NEATO 50 2016

hold1After seventeen years of competing in this sport, I will finally knock one ride off my bucket list.  I have attempted to get to this ride five different years and something always came up to prevent me from going.  I WILL RIDE IT THIS YEAR!

Now, I have to remind the reader that the NorthEast Region is having a lot of bad luck with weather this year for our competitions.

  1. Rabbit Run – rain and thunderstorms
  2. Chesapeake – high winds, gusts up to 70 mph
  3. Foxcatcher – snow, sleet and rain
  4. No Frills – rain and thunderstorms
  5. Cheshire – cold rain
  6. NJ 100  – Friday rain, Saturday T-Storms, Sunday sleet + hail.

My hope is that NEATO, being in the tiny state of Rhode Island, will be ignored by Mother Nature as too insignificant to give us bad weather.

(fingers crossed, and knock on wood)

Now, I had asked several people in my area how they travel to NEATO because MapQuest gave me three different options. I carefully weighed each person’s travel itinerary and decided on my own best course of action.  Of course, NO-ONE (not a single one of them) told me to get through Stamford before lunchtime or I’d be stuck in traffic for hours.  I was clueless when I chose my own driving route and driving time.

1. Daryl said he goes through New York City on I-95.


2.  Dawn and Dean said they go through Hartford, CT on I-84

(too long)

3.  Rowena said she goes up I-287 to I-95

(That’s the one that looks good to me!)

I had decided to go up early to this ride because I have never been to Rhode Island and I wanted to stop and do some “touristy” things on my way.  I decided to get on the road before 9:00 am.  Packed and ready to go during the week, Friday morning all I had to do was throw Poe in the truck and throw the girls in the trailer.  I am actually on the road by 8:30 am, gassed up by and on I-78 by 8:45.  I have no idea how that happened, but I was moving on someone’s else time-line, not my own.


So I’m driving along, singing to the radio, and am very pleased with how traffic is moving so smoothly.  My drive to RI is totally uneventful except for this…

And y es, I’m gonna talk about this because no-one ever does and I am clueless.  I don’t want anyone else to be clueless, so I *AM* going to talk about it.



It’s the worst.  I just started weird stuff over this past winter and I’m at a loss as to whether what I’m experiencing is real, scary, normal or whatever.  BECAUSE NO-ONE TALKS ABOUT IT!

Let’s start with heart palpitations.  Racing and pounding in my chest.  Followed by minor chest discomfort and some belching.  Followed by breaking out into a hot sweat and turning the air conditioner up on full blast, even though it’s only 57 degrees.  Followed by turn the heat on full blast because now I’m freezing.  Followed by rinse and repeat.

For two hours while driving.


I was afraid to ask Poe how she felt about all those interior temperature changes.  First she’s curled in a little ball, then she’s laying flat out on her side panting.  But she was hot and cold opposite of me, so I knew it was the “M” word … bleck.

And okay, I will admit to there was a minor slow down crossing the Tapenzee Bridge due to construction, but we maintained about 40 mph for those couple miles, then it opened up again.  Other than that, the drive was totally uneventful.  Poe didn’t even throw up because I have taken Dawn’s advice about Dramanine and Poe gets a full adult dose before every trip in the truck.


I drove along the coast line on I-95 and stopped at one interesting looking “overlook” because the brown tourist sign said I should.  I saw some marsh birds, but that was about it.  Oh, I did see a huge black and white crane in the distance and Poe saw something interesting in the bushes that I could not see.  She was on alert and her tail was wagging so hard I thought it would fall off.


Checked the girls then got back in the truck to finish my trip.  Now, I have to add this little blurb … something happened to my 1980’s cell phone while I was out on trail on Saturday.  It got a mind of it’s own and deleted my entire gallery of photos.  So, all the photos in this story are stolen from someone.  It’s a shame because I had a lovely photo of the touristy stop I did in the marsh of RI.  The flowering trees and shrubs were magnificent.  And I had a great photo of Poe on alert at that bush.


Arrived at base camp at 2:05 pm.  Excellent!  The MapQuest directions had estimated 4.5 hours, driving a trailer I estimated 5.0 hours and I did it (with a minor touristy stop) in 5.5 hours.


Dom and Mike had told me they would leave around 10:00 am and would probably get to the base camp by 3:00 pm.  Vetting in starts at 3:00 pm so I had plenty of time to setup the corrals and let the girls eat and drink and relax before vetting in.  Hopefully Dom would be here in time to vet her own horse.  She always seems to miss that part when she rides Steel.


