|Loop 1, about 11 miles into 15 miles (photo by Henry)|
|Rhio's wound on Saturday|
|Ready for bed!|
I was able to see Rhio & Paco on their high line all day from vet check, so I was able to assure myself they weren't getting into any trouble. Gesa spent a lot of the day helping, but also did all the pony care while I was working (thank you Gesa!!!). In the afternoon she saddled up for a little ride, and Rhio was unhappy to be left behind. Besides making a pitiful racket calling for his buddy, he was good while Paco was gone.
|Aww! My lovely pony.|
Paco & Rhio vetted in with flying colors Saturday evening, with Rhio's heart rate at 32. He must be getting used to ride camp (he should be, I think this is his 4th year of attending rides), as 32 is his resting rate at home, but it is typically 40 at a ride. After getting our 52 inked in green on his rump, we settled the boys into CrackerJack's vacated pen for the night (thanks Donna! our boys LOVE to have a pen to relax in) and I watched as Rhio proceeded to immediately zap himself on the electric tape. I felt a little sorry for him (he looked *very* surprised), but I was also pleased that he'd touched it and felt much more secure in leaving him in the pen overnight. This is the first time he's been in an electric pen at night, without direct supervision. I would have to say I think he much prefers a pen to any form of being tied. He was very leery of exiting the pen, though, and Paco had to be brave one and lead the way through the gate every time.
|Loving the life of freedom in the pen (but Rhio's staying safely away from the fence.)|
|Pre-potluck relaxation with Donna (have I ever mentioned that 60 lb Kelso is a lap dog?)|
|Kelso's safe spot|
This turned out to be more challenging than I had anticipated, as the prescription in my glasses is not the same as in my contacts. Also, as anyone who wears both will attest, the difference in peripheral vision is quite dramatic between contacts & glasses. My exhausted, too-early-roused brain was very slow to adapt to the different visual input, and as a result I couldn't exactly "see straight" for about half of the first loop! My glasses would jiggle a bit at any gait faster than a walk, and I had to attempt to focus on whatever horizon line I could find ahead on the trail to keep myself steady. It wasn't as challenging as riding in the dark, but I did feel that I had to give over most of the decisions to Rhio and I knew the trail well enough I didn't need to spot ribbons or read plates (whew!).
We crossed the highway bridge, manned by a caffeinated cop & a cruiser with flashing lights at either end, and made our way through the housing development to reach my favorite section of trail at this ride. The new obstacle for the day was a lawn sprinkler on full blast, spraying an arc of water & mist into the air and across the road. Unless he encountered one before I bought him, I can attest that Rhio has never seen a sprinkler before. I simply asked him to move to the opposite side of the road, and we passed it with no trouble at all. Good boy Rhio! Paco followed suit, though the guy riding behind us had more trouble I think. Shortly after the sprinkler, there was a house & a living room picture window barely containing a frenzied dog barking & barreling into the glass; I'm quite sure there wasn't anyone left asleep in that house!
|Having a bite to eat midway through Loop 1 - in our coveted pocket of space!|
|And onward through the sand.|
Both Photographer Bob & Photographer Henry (volunteers! wow!) were out in various spots on the trail capturing our horses' beauty in action for us. I can't even adequately articulate how much I love having pictures of my horses at a ride. I am incredibly biased, of course, but Rhio looks absolutely fantastic in these photos; they are the best photos of him doing his job and loving every minute of it.
|Loop 1, about 4 miles from camp (photo by Henry)|
|Walking in to camp at the end of loop 1 (photo by Bob)|
|Gesa & Paco eager to go at the start (photo by Bob)|
Riding with heart rate monitors was really helpful at this ride. Gesa & I know how the boys' usually run, and we were able to monitor them closely during a markedly more challenging exertion level than we've asked of them yet this spring. In the deepest sand, Rhio's heart rate ran about 10 points higher than normal for whichever gait we were in. He recovered into the 80s within moments to a minute of dropping to a walk, even in the deep sand. Paco, however, would not drop below 100 while walking in the deep sand, but would immediately drop once we hit firmer footing. This was especially useful information to have as we came in the last mile of the first loop. Rhio would have been fine trotting the whole mile, and the walk from the end of the trail through camp to the timer would have been enough recovery for him to be at criteria by the time we handed our card over for our in-time. By watching Paco's monitor, though, we knew that Paco was still working hard enough to keep his heart rate just above 100 bpm and therefore we walked the whole mile and he was able to recover to criteria just a few minutes after arrival. I think if we hadn't used the monitors, we would have trotted more of that mile and Paco would have taken longer to pulse down at the check.
After our hold, we completed our exit exams with flying colors. Rhio had an astounding CRI of 9/10, meaning his heart rate was 36 bpm before trotting 250 feet, and 40 bpm one minute later. Both 36 & 40 bpm are normal equine resting heart rates. He was exhibiting pretty much complete recovery from the first 15 miles. I do not push my horses, but I do kind of wonder what he is capable of. I don't train *that* much - this is mostly his natural athletic ability.
|Last minute adjustments before heading out on loop 2|
Off we go on loop 2, scuttling out of camp at a good clip to maintain our little bubble of trail as a pair of LDers and the first group of novice competitors were set to head out just a minute or so after us. We did a lot of cantering, which my horses seem to prefer in the sand - and taking off on loop 2 at an easy canter with forward happy horses is such a rush! Gesa & I were both grinning & laughing with glee, and that feeling persisted throughout the 10 miles (well, actually only 9 according to my GPS) of the second loop. We mostly trotted & cantered, with both horses drinking long & deep at a muddy puddle, and before we knew it we were done! We could have been the only two out there, as we didn't see anyone the entire loop.
We finished in 6th & 7th positions, though we were 1:40 behind the winner. We stood for Best Condition anyway, knowing that we had no chance of winning the award, but as good practice for our horses and because neither Paco nor Rhio had ever stood for a BC exam before. Unfortunately, it did require the dreaded weigh-in, which I detest, but I just claim a heavy saddle. Rhio looked good, but Paco was a little muscle-tired. Both horses ate, drank, and rested while we started to break camp as the increasing clouds began to sprinkle and finally out-and-out rain on us just as we were loading horses & the last few items were being shoved into the tack room or truck. Why is it that our neatly organized bins, bags, & boxes are always in compete disarray and the whole lot of it barely fits back into the rig when we leave?
|All done! The boys are resting while we hustle to get camp cleaned up & packed before the rain really starts.|