Saturday, April 3, 2010

In which we celebrate Saturday Stories, and Poetry Month too!


The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes

The wind was a torrent of darkness
upon the gusty trees,
The moon was a ghostly galleon
tossed upon cloudy seas,
The road was a ribbon of moonlight
looping the purple moor,
And the highwayman came riding--
Riding--riding--
The highwayman came riding,
up to the old inn door.

He'd a French cocked hat on his forehead,
and a bunch of lace at his chin;
He'd a coat of the claret velvet,
and breeches of fine doe-skin.
They fitted with never a wrinkle;
his boots were up to his thigh!
And he rode with a jeweled twinkle--
His rapier hilt a-twinkle--
His pistol butts a-twinkle,
under the jeweled sky.

Over the cobbles he clattered
and clashed in the dark inn-yard,
He tapped with his whip on the shutters,
but all was locked and barred,
He whistled a tune to the window,
and who should be waiting there
But the landlord's black-eyed daughter--
Bess, the landlord's daughter--
Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.

Dark in the dark old inn-yard
a stable-wicket creaked
Where Tim, the ostler listened--
his face was white and peaked--
His eyes were hollows of madness,
his hair like mouldy hay,
But he loved the landlord's daughter--
The landlord's black-eyed daughter;
Dumb as a dog he listened,
and he heard the robber say:

“One kiss, my bonny sweetheart,
I’m after a prize to-night,
But I shall be back with the yellow gold
before the morning light;
Yet, if they press me sharply,
and harry me through the day,
Then look for me by moonlight,
Watch for me by moonlight,
I’ll come to thee by moonlight,
though hell should bar the way.”

He rose upright in the stirrups.
He scarce could reach her hand,
But she loosened her hair in the casement.
His face burnt like a brand
As the black cascade of perfume
came tumbling over his breast;
And he kissed its waves in the moonlight,
(O, sweet black waves in the moonlight!)
Then he tugged at his rein in the moonlight,
and galloped away to the west.

He did not come in the dawning;
he did not come at noon.
And out of the tawny sunset,
before the rise of the moon,
When the road was a gypsy's ribbon
over the purple moor,
The redcoat troops came marching--
Marching--marching--
King George's men came marching,
up to the old inn-door.

They said no word to the landlord;
they drank his ale instead,
But they gagged his daughter and bound her
to the foot of her narrow bed.
Two of them knelt at her casement,
with muskets by their side;
There was Death at every window,
And Hell at one dark window,
For Bess could see, through her casement,
the road that he would ride.

They had bound her up at attention,
with many a sniggering jest!
They had tied a rifle beside her,
with the barrel beneath her breast!
"Now keep good watch!" and they kissed her.
She heard the dead man say,
"Look for me by moonlight,
Watch for me by moonlight,
I'll come to thee by moonlight,
though Hell should bar the way."


She twisted her hands behind her,but all the knots held good!
She writhed her hands till her fingers were wet with sweat or blood!
They stretched and strained in the darkness,
and the hours crawled by like years,
Till, on the stroke of midnight,
Cold on the stroke of midnight,
The tip of one finger touched it!
The trigger at least was hers!



The tip of one finger touched it, she strove no more for the rest;
Up, she stood up at attention, with the barrel beneath her breast.
She would not risk their hearing, she would not strive again,
For the road lay bare in the moonlight,
Blank and bare in the moonlight,
And the blood in her veins, in the moonlight, throbbed to her love's refrain.

Tlot tlot, tlot tlot!
Had they heard it?
The horse-hooves, ringing clear;
Tlot tlot, tlot tlot, in the distance!
Were they deaf that they did not hear?
Down the ribbon of moonlight, over the brow of the hill,
The highwayman came riding--
Riding--riding--
The redcoats looked to their priming!
She stood up straight and still.

Tlot tlot, in the frosty silence!
Tlot tlot, in the echoing night!
Nearer he came and nearer!
Her face was like a light!
Her eyes grew wide for a moment, she drew one last deep breath,
Then her finger moved in the moonlight--
Her musket shattered the moonlight--
Shattered her breast in the moonlight and warned him--with her death.


He turned, he spurred to the West; he did not know who stood
Bowed, with her head o'er the casement, drenched in her own red blood!
Not till the dawn did he hear it, and his face grew grey to hear
How Bess, the landlord's daughter,
The landlord's black-eyed daughter,
Had watched for her love in the moonlight, and died in the darkness there.