At 2:45 pm I receive a text from Dom.  It says (and I quote with misspellings and lack of capitals!) “Have been sitting in terrible traffic for two hours now, eta was originally 3 and keep getting later,  hope to arrive by five.  ugh.  i’m sorry, i’m the worst 🙁 “

I will admit when I read her text I laughed out loud and scared poor Poe.  I laughed because while I got on someone else’s time, Dom is staying true to her nature and is running on Dom-time.

It’s all good because shortly after I received that text from Dom, I received one from Lauren asking if I was here yet.

Why … yes I am!  And would you want to come and help me vet in my horses?

Lauren and Melissa rush over to grab some conversation time and help me vet in.  Apparently they had been here in camp since 8:30 am.  Because, they tell me, they left at 5:00 am to miss the I-95 traffic through Connecticut.

What traffic?  I didn’t hit any traffic!

Oh ho ho, they say … you got VERY VERY lucky.  They said the the Friday traffic can get so backed up that it takes hours to go a mere 20 miles.

Uh oh.  Poor Dom and Mike.

Lauren says she’s not going to start Getcha, due to a rub on his back where the saddle goes and Melissa wants to know if she can ride with me and Dom.

OH YES!  PLEASE!!!!  I haven’t ridden with Melissa since eons ago at Muckleratz (I think it was Muckleratz) when I was riding Flame and she was riding Q.  I quick text Dom that Melissa will be joining us on the ride and she texts back, “I love Melissa.”

I’m sad for Lauren not to be riding, but I totally get the whole “save the horsie” mentality.  Better to now start and have a good day crewing than start and have a horse that is sore, or worse.

(I wish I had pictures to put in here, this text is getting rather boring, isn’t it?)

So, dinner is at 5:30 pm.  I’m sitting with Lauren and Melissa at their trailer, gabbing it up and drinking a hard lemonade, when I glance at my phone to see if I missed a text from Dom and see it is 5:26 pm.

Oh crap!

I run Poe over to my trailer and check the girls then head over to the meal.

Mmmmm – boy did they have yummy food!  LOTS of yummy food.  And just as I sat down to eat, who did I see coming up for dinner?



(wish I had pictures to share, because I had a couple good ones of supper time.  Stupid phone…deleting all my photos – bah!)

The ride meeting was very informative and all the places where we “might” get turned around were covered, in detail.  I paid close attention as Dom and I have never been on this ride so didn’t want to get us turned around.  Melissa has been on this ride, and I noticed she wasn’t paying any attention as she was laughing at something Lauren was saying while she was playing with Poe.


Our out time in the morning is 6:30 am.

Sweet!  I love an early start because I am a morning person all the way.

Dom?  Not so much (snicker)

After the ride meeting we head back and sit around and talk until it’s getting dark.  We head off to sleep so we can have good energy for tomorrow’s ride.  We checked the weather and they had pushed back the rain until 7:00 pm.  Thank goodness, we would have a lovely day to ride.

zzzzzzzzzzzzzz –

I shot awake at 2:30 because Miss Daizy and Steel were going nuts.  I could hear them stomping and spinning and Steel was banging into the side of the trailer.  Miss Daizy was snorting and high blowing.

What the?

I didn’t even bother to throw on shorts, I jumped up, in my underwear, and rushed out to find out what the commotion was about.  Thank goodness I remembered to replace the batteries in my flashlight before I went to bed.

I lit up the girls and they’re staring into the bushes behind their corral.  Steel has her tail flipped completely up and over her back and Miss Daizy is high blowing and is looking all Araby (interestingly enough because she NEVER looks like an Arab)

I shine my light into the bushes and listen.  I hear nothing.  I see nothing.  I smell nothing.

I grab Poe and bring her over and she is more interested in why we’re going for a walk at 2:30 am than what’s going on in the bushes.


I turn the light off and sit on the trailer hitch and wait.

Takes about 10 minutes for the girls to chillax and once they started eating their hay, I decided the commotion was nothing and I go back to bed.

Of course, I am wide awake now.


I lay there on my bed and hear Poe start to snore softly over in her bed and I am hoping that I will get another two hours of sleep.  I planned on getting up at 5:00 am.  After about 20 minutes of reciting one to one hundred in French, then in Spanish, then in English, I decided I am not going to get any more sleep so I got back up/ and gave the girls their morning grain.  It’s 3:35 am.

