Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Sunriver Endurance Ride

The Sunriver Endurance Ride is not too far outside of Bend, so of course the plan was to go.  Originally, the plan was that I'd be doing LDs (limited distance--25 or 30 mile rides) by then, but I didn't feel like Arya and I were ready.  We hadn't been able to do much conditioning since then.  She'd probably survive it, but I wasn't sure I would, and we hadn't been working on balancing while trotting downhill or conditioning for trotting uphill, so yeah.  Plus this was a 30-mile ride, and I had the feeling that those five miles would make ALL the difference for our first ride of that length, so just not the right time to try it out.  So Arya and I entered the 15-mile Intro ride.  Same as before, you still do a vet check before and after like the "real" riders, but there's no mid-ride vet check, and you don't get anything on your record for completing.  But it costs much less to enter, so there's that.  :-)

Shar hasn't been feeling well lately, so she hasn't been doing much riding, either.  Plus she's decided to sell Goodwin and is in the market for another horse to eventually someday replace Flash when he retires, and a friend of hers had one she could try out, so she was going to bring him to the ride.  30 miles probably isn't the best way to try out a new-to-her horse, so she was going to ride the 15-mile intro ride as well.  And a friend of hers has been wanting to have a horse to ride at a ride sometime, so Shar offered Flash to HER, and a plan was set.  Four "teams"--me on Arya, Shar on Ammond, Marie on Flash, and Janelle on her horse whose name I didn't catch were all going to ride together in the intro.  Originally, Kirstin was going to join us, too, but she had other things come up and didn't make it.

Shar was planning to head out there Friday afternoon, so I took a half day off from work.  I originally planned to stay with her in the camper, but as I was packing stuff up Thursday night and thinking of all the stuff I'd need to remember to pack in the morning, I wondered why I was bothering for such a close ride (I googled it--26 minutes from my house to ride camp, barely longer than my daily commute!), so I texted Shar in the morning to ask if she mind if I bailed on the "camping" part and just slept at home.  :-)  However, I still planned to head up there Friday afternoon along with her.  After I got off work, I ran a couple errands, then went to Shar's house to help load up the heavy stuff (water jugs, entire hay bales), then left her to finish the last few things as well as her own packing, and went to my house.  I picked up my cold stuff (I'd already gathered the rest of what I would need, mostly from Shar's house) for that day (yay for not having to pack tomorrow's stuff too!), and the kiddo, and we headed up the hill.  I figured between driving faster than Shar and her having some stuff to finish and errands to run after I left, that I'd beat her to camp, and of course I did.  She gave me Janelle's number so I was able to text her and find out where she was parked, so I parked next to her but didn't unload my stuff yet, just in case.

While Nathan and I were sitting in the shade of Janelle's camper with her husband, Shar texted to say she'd left Fred Meyer.  Then she texted a few minutes later to say she just realized she'd forgotten the dog food she said she'd bring Janelle (who'd forgotten to pack theirs), and asked if she should turn around or if I could get it.  Well, it's a lot easier for me to drive my Camry down the hill than for her to turn her rig around and waste the gas, so I went and got it.  No biggie.  Passed her pretty close to town, actually, got the dog food, and got back while she was still getting the early stuff unloaded from her rig.  We set up the corral (thanks to help from Nathan and Janelle and her son), put the horses in it, and got their food and water set up.  Then we took a quick break for some food of our own, registered and vetted our horses, went back to the campsite for a bit, then headed to the ride meeting.  The original plan was for Shar to take a quick ride on the new-to-her horse, plus me to take a quick ride on Arya (hadn't been on her in nearly a week, since the clinic), but there wasn't time.  Oh well.  No new info at the ride meeting, so that was no big deal.  I announced a green bean party, but no one came right away, and apparently by the time a couple people came and checked, I was gone.  Oops!  But seriously, I wouldn't have wanted to be up super late anyway.  I went home at 9:00, so I wouldn't have wanted to stay a whole lot later.  Oh well.

Saturday morning, I got up bright and early (AGAIN--after getting up early both weekend days the weekend before!) got my cold drinks ready to go, and hit the road.  This time, I left Nathan home.  When I got there, we learned that Kirstin wasn't coming, and we'd been planning to delay our departure well past the actual start time to wait for her, so we no longer needed to kill time, so we decided to just tack up our ponies and go.  After a few tack adjustments and stuffing the bags to the gills with cold water and gatorade (and a few calories of pure sugar just to keep me going but not intended to be filling), we set off for the starting area.

