Friday, March 30, 2018

The Wood Girls Weekend of Awesomeness!! Indian Springs Ride March 2018

Sometimes its so great to change your plans. 
I had a secret goal to do Tevis in 2019 versus 2020.  I had a training and ride plan developed by my mentor and was moving forward.  Then things happened... I happened.   I had decided to take the month of March off from going to rides and just train.  After Merlin bruised his heel at Wickenburg on the intro ride, i think it bruised my pride as well.  I wanted to just take it easy and take a breather and regroup.  That weekend also changed my plan in goals.  I was sitting at dinner looking at the "Legend", Earle Baxter's Decade Team Jacket and was thinking how cool that was.  How I want that Jacket!  To have a decade team horse, and that horse be Merlin!  Oh how I would love that!   So I went home rolling it all over, and decided, what is the rush?!   Why am I putting this pressure on myself?  No one even knows my goal but me and my mentor.  Stick to the plan of 2020.. if it happens it happens.  It it doesn't that's ok too.  Just take care of Merlin, keep it fun and plan for a Decade horse.  Now that's a relationship!  If Tevis fits in there cool!  I didn't really tell anyone I had thought about any of this... I wasn't ready to tell my mentor yet, I wasn't ready to tell anyone.  So in my mental rut of deciding what to do, my friend Michelle Wood (no relation but I wish we were.:0) ) asked me to complete a Limited Distance Ride with her at Indian Springs.  She was bringing her horse back off an injury, a pretty gnarly one actually.  Wednesday had a fractured bone in her hoof.  Michelle had been bringing her back in training and felt she was ready for her first LD back.   It was a 3 day weekend for me that weekend she wanted me to go, so how could I turn her down.  We could totally do a 25 and its at the same place we did our last 50.   
We had planned to ride together to the ride to save gas and money and then we realized.... oh yeah, how do we carry both of our panels.  Well, no worries, I packed up and that let me bring my pal, Jack!   He loves going on trips with me and I love having my horse outside my window hearing him eating and snuggling with my Jackaroo....  

So Let the Weekend Begin!!!

Michelle and I get there about the same time, we set up camp.... I bet you cant guess which set of panels is mine :)   by the way, my awesome step father made my panels for me and that hella cool sign! :) 

Im not sure how long everyone waits to vet in, but one thing we have learned or at least been taught by our handy dandy mentor, is let them pee!  When they have a full bladder their gut sounds are hard to hear.  So We let Merlin and Wednesday, settle in.  They poop a good few times and finally they both pee.  We are ready to vet in.  They both vet in like champs!  However, the moment I get in line to vet in for the ride i have a stress thing in my gut until the last vet in after the ride.  I call it a stress thing, but in truth it should be called:  "oh my gosh Im so excited, please let us do well, what if something happens, we got to stick to the plan, dont forget to be the brains, pack plenty of electrolytes, did you forget anything at home, does Merlin feel good??, will I sleep tonight, will I wake up in time, does my alarm have batteries, what if we have a bad start, should i start late, dont drink too much so you dont have to pee a ton of times on the ride, oh man did I drink enough for the ride, oh no my stomach hurts am i going to need Imodium? stress thing"  It pretty much progresses as the ride goes on, then when i get through the first vet check it goes down a little until Im almost done with the final loop of the ride if I make it that far and then the final vet check that stress thing is threw the roof! until the vet says Im good.  then I usually nearly black out but no one really knows but me.... 

Ok back to ride story... So we vet in and its All A's for us both.  We get told maps will be handed out at the ride meeting at 630 that evening.  Then we start looking around and I realize there are quite a few people there.  Then someone says its a 100 mile, 75 mile, 50 mile, and 25 mile ride.  Something for everyone, so cool!

After vetting in, we feed the heck out of the horses.  It is a horse buffet, and the neighbor comes out to say hi to us.  Guess who we parked next to and I didnt realize because I was in my own world.  Mike and Evanna Guy and Pam Miller!  Yaaay some of the best people ever!   We were so fortunate to do a training ride with Mike just two weeks prior to this ride, where we did a very hard 21 miles.   I felt I had learned a lot from him just riding with him in that one day.  I know he is so knowledgeable and love to hear pretty much anything he has to say.   He comes over and looks the horses over and compliments them.  That makes me want to walk around with my chest out like a little banny rooster.  Him complimenting our horses is pretty dang cool, considering he wins almost every best condition.  This year hes bringing up two new horses and this will be his horse "V's" second 50.   Keep an eye out for that dude, hes gonna be something.   

Michelle has been having some issues slipping around in her saddle. (in my opinion its her slick pants and new saddle that needs wore in.  Oh yeah and she needs to hold on when riding.  Does she listen to me when I tell her that?  Nope, I told her and she pretty much told me to shut up.  Actually she said nothing but i know that meant shut up.  She then said that she hasnt held on for years...   So I said nothing, but in my heart I said... "um what is the name of my blog?  Do you read it Michelle??" Hello Michelle, if you are reading this, dont forget to hold on!!) Ok Ok back to the story.  

