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[RC] Chicken Chase, Part Two (long) - April Johnson

I didn't wake up Friday morning until the riders were warming up for the
ride. It was quite chilly, but I got up and took Tanna with me toward the
start, wanting to see his reaction to all the horses and the excitement. He
seemed interested, but not concerned. Although, we didn't see the main
start. We were a little late for that.

The weather was nice, though. Sunny, although cold and windy.

I wandered back to our campsite and fed Tanna again. After breakfast, Daniel
and I hopped into the truck and headed off to the vet check site. The plan
was for Daniel to drop me off, then go looking for a store to get people
water, which we'd forgotten.

We got there and Amy introduced me to Susan Kasemeyer and Susan Vuturo
various other people that I don't recall at the moment. I was given the job
of vet secretary for Rae, a vet that had flown in from Michigan to vet on
Friday and Saturday.

It was interesting to see the riders come in. Seeing all the different tack
variations. I saw at least 3 treeless saddles and a couple of Abetta
saddles. A Synergist saddle. A lady wearing horse shipping boots instead of

I can't say I learned tons while being vet secretary. I did learn some and
watched and listened a lot. Maybe I just didn't do it long enough.

There was one accident. A lady came driving into the vet check and then it
was apparent that she was hurt. She had taken somebody else's truck and left
the truck's owner with her horse. She was immediately surrounded by helpful
people. Somebody was dispatched with the trailer to pick up her horse and
her family took her to the hospital. Her horse had tripped while trotting
downhill and had rolled over her. Later in the weekend, Amy announced that
the hurt lady might have fractured a bone, but it wasn't nearly as bad as it
could have been.

I stayed at the vet check for 5 or 6 hours before taking off to go to the
store. Daniel had stayed around the whole time. Part of the time was spent
sleeping in our camper. Very nice to have that camper! :)

When we got back to camp, I figured that it was time for Tanna to take a
look at the trails. So I saddled him. I was planning to use my high profile
pad that had been delivered on Tuesday or Wednesday, but was disappointed to
find out that the pad was not the same as the one I had, it was longer in
the panels. I decided not to use it and put the smaller woolback pad on him.

I had Daniel hold Tanna while I mounted. I was hoping not to have a problem.
While Tanna did do a couple of crow hops, it was mild and he quit quickly.
He wouldn't stand still, though, so I waved to Daniel and headed for the

I thought I would be out of the way, but it turned out I chose a trail that
riders were coming and going on. Oh, well. More chance to see how Tanna
would react. The trail started with gravel. Tanna was barefoot, so we walked
and trotted along the edge of the trail. I picked the edge, thinking to save
his feet.

We scooted off the gravel onto a trail as soon as possible. The new trail
was very narrow and had tons of switchbacks. It was rather overgrown, too.
But at least it wasn't gravel. After a few minutes, the trail dumped back
onto the pink loop marked for the endurance rides.

Tanna was strong and pulling to blast up the hills. I allowed him sometimes,
depending on the footing. We trotted a lot and cantered some. He was doing
quite well. We came out onto a road bordered by a saddle club. We trotted
along until the ribbons veered off the road to the left. The trail at this
point was a gravel road in the middle of a field. I made Tanna trot off the
gravel. He wanted to canter, but I refused because off the gravel, the
ground was so uneven and I wasn't going to risk a misstep. The rest of the
trail that I took had small scattered gravel and we mostly walked and
trotted that section.

When I came out on the road, I checked my GPS. It said I'd gone 6 miles and
that camp was just .25 miles along the road. So instead of following the
ribbons across the street, I decided that 6 miles was a good enough leg
stretching and headed directly toward camp.

When I got to the camp turn-in, Tanna started freaking and going sideways.
At first, I thought it was the long blowing pink ribbon that marked the
entrance to camp, but he wasn't paying any attention to that. It was the
large rock with a horse sketched into it that he objected to. So I spent the
next 10 or 15 minutes asking Tanna to walk back and forth in front of the
rock, moving closer and closer to it. For several minutes, he did some very
nice sidepassing to keep facing that scary rock. Then I finally got him to
walk up and sniff the back of the rock. As we stepped around to the front,
he about jumped out of his skin again. Guess he didn't like the sketching!
Finally, though, he did sniff the front of the rock, so I turned him back to
the camp.

When Daniel and I looked at the GPS track on the computer, the computer
calculated that we'd gone 8 miles instead of 6.5 that the GPS had
calculated. The computer is more accurate. I was irritated that the Geko was
calculating low. Very low. Not that I cared that we did 8 miles instead of
6.5, but one of the reasons I use a GPS is to help gauge distance and
average speed during a ride. While the Geko has lots of space for holding
track points, the actual in-ride calculations seem to be poor quality.

I woke up Sabbath morning around dawn and slipped out to give Tanna some
food. I'd begun lacing his food with electrolytes on Friday night. After
feeding the dog, I went back in the camper and went to sleep for a couple
more hours.

We lazed around for a couple hours before deciding to go find some local
geocaches. Geocaches are small boxes that are hidden pretty much anywhere,
but parks are a popular place to place them. The boxes usually have a log
book to sign in and say a little something and small trinkets to trade. The
hider then goes on www.geocaching.com and posts the coordinates and a little
about the box and the area the box is hidden in. Then a Geocacher (like me
and my husband) gets the coordinates, puts them in our GPS unit and then
follow the arrow until we find the box. It's a fun sport and gets me out
walking around when I'd usually be sitting around.

There were 3 geocaches that we were going after. They were all along the
same trail. The furthest one out was about 1.3 miles. We decided to go get
the furthest one first and then get the other 2 on our way back. Otherwise,
we'd probably stop after the 2nd one and not go to get the last one!

