Monday, June 15, 2015

2 out of 3 for triple crown down

So Saturday June 13 was The Old Dominion ride in Orkeny Springs, VA.  They have an LD, 50 and 100 mile ride.  I went with the LD/25mile ride.  This is the 2nd ride of 3 for the "OD Triple Crown".  First was No Frills, next up is Ride Between the Rivers in West Va end of July (normally would be Fort Valley in Oct but National championship is at OD this year so moved location).

This ride is well known for the rocks...lots and lots of rocks... and being Hot and Humid.  Let me say, did not disappoint!

100 mile start moon...
It was 93 degrees when we loaded up on Friday after lunch; drove the highways for more wind in the trailer but got caught in traffic - fortunately we had also hit rain so the temp dropped significantly for us when we were just sitting.  Got to the OD about 430pm, had some help getting my trailer backed into place, then had to get checked in to the vet check before 5.  Tesla was a goof doing the trot out fresh off the trailer, but we vetted in all As. Went back to the trailer and got settled in. Of course it made it back to the 90s and humid by then too :P  Then it was dinner and the ride meetings.  We settled in for the night, of course I didn't really sleep.  I did hear Tesla eat and drink all night which is always good.  We got woken up at 345am to the alarm, and the hustle began for the 100mile start at 515am.  Then we had to get through the Ride & Tie group leaving and the 50s (which meant all our direct neighbors) heading out.  I took Tesla for yet another walk to keep him focused on eating grass.  He did calm down, but was a bit fresh when we came time to tack up and get on (finally, 8am start time).

I hooked up with my friend April and her guy Piper to keep us sane for the start.  They did well together at No Frills and it was nice to get us all together again.
We waited to leave towards the back for the start, trotting out down the gravel.  We came up on Kristen with Flash, who was having a hard time without a buddy and all the horses passing. We grabbed them up into our little group and he settled in well with us.  Not too far into the loop Tesla was mis-behaving a bit so I was holding him back while April and Piper went on with another rider and then Kristen and Flash and I stuck together from here on out. This was Flash's first endurance ride; Kristen is a friend on FB that I finally got to meet in person here :)  I love the virtual connecting!

We came into this ride with front shoes (reset a few weeks ago) and Vipers on back. Probably only a few miles in I had mud suck the Velcro open on one boot.  Beyond that we had little trouble, unlike last ride where we pulled the cables out of a front and back boot!  After the sucking mud spots from there out we'd do a quick boot check and make sure Velcro wasn't coming loose before it had a chance to open all the way up!

Going up!
So the hills....well, that one climb was nothing to joke about.  Lack of water meant we walk it. Our 2 were huffing and puffing pretty good we when reached the top, where we ran into another group who were letting their horses rest.  Kristen and I decided to get off and lead the horses on foot for a while to give them a break. It was hard enough for us to walk it and keep our breath!  We probably walked 20min or so before reaching a point where I said we need to get to a trot and move some air so we hopped back up and went moving. Caught some nice breezes and "easier" terrain with a few 
The trail behind us
sprinkles.  Finally we made it to the water tanks and boy did they drink!  Tesla then promptly walked off 5 feet and peed lol. All good signs in an endurance horse. We continued on but it was very difficult to find good footing for trotting and making up time.  Cutoff to be in at the vet check was noon, we made it in and pulsed down at 1137am. That was a killer first loop!  The two of them vetted in together and as we trotted back my vet's comment was "Well, I can see there is no lack of impulsion here" (he was practically running me over with his strides).  All As except skin tenting (hydration basically) a B.

We continued to cool off, he chowed down on his grain & supplement mix (yay!) and some hay and relaxed for a bit of our 30min hold.  James was there crewing for Kristen and they were nice enough to share carrots and apples and hay (as Tesla decided his own wasn't good enough) with us.  These two geldings really 'bonded' and Tesla was able to provide that "hey do this (eat/drink/etc)" to Flash on his first ride.

VC munch time! Flash in the background

So we set out after our hold time and had just about 1hr 45min to get back to camp/finish - 9miles.  We knew we had to move!  We got the boys moving out, stopping for drinks where we could, sponging, moving where the terrain allowed it.  Then mother nature smiled on us and rained, hard. Oh how good that felt!  Now we could move and not get as hot.  We asked them for more and they were happy to be trotting along in the rain. The very last hill (kind of muddy too) Tesla took off up it (fun short run run) . We reached the top and Kristen said "Boot"  lol.  One back boot had come off the hoof but held on with his captivator. I hopped down, took it off and hooked it to breast collar. We finished the last maybe 2 miles with one back boot but we knew we were past the bad rocky area and close to camp.  Tesla and Flash trotted and cantered their way in to the finish line in style and happy.  We walked them to the tents, did some cooling and pulsed down with about 13min to spare!  The horses had a rolling party in the vet line and vetted in great.  All As, except hydration was still a B.  There was not a lot of water on the last part to be had for drinking but he did well overall.

Hay and dinner post ride :)
While I would keep saying "just" doing the 25 to people, I realize now how much of an accomplishment it was to finish and get the completion on this ride even for "only" 25miles.  That is one tough course to move on and the heat and humidity add a whole new level!  Many people saw 30-50lb weight loss for their horses, gaining back about 10 or so overnight just in re-hydration (there are scales at the ride).  We also saw a lot of pulls for metabolic reasons/tying up, and not pulsing in time from even the more experienced riders I know!  What a ride! 

Leaving vet check ride photo - Becky Pearman Photography
I'm very proud of myself and Tesla :)  I'm also feeling the best I have post ride (completion or long conditioning) ever!  I didn't get sick this time, I was able to eat and drink and thus not get side cramps; Tesla ate well and didn't leave much needed elytes behind. I also had moved my stirrups a little further back the week before the ride and while I felt a little disorganized as the position is not what I'm used to, my knee and hip pain during a ride is gone! I can even squat with just normal soreness (I couldn't at all after no frills).  Tesla showed no sore back like after our Graves training ride, so I know the change I had made to his breast collar was the culprit that day and will keep things as they were and now are! 

Oh and did I mentioned we had ZERO loading issues leaving for OD?  Coming home he backed off once but easily came back on so I consider it a win!

On a side note...

I realized some funny things when reflecting... Kristen and I met through the endurance world, and started talking more after she got a gelding that I had once considered going to visit (but was heart set on a Black horse).  Then we discovered we use the same treeless saddle that is virtually extinct now due to quality issues... but those of use who still use them seem have gotten the good ones that are lasting!  just kind of interesting coincidences! So we both have "green" horses and saddle gripes to chat about!

I also ran into some folks I haven't seen since that fateful weekend at Iron Mountain, including my tent camping neighbor Jane and her guy Albert who also did the 25, and a friend from Memphis who is now at vet school in Knoxville and made the trip with her endurance mare to do the 50 with another rider I met and hadn't seen since IMJ too.  We all completed with happy healthy horses!

Kristen sporting the completion award :)

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