ACT 1 Scene 1
The setting: A quaint Boy Scout camp in a southern Georgia pine forest in early Spring. The morning dawns freezing cold with clear skies and the promise of warm sunshine as the day progresses. A mass of steaming horses is milling about a trail head awaiting the start of a race.
"Hold your horses (heheheh) Gem! We aren't going until everyone else clears out of camp. I can't feel my feet and would like not to die today" mumbles a nervous and excited rider named Sara. She is dressed in a million layers of fluffy clothing and dons bright red new gloves on her frozen hands. Between her gloved fingers rests a metal bit that she is trying to warm up before shoving into her horse's mouth.
"TRAILS OPEN!!" echoes across camp. Both Sara and Gem watch as the horde rushes off down the flat, sandy driveway.
Stupid human! Why am I still attached to the trailer? Doesn't she know everyone else has started.?We are already losing and we haven't even begun yet. Why does she even try to take charge in these matters? She is always screwing it up!" Gem gets very anxious as the other stream out of camp.
"Ok big girl. Its our turn. Now, I want to trot very slowly out of the camp. Do you hear me? We have 50 miles to cover today and plenty of time to catch up later. They say this first set of trails in camp is really wet, full of holes and slippery. I don't want either of us getting hurt"
Sara mounts on up and immediately wishes she had her winter boots on as her feet are solid blocks of ice and are useless.
"You may trot. Slowly."
Wahhooo!! We are finally off! The others aren't that far ahead. If I gallop full out I can still catch them all!
"I said slowly"
Shut up and let me go!
"Goddamint Gemmie! I said slowly! Now I mean it. Fine, you can walk then instead and if you keep this up I will turn you around and make you walk all the way back to camp. Stupid Mare!!!!"
Hey wait! Others are coming up behind. Fine, I'll slow enough to let them catch up, then I will just fall behind them. Human always lets me do whatever once I get behind someone else.
"Everything going ok?" asks a nice married couple as they catch up and overtake the pair that are weaving down the lane in an intense argument over exactly what pace is acceptable leaving camp.
"Yeah, just trying to get her not to race. Mind if we fall in behind you for a bit?"
"Nope, come on! This is my gelding's first LD and my husband is doing a 50 on his seasoned gelding. Should be fun!"
He he he...
The new group of three makes it down the lane safely and more importantly Sara stays in the saddle. They hit the woods and the real riding begins.
ACT 1 Scene 2
Setting: A twisting single track trail through the pine forest. The trail is soft and covered in pine needles with large holes throughout from the recent rain and onslaught of hooves that have gone before. Three horse and rider teams make their way along getting caught up in slow moving traffic and passing some while maintaining a steady pace down the trail.
"Gem, please slow down and get off that gelding's butt. I can't see the trail and there are holes everywhere."
There she goes again. Blah, blah, blah. Always so tense. Can't she just relax and enjoy the race?
Sara glances at her Garmin. "Argh! 12 mph is way too fast for us. We need to slow down and get away from this couple or we won't finish this thing. I'll look to join one of the slower moving groups as we pass by. I really wish I could feel my feet. I'm flopping around up here like a sack of potatoes and this can't be good for Gem. When is the sun going to warm up?"
The miles start to fly by and there is no signs of slowing in the near future. Up ahead is the first of three creek crossings.
"Water up ahead Gem. Take it easy. It's going to be cold and deep"
Don't worry I got this! Whoa!! This is deep...its coming up to my belly. Suck it in. Brrr! You should have warned me.
"Good girl Gem. Man, my feet just got soaked. Really should have worn my winter boots instead of running shoes. Oh well. My feet were already numb so this shouldn't change things much. What mile are we at?"
A while later....
"Next creek crossing is coming up Gemmie. Pay attention. This one is the deepest."
You are such a worrier, human. I've got this....oh wait a second. This isn't just deep. I can't reach the bottom! What am I going to do? I can't reach! I can't reach! I would have worn my wet suit if I knew I was going swimming today. Next time can we just go to the beach instead?
As the trio swim through the deepest creek, the wife brings her feet up and back to keep them dry. Unfortunately, this spooks her green horse and he starts to buck.
"AHHH!!!" shouts the wife as she holds on for dear life, but ends up splashing head first in the cold creek.
"Oh no! Are you ok?" Sara looks towards the bank and is relieved to see the gelding stop on shore and wait for his fallen, soggy rider to rejoin him.
