Just got back from the Indy hosted by The Daniel Boone Distance Riders which was held at Midwest Trail Rides, Norman Indiana.
This is the Midwest office and store, where if I had thousands of dollars to spend I could do it! Western wear, jewelry, hats, dog collars, bling, chaps, art work, doo-dads, everything beautiful and horse related (and expensive, but the quality makes it worth it). All I purchased was my bridle pass for the federal park and stall space for Journey.
We arrived there on Thursday after about a two hour drive, without a real good plan as to what we were going to do, which day we were going to do it on, just basically showing up, and rolling with it. We had a nice camping spot with water (yay! water not carried or wheeled in buckets), and electrical service which I did not need as my set up is primitive. Nice clean and well-run campground there at Midwest. Wheelbarrows for cleaning your stall, fresh bedding at will, the place was packed since there was a Foxtrotter meet up going on and the endurance group, and the regular weekend campers.
I got Journey settled into her new digs and she began doing what she does best.
Next up of course was getting checked in with ride management and vetting her in. I had a pre-ride discussion about the colic a few weeks back, and asked them to pay attention and alert me if anything was even a little off in that department. She said that her guts sounded great, just keep pushing the chow all weekend.
Checking her gut sounds.
She trotted out very nicely, something we've been working on as she is less than inspired at the purpose for this.
I decided to throw the baby out with the bathwater and attempt the 50. Figured if it didn't work out too bad so sad, but I did want to try and get a 50 done this year, and the cooler weather made good sense for Journey. So we were all set, needed only to chill and wait for the ride meeting.
At the ride meeting we went over our maps and this trail system I swear is like spaghetti. This ride location is also the one where the trail ribbons are usually sabotaged EVERY YEAR. This one was not excluded, it saddens me that people could be so malicious, it could endanger a horse or rider if they were having trouble. There were written instructions on the back of the map to help with turns, but so help me I couldn't follow it. Those that sort of know the trail system seemed to get it, but I was pretty much going to have to rely on ribbons to find my way around the place.
The weather was kind of crazy for May. Night temps in the very low 40 degree range. I could see my breath in the horse trailer with the buddy heater going full blast. I slept in clothes, wool socks, and even a knitted sock hat, and once settled in it wasn't too bad. I hoped to sleep better this time than the last 50, and I guess I did. Had three hours of sleep between 11:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. I was already awake so I got Journey from her stall and let her hand graze on grass for awhile, and pee since she won't go in her stall. Put her up and checked on her again at 3:00 to feed her and discovered she had managed to poop in her water bucket and had not drank anything all night. So I'm scrubbing out a poopy bucket at 3:00 a.m. and getting some water and feed in her stall. It rained off and on pretty heavy at times through the night. We were to leave at 7:00 a.m. so that gave me four hours to eat, and get her tacked up, some water in her, and a mild electrolyte. Journey is a hard one to get drinking, and even though it was pretty cool, I felt she needed that to jump start her thirst impulse. People all congregated around 6:45 to make them selves accounted for, and fifteen minutes later we started. Journey had one of her doing the driving fits and refused to go out on the trail, wanting to go back to the trailer. It took four attempts to get started and then we were finally off. We ended up slipping behind a woman who rides an intermediate pace. She was from Illinois, and my short term memory is about worthless and I can't recall her name. But she graciously let us play leap frog with her for awhile, and was a good motivator for Journey. We set a good pace (for us) early on and covered the first 20 miles in about three hours. We did have a mishap at a creek crossing, the water was up to her belly, and she got sucked into some mud and almost went down with me, that would have been so cold at 42 degrees. We also lost a Renegade bottom on the first loop. It had rained for about four days, and the trails were just nothing but muddy clay. The only really dry areas were the gravel roads which we only did a few miles on.
She was a little bit worked up when we came in, and worried about her new buddy and about wore me out fussing through the pulse gate. She wanted to go find her new friend and I like to never got her feet still to settle down and get a pulse. LESGH didn't expect us to come in that fast so my crew was temporarily MIA but we managed just fine, and found him carrying a bucket of water to our "in" spot and diverted him back to the horse trailer where I wanted to spend the 54 minute hold time. I was soaked with sweat and decided to get out of long sleeves and into a tank top. The hold seemed to fly by, and we headed out for the second loop.
I look like I'm eating barbed wire in this pictures. I was stressing about trail ribbons.
On the second loop I met up with the Illinois rider again, but opted to hang back and set our own pace for the rest of the ride, and find my way the best I could. I was grateful for those first 20 miles with her as having someone to ride with made the time pass quickly, and it was the longest single loop. But for Journey's self interests I knew we needed to drop back our pace.
The second loop we set a pace between 5-7 mph, and walked the steep ups and downs. I found my way around okay using the ribbons, but got confused at one point where I could go left, right, or straight and I didn't see a ribbon. Trudy Horsman whom I'd ridden this trail with two years ago, came up behind me. She was on her second loop of the LD and had ridden this section of trail her previous and current loops. She spotted the ribbon which was clearly there, just the lighting made it hard to spot. It took me almost as long to do the 15 miles as the first 20, but I figured that was for the best. This loop wearing a tank top, the sun disappeared and we had rain, and a little brief ice/ sleet storm. So I came in a bit nippy.
You will notice I'm heading towards a first responder truck. One of the endurance riders was bucked off her horse and injured, you can't see the ambulance as I was blocking it. They were afraid she'd ruptured her spleen as the horse also kicked her in the gut, so she was sent to the hospital, but later was cleared and returned. She was stiff, sore, and bruised I imagine. I was happy that it all turned out okay.
Off we went again to repeat the 15 mile loop, which I had navigated once and hoped I'd remember the trouble spot. Which I did, only to promptly get lost at the same spot I got lost 2 years ago, riding to the same stupid house, knowing I'd fouled up, backtracking again, then trying to reorient myself as to the direction I had made the turn, as I was tired and just not focusing well. I turned down one way and thought, this looks like where I came out, and then looked to my left and saw a bit of ribbon kind of tucked back into a trail that wasn't easy to spot, crossed over, and confidence ribbon about 10 yards in. Let out a pent up breath and hoped I wasn't doing something stupid like BACKWARDS, but thought I was okay, and it turned out that I was.
P.S. A special thank you to LSEGH who endures my moods, melt-downs, and takes care of the Spotted one so I can eat, drink, and change clothes.