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.
(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)
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.
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."
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!
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.
(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).
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.