Monday, December 8, 2014

Iron Mountain...Traveler's final resting place.

Here I am, just turned 35 going to my first endurance ride!  Granted, only for the LD but my goal was to complete and move on from there...25, 50 or more, to Finish is to Win!

I was a nervous wreck about IMJ.  My first time camping in years, tent camping too, but I had been prepped well by my mentor Roberta.  I was not alone - she rode the day before and was working the final vet check our day, and another friend and her daughter let me join up with them for our LD.  Here is a picture of our riding trio as we crossed the range land on the way into the vet check (thanks to the ride manager, Nancy Sluys)

Traveler vetted in well - pulsed down in time, A's except for Gut sounds (B) and was ready to go out on the last loop after a bit of munching grass and stealing oat mix that he found yummy.

Vet check munching

It was hot and humid.  We had climbed the last hill and we were all happy to be done with those!  We were moving out with Tinkerbelle in the lead and Thunderbolt behind us.  It was a nice dry area (had rained overnight so there were mud spots around) and we were moving at a nice paced trot; Approaching the switchbacks down which we knew that was the last bit of toughness before camp.

And then, my world changed.

I noted the branch on the ground, slightly tented in one spot, laying across the whole trail; Tinkerbelle first and then we trotted over it... and suddenly, Traveler went down; scrambled to get back up and I knew something was wrong...Somehow I didn't go flying over his head, but jumped off into the woods as soon as he was standing.  It was adrenaline rush, not caring about anything but him.  He was in obvious distress. Non weight bearing on his front right, barely on his back left.  We did a quick regroup and Ann and Thunderbolt headed back to camp while Sydney and Tinkerbelle stayed with me and Traveler, keeping him as calm as possible. 
That time waiting for the ride vets was like an eternity. I was afraid to move from his side; I knew if he laid down we'd have little chance to get him home, but if he stayed up, maybe...just maybe.   His back leg improved during the wait, but the front we realized likely broken.  I was knew we were in an impossible place... 4.5miles of smaller hills and mud back to a dirt road, and just around the corner from the single track switchbacks to the main road back to camp.  I had several moments of losing it myself and Sydney held me up... 2 miles left in the ride....

The last few hours I had him with will forever be imprinted in my memory.  As will the actions of so many of my new endurance family at the ride and online.  Riders who came through after us and making sure I was ok, the vets who came up to treat Traveler and help him cross over peacefully.  The numerous hugs and offers for drinks back at camp...   The ride manager for taking care of him on the mountain and later securing his final resting place.

I cannot begin to express the gratitude to everyone during that time, and again to those who donated toward me finding a new partner.  I promise, I will be back...
Our ride photo