Fall Colors Between Rhio's Ears

Fall Colors Between Rhio's Ears

Saturday, October 30, 2010

There Are No Pantyhose In Hinckley (Point Chaser 2010 - Part 2)

Coming across the bridge - we're soaking wet & cold but the photo looks great - thanks to the intrepid ride photographer Bob who braved the elements to take these shots
After our very successful 50 mile completion on Friday, Rhio settled down with his buddy Paco to rest & eat, with standing wraps + poultice on his legs (for the first time, as we've had stocking up issues recently). Gesa arrived in the early evening, and we were all invited to enjoy our camp neighbor's wonderful gourmet dinner (grilled beef tenderloin, asparagus, asian salad, garlic bread, plus numerous appetizers and homemade apple pie for dessert).  Wow.  Not my usual ridecamp fare!  After dinner I was able to take a hot shower (boy did that feel great!), we walked the horses (Rhio looked amazing - bright eyed and bushy tailed - like he hadn't done a darn thing that day), and snuggled into our sleeping bags for the night.  The trailer was cozy with the three of us plus Roger the rat terrier.

None of us were riding Saturday, with Rhio & Jodi's mare getting the day off, and Gesa opting to ride Sunday with me.  It was cloudy and threatening rain when we got up, so we walked horses and got them settled in with waterproof blankets, then spent some time warming & drying ourselves around the fire in the building.  Gesa realized that she had forgotten to pack pantyhose, which she wears beneath her tights to prevent rubs.  We had the whole day, and an extra vehicle, so off we went in search of a pair of pantyhose.

Little did we know, some 2 hours and about 70 miles round-trip later, that there are no pantyhose for sale anywhere in the town of Hinckley.  The gas station sent us to the supermarket, which knew for a fact they were the last ones in town carrying them but they didn't stock them anymore.  So, we hopped on the freeway and went south to the next town, which I was pretty sure had a Walmart.  Yep, a huge gorilla of a Walmart, even, with aisles stretching as far as the eye could see.  We found pantyhose (a plethora) as well as some funky bandanas to add to our collection (we both like bandanas either under our helmets and/or after riding to mask the helmet hair).

Crazy fun bandanas - $1 each at Walmart! 
Returning to ridecamp, the rain was finally giving us a break, so we saddled up for an easy ride to loosen the boys up.  Rhio's legs looked tight, clean, and cool beneath his standing wraps (yay!) and, other than being positively filthy (too cold to sponge off all that sweat, dirt, and grime), he looked great.  I opted to use my bareback pad (it was just going to be a walk-trot easy ride of 45 minutes or so), and away we went with Rhio in the lead, ears up, and very forward.  Uh-oh.  Maybe not the "easy warm-up ride" I thought we were going to have!

Ready for our "warm-up" ride
Paco eager to go down the trail

We mostly trotted and cantered (oh I love to ride his canter in that bareback pad!), managing to make them walk the last mile or so in to camp.  We unsaddled, and went over to the vets to for our pre-ride vet in for Sunday morning.  Both horses looked great, and we were cleared to go.  The scribe was surprised to find a number already on Rhio's rump (#11) - he certainly didn't look like he'd been ridden already this weekend!
Dr. Bonnie vetting Paco
Video of Paco's pre-ride trot-out.  Sorry about the poor quality (old, decrepit camera) and the shaking at the end (Rhio was nudging me for treats).

Saturday night was our potluck (nothing could have been better than the main dish of spaghetti!) and awards.  I chose a pretty pink & purple polarfleece helmet liner made & donated by one of the other MN ride managers as my completion prize - which turned out to be a fortuitous choice.  During dinner, the heavens opened and a major thunderstorm rolled through.  We headed back to our trailer & the corrals to find the horses standing in water and looking quite soggy (luckily we'd all left the waterproof blankets on them).  One more walk in the rain, and we retreated to the relative warmth & dryness of the trailer.  I say relative, because by that point, so much wet stuff had come into the trailer with us (jackets, gloves, boots, Roger the rat terrier) that it was beyond damp in there.  We cranked up the Mr. Buddy propane heater for awhile before bed to try to get it cozy & dry, with moderate success.

There was still rain drumming on the trailer roof when I fell asleep, so I was thrilled to hear the quiet when I awoke Sunday morning.  It wasn't quite time to get up yet, so as I cuddled into my sleeping bag for a bit longer, I was dismayed to hear the rain start again.  Being the last MN ride of the year, it wasn't going to deter me, and I was going to ride, but I wasn't very happy about it!

