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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Wild West Endurance Ride

As soon as I was able to ride, I was thinking about which endurance rides I wanted to go to. I had my heart set on Cooley June 14-15 but alas, the timing wouldn't work. I was bummed since Dixie had done this ride in 2012 and 2013 and we had so much fun. Then I found the Wild West ride in Nevada City, CA June 20-22. I signed up for the LD 30 miles as soon as I found a friend who would help me crew (and watch Ash!)

Sleeping in a tent, waking up early, the bustle of a ton of other horses and their riders gives me the chills! I was so excited to get started. Dixie was also excited, scratch that... ecstatic. She had been ridden mainly on the barn property for so long that she was a *little* overly zealous about starting the ride.

 She threw a bit of a fit when the ride began and I pulled her off the first 4 horses that were pacing a little too quickly for my liking. Luckily, another nice gelding came along and Dixie settled into her pace. The horses took the first 13 mile loop together, never straying from a strong working trot. When we came in, I jumped off and started sponging cold water onto Dixie to get her pulse down to the required 60/bpm. After a minute I asked to have her checked and she was down even lower to a 55 (which is great!). That should have been my first clue Dixie was in much better shape than I thought.

We went out on our second and final loop by ourselves. It is so nice to ride with someone and chatter down the trail, but it is also incredible to just enjoy the ride with your horse. The gorgeous Tahoe National forest was nice and cool and there was not a horse in sight. We felt like we had the place to ourselves!

After we hit mile 18, I noticed Dixie had turned a front boot sideways. I quickly jumped off and fixed it. It is always best to notice boot issues as soon as possible, otherwise they tend to fall off and you lose them altogether... which is what happened about 4 miles later. But this time it was the other front boot! I am pretty sure I jinxed myself because the last thing I said to my farrier before we left it "I never have problems with my front boots, only the back ones!" Note to self, don't say that anymore! Fortunately I had a spare in my pack so I swung off again and fixed her up. We even went back a ways to look for it (they are not cheap!) but couldn't see anything. Oh well, call it a ride casualty and keep going.

Before long (about 2 hours) I started to recognize the trail and realized we were almost back to camp! As we trotted into the finish line the volunteers told me we had finished 2nd. We had only passed one horse and I wasn't sure what had happened to the other riders in front of us earlier. Either way, Dixie and I had a fantastic ride and really enjoyed every minute (minus the booting issues!)

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