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    [RC] FOF Ride Story--Long! - Debbie Parsons

     First, I would like to thank all those who sent me email while I was deployed with the Air Force over the summer. I enjoyed ?talking? to everyone and hope someday to meet some of you. Talking horses helped pass the time and remind me of the life I?d resume once I got back home. While I was at a good location in a fairly hospitable country, I was still far from home and my horses. I worried about how my parents were coping with my zoo as they aren?t always the most cooperative group (the horses, not the parents!). When I got back home, I was happy to find that all had survived the summer (although I?ve not seen much of my parents!).

        As an update to those I wrote to over the summer, I got home on September 13th after a rather rushed departure (no ?hurry up and wait? this time). Since the Florida endurance season starts in the fall, time was a?wastin?. I started back on the trails with Kramer (aka Prince Ie Mareekh), my Arab gelding, who seemed happy to be once again gainfully employed. This is the same Kramer that is sometimes referred to as a MULE. Don?t tell him that as he thinks he is royalty! I hope we don?t offend any mules out there as I?m sure they conduct themselves much better than Kramer does at times!

        This past weekend, we did the 25 mile LD at the Far Out Forest ride.  We unloaded and I discovered that Kramer had managed to pull one of his front shoes loose. He must have worked hard to get to it through shipping boots and bell boots. The day was not going well. First, there was the phone call from my reserve unit, asking if I?d like to volunteer for another 3 month trip ?over there? (yeah, right!). Then, this shoe thing. I was ready to go back home and crawl into a corner. Teri Hunter did the good friend thing and kicked me in the butt, telling me we could either pull both front shoes and do the ride barefoot or see if there was someone who could replace the shoe.  Luckily, I saw a friend whose significant other is a farrier and we rummaged up some tools so he could replace the shoe. I?m very thankful to his help and advice. He shall remain nameless to protect him from getting swarmed at rides! 

        After having back issues last fall, I planned to ride cautiously considering the amount of time Kramer had been on vacation. Since Kramer has had occasion in the past to lose his Egyptian mind at the start of the ride, I stayed on the ground and let the main group leave before us. Then we started our hike, me on foot. Kramer was much better than in the past and after about ½ mile, I got on and away we went, sanity intact! No airs above the ground, no running backwards, no bucks or spins. Maybe, finally, my low key approach to the start of the ride was sinking in. I hooked up with Lisa Pardus riding Maleka on their first 25. They did a great job together. We went slow, walking and slow trotting. Kramer was on alert for the monsters of the forest and gave the dead trees and fallen wood hard looks and spooks. I think he was an environmentalist in his former life as he is just aghast at the dead timber and broken limbs (?Oh, just look at the ruin of the forest! It?s terrible!!! Maybe it is acid rain  . . . ?). Somewhere around 8-10 miles, Lisa and I parted as she went to a walk and I kept Kramer at a trot. 

        At the vet check, he pulsed down within about a minute. We vetted through with all A?s except for a B in gut sounds and a C for skin turgor! His CRI went up 4 beats also. AAACCCKK!! I was dismayed as Kramer had been drinking wonderfully since our arrival mid-day Friday. He?d had sloppy soupy wet beet pulp and feed all week since about Sunday night, all the hay he could consume when stalled, pasture turnout with good grass, increased salt, and had received electrolytes several times Friday and Saturday before the ride. He drank well at the vet check and ate everything he could get to (he?s been known to snatch flakes of hay from the arms of people walking past!). There wasn?t any water along the way until the vet check at 14 miles but we weren?t working hard. I?m not sure he would have drank before then but since there wasn?t any water available, I will never know.  A special thanks goes to Patti Fuchs for her crew work. She volunteered her services to about 4 riders and we used and abused her. It was wonderful to have some help at the stop. 

        A mile or so out of the vet check is when it happened. We were trotting along when Kramer spied a sinister log along the side of the trail. Quickly assessing the threat, he slammed on the brakes. I kicked him back into the trot. He went forward and then decided that indeed the log was going to attack so he braked again and then ducked back and spun, just in the nick of time to prevent being attacked by the evil log. That did it?I couldn?t ride out that move. Kramer had found the trick to put me on the ground. So I sacrificed myself to save my steed. Fortunately, it was an easy fall into soft sand and I landed on my bottom which, for a little person, is well padded! This was the second time in 2 weeks I?d made such a sacrifice. The last time, Kramer did a rapid 180 at a trot and I landed on my left buttock. This time, it was the right side that landed first. Might as well keep things balanced!  I got up and counted to ten. The thought of picking up that chunk of wood to prove to Kramer that it was indeed a threat briefly flitted through my mind but I resisted. We did ride over that piece of wood and any other related object that Kramer looked at suspiciously throughout the rest of the ride. I think he did one more hard spook and then just eyed objects and did slow sidestepping for the rest of the ride. Gee, if getting dumped was what it took to settle him down, perhaps next time I?ll just do that at the beginning of the ride! Just a thought though?have you ever noticed how your horse can time a spook for when you are rising at the trot????

        I caught up with Pat Thomas on her mare and we rode the rest of the ride together. We were able to stop at a small lake and top off the tanks before completing the ride. Once again, he was down within a minute or so. Now for the real test?the final vet. All A?s with an A- for impulsion! (Kramer can be a rather lazy horse and is a low mover to start with so I don?t get excited by the final impulsion marks).  Even his CRI was good?48/44. I was very happy. This was the third LD we?ve done since getting a Reactor Panel saddle and the 3rd ride where he vetted through without any question on his gait or back! He continued to drink well and eat all he could find. I went back up to the finish area and cheered Lisa as she came in, last but not least. Her horse looked good. And the smile on Lisa?s face was worth seeing.

        It?s good to be back home and back to riding. With luck, I?ll get through the ride season without any return trips overseas. I?m more than willing to share in that adventure!! Our next stop is the 50 miler at Goethe in December. Hmmm, I wonder how much dead wood there is in that forest  . . .


    Debbie Parsons

    Plant City, Florida