Sure enough, no one else was starting with us, so that was exactly what we wanted.  Marie was already mounted, and as I went to get on, Janelle offered to hold Arya for me, and asked if I planned to put the bit in her mouth.  Um, yeah?  I already put her bridle on...  Apparently the buckle that holds the bit to the cheek strap came undone.  Yikes!  Glad it wasn't broken (unlikely with my synthetic tack, but you never know), and glad Janelle noticed it!  I fixed it and mounted up.  Shar and Janelle stayed on foot at first--they wanted to get out of sight of camp and have the ponies focused and walking calmly before they got on.  Janelle was riding a really green mare, and the horse Shar was riding was fine, but new to her and if his buddy (the mare Janelle was riding) was acting up, she figured she should just mirror Janelle as far as riding or walking.

Shortly after leaving camp, the trail made a turn and started up a hill.  Janelle and Shar didn't want to slog all the way up the hill on foot, so they mounted up.  But Janelle's horse was still acting up a bit, and she just wasn't comfortable.  Janelle thought that the strange horses (Arya and Flash) could be adding to it, so she and Shar decided to quit the ride for now, have Marie and me go on, and they would attempt a ride later on, just the two of them.  I felt so bad for them, having entered (and paid!) to ride the 15-mile ride, and now turning around literally FEET into the ride.  But I hoped they'd be able to have a nice ride together later on.  Marie and I continued on down the trail.

With it being just the two of us now, theoretically, we should be able to make better time.  We did some trotting, and Flash would just go faster and faster and faster, and Arya was actually moving out and keeping up with him really well.  But her going faster and faster was worrying to me in multiple ways.  Probably the least ACTUALLY problematic was that my thighs were clearly not in shape for this, and the extra beats per minute were really wearing me out.  It also just plain scared me.  Arya has NEVER bolted or run off out of control, but it still freak me out to go very fast.  That's just something time (and practice at doing it) will have to take care of.  The third potential concern is just that she's a young horse and her feet, bones, ligaments, and cardiovascular system need to work up to being fit, not that we were working SUPER hard, and the faster she goes, the harder it could potentially be on all of those areas.  But mostly it was the first two things in my head that had me hollering at Marie, "a little slower please!" and she'd bring Flash back to a slower trot.  Oh, and I do know that Shar feels that Flash's best, most efficient trot for his physiology isn't the fastest he can go, either.

So yeah, we trotted quite a bit there at the beginning, on some wide singletrack and then some more open dirt roads.  Arya was VERY concerned about Flash getting too far ahead of her, and would have preferred to have her nose tucked right under his tail.  I worked hard to keep her back from him a bit.  He doesn't mind, but it's not a good habit to have, plus if he stopped all of a sudden, or stumbled, she'd be in his lap and it could potentially be a huge mess.

We had a few people riding longer distances using our same loop pass us.  EVERY time someone passed us from behind, Arya acted like she was being goosed when the riders were still rather far behind us.  She does NOT like other horses sneaking up on her.  I really hope she gets over that with more exposure!  A couple times she threw in a quick canter stride and even kicked out (or crowhopped?) a bit, but luckily Flash was always in front of us to break her stride before she really got going, or we might've changed the "never bolted" situation.  Who knows.  She probably wouldn't have gone too much further even if he wasn't there.

At one point, we actually came upon some riders ahead of us on the trail.  That was unexpected, since we left so much later than everyone else, but between all our trotting and all their walking, plus their horses disliked being passed even more than Arya did, we caught up to them.  They pulled their horses WAY over, we walked calmly past them, then I asked whether they preferred us to walk or trot to get away.  For some horses, I think it goes better if you get it over with faster and are out of sight faster, so walking (or even cantering away) might be preferred by their riders.  They hold them back briefly, then it's out of sight, out of mind.  But some folks would prefer you walk away to keep their horses from freaking out, which is fine, too.  I think they actually ended up halting their horses entirely while we walked away, as they were out of sight behind us faster than I expected.

We came to the first set of water troughs, and neither Arya nor Flash were too interested in drinking, but I think Arya took a few sips.  There was a four-way intersection here (which made it such a good spot for water--kill two parts of the same loop!), but the trail marking folks did a GREAT job making sure people knew where to go (besides discussing it in the ride meeting and letting us know we should turn left from where we came in both times we saw it, there were paper plates with instructions, and flour on the trail, too).

