RIDE STORY

Muckleratz, July  2013

 So, this will be a Ride Story of a different perspective.  Usually, when I write this story it’s from the back of my horse, going pell mell down the trail.  This year, due to severe back trauma, I am writing the story as the Ride Secretary and Ride Day Manager.  My perspective on entering and participating in a ride has dramatically changed this past weekend!

It all started back in May when we found out that Jim would not be running the Muckleratz CTR this year.  WHAT?  This is a very popular ride and very close for many ECTRA members so several of us started clamoring and whining and begging Jim to keep the ride.  After being hounded for a week or so, Cate jumped in and said she’d manage the ride but she needed a secretary.

A couple of us jumped right in and volunteered to be her secretary … I won!  I quickly set up a website for the ride so people could stay informed as things progressed, Cate quickly got in under the wire for the sanctioning, and off we went – running the Muckleratz CTR.

We offered several different rides.  A 2-Day 50 mile, a Saturday 25 mile, a Saturday 12.5 mile, a Sunday 25 mile and a Sunday 12.5 mile.  Little did I know that keeping riders organized for 5 different rides at the same time would be an organizational challenge.  I had been secretary at two other CTR rides, both one day rides with one mileage to track.  I had also managed one CTR ride.  Again – a one day CTR with one mileage. 

As soon as our sanctioning was approved, I put the entry form up on the website and we started receiving entries in June.  Amazingly, keeping track of riders in the different rides went pretty smoothly until the week of the ride.

WOWZA … our cut-off for cancelations was July 20th … starting on July 19th, suddenly with a down pouring overload, we have changes, cancelations, additions, requests to ride with so-n-so, requests not to ride with so-n-so (chuckle) and requests to ride first, last, middle, etc.  HOLY CRAP!  This delige of information continued from the 19th until the 25th.   Every night for the seven days leading up to the ride, I was working on the ride schedule from the time I got home until I went to bed.  I believe my husband thought he had become a widower…I felt really badly about not spending time with him in the evenings, but I had entries coming in the mail, emails coming in with changes, texts with requests and Facebook postings for updates … and through all that I managed to keep the website current with each days updates.

What did I learn?  Three things that I would like to share with you.  I have always thought I was a respectful rider and after watching a whole two days of riding from the ground, I realize that most people *believe* they are respectful…. 

FIRST.  As a rider entering a ride, I will NOT (never ever again) call the secretary last minute to make a change – of any kind.  I now realize that every change requires time to process and TIME becomes very precious the week leading up to the ride date.

1.       I will make sure that when I send in my entry I have the correct information on the ride entry form.  If my horse is registered, I will include the registration information and if I forget to include that information, I will not tell the secretary after I have completed the ride for the day.

2.       If I need to cancel my entry, I will simply send an email and let the secretary handle it on her own accord, I will not hound the secretary and send multiple emails and phone calls and I will trust the secretary to know that I cancelled and take care of my refund on her own terms and time frame.

3.       If I need to change which horse I will be riding, I will send the ride secretary one (ONE) email and trust the secretary to make the necessary changes without hounding the secretary with multiple emails, texts and phone calls.

4.       I will not ask to change which riders I am going to ride with … EVER!  Even if I decide I don’t like the person that I asked to ride with because we had a major blowout over an ex-boyfriend … I will NEVER ask to change which riders I am with nor will I ask to change where I start.  I will trust the secretary to start me where the RIDE needs me to start.

SECOND.  As a rider on the trail, I will remember that the Ride Day Manager and the volunteers that work the base camp, have a million and one things to do while horses are out on trail.

1.       I will not bother the Ride Day Manager not liking that horses passed me on the trail and ask the Ride Day manager to have them penalized.

2.       I will remember that the scribes are working very hard and when they sit down to rest in between horses, I will not ask them to hold my horse while I run all over camp looking for an item I dropped when leaving out on trail.

3.       I will smile and thank each and every volunteer that is standing in the hot sun, or pouring down rain, and remember that without them I could not be riding my horse at this event.

4.       I will not argue with the vet or lay judge about how sore or not how sore my horse is in the back, girth, legs, etc.  They are there to help me get my horse through the ride safely and soundly.

5.       I will not tie my horse to a tree and walk away so that as soon as I am out of sight my horse goes berserk, pulls back, breaks the reins and runs through camp causing havoc with all the other horse and rider teams waiting to get their P/R and vetting finished so they can go back out on trail.

THIRD.  Just because I am finished with my ride does not mean that anyone else is finished with their ride.  

1.       If it is my turn to be vetted, I will be paying attention and get my horse to the vet or lay judge promptly so that the person waiting behind me can get their vetting completed.

2.       If the timer is calling my number, I need to immediately pay attention to what the timer is asking me to do.  I will not ask the person standing next to me what the timer just said … it is my responsibility to move my butt up to the timer and find out for myself.

