For weeks now, Sharalyn Hay has been walking us through the steps leading up to an endurance ride: the horse, the equipment, the strategy. Today, it’s go-time.From Sharalyn:
SATURDAY – RIDE DAY
12:02 a.m. – You are woken out of your blissful sleep by a pounding on your camper door. As you peer out into the darkness you see a very disheveled ride manager holding Ol’ Bessie. You sheepishly scamper out in your PJs and retie your horse to the trailer. This time you double knot it, just in case.
12:54 a.m., 1:22 a.m., 2:03 a.m., 3:43 a.m. and 4:16 a.m. – You check and double-check to make sure your horse is still there. Don’t want a repeat of that.
4:17 a.m. – You finally give up on sleep and decide to feed Ol’ Bessie breakfast and attempt to eat breakfast yourself.
4:21 a.m. – You decide there is no way you are actually going to be able to eat everything so you start packing and repacking your saddle bags.
6:30 a.m. – You have just spent the last 2+ hours checking every single thing. You decide that with an hour to ride time that it’s time to get saddled up.
6:31 a.m. – You also realize that as you are trying to saddle up that the racers doing 50 miles are leaving camp. This is when Ol’ Bessie goes bezerk again. You decide to wait on saddling until you horse is done doing airs above the ground while still tied to the trailer. You halfway contemplate untying her until you realize you will be squashed like a bug if you get within 15 feet of the whirling dervish.
7:11 a.m. – Finally the monster tied to the trailer has calmed down enough to attempt saddling. It takes you three tries, but you finally manage to get the saddle on, the girth tightened and the breast collar done up. By this time you are completely spent.
7:15 a.m. – You realize you’d best get on your horse and try to warm her up a bit. As soon as your butt hits the saddle you feel yourself being launched through the air like a lawn dart. You roll gracefully and sit up just in time to hear those words you hate: “Loose Horse.” You dust yourself off and begin to follow the dust trail that marks your horse’s path of departure.
7:29 a.m. – After catching up to your horse (that stopped a few horses over) you try the mounting thing again. This time you are prepared and hang on for dear life.
7:30 a.m. – You hear the call that the you can now depart and you point your devil spawn horse at the trail and take a firm grip on the reins. After having them ripped out of your hands several times you realize riding gloves would have probably been a good thing. Next time…
8:02 a.m. – Your horse has been running like a mad idiot for over a 1/2 hour now. Your arms are tired, your back is killing you and you realize you’ve just done six miles (when normally it takes you at least an hour to do that distance). You hope your horse looses steam soon.
10:26 a.m. – All offers of water to this point have been refused by your horse. As you slump on her neck you secretly hope she’ll get pulled at the vet check. By the way, where is that damn vet check anyway? Which reminds you that you haven’t seen a ribbon in a while… or another horse.
10: 34 a.m. – You backtrack a mile to find the trail you missed while you were snoozing on Ol’ Bessie’s neck. You see a sign for the vet check and rejoice.
10:42 a.m. – Your horse (unfortunately) receives a “fit to continue” and you secretly cry.
11:37 a.m. – Your horse is eating and drinking fine. You can barely lift the peanut butter sandwich to your face. You keep wondering how the hell you’re going to get back in the saddle.
11:42 a.m. – The dreaded time has arrived. Ol’ Bessie looks perky enough. You figure if you can just get into the saddle then it will be fine. However, getting in the saddle proves to be quite a challenge. Finally some poor soul takes pity on you and tosses your butt up into the saddle. All you can think is “damn, my butt hurts.” You think, belatedly, that perhaps you should have put more Anti-monkey Butt on your nether regions. Next time…
1:14 p.m. – You’ve lost all track of time. The clip-clop, clip-clop has lured you into a trance. You maintain enough awareness to at least look for ribbons. You begin to wonder if this race will ever end.
2:45 p.m. – You can see ride camp. You immediately perk up and Ol’ Bessie starts making a run for it.
3:02 p.m. – You arrive at the finish line. You spryly hop off your horse, all past pains forgotten. You cheerily do the trot-out and receive your completion. You wonder at it all and how much fun you just had. You start to contemplate the longer distances. It’s official… you’re an endurance addict.
3:03 p.m. – You make it back to the camper, untack Ol’ Bessie and then collapse in your camper in a dusty, dirty heap. Just before losing consciousness you wonder when the next race is. You can hardly wait…