"I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have"
- Thomas Jefferson
To begin with the end: WE WON! It is my first ever blue ribbon and I adore it :) Gemmie, on the other hand, does not. I'm not sure she forgives me for this event to this day. She was a very angry pony at the end and took every opportunity to make sure I knew it. Sorry, Gem. I promise to never make you do another R&T again.
The ride was on Saturday at the same park my first LD was and I was excited to be on familiar territory. We opted to be big kids and camp instead of imposing on the wonderful hostess from before. The ride started at 5 pm to avoid runners being on trail while the majority of LD and endurance riders were still out there. I had been in contact with the ride manager (RM) in advance to make sure showing up Sat late morning would be okay. Pete came along too and we planned on a fun trail ride Sunday as long as Gem was doing ok and had finished well Saturday.
|Our camp with my old trusty tent and the horses in the corral|
Somehow we managed to snag a great camping spot and I headed over to the RM tent. Maybe I just caught her at the wrong moment, but she snapped something unintelligible at me and told me to go away and come back later. I went back to camp to help the hubby set up and returned 20 minutes later. This time she let me pay and gave me my riders card. Not a very good start. I vetted Gem in with all As and met the other RM who was extremely friendly and super excited that we were doing the R&T. She then told me that we were the only ones doing it (I know what you are thinking, but it still counts as a first place finish :) and she was really disappointed with that. Being the only ones, she said we could start really at any time and told me we had 4 hours to do it in and just let the out timer know that we were doing the R&T. There were 3 mandatory swaps and they could be done by just handing the reins over without tying (called an on the fly tie).
I headed back to talk to the hubs and we decided that sitting around in the sun wasn't too smart so we tacked up and got dressed and prepared to head out. I started on Gem and hubby ran. Since there wasn't anyone else doing it we decided to just hang together and when the runner got tired we would switch. The original plan had been 1/4 mile stretches past when we past each other and I am soooo glad we changed that because I doubt I would have made it.
|Gem's competition hair do|
|Isn't she beautiful?|
As we headed out we quickly learned that the deep sandy trail that was turned over by horse hooves was incredibly tiring to run and the hills that seemed little on horseback were not so little on foot. I rode for probably the first 1 mile until the hubs said to switch so I jumped off and handed him the reins. We had two choices: waste time and patience lengthening the stirrups to fit him and shortening back to me each time or have him ride like a jockey. He chose the latter. Up he went and off...he didn't go. Remember how Gem hates the hubs riding her? Well, we didn't either and she was NOT a happy camper that he was up there. Eventually they moved forward and I started to jog.
|Blurry cuz Gem wouldn't stand still|
I think I made it about 1/4 mile total the first time before I called for a switch and that was the farthest I made it. We began to switch at the top of the bigger hills to give the runner a break. Before long Gem started to get frustrated. It was obvious that she didn't understand why we were stopping so much and changing. She knew this trail and knew her job was to go down it quickly. So why on earth were we making her stop!? She was not enjoying this. We did pass several endurance riders going the other way back to camp. At first they looked at us extremely strangely until I said we were doing the R&T and then they shouted encouragement :)
Eventually we made it to the turn around point and headed back to camp in a similar fashion. We were enjoying ourselves quite a lot and at the halfway point looked at the GPS and we were making pretty good time.
|Turning around already?|
|Not even sweaty|
We made it back to camp and vetted in. Apparently they score this differently and instead of letter grades it is a point system out of 100. Gem got a 90 with 10 points knocked off for attitude. Go figure! We ended in 2 hours 3 minutes which for the trail conditions was pretty awesome.
She got fed and water (that part of the trail didn't have any) and put in her corral. The hubs and I chilled out until the awards dinner and meeting for Sunday's rides. Each time I looked over to Gem she was standing in the far corner opposite me glaring as hard as she could at me. I could almost see the steam coming out of her ears. She was pissed! Not only did she leave Pete behind, not only did she go slow and make a ton of stops, not only did we turn around way too soon, but to top it all off she had to be ridden by the hubs. She refused to come near me. She refused to take treats from me. It got to the point where it was really funny, poor girl.
I got my blue ribbon and a bag of candy at the meeting. The dinner was $2 and we actually got to eat until full so that was nice. We were still completely ignored. We tried so hard to talk to people. We asked how their ride was, how long they'd been doing it, where they were from and just got one word answers and a turned back in response. Maybe it was us?
The final straw for me was an incident that kept occurring in camp. People would walk their horse to stretch the legs and let them eat grass. Ok. But then for some unknown reason they would drop the lead rope and then stare in shock as the horse wandered off sometimes slowly and sometimes at a run. The first time we helped get the horse back. The second time we helped to get the horse back. By the literally 6th time we gave up and watched wondering where common sense had gone. That combined with feeling like lepers made me hang my endurance gear up and not go back.