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[RC] My LBL ride story (long) - Rides 2 Far

Well, it's been a week and I finally got the dirty dishes I brought home
from the ride out of the sink so I guess I'll give a little ride write up
for the SE riders who missed LBL.

I was pretty nervous about going to LBL last week after Kaboot pulled at
Million Pines PLUS I had to use a new farrier after twenty five years of
using the same guy. Kaboot had  felt wonderful at MP but out of the blue
was really off at the vet check.  An hour or so later he'd looked 99%
sound so the vets thought he'd whacked a root.  I'm a teacher and I spend
a lot of time thinking about stuff like this at work. I watch athletes
and I generalize what sort of traits are the same for horses and humans
and I've come to a conclusion. Kaboot is just an incredibly "cool" dude
and has developed the "pimp walk" that my black athletes do.  It involves
sort of walking as if you have one shoe on and one shoe off and dipping
your shoulder a little at the bottom of the stride...*almost* a limp but
not really. My problem is I don't know how to convince the vets of this.

I hadn't been to a ride at LBL since their last one in about 1993? I did
know that it did have rocks, and that when it rained it *really* had mud.
It rained all week leading up to the ride and I was worried. The new
farrier, who has a disturbing habit of hitting a nail once, swearing, and
pulling it back out to re-start it, seemed to think my horse had some
really funky feet. Things my old farrier never mentioned were a great
novelty to this bent over man (who looked to be in much worse physical
shape than my last farrier who retired due to being permanently bent
over). He had me so nervous that I'd decided to ride with easyboots over
my shoes to prevent bruising...just in case Kaboot had a bruise (though
he would still be a pimp with a bruise).  

Got to LBL and advice was...no easyboots...too muddy! Saddled up and
headed out on the trail which looked like a mountain stream with no
water....deep, loose rock...with occasional hard areas with scattered
rock. Went back to the trailer and put on 2 easyboots. Went out on
another trail which was pure slop where we immediately did our immitation
of Bambi on ice.  I now felt I had enough info to keep me wide awake all
night worrying and so retired to my camp to stare at the trailer ceiling
all night.

Friday afternoon the weather was scattered showers, which meant that if
you started to saddle your horse it rained, but if you fed him the sun
came out. That evening the forecast was that the front would move out in
the middle of the night and Sat. would be nice. They didn't mention that
for a front to "move out" you need wind. LOTS of WIND. I had set up my
more elaborate luxury style camp which means I had a tarp stretched over
my 2 horse trailer out to tent poles & stakes on one side. At about 1 AM
I was awakened to violent flapping and looked out to see the entire tarp
flogging the trailer side and pummeling the table with all my food. I did
the leap out the escape door, and over the picnic basket (required since
the picket lines were attached to the back of the trailer with the doors
closed) and just started tying the loose ropes to anything heavy. One was
to the cooler, another to a 5 gallon bucket of grain and another to the
concrete picnic table. At 2 AM woke to more violent flapping only to look
out and see the 5 gallon bucket of grain dancing about 5' off the ground.
The line to the picnic table had snapped. :-P When I got up the wind
suddenly changed direction, then calmed and was totally still. I was able
to put the whole thing back on poles quite nicely. Heard later there were
tornadoes around. >yawn< Springtime in the south. The horses found the
whole thing pretty mundane.

LBL's new horse camp is huge and it was full to capacity...mostly with
day riders. My daughter asked me why we call them "Day Riders". I guess
because at some places there's a parking lot designated "day riders" and
we go to the other, which insinuates that we are "night riders" which has
a nice ring to it. Beats calling them "Pleasure riders" which would
insinuate that we are the "Displeasure riders" which whether it's true or
not at times isn't very flattering.

