Ain't nuthin like ridin' a fine horse in a new country - Augustus McCrae – Lonesome Dove

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Endurance - My First Ride~

We'd been riding Competitive Trail for a few years, constantly chastised for going-to-fast.  Finally - our young friend Liz Dale - decided to try Endurance - then called to say;  "You'll Love it!  You can't go Too Fast!"  :-)  So I decided to give it a Go!  Never one to do things half-way, I decided that if I needed to ride 50-miles I'd better be sure that my mare could go that far!

Linda & I had been marking 25-miles of trail up at Victoria for a two-day CT ride.  We were done later in the afternoon & Linda was heading home for dinner.  I decided to do the entire trail again, only in reverse.  Linda - thinking I was nuts - said;  "Fine, I'll come back & check on you after dinner."  Her timing was so impeccable that her headlights hit me in the eyes as we were coming out of the woods.  It was a good feeling to know that I could do it & Alexi could do it!
Ride Flyer~
With Animal House first ride up that season - we were on our way!
Pre-ride Vet in~
It was cold & windy, this ride was near Ephrata, in eastern WA.  The wind was blowing & it felt cold when we pulled in.  I went right up to Vet-in.
Our Card~
The ride meeting was held at dusk & there were 71 riders in the 50.  More than I'd ever imagined.
Ride Info. Sheet
We had Alexi bedded down & were in the sack early.  I don't think I slept at all - I felt confident, but excited & anxious about the start.  There was no need, I waited until the hot shoes were out of camp before we started.  That wasn't easy - Alexi was a handful to say the least.  She knew something was up - something different!  It was our first time out on the plains.
Us on the left - leaving on the first loop~
Liz & her Dad were about the only people we knew at the ride & Liz had left with the leaders, I was on my own.  By the time we went past the photographer the sun was up & it was a gorgeous day!  No GPS in those days & I didn't have a clue as to how to rate our speed - I just knew that I could go "As fast as I wanted!"

I was really enjoying the views when we finally came to a water tank & sign that said;  "In/Out".  Hum...  I guess I want to go "in" to the Vet Check - right?  (I have no sense of direction.)  So away we went!  I'd ridden quite a way - thinking that things were too familiar?   I looked ahead to see my own glove laying on the ground!  That was - as they say - an "OH NO" moment!  It was an 16-mile loop!  I was approaching that water tank again...  when I saw dust in the distance & here came my friend Liz with Don Skinner - just finishing the second 12.5 mile loop!  They hailed; "Come with us!  No one will ever know!  You've done the miles!"  Well, yes I had - but I'd also missed the Vet check!
Our professional photo~
I can't say how mentally discouraging it was to find out that I'd made that kind of a mistake...  Nothing to be done for it but to solider on.  Alexi's scores were really Great - especially considering that she'd just done somewhere around 30-miles!  The second "white" loop went much quicker & after it was the 45-min.hold - which I was more than ready for!  We were at 40-miles & still going strong.  Next was the "orange" loop - 9-miles.  This loop I had a traveling companion who's horse matched our pace.  I thought I would be done now?  We'd covered 49.5 miles - not in the correct order - but we'd done the miles!  I came in to the VC - everyone by now had heard the story of my ride, so the Vet told Butch to check with the Ride Manager to see if he should do the completion exam.  It wasn't the Manager, but her husband who said;  "No, she doesn't get a completion if she hasn't done the loops in the correct order."  "If she wants completion - she has to go back out & do the 12.5 mile loop again."  Time wasn't a problem, we'd been traveling fast enough that I had plenty of time left.

Demoralized?  How many ways can you say it?  I was tired, Alexi was tired & we were ready to be Done!  But - I'm a Cowgirl @ heart & I've never been a quitter - so we started back out.  As we were leaving - Barbara Holmes-Balmer was also leaving camp on her amazing mare Roc-ette.  She introduced herself & said;  "If your mare can keep up with mine - I'll ride with you - I'm sure you could use the company!"  Oh -yes... I could!  I was so thankful for her support - I decided right then - that there were some people in the sport worth knowing!  We trotted & trotted & trotted.  About 4-miles out of camp, I knew we were slowing Barbara down, so told her to go on in, I dismounted & started for the finish line on foot.  Alexi had done everything I'd asked of her & much more... 

So - it was on foot that I finished that first ride!  As I approached the finish line & could see a group of people standing there & before long I could hear them whooping, yelling & applauding!?  Barbara was there - with several of her friends, a beer in one hand & a V-8 in the other - asking me which I preferred first?  :-)  I was almost in tears over her kindness & support!
The back of our card~
We finished 43 out of the 60 riders who completed the ride.  Mike Majors, DVM was the head vet at this ride & he was also our personal Vet from Pilchuck.  He was as thrilled as anyone that the little red mare that he liked so much had done such a great job!
Alexi, Connie & Abby
Back at our camp, we cleaned Alexi up, she drank, ate & finally laid down!  Before long Mike came walking up & then started laughing.  Some of the other riders had approached him saying that they thought Alexi was in trouble - since she was laying down.  Mike said in a very loud voice;  "I knew this mare was smart!  She's tired, so she's going to take a nap!"   I didn't attend the awards meeting - but I asked Butch to go up for my Vet Card & he returned without it!  What?  I asked?  What do you mean I can't have it?  I rode the ride & I do want my card!  Yes - I did get it for our future collection :-)
Animal House Ride Camp~
That's my story & I'm sticking with it!   The entire experience just made me want to do it all over again & do it better the next time!  I was on my way~


  1. HAHAHAH you did it too! I did the same thing at Hat Creek (and managed to lead FIVE other riders astray with me) - I saw "Vet Check In / Out", said "hmm, I want to go In to the Vet Check," and went tearing off the wrong direction. Congrats on a great first 50-PLUS mile ride!

    (I still can't believe that the other five all just nodded their heads and agreed with me.)

  2. I'm So Glad I'm Not the only one! :-) Thankful I didn't lead others "astray" :-) But everyone has a choice! :-)

  3. What a first ride, oh my gosh!

    What happened to Alexi? She looks quite abit like Rosie in the pictures.

  4. One I've never forgotten - that's for sure! Thanks for asking! Alexi's story will be another post - it's a good one.

  5. Thank you Connie, awesome story----read it and will be calling! :-) I, too wanna hear Alexi's story


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