Back down the trail a bit, we broke out of forest into a hillside clearing with a nice view.  We tried to take some pictures, but Flash was dancing around quite a bit, wanting to get down the trail.  But I managed to get a shot of Marie and of the view, and she managed to get a shot of me:

We continued on down the trail, and came to some downhill sections.  I commented to Marie that this was something I needed to work on with Arya, but she wasn't great at trotting down hill with me on her back, so asked if she minded walking them.  She said we'd make good riding buddies when she rides her horse, then, because she doesn't trot downhill well, either, so we proceeded to walk downhill for a while.  And a while longer.  And a while longer still.  It was pretty terrain, but we were both getting tired of all the downhills.

Then Marie pulled Flash to a stop and said she had to pee.  Well, isn't that good timing--so did I!  So we picked opposite sides of the trail and did our business.  I just held onto the rein (which I'd removed from the bit and clipped to her halter), and Arya started getting antsy to find MOAR FOOD and wandered off, tugging me off balance in the process.  Ugh.  But no harm done.  Marie re-mounted using a stump that she said crumbled under her (much less significant) weight, so I had to just mount from the ground.  I found the highest spot I could, but still pulled the saddle over quite a bit, but managed to straighten it out.  There were MORE downhills.  It was really pretty, and all the manzanita smelled good, but it was brushing against us (or at least against me and Arya, who are admittedly wider than most other horses and riders) quite a bit.  Here's the view I had most of the ride (though the scenery changed), since we stuck behind Marie and Flash most of the time:

Arya and Flash both tripped quite a bit.  I speculated it was a combination of the shadows (horses don't have the best depth perception since most of their field of vision is monocular rather than binocular) and the fact that the trail was SO dusty that the rocks sticking up were all the same color, plus some were probably buried in fine dust that appeared to have different terrain than was actually below the surface of the dust.  So yeah, there was a lot of tripping.  I kept telling Arya (not that she listens to me!) that she needed to watch where she was going on the trail, and not just keep her eyes on Flash's butt.  :-)

The trail was really pretty, and we kept our eyes open because we knew we were coming to the point where our 15-mile green loop took a huge shortcut to avoid doing the entire 30-mile pink loop we'd been following and would be rejoining after the shortcut.  Luckily we saw the ribbons and didn't have to backtrack at all.  :-)  The shortcut was very brief, then we rejoined the pink loop right at a water trough.  The horses drank a lot more at this trough than at the first one, and I popped a handful of Mike & Ikes to keep my blood sugar up, and we hit the trail again.  Finally, the trail was heading uphill after all the downhill we'd been doing.  Arya peters out fast, but I figured I should at least TRY trotting uphill as long as she could, then give her a walk break, then back to trotting, etc.  So we did that.  We slowed to a walk where it got really rutted and rocky, then back to a trot when it seemed safe.

Marie thinks we were walking, but I wonder if we were actually trotting at this point, but regardless, Arya tripped and tripped HARD.  She went down on her knees (and skidded her chin in the dust), and I came off.  My head, neck, and shoulders hit the ground first, my back kinda crumpled, then the rest of me flopped down.  It knocked the wind out of me a little bit, so I was gasping for a minute, getting dust and dirt in my mouth but luckily not lungs.  I evaluated myself and seemed relatively unhurt, though of course taking a tumble is never without short-term pains.  As I unfolded myself and stood up, I realized my chest hurt on the right side (not in the "oh no--chest pain!" sort of way--like my ribs).  I was pretty shaken up, but otherwise doing okay.  Marie suggested I walk for a bit to get the kinks out, and that seemed like a good idea.  I checked Arya over, too, and she didn't seem to have any scrapes or anything, though she was dirty (as was I!).

I was rather surprised at how quickly Marie dismounted and came to my aid--she must've done a flying dismount.  Apparently she saw the fall, too, because she heard Arya trip and looked back just in time.  Too bad she doesn't wear a GoPro so I could see video of it.

Oh, and I looked at what caused the trip after I got up and dusted myself off.  It was a large rock in the trail--about 2-3 feet wide and sticking up 2-3 inches from the ground.  Pretty hard to miss.  Sheesh, Arya!

