Camp Far West 50 mile
|September 6, 2016||Posted by Melinda under Uncategorized|
I’ll get to the link luv post, but thought it was more important to get this story out in a timely manner!
My phone has been voice-to-texting the name of this ride to “Can’t Far West” for weeks so it’s not like I had a ton of confidence going into this ride that either me or Farley were actually going to be successful. Although in most of the horror fantasy’s that I allowed to play out in my head, she was the weak link, not I.
The last time Farley and I did anything beyond an LD effort at a ride and went 50 miles was 2 1/2 years ago at the Nevada Derby.
For this ride her conditioning has been mediocre at best – 2 good efforts on the Tevis trail in July and one oh-my-god-this-isn’t-happening 10 mile THREE hour “conditioning” ride in August that had me seriously considering retirement for the pone pone.
Ummm…she’s not so ready to retire.
I held the end of the lead rope as she took the tour through camp on the evening walk, curious to see what she would do.
Walk over to the empty out-timers tent, pause, turn a hard right onto the trail and pick up a trot.
LOL! Ok Ok Ok. Back to the trailer. Time enough for that tomorrow. Perhaps this isn’t going to be as bad as I thought….I was more excited than nervous now that Farley was back to acting like her old self.
That was before I realized I forgot socks.
I forgot a LOT of things at this ride. Hay bags, mash pan, sleeping pad, hind boots. Oh yes, boots. I had assumed that Farley wore the same size as the last time. She’s been a 1 cutback for YEARS. Perhaps verifying sizing of boots prior to being in ridecamp would have been prudent? And bringing something other than just the sizes I “needed?”
Well, She’s not a 1 anymore. I rasped off as much hoof as I could and gave the boots a 5% chance of staying on.
But nothing quite dismayed me as much as my socks.
I was planning on RUNNING a significant portion of the ride and I had forgotten SOCKS.
I apparently have forgotten how to pack for rides and the “throw all shit into the truck and trailer” worked better in theory than practice.
In the morning Farley was trembling with excitement (normal) and was perfect for tacking up and putting boots on – no spinning or cavorting around.
LOVE a horse that has been around the block or two. She was all business.
First half of the first 24 mile loop went well. I got off for a total of 10 min, which Farley tolerated since it was down hill on a wide jeep track but then as I continued to run she got pretty pissed.
GET BACK IN THE SADDLE WOMEN. What are you doing?????
I gave up and got back on.
My hind boots started to come off, and I let the first one go knowing it was close enough to camp I could get it off the trail after the ride, and then my riding partners told me the other hind had twisted.
Surprise surprise…(sarcasm). When you use a boots (renegade) a size too small they come off. The only big surprise was that they had stayed on for 10 mile through hills and water.
Whatever. She could probably do this ride with no hoof protection on the hinds and my fronts are dialed in really well.
But then as I was taking off the remaining hind boot I saw….BLOOD.
The boot had twisted and put pressure on the old wire scar going up the heel bulb and hoof and caused it to bleed. You know, the scar that has done NOTHING for 14 years. That one. Now bleeding.
Shit shit shit.
It didn’t seem to hurt her and she was sound so I mounted back up sans hind boots and went along.
Sound sound sound.
Farley is NOT a stoic horse. She’s not a wimp, but she will tell me when something is wrong. She acted like nothing was wrong.
Trust the horse.
I may have just paid for an LD.
That’s OK because I found out what I wanted to know – I don’t need to retire her for mental reasons.
Ride for every moment, every mile because you don’t know when it will be your last. How many times have I been reminded of that. Enjoy the moment.
Finished up the first 25 mile loop and according to the vet’s assessment, perfectly sound.
Ultra running has taught me how to be really organized for *me* at pit stops and I found myself with more time than I knew what to do with during an hour hold even after eating, visiting, vetting, and addressing some spots on my calves that were starting to be rubs.
Mounted up and headed out of camp……and about a mile later was grunting in pain with tears streaming down my face. My right IT band a la Tevis 2013 didn’t want to play. I could barely sit and walk on the horse with my foot in the stirrup and trotting was out of the question. I had 24 miles to go.
I was so close to rider optioning. Camp was literally just on the other side of the fence.
How much was this ride worth to me?
I decided through literal tears of pain that to give up on this ride meant that once again I’d be scrambling to do a ride because I had to instead of because I wanted to because I needed that completion for the season. It is no longer an option to push back a completion for a season and still keep the decade team hope alive.
Endurance is hard right now. I have an older horse and a really young horse. I have a young child and can’t always count on getting away overnight. I’m in the beginning of my career and subject to vacation jail. I was at this ride because everything had come together for one weekend perfectly. I could throw all away in that moment.
