Let's Imagine . . .
As you already know, Arabee and I are getting ready for our first AERC Limited Distance ride. I'm hoping things go as smoothly as possible so that we have a very positive start to our distance career.
The plan is to arrive in ridecamp the night before with a CLEAN horse, get Arabee settled in, take her on a walk to stretch her legs, maybe even saddle up for a short ride (say...15-20 minutes?) to make sure she's nice and loosened up. The trailer ride will be just a little over 1 hour. I'll get her a big tub of water, and put out plenty of hay for her to munch on at will overnight, maybe a salt block, or loose salt in a tub as well? Haven't decided on a restraint method: tying to the trailer, using an electric corral, or buying panels to make a solid corral. Vet in, then let her relax as we get the human camp set up. Arabee does not currently require being fed any concentrates, so I'll just be sure she has hay in front of her at all times. Will I need to put a blanket or sheet on her?? She is not going to be clipped.
On the morning of, I'll wake, get dressed, check Arabee's hay and water, then eat breakfast myself. What's left to do aside from tacking up as usual and heading to the start??
We'll complete the first loop at a comfortable, conservative pace then come in for the vet check and hold. I'll dismount, loosen the girth and breastcollar and walk her in, get my in-time, then take her to the water and offer a drink. Then to the pulse gate, pulse down, then to the vet, jog, hopefully pass (with mostly A's!) then to the crew spot for the rest of the hold. Here's the part that gets a little blurry when I try to picture ride day: Now what?? Take a bucket of water and a sponge/rag to wipe the mud off of my horse's legs and belly to check for any nicks and scrapes and get her girth area clean. Should the tack come off? If the girth or other tack is muddy make sure it gets cleaned. Check her feet. Stuff hay in her face, make sure there's a bucket of water she can reach easily. Keep her hindquarters from getting chilled. But I'm thinking the horse's job at a hold is to rest and eat and drink as much as possible before time is up, and probably for the rider and crew to get the necessities done ASAP and then leave the horse alone to eat and drink and rest. As for me, I'll almost certainly need to pee, put on a jacket to keep from getting chilly while holding still, eat a nourishing snack, replenish fluids....should I try to sit down and relax, or should I stand and keep moving? When it's about time to go, I'll get ready first, then get Arabee ready, give her one last mouthful of hay and then mount up to be ready to go when the out-timer says it's time. Then head out for the second loop!
For the second loop, while we'll certainly still be riding conservatively, if Arabee gets a good report from the Vet, perhaps we'll try to keep up a bit of a faster pace (trot more) than was kept at the first loop. But since my only goal for the first several rides is simply TO FINISH....conservative is likely where the pace will stay!
Upon finishing I'll plan on using the same strategy as I did coming into the vet check and hold. Unless there are only 5 riders (yeah right...there will be more than that!) we will not be anywhere near finishing fast enough to be able to stand for best condition judging. But I'm thinking similar practices will need to be done at the end of the ride as were done at the vet check. After receiving our completion, we'll head back to the trailer and untack, get the horse clean, park her in front of water and hay, keep her from getting chilled, but once she's clean and has feed/water just leave her alone to relax a while. Then I'll change clothes, eat something nourishing, rehydrate, and hopefully get to relax a little while! We'll likely head home later that same day, so we'll get the camp packed back up and ready to hit the road, for what will hopefully be a very restful night's sleep at home!
Okay...so the above is almost 100% guaranteed to NOT be the way it actually happens - things are going to come up, the weather won't cooperate, and who knows what all might happen. But....for anyone out there who is more experienced than me when it comes to endurance competition (which yes...is essentially EVERYONE!! :-))....is there anything you see in my basic plan that is just wrong?? Or do you have any even small tips for me to help make things go more smoothly? I'll have at least one adult helper to crew for me, which already is making me feel relieved!
I'm starting to get VERY excited about the first LD of the season. Hoping it can happen in April, but if not, there's always May....or June....or who knows, anything can happen! But I'm still really looking forward to it, whenever it may be.