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

The dreaded yellow trail; memories of this one from last year's ride started returning.  I was so glad this was the first loop.  To be the third or last would have killed us all.
Up, and up we went.  The descents were only followed by another climb.  America kept moving out nicely, even down hill.  We actually passed a rider every now and then.  Our pace was mostly in a normal, not extended, trot thrown in with a walk or a short burst of a canter when going uphill.  He walked downhill, if it was steep, and would do likewise during a very high angled climb.  I had lost count of how many climbs we had made, and, this was only the first loop.  I think a really great idea for this ride would be a big ole sign announcing:  "Last Climb of the Dreaded Yellow Loop," somewhere at the base of the final ascent.  It would be a fantastic thing to see.  And, imagine, during that last loop, if you actually made it that far, seeing a sign:  "Last Climb of Your Ride Today, #3,279.  Yep, that's how many you just did!"  haha
We reached the vet check area and I was beat; much more tired than my horse.  We breezed thru the P & R, America was down instantly, and the vet said he looked very good.  I almost asked him what shape he thought I appeared to be in, but, I kinda knew the answer to that one.  I needed some V-8 and an Ibuprofen desperately.
While America was eating, heartily, inside his stall, I removed my lightweight jacket and removed the two shirts I had on underneath, which were covered in sweat.  A young woman I knew walked by me, saw me bare-chested and yelled out, "Wow, Howard, now I have seen the ninth wonder of the world."  Haha, humor can appear out of nowhere sometimes.
There was still a chill in the air, but not as much as earlier in the morning.  One thing was certain, the humidity was high and the sun would only be making an occasional appearance today.  The drizzle had subsided, but, the sky still advertised a chance of rain later on in the afternoon.
I reloaded War Cry's and Princess' hay bins, refilled their water, and apologized for keeping them inside their stalls for so long.  They didn't seem to mind, because, with their back wall window-door open, they both had a lovely view of the vet check area, any horse and rider who happened to walk by, along with being able to keep a watchful eye on each other.  War Cry told me he had scared the crap out of several humans while America and I were out and about risking our lives on that dreaded Yellow loop.  Every time he would hear a human walk by, War Cry would sneak up from behind, and, with perfect timing, stick his head out the window and let out his best, most deafening roar within inches of the poor soul's eardrum.  Ah, the humor of the horse, it has to be experienced to be truly appreciated.  And, if you were to see War Cry do this you would ask:  Which species is more afraid, the horse or the human?
OK, I don't want ya'll to get scared off or anything (and if my therapist is reading: "This is only my pretend life, not real, just pretend"), my horse didn't actually tell me that, one of the crew assistants, who had been War Cry's first victim of the day, told me he was doing this.  For some morbid reason, she didn't warn anyone else after it happened to her, and just kind of watched it occur to others.  She told me it was making her day.  I asked her if she lived nearby, wanting to know if my illusion of Leatherwood's locals, with their penchant for kindness and caring, had just been shattered.  She told me no, she was from New York.  Ah, that explains everything. 
Before leaving the barn with America, I stuck my head inside War Cry's window and told him to quit scaring those fragile humans.  "I know you are bored, but, most of them don't enjoy the "Boo" game", I said.  As America and I walked away, he let out a big one, alerting all those nearby where the loudest horse in camp resides.  "Well, at least he's warning them all now," I said to America as we headed out for the easiest loop of the three, the dainty colored Pink.
Of course, even if it is the easiest of the three, that does not mean it's easy.  We started out with that initial mile climb that would be charged upon three times by the end of the day.  With no one in front of us, I let him keep a better pace, trotting mostly.  If America was breathing heavily I would stop and let him calm down. Overall, he seemed stronger on this loop; we moved out quickly.  We even passed a few other riders.  I started feeling more confident that, quite possibly, America might actually finish Leatherwood.  Ah, but it was still early in the game and something would happen later on to smash this feeling and reinforce the knowledge that this is one incredibly tough ride.