A good night’s sleep is what I needed. While my camper is fairly comfy, there is still nothing like ones own bed, and having the cats curled up next to me for a good nights rest.
Sunday AM, we had an early gathering to do a judged mount, and trot out for the vet.
They had a picnic table there, which most of us used to climb aboard. While Hank moved over to it for me nice, I realize I do not practice asking him to do so for an off side mount, which was the mornings request. But I was first in line, first mounted up, and then I headed back to my trailer for a few min. while they worked through everyone. The day was dawning with fewer clouds than the previous day, and more wind. It was expected to be much warmer than Saturday.
We did have some morning excitement around camp. One horse had broke loose from her tie and ran off in the mornings darkness. They found her down near the lake marina. Another horse got loose during the mount, then spooking another who put on a nice little rodeo but her rider clung on and did not hit the ground, which would have HURT as she was on the paved roadway. She got a huge cheer from all of us watching when it was done and she was still on top of the mare. Well ridden! Then yet another got excited and reared straight up in the air, and really looked close to going over before he came back to earth. I was just glad to get out of camp and on to the trail in one piece, and letting these horses move out!
We headed out first, and had a nice road that we were able to move out with Hanks big trot. Not far out of camp, we scattered the herd of deer who were again out for their morning breakfast near one of the meadows. The trails have permanent markers and we started on white and were to change to red. I saw pink, stayed on white, when the riders behind me yelled I had missed the turn. Well, sure enough, it was red. Early morning eyes and brain were sure that sign looked pink when i went by the first time. Up ahead we had a easy sloping down hill, and up the other side to trot for the judges, then halt at the pink ribbon. Hank was a champ, and did as I asked, with a nice halt. My score card showed I had some body sway, which I am sure I did. Need to work on staying more balanced and centered when I do trot those hills.
This trail goes past a small cave, which is just more of the interesting scenery you can find riding the area.
We got in a nice pocket for awhile, where Hank and I were all alone, which works best for the both of us. But just as we came to a road crossing, and the water trough, his best friend who he rides with often, caught us. I told her to go on ahead, and I would hold back behind, and get in another pocket. They just do not listen as well when we ride together during the rides. After the pulse check around the next bend, and when we got back on the trail, Hank was anxious for a bit, and really full of himself. No doubt he is ready for a 50 mile endurance ride again. But right now, I needed him to slow down, relax, and not try to charge ahead.
This trail works over to the other side of the trail system towards the east. A great variety of cedar groves, hard woods with the trail twisting between the trees, and part of the trail right along the edge of the lake. At some points the trail passes itself very close, and you pass horses going the other way. I saw his best friend going the other direction before he did and turned and faced him so he did not see him pass. I had just got him to relax for me and did not need him try to catch up and charge along again.
I ride with a very small Ipod shuffle. It clips on the strap on my helmet, and I have the ear buds wired on to the helmet, where they stay all the time. How they are fastened to the helmet straps, has them line up next to my ear, but not IN my ear. This way I can have the music play, but still hear the surrounding noises, like horses coming up behind etc. There were moments when we were trotting through the woods alone, with some good music playing, that really made me realize how lucky I was to have the opportunity to do this sport, and also how blessed I was to still have Hank around to be doing it with. He is a very forward, normally cheerful horse, who goes down the trail with his ears up, anxious to see what is around the next bend (and hopefully not spook at it! lol) Those are the moments I cherish, and usually overshadow when he is naughty. Yes, Hank can be naughty indeed!
We had gone awhile along the lake, but because the level was down, it was impossible to go down to the waters edge to let the horses drink. A big drop off, with lots of rocks, or mud. Finally we got a nice spot that was safe to go to, and Hank and some others who caught up were able to water and cool down their horses.
We still had one more pulse check, and we assumed the vet would be checking their metabolics. But, we still had some more woods, lots more of the down and ups, and finally the meadow with the P&R check. After that, we went in hand to the vet, who checked the horses over, then asked us to side pass them in hand, over a log on the ground. They had a few score cards that were I believe, tied up, and close, and they hoped to have one last chance for a horse to shine, or maybe not shine so much. Hank was perfect for me, and got an excellent. Good boy.... Now, another 4-5 miles, and we would be done. I was getting tired and my back was a tad sore but better mine than Hanks. When we reached the 2 mile point, we were on time, and able to cruise on to camp. They have permanent signs on the trails announcing it is 2 miles to camp!
Finally, camp was in sight, and then we were done except the final check out. The line was pretty long, so I let him eat more at the trailer, as they got through many of the novice horses who had been back in camp for much longer, as they only had to do 10-12 miles today. The ticks were still getting Hank on the legs, and I spent some time spraying them, and picking them off his legs. I am sure he brought some home with him. Mean little buggers.
At final check out, Hank was getting good metabolic scores, and I was pleased with how he again had done all weekend. Still stressing over the tummy, wanting to make sure it is doing what it should do, and that what goes in, comes out the other end. He had been a good boy for me on all the observations, and listened to me, and not thinking for himself. I was pleased with the weekend, and that was enough reward. We had over all a really nice ride, with only a few times of frustration when he was a bit less than good.
Now the part that always seems to take forever. Packing up to head home, then waiting for the scores to get done and awards given. I guess because we are more tired at the end, packing seems like more work than unpacking. But, I try to keep things put away all weekend, so it was not long, and I was ready to head home, just about the time they said awards were ready to be given out. When we ride in our little pocket, you don't always get to meet other riders on the trail, or be able to put names and faces together. We had riders from Oklahoma, Texas, Nebraska, Kansas, and I think a couple other states. Some of the Open horses have been at the top of the sport, earning many regional and National titles. So as awards are announced, you can at least put a face with a name. As we got to Horsemanship in my class, I got 4th. Not bad, we had that big ol slam of my butt into the saddle on that uphill scramble on Saturday. Now we go through all the novice, CP and lightweight horse awards, and are finally to our class. One never knows how they have really done. I knew it felt like Hank and I had a good ride, and that is reward enough to be pleased with how things went. But, it is a competition, and we are there to compete, and put our skills, horse management etc. up against others. And I will not lie, as they announce names, I don't want to hear my horses name yet. If Hank gets a 1st or 2nd out of state, then all he needs to do is get the total of 75 points to earn another National Championship, as he already has a 1st and a 2nd this year. And when we don't hear our name for 2nd, I am about ready to bust. Hank got 1st again. He Sweepstaked this ride last year, but this year it went to Trish Cleavland in the lightweight class, who was bringing her horse back to competition from a bad injury. I was sure happy for her, and knew that feeling of having a horse do well, after it had something happen that could have been career ending, if not life ending. A rider next to me was embarrassed when she got tears when her horse placed 3rd in her class. But he had done an eye injury months before that could have resulted in the loss of his eye, and maybe his ability to do trail riding again. Her hard work and dedication helped to save his eye, and he was able to do the sport she had worked so hard to compete in. Never be embarrassed by a few tears.....