Tuesday, October 21, 2014

See Spots Run

This is the third year I have been to Foothills. The first was with Quick and we did the 10 mile trail ride. The second was with Diesel, where we also did the trail ride. This was the first year I was going to do the full ride itself, not just trail riding.

Back in 2012 on a 10 mile ride
Photo by Michelle Woods

On the drive up to Molalla we were discussing what I was going to do for this ride. Looking at the times for the past two years they averaged at about 7 hours for the top 5 and the top 10 were from 6 and a half to 8+ hours. So it was decided I should shoot
for a 7 hour 50.

At the vet in I was looking at Quick's shoes thinking to myself, man they look awful. How did they get so overgrown so quickly? They hadn't looked so bad earlier in the week. I wasn't sure if it was the new shoer, or that he had done a 100 in them, either way I wasn't thrilled.

Paula had brought Roz her endurance mare to do a mother/daughter 25 mile ride with Kathleen who would be riding Molly Farkas' spotted boy Skipper. Skipper was camped next to the Crow's Nest, Molly's trailer and Roz and Quick were next to each other.

It was nice not to have to get up at the crack of dawn to feed ponies and get ready to go. The ground was slick so there was really no chance to warm him up before we got going. I walked around a little bit, then stood next to a gentleman with a nice chestnut gelding. I never caught the man's name,but his horse was Dusty. We followed Mary on the quad out and down the road. I was next to the gentleman with Dusty and ended up following him out once Mary let us go. The controlled start down the road gave us a nice opportunity to get a little warm up before we took off. I had seen a horse slip and fall at the trot out for vetting in, so I wasn't too keen on trying to warm up there.

Dusty turned out to be a bit of a better downhill horse than Quick, he would really open his stride up. They lead for a bit and he let us go ahead on a fun single track up hill when he walked (I think he was tailing) Dusty up the hill. They caught us again and we lead for a bit, then Dusty decided we went too slow downhill and they passed us. We were going about the same speed and going nicely. The gentleman was telling me that he was planning on taking Dusty to Tevis next year.

We crossed the road and were headed downhill when Aura and Fairy caught us. Fairy was flying down the hill with a big trot to rival a standardbred. Quick decided that he was going to follow her. We left the gentleman and Dusty. We had ridden with Aura and Fairy a couple of times at Mt. Pisgah so the two horses knew each other. It is because of riding with them that Quick has learned how to open his stride up going downhill. Before I had to really collect him up or otherwise he would roll down the hill. The two of them were racing each other, Fairy would beat us on the downhill but Quick would catch her on the uphill. They were opposites, Quick was better at the uphill and Fairy at the downhill. And apparently neither of them are great at walking. Once we had crossed the road after catching some of th e LD riders, both ponies wanted to walk. Actually they both wanted the other to lead, one would lead for a bit and then let the other pass, then walk.

Photo by Jala Neufeld

We caught a group of LD riders, one was an appy with a big black spot on his rump and passed them on the way into camp. I wasn't worried about bringing Quick in hot. He had generally been pulsing down quickly and we hadn't gone as fast as we did at Fireworks/ANCER when he took 20 minutes to pulse down. Quick was down and we vetted through. Paula and Kathleen were there with Roz and Skipper. I saw Fairy hadn't pulsed down yet as we went back to camp.

It was only a 30 minute hold, I got some electrolytes in Quick. He was chowing down on his food, he has finally learned to eat. Before he wouldn't eat for the first couple loops. I changed clothes because I was too hot in my rain jacket. It had rained a little on part of the last loop but the sky was clearing up. I was going to let Aura go ahead of me if they had pulsed down at the same time as Quick, but since it took Fairy a little longer than Quick, I went out ahead when my hold was over. Paula and Kathleen were leaving not far behind me. I expected Aura and Fairy to catch me at some point.

Quick just ate up the trails. He was on cruise control. We flew through the first 5 miles of the green loop and then I heard Roz whinny, Quick called back and some choice words were said by both parties. Roz and Skipper were in the woods on the orange loop, I was on common trail with the orange and green loops. There was no way I was going to stop. I needed Quick to focus and we were going a LOT faster than they were. Heck, we left at the same time and I know I did about 5 miles before meeting the common trail. (the orange loop was 15 miles and the green was 20) I put my leg on Quick and we kept going. He didn't even think about wanting to go back and be with Roz. As we continued on, I kept expecting the trail to split, and thought I had missed a turn at one point when there was just and orange white ribbon. So I turned around and trotted to the previous ribbon, which had orange and green. So I figured I was on the right trail, turned around again and continued on the way I had been going. After Fireworks and getting lost twice, I have become very watchful of those darn ribbons. At least Oregon rides mark their trails really well, put big signs out for turns or big arrows like Sharke had for OR 100.

