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    [RC] My adventures as a newbie crewing at my first ride - Charles

    A few weeks ago I mentioned how I wanted to attend a ride, but I didn't want
    to go and just hang around.  I've attended one and have a clue of what goes
    I was immediately flooded (ok, it wasn't a flood, but it was a good size
    puddle) with mail telling me to just go, to go and just volunteer, and an
    offer to crew.
    I jumped at the offer to crew.  (It came first).  I ended up crewing for
    Mary Coleman and the Mighty Hawk, one of the few Morgans at the ride, and
    the only Morgan to complete the ride.  I crewed the Doncaster Renegade ride.
    >From my wife, I got instructions and advice on preparing.  I made sure I had
    a change of clothes and shoes.  I made sure to have some fold up seats, and
    most important, I made sure to have a full "camelback".  I also made sure I
    had directions.  I brought the directions given by the ride organizers, and
    from Expedia maps.
    The ride was starting at 6 am and I wanted to be there before starting (so I
    could meet Mary and Charlie and try to help get the day started).  I got up
    at 4 am.  I got up at 4:30 am.  I left home for Indian Head MD at about
    5:00.  Everything said it would be  80 to 90 minutes to get there, so I
    figured that was enough time.
    The first thing I learned was that on Saturdays, Starbucks doesn't open till
    6 am.
    The second thing I learned is that in the dark it's easy to miss roads.
    Luckily I had the organizers map, and an open McDonalds and found my way to
    the ride just as the riders were leaving.  Third thing learned: don't bother
    getting there on time, get there early, or go a bit later, but on time means
    you are in the way as everyone starts the race.
    I had my first exposure to ride and tie teams (8 that day) and have decided
    that is another sport that is not for me.  \
    I parked my car at the camp and went in search of Mary Coleman's trailer.  I
    lucked out, the first person I asked said "hop in, I'll take you right
    over", and drove me to the trailer.  That was the last easy thing I remember
    as far as walking went.
    Mary's location was great.  We were uphill, under trees, in the shade and
    out of the way.  I got to look down and see everything going on.  Charlie
    (her husband) gave me instructions and advice on what to expect.  Also, Paul
    helped fill me in.
    I noticed a bunch of people brought "pavilions" to cover the areas where
    they worked on their horse.  I've decided it's a great idea, the only
    problem is that in the morning and the afternoon, you really need a wall to
    block the slanting rays of the sun.  It was funny to see a Pavilion (tent
    top on poles) set up and see the horse being led around it to the "shady
    spot".  One drop wall would have blocked the sun and made life easier.
    While waiting for Mary and Hawk to return, I learned what I was expected to
    do, and I got to wander around.  I saw tons of trailers.  I expected to see
    stabling like at the events.  I've figured out that one difference between
    eventing and endurance is that endurance people camp out.  The eventers I've
    seen and met stable their horses for the night and then find a motel.  Then
    again, they get to start at different hours of the day, and they don't ride
    as far or as long.
    I tried to meet Hawk and Mary at the gate as they came in figuring that an
    early start couldn't hurt in cooling him down.  Walking, talking, carrying a
    bucket, and sponging all at once was more than I can handle so I don't think
    I did any of them well.
    The rest of the day was a blur.  I only remember resting, eating, waiting,
    lugging buckets and buckets of water, checking Ice, and sponging, sponging,
    sponging, and then sponging some more till someone said OK and we went to
    vet check.
    I got the fun of trotting Hawk once, and JR two or three times.  I don't
    know which was scarier, making sure the horse was OK and that I didn't cause
    him to do something that would cause him to be pulled, or wondering if I was
    going to make it down, let alone back without a heart attack.  Luckily none
    of us had a problem.  Hawk and JR passed each time, and I didn't pass out.
    At one point I was wandering around, and someone without a crew came in.  I
    had nothing to do at the moment and offered to sponge.  Another rider who's
    horse was pulled started sponging as well.  Turns out we were using his
    stuff (buckets and sponges).  What I learned was that so long water got
    replaced, nobody really seemed to care who used what.  (The horse and rider,
    Troy and Dave, eventually came in 7th or so).
    I took pictures of people I don't know and hope someday they will get copies
    of the good ones (bad ones were deleted).
    The best part of the day was the end.  After the award meeting, I went back
    to Mary's campsite and experimented with Crabs and ice cream.  I don't
    recommend eating them at the same time, but one followed by the other is
    pretty good.
    By the time I left it was 10 pm.  I got home safely, though it took longer
    to drive home than it did to drive down.  I had to find coffee in a major
    I don't remember much till about 4 pm the next day when Susan pointed out
    that she had to go to work, and that I had to go check the horses before
    they were turned out.  I got out of bed, went to the barn, helped muck, went
    home and soon went back to sleep.  I don't think I caught up with sleep or
    water till Tuesday morning.
    Will I do it again?  IN A HEARTBEAT.  IF you are in the Washington DC area,
    and you need a crew, or a volunteer for your ride, I hope you will let me
    know.  IF I'm not crewing for Susan, going to some event, on a family event,
    or riding myself (maybe), I will be glad to throw in what I can.
    PS: All the advice of just go and volunteer you will be needed, was right.
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