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[RC] Endurance, Carolina Style: Part Five - Howard Bramhall

Jen and I stayed together the rest of the second loop.  The two horses worked well, both of them moving out in a well paced, efficient canter.  When I ride War Cry at home, I find that I cannot tolerate his canter.  I used to think it was the horse, but as I watched my daughter ride him, noticing the smooth and fluid motion of the two acting as one, I realized I'm the one who is out of sync.  How Jen does this, on War Cry, is a complete mystery to me.
I slowed America down into his extended trot.  Another gait he does extremely well, when I can keep him straight.  He kept his body aligned for me most of the second loop.  Both horses were well in tune, focused, and seemed to be enjoying this part of the run as much as their riders.  It's another super A plus feeling I get, when this kind of harmonious experience happens, naturally, with the horses appearing to be the ones conducting the orchestra more than the rider.  This is why I do endurance.
I continued watching Jennifer ride, America had decided to allow War Cry to be in front (for awhile anyway) and, even though I am her Dad, I must say, she is an impressive rider.  Tiny thing, controlling a very athletic animal whose weight, sans tack, is over ten times hers.  War Cry is a compact version of America, who appears kind of gangly looking at first glance, till you take a closer look.  The two of them look like brothers, with similar flea markings , on an identical shade of gray coat.  This part of our ride was my favorite memory from that day.  I have a very cool daughter and could watch her ride War Cry all day long.
We came into ridecamp together, America following War Cry, and there was Mom waiting to help crew.  The late morning temperature was climbing and you knew it was going to hit and cross 80 sometime during the day.  Humidity, as usual in the Southeast, was also high.  If we got through this vet check we'd have another 20 miles for a completion.  I planned on doing that one slow even though America showed no signs of being tired.  Neither did War Cry.
Jen got the jump on me again through the vet check.  It's not because I'm lolly-gagging around or anything, I'm not.  She just somehow hits the P&R area the very instant her horse is down to 60 or lower.  I will wait a little longer, not wanting to approach a volunteer until I know America is down. 
Man, I wanted a beer.  It was close enough to noon, so I put America in his stall, with hay and food, and went to the Sub to grab one.  It's part of this carbohydrate diet I'm on.  haha.  For some reason it does settle my stomach and helps neutralize the acid (Oh, my, what kind of friggen logic is he trying to sell here?).  Plus, I needed something to help me swallow two Ibuprofen pills, for the pain yet to come.
The last 20 miles was still ahead, and I intended on doing some walking, off the horse, during this period.  America would tell me when this would be a good idea, and, sure enough, once we got out there, he did exactly that.  I think it was close to the halfway mark, the afternoon temperature was rising, the group of riders I was with were going a little too fast, and when he stopped wanting to pass all of them, I slowed down, separated us from the group, and he started trotting, slowly.  After a little while longer, I got down and he and I jogged down the trail, the same pace we travel during the vet-check trot out, without any horse or rider in sight.  I didn't last long, the sand was quite deep.  Because of my lack of athleticism, we ended up walking, trotting, and walking again.  The temperature continued to climb.
I never did see my daughter or her horse that last loop.  They were traveling and finishing the ride at a much different rate of speed.  I found some grass and let America eat.  We were in no hurry.  I wanted to arrive back to camp with a very healthy horse, for, I knew, Leatherwood was just around the corner.  Even though Sand Hills is not a cakewalk, and making it 55 miles instead of 50 adds an extra hurdle, I did find myself daydreaming of those cool mountains that were to come, while baking in the hot South Carolina sun watching my horse eat. 
Close to mid afternoon America and I crossed the finish line.  One of the volunteers told us we were in 9th place.  I was quite surprised.  I expected 20th or more.  Looks like I wasn't the only rider taking our time out there on the Carolina Hills, which separated this ride from a Florida one more and more as the miles went by. 
We got our completion, I declined to stand America for BC (almost two hours behind first place I didn't see much point), and went back to the barn.  It was there that Jen and Erica told me War Cry had gotten second place.  And, he looked good.  My daughter was overwhelmed with herself, but, tried to be humble, as much as a 14 year old performing in a sport as an adult, can.  This was definitely Jen's day and Erica and I tried our best to make a very big deal out of it.  I told Jen, "Too bad you didn't sponsor Scott; he would have gotten 3rd if you had."  haha