I hand walked her for a quarter mile or so, but as the trail got steeper, I figured I'd rather ride than walk, though my chest was a bit sore.  I was a little nervous getting back on after a fall.  Marie reminded me that it wasn't Arya's FAULT--she hadn't tried to ditch me, but that actually wasn't super-comforting, because the nature of it being a total accident meant it also wasn't very preventable.  But I did hope that taking such a tumble would make her more aware of her feet.

Between my new aches and having seen the saddle slip so far last time I mounted from the ground, this time Marie held the opposite stirrup while I clambered aboard.  Mounting actually went fine, but when I bent over to put my right foot into the stirrup, it REALLY hurt my chest, so I asked her to do me the favor.  I said I may or may not be up for trotting, so let's just stick to a walk at first and play it by ear.

Shortly after I got back on, we saw the paper plate announcing the photographer ahead.  The sign was placed far enough that folks trotting at a pretty good clip would have enough time to spread themselves out and smile for the camera, so we had plenty of time to prepare.  I patted myself down to try and get the worst of the dust off and tried to suck in my ample tummy.  I neglected to realize, however, that my helmet and the add-on brim I have were also very dirty, so the purple and black appears rather beige in the photos:

Marie and Flash, me and Arya

Filthy and sore, but still happy

Arya knew we were headed home, so she was perfectly willing to walk quickly and lead the way.  (Up until this point, when she was in the lead, she'd walk for a bit, then figure that it was too scary, and slow WAY down to let Flash catch up and pass her so he'd be in the lead.)  But she was keeping a careful eye out for anything scary, like stumps and logs, especially those baked silver in the sun.  A squirrel darted right in front of us and she barely blinked, but a silver log snuck up from nowhere (i.e. had been there all along, of course), and she darted sideways.  Silly girl.  Her snaking her head back and forth, I didn't mind.  But the darting sideways really hurt my ribs, especially at the trot, so I asked Marie to always lead while trotting the rest of the day, though I didn't mind having Arya in the lead at the walk (and she walks faster than Flash, especially when headed home).

Speaking of trotting, all day I'd been working on my position based on the feedback I'd gotten from Celena at the clinic--keeping my feet "out in front of me" (actually just nicely under me instead of BEHIND me, but to me it feels like they're way out in front), a "slouch" in my back (again, it just feels that way, and looks from the outside as if you're sitting up straight), etc.  But when we started trotting after I'd fallen off, my body was WAY more crooked than normal (which is already crooked enough).  My right leg was trailing way behind, and I just couldn't muster up the core strength (or didn't want to, because PAIN) to get it back "in front."  When walking, I could hitch it forward, but not at the trot.  Then I also realized that because I was protecting my right rib cage area, I was slouching forward and twisting to the right, and I couldn't make myself ride straight without bracing somewhat, so I planted my right hand on the water bottle right in front of the saddle as a crutch to keeping that side more forward than it otherwise wanted to be.  I also completely forgot about switching up my diagonals every so often, which I'd been so diligent about doing before.  Yeah, I was kind of a mess.  But we were going, and doing okay, and there wasn't a TON of mileage left to go.

Finally, we arrived back at the water troughs at the four-way crossing.  Yay!  I wanted to dismount so I could kind of wash up a bit using my bandana.  OUCH!  It was probably a big mistake to get off, in retrospect, as riding hadn't hurt THAT much, but dismounting did.  First the twisting and bending to swing the leg over, then much worse was laying on my belly over the saddle and sliding down (my preferred method to dismount, since I kick both feet out of the stirrups well before landing so I don't risk her moving off while I still have one foot in the stirrup).  OUCH ouch ouch ouch ouch.  So as I washed my face, I decided that I was gonna walk for a little while, if not the whole way back.

I even jogged a bit on the downhills (not that it's much faster than a walk, honestly).  But as I went along, I realized I was wearing my helmet, so I took that off and strapped it to the saddle.  Then I realized it'd be kinder to Arya to take her bridle off, so I hung that from the saddle as well.  Then I realized she might appreciate a looser girth, so I did that as well.  Then I realized that now that I'd done all that, and since it was probably only three miles or so back to camp, I might as well just walk the rest of the way rather than get her all situated to ride again and have to dismount again.  So I told Marie that was my plan, and said she was welcome to ditch me and head back to camp on her own.  She demurred, but I said it really was fine.

