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Sage Hill NATRC ride/camping

Hi all; I went this weekend to the Sage Hill ride up in Santa Ynez which is a piece of heaven in California. It was nice to not hear anything about Anthrax for two whole days.  I have ridden this ride many times, but this time my  new horse is not ready, so I worked as one of the vet secretaries, which is very fun. That way you get to see every horse and rider, and check out their tack (read COVET) and learn by their good and their bad techniques.  I won't bore you all with long ride details, but just things I learned and saw.  
    There were a variety of breeds represented except in the open division which was about 99% Arabians.  In the CP and Novice divisions, there were MFT's, morgans, quarter horses, Thoroughbreds, mules, gaited horses of various types. Some horses were "grade" due to no registration papers, but we could pretty much see what breed they were. It was cool, but then there was humidity and this stressed the horses on the second day causing lots of trouble with pulse recoveries.   Some of those horses were very hairy, not clipped.   The opens went about 50 miles, and the CP's went  about 35 miles. 
   The vets and judges had the horses go through some difficult technical terrain.  We were setting up a route through an area of a downed tree , and made three possible ways to go through it. Similar to a 3-day event, where you can go the hardest way which is faster, or the easiest way which costs you time. In this case they got more points for the hardest way.  Basically they had to step over a big log and pick through some other ones. It was a kind of an optical illusion, and looked like stepping over into a hole. I learned that the riders who saw someone else successfully do it, also gave it a try and succeeded. The riders who saw someone have trouble, got psyched out and "spooked", and then they couldn't get their horses over. I think the riders were spookier than the horses.  Also the riders who looked down, caused their horses to bang and knock around. The riders who looked ahead to where they were going, had a cleaner go through.  I thought it interesting too that the judges seemed to be judging one thing, but it was really another.  For instance, they may have been apparently judging how a person backed up their horse, but they were also checking to see if  after the opstacle....the riders were trampling the secretary in an effort to go on down the trail, OR if they were careful to avoid squishing the volunteers. Guess who was the sacrificial lamb?  ha ha.  Riders, if you do NATRC or Endurance...please don't squish the volunteers with your horse, they are expensive and difficult to repair.  ha ha
   We also saw a ton of deer, must have seen at least 50. Also wild pigs, and hawks, turkeys, coyotes singing, lots of wild birds.  I learned the correct way to pick up a tarantula from a real expert and know how to tell the males and females apart now!  I learned that one of our vets used to be a Stewardess in the early 70's and was featured in the commercial "I"m Linda, Fly me to London!"  I learned the symptoms of giardia, ( its disgusting, and the treatment is Cipro). I also heard a story  that a certain famous musician is  alledgedly disrupting the area with his pets.  "Whoops, lost that black jaguar from the rock video!  Whoops, brought in exotic animals which transmitted an icky disease to deer".  I wonder if black panthers could breed with cougars. Dang, imagine that, black cougars while you're booging down the trail.
  The trail was tough, lots of elevation changes...the topo map looks like an EKG machine reading.  Lots of stress on hooves and legs. One friend lost shoes twice, but the easy boots stayed on.   This is a good ride that endurance people may also like, beautiful terrain, and a brisk pace, lots of schooling opportunities. Some of you should come out and try it sometime. (We won't even talk about the money I spent at the silent auction, and there was a horse offered as one of the items.)    Happy riding, Beth Glover    

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