Sunday, November 20, 2011

Noways finishes his 2011 season with an interesting ride!

NOWAYS gave me a great ride at the Yellowhammer in September, even though we were pulled at the end of the 75 miles…boy did that suck… At least we know we can both stick it out and get 75 miles in. He had an odd lameness, but was quickly and progressively better after the ride. So, I decided to give him some time off, since we had really been going at it all year. Eleven rides for 455 miles.

I only rode him a few times between Yellowhammer and our next ride, the Lead, Follow or get out of my Way… here in Scottsdale AZ.

We arrived here on Monday and the ride was the next Sat., so I was hoping the boys could recover enough from the long haul to master 50 miles.  I would loved to have gone for the 75 they offered, but thought maybe that was asking too much. I had enough time to take each of them out on the trails here to access how they were feeling. Well, both were in excellent spirits and full of themselves. Since I have points on Noways in our region, but just barely hanging on to them, I decided to go ahead and ride Noways. Mainly I just wanted to finish, I get so spooked when I am pulled…

Lead, Follow, or Get Out of My Way, (boy what a long name), is only a 30 minute haul, but I had never gotten over to those trails at McDowell Park, so was looking forward to it. Ride Management really had it together!  I have to admit though that when our trail master said that even if all the ribbons were taken down you could do it by following the instructions on the back of the map… So I was thinking the ribbons might be few and far between… As a precaution, I put my reading glasses in my waist bag so I would be able to read those instructions. Getting old so sucks…  However, the trail was marked incredibly well, with lots of ribbons and directional signs. A new one for me though was that all loops were marked with the same color ribbons…but with the signage, it was no problem at all! GOOD JOB!

I guess the only glitch was that the food did not show up on time, as they seemed to have forgotten us…good thing I had packed some leftovers in the fridge… Not sure if the food ever did show, it was getting cold, and I was too hungry to wait.

Ride morning:

Noways and Titan are attached at the brain which sometimes gives me trouble, and this time proved to be one of those. Noways was anxious at the check in, but behaved. However when I was saddling up, I knew he was going to be a bit of a handful, I could see it in his eye…and was he ever. Ride management was handing out some cool glow sticks to put on us or around our horse’s necks…really cool to see, but Noways was having none of it and I had to do lots of disengagements. He even kicked at another horse, and when I smacked him for it, he kicked up again…he was in a mood… He has humped up with me before, and I can usually get him lined out when we get started, but not this time. Off we went with the other horses and he went maybe a 100 feet when he exploded and bucked me off. OUCH! Not in a nice sandy wash but on the hard packed trail with lots of rocks… Thankfully he did stand still instead of tearing through the cactus never to be seen again…so I lead him back to camp and remounted on a bucket. Everyone was very nice and asked if I was OK to go out. All my limbs were moving, and for sure that boy was going out no matter how much I hurt…and we went. He finally got into a groove and we trotted and trotted, passing all those nice people that saw my ungraceful dismount…

Sometimes I think the reason he does so well and can go so fast is because he has it in his head that the faster he goes the faster he can be back to see him buddy…

He was still in a ‘mood’ and not happy with me, but the feeling was mutual even though I did stroke his neck to try to calm him. We were about five or so miles out ( my GPS, bit the dust in my fall) when a cactus flipped up on his belly or hind leg or whatever, so again he lost his mind and tried to buck. This time though I was able to get his head around so he couldn’t get going, but he got into more cholla and he was not a bit happy. He must have thought it was all my fault, because when I flipped it off with a comb a rider gave me, he cow-kicked and struck my hand. OUCH again… I managed to get the big balls off of him but the rest would have to stay until I could get them with some pliers. Oh and one of the balls of spines stuck into my other hand while doing all this… Needless to say he was on the look out for those deadly teddy bear cactus from then on.