Or if I could do something about it.
I could get off and run. And then when I couldn’t, I might be able to ride at a walk for a while. And then when I couldn’t do that any more I could get off and run again.
If I had ever been in doubt about just how much pain I was in at Tevis I was sharply reminded. IT band pain is hard to describe to someone who has never had to deal with it. For me, when it’s really bad it feels like someone is stabbing me in the side of the knee repeatedly over and over with a knife. I literally cry out in pain with tears running down my face. It’s not something I can work through. My only hope is to find something that hurts less until my body stop sending pain signals. On Sunday, I was aware of it when running, but it didn’t hurt, just sorta felt funny and fragile.
Life was good until I missed a turnoff that was well-marked so it was my own stupid fault. My head was down and I just wasn’t thinking…until I came to a gate leading onto the road with no ribbons. Camp was 1 mile away down that road. I was half way through my 25 mile loop. Turning back and retracing my steps for ~2/3 mile until I found the cut off was not my finest moment.
In fact, I mounted up and made Farley do it. It hurt, I rode badly, and Farley *purposefully* ran me into a tree.
In retaliation I took the end of my RnT tie rope which I was using as a run lead and smacked her butt.
Because *that* was mature of me.
The carabiner on the end of the rope flipped under her tail. She clamped on tight and I yanked a couple of times. (yes, why yes I did). She stood there and let me consider the facts of the situation, including how I wasn’t holding onto the reins and she was halted politely instead of bucking my ungrateful ass off.
I extracted the carabiner and muttered an apology.
My panic math when I realized we would be doing this as a six-legged effort was that under ideal circumstances my marathon time on the terrain would be somewhere in the neighborhood of 5+ hours. I had 7 hours to finish. I had to try.
In the end what saved me was that the loop was *short, despite assurances from ride management at lunch that the loop wasn’t (I’m NOT complaining, see note at the bottom). In total it took me ~3 hours to do the loop, with 2 hours of that time spent running (loop was probably 17-20ish miles?). I mounted up for the water crossings, and for 5-10 min breaks when I needed a running break.
About 3 miles from camp I ran out of water, knew I was fine on time, and just wanted to enjoy some riding on Farley, so I mounted up and planned on walking in. Farley offered to do a little bit of trotting and it was a little emotional realizing how good care my little pone had taken of me during this ride and how she was doing her best to do her job until the end. It still hurt to trot, but not as bad as it had and I let her make the pacing decisions.
She looked great at the finish (that’s what happens when you don’t ride the horse….) but I noticed she was a little flinchy on a spot behind her shoulder about where my left knee would have been. I was having to grip with that knee harder than usual to compensate for the pain in the right IT band and I was so very grateful I was able to get off and run. If I hadn’t, she would have come up lame from my poor riding, exactly like what happened Tevis 2013 (rubbed a hole on her back from me bracing on the pommel and cantle while trotting down hill, which made her trot out lame).
Overall I count this as a success, but of course there were things I learned and things that I’ll do differently next time. Equally as important are the things that went REALLY well on this ride that I normally struggle with – like nutrition. The all important “3 and 3” recap of the event will be posted next!
*Unlike ultra’s which are rarely short in my experience, endurance rides have more variability in them. I think some of this is because ultra’s do not have a defined cut off point for certain distances – it’s largely up to the race management. Depending on terrain and other factors the time limit to complete a 50 mile ultra might be 12 hours, 14 hours, or 16 hours. In the endurance horse world, a 50 has to be completed in 12 hours or less – which includes hold time, so you often have 10-11 hours to complete the actual distance. As a result I think that distances are often adjusted to make the ride effort reasonable considering all the factors. (and this is actually something I’m OK with!)
Update – I was emailed that the bridle got picked up. Working on getting it back now!
Original text- The sad footnote to my story is that somewhere between the vet check where I untacked, and my trailer where I loaded everything up, I dropped my bridle. I realized it Monday morning when I unpacked my horse trailer. I’ve posted on various facebook pages and emailed ride management and no one has responded (yet!). I drove back to ride camp Monday afternoon (it’s about 1 hour drive) and the bridle wasn’t there, so someone picked it up. The bridle I care about, but it’s the bit I’m really sentimental about. It’s Farley’s favorite, and the one we’ve used since the very first endurance ride. If anyone local sees it or knows who picked it up, it’s a black biothane with orange overlay, toklat stainless steel french link baucher snaffle bit. No reins. Made by American Trail Gear.