3.       If I am finished and my horse is settled down, I will PATIENTLY wait for the call for Hands On and I will not go to the timer 20 times and ask how much longer until it’s time for Hands On.

4.       When I am finished, I will offer my services to any riders coming in behind me.  I will not stand around watching people struggle to hold their horse, sponge it to get it cooled off and I will offer my assistance.

5.       I will NOT let my horse eat every other horse’s food at the hold area.

6.       I will clean up after myself at the hold area when I am finished with my ride, this includes cleaning up any leftover hay, spilled grain and manure.

7.       I will be courteous to other riders in the hold area standing next to me and if they bump into me or their horse bumps into my horse, I will not lose my temper and yell at them to stay out of my way.

8.       I will not jump line – ever – while waiting to get P/R, vetting or hands on.

Now this may seem like a lot of negativity, but it’s actually an educational experience for me to watch and observe everything that happens when 10 riders all come in at the same time….and when there are no riders in and none expected for 30 minutes or so.  Everyone in base camp that is part of the ride, from the simplest task of volunteering to hold horses while the rider uses the facilities all the way up to the Ride Day manager who is handling and managing a ton of people, riders and tasks, is always doing something that benefits the riders.  The riders may never notice these things because they’re riding, but I noticed these things and made mental notes of how I could be a better participant at a ride event to help keep work off the shoulders of the volunteers.

And let’s talk about after the ride is completed and the rider’s sheets are being scored.  I am so thankful for Greg’s assistance in the scoring process.  Our Muckleratz ride went very smoothly and quickly compared to some rides I have attended.  And now that I have actually worked through this process two days in a row, for 5 different rides, I will never EVER again get impatient while waiting for the scoring to be completed.  It is a lot of work to organize and score each rider.  Then comes the work to track all the different scores for all the different prizes being offered.  And this is where I learned that a good secretary will have those sheets CLEARLY marked with the horse info and novice or junior info so that the score keeper knows exactly who is who.

FOURTH!!!!  I will be grateful if I win a ribbon or a prize.  I will not look at my prize and make a face.  I will not ask the ride management to add a prize category during the ride or after the ride is over.  If I want a prize category, I will make a donation on my ride entry for that category so that it’s already setup.  I will not ask the ride management to consider my horse in a breed category if I neglected to send in the registration information on my horse with my ride entry.  I will not get upset if I was not considered in the Novice Horse or Rider division if I neglected to tell the ride secretary that information on my ride entry.  And last (and most important!) I will be grateful that I completed the ride and got my mileage with a safe, sound and healthy horse, I will not pitch a fit if I did not win any prizes at all.

I want to thank Cate for trusting me to be her secretary.  A couple things got confused but we quickly (and with very little stress) had those resolved.  I am grateful to Cate for trusting me to be the Ride Day manager while she rode Poe to get her ECTRA versatility.  Many things came up during the ride that challenged me and I learned a lot of the ECTRA rulings and why those rulings are in place.  It was an exceptional education for me and I believe that every person that rides should volunteer to be part of a ride management at least once in their lifetime so that they gain the same education and insight that I did. 

I can’t even begin to thank all the volunteers that make the ride run successfully.  I will now offer my services at more rides that I cannot attend as a rider due to whatever reason because the whole experience of being part of a ride from the ground is just as exciting as actually riding in the ride.

AS FOR THE RIDE ITSELF!!!!

I got clocked by my girlfriend’s horse a couple days before the ride and have a beautifully colored black eye.  I thought I would be unique and get lots of sympathy, but another rider also showed up with a black eye caused by her horse, so I didn’t get any pity party (chuckle).  We sympathized with each other and suffered through a lot of ribbing from our rider friends.

Getting to the ride was a challenge for me.  Friday I promised Cate I would be on the grounds by 1:00 so I would be available to check in riders as they arrived.  Unfortunately for Cate, I have a Dodie adventure to relay!

The day started poorly when I was sitting stopped on the ramp to get onto Rt 22 and a fella came zooming up behind me and didn’t realize that I was stopped and just starting to pull out.  He rammed right into the back of my truck.  I had no damage (that we can tell) as he hit my hitch and was stopped.  He (however) lost the entire front end of his car when he backed up and the hitch pulled it off.  OH MY!

Now, running an hour and a half behind because we had the police come out and take statements, I contacted Cate and let her know I’d be on the ground between 2:30 and 3:00. 

I have everything loaded into the Suburban (also known as Mabel) and am on the road but I keep smelling antifreeze.  Last year about this time, Mabel blew a connector so I know this smell very well.  I pulled off at my house and had my husband check things out.  We couldn’t find any leaks and the over flow container still had fluid in it.  It crossed my mind to just put everything back into my new truck (known as Ruth), but they were calling for rain and I wanted to be in sleeping in the back of Mabel in the event of rain … not sleeping in a tent.

