So I packed up the FORD FIESTA with my saddle, unsure the saddle was going to fit into the hatch.
Long live the Fiesta not only did the saddle fit, it got great gas mileage!
Journey ran up to see where "we" were going.
Sorry Spotted Wonder you are to green to run with the "big dogs" of CMO.
So off I go to somewhere above Connersville, Indiana meet up with Marti, sling my stuff in her trailer and away we head for Danville, Illinois for the Middle Fork. My road trip was about five and half hours total. As we got to the park I suddenly had the epiphany that I did not have any kind of park permit, or passes, only to learn that Illinois does not require them. Go Illinois! We parked in a primitive area that was covered in huge maples in full beautiful fall color. I learned how to put up a picket line, how to feed from the picket line, and how nice it is to have a living quarters horse trailer. A toilet rocks people, it is a wonderful thing. A cold refrigerator is exponentially even more exciting. Electric! But bonus points go to the awning. Which I'll get into later.
Marti and Sarah going over the map concerning the layout of the park.
The weather forecast for the ride was sunny, and 78 degrees on day one and a 50% chance of rain on day two. Come Saturday morning the temperature had dropped into the low sixties, and it was spitting rain, very overcast and gray. We tied Frogg Toggs to the back of our saddles, and I put on a long sleeve shirt as the wind was blowing and it just felt cold in general. We got our out time, saddled up, and we were off. We were off really fast! Then the rain started...and it kept coming, and kept coming. All the while we are cantering the flats, and trotting the rest, and trying to find the plates in between. I get credit for exactly one find on Saturday. Those women were so fast with the compass and finding the stations that I hardly had time to process in my brain...and then we'd be off at a run again. My job was to hang in there, and keep up, and be an extra set of eyes, so I did alright for a newbie on their third ride I guess. No pressure!
Amir was a good boy. A little bit spooky, but not over the top. His walk is huge, and his canter is gynormous! His trot left a little to be desired in that I termed it a "tranter" on several occasions when I was try to use some different muscle sets in hopes of not using him up. No worries though, the horse is very fit. I learned what it is like to ride a horse that moves with such ground covering motion. I was thinking Amir...what an awesome endurance horse you would make. But equally awesome as a CMO horse.
And then the rain began to pick up until it was more of a deluge. Each stride on the horse caused water to shoot between my toes, kind of cold hydro-therapy. My ride map dissolved into wet papery stuff that was pretty much worthless. My notebook where I might have recorded codes melted in my pocket. Water streamed down through my helmet vents saturating my hair, dripping down my neck, sheepskin cover began to squish under my butt. The grassy roads became saturated, rivulets of water streaming through the road, and we were hauling butt for all we were worth. The women only got bogged down finding 2 of the 10 stations and I lucked into one of those. Chasing down those last two station codes we encountered a downed tree. Sarah's horse refused to enter the brush to go around the downed tree. Marti back tracked to assist. Sarah got off and attempted to lead her horse through. He panicked at the brush between his legs and on his belly and tore loose from her, which gave me a close call with Amir thinking the devil was upon us. Sarah was able to retrieve her horse but the episode cost the team a couple of minutes, and then on return another route had to be decided on that would avoid this leg of the trail, adding another five or ten minutes of ride time. We went barreling back towards the finish, with all the codes, hearts pumping to get in as quickly as possible, since time seriously mattered. They lost the National Title by 1 minute and 10 seconds. We placed second at the ride itself, but the title will go to "Seeing Spots."
Seeing Spots team horses.
It was absolutely thrilling for me to get invited to ride such an important ride, though my performance consisted of ride like you mean it...and I in fact, hung with the "big dogs" of CMO.
What a weekend!
Day two of the ride was canceled due to high winds. We decamped, and I'm home. The Spotted Wonder was happy to see me...as I let her out on to grass.
Gotta love the Spotted Wonder!