Well, we did it! Snickers and I came in 12th out of 14. Tip #1 - get up early and tacked up ASAP so you don't start the race 15 minutes late! Lol everything that could have gone wrong without being absolutely tragic did. It's never rained on that particular race, but we got more rain than they've had in the last 12 months on the day before and day of. Turns out my coat isn't waterproof per say - just thick enough to keep me slightly damp in the 50 degree windy weather all day. Oh, and don't forget your gloves. Even if the weather is in the 80's the whole week before. Take them.
I wasn't sure about riding with another person since we wanted to make sure we went our own pace, but my buddy's QH had a super fast trot and Snickers was extending his/loping to keep up, but apparently we did a good job conditioning and his heartbeat was down each time we came in. It also helped that her horse had to walk every now and then, especially with the mud and hills, so he got a quick rest. If it hadn't been for her and her horse (aka Snickers' new girlfriend who he is absolutely in love with), I'm not sure we would have completed the race, whether it was due to Snickers getting lonely and stressed, making a stupid decision in the mud (two heads are better than one when deciding the pace!), not seeing a ribbon and getting lost, or even not noticing the mud had halfway taken off one of our boots. Snickers sure didn't seem to notice his boot was halfway off as he cruised right along!
Anyway, even after all that, we had a total blast :) Even some of the more experienced riders (most of our club is over 50) said it was the worst conditions they'd ever ridden in, but we didn't have a single pull on our day in any of the races. It can only go up from here! And I am absolutely in love with this sport!