Saturday, April 18, 2009

Chicken Chase I - Clark State Forest

Some photos from Friday of the 55 and 30 mile rides.

Will likely post more text later! Too nice outside to do more now!

**Monday morning update:

Arrived at ridecamp at 5:30am on Friday. Still dark, as evidenced by the photo of the closed gate. No activity, even though I had thought the ride was supposed to start at 5:30.

Turns out, the 55 miler started at 7am, and the 30 miler at 9am. Once people finally started moving around (a truck and trailer pulled up behind me and I was unfortunately blocking their path to get into ridecamp) I found the ride manager and introduced myself. We'd been communicating over email so I wasn't a surprise, and she put me to work finding out what riders were what number. There were I think 29 entered in the 55, and all but three riders were going to start at 7. The group of three was planning on going out after the main group.

They had a controlled start, where all riders had to stay behind the first horse until they crossed the road. Ridecamp is on the other side of the road from where the trail started, so rather than having crazy racing on the pavement, they had the controlled start. It was BEAUTIFUL watching the sun rise through the trees at ridecamp. I'm sorry I didn't get a picture to share.

All vet checks on Friday were to be away from camp, and I was sent along with a group of people who headed over there at around 7:30am. We unloaded crew bags and buckets of the riders who didn't have crews, and my job was to be the scribe for the vets. I mostly scribed for Maureen in the morning.

The first riders came in after the 20 mile first loop, horses totally wet with sweat and steaming a good 15 feet up into the cool morning air. I have to apologize to Maureen, since she had to put up with a learning scribe, but I like to think I caught on fairly quickly. (hopefully!)

I feel like I got the hang of what the hold looks like at a ride: ride in, get in-time, pulse down, get official pulse taken and start the hold time, vet through, take horse back with a cooler over the rump, water, water, hay, come back if vet noticed a concerning issue, tack up and saddle up just before hold is over, then alert the out person that you're leaving, and head off down the trail!

After the majority of the 55-ers came in, the first of the LD riders starting coming in. I believe there were 26 riders in the LD, they got letters instead of numbers. It got pretty hairy there for a while, lots of nervous horses milling around in the pulse area waiting to be vetted. I was glad when they finally filtered through since I was a bit nervous of taking a hoof or getting run down. But everything was fine. A pizza delivery person came and brought lunch for the ride workers, and that was a welcome treat! Around 1 or so, a group of people headed back to ridecamp where the finish line was for the LD, and I went with them, since LD is where I want to start with Arabee so I wanted to see what went on. Just before we left a group of 3 riders had come in too quickly to have finished the 2nd loop of trail - they had missed the Shaw and Wildlife loops and had to backtrack. So since they hadn't done the second hold yet, it was going to be a while before Maureen could leave the away vet check.'

We had a bit of a wait before any riders started coming in, so several people had chairs set up in front of the pulse in area and waited for the first riders to come back in. Mike was the vet at ridecamp, and who I scribed for the second half of the day.

The LD horses didn't get their finish time until they had pulsed down to 60 or below. Of the first group of two horses in, the first rider had a tough time getting her horse into the pulse area, made of step-in posts and yellow tape - he was pretty nervous about that tape fluttering in the wind, so unfortunately that caused her to lose the first place to the other horse (but I don't think she minded too much, but probably a little disappointing). This last picture has the first two horses in for the LD on the left side (not great, since you can only see their hind ends, but still, that is them!)

About the time the top ten LD finishers came in, one rider and her chestnut horse came slowly walking in horse in-hand. They'd had a wreck, but thankfully the rider was okay. I guess on some of the really steep uphills the saddle had started slipping and caused the horse to unseat his rider, and he went bounding down hill with his saddle upside down, and got some "rope" burns on his legs. They thought he'd be fine, but he was pretty sore. Disappointing for them, but the rider was genuinely concerned about her horse and was going to take great care of him it seemed.

About then the first of the 55 mile riders came in. The finish line for that ride was somewhere else down the trail, just out of sight of ridecamp. Someone sat at the finish line and took the times for the first 12 or so riders, and after that the finish times were taken in camp. For the 55 milers, their finish times are taken right away, they don't have to pulse down first, but they do have to within a certain time frame. So shortly after they got in they did go to the pulse takers and then vet in for completion. Because of the staggered ride times the 55 milers were being judged for BC about the same time as the LD horses and riders were coming in for completions, which made things somewhat confusing (for me) but I really enjoyed watching the process of Best Condition judging. Someday I want to be able to stand for the BC judging, but not for a while. I'll get some good completions on Arabee before I ever try to top 10, but the more thorough vet examination would be very valuable information. It was surprising to me to see many of the top 10 finishers turn down the BC judging - not sure the why's on that one, to me the more in-depth check you can get the better.

About when the BC judging was finished for the LDs, and wrapping up for the 55s, more riders were coming in for completions for both distances, plus people were wanting to vet their horses in for Saturday's ride. Not only that, but there was a horse who was tying up, and then later a horse was colicking and needed attention at its trailer. So it got pretty busy there for a while with only one vet at ridecamp, since Maureen was still out at the away check. Shortly after Mike came back from the colic, Maureen arrived, and Mike scored the BCs, and Maureen took over the vetting. Things started calming down, and both vets mainly vetted in the next day's horses, with an occassional completion coming in.

