Saturday at Robbers Cave State Park in Wilburton OK we awoke to kind of a foggy sky, and a bit humid. But no rain, or rain clouds! I was the first to time out, and we got with it and started moving out right away where we could.
This is one of the awesome photos Jim with Optical Harmonics takes at the rides. You can see more of his work here:
Not knowing the trail, I had only heard how some sections were really slow, so to make time where you could. Even with that constant rain earlier in the week, the trails were not very muddy, and really, the footing was pretty darn good. Lots of rocks, and often downed trees to go over or around, but in general, not near as bad as I had imagined the trails would be. Because of the expected bad footing after the rain, they had slowed the ride down, and added a lunch stop for us on the trail. I packed Hank a “lunch” and made him a mash. I have a little campers sink that folds up and makes a great little tub for him to eat out of, then tucks into my saddle pack when done.
This vet is a condition, soundness type vet, and she saw us two times on the trail for metabolic checks, and then another back in camp along with a soundness check. Hard to keep track of all the numbers, but I was happy with how Hank was doing, with the exception of another lost pulse point. I was also glad I fed him the mash, as he, and many of the horses seemed to not like the water on the trail, so I at least got some food in him, and some water from the mash to keep his gut mobility going. We rode all day with Don, who rides a very nice Arab gelding named Khidd. He and Hank get along well, pace about the same. Don is always good for some interesting stories, and the time goes quick as we trot along.
Another photo by Optical Harmonics
The trail is 99% wooded, with just a few spots out in the open. Many single track trails, creek crossings, and rocky sections.
Even with the slower speeds, the trail was testing many of the horses with metabolic point loss.
Sunday was another foggy morning to start out.
Right after we left, the judges watched us cross a large creek, and up a bank. Then up the mountain we went. Again through the woods, and then the first P&R, which Hank did fine, and we were on our way again. The sun finally came out, and it was getting warmer, but still a bit humid. At the second P&R, we were in the sun, and I knew this would be one that could lose some points. I stripped Hanks saddle, had put water on him heading in to the stop from my water bottles, and fanned him to create a breeze. While we managed to slip through with no point loss, horses on both sides of me had point loss for high resperation, and a friends horse had pulse point loss. Not long afterwards, we came to a judging point. After last weekends refusal to back between the trees, I just had to laugh when that was exactly what we were to do. But, I had tried some things around camp earlier in the week, and decided to give it a try. I gave Hank a peppermint before asking him to do a thing, and had another one ready. Then I asked him to back between the trees, and he was perfect. We then had to side pass over a log, and again, perfect! I gave him his second mint then. I felt like I had won the Kentucky Derby he was so good. Maybe this will work. Will know after the next ride. We were on the home stretch, heading back to camp.
In the woods are some of the biggest mushrooms I have ever seen.
I had never ridden this ride, but I really enjoyed the trails, sights and challenges.
Hank checked out pretty good at the end, and I thought he had done well. But, you are never sure how the other horses have done. I was really needing him to place well for the points he was needing, and in the end, Hank got the Sweepstakes award again. After having some less than spectacular placings, this was a good boost, when I was questioning if we should keep going on this adventure. So now, we head to New Mexico in the morning. I guess Flag will get to go along again. Maybe he does help keep Hank happy when on these long hauls.
And if the blog seems a tad dull and scattered, I realize I am having trouble finding the time with all the travels to post during the rides, and then get in a hurry to type them out afterwards. Hopefully I can get back on track!