Friday, September 2, 2011


To say I was nervous is an incredible understatement. Doubt and worry were my constant companions in the saddle at the NEATO 25 Mile Competitive Trail Ride on August 14th in Escoheag, Rhode Island.

Truth be told, I was ready and so was John. He would have competed at the end of July, but the Fryeburg ride we entered was cancelled. Since our fiasco at the Pine Tree Endurance ride (where John came up lame after 17.5 miles and then was trotting nearly sound before we went home) I had done my homework. I put John on a joint supplement, changed his bit for one that gave me a bit more control, and spent time working at home on transitions and other things that would help give me complete control of his feet.

But I was still nervous. Knowing myself, it was because I had six weeks in between rides to brew over Pine Tree and all of the things that could potentially go wrong at Escoheag.

We arrived at Arcadia Management Area early and found a good camp spot. I don’t remember much of the afternoon, but I think I wandered around carrying fence posts for at least 20 minutes before I was of any use to Burnie in setting up temporary paddocks. After the paddocks were up, the three horses went in. I dumped some sawdust in John’s to encourage him to pee outside. He had one end, Dolly had the other and Minnie was in the middle. After John shocked himself (always testing the boundaries!) he and Minnie were quite happy to groom each other over the fence.

My goal had been to vet in and then go for a training run (in preparation for the Colorado Relay – more on that later). I was exhausted and my heart really wasn’t in the run, so when the vet got stuck in traffic, I happily lazed around camp watching my horse and catching up with everyone.

Once the vet arrived, everyone headed over to vet in. We got a pretty good spot in line, and as we waited our turn, John stopped to pee in the middle of the grass arena. Even if the rest of the ride was a failure, this was a victory (and one that was a long time coming!)

We vetted in with Ann and one of her Haflingers. When it was John’s turn to trot out, I guess he thought I needed an ego check about the peeing outside thing. He put on quite a show, leaping and diving down the line and park trotting the circles. So much for my horse that had finally learned to trot out in a quiet and behaved manner! To be fair, we hadn’t practiced trot outs at all – the last time he did one was at Pine Tree in June. I added them back to my to-do list.

To be continued...

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