On the way up the road to the out and back on that loop there was a black horse that had been injured, I saw the horse way back and expected Quick to have seen it too. But then he hadn't seen Gabriela and her horse until we were right on them at OR 100, so I shouldn't have been surprised. He is a gelding, not a mare. When the rider walked around the horse he saw them, that is for sure. We ended up facing the other direction. At least I had been prepared for that one, no eating of dirt involved. Although it would have been gravel which is a lot harder than sagebrush.... We went on, there was a car coming down the road who was going to see if he could go for help for the injured horse. Away from the water trough at the out and back I thought Quick's shoes sounded loose. I couldn't tell which one it was, but it was a back shoe. I checked them at the water through, they were all there. On we went.

Hey look no rain!!

The sights were beautiful, we passed a gal with a pony who looked like an icy on the downhill. Then we went on to 'Rags Mile Hill' was the sign. No joke, you went down a little bit and the trail was muddy in places. Up the hill we went, it wasn't steep but gradual. And never-ending. Finally at eh top we went a ways, Quick sniffed at a puddle and then stopped at the white barrels to drink. The trail coming back down was a muddy single track. It was quite beautiful. I tried to take some pictures, but they didn't turn out. The little video did.

Once we got back onto the gravel road I knew something was up. Quick had lost a right hind shoe and the left one was loose too. I was walking him in cursing myself for leaving ALL the boots at home. Quick thought I was walking WAY TOO SLOW and was dragging me down the trail. He had a job to do and he was going to catch those LD horses in front of us and we were headed towards camp. We were passed by two LD riders, I asked them if they had a boot and they didn't. Luckily Karen Leiman came up and I asked her the same question. She was extremely generous to loan me her EasyBoot, a roll of vet wrap, hoof pick and electric tape. The boot was a size 1 and Quick had been wearing 0s. She told me not to lose it and I told her if I did, I would buy her a brand new one to replace it. The LD riders had left right in front of us and Quick was pissed. He was going to go beat them and I was being stupid and dancing around trying to get his back hoof. I had every intention of wrapping the entire roll of vet wrap around his hoof. I didn't see any other way of making a bigger boot fit especially going at speed on muddy and rocky trail. I was afraid to tie him, since he is the master of untying himself, and if he got away it would be a long horseless walk into camp. So we danced. He settled a bit when the gal with the pony came up. But then when I had most of the roll of vet wrap on his hoof he jerked it away and planted it square on my foot and danced some more. I finally got after him, I had enough with the dancing, yes I knew he had a job to do, but if I could get the boot on we could be off. And I thought with another horse there, he would have settled enough so I could get it on. I think it surprised him enough that I was able to finish vet wrapping, shove the boot on and adjust the cables without much incident. I put the tape on like Karen had told me over the clamp and crossed my fingers that it would stay.

I don't think my butt was in the saddle before Quick took off. I don't remember if I had thanked the girl for waiting for me, but if I didn't THANK YOU!!!!! I still had the hoof pick and tape in my hand and had to stuff them in my bag on a moving horse.

Quick made up our lost time, flying along. He was hunting the two LD horses. We found them when we reached the open trail through a clear cut. It looked like a pretty new trail and Quick, multiple times thought he was going to make a new one cross country straight at them. I had to really steer him and stop him to keep him on trail. Usually on single track he is quite handy and takes corners on one hoof. Nope, he was hunting. We caught and passed them. The trail next to the barbwire fence was muddy and deep in spots. I kept checking the boot. At one point I saw someone I didn't recognize behind us, I thought it was a 50 miler. I asked Quick for a little more and off we went. I still have no idea who that was.

Karen's boot is on his right hind!!
Photos by Jala Neufeld

The boot staid on and camp was a welcome relief. I asked if anyone had a boot or if there was a farrier. DeWayne was pulsing us and thought we were done, I told him I still had 10 miles to go and needed a farrier, we weren't done yet! I wanted to be the winning Appy, but if we were going to win, we needed to get through that last loop. I wasn't sure how much time I had lost on with walking and the boot. I doubted Fairy would have made good time up that hill, we certainly didn't and Quick is an uphill horse.
Molly Farkas commanding the in gate
Photo by Jala Neufeld

Luckily there was a farrier there. I pulled the boot and ended up cutting the vet wrap off with the farrier's hoof knife, cutting my finger in the process. It was sharp!! Quick munched on the hay that someone else had left and the green grass while he got his new shoe put on. The farrier said he believed that the other hind had as good of chance at staying on as the rest. He tightened the clinches and off we went to vet through.

