Ali'i's birthday was on Saturday so what is better to spend it with him than to ride a 50 miler in Lassen National Park???????? I'm not sure if he thought it was a good birthday present, because he probably would have liked to just graze on the 25 acres at home. He's so fat.
Friday morning we left at 8 o' second and were off past Redding to Lassen National Park for the Hat Creek Hustle 25/50 mile ride. I was pretty excited. We were going towards the snow packed mountain in front of us. I love road trips, especially when dogs & horses are involved.
Here's the doggie side.....the hole under Blondie got much bigger by the end of the weekend. In fact there were several fluffed up spots in all the collie pens. We fixed them before we left and threw pine needles over them so it looked like normal. Sorta kinda.
Here is Donna & Lily. Donna got a new Parelli halter/reins/lead rope. She told Fred it only cost $9.95. That's funny.
We were off for our pre-ride vet checks and arrived a smidge early, so we waited for the vet to come at 4 pm. Off a ways was a woman who was "training" her horse. A very pretty white arabian who didn't want to go forward. We can't say she was the sharpest of horse trainers, as she was kicking him to go forward and he would not budge at all. It was a scene out of my long ago past of watching people ride rent horses who just didn't want to move. But there obviously was a bigger issue with this situation. Donna was losing it and couldn't watch. She has really done a great job with her horses and the fact that she can ride races with them in a halter only says volumes on her ability to communicate with them. No one does perfect training all the time, but safety to me is always an issue for horse & rider. You just can never be too safe. And being stupid with your horse constitutes being unsafe.
A few minutes later, this rider decided to see-saw the horse's mouth with the reins as hard as she could. Not sure what she wanted to accomplish, but the only way for the horse to get away from pressure (and that is the idea in training ~ move away from pressure.....then release quickly so the horse, person, dog, etc understands that is what you want).............the horse moved away from pressure all right ~ he reared so high he fell back on her. It was so upsetting to watch. I ran to the ride secretary to tell her to get an ambulance out asap as there was a rider badly hurt. Within the hour one had arrived. It took them that long as we were a bit remote and the cell service was sketchy. Anyway, to tidy up this part of the story, she apparently will be fine, but she could have broken her back, etc, etc or even been killed. It was ugly.
With this visual in my mind, and an impending ride early the next morning I always think about keeping my horse quiet mentally. It was a reminder to me that higher education is a good thing when dealing with large & potentially dangerous animals.
These are not my slippers.
Ali'i wondering what kind of bedtime snack Lily gets. Tofu. Ali'i, you're fine with your hay.
Time for beddie at ridecamp. Donna and I were getting up at 4 am. I had a nighmare that it started raining on my saddle and I slept in til 5:15 and had only 45 minutes to do everything before leaving at 6:00 am. It's like having a bad dog show dream.
Donna Mickelson Photo
Our first loop was 10 miles and it was fast. For us. We were back at ridecamp by 7:30ish then there was a 30 minute hold after the horses pulsed down to 60.
We started near or last and ended up passing some 7 riders. No peeing on this loop. We didn't want anyone to get in front of us.
Donna Mickelson Photos
The second loop was 25 miles. We rode out on gravel roads for many miles....it seemed like 90% of this ride was flat and for me, that's more exhausting to ride than doing hills, which I love. You get a break on your knees and body in general and I like to get off and run downhills if possible to save my horse and go faster. I also like the views. There was one hill that was 600' in elevation over the course of a mile. It was easy, since most of the training Ali'i's done is on hills. We got to the top (middle photo) and it had burned there, so it had a weird beauty to it, as Donna said. The thing that freaked me out is there must have been 5 different colored ribbons going thru all the burned out trees and I couldn't find ours, which was red for the second loop. I HATE missing ribbons because you can lose your placement and can go overtime, like Donna and I did for our first ride together 4 yrs ago. Anyway, Donna saw red, so we were happy. We were still on the trail.
Donna Mickelson Photo
Here I am running down a slight grade. We had passed one woman who was.....um, well, our idol. She was old and still riding. She gave us the trail so we kept up our pace because we didn't want to give it back even if she was our idol. Or old. Somewhere down the trail Ali'i stumbled and Donna told me he lost a front boot. (The gators on the Easy Boot Gloves http://www.easycareinc.com/our_boots/easyboot_glove/Easyboot_glove.aspx
hold them on so you don't normally "lose" them forever, like the original easyboot http://www.easycareinc.com/our_boots/easyboots/Easyboots.aspx which was the reason for my original alcohol consumption.) Anyway, the slight annoyance of having to jump off and put on a boot and AgedIdolWoman on our heels, I jumped off Ali'i, flung the gator off, slapped the boot & gator back on and was climbing on again when I hear Donna say "I'm going to move over to let AgedIdolWoman pass. I said "No you can't!! I'm done!!". Off we were in 39 seconds!! It's amazing what you can do under pressure. But, I am sorry to say about 2 miles later she caught up to us and we let her pass. It's all about trail etiquette.
