Our first two rides were LD's at Owyhee Fandango and Eagle Spring Fling (both in Idaho), and this ride was our first where we planned to ride multiple days at the City of Rocks ride (on the Utah-Idaho border), a brand new ride this year. On Thursday, I rode with the same person I usually do, but, while we haven't had a ton of issues and no pulls, I wanted to go ahead and ride apart for Saturday's ride (we'd planned on another LD together) due to pacing. My solution? Ride the 50! It was beautiful country and I'd already ridden part of it on the previous ride, so why not? I checked with the vets and other people who know me and my horse, and we got lots of encouragement and confirmation that we should be good to go!
So Saturday I was up bright and early for a 6am start. I wanted to go slow since he's never gone more than maybe 30 miles within a week with conditioning and rides, and now I was asking him to do 75 miles within three days. I set the goal of turtleing and found a great group to ride with to take it slow and they have lots of experience. Snickers was losing his mind at the start since he was leaving his buddy, so we went ahead and rode out to the first trough. By then, he'd gotten over leaving his girlfriend and I got of and waited for my riding partners to catch up. I rode with them for the first loop, which was very steep but absolutely gorgeous! They get off and walk a lot, and I even learned to tail with them - WAY easier than trying to lead a horse uphill! It really makes a huge difference and I really recommend trying it if you have a horse that will do it ;) It saved a lot of energy for Snickers on quite a long climb, and I wasn't even winded even though I was exhausted after attempting to lead him for about 100 feet lol.
The vet check was an out vet check, which was new to me for these two rides. All you really need is horse snacks and hay, people snacks, and a re-supply of water. All packed neatly in a gear bag. Easy!
On the second loop, there was a point where you could see a long way behind you on the trail, Snickers kept stopping and looking back. Turns out there were two more riders behind us! And I wanted that Turtle!! I kept riding with my group since I didn't want to get lost or into trouble, but kept an eye on the riders behind us when they were in sight. About halfway through the second loop, there was a large area where you could see a long ways and the other riders had caught up a little, so I walked and let the two riders behind me catch up. They were quite fun to ride with as well! Unfortunately, about 15 miles out, we got caught in an absolute downpour! We knew the rain was going to come (the ride was changed the day before to avoid getting caught in the highlands in thunder and lightning) and it came right on time. There was one thunderclap that was really close - turns out there were two right in camp that caused all the horses and people to freak out - and Snickers started but got under control right away. After that point, we pretty much walked because of how slippery the mud got. The lady I was riding with even had to take off her Renegade boots because her horse was slipping so much. Her husband rode a little ahead of us, and her horse did a little "jig" trot for a few miles until he came back and rode with us. It was quite funny and very slow, not even really fighting her, but not wanting to walk because his buddy was too far ahead of him!
Well, we finally all made it back safe and sound. I was absolutely soaked as my "rain gear" consisted of a hoodie. At one point just before the finish, it looked like there were two riders still behind us! But there was no way I was waiting for them. Good thing, too, because I ended up getting the turtle after all! (wonder what that was we saw??). Anyway, I had a total blast. I loved riding for the turtle rather than trying to get the best placing we could because I was able to take in the landscape and finally took a ton of pictures of the ride! We hurried where we wanted to, and had more of a "trail ride" when we felt like it. Plus, I was much less worried about vet checks and how Snickers was doing, since he usually pushes through everything and never lets me know when something is wrong (even when his easyboot is hanging off his leg instead of over his foot!). The turtle tiles were way cute, too. I think I'm going to ride 50's and turtle from now on, it was just that much fun :) And now, I'm officially an endurance rider having completed my first 50!
Our next ride will most likely be Old Selam, in the beautiful mountains of New Centerville, Idaho. I'm going to shoot for back-to-back 50's and hopefully get the turtle! In the meantime, I need a new saddle (Snickers got a C at the end on back/whithers and was pretty sore, even though he's always gotten A's before on the 25's) and am probably going to get a ghost treeless saddle so that I don't have to get a new saddle for each horse and every time they change shape. Two weeks off for now, then down to conditioning for back to back 50's! Woot!