"Well, if we are stopping, now is a good time to hop off and adjust my saddle. This new Thinline pad has the habit of loosening up in the early part of the ride and slipping. I hope fixing it now will solve the problem for the day or I may go back to the Reinsman at camp."
All three remount and head back out again covering the ground at a fast pace. Sara continues to worry.
Another two miles down and the trail opens up to a two lane track with the same wet, hole covered ground.
"AHHH!! Shit!! Gem are you ok?!?!!? Oh no, oh no, oh no...... Guys! We just fell in a hole at a fast trot. I'm stopping to make sure her legs are ok." Sara flies off her mare in a desperate panic. She looks over her front legs and doesn't see any marks or immediate swelling.
"Is she ok?"
"Yeah...she seems fine, but I'm going to hand walk her for a bit to be safe. Go on ahead and enjoy your ride. Get back to camp and get warm and dry!!"
The other two head off and Sara stays on the ground to walk Gem for a bit. She carefully watches her legs to make sure everything is still attached and moving fine.
"See Gem...I told you to slow down and pay attention to your feet. You could have gotten us both killed back there!!! I'm glad you are ok though. It looks like we are all alone now too which is great. Lets get going and take it a little slower, shall we?"
ACT 1 Scene 3
Setting: A woman and her mare all alone on a single track trail twisting through the woods nearing the 14 mile mark. The mare is moving fine. The rider is now beginning to feel her thawed out feet and is wishing they were numb again as the pain begins to set in from misused feet in awkward positions in the stirrups.
I'm doing all the work down here trotting the hooves right off my legs and she is complaining about pain up there. I don't care that your ankles are screaming in pain. I don't care that you decided to put new equipment on the saddle right before the ride plus shorten your right stirrup a hole. You know nothing new on race day. You're an idiot.
"I'm an idiot. Why on earth did I put new stirrup covers on and shorten my stirrup?? Nothing new on race day. Nothing new on race day. When is this loop over? I hurt. I need a break. Seriously, when will this end?!"
"Oh look! Here is the photographer. Look smart Gemmie. Smile!!"
|Gem went through creeks over her belly, but balked at this bridge. Silly mare|
|Following the perfectly marked trail. You had to work to get lost here.|
"Ok..its been 14.2 miles. Here is camp. Gem....you aren't going to like this, but this is just a trot by. No hold. We have another 11.5 to go before we stop for a while. Please, just trot past the vet and I will let you rest for 10 minutes at the water trough."
Phew! We are at camp. I can't wait for my mash and hay and a nap and water and carrots...wait...why are you asking me to trot...no the trailers back that way! What are you doing up there?!? Have you lost your mind?!
"We fell in a hole about 5 mile back. I hand walked her about a half mile or so. She feels fine, but how does she look?"
"Good to go!" Yells back the head vet with a big thumbs up
ACT 1 Scene 4
Setting: A woman and her horse are arguing travelling sideways down the sandy driveway. One wants to keep going knowing there are 11 miles left on the loop. The other wants to go back and take a nap.
"Gemmie...I swear this is the right way. I didn't mess up. Just a while farther and then we can both take a break and I can fix my stirrup. I'm very glad I ripped those covers off my leathers at the trot by. My legs feel more free. These miles are much easier. Just flat, straight sandy roads. Nothing to worry about...."
Nothing to worry about, eh? What is that then???
"Oh My God Mare...its a trash can. These are houses we are going past. It must be trash collection day because each house has them out. Wow. If this continues this is going to be a very loooong 11 miles"
Cut to a wide angle view. Its a sand road with houses bordering each side. Its trash collection day and each driveway has a black trash can outside. Our fearless duo are making their way along the road doing their best to not get eaten by the black monsters.
"Oh Gem. Seriously? We are going to pass these about 8 times today, so just get used to them already. On the positive side, we are still all alone and you are doing 9-10 mph miles solo. That's pretty much unheard of for you. Way to go!!"
Ok..maybe they aren't going to eat me, but they sure look like they could. Ohhh...whats that up ahead? A big pile of...umm...what is this stuff?? It looks like hay and smells like hay but it tastes funny. At least the water in this tank is nice and cool
"That's peanut hay Gem. Don't you like it? You better tank up cuz it doesn't look like there is much in the way of grass around here. Just miles and miles of flat sand road"
"Look!! It is camp!! I told you we would make it back"
ACT 1 Scene 5
Setting: A quaint Boy Scout camp in a southern Georgia pine forest. Horses are coming and going in various stages of being tacked up, cooling out, eating and drinking. Our team is nearing the vetting area. With a quarter mile to go to camp, Sara hops down nearly collapsing as her ankles totally give out on her. She proceeded to half walk half limp Gem in to vetting.