Back, he spurred like a madman,
shrieking a curse to the sky,
With the white road smoking behind him and his rapier brandished high!
Blood-red were his spurs in the golden noon, wine-red was his velvet coat
When they shot him down in the highway,
Down like a dog in the highway,
And he lay in his blood in the highway, with the bunch of lace at his throat.

And still on a winter's night, they say,
when the wind is in the trees,
When the moon is a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
When the road is a gypsy's ribbon looping the purple moor,
The highwayman comes riding--
Riding--riding--
The highwayman comes riding, up to the old inn-door.

Over the cobbles he clatters and clangs in the dark inn-yard,
He taps with his whip on the shutters, but all is locked and barred,
He whistles a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
But the landlord's black-eyed daughter--
Bess, the landlord's daughter--
Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.





Friday, April 2, 2010

In which we visit our neighbors to the north and see pretty standies

Ryan rode Fiddle around a bit in camp last summer, and had so much fun that he wanted to shop for a standardbred of his own. So up we went, across the Can-Am border to go see some standies. Some were tall, some short. Some had classic profiles, some had banana noses, and some had beautiful eyes.

This little fella wanted something in his mouth. Food would be good, but the hood of my jacket seemed quite interesting, and the wheelbarrow was fun too. Apparently, he uses the wheelbarrow as a chew toy pretty often, which is pretty hilarious.

Diane and Dave gave us a tour of the stables. I've never been to a racetrack, and the backstretch was especially cool. I took tons of photos.



They hang the harnesses from the rafters to make tacking up easier (and also to keep the horses from chewing on it).

The headstall includes earplugs (the little brown sponges) that are attached to a long string that runs back to the cart. The driver can yank the earplugs out by pulling the string with his leg. Apparently, it's a strategic thing: the nervous horses have earplugs inserted before the start, and then the driver will yank out the plugs when they are moving out so they will go faster.

Bits.
I had never seen anything like this before:

Wanna guess? Go ahead. It's part of the harness. Ideas, anyone?
This little fellow is in charge of barn safety and security.
I feel better, knowing he's on duty.


Over at the Track Tack Shop, check out the pretty colors!

This is a shadow roll--it goes on the noseband, to block the horse's view of the ground so they don't (literally) spook at their own shadows and blow the race. One of the shadow rolls we saw looks like a whisk broom, but I think this one looks like Mickey Mouse ears.

Here's a view of the track from the backstretch. The track is paved with limestone--freakin' hard surface! These horses are bred with amazingly sturdy feet and legs. The center of the oval is nesting grounds for Canada Geese. Diane told us that when the horses are jogged out in the morning near the oval center, the geese will sometimes attack them. I wonder if the geese are a training strategy, like the ear plugs?
The jog cart is coated with limestone mud from the track. Eeew.The weather was dreadful, so we decided not to stay for the actual races. That will be fun another time when it's not quite so cold and rainy.
Before heading back to 'Murka, we stopped to buy a few souveniers.

When we got home, Jim was making his homemade meatballs for dinner!

Ahhhhh.
Life is good!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

In which it is Poetry Month again, and it's time to celebrate!

The Bow-Legged Girl
4000 BC, North-Central Asia

by Jessie Haas

The bow-legged girl has left her bones behind,
Her wrist bones with their bracelets,
Her delicate neck tipped to one side
Under gold coins.
Melted into her hooped rib bones,
Battle-armor,
And her shin bones bend
To the shape of a horse's sides.
Her bones are notched with old arrow-wounds,
Her head it dinted,
But don't pity her youth, her early end.
It is certain that she dealt wounds too.
Buried beside her, her bow, her arrows,
A blade with a worn hilt.
She won many battles; this, her latest,
Proving beyond doubt
That the warrior world
Was not a man's world only.

In her day you would not have liked to meet her;
Walk into the show-barn down the road
With her on your mind,
And the hair will rise on the back of your neck.
You'll see her kind lording it
In every aisle.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Just so everybody knows, I didn't see any girls like the bow-legged girl in the poem when Ryan ventured over to take a real "english riding lesson". I tagged along to take pictures.

In fact, all the girls at the barn were supportive of this young cowboy who was willing to put on a helmet and climb into an english saddle!Do you think we'll ever convince him to wear breeches?