I tucked him behind some riders to hopefully help him get his mind back, and went down a steep, narrow rocky trail to a roadway to a check point. We were meeting riders coming back, since it was an out and back. Saw a big group of 75 milers here. This seemed to really confuse him, but he went on and we cantered some here and he seemed to settle some. We caught up to another 50 miler here and seemed to pace well together. However, she cantered up that narrow trail until we met some other riders coming down…not good. I just hate those types of trails and we had to take the outside. We managed, but there were a couple of junior riders that were having trouble with it. I know that feeling. One was off and trying to get his horse off the trail on the up side, but managed to swing his horses butt across the trail. The next one had turned around, so his horse wanted to go sideways too. That was scary for them for sure. But, Noways did not hesitate to scoot by them, with rocks flying off the edge, and made it rest of the way up… I guess that was the hardest part of the trail. He was definitely rockier than I expected and I was glad for pads on his fronts.

I keep Noways tucked in behind my new trail partner (Tammy) and he seemed to settle some, but I was still on the brakes. I offered to lead for a while, and he was much happier up front with a bit more speed, but, she kept up with us, and we pretty much rode together the rest of the loop. She was also familiar with the trail, so that was nice, and she was a young upbeat gal, so it really helped to keep my mind off of my hurting body…

At the end of each loop (there was only two) was a very long wash that we had to do right before ride-camp and the vet check. When we hit that I let Noways go and he galloped that and made it back to camp in a hurry…boy was I tired and not feeling well at all.  I was told I was in second place. Wow hadn’t realized that at all.

My sweet husband was there, looking a bit bewildered, poor guy is not into this sort of thing…J but he was there to hold my boy (thank you, thank you) while I got him untacked and cooled off after his gallop. Tammy pulsed down before me though. Noways was still looking for his buddy with his head up and acting silly. But we got through the VC and wasn’t lame even though his front legs were bristling with stickers…

Thankfully Lee had some pliers and I set about pulling out all those stickers. It hurt him, but he stood; after all, he was now with his buddy, Titan… argh…

We had an hour hold before going out on the next and final loop.  After downing some water and munching on some left over banana, and a scrap of chicken, we got ourselves ready to do the last loop. Noways was not happy, but in a much better frame of mind. Resigned?

Tammy had gone out ahead of me and the volunteer timer (thanks so much all of you volunteers) got distracted and didn’t realize why I was standing there even though I had just handed her my time paper (another thing we don’t do in the SE or MW) Anyway we were out right behind Earl Baxter. He was leading the 75 milers who had started 30 minutes ahead of us.  I caught up to him and we rode together for some time, actually most of the loop. This is the slowest we went as it was really, really rocky. We actually walked some of it… But it wasn’t long until Noways saw Tammy ahead and again, he was determined to catch her. Again we paced together. She led most of the way, as her horse would get upset when I was in front…of course I had to ride the brake when I was behind her… Her horse had an awesome lope, but it did not work for Noways at all and he would drop into a jarring fast trot that made my body and especially my head feel like it was going to explode… But she really didn’t want to yield the trail, and I just had to settle for the pain.  We did get in front some, so we could go on at our pace, but, well, let’s just say all I wanted to do was get back to camp… Earl always caught up to us at water stops and at the sign in card that was placed in a spot on the trail so as to verify that we were on the correct trail. Thankfully, Tammy got off and signed us all in… I never would have been able to remount at this point. We finally got back to that long wash. They had told us at the meeting that there would be no ties, but they didn’t want us to race in either as the finish was right in camp…hummm.  So I told Tammy she could have second place, it was not a problem with me. I am sure she thought I was a liar and a sneak when I was finally able to get around her and let Noways go on.  But, alas when I got to the end of the wash before going up to the finish I stopped Noways, she caught up and lead us in.

I was too exhausted and too sore to even think of standing for BC. And the winner came in way ahead of us and outweighed us too, so why go to the effort…

So we got another 50 miles in for our final ride of the season, even though our ride was way too eventful… Hopefully that is it for my semiannual hitting the dirt. At least nothing is broken this time, and everything works ~ although slowly.

We left after Noways was rested, since we only had a short ride home and all I could think of was some hot food and a long hot soak in the tub...  So I really don’t know who finished where. Earl and his horse looked good after their second loop, and I saw him go out on his final loop, so I am sure he got it done!

Again, thanks so much for all you ride managers, trail designers; veterinarians and all the many volunteers that really put themselves out to make we riders have so much fun!

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