Sunday, June 12, 2011

Acadia - Part 2

We took the horses to their stalls and I think they were a little relieved to be on solid (non-moving) ground. Angie squealed at her neighbor and John ate. Two more horses came in after us (hah, we were not last, they were going to vet in Saturday morning since the judges left).

Horses had hay, grain and water and were quiet, so we went off to wander through Acadia again and find our hotel. After much debate over our direction of travel and the directions on the map (why Debbie even asks me is beyond me, I took us an hour out of the way navigating a Pennsylvania road trip once) we found our hotel. We checked in and collapsed into bed.

I didn't sleep well, worrying about the ride, John, and getting the trailer home without a spare tire.

By 6 o'clock we were headed back to the stables to prep for the ride.

Here is what you have to know. Acadia National Park is simply stunning. The Rockefellers had carriage roads built, so we were riding on beautiful carriage roads, with occasional views of the ocean, ponds/lakes, waterfalls and beautiful forests. A lot of the time we had stunning views of fog too :) The location for riding makes the long drive completely worth the hassle.

We rode out of ride camp and onto the first 15 mile loop. One thing Debbie and I didn't consider was the difficulty of the trail. This was mentioned at the pre-ride meeting:

"You won't think its a hard trail because it is beautiful footing. But you are either going up or down the entire time you are out there."

Debbie said, "Huh, I guess thats where the 'Mount' part of Desert Island comes in."

I had offered to let another rider on the 30 mile ride go with us, her horse was also a rookie and she was feeling nervous. Unfortunately, her horse unhinged Angie, who had a hissy fit. We let the other horse go on ahead (he was fast) and Angie settled in and when she found her stride was really happy. John was much better than he's been on a ride in a long time, and was able to check back and settle in a lot easier than usual. He also did not try galloping off with carefree abandon, which made me happy.

We rode a slow first half, trying to pace Angie and make sure she did not have another fit. She finished strong and Debbie pulled her at the hold to end it on a positive note. I think she easily could have completed the 30 miles physically, but that for her mental well being, Debbie did the right thing. Angie pulsed down fine and trotted out in good form for the vets. John pulsed down to 40 with a respiration of 8 and was raring to go.

The other rookie horse was still at the hold when I was getting ready to go back out and asked to go back out with me, so we rode the second 15 miles together. Her horse was getting tired and we rode slowly again for a long time. She didn't want me to leave them behind, so I stayed. We ended up having to push (trot) the last three miles in. John and I got back to camp with four minutes to spare, phew!

Unfortunately he was a little warm from pushing into camp to make time so I dumped a lot of cold water on him. But he managed to pulse down to 44 with a respiration of 6. I was so proud of him for pulsing down at the end of the ride, its only the second time he has done that!

We vetted out and he scored a 99 out of 100. He lost 1/2 point for his windpuffs (they were slightly enlarged) and 1/2 a point for change in motion on the trot out. He won grand champion of the ride (there were only five of us, but I was proud of his score!) and happily settled into his stall for the night.

Sunday morning we went up to Cadillac mountain (stunning views!) while we waited for everyone in the 50 mile ride to ride out of camp. Then we packed up the horses and began the long drive home. Eight hours later, John was happily back in his own stall. What an incredibly long drive! At least there were no more unexpected stops.

Rarely does a trip or event live up to expectations. This trip exceeded my expectations, which is hard to do. I had a lot of fun crossing an item off of my bucket list, but I also really want to go back next year.

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