I refresh their hay bags (all while still in my underwear) and then go back and lay down again.  Now Poe is awake and bouncing around because I got back up.


I lay there and next thing I know, I am waking up at 4:48 am.

Whew.  An extra hour.  I’ll be fine.

MORNING!  And it’s crisp but not cold and gloriously clear skies as the sun is coming up.

I am so excited!

I bustle around getting things prepped to go and true to her word, Dom is up at 5:45 and walking over.  I had one cup of coffee and downed an entire bottle of water.  Ate a banana and a yogurt and was ready to rock-n-roll.

Mike is bright and chipper, Dom not so much.


We brush the girls and get their tack on and here comes Melissa and Emu, Lauren in tow.  We’re ready ready ready and we’re all happy happy happy.

NEATO 50 miles, here we come!

(yay – now we will have photos!)

leavingAs we’re leaving I said to Melissa that I was going to let Emu set the pace.  She got this look on her face and said, “Oh no, or we’ll do this 20 mile loop in 20 minutes.”

OMG, I cracked up.

O ,,, K ,,, ma’am.  Miss Daizy can set the pace and we’ll stretch it out to 30 minutes.

We rocked that first twenty mile loop.  I have to tell you that I have not had so much fun on a ride in a very long time.  These trails are to die for.  Footing is most excellent with some rolling so we aren’t doing flat but we’re also not doing steep and there are places through the pine trees and the laurels where the foliage is brushing against you as you’re twisting through the trees.  It was amazing.  And we cantered almost the entire loop, Miss Daizy in the lead and working both right and left leads.

10 minuteRide management had added a ten minute gate and go in the middle of this loop.  None of our three horses were very interesting in stopping for anything but they did get their brains on, and I got some more water and crackers eaten.  Miss Daizy was like, “What?  Stop?  Eat grass?  No way.”

When we were ready to get one and leave, Emu kept side stepping the log that Melissa wanted to use as a mounting block.  It cracked me up because he seriously would wait until she lifted her foot and then just casually move to the side out of reach.

Steel, on the other hand, was the most remarkable horse the entire day.  She didn’t do one thing wrong, not once.  Well, she did knock over her water bucket (twice) in the holds while trying to run her itchy face.  So, okay, she did something bad.

I had replaced my Skito inserts since No Frills ride.  I am hoping that this takes care of Miss Daizy’s sore back issue.  Apparently she likes the new inserts because she’s working both leads and both diagonals without complaint after we left the ten minute gate and go.

Canter canter, hand gallop, canter, trot, trot, canter, hand gallop.

It was the most fun ever.


whatAnd wouldn’t you know it, we left on trail at 6:45 am with only two riders behind us (Jeff was having troubles catching his loose horsie at the start) and we came into the first hold at 8:56 am.  So just a hair over two hours to do twenty miles.  (see us with our ride cards ready to go???)  And look at Miss Daizy’s face, she’s like, “What?  The loop is over already?  Really?”

happyWOWZA was that ever fun!  I was grinning ear to ear and jazzed on adrenaline and bursting with the amazing conversations with Dom and Melissa.  All three horses were working very well together on that first loop.

I am having the best time, the trail is the bomb, the weather is (as Melissa says, PERFECT) and I am so very very glad I finally made it to this ride in Rhode Island.

We all pulsed in at 9:05 am.  Steel at 44, Miss Daizy at 52, and I’m not sure about Emu’s pulse numbers.


mike_holdThey were all three fresh and eating and drinking and so I handed Miss Daizy over to Mike while I went off to find a porta-john and do some bladder relief.  Of course, the nearest one is three miles away.  Now why couldn’t they have set one up near to the hold/vetting area?

Thank goodness for Mike.  He is so calm and relaxed and simply asks, “What can I do for you?”  If I say, “Nothing!” he smiles and waits.  If I say, “Could you…?”  He smiles and hops right to it.  Dom has an amazing man at her life side.

