Thanks for the pic, Darlene!
Considering the three weeks I had prior to our local endurance club's annual 2-day endurance ride, Old Selam, I didn't have much time to fret. You see, I had planned to take Khopy and complete his first endurance ride at this event two months prior, after I had gotten a sense of the natural talent this guy had on a training ride in early June. I figured with three months of serious conditioning, on top of the four months of dressage and trail riding I had been doing with him, would be sufficient to prepare him for a 50 at Old Selam, which is one of my most favorite rides! We faced a few challenges, were able to overcome.
Khopy on his first real conditioning ride in May. We have come a long way.
Sally and I hauled Khopy, alternating Sally's two geldings, every weekend. Along with our GPS and a bit of good fortune, we put together an amazing 17-mile loop in the mountains that we repeated weekly, each time going a bit faster, and recovering quicker. We rode 100% of the time in my Easyboot Gloves, most of the time with no tape and no powerstaps. I never lost a boot despite the steep mountain climbs, creek crossings, and lake wading. Khopy was comfortable in his Gloves and traveled easily over the rocks in the trails. Mid-August, I knew he was as ready as he was going to be, and committed to riding the 50 with a pal who owed me for babysitting HER earlier this year. It's great to have friends you can count on, and I really appreciated it on ride day!
Marking trail in July for the Pink Flamingo Classic. I threw everything I could think of at this horse!
I had been planning on riding Khopy in his Gloves at the ride, but considering Sally was going to be gluing Easyboot Glue-Ons for the ride, I decided to glue with her and share my gluing technique using primarily Goober Glue with our own version of the Adhere Lock. She thought it was much easier than our previously used method of mixing the Goober Glue and waiting for hours for it to set. Sweet!! Both big grey ponies had boots stuck on good and there was no turning back now!
Ready to go!
Now those of you who actually know me personally, know it is my nature to worry and fret and waffle on my decisions. I usually know what is right in my heart, but I seem to always have to fill my idle time leading up to the big day with "what-ifs" and "shoulda-woulda-coulda's." Given the events leading up to the ride, I only had a couple days to waffle, which worked in my favor. I was also a bit too tired from everything to put great effort into my second guesses and arrived at ridecamp Friday afternoon feeling good about my plans and the fact that if he was too tired to finish, we would pull and look at it as a great training opportunity. In hindsight, I just have to laugh!!
Khopy on *his* Hi-TieI got up Saturday morning and tacked up my horse, while the majority of the 50's were warming up their horses. Khopy watched calmly as the trail was opened, and I walked him over to our buddies. As I mounted up, I felt him tense up, but he lined out quickly and we were off in good time. THANKFULLY the trail started with a great uphill that forced the ponies to think about what they were supposed to be thinking about. He lead like a champ and we had absolutely no silly shenanigans the entire ride.
I won't bore with minute details, but I will say he drank at *every* water opportunity, ate like a cow at the vetchecks and on the trail, pulsed down upon coming into camp and never.once. asked to stop. This was a hard ride, which I never really realized before! There are certain horses in your life that set the bar, and as I had only ever ridden my old gelding, Fast Eddy, at this ride, I realized he made it easy! Not only is the milage100%, but there is a lot of climb, lots of super-cool technical cross country and single track and minimal road. My kinda ride! Apparently it was Khopy's kind of ride as well, because he never even broke a sweat! Seriously, if I can do right by this horse and not screw up, I think he is going to be amazing.
Going through a rocky section after a creek crossing. Take note of Khopy in the lead!!
This ride is by far one of my favorites, mostly due to the unique area in which we have the opportunity to ride. This is gold country! Mine tailings sweep the areas surrounding the creeks, which are necessary for gold panning! There are a lot of creeks and tailings, which if anyone doesn't know, are just huge piles of rock. With Khopy's Glue-Ons, I never once had to worry about anything other than taking the best possible care of my horse. He never had to worry about anything other than taking care of me. Despite the long transition, he moved effortlessly over all footings. What a ride!
Mine tailings along the trail. It is gorgeous!
We completed the ride late in the afternoon, with a pulse of 48. I don't remember what time we finished, but my GPS showed a moving time of 7:29. Not too bad for a tough, hottish, mountain ride- a first ride at that! What a feeling at the finish, knowing where Khopy came from, and the challenges we faced during the first few months together. Although he still challenges me, we have developed a relationship that works, and that is growing every day. It has been hard, and I won't lie- I wanted to give up several times!
The Big Guy the morning after his ride. Looking good!
During the ride I guess there was quite a debate that happened. As I was fortunate enough not to have been present, I heard the nitty-gritty later on. Apparently a very passionate newbie decided to bully a few very experienced, um, oldies (??) about natural hoof care and different training methods. While I obviously agree with natural horse care and a barefoot lifestyle, I never agree with bullying and feel bad that there are people out there who chose to try and convert others using these techniques. I completely understand being passionate about something, but please, people, don't cram it down other people's throats! Don't bully and threaten people! There are so many more effective means of communication than that, and hurting other's feelings is never the right way to go, nor is it a smart way to fit in with a group. I'd like to think this particular person was just tired from their first 50 mile ride, and maybe suffering from low blood sugar (??) but I just felt like it was bad press for our beliefs. Not all of us are like that, but it is usually the negative people remember.
Regardless, all I can say is it is wonderful feeling to meet the goals you have set some time ago, and exceed your expectations while doing so. After old goals are met, new goals are set! What a great way to live life!
Happy Riding All- it's about that time of year that makes for some amazing rides. Hope everyone gets out there!
~ Amanda Washington