Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Nothing to report

Oh, how I pity the people who will never know the sweet relief of a completely uneventful endurance ride.

I have had enough eventful rides:
  • The one where the trailer got a flat tire.
  • The one when my horse ended up in the ICU in Yakima.
  • The one where my truck died on the way home.
  • The one where my horse snapped his lead rope and went on walkabout.
  • The one where my horse was lame at completion.
  • The other one where my horse was lame.
  • The one where I fell off... twice.
  • The other one where I fell off twice.
The list could go on.

None of those things happened at Mt. Adams last weekend.

Kara did the driving, so I didn’t have to worry about my truck or trailer. I mentioned that the Bad Idea Fairy has been maintaining my trailer. That (very expensive) fix is still on my credit card, but another is already brewing. It turns out that the Bad Idea Fairy is also maintaining my truck. It needs a transmission service before we will be attempting any mountain passes.

Blue stayed in his new, improved corral and the corral itself didn’t budge. It was a real hassle to load in Kara’s trailer with the mesh, but it got many admiring looks, comments and questions from the neighbors. Most important, even in a grassy field, Blue didn’t try to reach through it or push it around.

Photo by Monica.

Speaking of not budging: Blue started and finished with the same four boots. Granted, they were a battle to put on. The hoofjack I was borrowing to do maintenance rasping is gone from the barn, so Blue’s feet were a little overgrown. I muscled them into the boots with the help of a rubber mallet and prayed they would stay on so I wouldn’t have to repeat the process on the trail without any tools. We trotted and cantered on loose and steep volcanic soil both up and down and never had any issues. After we finished, I had to pry them off him with a pick, but there were no rubs. (The contrast of this booting experience with my days of booting Otto is growing ever starker. Blue has been a breeze to transition so far.)

We walked out of camp on a [mostly] loose rein. Blue was cool as a cucumber at the start, which is how we got such a nice picture. Of course, once we got past the photographer, there was a little screen of trees and a corner to turn. Around the corner we found a very bouncy, upset horse that temporarily tweaked Blue’s attitude and left him hyped up for the first few miles. Luckily, the start this year was one of the easiest—mostly level, mostly enclosed trail. He had nowhere to go but forward, which is just the way I like it.

About a minute into the ride, and Blue is wide awake. Me, not so much. Photo by Jessica Anderson.

Example of the start from the 50-milers. Note the very sharp turn and controlled chaos.

Naughtiness was kept at a dull roar. Blue is the smartest horse I have ever known. More than that, he is the most human. I often tell people that if I believed in reincarnation, this horse must be my grandpa Jerry. He’s stubborn, determined, irascible… and at the same time a total softy who looks after both of us. I know that Blue and I are family because while I love him completely, there are days when I really don’t like him very much. I understand this horse, which makes it easy to predict what will set him off. On Saturday, what set him off was remembering the trails from last year.

It was the second half of the yellow loop. Last year, this stretch of trail was basically the last couple miles before the finish. Blue remembered every tree and turn perfectly, and cranked up the afterburners to get us back to camp. Only, this year camp wasn’t in the same place as last year.

So when we came to the crossroads where last year we would have walked back to the trailer, to food, to rest… and instead I turned him back toward the forest, he was so very sure that I was wrong. He tried all his usual shenanigans to communicate that he disagreed. First, he went as slow as he possibly could. When that didn’t work, he started ducking off the trail and weaving around like a drunken sailor. When that didn’t work, he performed a couple elegant rollbacks to get us headed in the “right” direction.

All of this happened over the course of half a mile. After that, he gave a heavy sigh (and probably an eye-roll) and got back to work. If that’s as bad as he ever gets, then I will take the bad days gladly.

Coming in after the first loop. Photo by Monica.

The ride was over before I knew it. There was no “death march” phase in this ride. It went by so fast that I forgot to get out my camera. We chugged along at a reasonable pace, a 75-miler came along to drag us up the last big hill, and we were done. No muss, no fuss.

Except it was flippin' cold outside afterward.

I’m not sure that Blue will be ready for a 50 on our next outing, but after this weekend’s performance, I can see that he has it in him this year. He understood what we were there to do, and he did it. I think he’s finally ready to be an endurance horse.

Aargh! That "C" on skin tenting! Don't even get me started.


  1. Nice! Under wet circumstances :-) Congrat's on your completion!

  2. Fiddle was the same way about the old camp...only our second loop took us THROUGH the old camp.

    Such disappointme..."oh hey! grass!"

    Emotional recovery was almost immediate.