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[RC] Chicken Chase, Part Three, My Ride (long) - April Johnson

I was actually semi-awake by 4:30 AM. When my alarms started going off, I
turned them off and moved to start getting ready for my day.

I fed Tanna, but he knew something was up and largely ignored the food for
awhile. He grabbed a bite of hay now and again while watching me. I took the
dog off her lead and took her for a quick run.

Then I went back inside and got dressed. Then I put Tanna's easyboots on and
then wrapped them in duct tape. I set the plunger on the Lyte Now
electrolyte tube and squirted 25 ccs into his mouth. After breakfast, I sat
and read my book for 15 minutes. I had plenty of time and I was trying to
keep myself calm. The calmer I'd be, the calmer Tanna'd be.

Finally, I went out and saddled Tanna. I kept a blanket covering his butt
because it was cold out and I wanted to keep him warm and fluid. I adjusted
his breast collar to engage sooner.

Usually, my breast collar is a precaution to keep his saddle from sliding
completely to the side if he dumps me and runs off, but for this ride, the
breast collar was quite necessary. I haven't trained Tanna for a crupper,
even though I have one, so I didn't even think of bringing out the crupper.
Besides, Tanna's high withers come in handy to keep the saddle back. :)

I tightened the girth and checked his heart rate. 36. Pretty good. I put my
water and gatorade bottles in the cantle bag. I slid the bit into his mouth
(I had slid the bit under his blanket on his butt to warm it up a little),
clipping it to the other side. I usually ride in a Little S Hackamore, but I
was unsure of how Tanna would act, so wanted the bit.

As I went to put my foot in the stirrup, I noticed I was wearing my tennis
shoes, still. Can't do that. My tennis shoes can get through the holes in my
easy ride stirrup cages. So I tied Tanna up again and changed my shoes.

When I went back to get on, Tanna would not stand still. My husband was
watching from the camper, so I asked if he would come hold him. As soon as I
said that, Tanna stood still long enough for me to pop into the saddle. As
he danced around, I called into Daniel and told him I was on and going.

We walked back and forth and up and down and I trotted him some to check his
brakes. Everything seemed a go. When I went up to the start area, the 50
milers had already gone. Just a few more minutes. I found Tina and parked
Tanna next to Hank. Daniel showed up on my left, then it was time to go.

It was a controlled start and there were several horses in front. We were
spread out on the pavement. A lot of horses calmly walking. A lot of owners
crooning to their horses to keep them walking calmly. The photographer was
off to the right. Tanna started just a tad, but no real spooking.

When we reached the gravel, I let Tanna move into a trot. Boing, boing,
boing. He started to get stiff-necked and strong. Boing, boing, boing.
Canter, canter, canter. Please go slower, Tanna, Boing, boing, boing. Ok,
fine, here we go. Canter. We passed a horse that was jumping around quite a
bit and I made sure the guy was ok as we trotted past. He said so far he was

We ended up trotting along by ourselves, but could see other horses ahead.
Tanna was pulling, but controllable. We turned off the gravel onto trail. I
let Tanna canter where safe and pulled him back to a barely controlled trot
when not safe to canter. After awhile we caught up with a leopard appaloosa
and a chestnut. When they stopped to drink, we passed them up, since I knew
it was useless to ask Tanna to drink only 2 miles in.

We were on the same trail that I had ridden on Friday. When we hit the
pavement, the chestnut was behind us, but stopped or slowed down. All the
sudden, Tanna realized he was by himself. He couldn't see any horses ahead
and the ones behind him had stopped or slowed down. He seemed alarmed by
that fact. I talked to him telling him that we'd see other horses and even
if we didn't, this is what we did, ride out together with no other horses.

After a couple of minutes, we were out ion the gravel road through the field
and 2 riders on mares asked to pass on the left. Then the chestnut and
appaloosa passed. Tanna went into barely controllable mode again, so I fell
in line. Five horses in a row, trotting and cantering along together. After
awhile, I ended up in the middle and when the appy and chestnut paused for
water again, we split a little.

As the mares trotted along, Tanna cantered to keep up. He trotted some and
cantered mostly. He was controllable as long as I didn't try to keep him too
far behind the mares. I found out that the mare in front of me was being
ridden by Dede, the vet secretary for the other vet on Friday.

As we neared the end of the trail, we came up on the photographer. Flash,
rear, fall. The lady on the lead mare fell off, but was unhurt and jumped
right back on. When we saw pavement, I dismounted and began removing my
gloves and looking for my vet card. I dropped a glove and had to go back and
retrieve it.

It took 6 minutes for Tanna to pulse down. He was hanging at 64, but it
dropped quickly after he peed. He got As, except for a B on guts again.
After the vet check, I took Tanna back to our trailer and threw a blanket
over his butt to keep his muscles warm. He immediately started eating the
beet pulp that he'd largely ignored that morning. He alternated between hay
and beet pulp.