Mike is aware of Michelle's struggle with her saddle and he had us come over and look at his two different types of saddles.  One was a Specialized and the other was something I cant remember the name of but was pretty cool.  It moved with the horse, it even made a clicking noise as it moved with the horse, because it adjusted itself to allow the horse to move freely. He said he got it off of Earle (the guy I mentioned above) a few years ago and he has never had trouble with it.  I really liked it.  It was small, and looked like it would fit any horse.  He was showing us how he had the rolls put on the front of his saddle so he didnt move forward, recommending that if you have trouble staying in there are things you may add to assist with that.  
(Again, I recommend a "oh crap handle" on the front of your saddle.  I think they may be called a bucking strap, but a dog collar works great too.  This allows you to always keep one hand on it for two reason.  It keeps your elbows down and it helps you sit straight, and 2nd even if your walking if your horse spooks to the side you dont move, your right in there... and then you cans say "oh crap.... that was close."  Get it, "oh crap" handle?  Ha ha...ok maybe it was lame but it really works!)

Then in no time it was Ride meeting.  It was quite large.  It was put together very well. There was a dry erase board with the miles of each lap for all distances, the heart rate requirement, and the hold times for all holds.  All riders were then given maps according to their distance.  We got our map and guess what, it was trails Merlin and I had done before.  As a matter of fact the second half was our last loop of the 50 we did a month ago.  I wonder if Merlin will remember it? 

this is Michelle pretending like shes paying attention, ok i think she really is... this time :)

We get back to the trailer, I get to love on my little old Jack baby, feed my Merman, electrolyte him up, set my stuff out for in the morning and hit the sack.  But guess what the cool part was, our ride doesnt start til 9 so we get to sleep until 6'!!!  Normally we are up at 4 getting ready for a ride.  I went to bed and slept wonderful!  It was a quiet evening and we had strategically parked so both our trucks and trailers surrounded our horses.  If a horse got out it in camp it wasn't coming to disturb our guys.

Riders started going out early the next morning because all distances had to start before we did, so i was up earlier than I expected because Merlin was outside my window snorting and make the predator noise he does each time a horse passed by and Wednesday was pacing like a crazy lady.  So up I am, and as soon as I went out to feed Michelle was up too. Perfect, we were ahead of schedule!!  The horses were fed and we were dressed, ready to rock and roll way early  So early we posed for this picture here that we look like complete dorks on their first day of school .  I told Michelle she looks like shes smiling like the Mona Lisa, the horses want to get away from us, and Im there like a frump lightening bug lol 

First loop:  Mounting was quite and adventure because we had to do it on the other side of camp.  The ride manager asked we walk to that section before we get mounted.  Wednesday was pumped and ready to go and threatened all those around her lol.  We got Michelle on, then I loaded up like "hi-ho Silver away", Merlin was taking off without me i had to jump on... 
And we are off!

I liked going this way because we had a water tank pretty quick, around the first mile, but this made the horses kind of mellow out sooner than normal because we make them walk to the water tanks.  They both drank and then we started again.  The first half of the first loop is very rocky.  You have to watch every step closely and you are doing more slow trot and walking to take care of your horse.    Even though we were moving at a very slow pace we ended up passing about 5 people.    

We almost got lost towards the end of the first loop.  We turned where we saw a ribbon, but it wasnt our ribbon color.  We rode down a little bit, and realized we needed to turn around and go back until we found our color again.  when we did this we ended up meeting up with another rider. We talked for a bit and come to find out she was on a Green Bean  team named, MegaSoarAss.... lol Love it!!!  She was from Colorado and just stared Endurance.  She was super nice, and stayed with us until we finished the first loop.   

We vetted in and got all As on everything but skin tinting.. I have never had that marked down but the vet was right.. when she pinched his skin it was not popping back as fast as it should.  You know what that means?  Electrolytes and hydration my friend.  Usually, I wait until right before Im leaving the hold to electrolyte just in case Merlin wants to sulk and not eat.  However, the skin tinting concerned me so I used my Pro-CMC and Electrolytes immediately.  And he did not pout!  he took it like a man, ate and drank and was ready to go on the second loop.

The second loop is the last loop Merlin and I did on our 50 a few weeks before.  I knew we had plenty of time to complete it.  We could walk it if needed and meet our time limit of 6 hours.  I was super thankful for this because as soon as we got to where we had to get on the horses to go, Michelle looks down and sees Wednesday had thrown a shoe, and on the foot that was previously injured.  Noooooooooooo!!!!    Wednesday is a tough mare, and a very fast walker.  Michelle decided to keep going but she was only going to walk it.  So thats fine, and we did or at least I did until Michelle pointed to someone in front of us on the trail. She said, "Keisha, you see that person up there? Thats first place"  Im like What????  Michelle said, "You can have first if you want it.  its right there, you and Merlin can do it.  I have to walk this... you go and get it."   I think i asked her if she was sure about 100 times.  Then i started to take off, then come back and asked if she sure she's sure and that we would still be best friends because I come to the ride for her.  Michelle reminded me of the skin tinting at the last vet check and told me to go get it but watch Merlin's hydration.  She said that if she let me go do this, i better get first and vet in or she would be pissed.  lol   Well, Ok, and we were off.

