Saturday, July 31, 2010

Tevis: Getting there, and mental conditions

Not sure where to start on our Tevis blog. I know many followed my Facebook posts the past few weeks, and may have some repeat stuff, including photos.  Since this is gonna get long, as I can never write any ride story in the cliff notes version, I’ll break it down into a few posts.  I’ll start with the generic prep, and the 1800 mile trip out to CA from TX, and then arriving at camp.

After last season, and all the travel Hank did, I knew he was pretty seasoned at that part of the journey, and I tried to keep things as much the same as I did last year. The biggest change was traveling in a different trailer.  I really did not think it would change his attitude, eating etc., and I had things set up much the same, including hanging a bucket of water in the trailer for him as he went down the road. Toss a bit of hay on top, and it will keep the splash factor to a minimum.

And what would be a trip with me without a flat tire. Just 100 miles from home, we had a blow out on the trailer. Got it changed quick, and then decided a set of new tires were in order, so we ended up at the Discount Tire in Amarillo. I of course knew where it was, since I was there last year with a tire issue. But this was the short day, so we had time.

We traveled the first day 400 miles, and a night at an RV park we had been at before, then 530 miles , and a KOA with corrals for the horses, then 420, and two nights at my friends house in So. CA,  and then the 400 miles up to Auburn.  Each morning he got a mash, we stopped midway each day for a walk and another mash, and at the end of each day, another mash. 

 One of the places we stopped for a mid day break. Near AZ/NM border. Great shopping too!
The first RV park is in Tucumcari NM. Super nice folks, and I would recommend this place to anyone. Very reasonable rates, and if they are not there, have a night drop. Easy to get in and out of, and often I have been one of the only folks there. Covered and uncovered corrals:

Empty Saddle RV Park

The second night was the KOA in Williams AZ. Used to be able to find more KOA’s with corrals, but many have stopped having them available.  While this was a very busy KOA, the horses did not seem bothered by any activity, and all the kids who wanted to visit the horses asked first. I actually enjoyed meeting folks from other states and even countries, and let them meet Hank.  Not cheap, but it was safe, and they were very welcoming to the horses.  

                                                             Circle Pines KOA

When we arrived at my friends place, we had to maneuver the trailer up her narrow, twisty driveway. It took some good driving, and my spotting posts etc. along the way, but we were able to get the trailer parked, while we rested a couple days before heading on up to Auburn. Both horses have stayed here before, and settled right in to the corrals. I really think some of her horses who have done Tevis in the past KNEW what was up. They seemed extra excited about the process of the trailer going up and down the driveway, and I am sure Hank told them all about the adventure on our stop on the way home.

We got to the the Auburn fairgrounds Tuesday afternoon, before Tevis. I like to have the horses stay at the fairgrounds and ride out backwards on part of the trail, and then back to their stalls, so when they get there during the ride, mentally they will know they are almost HOME.  Tuesday afternoon, we rode out past No Hands Bridge to the Hwy 49 crossing, and then on Wednesday, we rode to the bridge again. Did casual rides, taking our time. Even watched some young men jump off of No Hands in to the river below!
And some think riding a horse 100 miles is crazy.  The last section of the trail was in really good shape from previous years. Only one section is kind of tricky in the dark, but the horses who have been over it in the daylight usually have no problems. A series of steps and rocks. 
The photo does not do it justice for how steep it is. And pitch black in the dark!

We also had a close encounter of a "Bambi" kind on one of the pre-rides.

Thursday we finished our pre-ride prep. I don’t like to go up to camp before Friday AM, as it is pretty dusty and dirty at camp, and I’d rather breath as little of that as possible. Also, I like to stay out of the altitude for me as long as possible, as I got altitude sickness last year after some 20 years of it not bothering me.  We did drive up to Robinson Flat so my hubby could see the road, and then later, dropped off his rental car at Foresthill, so when he dropped the truck and trailer there Saturday AM, he would have the rental to drive on up to Robinson, and not have to unhook and drive the big truck. Horses got a good scrubby bath, and Hank even made the cover of the Auburn Journal:

Auburn Journal article


Friday Am we got an early start, and headed up I-80 towards Truckee. My hubby drove the rig up, as he was the one driving it out Saturday AM, and needed some more time behind the wheel to get a good feel for it. Much bigger than our bumper pull, but he did very well, and even got it backed into a parking spot, facing out. Last thing you want is to have to back it out in the dark on ride morning with 100’s of other rigs trying to get out in the dark and dust.  We got checked in, shopped a tad at the vendor area. It was nice to not have to scramble to pack our crew bags and saddle packs at the last min.   Hank was looking relaxed and cheerful, eating and drinking well, and I was feeling rather complacent. In fact, in the weeks leading up to the ride, I never was feeling nervous.  The ride meeting was done early enough to head to bed before dark.

I actually questioned what I was doing, and if I was REALLY wanting to ride or not. It was sort of odd.  Can not really describe the feeling. Almost like it was something I needed to do, rather than wanting to do.  I was not excited like previous rides. While I was not dreading it, I was not looking forward to it like the past.  This alone sort of concerned me, as I was not sure I had the mental attitude to get through the ride.

Tevis is one of the most mental things I have challenged myself with in the past. To concentrate for over 24 hours, making sure one keeps their mind clear, sharp, straight and focused on not only the ride, but especially the horse.  I have been given some very good advice over the years for success, and things to do to help get through Tevis, and I was not sure I would remember them all. At vet checks, pay attention to lines, getting the horse vetted through quick and smooth. Watch your timing, so you are not chasing the clock. Think about speeds on hills, up and down to the best advantage of the horse you are on. In the dark, reach down and touch the horses neck to make sure they are not over heating.  Ride right, and stay balanced and centered even if you start to get sore. Give electrolytes at certain spots, so they will drink well at the next water. So much more, but you get the idea.  And here I was, feeling like a trip to some stream to go trout fishing might be more fun than climbing on the horse in the dark to ride 100 miles.  I had serious doubts about ME, but had very strong feelings that Hank was going to finish. I think one must have that confidence ahead of the ride. If you truly feel you are not going to finish, then that sure increases your failure rate. And I honestly felt Hank would finish. Never said “if we finish”, but WHEN we finish. I had no doubts in his ability.  Now, off to bed for about six hours sleep and then  to get on the trail and hopefully snap out of the weird funk I had about the task at hand, and hope mentally I could still pull from some place deep to keep me going.


Cheyenne said...

Gracie and I, we dont have any doubts about you finishing girl!
Great pics, some distance for you to get there!

Tammy said...

Anxious to read more.

What is your facebook page?

Susan said...

Love your honesty. :) I've felt that way at a ride before, but as soon as I'm on the horse I'm always so glad.
Can't wait to read the next chapter!

Val said...

I think that comes along w/getting older, Jonni! [Less excitement/more self-doubt - maybe bcz we know so many ways it can go wrong?? ;-)]

Akasha said...

I love that picture of Hank in the article.. the angle, the expression.. everything about it is wonderful!


Horses Are Our Lives said...

I think as we get older, we start to appreciate things more, and realize that it's ok to go slower. For some reason, I can't imagine you doubting your decisions. Maybe just wondering how they will turn out??? How funny - my son-on-law is Assistant Mger at a Discount Tire in CO. I'm enjoying this reading of your report! How many Tevis rides did you do?