Daniel took the dog and I snapped a lead rope to Tanna's halter and off we
went, our interesting little caravan. For awhile we were on the common trail
with competitors coming and going. Tanna did really well about getting off
the trail for them to pass and never got hyper or upset. I love this

After about half a mile, we got off the common trail and headed out on a
single track trail. The hills were challenging for me. I had Tanna's lead
rope draped casually over my shoulder with him following behind me. He
stepped on me once and I swung the end of the rope back towards him and
after that, he didn't step on me.

We discovered on our walk that Tanna likes Skittles. Taste the Rainbow!
Daniel had brought some and when we stopped periodically for me to rest (I'm
such a wimp!) we'd eat a few Skittles. Tanna was interested, so I gave him a
couple. Yummy, he liked those! And why not, they're just sugar. :-)

When we reached near the spot where the geocache was, I tied Tanna off the
trail and went in search of the cache. We found it in good shape, signed the
log and climbed back up to Tanna. He'd stood staring at us, wondering what
in the world we were doing, I'm sure.

We headed back towards camp and went in search of the second cache only .2
miles from the one we'd just found. This second cache required a steep,
steep climb. I stopped to rest at least twice on the way up and collapsed on
the ground as soon as we got to semi-level ground. Whew!!! What a workout I
was getting. Tanna just looked at me like I was silly. The second cache took
a little looking, even though it really was easy to find.

On our way to the next cache, we ran into some backpackers. We stopped and
talked with them a little bit and one of them asked to pet Tanna. They asked
if I ever rode him (since I was leading him, I guess it was a valid
question!), so I told them a little about endurance riding and why we were
there in the area. Never did get around to telling them about geocaching.

The third cache was found easily. There was no good place to get Tanna off
the trail, so I stayed with him while Daniel signed the log book of the
cache. Then we headed back to the common trail towards camp. I was tired!
I'm used to riding miles, but not walking them!

When we got back to camp, I dropped Tanna, the dog, and Daniel off at camp
and decided to go see when I could vet Tanna in for the ride on Sunday. It
was about 3:30 eastern time. I found Amy and she said come up and vet in
when the vets aren't busy. So I went back and got Tanna. He'd rolled, so I
ran a brush quickly over his coat to remove the dirt.

We went up and Rae wasn't busy, so she vetted me in with all As except a B+
on guts. I didn't get that because except for his brief 8 mile ride and 2.5
mile walk, all he'd done was eat and drink. But since he'd been showing no
real problems, I didn't worry too much about the B. I did ask Rae about it
and she just said "That's what it sounds like now. Just let him eat whatever
he wants."

I went back to the camper and gave Tanna some beet pulp and went to take a
nap until dinner.

Dinner was provided by Ride Management for all riders. It was chicken (of
course), green beans, potato salad, lemonade, iced tea, salad, and cake. I
served myself all but chicken and tea. It was yummy stuff!

After dinner, Daniel and I sat out in our chairs outside Tanna's pen. I had
him on a lead rope letting him eat grass since his pen floor had been
reduced to dirt and trampled hay after 2 days. We sat talking and watching
the camp activity. Camp was extremely full, so plenty of activity to watch.

Tina Hicks came by and chatted with us for awhile. I had met her Friday
finally. We'd spent some emails trying to get together for training rides
and it had never materialized.

Tina rode the 25 on Saturday on her gaited horse, Hank. She'd lost 2 swiss
boots along the trail in the first few miles, so had in reality, done the
ride barefoot. I, of course, was interested in how she did since Tanna is
also barefoot, although we weren't planning to ride barefoot. Hank had done
well. Completed the trail in 3:20-something minutes with half an hour spent
helping a rider that had been kicked in the shin. That's the 3rd time I've
heard of that happening in the last few months. Ouch.

Tina left to go to the meeting place for a meeting. We thought it was the
ride meeting, but it turned out to be the awards for Saturday's rides. It
wouldn't have been a bad thing, except that since we thought it was the ride
meeting (and the previous ride meetings were fairly short) we didn't take
our chairs and the awards lasted longer than the meeting. I forget the exact
numbers, but 90% of the riders completed the 25 miler and better than 90%
completed the 50 miler. The only placing I remember is Lois McAfee won the
50 miler. Oh, and Tina got both her Swiss boots back from lost and found!

After the awards, Amy said that the ride meeting would be in a half an hour.
She also said she wanted the bridle tags to buy back if we wanted. So Daniel
and I went back to our camp to get our chairs and the bridle tag.

We sat around waiting for the ride meeting to start. It was a quite short
meeting. Everything for the 50s was the same as Saturday's ride, so no
surprises there. The 25 milers would ride the pink loop (10 miles) and come
in for a vet check. Then ride the blue loop (17 miles) instead of the yellow
loop (15 miles for the 25 milers) like on Saturday. The holds were changed
from 45 minutes to 50 minutes to aid the volunteers in doing out time
calculations. The second loop for the 25 milers was changed to the blue loop
because it had less gravel.

Back at our camper, I spent some time laying everything out for the ride in
the morning. Brushes, easy boots, vet wrap, duct tape, bridle, reins,
saddle, GPS, saddle pad, heart rate monitor, ride pants, layers of shirts,
gatorade, water, dried fruit, everything that I could think of.

Then I set several alarms on my PDA and my husband's PDA and my wristwatch.
I'd forgotten to bring a real alarm clock and I was worried about getting up
in time. I set all the alarms for 5 AM. Start time was 7:40. 2 hours and 40
minutes should be plenty of time to get ready. I wanted to be mounted by
7:10 to be warming up and evaluating Tanna's mind.

I gave Tanna another helping of beet pulp and grain laced with electrolytes.
Then I crawled into bed to await the alarms.

...to be continued.

Nashville, TN

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