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

Monday, May 19, 2014

Farah's First 50-mile @ Mt. Adams

We were on the road at 7 a.m. heading south.  Traffic is lighter on Fri. mornings through Seattle - so even though it was slow going - it was moving & we'd take it!  With only a fuel stop - on the way down, my girl stepped out the trailer & peed!  We found a spot where we were up & out of the way - without too long of a walk to the Vet Check area.
2:24 p.m. Trot out for Dr. Jennifer
Dr. Jen notated on my Vet card that Farah had a Lot of up & down action over hind end.  That was a first & I mentioned that she has some Saddlebred.  Otherwise, for having just unloaded from a seven hour road trip - she was all A's.
Farah settled in~
 After we completed settling up our little camp, we took the dogs out for a walk to visit our old camping spot at the far end of the valley - up on the hill.
3:30 - Ride Camp
  To our disappointment - the view of the Mountain is now mostly gone :-(  The trees have grown so tall since our first visit here in 2000 - that they now hide the peak.  There's one spot at the highest point - where you can just see the top.  Not like the days when the the Mountain dominated the skyline & we all took photos with it in the background.
2002 My second completion
 Trailers were pulling in non-stop - always a big ride, this year would be no exception.  I put dinner in the oven, then we tacked Farah up & took her for a walk out the way the ride would start.   A couple friends stopped by to visit & it was fun socializing.  The ride meeting was well attended, I made plans to start with my friend Marie & her riding companions.  Soon, it was time to be sure I had all my stuff ready for in the morning & to bed early!

I was awake with the first light - just in time to realize that the alarm hadn't gone off!  We were up, I tried to eat a piece of toast & an energy drink that Joyce loves, but it just didn't want to settle with me.  I decided to forgo the drink in favor of a few pears.  We had Farah saddled, she was calm & ready, so I headed down to were I was to meet Marie.  That was a Big Mistake!  Spotting Marie, I tried to head that direction when the first of the bucking fits started!  Out of nowhere, here came the big buck!  The next one, the front legs came up off the ground, there was a slight rear before the buck & a big grunt!  With the other three horses around me - I thought she'd calm down, but no - another bucking fit & we headed for the starting line!

Butch filmed the start, (first loop - Snow King - 15-mi.)  I don't think it was too pretty for several of us poor riders on fit horses...  Even though it looks like I was on my own, Marie & Leslie were just ahead.  We went down the trail in a loose group - dodging other horses who were having tantrums.  Once on the single track trail, Farah instantly settled.  The Canadian rider in the lead - missed a turn - he & his companion tried to blow past us to re-gain the front.  I let them know as they passed me on both sides - that if Farah kicked them to kingdom come - they'd deserve it!

Finally - things started to settle down, we too missed a turn - but then my friends wanted Farah in the front & once she was there - we were moving out!  Marie & a friend dropped back, Leslie stayed with me & we were able to find clear trail, move out & enjoyed each others company.
8:20 a.m. coming in off the first loop with Leslie
I was being conservative, keeping Farah back off her usual traveling pace, my plan was to save some horse for the afternoon loops.  After five times here - I know they can be long, hard & hot.   We still finished the 15-miles in under 2-hrs.  It was at this VC where we saw a rider take a terrible fall almost in front of us.  The sound of her vest deploying is one I won't soon forget - it was like a gun shot!  When she didn't move - the vet who was doing Farah - ran over to help.  (Luckily - last word was that the rider just had a bruise!)  That delayed us a bit - but that hold had been extended from 15 to 30-min. & that helped.
Farah w/Butch at one of the VC's - Thanks again Jessica Wynn!
(I'd spoken to Mary the evening before & had asked several people what they used to stay strong in the saddle - sick & tired of my propensity for heat exhaustion.)  While I was out, Mary gave Butch some of the electrolyte tablets that have worked for her - for me to try.  I ate, took them & felt darn good heading out on the second "Gotchen" 16-mile loop.  Leslie had told me to go on without her & I wanted to keep up our momentum.  This was a tough, beautiful loop - up & through the area that had been burned a few years ago.  We'd been warned to stay On the Trail - since the fire had burned clear into the ground following the root balls of the trees.  The holes that resulted have trapped Elk.
Gotchen Loop 9:54 a.m.
 This loop, the horses were working, Farah was passing horses & moving powerfully.  The sun had burned off most of the cloud cover & the wind sounded eerie in the burned branches of the trees.  We came around a corner to see a small creek just off the trail.  Farah was happy step in & took a good drink.  I rode with Dale for a while - he invited me to his ride in ID - talking about how beautiful it is there :-)  Around another corner & we saw the sign for the photographer!  
Coming up on Jessica & her camera!
Mare on a Mission!  :-)
 I can't thank Jess enough for snapping that camera button when she did!   Making incredible memories for many riders. This loop - we made it into a nice pocket!  We came up on a few riders, soon moving to the front & leaving them behind. 
Back to camp at 11:06
Farah was loving the trail & we were moving right along - finishing off the second loop again in under 2-hrs.  Time for our lunch break & I was ready for it.  I ate, took another of Mary's magic pills - that hadn't upset my stomach or bothered me at all!  I was drinking my water & doing fine!
11:59 & ready to leave on the third loop
Dale hadn't finished far behind me, but had a couple more minutes to wait, so we left without him - he said he'd probably catch up before long...  Ghost Loop - 13-mi. headed south too & I was familiar with most of it from other years here.  It has some short steep climbs & rock areas.  Farah dug in & at times it felt like we were flying when she bounded up the hills!  During the day - when we'd have the opportunity to ride for a while with other riders, I was thrilled at the compliments Farah was getting.  One rider said that Farah looked like she didn't even know I was on her back :-)  Another said that she just seemed to float over the trails :-)  I know that was how it felt!  Having her on a loose rein - I let her set the pace she wanted to go & Go we did!  It was a Blast!
1:36 & we're back for the final VC!
Now, we'd passed our envelope!  Heading into unfamiliar territory for my gold girl...  More distance than she'd ever done & at a much faster pace than we train.  We had the miles, the hours, the days of saddle time, but not quite the speed work that I would have liked.  I shouldn't have been worried, again Farah vetted through with all A's - except for that nagging B in gut sounds.  She was eating on the trail & eating everything Butch put in front of her during our breaks!  Still riding on our own, I had no idea where in the pack of riders we were, so asked Butch to go check.  It was a very nice surprise to find that we were sixth!
1:55 p.m. Leaving on the Final Loop
My husbands parting words were;  "Get out of here & don't waste time!"  :-)  OK!  We could Do that!   The day had warmed, I changed shirts & took another of those electrolytes - so darn happy to be feeling so good - so late in the ride!  Farah hit her trot & we were out to finish that final ten-miles!

