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Re: [RC] [RC] Endurance, Carolina Style: Part Three - Laurie Durgin

Reminder to all: New gear to add to saddle if Howard is present,:LARGE FLYSWATTER

From: "Howard Bramhall" <howard9732@xxxxxxx>
To: "ridecamp" <ridecamp@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Subject: [RC]   Endurance, Carolina Style:  Part Three
Date: Mon, 7 Apr 2003 00:39:08 -0400

I tend to get up quite early on ride day and this morning, if you can call it morning at 4:30 AM, was no exception. I do this to make a fresh pot of coffee and to feed the horses. I must admit sleeping in our Yellow submarine, with the horses kept inside a barn over 100 yards away, is about as good as it gets at an endurance ride. I actually got some sleep last night, and, if not for my alarm, might have slept right through the start time.

I quietly crept out of bed, not wanting to wake my snoring wife (haha, I'm only kidding; she doesn't snore and only farts occasionally). Even the kid was still asleep. I walked over to the barn and started to mix up the beet pulp and water, added a little grain, threw in some electrolytes, kissed America's nose for luck, and went back to the sub to make that much needed coffee.

Jennifer was awake, when I returned from the barn, heating up some instant oatmeal. She was already dressed for combat, minus the boots. I gave her a hug and kiss, even though she's at that age where this isn't something she seems to need as much as I do. We talked about our strategy.

Jen isn't riding as a junior this ride; she's gotten that special AERC waiver to ride as an adult and this will be her third ride competing in that status. It's one of those rare categories in endurance and not too many parents take this option. I was reluctant to concede to this, at first, but, after seeing how much confidence it has given her and the positive affect it has had on her development towards adulthood, I am glad Erica and I agreed on letting this bird fly out on her own. The half Arabian, War Cry, she rides has transformed over the last two years into our best looking endurance horse. Out of the three, War Cry is the most likely candidate to be able to complete a hundred miler. Jen rides like the wind and there aren't many adults out there who ride as well as she (OK, I may be a little biased there, but, it's true).

The three of us took our tack over to the barn and started saddling up our respective mounts. It was 30 minutes to Showtime, and, those of you who have experienced it, know that it's one of those moments when the adrenalin is pumping inside your body at such an incredible rate one needs to try and put a cap on it to prevent the liquid from gushing out and overflowing. My method of capping this gusher is feeble attempts at humor, or, if not successful in getting others to laugh, I do seem to be able to say something really stupid and out of context to get our minds off the start that is to come. I think, on this particular morning, I said to my daughter, "So, Jen, did Scott come by last night to ask you to sponsor him for this ride?" haha. Jen's mouth dropped open and my wife did laugh a little at my bizarre notion.

Nancy, time keeper extraordinaire, was at this ride. I don't think I've been to one this year where she wasn't present. Nobody does it better and I always say something silly when I check in with her. Things like, "I adore you, Nancy; if you weren't here today I don't think my horse would know what time it was; the keeper of time is present for duty and looking good; Can I bum a smoke?" Can you imagine how many different folks have asked Nancy what time she has? It must be some sort of record that Guinness doesn't record.

I promised the wife to try and ride with her, since the flea was most likely going to take off on her own, but I wasn't sure what El Whacko had in mind. I must say, because of my exceptional training methods (I'll pause here until that rude laughter stops...), he has started to settle down a little, even at the start. I've come to learn that when he gets neck and neck with a horse, especially if it is another whacko who likes to run like his ass in on fire, this is when we can get ourselves into trouble. And, if I try and put him behind someone's horse, one who isn't moving out as fast as he would like, America will literally shove them forward by contacting his head with their butt and pushing against it to urge them on. You'd be amazed at how many riders get all riled up when this happens and actually yell at me or America. One lady even turned herself around and started smacking America's head with her riding crop. Then, she started swatting at me as if it were my fault her horse was so slow.

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