OMG! Where to start....the people participating in this ride were just absolutely fantastic. They really made a new rider feel welcome. An extra special thank you to Chris Eickleberry (sorry Chris if I butchered your last name). She mentored us along on what we were to do, and where we needed to be. I'd have been so lost without her help.
When we showed up for the ride meeting we found out that the 15 mile ride had been sanctioned as a CTR by the Ohio Arabian & All-Breed Trail Society (OAATS). and that we had to ride under those rules. I was a little set back by that as our conditioning and training mindset had been Endurance. But we went with the way the wind blew and I have to admit I liked it. You have to think strategy, more than race, but still haul your butt down the trail.
Puddin' had some problems. She vetted in just fine, the veterinarian, Maureen Fehr was very encouraging and answered at least ten questions even though she was so busy! I asked about the areas where we were marked off and what I could do better. I was very encouraged that no points were deducted for Puddin' running truely barefoot. Her rock hard little hooves just tore up the trail, I don't think she had so much as a chip and at times we were trotting hard over gravel. Puddin' was moving out nice, but she was afraid of the paper plate trail markers, she did a big sideways spook at one and we lost a point as she knocked a fallen limb and a fluff of fur came off. No bleeding, or cut, just a little scrape off the fur. Her biggest thing was once we arrived she just wouldn't drink. It was hot and humid, and I had brought water from home for her knowing she is finicky. I don't think she drank a bucket over 2 1/2 days. I was very worried about that. I'm wondering now if it was the buckets themselves, they were new and red. At home she eats out of a bucket that hangs over a board. She also refused to eat much of anything once we were there. She did consume some hay that Barb brought (thank you Barb Walke!). She lost a point for impulsion, she was pretty pooped. We had not trained enough on the flats, this was pretty much flat winding trail. Her hydration was good but she was scored off 1 point on capillary refill time, and she pulsed down to 46 in ten minutes. Her final score was 96 1/2!!! I also erred in strategy, near the trail end Barb and I were there first, but we would have been to early, so we dawdled a little let the horses just calm down with the plan to walk in. A young girl that I'd been riding ahead of most of the day came in the same as us, a little early time to kill, but she moved in front of us and waited...it gave her a full minute on us timewise, just because we didn't wait in front on the trail. I wanted to give Puddin' some downtime prior to coming in with no horses or people around. I should have slowed Puddin' down a little, we had plenty of time and it would have given us a better score. We had thirteen horses in our novice class, if my pacing had been better we might have place first. We won second place, and I'm so proud of that horse. First time camping, first time competing, barefoot, bitless and beautiful. My little eighteen year old arabian gave it EVERYTHING she had, and she was pretty scared let me tell you! George placed seventh and he is a big gorgeous tank of a quarter horse, his first time too! I'm so proud of George!!!! He kept pace with Puddin' and me and Barb timed in together. We've partnered all summer and that's how we wanted it. Puddin' gets George moving, and George helps her through scary stuff. Barb has been a great help to me in conditioning Puddin. That's George up on the top, big sorrel quarter horse with a letter A on his butt.
To ride management: You put on a FANTASTIC ride and experience for the thirteen novice riders competing. The trails were really well marked, I thought I was turned around a couple times, but BINGO a ribbon just when you needed it.
Food was great, and the ride for me as a first timer was very well organized, worth the long drive halfway up the state.