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[RC] Ponde De Leon- - Live and Learn Part 3 - Jen Bramhall

I always get the same intense feeling when Nancy counts down "20 seconds?.. 10 seconds?.. 5.. 4.. 3..2..1! the trail is now OPEN!" We started off and I was hoping my mom was behind me, but War Cry got a burst of energy and went with the front runners, leaving the others in the dust (literally). Michele and Laura were the top two, friends of my dad's and they were quite nice, and kept the pace up but not too fast. I was looking around for my mom but never saw her until 5 miles into the ride.
    I loved the trails, partly rocky but if you were barefoot, like me, it was easy to get around it. Then came some "deep" sand and I train in terrain like this so War Cry would pass those going "too slow" for his pace. I have no idea what has happened to War Cry's attitude lately, because on the trails he turns into Spirit, my dad's horse, and hates other horses in front of him. But when I train, he prefers to be right behind the leader. And when we reached camp, back from our first loop, War Cry neighs as if Princess was in front of him, which she was not. 
    War Cry's heart rate came down as soon as I took off his tack and walked him up to the P&R station. (Thank God my dad put Spirit in a small corral very close to the vet check so War Cry could see him) I trotted him out and he looked fantastic, as if he hadn't been ridden at all (I love my 1/2 Arab!). Not even five minutes after dad and I put War Cry and Spirit back in the electric corral, mom came in! I had seen her behind me now and then, but she wasn't going extremely fast and was planning on going a lot slower than me. Well I snapped a lead rope on War Cry and we all went up to the vet check to "baby-sit" for Princess. Her heart rate came down beautifully for a non-Arab. As my mom was trotting out, I weighed War Cry, to see that he lost about 10 pounds. "Not bad!' this nice lady said as she wrote it down for me in the chart.
    Well before I knew it, my 40 minute hold was over and I was back out on the trial, 15 minutes before my mom. I saw that Michele and Laura were neck and neck about 10 minutes ahead of me. I didn't plan on catching up with them, because both had pads, and cantering on hard rock was one way I would not finish this ride!  Well on three of the four loops, about halfway for each of them, Kim and Levi (the lovely ride managers!) had set up a nice water stop, with hay and beet pulp and cold chocolate (it was Easter) and drinks for riders and horses. It was a great place for me to dismount and give War Cry a break. For most of the second loop, I was riding with this very nice lady, Lucy who was a very experienced rider, and had a horse who reminded me so much of Rebel. Her horse, Kelly, was 16 and tripped not too much but just a little here and there (what do you expect from a horse who had completed so many rides?!). I really enjoyed riding with her, and we finished the second loop in just under an hour (11 miles). According to my dad (who had generously waited for me to come in) told us that we were close to Laura and Michele. I didn't really want to be that close to the front of the pack, because even though I am riding by myself, I guess people don't like the idea for juniors to decide their speed. And I agree with them, but I've waited so long for this, and my horses will tell me when to stop. So since the second loop was 17ish miles, I decided to finish it in about 2 to 2 and half hours.
    I went through the vet check with flying colors, but War Cry hadn't lost as much weight as I expected because he was eating and drinking every minute he had food in front of him. My mom came in behind me about 20 minutes with Princess looking extremely hydrated and her heart rate down to 56. It was fantastic to see Princess looking so great! We quickly went to the vet check (but not too quick to spike Princess's heart rate) and "babysat" once more.
    While I was weighing War Cry but making sure he could see his mare, I saw Sam. She had just come back from her 2nd loop just as I had. I was so proud of my friend to doing a 75, but the weather was still cloudy and had a slight breeze, so I had kind of wished to be riding with her. I just remember the heat coming in, and having to pull because I had to wait over an hour for a sponsor, and with the heat, I had no want to go back out.
    I tacked up War Cry, and headed back out, and about 5 minutes later Lucy was cantering behind me. We took the trail slower then the beginning two loops, but not too slow, feeling the heat nip at our heels. I was so happy to have water so close and having Lucy keep up with me to keep up the pace. I had never really lead too much, because War Cry always seemed to prefer it, and this gave me practice. I loved riding with no worries about anyone behind us, because even though I've been quite competitive and so has my horse, I've learned the whole sport was to have fun, no matter what the prize for first is.