Okay, this story is a kicker.
First off, let me state this. After the nonsense that has gone on this year with ECTRA and some of the rides (and I’ll just say this…it’s been a lot of political bullshit and unfair practices) I have decided I am no longer willing to support ECTRA RIDES.
And with that said, I had promised Kathy she could ride Steel on the Sunday ride so she could take her greenbean that she’s been mentoring on her first official ride. Now, because I decided not to support ECTRA RIDES anymore, I told her that she was perfectly welcome to come and pick up Steel to go to the ride on Sunday. She opted not to do that, as she doesn’t really know Steel for camping purposes and she didn’t want to have her without me there.
I felt bad about that.
So some time passes and Ro decides she wants to try Mooch at his first competition. She says she would like to have Penny come along so he had a companion that he knows (we condition together) and so Mooch has a good first time experience with an experienced horse.
I chuckle to myself on that one because in my mind, Penny is still a greenbean and is still learning this sport.
But, I agree. I will go to ONE MORE stupid ECTRA event and support Ro and Mooch.
Second, let me say that I do one ride at a time because I have no idea what my back will decide to do on any given day of the week. I also only send in the admin fee as a deposit because … I have no idea what my back will do on any given day of the week. Last year I lost a couple entry deposit fees when I had to bag a ride due to my back. This year, I lost a complete ride entry fee because of my back. And although the ECTRA ride manager promised to refund me all but the admin fee, it did not happen.
After completing the Mustang 30 LD, I sent in my entry to the Jersey Devil with a $25 deposit. And then a couple days later I received an email stating that if I didn’t send in the full entry fee, they would not hold a place for me.
WTF? I emailed back explaining my back situation. I received an email in return that rules are rules and if I had to bail on the ride, and did it one week before, they would refund all but the admin fee. YEAH? What if my back goes out the day before the ride, what will you refund me then?
With much cursing at NJTRA and ECTRA, I sent in a check for the remaining balance and prayed to all the gods I know to keep my back in a good condition between now and then.
Insert expletives here.
Time passes and Ro and I take Penny and Mooch out for a long conditioning ride the weekend before Jersey Devil. It was a marvelous ride and I have a grand time.
Problems? Oh, I was being a cheap mo-fo and decided to not reset Penny’s shoes. The plan was to ride Jersey Devil then pull them for the winter. Except, on this conditioning ride, all I listened to for 16 miles was clank clank clank. I knew if I didn’t get them reset they were gonna fall off during the ride.
(fingers crossed that Renee has a free day in this upcoming week to come do her shoes.) I texted Renee while riding and prayed for positive response.
I was sweating bullets by the time I finished the conditioning ride because Renee had not gotten back to me. I may be screwed.
In the meantime, Ro evaluated Mooch and decided he was probably not ready to go do 25 miles at Jersey Devil. Plan B? Let’s take Steel. (There is a double reason for this…Ro only needs 22 miles to get her 9,000 miles. While Mooch many do 25 okay, what if he didn’t? Then she wouldn’t get her mileage goal.)
Oh Renee? We need to reset Steel, too! Please, oh please answer my texts … (nail biting)
Later that evening, Renee texts me back … with a lot of mocking for cancelling my appointment last week, she agrees to come out and reset my two beasts on Friday. Day before the ride. Oh my gosh. I hate to do that … you know … just in case something goes awry with the resetting…
Now, the decision in my mind .. .should I take the buggy and get Penny her first driving competition.
She was on fire at Mustang and I’m not sure I want to be driving a buggy at 18 mph.
Skip it. We’ll work buggy all winter and then try the driving next year.
OH WAIT … I am not going to support ECTRA RIDES next year.
Friday. Steel and Penny shoes are reset, truck and trailer cleaned and packed. We’re ready to roll in the morning.
WAIT! Did you say that the turnpike bridge is gonna be closed from 11 am until 6 am for repairs?
Alternate plans? Leave now and camp over night (it’s like 5:00 pm and it gets dark around 6:30 pm right now, we’d arrive in the dark and have to setup camp in the dark. And I do not have Penny’s pen packed on the truck … )
Uhm … NO!
Alternate routes? I reviewed several different ways to get into New Jersey bypassing the closed bridge, all of them would be adding 45 minutes to an hour to the drive.
Let’s see. If we leave at 4:45 am, we’d get to the bridge after it reopened at 6:00 am and we would still get into camp before the 7:30 am arrival cut-off time.
