In which Rosemary Green Bean is our Guest Author for today's blog post

Aarene's note:  Rosemary and Griffin have come a long way since Fee and I met up with them for a ride back in 2013. Recently, they attended their second distance event at the Bare Bones ride in Olympia WA, and I asked Rosemary to write an account of their adventures.  Here's her report.

Rosemary and Griffin at Bare Bones 2015


We finally got to enjoy a second endurance ride! 

Our first ride was our adventurous ride at Mt. Adams last year. 

Rosemary and Griffin at Mt Adams 2014
photo by M. Bretherton

Griffin and I parted company after about 5 miles and he gaily ran back to the vet check leaving me to do a 4 mile walk of shame. Meanwhile, my daring daughter caught my horse and rode him back out into the wilderness to find me. Reunited, we rode on, missed the way three times, and eventually finished the 30 mile LD with a few minutes to spare.

I fully intended to ride again last year... but life just kept on getting in the way... work, weddings, funerals, ear surgery for Griffin, a trip home to England for me... and before we knew it, the end of the season had come with no more rides to enjoy. 

But we kept on training and conditioning! We have the pleasure of having extensive, hilly, technical trails right behind the barn, so keeping up on conditioning miles is relatively easy for us. That, and with the occasional trip down to Pilchuck Tree Farm to ride with the Usual Suspects to practice riding in groups, we getting more experienced with distance riding. 

The Suspects take training very seriously. (2014?)

Slowly but surely Griffin's stamina and fitness grew. We acquired a comfy saddle. We discovered the right bit. We learned to ride confidently solo. We extended our miles. We rode with lots of different people... in front, in the middle, in the back. We began to relax more and try not to look so much like a carousel horse. We abandoned boots and are now sporting a set of Terraflex composite shoes. We got fitter... both of us.

So finally... finally we got to another ride at Bare Bones. We arrived early, tucked ourselves into the woods and tried to stay cool.

Walking in the water for horses

It was hot! Scorching! Personally, I go into meltdown over 85% and normally I, again, would not have come to a ride in this heat... but I just HAD to get to another ride! 

It was brilliant to start the ride in the cool of the morning, with the sun barely risen. Griffin was relaxed but eager to know why we were heading out so early. I mounted and moved out to the start line. Truly I thought the start would be more dramatic, and certainly more boldly announced. We were calmly walking with our back to the starting line when I realized people were already trotting out of camp. Had anyone announced the start? They must have! Griffin took a moment to get his brain between his ears as he pranced sideways, got himself together and trotted smartly out with the group. I had no idea how many people had already left. 

Off we went, quickly being overtaken by several riders. I fell in behind them, some dropped back and I asked if I could trot on with two experienced riders ahead. Griffin's striding walk took me past these two at a logging road and I moved on alone for a couple of miles, passing a few others and enjoying the magnificent views of mountains at sunrise. At mile 5 at a water tank I met Holly Phalen and her admirable older horse, Ace. 

Holly and Ace

We trotted on together and, as joyfully happens sometimes, our horses were compatible mounts and we enjoyed each other's company.. so on we went together for the next 15 miles. It wasn't until we did the trot through at the out check at 10 miles that we realized that we were in the lead. How on earth did that happen? I was sure that loads of riders went out ahead of me at the start! Had I been that distracted? I thought I had only passed a handful!

Sadly, Ace was pulled at the 20 mile vet check, so Griffin and I rode on solo, ten minutes ahead of the next rider. Those last ten miles were fabulous. Griffin was so relaxed, so fluid, so happy to walk, to stop, do an all-day-trot, to swoop out up a short hill at a gentle canter. Ride camp came into view. I listened for hoof beats behind me. I jumped off, loosened his girth, let him drink and I let out a big "Yeehah" ...(mostly since I didn't think anyone could see me from all the way over at the finish line). I lead him calmly to the final vet check and Griffin pulsed down on the second try.

Did I intend to finish first? Not at all! Was that fun? Sure it was!!! But what I learned was even better.

  • I learned that I can actually survive a ride and ride camp in the heat in such good company.
  • I learned that meeting up with other riders can be a great way to rate one's speed.
  • I learned that I need to smell the roses a bit more. Stop an admire a view. Take a few pictures. (I only took one!... of Holly and Ace!)
  • I learned that it's a good thing to pack a variety of foods for Griffin and myself. He didn't want his favorite mash.. he wanted carrots. I didn't want my sandwich.. I wanted Cheetos! 
  • I learned one advantage of being in front... we zipped right over the bees before they realized we were there.
  • I learned one disadvantage to being in front... we met the hikers and the mountain bikers first... and often in surprise fashion. (I learned that Griffin does a respectable run down and roll back!)
  • I learned that I need a greater repertoire of riding songs... I've had a brain worm ever since the ride from having sung the same trot-rating song so many times... "B.I.N.G.O... B.I.N.G.O... B.I.N.G.O... and Bingo was his name-O!!!" 
  • I learned that having great crew is a delight! Thanks so much to Sophie, my young cousin from England, who crewed for me and scribed for Dr. Root!
  • I learned that ride-camp is always yummy, entertaining and educational with Fish Creek friends. 
Relaxing in the shade back in camp

Thank you for the good food, grand stories, great advice and awesome cooling vests... got to get me one of those!

cold water foot bath = not as convenient
as a cooling vest

Most importantly, I learned that I need to slow our overall pace. Our time was 4:31. We came in 20 mins ahead of the next rider and Griffin's CRI was not as good as it could have been at 56/64. I was happy that Griffin was 3rd in best condition, but he could still be more fit or we should do the ride at a slower rate.  

Griffin learned that his new Terraflex shoes were grippy and gave him the protection and security he needed to relax and extend his stride: that he loved snacking on carrots and apple slices along the way since there wasn't much grass to find; that he just loved trotting over the bridges and making as much noise as he could; that he really could trot steadily behind other horses without tossing his head madly; that he is brilliant at technical trails and rating himself around switchbacks; and ultimately.. that he loves this and would, yes please, like to do this again.

Bare Bones 2015
photo by Cassidy Rae

Bare Bones was a blast!

It won't be our last!


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