She walked along with me a while longer, but when I again told her I really was fine if she left, she decided to go ahead and do that.  So she mounted back up and trotted off, and Arya and I were alone.  This was on a long straight section of road, so that was rather boring and scant on shade, but we took a few grazing/shade breaks (including another pee break which was another adventure--I need to start tying her well away from me while I pee), and it was fine.  The road turned and got nice and shady for a bit, and it was rather pleasant to just walk and enjoy spending time with my horse.

I worked on some "personal space" issues with her, especially necessary because she walked much nicer on my right side, which was also my bad side.  So I really didn't want her pushing into me (she's not incredibly rude about it, just wants to be close, but it's still not acceptable) or pulling on the rope (which I was holding with my right arm, which HURT when she pulled on it).  So I held the dressage whip in one hand and waved it or even tapped it on her chest if she got too far ahead of me, and I jabbed the point of my elbow into her shoulder if she got too close to me.  It worked fairly well, and she got the idea pretty quickly.  However, in the clinic, Celena was teaching us to teach our horses to have responsibility--show them what you expect, let them do the wrong thing, correct them and show them what you expect again, ad nauseum.  So I was working on having her on a slack rope and having her keep herself in the area I wanted her (outside my bubble, but not so far ahead or behind that she was pulling--shouldn't be too hard), but every time she'd make the mistake and I'd correct her, she'd act all contrite and get right back in the spot she should be, but then she'd just do it again and again and again and I got really really sick of it.  Eventually, I realized that if I just kept enough tension on the rope (holding it with my hand, and letting the weight of my hand hang from it, but not pulling on it), she actually kept herself in the right spot really well.  So much for responsibility, because I was much more interested in my personal comfort at this point.

We plodded along as the road turned, then went back into a LONG straight stretch without shade again.  I'd really been hoping we were nearing the end, but could see ribbons blowing in the breeze FAR ahead, plus knew we'd have to get back onto singletrack at some point to get back to camp.  I kind of lost a bunch of motivation seeing the road stretching out in front of me and started feeling pretty dejected.  I stopped OFTEN to rest in the shade, which didn't help our forward progress any.  I trudged slowly.  I took this photo of our shadows on the road.  The sun was nearly overhead, which made Arya's shadow look funny.  Her ears were shorter and her head was entirely undefined:

Finally, FINALLY, we came to a turn onto singletrack.  Yay!  Maybe we're nearly back to camp!  Then we came to a set of water troughs.  This was a big "yay!" at first, as I soaked my shirt and bandana and cooled off quite a bit, which felt so good.  But it was also a huge disappointment, realizing that they don't put water troughs super close to camp, since there's water IN camp, so we had to still be at least a mile away.  Ugh.  As I trudged away from the water, the going got a little tougher, because while the singletrack was shadier, it had DEEP dust and was much harder to walk on than the hard-packed road had been.

I had originally told myself that even if it was five miles back to camp, no biggie, as I regularly hike/jog that distance, but I was really frustrated with how much harder it is to "wog" with a horse tagging along.  If she'd stay a couple feet behind me (and I could trust her not to hit my foot with her hoof like she did at Paulina!), it might not be so bad, but she really wanted to be in my space.  And maybe she sensed I was hurt and thought I needed a cuddle, but yeah, not so helpful from a 1300 pound horse!  Plus I started having a bunch of negative thoughts.  I was having to micromanage Arya's position in order to stay comfortable, so apparently I wasn't a very good horsewoman and couldn't just get her to be "responsible."  My irrational frustration and unfairly nagging at Arya weighed on me, too--I'd get more pissed off than was probably warranted due to my own pain and frustration and end up taking it out on her, then feeling bad for it.  I started wondering whether this endurance thing was ever even going to happen--my original plans for the season had been to do one intro ride and then quickly move up to LDs, and now I was having a hard time even "completing" an intro ride.  I was doubting whether I should even be riding, as fat and out of shape as I am--maybe it was my fault she stumbled, and clearly being heavy doesn't make hitting the ground any easier.

And you know how when you have pain that's kind of bad, but not bad enough to outright cry, but it just nags at you enough that it eventually builds up and makes you frustrated and irritable and you eventually end up crying because of all the buildup rather than the acute pain itself?  Yeah.  I was at that point.  I started crying, and then the gasping breaths of crying hurt my ribs even more, and then I started having those doubting thoughts even more and I just sat down and had myself a really good cry along the trail, gasping and sobbing and probably making mud on my face.  Luckily, no one passed me during the worst of it.