Lauren was taking care of Melissa and Emu and they disappeared off into the wild sunny yonder.  I suspect she went over to their trailer so Getcha wasn’t all alone.  I asked Lauren how he was doing being left behind and she said (amazingly) that he was handling it pretty well.  (Whew)

Once again, I am setting new records as I have my tack back on and am ready to get into the saddle five minutes before the hold time is over.  I learned a lot about shaving time off at the hold from my National Championship ride.  Peggy taught me a lot about a lot of things during that ride.  You have to read the ride story to get that education for yourself!

coming in second loopSo, here we are, mounted and leaving on loop #2.  We have 15 miles to ride on the white loop.  Dom’s acronym for our loops PWO (pronounces P Whoa) for Pink, then White, then Orange.  Dom and Melissa decided to practice their Preakness racing posture as we walked out of camp.  I was cracking up!  Notice my non-araby Arab walking along behind the group at her 1.5 mph quarter horse shuffle.  She cracks me up.  She can trot 15 mph and make everyone else canter, but she can’t walk fast to save her life.

And we’re off on another adventure.  This loop, Emu and Miss Daizy decided that they BOTH had to be the winner.  If Emu got out front, Miss Daizy would hollow out her back and fight me trying to rate her to his speed.  She wanted to win win win.


run awayIf Miss Daizy was out front, she was so determined NOT to let anyone pass her (and remember, she can rock a 15 mph road trot) that when the other horses started cantering to keep up with her, she would break into a dead run … and when I would rein her in slow her down, she would hollow out her back and fight my control.    Dom captured this photo of Miss Daizy in “run away” mode and it made me take pause.  She is really fighting me here and this looks like a very uncomfortable frame for Miss Daizy to be working in.


Okay, now this is no where near as fun as the first loop.  Pretty soon, all this nonsense of holding her in a semi-contolled state is causing my back to spasm.

Nooooooooo – I did so good on the first loop, not even a twinge of anything.

We’re only about halfway through the second loop when we came upon the first half of Team Hillard .. Dean and Sultan.  For a little bit, Miss Daizy slowed down to stay behind Sultan then she started getting antsy and fresh and Emu was acting up (I only know this because I could hear Melissa calling him a JackAss) so we only stayed with Dean for about three miles.  I think we scared him off when I started yelling the “F” words at Miss Daizy and then Melissa started threatening to beat Emu to death … because after we got their nonsense stopped, we looked and he was long gone.

What has gotten into Miss Daizy on this loop?  She is being a nutcase.

joySteel?  Well, she’s just moseying along in true relaxed Steel fashion.  So nice and relaxed and Dom was able to be her silly self the entire ride.  Apparently, the other horse she rode this season did not allow her to jibber jabber *OR* to be silly.  Steel is like, “Silly?  Sure!  have a good time!”  BTW, I’m sure you’ve noticed by now that I put Steel back into her green tack.  This was all for Dom who bought new stirrups (green) and a new helmet (not pink) and pommel bags (green).  We were all very color coordinated on this ride.

We’re so cute!

Okay, due to stopping several times for horsie shenanigans, we did the second loop in three hours.  It wasn’t because we were moving slow, because we were moving WAY TOO FAST, but because we had to keep stopping to get brains on.  And by the end of this loop my back was screaming the most horrific curse words at me, I cannot even begin to describe it.  I have not had back pain like this since two years ago.  All because Miss Daizy has to be a freakin’ fruit loop.

Owie ….

hold2And into the hold we come, bearing our green ride cards, at 12:06 pm.  (Notice me holding my saddle so I could relive my back … man oh man was it in bad shape coming in.)

LUNCH TIME!  Thank goodness because I am famished.  Marc made us Chicky-Fingers and we all indulged.  Mmm good.  And I drank water, and gaterade and apple juice and sloshed my way three miles to the potra-john to get rid of it.


And bless Mike, he totally took care of Miss Daizy while I did all my stretching excercizes and FINALLY got my back to pop.


Now I only needed to take some Tylenol, instead if hitting the major drugs.  Tramadol works but it also makes me loopy.  I’m already loopy enough without trying to ride while under a narcotic haze.

Remarkably, Miss Daizy’s back isn’t sore.  After all that nonsense on trail, I figured she’d be sore.  Her vet in was nice and steady and a good strong square trot-out (I know because I begged Mike to trot her so I could watch).  She was mis-stepping on trail coming in the last two miles of the second loop so I wasn’t sure if she was off, or just getting tired from being stupid for 15 miles.

All A’s on her card and CRI 56/56.  Good to go.

And again, even with spending the time necessary to pop my back into place, we got out of the hold right on time.

Uhm, this seems to be a new record for me!

