Overall it definitely could have gone worse. I knew so little and was so unprepared and still managed to finish with a sound and relatively happy horse. She was tired when we got back and slept the whole next day, but was otherwise fine.
So what went well?
- Stalling the horses. We were woefully unprepared to camp. We aren't completely stupid though and spent time spying on other people's set up to figure out what we would do
- Riding with the ladies. Like I said before, I do believe I would have finished, but it would have been stressful and no where near as fun or as educational
- Pre riding part of the trail the day before. Gem knew the trail and I had a decent idea of what to expect and the distance for at least half of it
- She drank extremely well. She even stopped at puddles to drink when she was thirsty. She definitely takes care of herself in this regard
- No lameness and no sores from tack for Gem
- Having the hubs to crew. The check was in camp so technically I had everything I needed, but having him there to hold her and help figure out the vetting process was a big bonus
- Her pulses were awesome. Half way she was 48 and at the very end she was 50, well below the required 64 and 60.
So what went poorly?
- Gem didn't eat much. She would graze on the trail when given a chance and munched on her hay at the trailer at the hold and end, but didn't touch much of her grain
- The bridle had to go. While it didn't rub, it was a royal pain in the rear to take it all the way off and exchange it for her halter so I could vet her
- The saddle was ok for her, but my left knee ached from mile 20 to the end and put me in a horrible position
- She rode up the horses butt in front of her annoying both that horse and rider and myself throughout most of the ride.
- The photographer took pictures Sunday, but never posted them so I missed out on getting a ride photo
- We felt like complete outcasts and besides the ladies during the ride, nobody gave us a second glance even when we tried to start a conversation. This was a big bummer since the rides cost quite a bit not including the gas to get there and time. We figured it would take time and this wouldn't scare us off just yet
- She refused to trot out on the lead line because I had never bothered to teach her to do it. It almost cost us the ride
- Wintec AP English saddle with regular English stirrups. Fit Gem, but hurt my knee and put me in a bad riding position
- Fleece lined square cotton saddle pad with pockets in red and black - loved this pad
- Leather bridle with full cheek French link snaffle bit. Pain in the rear
- Regular cotton riding pants, leather half chaps and Ariat tennis style riding shoes. Ok, but not great
- Hay from the barn grown on the property, her regular Strategy grain, carrots
- Barefoot. I did get a bunch of comments about how terrible it was to ride her barefoot and a lot more glares. She does very well barefoot, wasn't foot sore at all and I'd do it again barefoot in a heartbeat
I had a serious post ride high that lasted 3 solid days. I'm not sure Gemmie felt the same, but I gave her the week off entirely and then light work the week after. I wanted to do another one and knew the season ended at the end of the month. I found a ride 5 hours away in Illinois on Halloween weekend and the hubs okayed it so I signed us up again :)