Thursday, 08 May 2014
Pictured above: Stirgess crossing the finish line at the Biltmore 75/120km
photo credit: Nancy Sluys
The Biltmore ride was postponed by a day this year due to the river threatening to flood the banks. (We are all too familiar with what happens when it floods, last year we got to "enjoy" the river for a few extra days before we could leave.) All things considered, the race went very smoothly. Cheryl shuffled all of her paperwork and somehow stayed very organized. The footing was also really great as the rain had softened the ground just enough. The best part was the stunning weather. I have never seen better weather at the Biltmore. There was very little humidity, no rain and nice warm temperatures without roasting any one.
We drove up to the race on Thursday. We had glued up all of the horses earlier in the week. Most had on the Easyboot Edge but one had on the Easyshoe on his hind feet. We arrived with a little daylight left and set up the horses.
We had brought up 4 and Yvette had trailered up the 5th horse for us. I would be riding Stirgess the first day in the FEI 75 then RR Opening Act the second day in the FEI 55. Jeremy would ride RR An Honest Crook on day 1 in the FEI 100 and then RR Most Likley on the second day in the FEI 75. Nicki Gilbert also came to ride her horse that we keep for her, JG Btash. She would ride him on day 2 on the FEI 75 with Jeremy.
Friday we went to Starbucks with Yvette while Lynn Kennelly pre rode the trail to check flagging for the ride manager. When Lynn was done we went to IHOP with her:) We were full after all of that. Jeremy got a weird drink at IHOP. It was a non-alcoholic drink called a Spicey Tom. It was like a bloody Mary mix and then it had a piece of cooked crisp bacon standing up in it. The waitress said that she had never served one before and asked how it was. He ordered another!
The rest of the day was spent setting up the crew area, pre riding, checking in, weighing and vetting. The ride meeting was next but we missed the first part as I read the time wrong. After the meeting was a dinner that the Biltmore catered. Yum. We mixed up the breakfast grain before heading to bed adding Redmond salt to it.
Saturday morning Stirgess was doing wheelies. He was ready to roll. He is a lot like riding a toy Hotwheel car... the kind you pull back and they do a wheelie and shoot forward. He is edgy and fun, I was really happy to be riding him. I rode both of my horses at Biltmore in my reactor panel saddle. http://www.reactorpanel.com/
The start was uneventful. The 75 and 100 went off together. Nixon and Jeremy would be riding a little slower so we didn't ride together. Stirgess cantered around relaxed and only got up tight when I told him to climb the hills slower. The last time he saw a hill with a rider on his back was over 2 yrs ago, he didn't understand that he wasn't King Kong fit for the hills like he usually is.
The day flew by. I saw Nixon in passing at some of the vet checks. On the last loop Stirgess did his thing and cruised around. I was riding with one rider and when we hit the finish shoot I asked Stirgess to go and heard the other rider yell to me that he wasn't going to race us.
Stirgess won the 75 and later won Best Condition and high vet score. Love that guy. To think I tried to give him away to several people a year ago...glad that didn't work out:) He seems to be over his bowed tendon, his last 2 races have been wins, this one with BC and high vet.
Our friend Misty came to crew, AGAIN! (She's great). She and I went to town to get dinner for everyone in our group while Jeremy was between loops. Hardees won out. So healthy.
Nixon came in 3rd on the 100. It was great to see him doing well. He was one of our guys that got loose at the last vet check last year at FITS and he had a year lay up and is just now back to full use.
Sleep came easy, well at least for me it did. Sunday morning came too soon with the 4 hours of sleep I got. Oh well, another great day to race, right??
I saddled up my newset horse, Act. He is really, super cool. I love his attitude and his seriousness. He is a half brother to Nixon on the sire side. Jeremy got Mo ready and Nicki saddled her beast, Btash.
Andy, Misty and Lynn were crewing again.
I have to say we are getting very spoiled with the great help. At the first vet check, both days we had egg McMuffins and Mochas. Dang.
My plan was to get Act through his first 1*. I thought he would be able to move at a good clip but wasn't sure how he would do over all. I decided to ride alone and just go his pace. The first loop I got a great upper body workout. After loop one we were somewhere in the middle of the pack. The next loop was a little better but still a bit of a workout. Act didn't understand why I would put the brakes on for the hill climbs. As I was getting ready to leave for the 3rd loop I asked Lynn to find out where I was placing wise. I was surprised to be in 3rd place. Cool. This horse is fun.
I rode with another rider around this loop and we caught the first 2 horses. Then we cruised around the last loop together. As we left on the last loop the rider told me that her horse was coming back from a long lay up and she wasn't wanting to race. I told her that we could just ride around together and enjoy ourselves.
Act won the 55 and later won Best Condition and High Vet. I think he is really talented, I'm excited about him.
Jeremy and Nicki made it around well on the 75 on Btash and Mo. They were 5th and 6th.
Over all it was a great weekend. As always the scenery is incredible at the Biltmore and Stagg and Cheryl do an excellent job of managing the event.