"Only two things are infinite - the universe and human stupidity and I'm not so sure about the universe"
I don't have any pictures of this ride except for the ones I bought from the ride photographer and those aren't on my computer, so this will be text only. Sorry.
We drove the 5 hours on Saturday and got into camp late. There was a costume contest going on that we watched and that left no time to ride. I vetted Gem in without issues and was actually commended for how well she trotted out. The nerves hit hard and I stooped so low that I begged the hubs to vet Pete in and join us (why I have no pictures). Pete is a draft cross and looks extremely out of place at a ride camp filled with thin legged, narrow built, short Arabians. The vet looked at him oddly, but passed him through and all was well. He hadn't planned to ride, but Pete joined us on all our conditioning rides so I figured he would be ok.
I had bought a bunch of food to bring to the pot luck dinner and so we headed over. Wow. I have never, ever come across such a rude group ever in my life. It was horrible. We sat around talking and happened to be right next to the door to the food room. When dinner was announced, we watched as everyone literally ran, pushing to get in. We decided to wait a bit. Someone laughed at us saying that if we didn't hurry, we would go hungry, but we thought little of it since we had seen the enormous amount of food. Then we began to notice that a lot of people were leaving with two or three plates heaped with food. Hmmm...maybe they got it for someone else? Then we saw people who had brought their own big tray and covered that with food. By the time we got in there was absolutely nothing left. Not a scrap and we weren't even at the end of the line! We sat down empty handed and got laughed at with a big "I told you so" and then watched all those adults throw away most of the greedy food they had hoarded onto their plates. We managed to make it through the riders meeting and slunk back to our camp to eat PB&J and vowed to never attend another potluck like that again.
The only memorable thing about the meeting was the older vet yelling at everyone. Apparently the trail had claimed a lot of horses that day and even more turned up lame Sunday morning. People were riding too fast for the trail conditions and he was angry.
It was a month later now and even colder and the tent looked even less inviting. We decided that sleeping inside the trailer with our sleeping bags would get us a little off the cold ground and might be warmer. It was warmer, but the smell of the new rubber flooring combined with horse manure made for a night of little sleep. Gem and Pete were safely in their new corral or so we thought. A big storm blew in overnight and the hubs and I woke up in the wee hours to a sound like a horse galloping around. Hubby went and checked it out, but all looked okay so we went back to sleep. Morning came eventually and we had a new reason to love our horses. The storm had blown part of the corral down so they could have easily wandered off. Instead they stayed right where they were and acted like it was intact.
With frozen fingers we gave each a half dose of electrolytes, looked up at the cloudy sky threatening to rain and tacked up. We started off toward the back of the pack and headed out. This ride had the same loop twice with the 50 minute hold back at camp. The trail started off sandy and wide, but quickly delved into the woods and became a single track that twisted and turned like crazy with little rocks but a ton of roots. It just so happens that this is Gem and Pete's favorite type of trail so we were set. We immediately got lost due to a complete lack of trail markings and the presence of a huge intersection of 5 trails all with hoof prints. We ended up waiting for the people behind us to catch up and followed them.
We played leap frog with them for the entire first loop and ended back at camp in decent time. Gem pulsed in a 46 bpm and Pete right at 64. Pete trotted out poorly like Gem had the ride before and the vet worried about his hind legs, but gave the ok in the end. We threw blankets over them because it had gotten really cold during the ride and settled in for the hold. Pete ate and drank like crazy, but Gem just nibbled. She continued to drink well.
Off we went again. When we got to the trail head Pete did a quick u-turn and looked at the hubs like he was an idiot. He had really enjoyed the first half, but was not ready to go out again. The hubs just urged him back around and we continued on. We knew the way this time, but somehow managed to be dead last and only saw riders as they past us going the other way. The sky let loose somewhere around mile 15 and we finished the last 10 miles getting wet because we had no rain gear with us. Ooops.
As we came into camp we got the distinct impression that we had just inconvenienced everyone by taking so long to complete the ride. Nevermind that we had 6 hours to do it in and came in with a total time of 4 hours 32 minutes, 3 hrs 42 min ride time, and we looked at each other and seriously thought about turning around and going again just to piss everyone off. We didn't want to do that to the horses though so we continued to vet them in. Gem came in at a pulse of 48 and Pete at 64 but the requirement was for 60. After a few minutes of hand walking him around he came down and was awarded a completion. Go Pete!
We stuck around, in the rain, for the award ceremony, but shouldn't have. As they read off the completion names they ran out of prizes and said that they had forgotten about the Sunday people. Also, the night before they had given a special award for the last place person (a common occurrence at rides) called the turtle award for spending so much time in the saddle. Since the hubs had been last we figured he might get a bottle of wine too, but alas they had forgotten about Sunday events. I almost raised my hand to ask if I could have forgotten to pay for my Sunday events as well, but the hubs stopped me.
All in all the actual riding was fun, but camp was a disaster. On the way home we talked about it and if that was how it was going to be I decided it wasn't worth spending my hard earned money to be treated that way when I could trail ride with the hubs for free. I seriously thought that was the end of my endurance days.