Shar had warned me that I would cry and doubt myself during my first LD, but I wasn't prepared for it to happen during my second intro ride.  Though I guess it WAS a test of endurance, to continue on foot when in pain, though neither the riding nor the hiking were very long distances in and of themselves.  So yeah.  I guess I hit that wall.  We'll see if it happens on my first LD (well, the first LD I actually manage to go the distance in--I entered the LD at Still but only made it a few miles).

A few people did pass me while I was on foot.  Nearly all of them checked to make sure I was okay (as well as a runner who happened to be out there on the same trails, too), which was really nice of them.  One person made an off-handed comment about really needing to finish their ride that made me wonder whether they thought I was trying to hold them up, but whatever.  I'd just get as far off the trail as I could when folks came by.

One time, I was holding Arya off the trail because of a dad and his two kids on bikes up ahead.  I was headed uphill and they were coming downhill, and the son was gaining speed and the dad kept yelling at him to slow down.  Arya did spook a bit as he came whirring right by us, and kind of nudged my ribs a bit which didn't feel good, but luckily nothing worse happened.  The dad apologized profusely and said he'd have a talk with his kid about trail etiquette (horses have the right-of-way over all other users), which was awesome.  You do hear about bad situations on mixed-use trails, but every biker and runner and non-horse user we met that day (as well as all the endurance riders we passed and were passed by) were AWESOME, getting off the trail, talking to the horses (one guy said he was instructed to do that earlier in the day by some riders, and it really does help the horses to see a bicycle/rider/helmet combo as a human rather than some weird scary being), chatting about how our respective days were going, etc.  It was really great.

So after a good hard cry sitting on the side of the trail, I got up and trudged on.  It was uphill and really dusty loose footing, plus I was still blubbering occasionally and also pulling off into the shade when I could, so I was going SLOW.  Poor Arya has probably never walked so slow in her life.  She was actually being really good about staying in the spot she was supposed to, but she kept turning her head to look at me as if to say, "Really?  You can't walk any faster than this?"  I sympathized with her, saying "Yep, worst trail ride ever, eh?"

A couple ladies passed us, and I asked if they knew how much further it was.  They said a half mile.  This was both a huge relief (that it wasn't farther) and a huge disappointment (that it wasn't 50 yards).  Keep trudging.  Then I saw a sign that said it was a quarter mile back to the sno-park where ride camp was, but pointed in a different direction than where the ribbons went.  Uh oh.  Apparently the sign was pointing out the more direct route, so I REALLY wanted to go that way.  But between not being sure if it would dump out at the right spot in camp and therefore really save me any extra "mileage" anyway, and not being sure they wouldn't eventually send riders down the trail the way they expected us to come (we were going REALLY slowly, and were probably taking way longer than Marie would've estimated when she told them how long ago she left us), I decided to take the marked trail.  They were still a half hour or so from sending a rider our direction, but it was probably still the right choice.

Finally, we made it back to the junction where the final quarter mile or so of trail was the same quarter mile or so of trail that we'd started on.  I even jogged a tiny bit where it was downhill.  Arya knew we were back and really really really wanted to go faster and get back to camp, but I had to remind her that no, we were going slow.  Partly because I couldn't go any faster at that point, and partly as a matter of discipline and respecting my space while I was on foot.

We finally trudged into camp and were greeted by my riding buddy Marie as well as Shar and Janelle!  It was so good to see them right there at the finish line and vetting area!  I undid all her tack and Marie helped me get it off her and onto the ground (had to have tack off for the vet check).  I took her to the water trough, though we'd been going so slowly since the last one I didn't think she'd be TOO parched (and she wasn't).  Probably should've encouraged her to eat a little bit, but didn't really think of it.  Marie very kindly offered to trot her out for me (I'd done some jogging on the trail even though my ribs were sore, but not the peppy kind that you need to do for a trot-out), but I stuck with them both for the exam.  She got all As, except a B on gut sounds (which in my mind, a B isn't BAD, just means they're not as vigorously noisy as an A--she'd been grazing on and off for our entire hike, and pooping occasionally, so I wasn't worried in the slightest).  So we officially "completed" another intro ride (doesn't count in the actual ride records, but at least we vetted out as "fit to continue," and as long as the horse and rider both went the mileage, it doesn't matter how much is on foot vs. riding, so even if it had been a real ride, we would have been find on that aspect.

