In which we cross the bridge and ride in sun and rain and have a story

We went.

We rode.

We finished.

We had fun!

We took pictures.

We do have a story--but not the kind where folks got hurt or trucks broke down or anything.

It was a great weekend.

Maddy and I loaded Fiddle and Luna into the rig on Friday morning and headed out under dark and rainy skies. The route is familiar to us--we've both ridden the Klickitat Trek several times, so we relaxed and chatted as the miles rolled along.

We had to drive over The Bridge.

(trip, trap. trip, trap. trip, trap. Oh, sorry: wrong bridge)
The Hood River Bridge spans the Columbia River between Hood River, Oregon and White Salmon, Washington. It is tall and narrow. There are frequently high winds (windsurfers love Hood River!) . If you drive a little car, it's no big deal.
If you drive a truck with a camper + a horse trailer, it's a white-knuckle experience. I've done it many times, and I've gotten more comfortable with the experience over the years, but I don't think I will ever enjoy the Hood River Bridge:

After the bridge, the drive uphill away from the Columbia River is absolutely beautiful--and the weather started to clear up, too! Hurray! After 3 weeks of rain, we were ready to see the blue skies waiting for us at ridecamp in the Glenwood Rodeo Grounds.

We set up camp, and then took Fiddle over for her vet-in.

She is pretty mellow about the whole "ridecamp" experience, thanks to nearly three years of camping before she ever started competition.
She still thinks she should be able to pin her ears at other horses, though. Naughty!
When I first started taking her to camp, she thought she should be able to squeal, lunge, and chase other horses to try to kick them, so "just" pinning her ears is a big improvement. Her training is, as always, a work in progress.
I took her out for a short shakedown ride on Friday night. She saw a herd of deer, a herd of cows, and a herd of zombies. I didn't see the zombies, but she knew they were there. We practiced pushing cows, which she thought was a crazy thing to do. She did it, though! I was very proud.
Saturday morning, I was in the saddle 45 minutes before the start time, so that we could have a slow, easy warm-up.

Carrot stretches, both directions.
Getting a bite of grass before the start.
By start time, she was relaxed and ready to move out.
My chiropractor is really working with me on my posture, which has gotten really skewed by all the driving I have to do (I commute 2 hours each day for work). It helps to ride with my hand behind my back, to keep my shoulders balanced. Looks funny, feels good. Personal dignity isn't really a big problem for me anyhow.

The footing was excellent,
the weather was beautiful, and my horse was happy to get out and go.
The 17-mile vetcheck was a busy place, with horses pulsing down at the in-gate, vets watching trot-outs, and riders busily refilling pockets and packs with supplies for the next leg of the journey while their horses chowed down on beetpulp and hay. Fiddle found a pile of alfalfa and munched on it steadily for 45 minutes without looking up once. I just dumped her beetpulp on top of the alfalfa and let her eat.
Then, we headed back out on the trails for the 13-mile trek back to camp. She was happy to be out on the trail.

She still pinned her ears when we passed another horse or were passed by someone, but she moved out of the trail to make way without arguement.

Early in the ride, a fellow on a grey gelding was having difficulties ahead of us, so we cut a wide bushwack around him to get away. A few minutes later he came thundering up behind us. I warned him to keep back--that red ribbon in Fiddle's tail means "stay back--this horse kicks" and I'm not kidding around when I put it there.

"She'll kick you into next Tuesday if you crowd her," I told the guy, but he said he couldn't keep his horse back. Grrr.

"Get ahead of me then," I said, but he said that he'd get bucked off if he went in front. Double grr.

Finally, Fee and I cut a fast wide bushwack away from the guy and didn't see him again for 20 miles...and by that time, he was somebody else's problem. Sheesh.

Late in the ride, I had another horse crowd Fee, despite my warnings and her obviously pinned ears. That one got kicked square in the chest before I could stop her, and really, it was hard to blame her (I still gave her hell for it, of course). Nobody was hurt, and the rider actually thanked me for possibly teaching her dumb horse a lesson. Yeah, but I still don't want my horse to kick!!!

At the finish line, she pulsed down before I even took the saddle off. Then, Fiddle immediately dropped into the sand for a lovely dirt bath:

As soon as she stood up, it was her turn to vet, so Dr. Jenn had a lovely dusty horse to check.
Her vet scores:
The only scores that were low were her gut sounds, but since she was literally grabbing bites of grass along the trail all day, and stuffing hay and beetpulp into her mouth at the vetcheck, I didn't worry too much. When I listened to her guts on the trail, they were loud and burbley--so the vets were probably listening during a quieter period.

Dr. Jenn has a rather unusual filing method for vet cards:

At the award meeting that night, most of the crowd was happy and relaxed. Brian was maybe more relaxed than most.

