I'm writing this story in February of 2009, having finally gotten the few pictures off the memory card from my old faithful camera, a Canon whose lens suddenly refused to come out of hiding several months ago. This ride was the Canon's last stand.
Zephyr and I arrived at camp on Friday at a very reasonable hour. The parking attendant found us a lovely spot in the shade... almost all the spots were in the shade so it was pretty easy! Unfortunately after I finished parking I discovered that my corral would run through an old manure dumping spot hidden by tall weeds. Oh well. I didn't mind that nearly as much as the tiny mingie flies, which were incredibly thick unless you were in the sun.
At the ride meeting, the manager told us the trail was a single lollipop loop that we would repeat twice each day for a total of 25 miles each day... which meant that the out-and-back part of the loop (mostly powerline trail) would be done four times each day. She said we should make time where we could because there were a lot of rocky sections, and if horses/riders weren't used to trotting over rock, it would really slow them down. That sounded ok to me, if a bit boring. Holds would be in camp.
The next day, I kept looking for the rocks. There wasn't anything we couldn't easily trot/canter over as long as we weren't going downhill. Zephyr was doing well, boogeying along and having great recoveries. All in all, a great day. We finished at pretty close to the minimum time allowed, if I remember right.
In an effort to qualify for the ECTRA "Versatility Award", I had decided to ride two separate 25s instead of a 2-day 50. That meant at the end of the first day's rides I had to finish the complete vet check, including both the hands-on and trot-out portions.
Once that was all done, a bunch of us went across the road to the lakeshore, where one of the riders' families had a speed boat. We enjoyed our beers at 40mph on a beautifully sunny and warm day! When we got back to shore, we were greeted by ride management. We had missed the awards ceremony... where Zephyr had gotten 3rd place and won a bag of grain! I have to say, as much as I would have liked to be there for that, I really enjoyed the boat ride.
When I got back to camp I had to vet Zephyr in for the next day's ride. Unfortunately the vet said I would need to bring him back in the morning for a re-check for slight lameness on the right front, which hadn't been there earlier. So of course I spent part of every hour for the rest of the day putting cold water on his legs!
In the morning, the vet said he looked better. Not perfect, but good enough to start. We boogied down the same trail again, still flying over the rocks (he felt 100% to me or I wouldn't have done it). We finished a little slower the second day because I wanted to make sure he was OK. Apparently I did right by him, because the vet said he looked nearly 100% at the end of the ride.
This time I stayed for awards. He won RESERVE CHAMPION for the first time EVER! We came away with a second bag of grain, a gift bag of leather care products, a hand-made horseshoe hoofpick, a set of decorative metal/glass whosie-whatsits (I'm not sure what they're for), and a couple other things. Quite the haul!
Sorry so few details, it was many months ago at this point. In general though, I was very proud of Zephyr, both for his scores and for his performance. I really enjoyed this ride despite the repetitive trail. I thought the manager did a great job with some tough challenges. And, obviously I did not find it too rocky. Of course, that's probably because MY trails are even rockier! Most of the other rides down that way have more sand than rock, so that's the type of trail people expect to see in that area.