pictures from both in case I looked fat in the first set. Lighting is everything. Oh and I wanted good photos of Ali'i too.
Up the trail there was no Bill with camera so I figured he ran behind a tree for reasons unknown and I missed him but lo and behold he was further up the trail. I was super happy again. He asked me what happened to the rider who got airlifted out, as he saw the helicopter fly over. Anyway, last year, apparently he had to drive a woman out who had a compound fracture of her ankle. Another time a woman got tossed on her head, got back on her horse and kept riding in circles back to him. She had no idea what had happened. Anyway, good to know the camera guy can do double duty!
William Gore Photo
William Gore Photo
I love this photo because you can see Ali'i's fluffy front legs ~ like a mini draft horsey!
William Gore Photo
A going away shot ♥
On the first and only "out" vet check.
There was only one vet there and a huge line so after Ali'i pulsed down, I went to stand in line waiting my whole 30 minutes while Ali'i ate mush & carrots. My baby boy. He's an easy keeper. All "A's" on his vet card except an "inconsistent right front". Uggg. The dreaded comment that Janine heard at Wild West III before Tevis and again, me, at Tevis. Ali'i vetted out with all "A's" at the pre-ride check and the final, and both different vets. This particular vet is the one who always sees the slight issue. I'm not sure what to think about it, but for now, we don't have any big plans.
That vet check was at 12 miles even though my GPS said just under 12 miles (and I had ridden an extra 3 miles back and forth in the beginning). I was not going to worry about it and rides are notoriously under mileage. I was thinking it was ok with me because I was feeling a little wimpy. Thinkin' what's really wrong with just riding 25 miles.
Back at camp Ali'i vetted out great. The night before Janine asked me to please walk her Helmatian Ador ~ said he would be fine if I walked in the RV to get him. THAT did not happen. I opened the rv door and he was laying on the couch squinting his eyes and growling. I decided he could hold it.
After that it rained hard for about 40 minutes. I sat in the trailer and thought how beautiful it was but slightly glad I was done riding. I'm kinda a fair weather rider.
Then I took the girls for a walk and took more photos.
Here is my "pet" photo of Soleil & Sage.
After that was wine, pictures, awards (I got 44th place, or near there, out of some 60 LD finishers. Not bad for starting last AND twice). Ali'i pulled me all the way in the last 8 miles. When he's like that, that's when I wished we were riding 100 miles to set his little mind straight. I wasn't calling him a fuck-head anymore, but my hands were starting to hurt. And I didn't feel any inconsistent right front. He, apparently wasn't either.
Robert Weldin, a local friend & endurance rider had planned to get married at the Cache Creek ride. I vaguely remember him saying that months ago, and it turned out it was after the 50 mile awards & dinner. I wanted to stay, but there was zero cell service for my phone. Charlie was able to text T and let him know I was going to be very late and T was not a happy camper. No, crap I was the happy camper, he wasn't the one camping! Nevertheless, I would have stayed the night but ended up staying thru the wedding & some music. It was a beautiful ceremony and strangly I was WAY more emotional than I wanted to be for people I knew casually. Robert & Sharon had been coming to this ride for years and never ran into each other. They finally did 6 years ago and have been a couple since. Their vows were so beautiful, a couple sang 2 songs (re-doing custom lyrics for "Hallelujah") and Robert's 90+++ mother was there. He told Sharon during the ceremony "My mother is here" and she whispered "I know ~ in Spirit". He said "No, she's sitting in the audience!!". That made us all laugh! Anyway, after sobbing my heart out, I stayed for a few songs, then said my congratulations & goodbyes to friends and was off into the night with a cute little arabian horse & a couple of girls collies. It was a perfect 2 days. I can't wait to ride again!