Tanna still had both easy boots, but we thought it best to redo the duct
tape. So Daniel removed the tape and retaped one foot. I retaped the other.
I sat around and ate and drank while Tanna ate. He didn't drink much, but
ate heartily and since the beet pulp was very wet, I wasn't too worried
about the drinking.

When it was about time to go out, I saw Tina and asked her how they were
doing. She'd come into the vet check sooner than me, but had decided to
leave out later than her out time to give Hank a bit more of a breather
since they did the first loop fairly fast.

I mounted up with the blanket still on Tanna's butt, intending to walk him
back up to the trail with it and have Daniel bring it back to camp. But
Tanna didn't like it, so rather than upset him, I had Daniel remove it right
away. We were cleared to go and out we went on the blue loop.

We were alone and Tanna moved out just fine. He trotted and cantered. He
seemed to think we were alone on the trail, but after awhile pricked his
ears up and kept looking for horses ahead of him. The trail was hilly and
when up on the ridge, there was a wonderful view.

Part of the blue loop involved traveling down a trail to a gate, reading a
password off a pie plate, and returning along the same trail for aways. When
we hit that part, it was awhile before we started seeing riders coming our
way. I had expected to see people sooner. With each rider that passed us,
Tanna seemed more lively and more animated. He's so cute!

Finally, at 10:13, we saw the chestnut and appaloosa from the first loop.
They were heading back from getting the password. I figured I couldn't be
too far behind them so when we hit the gate and I got the password, I turned
Tanna and let him go.

And I mean let him go. I never let him go full out. I'm too much of a fraidy
cat. But it just felt right, so away we flew. And it felt like flying. It
was exhilerating. Here I was on my favorite horse flying! I can't put it
into words, but it felt wonderful. We were totally in sync. He was flying,
but listening. We blew past Tina and 3 other horses while they were headed
toward the gate. I'm pretty sure we slowed down. Might have even gotten into
a trot, but the second we were past them, we were gone again. While we flew,
I thought, now I'll never get his mind back. I've just blown his mind. Then
I thought, even if I don't blow his mind, I'm probably killing his body. But
we kept going and going. In reality, it was only about 10 minutes and 2
miles, but it was SO much fun! :) Amazingly, the easy boots stayed on
through that foray.

We reached the end of the out and back trail and turned left to hit the
pavement. Turned right and trotted along for a mile and a third before
turning back onto the trail. There was a good bit of water right there and I
asked Tanna to drink. No go. So we headed out and caught up with the
chestnut and appaloosa shortly after. I followed them for a bit until they
stopped for water and Tanna refused again. Then we trotted off.

We rode the rest of the ride by ourselves. Tanna did fine. He even drank
some from a creek further on the way. Good boy! The next part of the ride
was a climb out of the gully to the ridge. He did well on that, trotting and
cantering up it. We hit the common gravel trail with 1.5 miles to go. I
couldn't believe we were almost done. We cantered along at a nice 150 heart
rate. I glanced down to be sure his easy boots were still on. Looked ok to
me, so we cantered to the road.

With about two tenths of a mile to go, I slowed Tanna to a walk. His heart
rate was about 90 when I dismounted at the grass. I landed wrong when I
dismounted and I limped toward the timers' table. Daniel saw me and came
towards me. I gave him Tanna and started to walk by the timers when they
asked for my card. Oh, yeah, duh.

It took me three minutes to hobble to the pulse area. He was down before we
got there. So we got our time. 11:41. Ride time of 3:11. Good enough for 7th
place. That was a pleasant surprise. Not that it mattered, but I was
thinking I was about 17th or so.

He vetted in with all As except a B on guts again and a B on capillary

I had lost one of my easy boots and Chris, riding the Appaloosa told me
where it was, so I had to head back out and get it. When I thought I had it,
all I was seeing was the duct tape, but of course, I didn't realize that.
I've got to start using the red boots!

I asked each rider I passed if they had my easy boot and about half a mile
out I saw Charles and a couple of other riders. Charles said he had the boot
in his pack. Cool! I turned and followed them back in and Charles gave me
the boot when we got back. Thank you to him!

Amy knew this was only my 3rd LD and my first ride in 4 years, so she had
saved out a shirt for me! Thanks, Amy. The 3rd day finishers were mostly
getting lead ropes, but I prefered a t-shirt. Very sweet of her!

I also bought a couple of pictures from the photographer. I had Tanna on a
lead rope while looking at the books of pictures to find me and Tanna was
standing nicely behind me. Several people got a kick out of the horse
"looking" at the pictures, too.

We loaded up and headed home after about 3 hours. Daniel had fixed the
camera so I could see Tanna quite well on the way home. When I turned Tanna
out in the pasture, he went running around with the dog.

We had a great weekend and will definitely be back next year! Great ride!
And thanks to Bill Wilson for the camping area and all the other things he
did! The trails were marked well, even though there was some talk of
vandalism. I didn't get lost once. The trails had great footing.

It's a great ride. If you missed this one, consider coming next year!

Nashville, TN

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