June 16, 2008:
Report on Old Dominion
We have now experienced the Old Dominion ride. Although we did the new and improved version. The camp was really pretty and very roomy in a long narrow valley. The race was well attended. There were 130 horses between the three distances of 25, 50 and 100 mile events. There were 27 who braved the 100. The morning was welcomed by a megaphone announcing that you should be awake. Then we were reminded of this about every ten minutes or so, all the way up until the start of the ride. The announcer was a little excited I think. Then we gave our numbers and warmed up and as we crossed the starting line we were hearing the theme song to Indiana Jones playing over the loud speaker. Pretty fun. The trail was marked decently and the footing was bad. I guess the footing was perfect, ideal and brilliant compared to the previous course, but it was bad.
I did get to see some pretty sights and there was some good stuff between the bad. The morning was humid and warm. We saw Californians, Melissa Ribley and Rob Lydon vetting, which was fun. At about 55 miles into the ride the skys opened up and it rained so hard that the trail was instantly flooding and flowing like a river, then the thunder and lightening began. It was booming right where we were. The water was coming down so hard we may as well been swimming in a pool and then climbed up on our horses because that is how wet we were. Our saddles were splashing as we sat in them and our shoes were squishing out water every time we posted. The theme song from Indiana Jones came back to mind. This is when Jeremy wanted to stand in a creek and cool out his horse, I voted "no" on that one. We were at the highest part of a ridge during all of this. We rode on and the trail had changed from loose rock with decent footing in between to boggy slime that was really slippery and the rocks were more trecherous than before because now they were mixed in with the bogs. It was interesting. This is where my horse decided that the party was over and that she wanted to hide in the bushes. She kept trying to turn off and stand in the bushes to get out of the rain.
We had our friend Sarah crewing for us. We taught her how to drive a manual on Friday (this being the F-350 dually) and on Sat. she was out there in the mud and all, driving and getting it done with style. Valerie Kanavy and her friend Laura also helped us out a great deal with crewing. There were 5 vet checks and three gait and goes (you needed to reach criteria and trot out and then you could go). The vet checks were 45, 60 , 45, 30, 20 minutes a piece with an exit exam at vet gate 2. The ride was very technical after it got dark due to the fact that you are in the trees and that it was muddy and rocky so you could not really see what was coming next. There was also this really cool bridge, about 90 miles in, that your horse could fit a leg through, that ride management had put some slats over the middle parts to make a safe runway across. That still left room for error on either side. Just making sure we were awake I guess! The paved road that we crossed at the end of the day was a nice break as it was perdictably even and not slippery. This was followed by a VERY steep, slick downhill that had rocks of course.
Our horses Dreamerchant and Empress Athena (Aleclipse's little sister), were both on their first 100's. Empress had done two 50's and Merchant had done 3. They both did great. At the finish my horse ( Empress) had a 48/48 CRI (pulse before and after trotting out). Jeremy's looked great also. We were trying to tie for 10th but they wouldn't allow it. We were 10th and 11th. Stagg won for the 5th time on his horse Jayel Super. His time was roughly 13:15 and ours was 16:50. Stagg said that the new course, with the mud, was at least as difficult as the old one. Good to know.
We also rode without shoes. Jeremy glued on the Renegade glue on boots over the horses barefeet. It worked great and the horses were more sure footed as a result.
On Sunday morning no one could leave base camp as it was too muddy in the field to drive. We all were shuttled by a school bus, that was contacted that morning, to the awards and brunch and while we were there two industrious men with a bulldozer and tractor "fixed" the field so that we could all leave. We got out of there around 4 pm. The awards were nice, but long, as we were all tired. Our friend Farzad Faryadi won the Calvary division as well as BC for that division. The Calvary division means that you ride carrying all of your own stuff on your horse the whole ride, except for water. You can also receive no assistance of any kind. He was 6th overall. During the awards we were sitting with some friends discussing that we probably wouldn't do this ride again when they annouced that Jeremy had won the "special" 11th place award of a free entry to next years ride! We all had a good laugh at this.
We now have our Old Dominion buckles. We are happy with that. We don't plan on doing the ride again, but who knows, I have said that about other rides and have gone back.
