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[RC] [Guest] Synergist Ride - May 3 - Ridecamp Guest

Elaine D. Parker elainep@xxxxxxx

I decided on the second loop of the Synergist last Saturday that I was
definitely going to die.  Not later and not of old age.  I was going to die
just as quickly as I got back to camp.  That way Garry, my SO, best friend,
bestest ever crew and farrier, would be there for Weeble's sake and I could
die knowing he'd be cared for.  Also, that way I wouldn't have to go back
out for the last and longest loop.

I didn't die and I did go back out.  Reluctantly and thinking that I was
insane, I wasn't having fun and I really needed to visit a psychiatrist and
find out what form of insanity I had and if there was hope for a cure if I
made it back.  It was long, it was hot, it was humid and it was dry.  Humid
and dry?  Yep, the Synergist was held in the Withlacoochee forest.  Basic
Florida sandhill country.  I don't know the correct geological name or the
correct designation of the type of forest.  I just know we native Floridians
call them the sandhills, pine flatlands, scrub barrens, blackjack country,
etc.  Not flattering, but accurate.  They're the forest that grew up on what
used to be (millions of years ago) coastal dunes.  There's water, but it's
deep and you have to get it from wells.  I don't know the area that well and
there may be some streams or standing water, but I didn't see any.  No
natural water on the trail equals a dry ride.  And on a humid day that got
up to ninety it could have been dangerous.

The loops were long and the distances between water was far longer than I've
ever had to go on a ride before.  But then, this was only my 4th fifty so
that didn't really signify.  I do know that during the ride I was griping
along with every one else about the paucity of water.  The huge concrete
water troughs in two spots were permanent tanks left over probably from the
years of cattle ranging there.  The one other trough away from camp was
located at the Tillis Hills campground that we passed during the last loop.
All of those were blessed by everyone when we met them.

Guess what?  Not once did my horse or the ones at the water spots when I was
there turn up their noses and/or play guessing games with the riders about
whether or not they were going to drink.  MY horse stuck his head in the
trough and sucked and sucked and sucked.  No nudging and irritating the
other heads that were in there (they weren't paying any attention to what
horse was drinking next to them, they just wanted to drink).  He was dead
serious about drinking RIGHT NOW!!  AND his gut sounds were as good or
better than usual?  HUH?  But the water was way apart and not only he, but I
got extremely thirsty between them.  Course when we got there we really
tanked up.

In retroflection I'm glad that the last vet check was the only one that was
an away check.  I have to admit, once I got somewhat re-hydrated (I had made
the mistake of taking only full strength GatorAid and I was suffering some
stomach cramps and nausea by the time I got to the last check where the
human water was available - my fault and a real learning experience) I
decided that it was a beautiful spot.  I believe that it was originally the
old Perryman homestead, though no habitation ruins were there, but it was in
a small hammock (in the sandhills that's an island of reasonably rich soil)
and the grass was lush and plentiful.  Weeble ate and ate until he finally
got enough of it to allow me to insist he eat some of the beet pulp mix
Garry had packed in a baggie for my cantle pack.  He then promptly went back
to eating grass.  When we got the okay to go we still lingered for a few
minutes and they still wanted to eat even as we rode off.  Weeble kept
reaching down for just one more bite and Nikki, Inta's horse, had so much
grass in his mouth as we walked out of the vet check that he looked like he
had a green beard.

If it weren't for my riding partners, Teresa and Inta, I would have made the
mistake of walking too much for the last few miles.  It wasn't until Teresa
reminded me of what time it was and that we only had about two hours (and
tired horses) for the last eight or nine miles that I realized we could come
in overtime if we didn't pick up the pace.  Thankfully it had cooled off
somewhat and the horses perked right up and trotted home.

The ride camp itself was spacious and well set up.  There were water troughs
and FOUR water hoses for our use.  Two of which were right by the vet check
for our convenience.  These hoses were very fortuitous for me as Weeble got
a rope burn Friday afternoon just after we got there.  Immediate hosing and
the availability of that running water enabled us to deal with it and still
complete the ride.  Dr. Doug Shearer checked him for me right after it
happened.  Said to wait a couple of hours and see how it did and then he'd
let me know whether or not he felt I should even vet in.  I attended the
clinic John had offered and Doug okayed Weeble to vet in afterward. He never
did swell (hosing) and though the pastern was stingy to the touch (you could
tell he didn't care for us putting ointment on it) he never was sore.

We came into the final vet check with a pulse of 57 hit 48 by the time the
vet checked him and the CRI was 52.  All other parameters were A's.  Not bad
for what I perceived as a stressful day.  John DiPietra, the ride manager,
was a funny and very generous person.  He gave away one of his Synergist
saddles (nope I didn't win it) and was very free with advice on balanced
riding.  He was also very complimentary about the quality of riding from all
of the participants that he was seeing.

It was a tough, tough ride for me.  I'm pretty sure that a lot of the riders
felt that it was tough.  It was hot and we all got really thirsty.  BUT
there were no treatments for horses.  The riders all did a very good job of
taking care of their horses.  When I was thinking about this ride Sunday I
decided that we're a little spoiled and I was ashamed of myself for griping.
The concept of endurance is to meet the trail that you have that day and
ride it that day, bringing your horse and yourself home safely and soundly.
No matter what it is that makes a ride more difficult than what you're used
to, finishing the ride is what matters.   I'm proud of my little guy.  He
did a great job, he brought me home safely and he's perky and in good

What more than that can you ask of any ride?  Good camping, pleasant
volunteers, a great ride dinner (best salad I've seen at a ride) and the
satisfaction of finishing a hard ride.  I know that I earned this t-shirt.
This ride was not easy.  It was very satisfying to be able to say, we done

Elaine D. Parker
AERC -  M19651

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