One of the traditions at KT's ride meetings is the opportunity to tell good ride stories to the crowd. One of the ride managers told the crowd that she'd taken the truck and horse trailer into the town of Glenwood, about 4 miles from camp, to get supplies. While they were there, a horse came high-stepping down the main street of town. She said, "That looks like an endurance horse!" and grabbed him, and tossed him into the trailer.

When they got back to camp, his worried owner claimed him...and at the ride meeting, she asked for a volunteer to ride him on the 30-mile distance Sunday morning, since he clearly hadn't gone far enough on Saturday!

Madeline volunteered for the job, and so she and "Glenwood Kit" headed out together on Sunday.
Saturday's blue skies were gone on Sunday morning, so Madeline and I revived the old tradition of me loaning her a raincoat for the ride.
Susan was checking off rider numbers at the start line. There were quite a few people who decided not to ride in the rain, but there were plenty of brave fools who didn't mind at all.Susan had to keep the clipboard under a pizza box to keep it dry.

While Maddie was out on the trail, I broke down out camp, wrung out the pirate flags, and hitched up the rig, so that we could head out for home as soon as she was finished.

She got to the finish line with a smile on her face!
And she finished 10th, which meant she was eligible for Best Condition. Kit had won BC on Saturday, before his little jaunt to Glenwood. On Sunday, he competed against fresh horses who hadn't gone out on Saturday, so we didn't think he'd win it again, but it's always good practice to show.

Clearly, they had a good day together.
Then, it was time to head home: down the hill, and back over the bridge.

We had a great weekend, but it's good to be home.
Tomorrow: silly photos from ridecamp.


  1. That is an impressive bridge.

    Congrats on a great ride! Did Luna enjoy camp? I can tell that you and Madeline did - you both have big smiles in all the pics.

  2. Wow - what an outing - glad all went (mostly) well - what did those people not understand about the red tail ribbon (Dawn wears one of those in company)! Geesh!

  3. Wow! I think what really surprised me the most about that bridge was when the camera was pointed at the rear-view mirror. Gah! That is one narrow bridge......with no room for any driver error at all. Yikes!
    You did great, though.

    Speaking of great, how'd you and Fiddle place on Saturday? Your vet check went well, does that mean you win something (from a naive non-endurance rider)

    Looked like an awesome fun ride.
    Why was that guy riding that horse if he didn't have any control over it?
    That's what scares me the most about riding in groups, is being stuck with people that don't control their own horses.

    I've only been on one horse that kicked at a horse and I was just a little girl on a pony. I got thrown off. Isn't it hard to ride a horse that kicks?


  4. Great time and great pictures! Sounds like a wonderful ride.

    I have been cured of my rain phobia after sitting in a clinic in the rain for 3 days straight. If you have the gear, you can ride!

    We got kicked on our ride - but luckily just in a stirrup.

    Welcome home!

    Word verification: Scablog. Is that some sort of jazz blog?

  5. FUNDER: Luna enjoys camp. People pet her and tell her that she's pretty, and she likes that. Also, there are cookies.

    KATE: red ribbon. Duh.

    LISA: We placed 18th out of 52 finishers (there were six pulls). So, that was pretty good. At several points the GPS said that we were travelling a little more than 14 miles per a trot!

    If you "finish" a ride, you get a prize--at this ride, all finishers are awarded really nice sweatshirts with the ride logo. In order to "finish", you have to complete the trail in the proper order (if you get off trail, you have to backtrack so it's all done properly) and vet through all day and at the end with fit and healthy horse. If you finish first, you usually get something extra, like a hoofpick. If you finish in the top 10, you can compete for the Best Condition award, which has higher prestige than finishing first.

    BREATHE: I'm not afraid to ride in the rain...but I was very pleased that Fiddle did so well on the sunny day that I didn't have to ride on the rainy day!

  6. I meant to say:

    KATE: yes, I agree, you are completely right, DUH, how can they not understand a red ribbon?


  7. Congratulations! Great photos, what a beautiful place to ride.

    I appreciate your comment that you camped with Fee for a long time before taking her to a ride. I'm sure if more people did that, rides would be a bit more peaceful! That's my plan for Taj anyway.

  8. OH THAT BRIDGE! Horrible, I had a total meltdown!

    I was literally standing next to you and fiddle at the finish. I didn't know it was you with the hankercheif on your head.

    I was even there when Fiddle started to roll!My camp was literally right next to the fence!

    Maybe next time!

  9. JP: you can get accustomed to the bridge.

    In former years I drove a motor home as a tow vehicle over that bridge. Talk about feeling like you'd get blown away--the truck/camper combo is much better for a LOT of reasons!

    Maybe we can meet up at Renegade? I'll be in the camp with all the Pirate flags, easy to find!

  10. I'm curious...Why are you coming from the Oregon side? Is the bridge preferable to the little highway down the Washington side of the river?
    Looks like a grand ride, and Kit was very impressive! Seems like Fiddle did her job well, too. Good on her!

    wv = mingrit = Fiddle was covered in mingrit for her final vet check.


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