I had planned on staying until the end of the 55 mile ride, but that was when I thought it would be finished by around 6pm. I got a call from Matt around 7:15 wondering what my plans were, and I decided I'd better head home, with our little girl at home and home being about an hour away. I started saying goodbyes, wishing I could stay, but I was WORN OUT! I didn't do much but take notes all day, but still I was tired. I learned so much about the sport in one day that I hope to get to most of the rides in Indiana this summer to do more volunteering and learning and meeting people. I really appreciated all the people who went out of their way to talk to me and make me feel welcome, and I am very much looking forward to next April when hopefully I can come and compete on Arabee!

I walked down through ridecamp once to see if I could find Jacke and her horse - there were a LOT of trailers and horses there - it was jam-packed full. There were supposed to be 50 riders in the LD alone on Saturday - so a lot of people on the trail! I talked to Jacke for a while and it turned out she had all the help she needed for Saturday, so I headed back towards the car. I wasn't planning on coming back on Saturday, but since I knew there was a chance she'd have to crew alone on Phebes first ride I wanted to make sure. Got stopped by Cindy and she asked me if I learned anything - a resounding YES! Just can't wait to do it myself. It was a VERY GOOD THING that I did not try to take Arabee to this ride, even if she hadn't had the cut on her leg - I would have been clueless about what was going on. Now I feel like whenever I finally get to be able to compete that I will be much better prepared for the goings on and be a better guide for my horse.

I found myself really wishing I would have driven down again for just the LD on Saturday. There were quite a few people I actually knew for that ride, plus those I had just met the day before, but I was just beat after Friday. I can sure tell a difference in my energy levels with this pregnancy! Plus, this time all the vet checks were in camp, and so I wanted to see what that was like, but there will be other rides I can try to get to this season. My family had a wonderful day together at home on Saturday, working with the cows and then moving them out to pasture, and I cleaned Arabee's stall, and walked her, and then later on we rode (much fun!) then had a cookout just the three of us. Tried looking for mushrooms (morels) but it was too dry. Still fun walking in the woods and seeing all the wildflowers. A really great weekend overall!


Christine said...

Ahhhhhh! NICE!! More please?

Anonymous said...

Michelle Mattingley told me she got 6th on Saturday and Best Condition in the 55. Do you remember seeing her? She is a little tiny thing with brown curly hair, and the horse she was riding that day was a bay, fairly small arab named Aris. We rode 3 of her other horses the next day in the LD. She's got tons of experience. The horse she rode Friday was the AERC 50 mile national champion in 2005. And she also competed in the World Equestrian Games in 2006 I believe, in Germany.

I'm glad you went and learned so much. It's fun just being there and getting to know everybody.

Laura and I rode Saturday with Michelle. We had a good time. Started way behind everyone but then passed a lot of people and came in 11th, 12th, and 13th without even really trying. Her horses are supremely fit. The ones she and I were riding are going to be doing a 100 in 2 weeks. (They are ready for it, they did a 50 2 weeks prior to this ride and a 100 last summer)So this 25 was a walk in the park for them!

Then I went to the farm and felt guilty about not riding Stormy. I thought, what the hey, I'm not that tired or sore. So Allen and I rode Stormy and Jazz for about an hour at the farm. Allen had done something earlier that morning that had made him sore and he was the one that wanted to quit so soon, not me. But at least I got a short but sweet ride in on Stormy too.

Take care. I am planning on riding at Top of the Rock the end of may at Henryville. This time with Stormy. Maybe I'll see you there.


Anonymous said...

OOOps. I ment to say Michelle Mattingley got 6th on FRIDAY and Best Condition. So I'm sure you seen her. Just wondering if you remember her.


Nicole said...

Yeah, I saw Michelle - I kept thinking about introducing myself to her telling her I knew one of the people to ride her horse tomorrow, but I chickened out - I'm weird about when I'm shy and when I'm not. She did a great job bringing her horses in for vetting for Saturday, especially since she had 3 to deal with! (she did it one at a time, but still!)

Glad you had fun in the LD and still got to ride w/ your husband on Saturday.

I'd like to get to Top of the Rock, but I haven't looked it up yet - will check out who the ride manager is to see if they need any help and see how the dates fit with our schedule, but I would like to get to each ride in Indiana this year if I can.

Anonymous said...

Lois McAfee is the ride manager for Top of The Rock. She took me to Dead Dog Creek last year in IL and brought back Stormy for me. It was a fairly long drive and we got to know each other pretty well. Plus, we got a flat on the way back. Didn't get to Henryville until midnight. So she let me stay the night at her house, and Stormy. She goes to a Church of Christ (like I do) in Henryville. Because of that, she doesn't put on a ride on Sundays. So Top of the Rock is just a Friday, Saturday ride. I will more than likely ride Saturday. Now I've got to get my girls in shape!!