Friday, January 25, 2013

An endurance ride day...

Basically, crewing is a luxury that means you get to sit down and rest when you get back from a ride on holds and when it's over. It means that instead of having to carry water, clean your horse, give it nutrients, replace supplies in your bags, etc., you get to relax until your hold is up. However, there is no reason you can't do all this yourself, and I prefer to because it's part of the sport for me. Here's my "streamlined" routine:

Night before: Check in and pay. Vet in. Attend ride meeting.  Study map.  Ask questions.  Study map again.  Pack saddle bags. Double check all the tack is where I need it to be. Put my easy boots on loosely and anything that involves (taping, rasping, picking, cleaning, etc). Throw check to make sure horses have plenty of hay for overnight. Prepare my bucket of beet pulp and nutrients to soak overnight. Bring keep water buckets full - make sure they're full before bed.

Middle of the night: hear funny noise; check on horses; go back to bed. Hear hoof beats; check on horses; go back to bed. Get up to pee; check on horses; throw more hay; go back to bed. Hear LOTS of hoof beats, snorts, and voices; check on horses; catch random unknown horse and friends; return to owner; check on horses again and fix buckets that have been knocked over; go back to bed. 

Ride day: Alarm goes off about 2 hours before the ride; lay there and feel guilty that I don't want to get up because the horses need their breakfast; get up and give them their beet pulp and throw another flake of hay; prepare second bucket of beet pulp to soak in the trailer; go back to bed. Alarm goes off an hour before the ride begins; get up and get dressed, start tacking up, check hoof boots and tighten them, get on 15 minutes prior to ride intending to warm up, realize I forgot something, go back and get it, get back on, check time, realize the ride is starting and I'm at the trailer, trot up the the starting line and check out, and off we go!

Holds: Get off and loosen up tack, lead in at a walk, pulse down, sponge, vet check, ask vet anything I am curious about (if he's not busy), tie up at trailer, make sure water buckets are full, bring out the beet pulp, throw hay, check horse to make sure he's ok and there's nothing I need to worry about, check easy boots, usually leave tack on (unless there is a reason it needs to be pulled), throw on blanket over saddle if it's chilly/wet. Finally get to sit down, eat a granola bar or something light, refill water, drink all the water, refill it again, pack the saddle bag. Go back in trailer/tent, sit/lay down, remember to remove my helmet, realize I only have about 15 minutes of my hold left, drag self up after 5 minutes, unblanket horse and tighten cinch, double check all gear, get on, go to the hold area, wait a minute or two, then start again.

End of race: About the same as at the hold, except I pull tack and have to do all the grooming for BC showing, including washing, brushing, combing and trying to get my horse to look amazing even though I'm a scrub. It takes the whole time to get them ready in time, especially since you're going to want to sponge down EVERYTHING since they should look clean, and then have enough time to hopefully dry out. Then, I finally get to tie my horse back up with all his munchies and SLEEP until dinner.

If it's an out vet check, you have to adjust all of these things in order to stick your "hold" bag in the trailer, including packing a bale of hay, all supplies and snacks you'll want at mid-ride, and soaked beet pulp poses a special problem, but can usually be solved with a bucket with a tight lid since you don't want it spilling on the trailer when they take it wherever it needs to be. When you get to the vet check, the bags will be spread out and you'll need to locate yours and possibly regroup your things if you had more than one bag/bucket that got separated. I haven't even mentioned electrolytes for humans or horses because I haven't started using them yet.

This is a typical 25 for me. I have done one 50, and that was about the same, just longer  And so you need more supplies. You can see how an extra set of hands or two would help with all of that and take a lot of the work out, but I really don't mind it. It's kinda fun being "you and your horse against the world" and it gives a whole new meaning to the word "endurance".

You'll typically have 1 vet check in an LD, usually about halfway. However, I did have one or two where we went almost 20 miles, maybe more, and so the last "loop" felt like a quick jog - it was maybe 5 or 6 miles? They shouldn't be that lopsided, but it's not unheard of!

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