Okay. Let’s leave at 4:45 am.
I lock Penny and Steel in the round pen area. Let’s see you play “Catch me if you can” in the morning … HA!
It only took 15 minutes to capture the dumbasses in the morning. I have to say, this in the one part of these two mares that I hate hate hate. I blame it all on Miss Daizy. She taught Steel to run away when I’m trying to capture them. Steel taught Penny. And let me say that trying to catch two 50 mile fit horses at 4:00 am is not fun.
NOT AT ALL!
Locking them in the round pen all night worked, though. Only 15 minutes to catch them. And we’re able to see that both of them are completely sound trotting around and around so shoeing them the day before a ride didn’t become and issue.
And we drive, praying that the bridge is open when we get to it.
IT IS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Zoom. Even with a gas pit stop on the way, we arrive at camp at 7:05 am. Plenty of time to spare.
And it’s starting to get light so they’re telling us to get vetted in right away.
Penny is awfully calm today. She stands picture perfect still for her vetting.
That never happens.
She does her trot out right beside me, without racing to the cone and cantering her circles.
That never happens.
And she stands perfectly calmly tied to the trailer, eating from her hay bag.
And that never happens.
Who is this redheaded mare?
Steel’s vet in didn’t go so well. She has been “off” for the past couple rides. Not enough to get her pulled, but enough that it is noticeable to the vets. They agree to let her start and then evaluate her on the flyby on trail and at the first hold. This has been worrisome to me. Steel is going to be 19 in April and maybe she’s just having some old age issues. Ro thinks I should get her a chiro visit and see if she’s got something going on in her back/hips. Which is possible as she always has a million different riders.
Hopefully, Steel has a good day and completes. She is riding pass/fail.
Couple people stop by that I have not seen in a long time. Everyone comments on Penny. And a couple of Penny’s fan-club stop by to see the Saddlebred that is competing in endurance (this cracks me up.)
Little side note. Someone did some research this summer on how many registered ASB horses are competing in endurance. There are four fullbred and eight halfbred’s competing. All but one of the halfbreds are National Show Horses (half ASB and half AHA). Penny is the only full registered ASB competing in the NE region. She’s definitely special.
(Special to me!)
Okay. So Penny is having a calm morning. Time to get saddled and get going. I get on her and she’s standing perfectly calm and still while we wait on Ro and Steel.
WHAT? Who *IS* this redheaded mare?
We start walking around and I take a walk to the back of the camp to see Cirrocco.
WHO? Oh, he is the little 1/2 Arabian mule that I had years ago. If you read my second book “A Day In The Life Of…”, there is a story in there about him and his birth. It’s a great story!
And we’re off. We’re the third group out.
Penny gets on trail and without any urging, goes right into her pleasure trot. It’s a mile eating trot, but not overly fast, between 8 and 9 miles per hour. Within the first couple miles she passes by both the groups that started before us. And she’s not really fighting me to get ahead, she’s just motoring along at her pace and passes nicely on a loose rein.
Is it possible … even in the slightest … that Penny is learning to pace herself?
Or is she tired from being locked in the round pen all night and not resting properly.
Or, because it’s a bit on the warm side, and my girls are sporing their winter coats, are they just being lazy so they don’t work up a heat?
There was some issues in the beginning with Penny constantly dipping her head. I wasn’t sure if she wasn’t liking the thicker pad I had on her, or if she was stretching her back, or if she had some other issue going on. (see this video) It was really bugging me.
We reached the halfway point on the first loop, at a lovely farm, and I opted to get off, sponge Penny and check her saddle fittings, etc. I came up with this. I had a ton of snacks in her pommel pack and the pack had slipped off the pommel and was resting directly on her wither bone. I emptied the pack, put the snacks in the cantle pack and
No more head bopping as we started moving down trail again.
So, now I know I need to stop *thinking* about redoing the pommel pack setup and *really do* the pommel pack setup. I have not been happy with it since I got it. I feel it isn’t stable on the saddle and I’m sure it’s because I don’t have it on properly.
Into the hold. We cranked out 15 miles in 2 hours and 2 minutes. We were not moving fast, just steady.
At the vetting, Penny was hanging around the 64 pulse mark. I was okay with that as it was warming up, the sun was shining on us and we did trot into the hold instead of walking the last half mile (as we should do for a CTR) Now I was a bit concerned when they said Penny was at 32 respiration. No no no. I stopped to check it myself, it was really about 20.
