So, I have been anxiously watching the weather for three days leading up to this ride because they were calling for heavy rain Friday and Saturday morning. Then they changed it to just rain and rain showers Friday and Saturday morning. Now it looks like thunderstorms Friday night and showers until the wee hours of Saturday morning.
IT BETTER BE FREAKIN’ DRY FOR THE RIDE! I hate Fairhill when it’s wet. Those rolling grassy hills are very dangerous. Joker and I fell in 2004 and I broke my elbow. Finished the blinkety-blink ride but went straight home to the E.R. to get my elbow fixed. Miss Daizy is a wonderful hill horse and loves the downhills … if it’s wet, I don’t know how I’m going to slow her down. I’ll be in a panic the whole ride.
I was supposed to be meeting up with Kevin around 3:45 am so we could trailer down together. That’s nice, someone to talk to (or listen to me snore) while we drive in the wee hours of the morning. Unfortunately, Miss Daizy had other ideas about that. For so long she’s been awesome to catch in the field … until this morning. Down to the back, up to the top, around the pen, back down to the back.
Oh, did I mention when I got up it was torrential down pours? So (of course) I am spending more time sliding around in the mud than actually catching up to Miss Daizy while we play the “catch me if you can” game.
I decided that to hell with Miss Daizy, I was bringing Steel. I grabbed Steel, put the halter on her and here comes Miss Daizy charging straight at Steel, mud flying, and poor Steel trying her best to get out of the way while dragging me along behind her. Miss Daizy stood there quietly while I took the halter off Steel and put it on her.
Note to self. Pretend I want Steel and I’ll get Miss Daizy.
I load her up in the trailer and the rain is stopping.
I hop in the truck and see a text from Kevin…wondering if I was having trouble. I text him back that I’ll be there in three minutes. I run to Kevin’s and the rain has stopped. I was only 19 minutes late (arrived at 4:04 am) Not bad by Dodie-Time standards.
I quick put all my stuff out to load up in Kevin’s trailer and then grab Miss Daizy. Do you THINK she wants to walk up that ramp? No way. It’s a ramp and she’s having none of it.
We pull out of Kevin’s driveway at 4:20 am. Again, not bad by Dodie-Time standards, considering he told me the day before that he wanted to leave by 4:15 am.
I had a most enjoyable ride with Kevin. We talked about a whole lot of topics and the time flew on by. I did have to make him stop once for me to go to the bathroom. I explained that happens when you get old and you’ve had a ton of babies. Tiny bladder syndrome. I think he was amused!
While we’re driving, my riding partner, LeeAnne is texting me that she’s ready to pack up and leave. The winds started howling and it was cold. We watched the temps drop from 57 when I got up at 2:30 am to 42 by the time we got to the base camp. And the wind was blowing a sustained 35 to 40 mph (according to the weather report) with gusts of 55 mph.
Now, the rain is gone (blown out of the area by the wind, apparently) and the skies are blue blue blue but LeeAnne is ready to quit. I told her to do nothing until I get there because she promised me a date and I wanted a date!
WIND! I apologize that I have no pictures for this story. It was far too windy to take any pictures. I needed both hands just to keep myself from blowing over. More on that later.
So I go and check Kevin and myself in with Denise and get our ride packets. Now that we’re at the ride and I can actually see my dark bay horse because it’s light out, I am totally embarrassed. She is covered in mud and has mud in places I did not know a horse could GET mud.
I start grooming. Of course, the wind is blowing exactly the way it need to blow to put all that mud and loose hair right in my face and down my coat.
Can you say, ITCHY?
I get Miss Daizy as clean as I can then we go over for vetting. While I wasn’t looking, Brenda (LeeAnne’s slave for the day) took this nice picture of her. Her boo-boo is now about the size of a half dollar and totally scabbed over. I am hoping that there is no change in it during the ride. Dr. Nick marked it on her sheet and crossed his fingers to hope for the best.
Many people that had been following Miss Daizy’s boo-boo on Facebook came over to investigate it. They were very impressed with the healing process and the fact she was 100% sound on it. It still looks ugly and it’s going to leave a huge scar, the hair that has already come in is white as snow, and it’s still swollen compared to the other leg. However, she is sound on it so we’re going to ride today!
Remember this for later on in the story.
I came back to the trailer and tied Miss Daizy. Tiny Bladder Syndrome – run to the bathroom. I’m told Miss Daizy hollered after me begging me to come back.
By the way, she was totally unfazed by the wind. Czar was eating his hay and she decided his hay was far better than her own hay so was sharing. I tacked her up so she’d at least have the saddle area warm. She seriously didn’t care at all that the wind was blowing her off her feet. She just munched on Czar’s hay, while her own hay bag was left all alone and untouched right at her feet, and stood there like a perfect little lady.
