Submitted by Gene Limlaw
Last weekend I headed to Maine to the Pine Tree ride, located on the eastern side of the state in the quaint town of N. Waterford. They offer a 30, 50, and 100 mile rides. The forecast was to be overcast and cool.
I entered my mare Grace in the 100. I felt she was ready but it would be only her second 100, so I was not completely confident of all the variables that can take place. We had hard rain on Thursday so I didn’t glue on her boots until Friday morning before we left. I’m getting pretty comfortable with the process I am using, which is Vettec Adhere on the walls and Goober Glue on the sole. I want to try the new Goober Glue but was not ready to do it at this ride. I know I was a little chicken.
I have ridden in this area, but not out of this basecamp, so things can always be a bit different. Maine tends to be fairly rocky: smooth bigger rocks, but lots of them. Sorry I didn’t get trail pictures, I still have not mastered riding her and taking them on a ride.
It is a lot of 4×4 roads that have washed out leaving rocks. The trail did get swapped around from previous years so there were also some good hills and pavement. I would guess close to ten miles of it on the 100 miles. That seems like a lot, but after all the rocks the horses seemed to like the pavement. And the Glue-Ons were perfect, with great traction. A blacksmith was asking what I had on as when we were coming down the road he could barely hear my horse hitting the ground. I enlightened him and we had a nice chat. To my knowledge, there were two booted horses on the ride.
I have this new to me trailer and always end up having a little drama with it. This time it was when I was unhitching, one tire was in a low spot on we put a Trailer-Aid under it and jacked it up. I just got a few inches above the ball and the whole trailer rolled back fell off the blocks and jammed nicely into the bed of the truck. Second dent I have put in it at this ride. Not a good sign. So I block it and re-jack it up with the help of friends that know more about these things than I do. And all was fine.
The ride day turned out to be in the 70s and much more humid than we all had planned. We started at five AM so that was good as we got some miles done before it got to warm out. The first section was about a five mile gradually climbing rock road. There were only seven of us on the 100 so it was a pretty quiet start, which was nice as my horse has been getting stronger at every ride.
As the miles went on she was very quiet. I was a little worried about her in my own mind. When I finally mentioned it to the friends I was riding with, they said maybe she is just getting and it and figuring her job out. I hadn’t thought of that. But apparently that was it.
As the day went on she got better and better. Being only her second 100 I just wanted to finish and we were doing just a nice steady pace. I didn’t want to take any chances with the humidity, and terrain. Although she barely took a bad step all day. Which I think had a lot to do with the fact that she was really thinking.
Once we got past the 65 mile mark I felt we might have a good chance of completing, as long as we were careful. Her recoveries and trot outs were great all day. And she drank wonderfully. The first two holds were away from camp and the rest back at camp. I had no real crew but lots of wonderful people helped out if I needed anything.
We were riding in a group of three and at 70 something miles one of them got pulled and we were two. The last two loops were to be repeat loops, called the hand in the rocks trail. I don’t don’t know what that means but figured it involved more rocks in the dark. Fun sounding, right?
Well at the last minute ride management changed the trail to make it easier. Four and a half miles out to a glow stick and then back. Half blacktop half dirt road, but nice and flat. And the glow stick at the turn around was the marker. Yes the one glow stick, it is really pretty funny when I think about it now!
Oh, did I mention we were down to only three riders in the 100? We did it the loop in an hour the first time. They were all surprised we got back so soon. The second time took us five minutes less and we were going slower, or so we thought. Second place was ours!
We finished up in good order by 10:00 PM and then I was encouraged to stand my horse for the Best Condition audging. I did, and she looked great and then I did up her legs and cleaned up myself and off to bed.
The next morning was a lovely sunny day and at the awards we ended up getting High Vet Score! I was trilled even with the few of us, because I figured we survived it where others did not. Our ride time was about 13 hours. Grace did not really look like she had done a thing. I was trilled with how her boots took care of her and how well they wore. A good time was had by all, even with the rocks and bugs and humidity…<smile>