I wondered if Merlin remembered the trail until this moment.  As soon as I told him we could go, he went!  He knew exactly where we were going.  We caught up to the person in first asked to pass.  Passed and then hit it again.  Next thing I know I dont see anyone behind me.   We get to the highway were last time we road this I got off and jogged it with him.  It seemed to kick his butt.  I expected to do it this time as well..  The answer to that was Heck no I wasnt.  He turned the corner and I was having to convince him to trot, then I would let him canter/trot, then walk a few steps, canter trot... he knew where the end was and he wanted to get there.   We finished the hwy opened the gate and started cantering down the road.  I saw the water trough coming up and knew that the water was the test.  If he didnt drink hes going to fast, and doing too much.  He went straight to that water and sucked it up.  What a relief!!  I jumped off and sponged him, i wanted to make double sure he was hydrated and cool.  The next water trough was not far away and we would do the same when we got there.  

Hes not one for passing normally but like i mentioned before, he knew where camp was.  We passed two individuals riding the 75s.  I listened a little to their conversation, they were talking about Tevis and the mare the gal was riding was pawing at the next water tank.  The gal said her horse was so fired up she did that all the way through Tevis.  I just pretended i wasnt eaves dropping, but in my heart I was thinking "Holy crap!  These people are big deals.  I know i have seen them in endurance news about 4 million times and thats a Tevis horse and not only is it a Tevis horse but it did that and wanted to go at the water tanks all through Tevis... oh my gosh, what a monster"  but on the outside.. "so you guys cool if i walk away while your horses are drinking..."   of course they were.. and I rode on with my little green bean self... As I got closer to camp I decide to get off and jog with Merlin.  This way he could eat grass bites and keep trotting at a slow pace.  That way when we vet in his guts would be good, he would be hydrated, and his heart rate will be down.  
I get to the vet and they ask if Im ready to vet in.  I hand in my card, not able to breathe... then I do the trot out, he gets checked over and guess what!!!! All As!!!! they ask if I want to weigh for Best condition and come back in an hour.  Heck yeah I did, oh and by the way your first!
What!! Im first, Merlin we are first!! Merlin you did it, you drank, you ate, you hauled butt, you took care of your feet, you are first!!!!  I was so excited I didn't even wait til i got back to camp to call Cressy, my mentor, and tell her.. I think i may have been skipping while talking to her I cant remember.   she schooled me over the phone on prepping him for best condition.  I went back called my husband, my mom and dad told them in 5 seconds.. and then started getting Merlin ready.  
here is a picture of him just finished and with his slop face.  I think he may be glaring at the world too just to show them how cool he is. 

As I'm brushing the Merlinator to make him beautiful,  I see 3 people come in and I'm looking for Michelle and thinking, oh please let her make it.  This is such a big deal... Then here she comes walking in.  She comes to camp and says shes 3rd and going to show for BC.  Third??? how?????? I saw 3 people in front of her...    she met the people on trail and they thought she wasn't going to make it... well she told them she probably wasn't because of the shoe.  The vets wanted everyone to untack for the final vet in, they went to their trailers when they come in.  Michelle saw them at their trailers and she walked right up to the vet, through Wednesday's saddle off, vetted in and she was IN!!!!!  

Wednesday and Michelle strutt'n their stuff!

Oh my gosh could the day get better???? Yes yes it could.   We both go show for BC.  Then we find out at Dinner, guess who got BC.  Michelle and Wednesday, not only that they got highest vet score!!!  At that moment I wanted to jump up and down with her like little girls.. We held it together and went and got the score sheets to see how we rated with the others.  Guess who got 2nd in BC... that would be my fantastic Merman!!!!   Michelle and I went back to the trailers beaming...
What a successful weekend for the Wind Riders!!!!   

I can truly say this was one of my most favorite rides, I had so much fun.  I love the people there, I loved having my old man dog to cuddle with.  I loved being there with Michelle and watching her succeed.  I love having a friend that pushed me to do something I would have never normally done.  I love I have a mentor that I can call up even if she isn't with me and walk me through everything like she was there.  I love my mom, dad, husband and kids were so excited to hear our status and cheered on the phone for us.   It was pretty freaking cool.  I cant wait to do it again.  
I could not add the photo of Earle and Mike in helmets... look Boys and Girls, if there is a risk even the pros do it!
The sky over camp our last night there.... stunning.

Oh on another cool note, I told the story via podcast and it will be on episode 2 of the Endurance Horse Podcast.. its on Itunes, google play or Internet.  The lady running it asked I send in a few updates a month so folks can follow the adventures of Merlin and I.... so go do it!! Follow it, and everyone else on there... its way cool.  I loved Episode 1   

 Until Next time friends.... Don't forget to hold on, and that goes especially to you Michelle!

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