We also had another rider who stayed right in front of us who I called Photographer Man. On the second loop he called back some 500' to us and told us about a photo op of some lave cave formation which I thought was a ruse to get us off of his ass. We didn't stop, but we decided we wouldn't be able to pass him without putting too much pressure on our horses to get past him. So, he was a given to stay in front. It just was his spot.
After the 25 mile loop there was a one hour hold. Ali'i got all "A's" on his vet card again, but he was tired. Lots and lots of flat trotting had wore him out.
Donna Mickelson Photo
Out again for the last 15 mile loop. Ali'i and Lily both were sleepy so we walked them several miles to get them going again. No one was out in front or behind for several miles when finally we hear pounding hooves behind us. It was Photographer Man. (He had come in before us, but stayed longer than an hour on his hold.) We all were too tired to care and just waved him on. We were in 18th & 19th place (32 starts), so we said "19th & 20th". No biggie.
Then two more woman blasted up from behind that we had been leap-frogging with. "21 & 22", we said. No biggie. We came up to the water troughs (we had done part of this stretch on the second loop) and saw them go up to the right, which was "orange", the last loop. We trot up the hill for a while, then I saw the ribbons go to the right again. Donna didn't see the ribbons then said "It would be really nice if those people went straight up the hill and got lost". I know she didn't mean it. Nor would I think of anything like that. But it happened. Later on Photographer Man said there was a party up there of lost riders. He said they went about 5 miles out of their way. If I don't see a ribbon every few minutes I start to panic. But, it's happened to me more than once. You get to talking with your riding buddy and forget to look for the ribbons.
Off we trotted. And walked. And trotted. We didn't see anyone for an hour and started talking about AgedIdolWoman and her cute horse. Lo and behold she was right in front of us!!! If she's like Lana, she's probably slightly deaf. Not that we said anything we shouldn't. We so want to ride rides at 90. Not that she was 90, but she wasn't 40. Or, even 50. I think she was 75 or so. But she did look like the kind of woman that when she asked for the trail, you better give it to her and her horse. She was weathered and mature and confident. All cool qualities in one of our idols.
Donna Mickelson Photo
We were able to pass her and not ever see her again til we vetted out our horses for the final vet check. And we still thought Photographer Man & friends blasted thru that last 10 miles. We felt so alone. But on easy stretches when we picked up speed, we'd look back to see if anyone was behind us. It's so paranoid. But Donna & I do laugh at our paranoia.
Donna Mickelson Photo
Most of the views were of forest, but occasionally we'd get high enough to see these kinds of views. Really, really beautiful.
Back at camp, we cleaned our horses up quickly and were off for our final vet exam. Ali'i again got all "A's" on his card except a "B+" for gut sounds. He had 3 different vets see him, so this last vet was very chatty. He took forever to check his gut sounds and then asked me what I feed my horse. "Pasture. And alfalfa & a mix at rides". Then he told me my horse was so round he could hardly hear thru his fat to hear his gut sounds. Oh my gosh!! He's been eating too much birthday cake!! That's the first time a ride vet told me my horse was fat! I agreed (which I do) so he needs to go back in the skinny pasture for a while.
Back at camp I took care of Ali'i, walked the doggies, and finally sat for a minute to have a snack & some Merlot. My left calf had taken a beating for some reason smashing something on my saddle, so I need to figure that issue out before the next ride. It was rather uncomfortable and started to hurt after the first loop. But, that's endurance. You're in pain. Don't be a baby and just suck it up.
Our awards dinner was at 6 pm. We sat with Photographer Man, Donna & Fred. Our completion award was a ti-dyed t-shirt with the ride's name on. If you see me wear it you may call me a dork. But, oddly enough, I kinda like it. Maybe 'cause I like the slogan. Like "Eat, Drink, Sleep", or "Dogs, Horses, Sleep".
This am T had this interesting idea to be on the road by 8 a.m. That didn't sound fun to me, but I was up before 7 because he turned the generator on so he could make instant coffee. Donna's generator was on, but she makes real coffee. Instant or real coffee, it was too early. I slept really well last night, like for HOURS, and when I woke up I was so stiff from not moving I wanted to cry. I looked out the window of Winnie and Ali'i was curled up in a little ball. A little fat Arabian horse ball. I love him. The love of my life.
Finally, by about 9:30 we had everything packed up, pine needles brushed off the dogs and the holes fixed and manure spread. All we had to do was pull in the slide-out and we were off. Except the slide-out wasn't coming in.
45 minutes later and me trying to google on my laptop with sketchy cell service, T decided the only option we had was to start driving. (Since he and I both hate looking at directions, it never occurred to us to look at Winnie's manual. Dumb & Dumber.)
We drove all the way thru camp looking like total losers (I actually was hiding on the floor behind the front seats) and T's telling people the slide-out won't go in. Finally before we were going to turn right to get onto the main road (& 53 miles into Redding), someone told him we could probably crank the slide-out in manually. Wow!! That would make sense. For some reason I envisioned our Winnie not having that feature and we'd still have to drive into Redding with it out. Well, it worked. We were good. And on our way home!
Fun weekend. I'm sore. Ali'i's tired. It's Summer's turn next! And, thanks again Donna for your photos! I love you!! Helmet cam next time so we don't let anyone in front of us!!