Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Audrey’s Shanghai Trails Ride, Saturday 55-mile Ride

I’m separating the events of this ride into 3 posts to describe Friday Pre-Ride Catastrophe, Saturday 55-mile Ride and Sunday 30-mile Ride. Each day I learned a lot and hope to pass this on to other Green Beans.
Despite the events from Friday evening, I felt ok to ride on Saturday. The loose horses had left ride camp and our horses had remained on the trailer until about 1-2am when Kenny felt everything was ok and returned them to the pens. We had another potential catastrophe when Jazz kicked at Leggs during breakfast (they are ‘frenimies’, sometimes getting along and sometimes not). She got a hind foot stuck on the fence! Luckily the fence was not hot and she was tangled but not shocked. Once again quick action by the 3 of us diffused the situation: Bobbie kept Leggs calm, as her pen was quickly shrinking; I was at Jazz’s head keeping her calm, both her hind feet were wrapped in the fence; Kenny got the feet untangled and reset the fence. We added a corridor/space between the pens to prevent further antagonistic actions between the mares. Phew!
This was my 4th 50-mile ride on Jazz (aka Dancer’s Southern Princess) and while I got completions on the previous 3, we had various issues with: race brain at the start, riding too fast, lack of gut sounds, not eating at the holds, boots coming off, loss of momentum/energy on the last half. I had none of these problems this ride!
Heading back out after a hold.

There was little-to-no race brain at the start, in part because we had a longer warm-up since the start was delayed by 15 min. I ended up leaving 3rd just behind the leaders. This was not my initial strategy but when they finally called trail open, I was right there ready to go and didn’t want to wait 5 minutes for others to go out. Everyone was not clumped together and it was a nice relaxed start. I made sure not to ride too fast, checking my watch with an aim to maintain an overall avg 7mph pace for the ride. Multiple riders passed us the first loop but by this ride I knew my horse and that it was better to go slower than give in to the temptation to keep up with the faster Arabs. This ride she was eating like a champ on trail and at the holds, since her teeth had been floated after the Heart of the Hills ride (see prev. blog post). There were no boot issues due to a superb fitting by Kenny Weber (owner/crew) and I realized after the first loop, we didn’t need them. During the last half of the ride Jazz largely maintained her momentum because we found riding buddies. There was a point around 30 miles when we were alone and she had lost momentum and in her mind did not see the point in gaiting when she could walk instead and eat grass! Luckily two other riders caught up to us and all of a sudden she had motivation again to stay with the pack. The three of us continued as a group and completed the last 25 miles together. Impromptu riding buddies can really make a difference in a horse’s motivation, they are herd animals and the instinct to stay together seems stronger than pleasing the rider’s desire to maintain a decent pace, at least in Jazz’s case.
Finished! Bright eyed and looking good.
While it was a great ride, there are still some areas I need to improve on. Figuring out when to electrolyte during the ride is one of them. I carried a tube with me but didn’t give it because I was afraid if I did, she wouldn’t eat and then I’d have more problems with gut sounds. We did give some at the end of each hold and that seemed to work for this ride. But I’ve come to learn that every ride is different and we’ll see what the next ride brings!

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