Marie walked her back to camp for me, while I tagged along, and Arya really wanted to get back to camp and was pulling her tricks on Marie, only worse--bumping into her and trying to pull ahead.  But Marie scolded her and all's well that ends well, so whatever.  We put her in the pen, and she immediately started chowing down on hay.  I probably should've given her some slop and a little bit of electrolytes, but I wasn't really thinking straight.  Oops.

I changed out of my tennis shoes, which I'd been riding in, back into my sandals.  It was SO dusty, both at camp and on the singletrack trails, that I joked that there was more dirt than feet in my shoes, and I really wasn't that far off.  They're trail running shoes, meant to be well-ventilated, which is a problem in the super fine dust of Central Oregon.  There was so much dust around my toes that my toes felt like they were jammed into pointy shoes a couple sizes too small.  So changing into sandals was a relief, though of course my feet got filthy.  Honestly, though, they were filthy inside my shoes and socks, so at least they might as well be free to move, right?  Here's what they looked like AFTER I got home (so the AC had been blowing on them the whole drive home):

Yes, a couple friends and I got pedicures the night before heading up into the filth to ride our horses.  Ha!  Yet another reason to wear sandals instead of shoes, though, right?  To show off the toes!

We sat around near the finish line waiting for Janelle's son to come in from his 50-mile ride, chatting, horse-watching (more fun than people-watching, usually), etc.  We saw Celena finish her 80-mile ride and get a completion.  We thought she came in first place, but apparently she was second.  Regardless, great job and a fast time, and it was fun to be there to cheer for her.  Saw a palomino (excuse me, dunalino) whose breed we were debating amongst ourselves when I spotted a Mustang brand.  Ha!  Go, Mustangs!  Marie had to leave to drive back to Portland, and Janelle's son finished, so Shar and I headed back to camp to pack up.

I lamented the fact that I'd kind of promised to be the fetch-er and carry-er of heavy things since Shar hasn't been feeling well, and now I was in at least as bad of shape as she was.  Oops.  But as long as I lifted with my legs and didn't bend over very far, I was actually able to help carry the panels just fine (we just always had both of us carrying one panel together rather than ever using a 1:1 ratio), and even lifting the hay bales back into the trailer (a little lighter now, luckily) didn't go too badly.  We cleaned up the poop and hay, and were ready to go.

I swung by the house to grab Nathan, and we met up at the Mexican place in Tumalo to cap off our "weekend."  (Well, we were technically only halfway through the weekend, but it felt like and entire weekend's worth of exertion and filth!)

Sunday, I did exactly NOTHING.  I even had Nathan fetch and carry for me as much as possible--my thighs were really sore from riding (clearly I wasn't ready for 25 miles, let alone 30, if 10 riding plus 5 hiking made me that sore!), plus of course my ribs were really sore.  Breathing hurt, so that's pretty much a constant thing, but any sort of bending, twisting, or reaching just added to the pain.  At first, the pain wasn't acute enough to think it was broken, probably just sprained or bruised or whatever.  And it's not like I'll bother going to the doctor--the "cure" is exactly the same regardless whether it's broken or not--take it easy and take pain meds as necessary.  But in the past few days since the ride, I've felt the tell-tale "crunch" when I move a couple times, just as my tailbone has done ever since I broke it giving birth to a 9 1/2 pound child, so yeah, pretty sure it's actually broken.  Ugh.

In the immediate aftermath, riding wasn't impossible, just unbalanced, but the dismounting was DEFINITELY painful, so we'll see how soon I feel like riding.  Definitely giving Arya and myself a week or so to recover before even thinking about it.  She walked and trotted fine after tripping, and Shar hasn't reported her walking or trotting unevenly in the pasture, so I think she came out of it completely unscathed.  But you know what?  I'm pretty sure she WAS watching her step much more carefully after the tripping incident than she had been before it.

Anyway, we survived, but it did show that we're clearly not ready for an LD, and without much riding between now and Bandit, definitely won't be then.  There are two different days of intro rides, though, so I might make it a goal to ride both days, if I can get some riding in between now and then to get my thighs in better shape!

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