"Tack off Gem, then we can vet in and take a nap. No matter how this goes, I'm so very proud of you. 25 miles is an extremely long loop an the farthest we have gone in competition without a hold. You are the best!"
They head to the pulse booth and are very glad to see that there is no line.
"Pulse is 56!"
"Hmmm...thats unusually high for you Gem. Normally you are in then 40s coming off trail. I really hope your hydration parameters are fine and you aren't hurting from that fall. Let's head over to vetting and find out."
The head vet is one Sara has not met yet. She is very nice and attentive which relieves Sara since she is very worried about those front legs.
"How's it going out there? First loop, right? Hydration - All As. Gut sounds - B. Go trot."
"Please pay close attention to her fronts. We fell in a hole about mile 9. She has felt fine all along, but I just want to make sure."
"Everything looks great! Enjoy the rest"
|1st loop per Garmin. The bottom right was all the camp trails and the upper left was after the trot by.|
ACT 2 Scene 1
Setting: A familiar sandy driveway heading away from the security and comforts of camp. A horse and rider are slowly making their way down the road heading out to conquer more miles of trails. They are alone, but won't be for long.
"Same dirt roads my friend. Igor the trash cans Ignore the sewer drains. We've seen them before. keep trotting. Good girl. I feel so much more balanced now that my stirrup is shorter again, but man my ankles are trashed. I'm so sorry Gem that I am riding like crap today. I'll start yoga, I swear!"
|39 total miles of this.|
Uhhuh...I've heard that one before. And I'll start going down the trail without spooking at anything or trying to dump you, Will see which happens first....
They make their way along alone and enjoying the solitude of the trail as the sun warms up the frosty day.
"You know Gem, I really needed this time. I miss my friend terribly and her memory is getting me through this. She would never give up or quit. She'd sing a silly song or say something goofy right about now. So let's sing."
Sara breaks out into a favorite song of her younger days and settles intone lovely rhythm as they cover the miles at a nice 8 mph trot. Eventually the solitude is broken...
"Hey there! My friend got pulled and my mare prefers company. Mind if we join you?"
"Umm...no. We are keeping a 7-8 mph pace, so if that works of you come on along. The trail is nice and wide so we can ride side by side easily. Gem has never kicked, but you never do know. Is your horse gaited?"
"Yup. She is a Paso."
Hmmm..what is that horse doing with its legs? Seems like odd movement. That is definitely not a trot. Can my legs do that?
"Trot Gem. Just like the last 30 miles. Just trot. Why are you moving funny? Are you tired of trotting? It is an awfully long straight stretch. Lets canter a bit to stretch you out."
The miles start to tick away...
Seriously....what is that horse doing? I don't like it. It is odd.
"Honestly horse. Trot. These stupid short strides are going to cause you to cramp. Um...can you either stay beside us or behind? Every time you get directly in front of us the mare slows down and acts weird. The trail is wide enough for us to go side by side. No need to be directly in front."
"No..I mean it. Stop going in front. Gem isn't acting right when you do that. If you wan tI can get her moving a bit and put some space between us."
"No. I'd rather ride with you This trail is soo boring. Not like last year when we stayed in camp more. I've never ridden out this way before. Too much roads for. And look now there is pavement. I hate pavement. So boring. So so boring"
Argh! This is not going well. 14.5 miles of this and my head will explode, thinks Sara as the miles wear on with negativity abounding from her new partner, I need to get back to my solitude and keep this ride fun. Speeding up didn't work. I'll let Gem walk. Oh good...she is walking too. Is it rude to tell her to go away? Ho would I even do that? I really hope she doesn't try to ride the last loop with me too. Hopefully we can part ways back at camp.
The miles tick on by...
ACT 2 Scene 2
Setting: 3 miles from camp and the pair of riders are moving down along the paved end of the loop which they covered at the end of loop 1 and will repeat in loop 3. Sara's nerves are a bit wracked from the negative company she has kept the last 2 hours and she is getting to her emotional breaking point.
"Excuse me. I don't ride fast on pavement, but there is plenty of grassy shoulder to ride on. I'm going to cross over and let Gem ride over there. You stay here so that we can each move out as we want."
She agrees and then two minutes later she comes over and cuts them off again.
|Some of the paved portion of the trail. Maybe 3-4 total miles of pavement each loop.|
Ok...this is not going well. I don't like this weirdly moving horse, I don't like these mail boxes, and I really don't like these storm drains. I'm hungry too. That peanut hay was nasty. When's camp?