Jack, on the other hand, was dancing all around and wouldn’t eat. LeeAnne was feeling better about riding now that the sun was out, but she was stressed by Jack not relaxing. I tell her “Don’t worry about it!”
The ride meeting was interesting, to say the least. The wind was blowing the tent so hard that we could not hear anything. Poor Cate, with her quiet voice, was making every attempt to talk over the wind flapping tent. It was comical.
Our out time was 8:35 am. We had half an hour to wait. Tiny Bladder Syndrome. Run to the bathroom again. I’m told that Miss Daizy hollered after me when I left … like she thought I was going to do the ride without her.
Jack was doing airs above ground while I was sitting on Miss Daizy and letting her eat green grass. Oh yeah, she was in heaven here in Maryland, there was green grass everywhere and she was determined to eat every bit of it. I was worried for LeeAnne that Jack was going to live up to his name (JackAss) because he was definitely feeling the wind before she got mounted. I was rather enjoying the show from my vantage point on top of Lazy Daizy (not for long … )
However, once she was in the saddle, Jack was all business. He stood tall and looked out over the horizon and I could feel the tension leaving LeeAnne as he was the perfect gentleman.
And we’re out. LeeAnne and I are on our date. Let me tell you, they started out quiet and calm, wind blowing us from one side of the trail to the other. Got into a nice 6.5 mph trot and we were moving right along. LeeAnne finally started smiling and it was grand!
I was totally prepared for anything. The wind was so loud we could barely hear each other talking. We came out of a wooded trail into a field about mile three and suddenly Jack went sideways and stopped. From the corner of my eye I saw LeeAnne going out of the saddle. I pulled up Miss Daizy and as I was started to get out of my saddle, LeeAnne saved her seat and remained on Jack.
WHOO HOO – that was a mighty feat of riding, right there!
The trees are swaying and every time we rode along woods, we could hear creaking and groaning. At one point, halfway through on the first loop, we heard a gun shot … well, actually it was a tree breaking .. and neither Jack nor Miss Daizy even cared about it. I don’t know about LeeAnne, but I jumped three feet out of the saddle.
We’re cruising along and came up on a lone gray horse in front of us.
Miss Daizy was working pretty well on a loose rein to that point. Now I have to keep her checked and rated with Jack. And bless his little heart, Jack didn’t get all worked up about that horse in front of us, nor the fact that Miss Daizy was suddenly “ON”. I was rather pleased at Miss Daizy’s enjoyment of her ride considering she had no work for the past 2 1/2 months. She was most certainly prepared to do far more work than I was letting her do at this ride.
We came out of a wooded area into an open field with four miles to go and the wind hit me so hard from the left that I almost fell off on the right. I was seriously out of the saddle. Fortunately for me, Miss Daizy felt me going and she stepped to the right and picked me back up. She never missed a beat. The photographer was there taking pictures and I wonder how many other riders had to do a quick adjustment back into the saddle so the photo would look great.
But now we’re cruising straight into the wind, entering into an open field, with huge jumps all over, and Miss Daizy has pretty much had it with Jack’s 6.5 mph trot and she wants to move out. I let her go into her pretty little lope … not a canter, just a little framed lope, and that satisfies her to some degree … but I have to hold on to her because I can tell, the slightest release from me and she’s going to run as fast as she can on this field.
We’re loping along next to Jack while he’s trotting, and suddenly, the head wind grabs a hold of my helmet and lifts it up, choking me with the chin strap. I got one hand on Miss Daizy and one hand trying to get my helmet back on my head. I had no idea that my new comfy helmet doubled as a paraglider paraphernalia … wheeeeee
One mile to go and neither Jack nor Miss Daizy wants to walk. They can still see that lone gray horse ahead of them and they want to jog into the base camp. I decide to stop them at the Porta-John and take a Tiny Bladder break. Getting back on was fun because I thought I could stand at this tree stump to get back on, but apparently all around the tree stump the dirt was washed away and Miss Daizy kept stepping in the hole, up to her knee. Finally she looked at me like “Hey Stupid! How about we go over to that log and get on instead because I’m not stepping in that hole again.”
chuckle – when the horse is smarter than the rider.
First loop done and we survived! Miss Daizy’s leg looks great. Her HR is 40. Her RES is 12. She’s not working hard at all. One thing I did notice was that she didn’t drink much at the hold, and she is a big drinker. She ate her food so I didn’t worry about it too much. Me? I have to run to the bathroom. I’m told that Miss Daizy hollered after me. What the heck is with that? I can’t go to the bathroom because it upsets Miss Daizy?
