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

Come Monday morning, by the time I got out of bed, almost everyone was gone.  Susan K. and her husband Don are early risers, they had packed up their Gator blue horse trailer (this thing is longer than my Sub), and were most likely already in North Carolina by the time I finished making some coffee.  I did see Patsy and some volunteers doing the end job of a two day endurance ride, which means they were taking down ribbons and cleaning up. 
It was then I decided this would be our travel day, the day we would end in the one place I enjoy more than any other.  I could already hear those sounds of the moving water, endless and forever, rushing against the rocks of Elk Creek where I would spend the next six days.  One day, and I hope it's soon, I plan on being a resident of either North Carolina, or, quite possibly Tennessee, which is on the other side of this mountain range where I want to live.  Wherever it is, it will be somewhere close to Leatherwood, it will have some pasture, a barn and, of course, horses.  And, yes, the wife is in agreement on this one.  If not for her job, we'd be there now.
Sorry, Florida, I have come to love you dearly over the past 20 years, and, no one supports your endurance rides more, but, after surviving several hurricanes, fires, floods, thunderstorms with incredible lightning (nobody does this better), gator attacks (I do love this creature), my final years in the Air Force, and squito carrying diseases, I'm throwing in the towel.  I've decided I'd rather freeze during the winter than melt and turn into steam during the summer (I'm melting, I'm melting), which, thanks to Global warming, seems to get longer and longer every year.  Please, forgive me.  I'll always return south, if I can get my horse trailer out of the snow, to do your endurance rides, and, I promise I'll never ever say,  "Florida is not part of the South," (those who say that need to re-study geography and get over the Civil War).  My guys love to run in that Florida sand and so do I.
But, lately, for me, the challenge is those mountain rides.  We have so few in the South, and, my goal, is to start attending every one.  Old Dominion, I'm coming (AERC, you need to realize Virginia is a SOUTHERN State; it is, after all, the home of Robert E. Lee, the only graduate from West Point who never received one demerit, and, where Mason met Dixon), although not for the 100, and I want to go to Big South Fork and Longstreet's Charge (Angie will love hearing that).  And, if any of those rides turn out to be more difficult than Leatherwood, believe me, I will tell ya'll exactly that.  Somehow, I don't think that will be the case, but, we'll see.
Sorry, my mind wanders sometimes.  As you can see, endurance really has become my life.  I am so addicted to it my wife has become concerned.  She's constantly looking up on the Internet for a therapy group to help control my addiction but has yet to find one.  Till she does I'll remain an out-patient, on my own, "ride-aholic."  And, over the years, I have met quite a few of you who are as bad as me; ya'll just keep quiet about it, but, I do know who you are.  I can smell it on you, right away. You always smell like a horse, even after taking a bubble-bath. Your conversation, even if you don't realize this, revolves around your horse and, your world, likewise, circles around this creature.  I know who you are and what you have become.  It's sad, very sad, but, alas, we are who we are and there is no way to keep it a secret, no matter how hard you try. haha.
I put all three horses inside this very large arena, where the vet checks took place during the two day Sand Hills endurance ride.  I was planning on letting them run, for an hour or two, before we hit the road.   One person, alone, getting three horses into a place they were not sure of is not an easy thing to do.  After a few tries of who's on first, I ended up taking the mare and War Cry together, followed by America. 
To watch the three of them run, acting like they were born as triplets connected by an invisible umbilical cord, is quite a sight to see.  After going through the ordeal of putting them all in the arena, I just sat there on an overturned water bucket, and took it all in.  Princess seemed to have overcome her leg problem because she was running around very well and would have passed any vet's watchful eye during the trot out.  And, as I already knew, America proved himself to be the fastest and most dominant of the three.  I sometimes think he should have been born a Thoroughbred, the way he moves, the speed he possesses, the very fact that he is larger than life itself, but, I'm glad he is who he is and that he is a part of me.  I thank God every day for giving me this horse.  I would give my life for this horse, because, he has given his life to me.