"Those who guide the world now may think they are doing quite well: so perhaps did the dodo"
Nothing beats being completely ignorant and naive when walking into a new situation. At least that way you can be happily unaware of all you are missing, all you don't know and all that could go wrong.
Saturday morning we loaded Gem and Pete up along with a bunch of hay and grain and headed out. For about 5 minutes until I realized we left our Coggins papers at home (needed to ride to prove the horse didn't have a disease). This posed a problem. We lived up a very steep, narrow and twisting road and didn't want to take the trailer up it, but also didn't want to unload the horses and unhook the trailer. That left one option: park at the bottom and have the hubs run the mile up the 12% grade, get the papers and come back down. He needed the work out anyway.
Off we went again and 3 hours later arrived at camp. We were totally unprepared to camp having no clue what to do with the horses. It didn't matter tho because an amazingly nice woman from an online forum lived just down the road and had offered up her barn for us to use. Sometimes people rock. I was totally lost at camp. People were everywhere and I had no clue where to go or what to do. I found an official looking guy with a clipboard, walked up to him and told him I was new and confused. He handed me a ride card then promptly took it back an folded it properly since he could tell I was bound to screw even that up and pointed me to the vets.
I vetted Gem in which surprisingly went smoothly even though neither us of knew what was going on.
|Gemmie being vetted in|
|Filling out the rider card|
|My first riders card|
We then tacked up the horses and took a short, slow trail ride. We mostly walked, but trotted some. I wanted to get a feel for the trails and we wanted Pete to have some fun. The trail had some decent, short hills and some really rocky areas, but was wide enough for two horses to ride side by side. I was pretty wimpy about where we could trot thinking most of the trail was too steep or too wet or too rocky. Looking back I was being an idiot.
I had never taken Gem for a trail ride where water was available and actually never even thought about it. Apparently drinking can be a problem for some horses, especially ones new to the sport. Again, ignorance is bliss. There was a water trough that we came across and Gem was either being super brave or she was thirsty enough not to care because she took a nice long drink. We continued down the trail and then figured we went far enough and turned around about a mile farther down. As we came back across the water trough I figured we didn't need to stop since we just did and walked past. Gemmie was not happy with that decision, spun around with her ears pinned back, went and drank again. Ooops. Lesson #1 learned: allow Gem to drink at every opportunity.
We ended back at camp in time to untack and head over to the house. We dropped them off in the paddock she had available and went back to base camp for dinner and the riders meeting. I had high hopes for the meeting. I had read about all the information that I would glean about the next days ride from the incredibly important meeting. That might actually happen at some rides, but definitely not this one. What I learned was that we would start at 8. The first part left from camp heading right and was roughly 6 miles out and then turn around and come back. 50 minute hold with a 64 bpm pulse requirement then head out of camp to the left, across the street and 6.5 miles down turn around and come back. There were some crucial tidbits left out like what color ribbon to follow, were they on the left or right side of the trail, completion time, oh and something else I would learn the next day that could have led to a big DNF.
We stuck around for a bit, but completely felt like we were outsiders begging for a friend. We sat around the bonfire and tried to talk to people, but got ignored and eventually gave up. We headed back to the house and that woman was awesome! We stayed up way too late laughing and joking around and she made the whole trip worthwhile. We pitched a tent in her barnyard and crashed for the night.
Lesson #2 learned: October in Wisconsin is cold. When you haven't camped in 10 years and didn't remember to bring half your stuff, that tiny cramped 2 person tent that you fit in alone at 16 years of age isn't so great when you try to fit in two 30 year olds. And the ground is a lot harder than you remember it being. And colder.