August 9, 2014

No Jubilee on the Iron Mountain for Me

This ride has morphed into so many different forms it isn't even funny. Any now it has morphed into a spot on the 2015 ride calendar. Here is everything I went through to try to make it work:

1) 15 mile Ride and Tie on Gem with S: S eventually realized that running up a mountain when she hasn't run a single step since the Clemson R&T and actually never wanted to do those 8 miles in the first place was crazier than crazy and politely backed out. But she did offer up a new victim partner.

2) 15 mile RnT on Bailey with S's hubby L: he doesn't ride much, so he would prefer his own mare. Bailey then came down with some hoof issues and hadn't been ridden in forever. I briefly contemplated doing it on Gem, but she typically doesn't like men and she isn't beginner friendly, so this got scrapped.

3) 15 mile RnT with a stranger I beg up on the RnT or ride site: I briefly hung to this hope, but again I didn't really trust someone else on her in the mountains on technical terrain. I guess I could ride someone else's horse in the RnT, but wanted the mileage for Gem to get ready for our 50 (which now is backed off a bit)

4) No RnT. 25 mile LD on Saturday which got quickly changed to...

5) 30 mile LD on Friday. Go up Thursday for vetting, ride Friday and be back Saturday so I only really miss a half day with W back at home (Thurs and Fri being work days where he is at daycare anyway)

6) 30 mile LD on Friday with 12 mile Intro on Saturday: a couple ladies at the new barn are super interested in getting into endurance and shot around the idea of coming, volunteering Friday and riding the intro Saturday. As long as Gem looked good, I would join them to help them out and get 42 total miles on Gemmie for the weekend. They both backed out for various reasons so I was left with the last entry idea

7) Back to the 30 mile LD Friday.


So why not keep with it? Well....there are some things I learned about the ride which really just made justifying the money and time spent too hard. In the end it just wasn't worth it anymore.

If you are bored and want the specifics as to why:

Hoof protection is mandatory and Gem is bare and hopefully always will be healthy enough to stay that way. I ordered my boots and have them to use, but the more people I talked to and the more I found out about the ride the less I want to go. Apparently the trails are notorious for pulling shoes and boots alike and veterans go in with brand new shoes, brand new boots, extra toe clips, extra straps, tape, glue get them to hopefully stay on. I would literally cry if I ended up short of boots at the end because I can't afford to buy new ones right now. I have nothing left to sell to buy new ones. (well, I do have 2 kidneys, but those are reserved for my next horse ;) I'm just not experienced enough with these to trust that they will stay in place.  So that was strike one.

Strike two was the vetting being away from camp. I know it is possible to do it without crew. I just have been spoiled with all my vet checks occurring at camp. I won't have crew, so this is a little bit of a big deal. Yes, I can get the ride manager to haul my crap for me, but I don't even have a crew bag. Or feel confident enough to pack one right now.

I think I bailed before there was a strike three. Either way...I'm leaving it as an experience for another day. Next summer I will be dying for a ride to go to. Biltmore won't happen again in July (it will be moved back to its normal May date again) so really from June-September there won't be anything else in driving distance for me to hit. This makes a good one to keep on the radar for a summer ride in 2015. I also have my eyes on the Ride Between the Rivers in WV for 2015, but that is much farther trailer ride, so we will see how things are going. Hopefully W is tent camping with us by then or we hit the jackpot (or even just start playing it) and can get a three horse slant load with LQs so he can sleep in style by then.


  1. If you're thinking about Ride Between the Rivers for next year, there are three of us that went this year, in case you want to read about/see photos of the ride itself. :) Liz Stout from In Omnia Paratus is an endurance rider and lives in Elkins WV, right next to where RBTR is hosted. She also happens to be my best friend, whom I met through the Blogosphere. This is her account of it this year:
    If you look through her blog to August of the last 3 years, you will see her posts about this ride. This was the fourth time that she rode at RBTR.
    This is mine from this year. I rode Liz's 4 year old Arab cross Griffin in the LD:
    And this is Dom's, from A Collection of Madcap Escapades. She was riding a Saddlebred/Arab cross on his 3rd LD:
    Dom is a long time endurance rider and horse trainer from New Jersey. She used to compete on her Standardbred Ozzy until he developed a couple of issues (lameness problems, heart murmur). Now she is competing on other people's horses.

    We had a really great time at this ride. It's very laid back compared to some of the other rides in our part of the Northeast, but the terrain is quite rugged with constant ups and downs, and a ton of mud (you'll see what I mean in Dom's and my posts. A lot of the trails of RBTR are also used by four-wheelers). It is a GORGEOUS ride though and well worth the trip IMO!

    Liz also did the Iron Mountain Jubilee last year. It was called the Virginia Highlands then, but it is the same ride, same course, same location: There is only one rough climb at the beginning of the ride; the rest is really nice footing through rolling Virginia countryside. Maybe for next year? :)

    Not to advertise other people's blogs, but I always enjoy reading other people's ride stories from rides I'm interested in competing at, and I figured you'd at least enjoy the photos!

    1. Thanks for the links! I love reading blogs - not only do I learn a lot, but it also gets me motivated to get out there and do things. I will definitely check them all out :)

  2. Iron Mtn/VA Highlands isn't a bad trail AT ALL! Last year's Friday ride was very rainy and all of the riders were cursing the ride so hard when I arrived. But the Saturday ride? Even after all that rain? BLISS. Hands down the greatest trail of any endurance ride or any trail I've ever ridden. The first climb about 4-5 miles out of camp was a little wiggy because it was very narrow single track on loose terrain, but after that? BLISS. And there was one mountain climb on the GIANT 25-mile second loop that the 55s encounter that the LD riders don't that was rocky - but not muddy. That mountain (Iron Mtn) was a very straight forward UP and then ridgeline and then DOWN. Rocky, but not crazy AT ALL. A nice walk uphill. =)

    And the away check is pretty amazing actually. I'm certain you could totally find someone to take your stuff up there for you. The ride volunteers totally feed you, too. And if you did the LD it would be really simple out and back from that away hold. It's situated atop a hill that overlooks VA farmland. It is BEAUTIFUL. The house is super unique and gorgeous, too. If you were doing the LD, all you'd need would be some buckets for water/sponging, snacks for your horse, and maybe a couple snacks for yourself to get ya back to camp. (Though the breakfast biscuits the ride management doles out are superb.)

    Really, really great ride - not nearly as rocky as the OD triple crown rides! The middle sections between everything were beautiful trail with PERFECT footing. There were a few muddy places - but they weren't SUPER deep and were totally walk-able to save boots. The time when boots tend to come off is when you're going uphill with speed after water/mud. Seriously not bad at this ride though!

    And now that Nancy Sluys is ride manager, I'm sure it will only get better. She's so awesome.

    1. Liz - now you have me really wanting to do it again!! Hmmm...I can still get the early bird entry fee if post marked by tomorrow. Will take some convincing of the hubby. He is always on board but once I told him I wasn't going to go and he saw the money saved, it may be hard to back track :) Thanks for reading!! I just finished reading your ride report from last year and it sounds like a ton of fun.

  3. Feel free to email me estout18 (at) gmail (dot) com if you want more details on the trail or have further questions on this ride or any others! =)