Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Elbe Hills Challenge: Saturday morning

That is the sound of the generators starting up. I don't know why I bother with an alarm clock, especially at forested rides where the roar echoes through the clearing like a herd of dinosaurs at 5 a.m.

Heather, Laurie and I were all on our feet and under way soon after. There were people and animals to feed, nerves to calm, stretches to be done. Laurie is already getting a reputation for being a late starter, so I should have been watching the clock for her. It was 5:35, and Otto still wasn't tacked. At 6, Laurie hoisted herself in the saddle, then jumped down to make a few last-minute tack adjustments, and then, with our urging, actually mounted up and headed down to the (by then deserted) starting line. After mild bucking and rearing shenanigans, Otto was persuaded to start the ride. They were about 10 minutes behind the last horse. We would not see them again for eight hours.

Back to the campsite to start our own days. For me, being up as early as I was meant that I could take a leisurely approach to wrapping Blue's bad foot and tacking up. Heather had a baby to feed, so her routine was somewhat more hurried, I suppose. Frankly at that stage I'm pretty well in the zone. You have to say my name a few times to get my attention.

Laura stopped by with the awful news that Kcee had likely popped a splint in her front left and wouldn't be competing in the LD, or anything else for a while. Laura was of course devastated, especially given her amazing showing at another tough mountain ride: Renegade Rendezvous.

I took Blue down to watch the start of the LD. It was a bit of an anticlimax. There were fewer than 20 riders, and they came to the start in dribs and drabs. There was no cavalry charge, which was what I really wanted Blue to see.

Disappointed at the missed training opportunity, I mounted up, and Heather's mom took pictures. She got lots of us in camp and sort of milling around the start area. It was nice to be riding a horse who didn't consider the starting line his own private rodeo arena. We walked in sensible circles and kept it low-key.

They called the start. We left camp at an easy walk, with all but three other trail riders in front of us.

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