The trail started out submerged in water, and later changed over to being
submerged in 6" of soupy mud, or occasionally submerged in 6" of loose
rock. The first section had a trail they called the "knee knocker" which
they felt we should do so we could enjoy the beautiful view of the lake
that it was circling below. This is the third ride I've been to with a
beautiful lake to ride around and I have decided that no view is worth
what is necessary to see it. Lake loops around here are invariably
sloping side to side goat paths which circumnavigate little scalloping
slopes that each have a little dipsy doodle where a run-off goes through
before you go back up the other side and go back to the scalloping right
to left move. Add to the wet sloping trail exposed roots and lots of knee
high jumps with mudholes on the other side and a whole lot of horses who
are determined they can GO FASTER!! and there's not a lot of time to
enjoy the view. (it was pretty though). Every time we went around one of
those turns in the trail Kaboot's rear end would slide wide like a car on
a dirt track. I'm going along with the trees flashing like white lines on
the highway seeing tricky footing ahead and thinking, "this is the horse
who flipped on me on a perfectly flat open trail at a 7mph trot"
shudder< Of course I *could* try pulling on the reins to slow him down,
which would make him lift his head to fight me and take his attention off
the ground. Decisions, decisions.

The first loop was 18 miles and we were making good time. The trail
looked absolutely horrible but the horses were really wanting to go. They
seemed to want to handle the mud like sand...preferred to canter when it
looked deepest. I figure we'd been about 15 miles when I felt *it*...the
pimp walk seemed to be surfacing. Josie couldn't see anything but I knew
he was different.  Sent Josie on with Joe Schoech as he came by and
determined to ease my horse in. HA. HA. HA. HA. HA.  Famous last words.
No more pimp walk...just SUPER powered impulsion and guttereal neighing
the next 3 miles. At one point I decided to just get off and lead him.
HA. HA. HA. The mud was incredible. I finally saw what you guys
experienced during puberty. After one step I was 5'2 after 3 steps I was
5"6, I considered trying to hit 6' but could no longer lift my feet with
that much mud stuck to the soles of my shoes. With great effort I got
enough mud off my shoe to be able to swing it over his back and

Next decision. How to present my now healed world class horse to the vet.
Do I go in...demonstrate my knowledge of my horse and say, "My horse is
off, grade one, I feel it's in the left fore but I suppose it *could* be
right rear".  Or do I shut up and let the vet look at him without be
giving him any possibly irritating preconceived opinions.  On the one
hand, there is some grim satisfaction with pulling yourself before the
vet gets the chance which puts you on sort of a moral high ground, on the
other hand I might get a better insight from the vet if I let him be
unbiased.  The problem with keeping quiet is A. The vet thinks you were
too dumb to know what was there and are lying when you try to tell him
"yes I knew he was off, just wondered if *you'd* know" or B. The vet
thinks you knew something was wrong and tried to slip by him. For my
entire career I had been the person who can't shut up and announces
what's wrong as I enter but since there happened to be a vet who'd never
seen my horse in competition there I decided to risk it and keep quiet to
see if he saw anything I didn't. I tried to trot slow to give him a
chance to see *it* but Kaboot did his usual turbo-trot-out and the vet
said, "Looks good". So I said, "O.K. thank you...but he's not
really...could you watch him on a circle?" At which time Kaboot looked
very cool with his pimp walk and you almost expected him to tip up his
nose and say "Wa sup". So, it was off to put on the street clothes and
walk around in disgrace the rest of the day as people looked surprised
and said, "What are YOU doing dressed?" At first it was lonely, but as
the day progressed more and more of us losers stood around in jeans and
kidded each other as to who was the bigger loser. 