Last loop, fifteen more miles.  Let’s see how stupid Miss Daizy and Emu can be.  Wait, maybe we should ask Melissa if she even WANTS to ride the third loop with us.  Emu was pulling on her so hard towards the end of the second loop that he tore through her gloves and blistered her hands.

And now, Melissa thinks we want to ditch her.  And she pretty much said “NOT A CHANCE IN HELL are you ditching me.”

Oops, that wasn’t exactly what we meant … but, we will take the flak over it.

(palm to face)

We left at a walk.  YES!  All three of us (gotta laugh about it or Melissa will kill me!)  Once on trail, we started at a nice slow pleasure trot.  Since Miss Daizy was behaving, and moving slightly slower than I really wanted to move, I asked Dom to put Steel in the lead.  Steel was like, OH YEAH!  I’m winning now!”

We moved out at a nice pace for the first mile then ..



And we walk.

And shortly after hitting the macadam we hear, “Yoo Hoo, Ladies.”

I turn around and there the other half of Team Hillard, Dawn.  How nice.

Oh, join us and let’s have fun!

And we did!  Dawn posted a video of the ride and we are featured in the last couple minutes as we shared the entire last loop together.

Little did I know she was recording a lot of that loop, so you will see some silly Dodie antics towards the end of this video.

Oops (chuckle)

While Emu had pulled on Melissa so hard on the second loop that he wore a hole in her gloves, he was being a very good boy on this third loop.  We give partial credit to Steel, who was running interference between Miss Daizy and Emu.  All on her own.  Dom said that Steel was cutting Emu off from passing and Dom had nothing to do with that action.

dawnDawn’s gelding was handling the group ride wonderfully (wish I could remember what his name was, how embarrassing).  He would go first, then second then third, then last and really didn’t care where he was.  He was a great addition to our trio!

Miss Daizy got him through the scary monster bridges and other obstacles.  Steel convinced him that being third was a good plan. And Emu reminded him that red ribbon really does mean,  “Keep back, buddy!”

And none of them got out of hand for the entire third loop.


drinkingAll in all, the third loop was the best of the three loops, trail wise.  They chose most excellent trail for the third loop and I was in awe of the scenery and the beauty.  And, having a fourth silly person in the group made this loop fly by as stories and jokes and laughing kept us all in stitches the entire time.  We trotted, we cantered, we walked, we stopped at the water tubs and all four horses

flowersAnd there were these little white flowers covering the ground like mis-placed stars.  I couldn’t get over how perfectly beautiful they were and talked non-stop about them until someone (not sure who) said to me … Oh my gosh, Dodie.  Maybe I was getting a little loopy at this point.


About the last five miles, I noticed that Miss Daizy was complaining when I posted on the right diagonal.


And she was refusing the left lead when we cantered.

double sigh

And she was occasionally bobbing her head at the trot when I did post on the right diagonal.

triple sigh

It’s No Frills all over again.

I pretty much knew we were going to be pulled at the end and I really didn’t care.  I knew it was her back and girth area causing this problem, and I had a remarkable 50 miles of trail with amazing people and I was happy happy happy about the ride.

Poor Miss Daizy.

I am at a point I’m sure she needs a better (and lighter) rider because she is so sensitive with her tack.

Oh well.  It will be her second pull, through no fault of her own.  My bad.  I am a terrible rider due to back posture issues and my saddle sucks and Miss Daizy handles all that with great aplomb.  Time to find her a better rider so she can shine in this sport.  It breaks my heart to think about it, but I’m pretty sure this is what it’s come down to.  I have had five years to heal my back and it’s never going to be the same again so … if I can’t ride her properly, I will find someone who can.

Enough sadness.

We are approaching the finish line and

WHAT?  There are people still here waiting?

Does that mean … TOP TEN????

Why,  yes it does!  We tied for 10th place, crossing the finishing line at 3:12 pm.


the finish1I had no clue.  We were not riding to top ten, we were just riding to finish and have a good time.  How is it possible that we started dead last and passed so many people by?  We got off our horses, loosened girths and walked them into the base camp from the finish line.  Steel lost a shoe somewhere in the last couple miles so Dom opted to walk her on the macadam instead of the gravel road.  Perfect idea!

the finishDawn finally beat her nemisis, NEATO and completed the last loop (she told us several times how wonderful it was to actually be doing the last loop).

Dom and I did a ride we have never done before and we are wowed by it, ready to come back next year.

Melissa didn’t say much of anything about the ride, other than to say (it was PERFECT) and she’d done it before and she knew where to tell us to do things (like sneak into the pond for water) and the weather was PERFECT.

