I was the designated pizza-bringer on Friday, as I was the one leaving town last and could bring the pizza piping hot (well, still lukewarm, anyway). Camp had been set up, the horses settled in, and all I had to do was sit back with my pizza and enjoy the evening. After we ate, the gals braided their horses' manes, and Hutch (again, co-opting SweetPea's nickname) braided a red ribbon into her horse's tail (a signal that he might kick, which comes in handy for keeping people from tailgating). I took a few photos of the boys all decked out.
|Yes, Leo, you're handsome, too!|
|Bromance (these two are pastured together, and LUURVE each other.)|
|Lois, the ride manager, providing her wisdom at the ride meeting.|
From there it was another 16 miles to VC2. This would be the longest hold--the procedure would be similar to the above description, but riders have to wait 1 hour from the time their horse's pulse is verified to be 60 to get the horse vetted and then to just sit and wait. Well, it's not nearly as relaxing as it sounds. :-) Again, they can wait longer if they like, but must be vetted within the 60 minutes, and have to wait at least 60 minutes.
From there, it would be 11 miles to VC3, which had a hold time of only 15 minutes. From there, only 9 more miles to the finish lines. (There is a vet check after the finish, too, but your finish time is the time you arrive, your horse has 60 minutes to "pulse down" (but your time is still counted from the time you arrived at the finish line), and pass the final vet check. If you're in the top 10 riders for your distance, there are some additional hoops to jump through if you choose to go for the Best Condition award.
SweetPea and Hutch decided on a strategy. I would skip VC1, since they would hopefully still be feeling relatively fresh, and wouldn't want to spend a lot of time there anyway. I would be at VC2, and would meet them on the trail to take on-trail photos if they were able to text me in advance. Until then, I'd help with pulsing or scribing at the vet check, and when they did arrive, I'd spend their hour hold being at their beck and call. At the end of the hold, I would physically hoist them back on the horses if necessary. :-) For SweetPea, she and Flash had done a 50-mile ride, but it had been quite some years. Hutch hadn't actually done an endurance ride yet this year, and it was all new to Leo, too. They weren't sure how they'd be feeling after 30 miles, which is what SweetPea and Flash were used to up until this point.
After the left, I'd high-tail it to VC3 to help them again, although the ride manager warned at the meeting that due to the road conditions, it would be difficult for crew to make it from VC3 back to camp in time. They figured they'd rather have me at VC3 to help them out and hoist them back on if necessary, and if I didn't make it to camp, they'd be better off without me there than they would be without me at the mid-ride vet check.
After the ride meeting, we headed back to camp. The boys had built a fire, which is against the rules, but it was tiny and they let it burn out before much longer. Oops!
We sat around and talked mostly horses until the sun went down. I didn't get any good sunset photos this ride. SweetPea and I didn't chat for long--we were both tired and had an early morning and long day ahead of us.
I, as crew person, volunteered to get up at 3:00 a.m. to feed the horses their (pre-prepared) mash, so I duly set my alarm. I woke up at 2-ish, then tossed and turned a while, nervous about missing the alarm, until 2:52, when I gave up, turned the alarm off, and got up. The stars were glorious, and it was nice to be outside with the horses as they slurped their mash. I didn't even turn on the flashlight, and the temperature was actually pretty pleasant with my fleece jacket on. I was just sitting out there soaking up the sights and sounds and smells of 3:00 a.m. at a ride camp, when SweetPea got up, too, to use the restroom. We admired the stars together, used the restroom separately, and headed back to bed. I tossed and turned a bit more, and then suddenly it was 5:00 a.m., and SweetPea's alarm was going off. We both wished we could doze a bit longer, but I was brought to full alertness when SweetPea told me to check out the sunrise.
I got up right away, grabbed my camera, and went outside to take some photos. That invigorated me, so I was ready to help get the horses and riders ready to go. Hooves were picked, people and horses were fed, horses were tacked. Before we knew it, it was time to head down to the starting line for the 6:00 a.m. start time.
|At camp, ready to head to the start. SweetPea is not slapping herself silly--I think she's applying bug spray and/or sunscreen.|
|Quick pre-ride conference|