Now, I had purchased a new saddle, an Orthoflex Patriot. Which I love, by the way. I didn’t have it at this ride, I was using my treeless Barefoot Cheyenne, mostly because I had only ridden Miss Daizy in it three times before the weather got so bad we couldn’t ride. I didn’t want to chance a sore back or pressure points on her at this ride. Unfortunately for Miss Daizy, I was riding very very crooked and when we left out of base camp for loop number two, I could feel her complaining about the right diagonal and she was refusing to pick up her left lead at the canter.
I bought a new saddle to stop this kind of stuff. Time to get serious about conditioning in the new saddle so I could compete in it.
Now, for those of you following along Miss Daizy’s blogs, you know she is a second loop girl. She doesn’t wake up and get serious about working until second loop. This wind is half blowing me out of the saddle because it has picked up strength by now, and Miss Daizy is barely keeping me in the saddle as she is begging and begging to work faster. Jack in maintaining his 6.5 to 7.0 mph trot and Miss Daizy has had enough with the sight-seeing speed.
I decide this is a great training ride for Miss Daizy. Rate at your rider, not for you. now I know the motto, “Ride Your Own Ride.” but I was confident I could keep Miss Daizy rated at Jack’s speed without too much trouble.
We were ready to go out again and even though the wind was really whipping around now, it had most definitely picked up speed and added volume, our horses were totally cool with that. I am most impressed by how well they handled all that wind!
LeeAnne and I spent the first eight miles knocking knees and feet and Miss Daizy made every attempt to push Jack off the trail and take off without him.
We were unable to have much conversation this second loop. The noise from the wind was roaring in our ears. I can’t remember EVER riding in winds like this. My face started to feel like it was burning. I knew I screwed up by not putting some kind of cream on it. I was going have a severe case of wind burn the next day.
At five miles to go, we had over an hour to our minimum time to come in. We decide we should walk the last five miles.
(for those of you not familiar with CTR – Competitive Trail Riding we have a minimum of four hours and ten minutes to a maximum of four hours and forty minutes to complete our mileage. Visit www.ectra.org to learn more about judged trail riding.)
Miss Daizy had other thoughts on that was while Jack was happy to be walking, she was jigging and jigging and pushing into her bridle. Even though I explained to her several times that we were not on an endurance ride, we were on a CTR, she didn’t care!
And then it happened. We came to that wide open field, with the wind blowing straight into our face so hard we couldn’t hear a thing, and Miss Daizy was “ON”. I had a death grip on her, trying to keep her in a semi-slow trot and then she lifted into a framed canter. She was pulling hard at the reins … harder and harder and suddenly she went into a full blown bucking frenzy.
Head between her front legs, hind feet in the air above my head, bucking hard. She put every rodeo horse I’ve ever seen to shame.
I got her under control, staying in the saddle I have no clue how (maybe the wind was working for me, pushing me down while she was throwing me up) and as I got her turned to stop I saw two riders coming up on us … very fast.
No WONDER she was pushing on her reins so hard. She was NOT going to let someone else win and because the wind was blowing so hard, I couldn’t hear them coming up behind us so I wasn’t prepared for her nonsense.
My back was screaming. LOUD.
I dismounted. I had to. I had to get my back spasms under control. I hate to admit this, but tears were streaming down my face. I hunched over for a couple minutes while poor LeeAnne worried and fussed over me.
Then I tried to stand up straight (NOT! owie) and walk for a minute. I totally know the rules, no forward motion on foot unless it is a safety issue. Well! This is a definite safety issue. If I don’t get my back to stop the hard painful spasms, I will surely not be able to ride my horse.
The two riders that came up on us passed us by. I stood there, bent almost in half trying to breathe and then came along that lone gray rider. She knew immediately what was going on and asked me one word … “Back?” I nodded and she said, “Yep, I know that hunched walk very well.” She asked if she could do anything and I said nope, I was fine. She did hang there for a minute or two just to be sure.
I managed to get myself straightened up and then walked over to a pile of gravel, determined to get back on Miss Daizy and finish the last two miles. I’m telling LeeAnne that 150 yards is not really forward motion … is it?
Miss Daizy didn’t want to stand still … three horses just passed her, you know, and she had to catch up. I’m sliding and slipping in the loose pile of gravel trying to explain to Miss Daizy that she can’t catch back up to those horses unless I get back on. So after a paragliding lesson and a rodeo lesson, now I’m having a downhill skiing lesson.
(NOTE: I was contacted after the ride by the ride Manager, Cate. She wanted to know the exact reason I dismounted and did forward motion off my horse. UH OH … someone must have read this story and told on me. It is possible to be disqualified in an ECTRA sanctioned event for breaking any of the rules. I’ll keep the story updated once she gets back to me.)
