To start with it was an absolute blast and really is a great blend of two fantastic sports. Gem seems suited for the job as well. She not only enjoyed going down the trail, but very quickly got used to being tied and left alone. I even caught her dozing off once! The nice thing about being last is not having to worry about others going past her and this allowed 8+ miles of being tied and left as training before adding in the other horses. Hopefully next time we will be more in the thick of things.
I learned a lot in just one outing and I think there were some things that went great and some others that could use some changing up.
The Start Line:
After talking with S about it, I think we should have had me on the ground to begin with. I was the faster runner and having me on the ground first would have kept us closer to the gang in the beginning. Gem is a good horse and S is a great rider so it would have been just fine having her up on Gem to begin with.
I'm not so sure about timing for the first tie. I went 5 minutes and was the first person to tie off. After that we never saw another horse, so I think it was really too soon. I think next time I would try a set distance of say 1/2 mile to begin with and then tie. After that go back to the 3 minute rule.
I royally stunk at this. It seemed so easy and common sense, but in reality I took way too long to do it. It was good that I went 5 minutes or else S would have caught me stumbling around trying to figure it out that first time. I did really like the rope though with the clips. Would change the clip on the halter to a locking one and make the rope 2 ft longer. That way we could more comfortably ride with it and still use it to tie without it being too long. I didn't see anyone else's horse tied the entire time to see what they were using. If we wanted to use reins, I would need to come up with a way to attach them to the saddle to allow us to leave them be but not slip over her head. Also, my fear of running past Gem was idiotic. If you can't see a big brown horse fully tacked up then a small strip of bright orange on the rope isn't going to help you. But it was fun to have it.
I wore my old shoes to avoid ruining my good ones on the sloppy trails. I shouldn't have. Good shoes are a must. The shorter distances were nice to allow you to push yourself harder. The whole key is to push yourself hard when you run and then push the horse hard when you ride. But man is that hard to do when you don't ever train! The time worked mentally for me. When S would pass me I knew that she would stop in x minutes. If I went faster then the distance between me and the sweet release from running would be shorter. So it caused me to push myself harder which is great.
Gem was a rock star. She went well for a stranger and stood at the ties resting like a champ.
This is the most important part of it all. Sharing a helmet was awesome because it was 95% humidity and 80 degrees out.. But I forgot to leave it behind a time or two and that makes me a bad partner. I would still share when able. It clipped easily to the saddle and that worked well.
See above regarding the reins/tie rope.
Saddle. If I am going to do more RnT (which I sincerely hope I do), I will be ordering a full sheepskin cover to include the stirrup leathers. That way I could ride in shorts with running socks that go up to the knee and be comfortable both running and riding. The people who did that looked so comfortable.
The water bottles in the cantle bag were a great addition. I was very thirsty out there. But in general I really like the least amount of stuff touching Gem as possible. I think next time I will be using a Camelback that I can drink from while on the horse and while running. It may slosh a bit on me, but I'd rather it slosh on me than on her loins.
Other than that I think the first outing was a success. I'm very glad I took the cell phone and kept it on me. Not only did I get a few pictures, but I also was prevented from running another 8 miles :)