There was plenty of entertainment in camp. The Day Riders in this area
are often "Day Drivers" with teams of mules hooked to all sorts of little
covered wagons. Poor Gus Politus' horse survived the trail but shied so
bad at a wagon in camp that he went to his knees on pavement and was
pulled. I never really think of endurance riders as *especially* thin or
svelt, but in comparison to most of these folks, we were emaciated. There
was an especially round family with horses in the barn behind my camp
that I found totally fascinating to watch. Picture a tall slim horse,
with a saddle wide enough for a Belgian (several of which were also being
ridden around camp) and a woman who must have weighed 300 lbs and had
apparently never been on a horse before. The "cowboy" husband who was
almost normal size except for the "mother of all beer bellies" which must
have been very painful on that belt buckle, helped hoist her up while a
few people braced themselves holding the far stirrup. The horse sort of
staggered awhile while this huge woman teetered from side to side with
her short little legs flying out on each side trying desperately to
counterbalance her apple shaped physique. Her reins were a mile long and
the elbows were at ear level. Absolutely amazing. I hadn't been exposed
to a show like that since I started endurance and left the ol' wagon
train trail ride crowd behind.

Anyway, one of these fine convoys decided to head out on the trail around
lunchtime, doing our last loop backwards.  Meanwhile, Bud Davidson who is
not known for being conservative...or even sane, was trying to make up 3
minutes on Betsy Knight who was in the lead and determined not to let
him. I'm sure it would have been really exciting to watch from the
Goodyear Blimp...the little cluster of mules and big Quarter Horses with
large saddle bags and larger people...spread all across the
road...rounding the turn from one side, as slim Betsy in a beautifully
color coordinated black & red spandex outfit on her sleek bay Arab
galloped towards them from the other direction...and "Mr. Competitive"
Bud and his rugged gray Arab galloped hot on her heels. Whew. They
rounded the bend, Betsy hit those day riders and they scattered like a
covey of quail. All she remembered was a mule freaking out. There was no
stopping her horse with the finish line just a few 100 yards away but she
managed to weave through them at a gallop. Bud wasn't quite so lucky. His
horse hit a big palomino QH and both he and the "lovely lady" on its back
landed in soupy mud (picture the mud fight scene in the old John Wayne
movie "McClentock".  Poor Bud's galloped off without him and left him
getting a vocabulary lesson from about 9 totally ticked off day riders.
Josie & her sponsors Joe Schoech came up on the scene right after it
happened. Joe who is quite the peacemaker helped rescue poor Bud (whose
horse was injured and didn't complete after the accident). I think Bud
had every bit as much right to be mad as they did but was badly
outnumbered. Joe managed to tell the "lady" that there was a child
present and the "F" word wasn't appropriate. Josie's main impression from
it all was that the woman was making an awfully big fuss for someone
who'd taken such a wimpy little fall. 

It was a shame that had to happen. The day riders said they had asked if
any trails were closed and the office had said, "No". I think the
officials probably wanted to keep everyone happy thus didn't close any
trails. With 11 different trails available I doubt they would have minded
if just the final loop had been closed. 

The awards that night were GREAT. Jerry & Diane outdid themselves with
the quantity and quality. All day long we'd purposely ignored whether
Josie was first junior because it was definately a day where the *trail*
was the competition and we just wanted a completion for her, but Joe did
a great job getting her around and she won a BEAUTIFUL Beta halterbridle
& reins. :-))  The logo on the T-shirt was really sharp too and I can see
I'll be wearing that one even if I did get pulled. :-P 

The trail system & camp were top notch. I'm sure it looked great within a
day or two of us leaving. Loved the marking system of numbers on trees.
Trails 8,9,&11 could intersect, merge and diverge with no confusion. Wish
more places used the system. Gave them 11 different loops from camp. They
undoubtedly had the hottest showers & warmest bathrooms anywhere. It was
easy to get to, power hookups, etc. etc. Rangers were super nice. I can
see the Pan Ams being held there. Josie loved the trail (she saw *all of
sniff<) She said it was so pretty and interesting that she even liked it
*with* the mud.  I'd like to see a 100 there again...in better weather.

My first impression after my 2nd pull in 2 weeks was "I'll turn him out
awhile and stay home, save money, get things done. I'm tired. I need some
time off" then I realized...it's 2 weeks till Biltmore! So...I've
borrowed a horse and will be there...and of course then there'll be
Kentucky Pyramid...and GERA...and...... 

Angie & Kaboot (the pimp daddy)

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