We saddled in the rain, and I dressed for the weather as best I could.  I have yet to find the best outfit for riding in the rain, and opted to leave my legs uncovered (just lightly-insulated fall tights), ride in my muck boots so my feet would be dry, and use my waterproof softshell jacket with polarfleece gloves and my new helmet liner.  I didn't have any waterproof gloves for my hands, anyway, and I know from experience that polarfleece stays pretty warm even when wet.  The horses were sporting their polarfleece rump rugs, and we were set!
Paco: "Who's that?  Where are we going? This is fun!"
Rhio: "Oh, man, not this stupid bridge again!  Mom, it's raining.  Are we there yet?"
Gesa & I let the front runners get out of camp, heading back to our campsite to use the picnic table to mount and give our boys the idea that our ride had nothing whatsoever to do with those horses.  It worked, until we caught up with a pair of riders just in front of us and tried to stay a couple horse-lengths behind them (we didn't want to go that fast - it was only Paco's second LD ride and the footing was mushy as best and slippery at worst).  Our inadvertent foursome then caught another group of 3, and then a single rider, and all of us played leap-frog for almost the entire first loop.  I was fighting Rhio way more than I wanted to (saying things like, "maybe you'll be doing another 50 today, buddy - CALM DOWN, KNOCK IT OFF!!!") and I had opted to boot him because I didn't want to make him foot sore as we'd never done this many miles barefoot in one weekend (well, never done this many miles in a weekend, period!).  The boots were a BAD idea - very slippery, especially on all the wet leaves, and his hind end kept going out.  We stopped at the designated water stop (a pond) - and of course the horses were way too concerned about all the other horses and not at all interested in drinking - and I was able to remove the hind boots (his Gloves) and tie them to my saddle.  Remounting proved to be a frustrating and difficult process, as Rhio utterly refused to stand still, but I eventually got my ass back in the saddle, just to have to get off to handwalk across a slippery bridge 50 yards down the trail.  I really hate trying to get on a jigging, prancing, spinning horse, but somehow I managed it and even got him to stand still for a millisecond (STOP MOVING YOUR FEET!) before allowing him to proceed down trail.  A horse that will not stop its feet is one of my pet peeves, and my horses are typically very good about standing.  Not so on race day!

We finished the little loop, came back across the slippery bridge (not that slippery, actually, so we stayed mounted this time), back through the water stop (didn't even offer this time), and onward down the trail.  Rhio was settling in nicely, finally, as we had a little envelope of space to ourselves (briefly) and voluntarily stopped to drink at several puddles (yay, Rhio's brain was functioning again!).  Paco was behaving beautifully, leading occasionally and not bucking, forward and happy.  We wound through a cut-over area and were caught and passed by the group of 3 again, and suddenly our fire-breathing dragon horses were back in action.  We flew down the trail hot on their heels, knowing we were once again going too fast.  Coming in to the vet check, instead of walking to get those heart rates down, we were fighting and jigging and prancing and trotting and generally not having a good time of it.  Boo!  These are just the sorts of things we've been trying NOT to let Paco learn at a ride.
Wow, don't they look great?! 
We pulsed down immediately, along with everyone else in the "pack," and headed off for our 40 minute hold.  It was still raining.  We went back up for our exit exam, and decided to wait until everyone else was back out on trail so we could ride our own ride this loop.  We stayed in camp an extra 15 minutes, insuring that we were the last ones out and with enough space that we couldn't catch the horses in front of us.  Rhio & Paco were willing enough, though I could tell Rhio was starting to believe I was crazy (you know it's still raining out here, right Mom?  You really want to go?  Well, ok...).  I had pulled his front boots at the check, and we were now barefoot.  The trail conditions had deteriorated significantly, and we had large sections with so much mud that we had to walk.  We also ran into a few new "streams" running across the trail - but, there was plenty of water for the horses to drink!  We took it very easy this loop, completing the 14 miles in a little under 2 1/2 hours.  Rhio progressed from wondering why the heck we were out there in the incessant, cold rain to making it perfectly clear that this was NOT what he thought we should be doing.  He kept swinging his head around to the left and giving me a look.  Sorry, Rhi!
 "Stupid human, what are we out here in the rain and the mud for? We could be warm, dry, and eating hay back at the trailer!"
By the time we finished the ride, dead last and happily so, I was soaked to the skin (except my feet & my torso) and frozen (except my head, which was toasty warm thanks to my awesome helmet liner!), and also wondering about our sanity.  Note to self: You REALLY need to find a new system for riding in the rain; besides being so cold, I also had rubs on both inner thighs from my wet tights sticking to my wet saddle. Our ride time was about 4 1/2 hours for the 30 miles, though officially longer because we went out late at the start and on loop 2. Gesa & Paco came through a challenging ride (mentally and weather-wise, thank goodness the trail was relatively easy) with flying colors - they really earned their endurance stripes on this ride!  Both horses vetted out with no issues (there were several horses with hind end cramps due to the footing and weather) and we let them relax at the trailer and eat while getting camp packed up.  None of us had any desire to hang around camp in the miserable weather, so an hour after finishing, with both boys looking great, we loaded up and sent them on their way home with Jodi.  Gesa & I went to take hot showers to warm up, and headed home in the car.

Everyone arrived home warm & dry, and pretty proud of our weekend's accomplishments. Rhio proved that he is more than capable of what I've been asking of him so far, and I'm looking forward to moving him up to multidays (if I can get to any - still dreaming of doing Shore To Shore) and that 100 is looming on our horizon as well.  Too bad our season is over, and our next ride won't be until May (yes, mostly I love living in northern Minnesota, but winter looks mighty long from this side of it...).

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