On a side note, I am buying a boot bag and putting a boot in it just for rides, with vet wrap and a hoof pick!! I put Karen's boot in Paula's boot bag and put it on my saddle. I had about 10 minutes to get myself some water, I hadn't remembered to refill my water bottles and had lost one so I had only a half of a bottle to drink on that green loop. I gave Quick more electrolytes and changed into a t shirt. Paula and Kathleen had come in by this point.

Off we went on the last loop. I think I saw Aura and Fairy in the vet line when I left, but I wasn't paying attention. The footing on the blue loop wasn't the best. It was common trail with the pink loop for about 5 miles. I think it was closer to 4 since the second half seemed longer. About halfway through I kept hearing voices, before we crossed the road and after. Quick told me there was someone behind us too. I did hear a car, but I we wasn't about to let someone pass us this close to the end. Even though I doubted with the mud they could make time, but you never know. There were a bunch of people in this ride that had WAY more experience than I do. I did push Quick. We could have easily puttered around for that loop and still done well. There were some places with big rock where we had to walk. I was so happy when we crossed back over the road I knew we were almost done. And I could stop checking for three shoes. I knew the new one would stay put, but it was the other 3 I was worried about. Especially that back one. Quick hadn't wanted to drink at any of the tanks, but really slurpped a big puddle at eh bottom of the hill before you come up towards camp. When we hit the single track back into camp he knew where we were and wasn't about to slow down. Even though I thought we should walk in since some of that trail was kind of muddy. He had other ideas.

Photo by Jala Neufeld

I know I had a big grin on my face as we came through the gait and back into camp. I got off and hugged Molly. Paula was there and tack came off and Quick got sponged down. I asked DeWayne to pulse him, since he had been excited about an appy winning it earlier. Quick was down. We did our 10 minute CRI which wasn't great but wasn't bad. We finished at 3:43, pulsed down within 3 minutes. So 7 hours and 13 minutes for 50 miles. Second place came in at 7 hours and 52 minutes, which was Aura and Fairy.

Here Quick is convinced that he has another loop
 to go out on so he should eat while he can. 
Photo by Jala Neufeld

Quick went back to his corral and chowed down on his bucket and alfalfa. I sat down and tried to drink and eat something. And Leigh, my little blonde dog, was happy to see me, then he was mad at me for leaving him. Apparently he ran away from Paula earlier. This is only his 5th ride, he doesn't quite have it down yet. He went and pouted up on the bed once he was sure I was staying put.

Photo by Jala Neufeld

Quick is not good at trotting out, just as he is not good at lounging. He is actually a pretty lazy horse oddly enough. So you kind of have to get after him to make him move, otherwise he drags. So our hour CRI wasn't great at all, but two things happened at the vet put his stethoscope up to Quick's side. Roz called and a peacock walked right by the fence. I saw Quick's head go up, but I didn't realize what he was looking at, I thought it was Roz. So we lost points on the CRI, plus the fact that with all the gear I weighed 172 lbs. Aura and Fairy ended up winning the BC! CONGRATULATIONS!!

We had the advantage that this is the type of stuff we train on, this was the type of terrain that I was cantering and galloping on getting him fit for the 100. While the Still Memorial Ride and Fireworks were tough, they don't come close to the elevation change of this ride. You were going up or down and if it seemed flat, it really wasn't. It still hasn't sunk in that Quick and I won the ride, and won it by almost 40 minutes! This is the horse I have said multiple times that he isn't a front runner, that he wouldn't do well being out alone by himself. I guess I was wrong! I remember a Tamarack Hill Farm post about “build a beast”, that is the only phrase that has stuck with me, I don't remember the rest of the post. I do know it was talking about a cross country horse, one that is bold and attacks fences. Probably something about building confidence with little steps, then suddenly you have your horse jumping big jumps and not blinking an eye. It is the same with Quick, the horse that lacked confidence, the one that couldn't go out in front without having a meltdown, the one that was dumping people right and left.... that horse just led 30 miles without any trouble and won his first 50!

Viva Quick!!!