That about does it,
June 9, 2008:
It's a Bit HOT in Virginia
It is 100 degrees outside with 80% humidity. We rode today and it was really hot to say the least. We ride the horses in pairs and as soon as we finish our 5+ mile loop we throw them into stalls with fans and ride two others and keep rotating them that way until we have ridden the amount of miles that we were aiming for. That is the only way to be able to ride at any sort of reasonable pace without killing our horses at the moment. It is pretty crazy. The horses are standing around out in their pastures sweating all over.
Turtles are abundant here and we are constantly steering the horses around them on the trail. It is kind of neat, as we really didn't get to see those before moving here. There are also fireflys at night time that are really pretty. There is a fox that lives on the farm that we see once in a while as well. We also have had a large amount of lightening storms and several tornado warnings have been issued lately.
Things are very sweaty here as far as being a rider. You cannot stand around without dripping with sweat, much less ride. My shoes don't really dry out from day to day and mold loves it here. Jeremy and I both have heat rashes on our legs from riding. It is a bit extreme, but we are learning a lot about the heat.
Wild Man has finally made it back to the racetrack and is doing really well. He is handling it mentally and physically!! Yay! I will keep you posted on when he finally gets into an actual race.
Everyone will have to check out Julie Suhr's new horse, Djubilee. She is very sweet and I really hope she and Julie have a wonderful time together.
This weekend we are headed to the Old Dominion 100. If this weather keeps up I might have to change my mind about doing the 100. It is really brutal and we are on first time 100 mile horses. It is supposed to cool off, we will see.
I hope all is well with everyone. Talk to you soon. Here are a couple of action shots of Sir Smith, aka Smitty, swimming in the pond, off of the dock that Jeremy built.
May 5, 2008:
We just did the Biltmore 100. It was so spectacularly scenic. It was like riding through Disneyland. The grounds are immaculately kept. It must be a landscapers dream job (or nightmare). At one point you ride by a large pond with Canadian geese and on the hilltop in the background, above the pond is the mansion/ castle. The mansion reflects brilliantly in the pond for a stunning scene. Smitty (Sir Smith) and Gem (Cal Flaming Emit) did really great. They went through the whole ride together and then at the end of the day, they tied for third. The ride manager played back a video of the finish (Jeremy and I holding hands trotting) to see if they could see who was third and fourth because they did not really want us to tie. After reviewing the tape they couldn't decide. That's a true racehorse for you. They crossed together, neither wanted to "lose".
Both horses looked great at the BC trot out. The Vet even commented to me that he had given Gem a 9 on gait and impulsion and he then said that that really meant a lot as he does not give those out. He said," I have not seen a horse move like that in a long time". So that felt good. Neither won BC however, darn.
I hope all is well with you.
If you ever have the opportunity to ride this ride, do. We were extremely lucky with the weather and it did not rain (much) on us. The humidity was also being nice to us. It only got muggy briefly throughout the day.
April 26 Weekend:
The endurance ride was really fun. It rained on Friday night, which is an improvement as we did not get wet this time! Jeremy and our friend/ endurance exercise rider, Sarah, rode horses that had never done a 50. Jeremy was on Donatella and Sarah on Djubilee. I rode Jeremy's horse Merchant. All three horses did very well. The two new ones handled everything really well. There was a lot of wide open fields through out the race. Both mares didn't mind at all when horses galloped by them in the morning. We also had to go over overpasses, bridges, wide rivers, tunnels that echoed and there were bikes as well. The horses were brilliant. At the vet checks they all recovered right away, Djubilee was actually down to 48 when we got our P&R's!
On our way out of the last vet check we saw a red fox. How appropriate, as the ride was called the "Foxcatcher 50". Any how the weekend was a success. The race was very well run and once again there was a catered meal on Friday evening immediately following the ride briefing. It seems to be the way it goes here. You check in, get a participation award and then have a nice meal after the ride meeting and then do the ride the next day. It is really nice actually. You get to visit on Friday, race and then go home or just relax afterwards.
Today we picked up a Cre Run gelding that is for sale. He is absolutely stunning. He is a 7 year old grey and has been foxhunting for the last couple of years. He has FEI written all over him. See him here on this page-- his name is Anydaynow.
Next weekend we are doing the Biltimore 100. I can't wait to see how pretty it is there. I will keep you posted.
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