Now, don’t get me wrong. Up until this point, I was having a blast. Riding in the wind, totally working my horse and myself, listening to LeeAnne cracking jokes about our date and rubbing knees and my Fun-O Meter was running high on full. I was getting a bit achey in my back from holding Miss Daizy in slow-mode … but I wasn’t complaining about it, because I’d much rather hold her back than push her forward.
But Now? After this rodeo ride? Fun-O-Meter just went on empty. Two miles to go.
I have to admit, Miss Daizy must have totally known what was going on because when I got back on her, she was suddenly very sedate and we walked the final two miles without any fussing on her part. She was jigging a bit, but just to keep up with Jack’s big walk. He walks at about 4 mph and she walks at about 2 mph. The jigging was not fun … owie.
My Fun-O-Meter was slowly refilling and by the time we got back to the base camp, it was almost back to full. I rather enjoyed that last two miles. Especially when I realized that Miss Daizy was more in tune with me than I realized. Maybe that’s why she kept hollering at me when I would go to the bathroom.
LeeAnne and I came into the finish line holding hands and Miss Daizy actually sped up her walk a bit to keep up with Jack while we did it. I think someone was taking pictures so maybe I’ll be able to get one or two pictures from other people brave enough to take out their camera in the wind.
I untack Miss Daizy and see that I was seriously clamping on her left side. I start brushing her and when I get to the left side she’s like, “Get the &^%#% away from me with that brush.”
So much dirt and loose hair. I brush and brush and brush the entire 20 minutes while we wait to go up for our pulse and respiration check. Miss Daizy was at 40 and 12 again. Her trot out is perky and fast. YAY! And her boo-boo looks exactly the same as it did when we started, all scabby and gross looking. I am thrilled by her performance today. She has not been ridden since January 29th when she got the boo-boo and she just busted out this competition with a ton of horse left in her.
A TON! She had at least 3/4 tank of gas and was ready to go back out on another loop. I had promised Kelsey that Miss Daizy could be her riding partner for Foxcatcher the following weekend, if she did okay at this ride today. Well, Kelsey is in for a ride! because Miss Daizy is “ON” and strong and ready to bust out 50 miles.
She is an amazing horse. I can’t get over the fact that she is my partner.
VERY BIG GRIN
We have a long wait for the hands on portion so I go to (you guessed it) the bathroom. I was drinking a lot of water and gaterade because I knew that the wind was busting off my hydration faster than the riding was. And I also know myself, if I don’t stay hydrated, I get nauseous. Well, that fluid has to go somewhere … to my Tiny Bladder.
Hands on went about the way I expected it to go. Dr. Nick commented on her boo-boo that he was pleased to see it had no change. YAY! I was a bit miffed about one item. Miss Daizy checked in with tickly on her left girth … they marked her sheet as such. At the end I lost points for tickly on her left girth. Now, in CTR if you start with a “thing” and it’s the same at the end, you are not supposed to lose points for that. I can tell you that I watch the judges very closely in the checks because if there is change in my horse, I want to be aware of it so I can correct it. She did exactly the same thing at the end as she did at the beginning.
That was my only complaint! Everything else, exactly as how I expected it.
Kevin said he and Czar had a good ride, too. We had an amazing ride home. I picked his brain about everything I could think of regarding doing a hundred mile ride. We talked about old trails at Old Dominion and new trails that were at new rides and different horses we had ridden over the years. I couldn’t believe it when we were getting off the turnpike because it did not seem like we had been in the truck for two hours. It seemed like minutes. And I didn’t even ask him to stop along the way home for a Tiny Bladder Syndrome pee break because I went just before I got into the truck and I was good to go.
Now, for the cravet to this story. I pulled my paperwork so I could fill out Miss Daizy’s AHA Competition form and lo’ and behold, the paperwork is in Steel’s name. … apparently when I sent in my ride entry I wasn’t sure Miss Daizy could go to the ride so I sent in Steel’s paperwork. Now I have to get ahold of Cate and ask her to change everything so I can get the correct mileage for Miss Daizy. Although I’m sure Steel would LOVE to accept the fifth placing for her own self, it is important to me that I keep it all correct for the two of them.
A short note to my 50+ Endurance Group … although I was riding on my flouncy bouncy horsie, and she torqued my back something horrible during the ride, I am writing this story feeling pretty darn good and drug free. My back feels alright and although my calves are reminding me that there is quite the difference between riding a Cadillac (Steel) and riding a Ferrari (Miss Daizy) it’s nothing I can’t deal with if I just stay in the chair and don’t walk up and down stairs.