*Journey's muscle tone was great. So were most of the other scores on her card. She did get B's on gut sounds and her hydration. I under-estimated her need for electrolytes. The temperature was about 57 degrees, a nice cool breeze, I thought half doses would do it. Not so. She needed a full dose after the first loop while she was eating well and drinking well to encourage more water consumption the next loop.
*Problems were solved pre-ride. My ball of the foot arthritic joint had been giving me issues all summer on training rides. I'd cut some rides short because I was in agony, and usually I'm not a sissy about aches or pain. It was just excruciating. Inserts in my shoes of memory foam helped, but not enough. Like wise with fluffy wool blend socks. Added a layer of memory foam with hot glue to my easycare stirrup base, still not getting it. As a last resort before the ride I purchased "mole skin" and applied it to my socks right over the bones where they break onto the stirrup (back edge of the ball of my foot) and added a second pair of socks. I could not have done this in my old pair of boots, but was able to by buying my boots a full size bigger than I would normally wear.
*Rubbing chafing. It was recommended that I use body glide, Monostat's anti-chafing cream, and monkey butt powder. I'll have you all know that I used ALL OF THEM. I slathered that stuff on my problem areas. Also wore a silky pair of long underwear turned wrong side out under my tights, then shook enough monkey butt inside to create a small dust storm even though I have a nasal allergy to talc. Turned them so the seams would be away from my skin. This gave two layers of slick fabric between my inner knee and the saddle skirt (yes I'm that short).
*Journey is a quirky, but incredible little horse. She just never said quit. Even when I knew for sure she was starting to feel the weight of what we were doing, if I asked for a trot, she was like the little engine that could and would settle down to a solid little jog trot. We weren't lightening, but it got the job done. I went outside yesterday evening to check on her, expecting she'd avoid me...she followed me around, like what cha' doin' human bean. The little horse has heart, and we are establishing a partnership. It feels good. I'm proud of the changes I've made in Journey. She still has some crazy Appy moments (or maybe they are her part-arab moments), but I'd rather throw my leg over this one than just about any other.
*This ride taught me some things about myself. One is that a reliance on God for some strength isn't a bad thing. People I know in my life said prayers for a successful safe ride on Journey. I was very frustrated that the ride was stacking up to not work out for us. The bad weather delay, the inability to firm up a ride partner, my anxiety about all of it, my doubts that Journey would hang with it and hit the proverbial wall. Several of these things worked to my benefit. If I'd have ridden with Staci I'd have had to switch to the 25 mile and put our 50 off again. I might have affected her finish place and best condition, and I'm so happy for her that she had that, she was glowing. If I'd have ridden with Luci I'd have likely forfeited my ride as she was bucked off an injured, and I could hardly have ridden off from that. Things just aligned perfectly for my good. Mollie is experienced, she knew the trail and there was one place that the marker on a split was down, I'd have chosen left as I could see blue ribbon, when in fact the trail was on the right, which we found the confidence ribbon a ways down. Mollie has ridden the course many times, so she knew the route. A few people went ten miles out of their way on this turn, which would have been the end of our ride. It was like many of the obstacles presented in fact a better alternative opportunity for us to complete. So I'm glad I was persistent and hung on even though I had some trepidation.
*Was it that much harder than LD. Well--kind of yes and kind of no. Definitely harder, but not as hard as I expected it to be. It is probably more of a mental game for the rider to not quit when it becomes wearing, certainly harder on the horse, and one of my take aways was it might just be easier to do them moderate than slow when the horse is ready, as nine or ten hours is a long time for that horse to haul a person and gear on their backs. That said I'd encourage a person that has done LD to move up in distance. Don't wait so long fighting the challenge as I did. If your horse is strong on LD, and you can do a training loop of 20 miles, you are probably readier than you think for a slow 50. Journey does have a little arabian in her, but honestly it is not evident in her look, her build, her metabolics, or her pulsing. But she still managed to do it. Maybe not every horse can do it, but you don't know until you try. You actually at some point have to just suck it up and point the horse down the trail to find out.
*I have health issues. Take medication that says "STAY OUT OF THE SUN". Fibromyalgia, Osteoarthritis, and other health issues I won't bore the reader with. Riding my horses has literally saved me. It hurts sometimes, but it keeps me flexible and moving. The horses give me a reason to get out of bed in the morning. As I get old, let me just drop dead in the saddle please not in a room in a nursing home. Granted some folks may have huge barriers that would prevent them from trying 50 miles, but I've witnessed some incredible victories in others who still participate in the sport even though they are up there in years. My post ride condition was much better than I anticipated ☺
*The changes in my horse trailer worked out well. The nose of the trailer that is my bunk was very comfortable even though I was too wired to sleep. The extra storage worked out nicely. Someday electric would be nice and butt kicking fan to move the air through. An awning would be nice. The trailer situation as it is though gets the job done, future changes will just be gravy.
And a few photos from the 2013 Spook Run:
Now seriously...don't you just LOVE this outfit? Green rubber boots, an orange t-shirt, and yeah...old ugly sweat pants. "Stylin"
Coming in off the first loop. The leg action was because I was preparing to dismount...no matter the horse was still moving.
Fat rolly-poley Journey at the vet-in.
Journey decided that grass was the menu selection of the day and the blanket kept slipping forward...
Our riding cohorts.
"Nom Nom Nom"
Ten more miles to go...
Finish at dusk.