|End of loop 2, 50 miler|
Point Chaser is a 3-day ride, and I actually had the opportunity to go for the entire weekend. Given that, I planned to ride the 50 on Friday, take Saturday as a rest day, and then ride the 30 Limited Distance on Sunday. Rhio & I have never competed more than one day in a weekend before, and this was his first competition since June, so I wanted to maximize our chances of completing the 80 miles.
|Start of loop 2, 50 miler|
|Somewhere on the first loop|
Thursday night got very, very cold with a full moon and shining stars. I was snug in my mummy bag in the trailer, and Rhio was snug in his layered polarfleece plus sheet. There was ice in the water in the morning, and as we headed out just after sunrise into a frosty dawn, I discovered that water bottles can freeze while in my pommel pack and riding as a fast clip. They were definitely NOT frozen when I put them in there in the morning, but the first time I tried to drink I discovered a healthy amount of ice in the bottle! Someone said it was 22 degrees just before dawn. I wasn't dressed as perfectly as I could be, but as long as we kept moving out I was fine. I got chilled when we slowed to walk or graze the horses. It took a long time for the sun to feel warm, but by the afternoon I'd shed a few layers and it had turned into a lovely day.
|Early in the first loop - a good spot to let the horses graze some of the frosty grass|
|With Tracy & Diego, finishing loop 2|
We ran into two potentially difficult situations on the first loop, both of which turned out fine. The first was a particular bridge with a rubber matting over it (to protect the wood from snowmobile tracks with studs, I presume). This bridge was completely frosted up, and I made a dumb choice and did not dismount to lead Rhio across. He willingly walked onto the bridge, but almost immediately started scrambling with all four hooves unable to gain any traction at all. There was absolutely nothing I could do, so I did my best to stay centered & balanced, and out of his way, so he could hopefully cope with the situation. He did a marvelous job, staying calm and getting us safely across the bridge. Whew! Good boy, Rhio!
|Crossing the big bridge for the first time, on loop 1|
The last few miles of the loop are two-way trail, and also the end of the 2nd loop for the 30 milers. We were unlucky enough to arrive to this section during a high-traffic time, and Rhio was once again difficult to rate and not paying attention to anything but those horses ahead of him. We had several people blow past us, which wasn't helpful at all. This is a very frustrating situation for me, as it is not much fun to ride a rocket poised to blast off at any minute. He shakes his head and swings his neck around incessantly and I can feel him throwing us off-balance. I am afraid that we will fall sometime because of these antics, but if I let him go, which is what he wants, then we're racing down the trail too fast. I even got off and hand-walked (with him spinning around me in circles) for a while, which helped a little, until I got back on. And all this was at the end of the 24 mile loop - I guess 24 miles isn't enough to settle him down AT ALL!
Our first hold was one hour, and we were down as soon as we came in, so were able to get our pulse and head back to the trailer to relax immediately. We had exit exams with CRIs all day, so headed back to the vets and had to wait in line to vet through. Our turn came, and Rhio looked fresh as a daisy with a CRI of 11/10. Off we went on loop two, about 11 miles long. I was about 4 minutes late getting out because of the wait at the vets, and Tracy & Diego had headed out at a walk waiting for us to catch up. Rhio knew they were up there somewhere, and the ride photographers got some great shots of him as he was totally focused on finding them.
|Heading out to catch Diego on loop 2|
A few miles later, Rhio stopped to drink at a puddle and the first cart on the competitive drive came up behind us. The driver was very considerate & waited for us to finish drinking, then followed along behind us for a little while (that little horse of his could FLY!). We moved aside so he could pass, as it became clear that his little horse could out trot ours for sure. Rhio was a little nervous watching "the contraption" approach us, but as soon as it was in front of us, it became a game of "chase." Boy did Rhio love that! He followed the cart for a mile or two, happily cantering along to the cart horse's trot, until we pulled our boys up to let the cart go ahead. I think Rhio was convinced he'd find that cart again, just around the next bend, for the rest of the loop.
|"Chasing" the cart|
|End of the day, on the way "in" on the third loop|
|Enjoying our buddies|
Way to go, Rhio! What a great day :)
|Yummy hay (munching at a vet check)|
|All done! Poultice & standing wraps in place, ready to go back to the corral to hang with Paco|