Off to vetting we go.  All our horses were pulsed right down.  Of course they did, they just walked the last half mile without riders and with loose girths.

Miss Daisy is famished and she’s eating everything in sight while I try to drag her to the vet for her final check.  Once again Mike to the rescue, he grabbed her head while I poked her butt to keep her motivated.

Steel, even without a shoe, trotted out with head up, tail up and perfectly square.  YAY! Final CRI was 48/52.  All A’s and one B (for muscle tone).  Steel rocked it.

Dawn’s horse (gosh, what is his name) did wonderfully and should get special treats and spa massages for breaking her NEATO record of NEATO=4 / Dawn=0.  KUDO’S DAWN!

Melissa had great scores until her trot out.  Emu is doing something funky but the vets can’t tell if it’s front, back, or sideways.  She has 45 minutes to figure it out and get him better.

Miss Daizy trots out with a severe head bob.  Again, the vets cannot tell me front or back and I know that is because it’s her back and left girth area causing her pain.  I have 45 minutes to get her right.  Everything else is an A.  Except gait, which they left blank in the hopes I could get her right.  Because she didn’t trot out well, they didn’t do an official CRI, but my vet did check it in case there was a major change and it was 42/42.  He said she couldn’t be in that much pain with a CRI like that.

finishOH MIKE?????  Can you help me out here?

I did all the things my equine chiropractor gave me to do (just like at No Frills, I did these massages and stretching and she got sound enough to pass).  Mike and I see-sawed her back.  I massaged her loins and butt.  She is very touchy on the right loin before we started and after we finished, she would allow me to poke it without dropping is.  The girth area was another matter.  I put cold cold water on it, but it had puffed out about 2 inches.

Oh man, that looks tender, and when I would touch it, she about ripped my head off … she even went as far as to stop eating long enough to snap her teeth at me.

Okay, this is as good as it’s gonna get.  We represent to the vet and Miss Daizy is 100% improved.  Barely any discomfort and trotted down perfectly square, but they asked Mike to put her on a looser rein coming back … and she bobbled her head twice.  Just twice, the rest of the trot back was great.

But, the vets said “No go, she’s pulled.”


And yes, we trotted out an hour later and Miss Daizy went perfectly square and sound after the swelling started to go down on her girth.  And after some more stretching, her right loin was touchable.  Still tender, but touchable.

Oh well.  We had a magnificent ride and I cannot fault Miss Daizy for my horrible riding posture.

And poor Emu?  Well on his second presentation at the trot, he was actually worse.  Oh man.  BUT!  The next morning he trotted out perfectly sound and square, Melissa believes he was a bit foot tender from the gravel road cantering.

So Dawn and Dom tied for 10th place and got some really cool top ten awards.

Melissa and I tied for lame horses but a very fun ride (up in the air hand smack).

alex_lauren_storyAnd Lauren?  Well, her and Getcha did get to ride the last 15 miles of NEATO!  She sponsored a 12 year old junior girl on her last loop of the 50 mile ride because her mom was pulled and Lauren thought it unfair that she now finish.  Here the little girl is, is all smiles, and Lauren was the hero of the day!

Her name is Alex and she told Lauren, in all seriousness, on that last loop that is was okay to canter because hse knew how to do that.

Is that not too cute?

Go Lauren.  You rock!


Oh, and my back?  Tylenol worked wonders and by the time I had gotten back from the third loop, it was fine.  Didn’t need anymore drugs that evening, and the next morning it was no trouble at all.  My calved, on the other hand, after centering most of the ride, were complaining about cramps and some guy named Charlie on a horse.

Dawn and Dean came over and we chipped in for pizza and then had a pizza party at Dawn’s trailer.  When it started spritzing, we all scattered to our own camps and prepared for the rain that was coming.  It was due at 7:00 pm and it was already 8:00 pm without it, so we really did had a great day with great weather.

I smothered Miss Daizy and Steel in rain gear, knowing they’d have to stand over night in the rain. And I prepared for bed time.

Ahhhh, so good to lay down.

I slept all the way to 4:30 am.  Never woke up once.  And when I did wake up, I did not hear any rain so I figured it must have come and gone, even though the weather channel said rain 100% for Sunday morning.

I put some clothes on and opened the back of the trailer to get out and …

It’s dry.

