In which is difficult to say if we really escaped Rapture

Fiddle and Hana got off the trailer into this grassy mountain meadow and were pretty sure that they'd arrived in Heaven a few days before the "scheduled Rapture."  

However, this was the Mount Adams ridecamp, not the Afterlife.

 The drive down to ridecamp took longer than it took me to ride 50 miles of mountainous terrain...and not just because we needed to do some adjustment to the tires at the mid-point. 
(p.s.  tighten your lugnuts!  we're so glad we did!)
The sunsets in camp were amazing.  Actually, it was pretty amazingly beautiful the entire time.  As soon as I took the photo, I set up my chair beside Jim's and we admired the mountain together (it's hard to see in the photo, but the mountain is right in front of him...my camera has problems with grey/white)

 Breakfast on Friday morning = a great reason to come to camp on Thursday!  Biscuits + gravy, fried potatoes, scrambled eggs, fresh asparagus, cornbread, sausages....

...there was even more food than that, but it won't all fit in my brain.   We were replete.

 Then, it was time to jump up and take more pictures of the mountain. 

We did that a LOT.   You can see why.


Mid-morning, the ride manager whizzed by, followed by her faithful chain of Chihuahuas. 

I think there are at least four in the picture, and there might be a few on the quad with Darlene. 

(here's the chi-pack, later in the afternoon, ready for the 4pm feeding frenzy)

Darlene recommended that we ride the yellow loop, about 12 miles, as a shakedown/warmup the day before the ride. 

While most of us saddled up, Jim took Hana and a longeline to a distant corner of the field.  She likes to holler and carry on whenever Fiddle leaves camp, which is a pain in the patoot.  Solution:  longe her.  If she's quiet, she can walk or eat grass.  If she fusses or hollers, she must trot in a circle.
 Jim did the same thing with her on the morning of the ride before the start line, and it really helped Fiddle to stay calm and focussed. 


 We headed down the road to the yellow-ribboned trail in the sunshine. 

The weather was warm and very humid--not ideal conditions for my big dark mare.   But this pre-ride was mostly walking with a bit of trot.  We stayed in the back of the pack for most of the training ride so I could school Fee on the topic of "accepting the pace I ask for, instead of loading on all the speed you can muster."
 She accepted it, but she was only really having lots of fun when she got to lead the pack and I let her stretch out a bit.  It's unusual for a horse to prefer solitude, but that's what she likes.  However, she needs to know how to behave in a group, so we practice a lot.

When we got back to camp, I was delighted to see some of Fiddle's siblings were there, ready for the 25-mile ride on Saturday:
Hector is Fee's "big" brother (he stands 17 hands high, and takes a size 3 shoe!) and Effie is her "little" sister (she stands about 15 hands, and is much more slender and dainty than her sibs).  I met Hector's rider Penny at the Renegade Rendezvous in 2009, when she brought Hector through my pulsing line.  I took the pulse of the gigantic-headed brown horse and then I noticed that he not only had a freeze brand, it was a number very similar to Fiddle's number!  When I looked Hector up later, I discovered that he was a half-brother to my good mare: same stud, different mare. 

Penny owns two other standies, including Hector's full sister Effie.  I'm always absurdly thrilled to see other standardbreds on the endurance trails with Fiddle and me!


Saturday morning, early:  saddle up and get ready to ride!
 Jim did the longing exercise with Hana again while Fee and I were warming up for the start line, and it helped tremendously.  Fiddle was energetic but focussed.  Hooray!  But the ride started late! 

Why? 

A Washington State Health inspector showed up at the startline five minutes before the start, asking to see the health certificates of every horse in camp.  Wha-a-a-a-aaa???  

Washington has some pretty reasonable health certification laws for horses.  We have to have a current negative Coggins certificate, and a health certificate if we're traveling out-of-state.  Horses from Oregon and Idaho are generally allowed to travel in Washington State for 3-4 days without a certificate, as long as they are not here for breeding purposes.   But because of the recent EHV-1 outbreak, somebody flipped out and reported to the state that we would be gathering hundreds of un-certified horses together, and that our event would certainly spread the virus planet-wide.   Or something ridiculous like that.

In reality, every horse in camp was stringently vetchecked (including taking a temp); vets followed biosecurity protocol for the vet-in, and everyone was very careful about the horses they brought. 
Some people got a little silly. 
(I assume the owner of the horse wearing the surgical mask was being silly.   I hope she was being silly...)

The state inspector stayed for the day, helping out in camp and left the premises very impressed.  Some of the out-of-state riders were missing some of the desireable paperwork, but his answer was that they would receive a "stern letter" in the mail, but no fine.  (My paperwork was fine, BTW--and besides, I was in my home state.  Still, it's good to know).
For the first two loops (each loop was 12-13 miles), we had overcast skies, moderate temperatures, and a very misty rain--perfect weather conditions for a ride on a large-bodied dark-colored mare! 