Nikki is almost ready for a horse of her own. First, she had to ride a horse besides Mr Trustworthy, (Guy). She was plenty worried......but she did just fine.
There are "bow-legged girls" in abundance here, but they mostly leave their weapons elsewhere.
Life is good!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

In which our March "lamb" finally shows up. We were all getting worried!


This is what we saw on the drive home from the Dry Side on Sunday afternoon:

A lot of the month of March has been lionesque: roaring winds, slashing sleet, biting hail. It was getting really old.

The Shetland Sheepdogs heard that thing about lions and lambs and were wondering:

"Where's our Lamb?"

This morning, our lamb arrived.

Cherry blossoms.
Plum blossoms.

Pear blossoms.

Life is good.

(Especially when I don't need to wear a wool toque and rubber boots just to go out and feed the goats!)

Monday, March 29, 2010

In which I muse extensively about Fiddle's first distance ride


Non-endurance riders may find this post a bit tedious, and to them I apologize and promise a nice, "normal person on the farm" post later this week. This post is all about last weekend's endurance ride : what went right and what needs work.


What went right for Fiddle:
A lot of stuff went right. So many that I'm afraid to list them all, because it sounds like bragging--but seriously, when I can say "this went right because I planned for it," I can assure the readership that I learned how to do this stuff by doing it wrong first. Sometimes for a long time. Sigh.

We warmed up early and were able to trot out at the beginning of the ride (although we started behind the main pack of riders); for years I have tried to keep my mount slow at the start of the ride and it was just an exercise in frustration. I may be overdoing the warmup (45 minutes?!?!) but by starting that early, I was able to get Fiddle's mind focused on me and get her muscles warmed up in the early-morning chill. Then, when we crossed the start line, she could pick her pace and I felt confident that she could handle it without stressing cold muscles, tendons and ligaments.

Fiddle was fit for the terrain, and not over-conditioned and over-tired. She not only completed the 25-mile ride at a good clip, she also did a 10-mile shakedown ride at a strong working pace the afternoon prior to the ride. She did not sag or sandbag at any point. In reviewing her finishline vet scores, I see that her CRI was high: 56/60. Since her resting heartrate at the start was 36, this indicates that she was tired at the finish. Not overly tired, but tired. To me, this shows that our ride was good conditioning, and not a huge stretch of physical endurance.

Her legs were cool and tight at the end, and her feet looked great. The shoes show signs of wear, but her feet aren't bashed up at all. In the ride photo taken at around mile 18 (at the top of this page), her stride is loose and comfortable. She had no tack issues at all--her back wasn't even slightly tired or tender at the finish line or this morning when I checked her.

I electrolyted the night before the ride, in the morning before the start, at the vetcheck, and after the vet had completed us. I also gave electrolytes the next morning. That seemed to work, but I suspect she will need more on hotter days and/or longer, tougher courses. We were blessed with temperatures in the 60's on ride day, and a cool breeze; absolutely perfect conditions for an early-season ride. I squirted her with water periodically to enhance cooling, and that worked well.

Fee was completely comfortable in camp, which is no surprise since she's been coming to camp for more than two years. She was a little surprised that I didn't strap on my loppers or a bag of trail ribbons, but she was cool with it. She was also comfortable with all the vet activity--again, because for years I've been borrowing the poking fingers of veterinarians in camp for "practice" vet checks. And yes, I learned to do this the hard way.


I'm glad I taught her this:
Getting Fiddle to behave appropriately in groups has been a challenge, especially when Hana was nearby. Hana doesn't misbehave, but I guess she says stuff to Fee like "Oh, don't go kicking that strong handsome horse just over little ol' me," which of course is as good as painting a target on the other horse for Fee to kick. Argh.


For two years, I've often hauled both mares to my riding lesson so that they could learn to be near each other but not together, without pining horribly. I've also been taking one horse or other away from home periodically, leaving the other at home with the goats. I had no idea if this would actually work in camp, but it did. Huh. Neat-o.


What went right for me:

It's taken years, and it's still not quite perfect, but I've pretty much found a combination of clothing and gear that works for long-distance riding"

My helmet fits, my helmet liner can be adjusted for warmer or cooler weather, I know which coats will keep the rain and wind out and don't have a snap right where it will bang into my upper thigh for 25 miles, I know which tights really do fit properly, and I know which bra will support me without rubbing me raw or constricting my lungs (hint: riding Fiddle doesn't require nearly the foundational-garment support that riding the Toad required!) My socks were adequately warm. The sandwich in my saddle pack was appealing at 20 miles. The camera had fresh batteries, and was stored in an easily-accessible pocket.


