<% appTitle="Ridecamp Archives" %> Ridecamp: [RC] Biltmore, or if you invite me I will come

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  • - Roy Drinnan

    [RC] Biltmore, or if you invite me I will come - sharp penny

      This was a trip 2 years in the making and ended up to be
    the vacation of a life time!
      Jim Holland invited me 2 years ago to come ride his
    trails and learn about this sport I have since become
    addicted to. We share similar training agendas and have
    emailed back and forth. I just had happened on ridecamp and
    was very impressed with the collective knowledge of the
    group. I wanted to learn more and Jim knowing I was a
    newbie invited me to come learn from him. After alot of
    convincing he just wasn't being nice and really did want me
    to come visit; I decided that this would be an ideal
    vacation for me. Then 9-11 happened at the same time my
    paint mare was diagnosed with EPM. Sadly I had to cancel
    the trip.
       Fast forward a year, I now own an ay-rab(gulp), have
    completed one out of control LD (double gulp) and 2 very
    slow and controlled 50's (whew) and yes I am hooked. I
    asked Jim if his offer still stands and both he and Joan
    give me a resounding YES!!! We decide I'll come ride with
    him for a week then we'll head to Biltmore to do the 55.
    Unfortunately I had to miss the birthday bash, but arrived
    in GA the following day. 
        Let me say, if Jim ever invites you to share his trails
    DO NOT pass up this opportunity. The trail are awesome,
    many of which Jim mapped and cleared himself. Now Reno and
    I are Texas flat-landers and not used to trails that look
    dubious even to a mountain goat. Several times I found my
    heart in my throat and Reno's eyes got large when he
    realized he was going to have to climb these narrow foot
    paths up the side of a mountain. It was well worth the
    heart stopping moments to see those spectacular views!!!
    After being out on the trail that first day for most of the
    day both Reno and I were tired and slept well that night.
       The next day is another pretty day and Jim decides to
    trailer us to the other side of the mountain so he can show
    me some more awesome trails. Reno looks good and seems
    eager to go again. We get to the trail head and saddle up.
    I notice Reno flinches a little when I brush him but I
    didn't think anything of it. Saddle him up and mount..his
    back hollows and he just about sinks to the ground. I
    hurriedly dismount and we palpate his back...he is major
    sore. I feel horrid...we have never had back issues...is it
    saddle fit?... am I not getting off his back enough?...is
    it many hours of intensive climbing?. We decide it's most
    likely a combo of all three. We haul back to Jims, turn
    Reno out, Jim saddles up Magic and we head out with me
    riding Sunny. How kewl I get to ride the famous endurance
    wonder horse. What a ride! Riding Sunny on his own trails
    is like riding my paint Daisy. He has no reason to hurry so
    he is very laid back and trying to test me by seeing how
    much I'll let him get away with and grabbing mouthfuls of
    grass at every opportunity. Jim is constantly reminding me
    not to let him get away with that. I'm thinking how
    different he is from the fire-breathing ay-rabs I know. I
    must say at Biltmore he was all business and wanted to go
    go go :)
       The rest of the week Isabel rained on our plans, but it
    did give me a chance to see Blue Ridge and the surrounding
    area...what a quaint little town!
        Friday morning it is drizzling as we head out to
    Biltmore but, halfway there the sun starts peaking out of
    the clouds, the rain lets up and it looks to be a dry,
    pretty weekend. Reno's back seems fine, but Jim and I agree
    to just try for completion. What with Renos back and Sunny
    having been pulled the last couple of rides they
    started...ha...famous last words!! We get to Biltmore and
    my eyes pop out as we go through the gate and pass the
    manicured grounds...hard to believe there will be an
    endurance ride here. This is not like any ride I've been to
    in TX!
        Jim and Joan have a very efficient system so I just try
    to stay out of the way and am constantly asking what I can
    do to help while they set up and we get ready to vet in. At
    the vet in I get a very personable, young, and new to
    endurance vet. All is fine until he checks Reno's back by
    digging his fingers in. Reno flinched...my heart and hopes
    sunk thinking we wouldn't be even starting. The vet voiced
    his concern but told me if I felt ok about it I could
    start. Geez..just what I need something to worry about all
    night, although it did take my mind of of what the trails
    would be like after all this rain. When both Jim and I ran
    our hands down Reno's back he was fine, only when u used
    "cat claws" for hands did he flinch. We had planned on
    riding a little that evening to stretch the "boys" legs but
    decided to stay off of Reno until Sat. 
       Saturday morning dawned clear and crisp. I had been
    awake up most of the night due to pre-ride jitters and
    worrying about Reno's back. Jim let me borrow a cachel pad
    to use on top of my pad to help Reno's back. We're all
    tacked up and the moment of truth arrives...I gingerly
    mount from a step stool....no reaction...Reno walks off and
    is anxious to go....whew!!!  Biltmore here we come (sound
    the trumpets)!!! Now I am very careful about keeping my big
    butt off of Renos back and decide to two point the entire
    ride. Reno and Sunny are best of buds by now and we head
    off down the trail to warm up. Sunny knows what is up and
    is ready to GO...Reno on the other hand is doing his turtle
    walk and looking for something to eat..that is as long as
    Sunny is with in sight. Once he lost sight of his newest
    bestest friend Reno panics and does his pieffe thing. Both
    horses are very well mannered and calm while everyone is
    milling around waiting for the start. Once we start Jim has
    to keep reminding Sunny that he has to stay to the back of
    the pack..a concept that is foreign to Sunny who usually
    starts at the front and stays there. Every time a horse
    passes us you can see Sunny getting frustrated with having
    to let them pass. Reno is used to this so as long as he can
    see his "beloved" all is right with the world.
      The trails are awesome but, due to the rain parts are
    slick and there are some deep muddy places. Jim is a firm
    believer of riding the trail you are on and we do a lot of
    slow jogging and walking the first loop due to these
    conditions. Many pass us and we are in the back part of the
    pack(through no fault of Sunnys!) I get to see the famed
    Biltmore house on this loop and it takes my breath away!
    Hard to believe that this was once a private residence.
      We come in for our first vet check and Joan is waiting
    for us. By the time the ride is over she has spoiled me and
    it will be hard to go back to being crewless! Let me tell
    you that woman has it together..she knows what Reno and I
    need before we do! When she wasn't crewing for us she was
    giving classes on crewing to newbie crews!!! Her upbeat
    attitude and nurturing nature were a very welcome sight as
    the ride wore on and I wore out. Both boys pulsed down
    immediately..I sure loved their heart belt and can see one
    in my future! Reno's back gets an A but his gut sounds are
    a C...oh great a new problem to worry about. This is a
    horse who eats and drinks everything in sight. Both Jim and
    I were surprised as he was almost sloshing at the beginning
    of the ride due to all the wet beet pulp he had been eating
    since wednesday. Sunny gets all A's..Sunny's biggest
    concern is how he can convince Jim to just let him go.
    Part 2 coming
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