Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Jersey Devil Part 4
On Friday night, only two people had slept in the bunkhouse at the gun club. Saturday night, the bunkhouse, with around 30 beds, was filled. I was one of the people who moved inside!
Sunday morning dawned with a clear sky; you could see all of the stars. I went out to feed the horses at six and they were both happy and dry in the trailer.
Later in the morning, we headed over to the vets to trot-in for the 25-mile ride. Both horses were cleared to go. As we tacked up, John had the strangest expression on his face. He was pretty sure we should be headed home. We never rode two days in a row at a competition.
We rode out of camp around 9 am, and knowing we were doing the same 25 miles we had ridden on Saturday, made it pretty low stress for Meg and I. The fact that the sun was out and it was not raining did wonders for our spirits.
The trails still had decent footing. Of course, there were tons of puddles, but we could trot along with few issues. I could tell John was tired, not so tired that he couldn’t complete the mileage, but tired enough that he recognized he had worked hard the day before. Ideally, he would not have had to stand around shivering before a two-day ride either, and I felt bad for that!
Because he was tired, we spent more time following Minnie than we had the first day. Both days, we spent some time with each horse leading, following and riding side by side. It was a great educational experience for both!
The sunshine and the previous day’s weather really made Sunday’s ride more beautiful and more meaningful. The lake we stopped to water at four times on Saturday was pretty in the rain; on Sunday it was stunning in the sunshine.
The most eventful part of the day happened when we were traveling down a paved road (see the picture above). A part of trail had washed out and the detour took us down this road. We were walking along at a relaxed pace since we had plenty of time, when Meg looked behind her and said, “Loose horse!” We both dismounted. It was Berit’s horse – the wonderful volunteer who had given us soup and coffee at the hold on Saturday. John had already met this horse at the hold earlier Sunday and did not like him at all. I had been holding John and Minnie while Meg went inside to get us food, when Berit’s horse came wandering over with another voluteer (he never stops moving I guess) and came a bit close to us. Luckily John responds to voice commands and didn’t do anything, but I could tell he was mad!
Back to the loose horse. We were both standing on the ground, facing the trotting horse. Meg outstretched her hand, said whoa, and the horse zigged and trotted past her. I knew he wasn’t going to stop for me. I carefully looked at his tack as he trotted closer to us – and made a calculated move. I grabbed his rein as he trotted past and dug in my heels, spinning him towards us and stopping him simultaneously.
John looked at me with disgust. If he could speak, I think he would have said, “What are you doing!! I don’t like him.”
I handed the loose horse to Megan, and took Minnie instead. The five of us started walking back in the direction we had come, hoping Berit was okay. One of the volunteers caught up in his truck, and he took Berit’s horse and walked him back to her. We mounted up and kept going.
We lost some time, so a bunch of horses caught up to us. This agitated John, but he dealt with it. Then Berit caught up to us and decided to ride with us, trying to slow her horse a bit since she was way ahead of time. This really agitated John. We worked through it, it was a long 7 miles, but I was proud of John for holding it together.
At the end of the day, we vetted out and started driving home. One of the other New England riders picked up our awards. John scored a 94.5 out of 100 for day two – but no lameness points! He lost a point on an interference, 3 points for his trot-out (he was tired!) and some points for not pulsing down (I didn’t try that hard, not wanting to get him cold).
I’m really proud of him, grateful to Meg for agreeing to this crazy trip, and looking forward to the 2012 ride season!