There was plenty of incline/decline, but footing was arena-perfect, and I let Fiddle pick her speed once we were on the trail.  I knew that the weather was probably going to turn warmer + more humid later in the day, so I wanted to make some time while it was still cool.



 In the vetcheck, the Amazing Fish Creek Crew took care of me and Fiddle when Jim was busy pulsing.  What a treat!  I'm accustomed to minimal crewing, because Jim is so useful to ride management that he often has time to give me a kiss on the cheek and that's all.  So, I'm pretty used to doing almost everything by myself--but it's lovely to be able to sit down and eat my sandwich while somebody else takes Fiddle over to some grass.
 Katie (above with Fiddle) and Lori (below with Shade) are the best, and so are the rest of the Fish. 
There was sunshine, humidity, and more rocks/harder surface conditions on the third and fourth loop trails, so we slowed down quite a bit.  My goal for the overall ride was 2 hours per loop, and I did the first two loops in under that, but we slowed down for the last two loops so that Fiddle wouldn't be working so hard.

 On the third (blue) loop, we could hear a logging operation off the side of the trail, less than a mile distant, but that's something we see all the time and it was no big deal.  However, just after the loggers, we heard a tremendous crashing in the bushes below the trail.  I figured it was a logger, limbing trees to be loaded on the truck...until a COW-ELK THE SIZE OF A SMALL APARTMENT BUILDING jumped up onto the trail in front of us. 

Fiddle didn't even flinch.  The elk dived back down into the bushes, and then ran parallel to us for a few miles in a sort of "race" that she and Fee both seemed to enjoy.  The photo (above) is elk fur.  I was a little too busy to take pictures of the enormous cow-elk during the actual encounter.
This ride is held on the side of a mountain, and the mountain still has some sn*w.  Hardly enough to cuss at (and I'll bet you never thought you'd see me write THAT, either!), but enough to cool the feet of horses passing by.


The last loop, Fiddle got hungry. We took our time, and I let her eat her way back to camp.  The orange loop was full of grass!
It only took a few extra minutes, and Fee was very grateful for the extra fuel.

The grass/fuel stop shows up on her final scores:  a majority of "A" grades. 
During the middle of the ride (with fewer stops for grass and less interest in food from the Mighty Steed) her gut-sound scores were B's (which is normal for Fee).  I am always pleased to bring a horse at the finish line who scores better after 50 miles than she did after 25 miles.
We finished the ride in slightly less than 8 hours, and the middle of the pack--perfect for a strenuous 2nd 50-mile ride, and Fiddle was happy, healthy, hungry and tired at the end.  

Her behavior on the trail was just what I have worked for:  a good "going-forward" attitude, with bad ears but otherwise not a lot of bother about passing other horses or being passed.  She had backslid quite a lot recently, wanting to bite or kick other horses during training rides, but the always-helpful Fish Creek Gang helped me ramp up my discipline enforcement on the trail so that, by the third loop, my riding crop was tied to the saddle and the kimberwicke bit was happily left behind at the vetcheck. 

We even got an extra award from the ride manager for 50 miles of no-kicking for Fiddle!  Wahoooooo!

You know this already, but I can't help saying it:  Life.  Is.  Good!

Comments

  1. Great ride recap. The mountain is certainly impressive, but so are those breakfast photos! Wow, I don't eat that well at home. LOL
    Congrats on a successful second 50 for Fiddle.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sorry I missed that breakfast, too. And I'm still chuckling at that fierce herd of Chihuahuas.

    I'm going to use your fix for buddy bound-ness. Jaz carries on whenever Baby D is out of his sight, which only amps up the baby even more. Definitely gonna give the longeing a shot. Thanks for the tip.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Um. I think you were in The Rapture.
    I was enraptured reading about the ride.
    GORGEOUS.
    I hate camping.
    I could learn to luuuuuuv camping with horses, food like that, and a camper!
    Thanks for sharing with the homebound. :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Congrats :) Looks like a gorgeous camp and ride. Breakfast looks delicious. Of course I got a kick out of the surgical mask. It had to be silly... right?

    ReplyDelete
  5. What a wonderful ride story! A great ride, well told, with lovely pictures. I'm so happy for all of yall!

    ReplyDelete
  6. The Bean and I both agree-

    We want to live wherever these photos were taken. Wow.

    Seriously.

    WoOOOOOOOOoooW.

    I liked this post - I actually felt like I vicariously enjoyed the weekend with you. :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Finally I get to read your story. Good Job Fiddle! Aarene too! :-) Sure missed being there...

    ReplyDelete
  8. I had to find this blogpost today, just to comment....

    It has slightly over 13 months since I commented on this blog post.

    I do not live where those photos were taken.

    But it's a relatively short distance away, and it's pretty much the same thing.

    Awesome.

    Also, I want to go to this ride with you next year.

    ReplyDelete

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