I wish I'd had:
Phone service on the trail was extremely limited, and that was a safety problem for two riders who were injured on the course. I was one of the few people who had the ride manager's phone number...but there was no phone service in camp! We discovered that Verizon customers had service at the tops of some hills, and people were able to call 911 for help. Usually AT&T has better coverage in the remote areas of rides, which is why Jim and I use that company. This time, it didn't work that way. At least I had a GPS on my wrist and was able to give people with working phones the coordinates of people who needed help.


I'm glad I brought:
V-8 was great to drink at the vet check. I actually love the taste, and it keeps me from needing chemical electrolytes which always seem to upset my stomach. On the trail I drank water, and that was fine. On a very hot ride, I'll probably pack a little can of V-8 with me on the trail.

Food that worked for me:
Trial and error has taught me a lot about what I will find appetizing at a ride. Salty and savory foods work best for me. Sweet stuff, not so much, although an apple is often very tasty. I always think yogurt will taste good, but I rarely eat it. The exception in the past was when my stomach was upset (usually by the chemical electrolytes, which I now avoid); yogurt wasn't appealing but I made myself eat it. I probably don't need to pack yogurt anymore.

I didn't expect to have to do this:
Fiddle likes to have horses ahead of her, a kind of "target" for her to aim towards. She doesn't particularly want to travel in a group, especially a large group, but when there are horses in sight, her ears go up and she wants to catch up and pass them. With a more foolish horse, this can be dangerous, but for this horse on this ride, it was a nice way to keep her motivated.


At a water tank four miles from the finish line, we were overtaken by Dennis Summers and his horse. We chatted briefly, and then I walked Fiddle away, knowing that Dennis would quickly overtake and pass us. What I didn't know was that Fiddle had, in the few minutes at the tank, fallen deeply in love with Dennis' horse. What Fiddle didn't know was that the only time she would ever be able to keep up with Dennis' horse would be if they were both standing in the same horse trailer. But she was determined. I let her trot forward at speed on the flats, and then at the hills I would stop her and insist that she take a bite of grass before moving forward again. Usually Fee is a motivated eater, but today she was in love. What a pain. It took us more time to cover the terrain, but by the time Dennis and his horse were far out of sight (probably already back in camp, knowing them!) Fiddle understood that when I said "take a bite", it meant that she was absolutely not going to be allowed to leave until she had grass in her mouth.

This surprised me:

After the ride, when I got Fee untacked and bathed, she snacked for a while and then started staring off into space. I'd walk by every half hour or so and kind of poke her to remind her to eat, and she would...but only for about 10 or 15 minutes. Then she'd go back to staring. I have seen this mare when she feels
colicky, and this didn't look like that.

Instead, this looked thoughtful. She was contemplating the events of the day! It took her several hours to finish thinking. I took the mares for several handgrazing walks during this time, and each time they both ate the fresh bunch grass with zest, so I knew that she felt okay. Fiddle is a thinking horse, and she was occupied with thinking through all the stuff that she had learned during the day. When she was done thinking, she ate a bunch of beetpulp and hay and then took a nap.

What I learned from this
is that Fee is probably a lot more like Story than like the Toad. Toad was a very Zen horse who lived entirely in-the-moment. When he ran, he ran. When he ate, he ate. He did not run and try to grab bites of food, he did not eat and look around for the next stretch of trail. Story and Fiddle think about stuff, have a low-flight index, and will sometimes choose rest over food. This is normal for them, and I need to remember not to freak out if Fiddle doesn't gorge herself at vetchecks the way the Toad always did. Story would always eat for 10 or 15 minutes and then nap until it was time to go out again, and it makes sense that Fiddle would do the same, since I've been using her as a trail-building horse for so long--she's capable of napping whenever she holds still, no matter how many chainsaws are roaring in the background, because she knows that the next time I get in the saddle, we may be hauling our butts (and the tools) up miles of steep trail to get to the next work site.

My own huge obstacle was:
I cannot believe how much energy I spent worrying. Fiddle is a large, stubborn, opinionated mare, but she's still overall a safe and pleasant ride. She has tantrums sometimes. I have dealt with them. Why was I fretting about tantrums? And yet, I did. A lot. I hope I'll be able to relax a bit before the start of her next ride.