What?  The rain missed us?  Then it’s true what they say about Rhode Island.  It’s so small everyone, including Mother Nature, forgets about it.


Because I thought it was going to rain over night, I had packed almost everything the night before.  I didn’t take time to clean it, just put it away so it wasn’t soaked in the morning.  not my usual routine, as I like to clean everything and then pack it properly so it’s ready for the next ride.


Camp broke down in record time, as most things were already put away.  Dom and Mike helped me break down the corrals and clean up the area and I was in the truck rolling down the highway by 7:15 am.

Wow, I’ll be home before noon.  I texted Marc that I would be home before noon.

My bad … jinxed us.  We didn’t get home until 6:30 pm.

Traffic problems?

Nope.  Truck problems.

About two hours into my drive (which, by the way was clear sailing with hardly any traffic at all) I came across a bridge that had some pothole issues and as I left the bridge and hit the last bump I started hearing rattling noises from the front of my truck.

What the?

Driving along at 65 mph didn’t seem like a good idea.  I slowed down and the clunking noise went away.


Sped up and the clunking noise came back.


Slowed down and crawled with my flashers on for 15 miles to a rest area gas stop.  Exit 41 on I-95.  Time?  8:52 am.

Pulled in and gassed it up and called Marc about the noise.  Told him it suspiciously sounded like the time I lost a front wheel off the old Dodge pickup.

Naw, he says, that doesn’t happen with the newer trucks.


Called my mechanic who said it sounded like a CV joint or axle bearing.  He had a plan to get Marc to me with his truck.  He loaded Marc’s truck onto his flat bed trailer and sent Marc to me.  We could hook Marc’s truck to the trailer and load my truck on the flat bed to get everything home in one trip.

Okay, let me make some calls.

First towing company thru Triple AAA said $1,500 for both the truck and trailer.

US Rider said, if I was a member $600.  Because I’m not a member, $1,000 to $1,200 for both vehicle.

State cop stopped to check on me and called a local company.  They said they couldn’t do the horse trailer because it had horses in it.

Call my mechanic and say, “Okay, sending Marc to you.” Time?  9:30 am

Call Marc and tell  him the plan and get silence.  Oh crap.  He’s pissed now.  I beg him to come and get me and I’m sorry I have ruined his day and forgive me for breaking down and GOD DAMMIT just come and get me already.


He says in his quiet, I’m gonna hurt someone voice, “Whatever.”



stuck at truck stopI text a couple people I knew that will be traveling the route I’m on and let them know that I’m broke down but I’m okay and help is coming.

I think…

And I wait.  And wait.  And wait.

Marc texts me.  “Tanked up and leaving now.”  Time?  11:12 am

Yep, I’ve been here two hours already.

I figure I’m three hours from home so he should get here around 2:30 pm.  Thank goodness I’m at a pit stop area with food vendors.  I head off and grab some lunch.

pit stop2After I eat, I unload the girls and disconnect the trailer.  I took them over to the grassy area and let them eat.  I held them for about an hour then decided the bumper of the tractor trailer looked sturdy, and he pulled in after me, shut his curtains and was now sleeping in the back so I didn’t have to worry about him pulling out and dragging the girls with him.  I tied them to the bumper and let them have at it.  They mowed this entire area right down to dirt.

I offered them water, which I had filled from the hand pump back at base camp.  They refused it.  I didn’t have any more “home water” with me, as we used it all up while camping.  Note to self … always save one container of “home water” for the trip back.  Just in case of an emergency.


I took Poe for a walk and she peed and pooped.  She also saw Melissa and Lauren and started towards them, tail wagging a mile a minute.  I looked up and saw them too, as they were getting into the truck and leaving.

dammit, missed them!

They stopped and chit chatted with me for awhile, as I assured them I was fine and help was on it’s way.

I think …

And they left.

So, now I decide I have plenty of time to clean my tack with the water they girls refused. Time?  12:11 pm

Scrubby dub dub … Tack is all cleaned, checked for any repairing needs (all good!) and hung up properly in the correct spaces.  Time?  1:02 pm

Okay, let’s clean all the hold buckets and stuff.

Scrubby dub dub … Done and the now rinsed rags are drying in the sun. Time? 1:31 pm

ptistop3Now, let’s pull the girls off the truckers’ bumper, tie them to the trailer and detail them.

They’re beautiful and shiney!  Not a hair out of place, all the ride grunge and grime gone.  Time?  2:14 pm

Now I am totally out of things to do … oh wait, I see dirt on the trailer and I have a half a bucket of water left.