So, I left my house on the road for the Muckleratz ride, and Mabel was going along as she always does.  Her name is Stable Mabel for a reason … she is a superbly running vehicle with a lot of power in her 454 motor.  Off and on I smelled antifreeze but she was running cool.  I kept my eye on that gauge.

I reached Elizabethville, junction of 225 and 209 and was only 4 miles from base camp when Mabel got mad sitting at the red light and blew her hose.  Dammit.  White smoke came rolling out from under her hood and that guage started climbing.  As soon as the light turned green and the vehicle in front of me moved, I pulled over into a parking spot (thankfully, two were open and I was able to get off the road) and I shut her down.

DAMMIT!

It’s 3:04 pm … I called Cate and let her know what was going on.  She volunteered Ben to come down and get my trailer with Miss Daizy stored inside.  THANK YOU BEN!  He swiftly ran down off the mountain and took Miss Daizy to base camp. I stayed with Mabel so I could be there when Marc arrived to fix her.   LeeAnn, Miss Daizy’s rider for Saturday, was already in camp.  She was marvelous and took care of setting up Miss Daizy’s pen and getting her hay and water.  THANK YOU LEEANN!!!!

I then call my husband and we walk through (over the phone) what I’m seeing and I send him pictures.  Mabel really did it this time.  Both the auto parts stores in Elizabethville close at 5:00 pm.  Marc will never get here in time to pick up what he needs so we’re trying to get pictures back and forth so he knows what he needs to get it on the way to fix Mabel.  Unfortunately, Mabel blew a specialty hose … a quick connector and hose all in one piece.  We called around and no-one carries this part, it has to be ordered.  DAMMIT.

So, Marc gets Ruth and drives an hour and a half to rescue me.  He looks at the situation then we drive to Harrisburg to get the parts he needs to jury rig Mabel enough to get her home.

I kept Ruth and when Marc was on the way home, I drove up to base camp.  I arrived at 8:30 (sigh).  I missed the buffet BYOD dinner and I heard there were some marvelous food items there.  I did get a couple pieces of pizza, so at least I wasn’t starting to death.

I had to sleep in the trailer (due to rain) because I did NOT want to set up the tent and get drowned.  It’s a good decision I made!  It rained all night Saturday – poured buckets with thunder and lightning.  The most amazing part of that is that we had no rain during the ride on Saturday and no rain during the ride on Sunday.  The powers that be really smiled upon us.

Miss Daizy has two different riders.  On Saturday, LeeAnn rode her and completed in 5th place with a score of 97.5.  She said they were moving along so wuickly they had to stop over 30 minutes before coming in to vet.  Miss Daizy came in still trotting with her tail up and ears forward.  I  loved seeing that!

On Sunday, Priscilla rode her and completed in 9th palce with a score of 97.5.  Knowing that this was Miss Daizy’s second day, I was extrememly excited by her placing and her score.  WOW.  She is gonna be a great CTR horse and I can’t wait for my back to get healed so I can rider her again.  This completes her first 100 CTR miles.  She just started her CTR career this year.  She got 99.5 score at Bunny Hop and got a 95.5 at Lickridge.  She is definitely improving and all her point losses are the same each ride … girth.  I did get a new girth which really seems to have solved the problem for Saturday’s ride.  Unfortunately, on Sunday she was wearing Priscilla’s saddle which is treed (her own saddle is a treeless) and she got a rub sore which was her point losses on Sunday.  The girthy problem, however, seems to be resolved with the new girth.

The ride went very well and we only had a couple RO pulls due to soreness.  We only had a couple vet pulls and they were due to lameness, no metabolic troubles.  Everyone else completed well within time, the ride went very fast.  I heard several people say they had to stop a couple miles before finishing to let their horses eat because they were running ahead of time.  I love hearing that, it means the trails are in good shape and were fun to ride!!!

 I WILL ADD MORE AS I REMEMBER IT – STAY TUNED!

Thank you LeeAnn and Priscilla for riding Miss Daisy!  She is an awesome horse and I was glad that she was able to complete and get more experience at the ride.  My back is healing but is still not in good enough shape to compete.

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But it’s not about the business!  It’s about the FUN!  It’s always about the fun in my world.  If it’s not entertaining, then why bother.  That is my life motto.

And boy, can I find entertainment in the strangest places.

My BLOGS about the Crossroads X Project are boring, but they are a big part of my life right now.  This project directly affects the residents in Greenwich Twp, specifically those living in Krumsville (like me) so I have become involved.  A warehouse in Fogelsville isn’t entertaining, so I don’t bother.  A warehouse in my backyard, HOWEVER, is entertaining so I have jumped in with both feet.

My Endurance Riding stories (on the other hand) are not boring.  In fact, most of them contain a minimum of one, but usually more, misadventures.  So read them and have some fun at my expense.

And look for me on Facebook because I always have something fun going on there, every day!