I brought this to camp again, and didn't need it, and will never bring it again:
Even though I knew we'd be hanging out with Gail and Mike (the ride managers), who compulsively feed people, Jim and I still packed the rig full of food. We returned home with a camper fridge full of food. Ah well, at least we don't need to go grocery shopping for a week or two.

How could I have forgotten this? What was I thinking?
Jim and I normally dose ourselves with Benedryl at bedtime, both as a sleeping aid and to help combat dust and mold allergies. And yet, when I packed up to go to the Dry Side, on a weekend where the weather forcast called for rain and wind, I managed to leave the Benedryl bottle at home. That was a mistake--and lack of Benedryl didn't help me sleep through the worrying I was doing before the ride, either.

The people who helped:
The list of people who got Fiddle and me to the start line and over the finish line is a long one, and I'd hate to miss somebody. However, I want to mention a few key players: Jacqui, Jim, Sky, Dory, Ryan, Willy, Gail, Mike, Jennifer, Trish, and the readers of this blog. You have all helped me more than you will ever know.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

In which we go to a ridecamp near Washtucna, and Fiddle goes Far

It was pouring rain at home on the farm when we loaded up the SS Illegible and headed out the gate, bound for a little town on the Dry Side. About ten miles east of the teeny little town of Washtucna, WA the clans were gathering for the first endurance event of the season: Home on the Range!

It was, by endurance-rider standards, a short drive: about 5.5 hours, including stops for fuel and lunch. Heck, we didn't even leave the state...although I guess if we'd kept going another hour or so, we'd have gotten to Idaho.

When we got to camp, the wind was blowing like crazy, and it was raining lightly. Unlike Wet Side rain, you could actually get pretty wet in the rain falling from the sky...but if you stayed outdoors for about twenty minutes after the rain stopped falling, you'd be dry again.
And in the meantime, there's the rainbow. Right over the trail. I was hoping that the rainbow was a good omen.
We arrived on Thursday afternoon, and parked next to our friend Ryan, a sort of "adopted grandson" of the ride managers, Gail and Mike Williams. Ryan is an awesome kid, and he really helped Fiddle and me survive our first competition together.

Willy and Ryan helped me set up camp while Jim separated the rig into componant pieces of truck - camper - trailer. Corral panels and food buckets for the horses were organized and then we hoisted the flag: the Pirates had officially arrived in camp!

I decided to take photos of camp during the weekend from the "crows nest" of the Illegible : the roof of the camper! Here's what camp looked like on Thursday evening, about 2 hours before sunset:

This was taken from the same location on Friday afternoon:
Saturday morning, around 7am:
Sunday at noon:
Amazing, isn't it?

So, Thursday night we got camp settled. The wind made things much more complicated--our trash cans were trying to blow away, and there were NO ROCKS to use for ballast! None. Not even little rocks. I finally plunked down the old ammo can that we use as corral panal hardware storage so our trash can didn't fly away. I used duct tape to keep the can liner from blowing away. Amazing stuff, wind.

The wind also blew one of the hatch covers off the camper, which meant Jim had to drive 90 minutes Pasco to get a replacement part. (for those of you who know about Pasco, Jim said he didn't see any vampires, but there were some very werewolf-y folks hanging around the feed store).
The wind wasn't responsible for the break in the plumbing line--that can be attributed to the very few days of freezing weather we had last winter. Alas, the plumbing was not functional, except with a little bit of extra tinkering....But hey. I wasn't going to complain. There was a huge quonset hut nearby with hot/cold water and electricity! Electricity without a generator is a huge luxury for us in camp. We didn't suffer from the lack of plumbing...we just stacked up the dishes and carried them to the "office" to wash!

I got Fiddle all cleaned up before we went to see the vet. Her vet-in scorecard showed all A's. Auspicious.


...but with Hana in camp hollering for her friend to come back, Fiddle was not happy about leaving for our Friday-night "shakedown" ride:She pretty much crow-hopped and spun her way out of camp. I was really worried: was she going to be a complete knucklehead all day during the ride? Would she be horrible at the vetcheck? Ryan offered to longe Hana to keep her busy while we were gone, and that helped a lot.
Once we got out on the trail for the shakedown, Fiddle stopped objecting and went forward nicely. The rain had stopped, the wind was (a little bit) quieter, and the trail was beautiful.
The ride meeting on Friday evening was really crowded! I've never seen this many riders show up for the first ride of the season, but we were all pretty excited to explore these new trails.