THEN! I got yelled at for standing there counting her breathing instead of going straight to the vet. F-U … if I want to verify my horse is not struggling, I will do that. I already had one incident with her at Mustang and I will take whatever time is necessary to make sure she’s doing okay.
I HAD TO TAKE DEEP BREATHS … because I was ready to rip the titties off the person fussing at me. I have really had it with the ECTRA RIDES.
Steel was at a 54 pulse and a 12 respiration. The vets both said her trot looked much better than this morning for the vet-in. This tells me she is probably struggling with some old age stiffness which she works out when she gets going and everything warms up. This is not good. Her endurance career may be coming to a close.
Half an hour hold and then we’re off to do a very (VERY) slow 10 miles. Yes, because we now have an hour and 45 minutes to minimum time to do this last loop.
And we’re off for loop two. Without any urging, as soon as we hit the trail, Penny was off trotting. once again, it was an easy trot, not pushing it, pleasure ride. I was really enjoying this ride. Now the second loop was only 10 miles. The first five miles was straight sandy road and looooooonnnnnnngggggg. Like 40 miles long. Like forever long. And when we hit the five miles to go and turned into the single track trail, both me and Penny breathed a sigh of relief. That’s the only problem with the New Jersey rides. Yes, they’re easy-peasy, but those long straight stretches of road can be killer on your brain.
Second loop, Steel kept lifting her nose and lip. Ro didn’t know this about Steel. Something in the NJ rides doesn’t sit well with Steel’s olfactory senses and she spends most the ride “wrinkling her nose” at those smells. I have spent three years trying to figure out what she’s not liking and I still don’t have it. Is it the burns? Is it a plant? Is it the sand? I don’t know and Steel’s not telling.
Three miles to go and we have WHAT? 50 minutes?
Oh boy. Let’s walk.
PENNY: “Uhm, why are we walking? I know exactly where we are and the food bucket is very very close.”
STEEL: “Dude, stop complaining and enjoy the scenery. I think this is a CTR and we’re not allowed to come into the hold too early.”
PENNY: “That’s just silly. We’re almost there. I can smell my feed bucket from here.”
STEEL: (sigh) “Look Redhead, just walk, would ya?”
PENNY: “Maybe I can sneak in a trot and Miss Dodie won’t notice.”
STEEL: (snort) “You’re gonna get yelled at.”
Penny, walk . We’re walking now.
STEEL: “Ha! Told ya!”
PENNY: “Shut up. I hate you.”
And so we walked and did a wee bit of trotting to keep Penny’s mind off her feed bucket, the last three miles. Our minimum time to arrive at the finish was 1:25 pm. We completed at 1:27 pm. I was hoping to win the Rabbit Award (for the fastest time) but they did not give that out this year.
In fact, we won’t even discuss awards because Best of the Rest is supposed to be for all those horses that did not have a breed award. (Like the Best Arabian, Best Morgan, Best Appaloosa) … and instead, they gave the Best of the Rest award to the grade horses. I was told that Penny wasn’t a contender because she is registered ASB and not grade. No no no, that’s not how that Best of the Rest award works.
But, let’s go back to the final vetting. We have to wait 20 minutes before presenting for final vetting. This is CTR rules. In that 20 minutes, Steel stiffened up. She passed her final trot out because it was about the same as her vetting in. Which meant that she was more off at the finish than she was at the halfway. I really do believe she has some old age stuff going on. I am going to take Ro’s advice and get her a chiro exam.
Steel passes and Ro now has reached 9,003 lifetime miles.
WHOO HOO HOOOOOOOO … I can’t imagine riding that many competition miles. I was so excited for her!
Penny? Oh my gosh. She was not happy for me to pull her nose out of her food and take her over for vetting. Then she was like, “No, I’m not trotting, I want my food back.” so she lost a point for WILLINGNESS on the judged trot-out. And half a point for her final pulse, which was 46. Goal to meet, with no penalty, is 44.
So, Penny’s final score was 98.5. And she did win the Reserve Grand Champion for the day’s ride.
WOW. I love my Penny Pony. She’s the bomb. And so easy to ride, she never hurts my back, she never causes me aches in my legs and she never (ever) spooks me off her.
Thank you, once again, Ned and Kelly for allowing me to be Penny Pony’s partner.