"Ahhh!! Ok..calm down. Almost done. Let's move out and away Gem. Move I said. Move!" Sara loses her temper a smidgen and smacks the saddle's pommel with the excess reins to get her mare moving. Her companion glares at her and finally backs off giving them room to move out alone.
Eventually they make it back to camp where Sara hops off a quarter mile out to hand walk in again.
ACT 2 Scene 3
Setting: Back in camp at the crewing area our faithful team is dropping tack and headed over to the pulse box. They have 39 miles down and are hoping to get a good rest in.
"Pulse 44! You get the lowest of the day so far."
"That's my Gem. She is always super low coming off trail. Good girl. I bet the last pulse was due to the extremely long first loop. Let's get vetted in and see how that goes."
She gets the same vet as before.
"You are moving right along, although a bit slow. This is your 2nd hold, right? Hydration - all A's. Gut sounds - B. Trot out!"
"Yeah, 2nd hold. Let's trot my mare"
"All's good. Enjoy the hold!"
"Ok Gem, I will get you all tucked away and then I'm having a PB&J sandwich. I've been craving it for an hour and I can't wait!!!
Sara tucks Gem in to her pen with dry grain, wet mash, carrots, soaked alfalfa and a pile of dry coastal. She turns to the truck to make the sandwich she has been dreaming about for 9 miles.
"Bread...check! Jelly...check! Peanut butter....um...peanut butter? Shit. I left that at home. Nothing else sounds remotely enjoyable or even barely edible right now. I must have PB&J. Well..I do have a tin of honey roasted peanuts....let's see. Squeeze a ton of jelly on bread....add a handful of nuts...squish together...take a bite....Wow!! Thats really, really gross. But it beats nothing, so I'm eating it anyway."
|2nd loop. All road riding, mostly sand but some pavement|
ACT 3 Scene 1
Setting: Our tireless duo are heading back out along that same sandy driveway for the final time. They have to repeat the 11.2 miles from the second half of the first loop. They have 4.5 hours to do it in and Sara's spirits are soaring. The sun is shining, her mare is looking amazing and she knows they can at least finish. Completing is another beast, but she knows her mare can go the miles.
"Last time, I promise. Same trails we have been on. We are out alone again.Gem we can do this!"
|The view we had for 39 miles|
"Hey there!! You guys are looking good. Mind if I join you for a bit? This is my mare's first 50 and we just want to complete."
Sara looks over and sees a happy looking woman riding a lovely grey arab mare.
"Sure thing. We are going about 7-8 mph and stopping to eat and drink when able. If you don;t mind, can we just ride side by side? The trail is wide enough."
The miles tick by and they maintain a steady pace with some as fast as 12 mph, but with very frequent stops to eat along the way. This woman spies all the best grasses that Sara didn't even see the first time around.
The two women talk and laugh along the way and Sara is enjoying every minute of it.
"Crap, my Garmin just died only 2 miles from camp. I really need to upgrade to a better model."
"Do you want to race to the finish line? Its along the sandy road about a half mile from camp so that it is safe to. I know we aren't going to place or even turtle, but since we have been going sid by side we can race to get placings."
"Oh no thanks. Gem has worked hard enough. You go on ahead if you wish and finish before us. I really don't care about placings at all. I'm just thrilled to go the 50 miles in one piece and not fall off or hurt my horse" responds an elated Sara as they get nearer and nearer the finish line.
Finally, they cross!
ACT 3 Scene 2
Setting: Back at camp of the final time. A tired and sore Sara leads a mare who looks like she went 50 miles, but could still go a few more over to the pulse box.
"Pulse 44! Wow, you definitely get the award for lowest pulse."
"Thats my girl!!"
Sara heads over to vetting and gets a different vet. She has met him before at her first SE ride and really likes him.
"So how did it go?"
"Really well. She fell early on, but has;t been a problem. It just takes her 10 miles to settle in. This is her second 50."
He palpates her back, checks her mouth and listens to her guts.
"You riding tomorrow?"
"Nope. Going to head home in the morning."
"You don't have a second horse? You should have a second horse. You'd do well and have a lot of fun."
"Thanks, but unless board drops down to free and they add a few more hours to my day, it won't be happening for a long time. For now it's just Gem and I and she isn't allowed to break."
"All A's across the board. You did fantastic with her today. Go trot."
"Sound as can be! Congrats!!!"
|3rd loop. All roads again.|