I wash the trailer.  Dammit, now all I can see are the rusty places.  And I don’t have any sandpaper that I could start working on those places … wait … wonder if they have a little store in that pit stop that would have sand paper???

Nope.  I wasted my energy walking over there for sandpaper.  They don’t even have a place selling magazines or books. They did, however, have a nice clean bathroom and I made use of that to scrub some of the “clean-up” grime off my face and hands.


Now I’m really out of things to do and since I left my Kindle at home, I’m down to playing chess on my phone.  Time?  2:31 pm

Poor Marc.  I’ll bet he’s caught in all that traffic they talk about on the Connecticut I-95.

3:00 pm, my mechanic texts me – “How’s it going?”

I text back, “Marc not here yet.”

3:17 pm.   Phone rings.  MARC!!!!!!  YAY!!!!!

He says, “How do I get to that rest stop on the other side.”

I look across the highway and see him sitting in the northbound pit stop.

I am so excited and happily say, “Get off on exit 41 and come back south bound.”

I hear, “Whatever.”



He pulls up in front of me and gets out of the truck.  His face tells me he’s crabby crabby crabby (found out later that my mechanic asked him not to smoke in his truck so Marc spend four hours driving in insane traffic, carrying his truck on a flat bed trailer, something he’s NOT comfortable doing, without any cigarettes.) which means I need to stay focused on being quiet and non-confrontational.  He doesn’t say a word.  He doesn’t hug me or kiss me.  Looks at me, looks at the girls tied on the trailer, lights a cigarette and sighs.

He lights a cigarette and starts unhooking his truck from the flatbed.

Tears well up in my eyes.

Great.  Did I mention the “M” word lately?  Apparently, crying for no reason is also a symptom of menopause…along with outbursts of anger and the insane need to smash stuff.

Yep, gotta love getting older when you’re a woman.


I wipe my eyes, chiding myself in my head for being a girly-girl, and start helping him unhook his truck.  He hops in it and drives it off the trailer then goes over and gets into my truck.  Not a word has been said yet.

I ask him to drive my truck around the parking area to hear the clunking.

Ah!  His first words to me, “What difference does that make now?” and he gets in my truck and loads it on the flatbed.

I weep some more tears.  I hate when Marc gets all crabby.  He’s supposed to be my knight in shining armor, not my torturer.  (I later find out he was so worried about me because I was broke down and I had both the horses and I was alone… that he worked himself into a froth, making him angry at everything.)


I unload stuff I needed from my truck, put it in Marc’s truck, then hooked Marc’s truck to my trailer.  This also upsets him because he does not like me using his truck to tow my trailer.  His truck is not setup for hauling like mine and it’s a “sissy” truck, not a tough boss-truck like mine.  And he loves his truck.  If I break it on the way home, he’ll NEVER talk to me again.

I load up the girls and Marc still really hasn’t said a word to me.  He’s smoking cigarette number 2.

I finally got mad and (loudly) said to him that there were about a dozen people ready to give up their Sunday and come rescue me and my own freakin’ husband is an asshole about helping me out.

And I cried.

“M” word … compounded by a bad day sitting in the sun at a pit stop area.

And he grabbed me in a very tight (I can’t breathe tight) hug and tells me to shut the f&*^ up because now I’m safe and everything is fine.

Yep.  My husband.  He can only express two emotions.  Anger, and well, anger.  Been with him 27 years.  Guess I should be used to that by now.

We get on the road at 3:45 pm.

His truck doesn’t have all the swoopy towing things my truck has, so I can’t keep an eye on the horses in the trailer, or watch  my trans temperature, or even set the brake controller to the tension I want …  but she handles the drive home like a champ. (And an added bonus is that I didn’t break her)

Poe is riding with Marc so I have no-one to talk to.  Traffic wasn’t too bad and once we passed Stamford, it was smooth sailing the rest of the drive.  Pulled into Paula’s farm at 6:37 pm.


Unload the girls and they rush right over to their water tank and drink and drink and drink.  They have been without water since 7:00 am.

My mechanic hoists my truck up and the left driver front tire falls over.  Wheel bearing gone.

WHEW.  Glad I was able to limp her 15 miles to that pit stop and we didn’t lose a tire on I-95 and be stuck on the side of the highway.

And this morning?  Everyone is in fine spirits and I finally got my kiss from my husband.