Landowner Greg Beckley is trying to convert this region from a dumping ground for trash and criminals into a sustainable recreation ground, where people can hunt and fish and ride and hike and enjoy the beauty of the land. Greg and his crew are a delight. They were wide-eyed at the self-sufficiency of the ride managers and the riders, and they were helpful in every way.
Saturday morning, the 75 milers left as soon as the sun cleared the horizen. At 7am, the 50 milers left camp.

I was in the saddle at 7:15. Fee was hopping around in her corral, and Hana was spinning and hollering. There wasn't a single braincell in camp. I could hardly eat, I was so nervous. My horse can be wonderful, but she is very strongwilled...and very tall. There were NO tree stump on this trail to use for a mounting block, and very few rocks.
My ride strategy was very straightforward: stay on the horse. With a shorter horse (or plenty of available mounting blocks) I would normally hop down sometimes to walk down a steep hill, but that wasn't in the ride plan. If I got down, I might not be able to get back up! Hana was spinning and hollering when we left, so Ryan put her back on the longe line to burn some energy, while I took Fee into the big adjacent field to warm up.
Here's something we did right: for nearly two years, I've been hauling both horses when I go to take a riding lesson, and putting the horse who isn't actually being ridden into a nearby hot-walker. The non-working horse can holler from the walker all she wants...but she's gotta keep walking. Meanwhile, the working horse learns to work while the buddy is hollering. So while Hana was being longed by the patient Ryan, Fiddle and I walked and trotted circles and serpentines. It worked!
We waited for the big group of riders to leave. Then I pointed her down the trail, and off we went. No spinning, no balking. Amazing. We had sunshine and a light breeze all day. Temps in the mid-60's. Perfect!
A lot of riders were concerned about the condition of the trail, because huge armadas of "indigenous personnel" (aka badgers!) busily dig huge holes in the trail. Ride management stomped the holes down as best they could before the ride, but I'm sure the little rodents stayed up late on Friday night to dig more holes before we all came trotting down the trail on Saturday. Nobody was injured in a hole, but three riders did get hurt when their horses did unexpected things. They are all fine, last I heard.
The views on the trail were spectacular.
Believe it or not, Fiddle wasn't a knucklehead at all! She was awesome! She moved forward with her ears up. She did pin those ears at some horses, so I ended up taking her off to the side of the trail when people wanted to pass so nobody would get hurt...and by the end of the day, she started pinning her ears and then taking herself off the trail. Silly mare. We even trotted side-by-side with a nice lady on a tall Thoroughbred mare, and got to visit a bit.
The vetcheck was uneventful. Her gut sounds were a B, which is kind of normal for a horse who had just trotted 15 miles. She was hungry, and I listened to her heart and guts before we left at the end of the check. All good. But: would she leave Hana again?
Ryan said he only longed Hana for a few minutes after I left on the second loop, and Fiddle only balked a little bit. What a contrast from the day before! She hollered when we came into camp, but stood quietly for the vet and did everything I asked calmly and nicely. Hmmmmm.
My mare. Was. Good!!!!!!
We completed our ride in 41st place out of about 65 finishers, in about 4.5 hours--a nice middleing pace for the terrain and the weather conditions.

My friend Lori was the driver of the Ultimate Crew Rig. I think this truck is carrying gear for at least 9 riders.
At the evening meeting/awards, there were a lot of shenanigans, and the Pirate Nation Endurance Team was right in the middle of it.
The Pirates won the drink competition with our fabulous Grog. That makes the second year that we have scuttled the other teams. Hahaha, nobody can compete with RUM!
Our regional organization president Paul Latiolais bears a passing resemblence to my own darling Jim. They insist that they are each other's Evil Twin.
Paul led us in a dedication of the new trail, which included a bizarre ceremony and a horrible baptism sauce: Pirate Rum, mixed with Fish Creek's champagne, and some gumbo from the Gator team. Eeeew. Nobody had to drink it. We just poured it on the start line and yelled "hooray." Whew.

After helping riders all day and then marking the last loop with glowsticks at night, the boys were pretty zonked.
The dogs helped Willy sleep all the way back home to the farm.
Life = Good. Also, my horse = good.
Who knew?