Monday, August 27, 2012

Virginia Highlands Endurance Challenge, Part 2

As promised, here is the conclusion to our ride Saturday.  After Hank's shoe was replaced we had a little time to eat a snack and drink some water while the horses grazed.  Jessica got all A's on the vet check but Hank got an A- for gut sounds and I was a little worried that he didn't have as much time to eat because of the shoeing.  
But he cooled out well and was ready to head back up and over the mountain. 
 This is J's first professional picture of him in action on an endurance ride with Jessica.  I think this was the fittest she has ever been.  J has put in a lot of hours riding her this summer.
 Mine with Hank looks identical to last year's except my eyes are closed.
 Because it was so hectic without a crew we were another minute late heading back out so that little group in the distance got ahead of us.  It really is amazing how every minute really counts.  In the ride meeting they said, "Never tarry and never hurry."   So true, both can get you in trouble.
 The endurance riders call this a technical ride.  If technical means 80% of the trail is covered in rocks, there are long, steep inclines and descents, killer bees and hornets, hair raising narrow switch backs, mud, bogs, sand, cattle, tree roots and gullies, and a 2500 foot change in elevation, then I guess this was technical.  One rider was bucked off in the range land and had to be taken to the hospital with a broken vertebra and concussion.  There was also a section along the forest service road where someone hung a stuffed horse in a tree and blocked the trail with a 4 wheeler.  Apparently, he doesn't like horse riders and has caused trouble before taking down trail markers.
 Jessica stayed in front for most of the ride.  At times she would slow down a bit and Hank would take over the lead.  Hank is a very courageous and big hearted horse and always does everything I ask.  He is so amazing but has the biggest, roughest trot in the world.  I see all of these Arabian riders going around with those sheep skin padded saddles and think, how can you trot that fast and sit down.  I even have to stand up for Hank's walk because it can be rough too.
 Two Arabians passed us in the last mile but they stopped to sponge off.  I jerked off the saddle and checked Hank's pulse which was already down to 60 and checked in.  We were 21st and J and Jessica were 22nd.  Our total ride time not counting the hold was 5 hours 45 minutes.  This was 4 minutes faster than my time last year where we were 9th.  I guess the competition was steeper this year.
 The horses were very anxious to graze after the ordeal.
 Jessica had lost 48 pounds and Hank had lost 65.
We wanted to get home before dark so we left before the awards, they were still waiting on 2 riders to finish the 50 mile ride.  I'll have to wait until they post the results to see how many finished.  There was only one other local rider and her horse was pulled because a lameness.  She had done the ride for 5 years now and has not received a completion.
The other horses were very excited to get their pasture buddies back and I was happy to sleep in my soft bed.


cheyenne jones said...

Excellent ride! Well done both of you!

Crystal said...

Sounds like a good day, and I bet your bed felt wonderful after that!

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