Thursday, June 14 2012
Jeremy and I loaded up 4 horses on Thursday morning at 4 am to head to Ft Howes to try our luck at another year of races in beautiful Montana. We took Cleopatrah and Chanses for the 100/160 FEI race and Honor and Bailey for the 75/120 FEI race. The drive from Durango is long but not compared to our drive we usually do from CA. It was going to take 14 hours plus stops. Actual time was 16 hours.
We had a very uneventful drive and drove through in one day. I read the Hunger Games book out loud as we drove and although we have both seen the movie it was still entertaining. We arrived at Ft Howes about 8 pm. We set up camp and discovered that our inverter on our living quarters had died. No power in the rig unless plugged into the generator. Oh well. Ron Donley was over helping while Jeremy Olson and Jeremy Reynolds were diagnosing. Ron brought us over two lanterns and we decided to just go to sleep.
Friday morning we got up and went for two rides to get all 4 horses out. They all felt good. Then we set up crew stuff and checked in. Skip and his two friends Karl and Brian showed up and looked over the crew area and made some tweaks to how they wanted it.
On Friday night the race had an awesome steak BB-Q after the ride meeting. Bill Stevens does an outrageous job grilling up steaks. Mark Devotee was playing live music while we ate. Very cool. Skip made a request for "Red Solo Cup" and Mark did his best to sing it although it was not one he knew well. It was funny, I had never heard the song before.
We headed back to our camp and we had about 12 people come over and all hang out. We listened to music and chatted until 10 when it was lights/noise out for the camp. We headed to sleep.
Saturday was the FEI 75. Bailey and Honor warmed up and then we were off. Bailey was having a rough loop. He had a new bit in his mouth that we thought he would prefer as it was a milder bit than he normally wears. Big mistake. It was only upsetting him and he was being a real dork. On loop one Jeremy's saddle broke as well! The metal ring that the stirrups hang from on a Freeform snapped, what are the odds? Jeremy had to ride the last 5 miles to vet check 1 very carefully. He attached both stirrups to the one remaining ring but that meant that his stirrups were "floating" hanging over the saddle and if he put weight in one stirrup it would just slide all the way over to that side. He had to ride in the center! Bailey was not helping with the bit issue. We had lost at least 20-25 mins on this loop.
The bit was changed at the first vet check and the saddle was fixed. Our crew was awesome. We had Skip, Karl, Brian, Erica and Mark Devotee and a few others at random times throughout the day.
Our next loop went fine and the race was progressing nicely. The horses had started to settle in well. Bailey was looking very strong. On our second to last loop we decided to speed it up. We had 27 miles to go and we were 30 mins off the lead group. After this loop we had made up 22 mins and the leaders were just over 9 mins ahead with 10 miles to go.
Honor vetted through but Bailey did not have a good CRI. Jeremy was going to stop. Although Bailey looked very fresh we think loop 1 had caught up with him. Bummer.
The last 10 miles had a big climb in it. When it was my out time, I asked Honor to canter and he never looked back. Ceci and Camey Kimbler were out shortly after me. In a short time we were all 3 cantering after the leaders. When we got to the big climb Honor did not slow up. He was amazing. On the descent I started to see dust. Around a couple more turns and I had caught the leaders. I passed them and Honor didn't slow up. We galloped along to the next water and I asked them if they wanted to stop. We were still 5 miles from the finish. We all watered our horses and then Ceci and Camey were catching up. This is when the two leaders decided to make a run for it. Honor was keeping pace with ease and in a couple of mins I was alone galloping along with ease. Honor ended up winning by a couple of minutes. He averaged 16.5 mph or 26.5 km per hour on the last 10 mile loop with the hills! He is so much fun and very much like his two brothers, Smitty and Stirgess. This was his first 75/120.
After the race there was another BB-Q. This time it was hamburgers and hotdogs. We had a good dinner and this night Mark Devotee had learned all the words to "Red Solo Cup" and gave it another go! Too funny.
Sunday we woke to another day of racing, only this time we were starting an hour earlier to do the 100. Chanses and Cleopatrah warmed up and were going nicely on loop 1. Loop 1 was uneventful this time which was nice. Both horses vetted well. We had breakfast sandwiches at this check provided by a volunteer, Stan. Stan owns a sporting goods store in our home town of San Jose, CA. The store is Mel Cotton's. Small world.
Loop two was a long loop of 23 miles. It was going really well. Our crew meet us at the 10 mile point. When we were about 7 miles from camp my metal stirrup bar on my Orthoflex snapped!!! What the heck?? The saddle Gods were not with us! Jeremy rigged it so that my stirrup leather went around the panel and I had one jockey length stirrup and one really short stirrup to try to balance it out. I wasn't really sore from the 75 until I rode like this for 7 miles!
At the next vet check I switched saddles and was very relieved to be with normal length stirrups again! It was at this vet check, the 48 mile mark that it was decided that Cleo was to stop. The vets couldn't put a finger on it but she was not moving right, a little warble to her gait. She was the first to recover but not right. When Jeremy took her back to the trailer she peed dark and he had blood run on her and she had had a mild tie up. Damn.
Chanses was feeling great and went out with other riders. He was a gentleman and paced how I asked all day. He was very steady. On the second to the last vet check 6 of us came in together and he was the first to recover. At the last vet check there were 3 of us and he recovered first again.
The last loop was a 15 mile loop. I rode with Italian rider, Carmine and US rider Ceci. We had a good time. The weather was starting to change and there was strong wind and some drizzle coming down. Up to this point both races had had perfect weather so I guess I can't complain. We cantered around this 15 miles together. When we were 5 miles from the end we picked it up a little.
Ceci and I were on the same team and in the last few miles we decided we would race off at the end. When we were about 1/2 a mile out we floored it and Chanses flew! He is all of 16 hands and off the track. He won, then Ceci then Carmine. It was a very fun day. This was Chanses first 100 mile/ 160km ride. He looked fantastic.
He trotted very well for Best Condition and was awarded Best Condition and High Vet score. Very cool horse. We are excited by both Honor and Chanses for the future.