Again - we were on our own, after we left camp & moved past all the riders coming in off their various loops - the trail cleared & we started the climb.  Not the climb from hell that I'd done in 2010 with Khari - when the trail was covered with snow & I'd hiked about half of that 15-mile loop.   This time, we made the turn to head down in what seemed like short order.  Soon though - I could hear riders coming up behind us & we came out on the open stretch of road.  As with every intersection all day - I took the time to be sure of the flagging - or to find it!  :-)

As we turned down the road, I didn't look back, but could hear a horse picking up speed behind us.    Farah was more than up to the challenge & moved so smoothly that she just extended her trot as the other horse galloped along side.  Finally, she broke to the gallop & we galloped to where the trail turned back to single track.  As I slowed to make the turn - we weren't cut off.  Farah made the turn - still in the lead.  New to 50's - this rider said she wouldn't race me to the finish & asked about how that worked - since her experience was with LD's.  I told her that I was not going to give up my position & we left it at that.

Farah hit that trail with a purpose & I knew that I had more than enough horse to maintain our placing.  What else I knew - was that I'd just used up energy that could have been better spent showing for BC, rather than a short race in the last loop - that would only make one place difference in the final results.
Our Finish at 3:05 p.m.!
As we turned that final corner for home, I was humming a country tune & have never felt better finishing an Endurance ride!  :-)  Farah was amazing all day - ears forward, on the make & ready to continue on!  She never faltered, never quit & let me know that she was having Fun!
Final Trot-out for BC
We went ahead & showed for BC - but our girl was tired & she deserved to be!  We both actually had a little laugh at her expense - since it's the first time we've actually seen her tired at all!   Even so, she showed really well, finished with all A's - except for that B in gut sounds!  :-)  It didn't take her long to remedy that! 
Sunday morning - us with our Loot!  6th Place!
I loved the sound of her munching all night long & woke to her nicker - asking for breakfast!  :-)  This was my sixth time at this ride, with my best result riding Jas in 2002 - 14th place in 7 hours for 50-mi.  Farah had finished sixth - doing the 55-miles in 7:05.

We had a few things that could have been better, I'd replaced the nose band on her Mylar combination bit & forgotten to shorten the cables that go to the chin strap, so all I had was the bit - which I didn't realize until the second VC.  I didn't want to take the time to fix it.  The saddle too - which I do love - sits just a little too low in front - which gave Farah waves on the withers & made it really hard for me on the downhills - my lower back felt it.

In closing, a heartfelt Thank You to Mary Nunn for giving me those electrolytes!  It was so nice to finish feeling strong!  Of course my husband - who's been my go to man for over 30-years now - takes amazing care of Farah & we both can't say how much we appreciate him!  Not to forget Justin Foss - our Farrier!  The padding stayed in until the final VC - when Mike noticed that the RF was partly Gone!  :-)

This morning when I walked (a bit stiffly) up to the barn, my girl greeted me by putting the side of her face against mine & holding it there...  Then did her usual strut out to the pasture!


  1. So happy for you and your Golden Girl! I knew it would be a piece of cake for both of you! Well done!!!

  2. Hahah, I kept giggling while I read this! I'm so happy for yall. Farah looked so, SO good at Renegade last year, I knew you had plenty of horse - whoooo boy do you have plenty of horse! Great work with her, great riding on the trail!

  3. Great to see you in person, Connie. Congrats on a very strong ride. You and your girl really made it look easy!

    1. Thanks Ruth - good to see you & Blue too - you don't dally on the trail!

  4. You guys looked great when I saw you heading out for (I believe) your last loop! Congrats on a great finish. I had to chuckle at your "out of the way" campsite- Cartman and I walk/grazed all over in the afternoon and I was looking for you guys and never found it!

    1. Darn it anyway! We walked camp looking for you too!

  5. Oh My Gosh! What an amazing ride it sounds like and so well documented I feel like I was there with you!

    That looks like so much fun :)

  6. What a great post!!!! Thank you for taking us who could not be there with you! FUN FUN FUN!!!!!!

  7. What a great ride recap! Congrats on your completion and your top ten placing!


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