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[RC] White River Spring Part 1 - Maggie Mieske

White River Ride Spring 2003

The first ride for us this season. Thank God winter seems to have given us a reprieve! In spite of ever present problems with hauling to rides, we made it to the ride site, confident that the impending arrival of Jenny's uncle (the genius mechanic) would solve the funny noises in our truck's engine.

Max and Malik immediately settled into the routine. These guys are getting to be pros. They know about eating and drinking and hanging loose. I LOVE it! They both vetted in with As. Malik, as always, must be entertaining. This weekend, he met up again with Rae Birr as his vet and I do believe he kept looking over at Steve Halstead (vetting comp across the way) wondering why Steve wasn't vetting him! He does seem to have a liking for Steve. Except for dancing a bit for Rae, he behaved within reason and gave her the proper "airs above the ground" performance for which he is famous in order to impress her. I am sure she was duly impressed until he tripped over his feet just as he made it back to her from our trot out! How embarrassing! To make matters worse, as we walked away, Max suddenly stopped directly in front of Malik and absentmindedly, almost as if he were being obliging, Malik halfheartedly started to mount him (didn't make it, of course) and then backed off with a silly look on his face. I don't know if he was embarrassed or not, but I sure was! Everyone had a good laugh!!! (And no, he wasn't even dropped or anything...I think he was daydreaming!).

Anyway, Friday night got COLD. There was ICE on the waters in the morning. I had trouble sleeping and finally got up at 4:30 and tried to rekindle the fire with no luck. So, I bundled up under the canopy in a lawn chair and admired the stars, remembering the meteor showers I try to enjoy every summer. Just as I was thinking it was too much to ask to see even one shooting star, one streaked across the sky in a blaze of glory. AMEN! As ridecamp started to stir and the birds started to announce the coming day, we all got up and got ready for the day and the ride. Our only goal at this ride was to complete....I had two things really that I wished to achieve. White River had been my first 50 in 1998 and it took me a loooooong time so I hoped to improve that time (which I didn't think would be hard since I was riding Malik and in MUCH better physical condition than I was then...I also have stopped smoking since then). It was also Malik's first 50 in 2000 and his first pull. Back then, his hindquarters just weren't ready for that sand then! So, we both had something we needed to accomplish.

We tacked up and warmed up with some walking and trotting and a little prancing. As Malik settled down, we finally checked in and simply were able to stand around at the start line and wait. It is wonderful to be able to do that. I enjoyed it immensely and even bragged a little bit to some of those around me. Big mistake. We didn't have a problem waiting there not even when the hot foot riders took off at the start. As we started walking toward the trail, Malik became Mr. Parade Horse doing his elegant canter almost in place only circling a bit this time and almost, almost acted like maybe he might just climb a tree if I didn't let him go. However, I was not going to allow any out of control behavior and we went off to the side and discussed it momentarily. I won. Kind of. So we TROTTED off down the trail. Good compromise.

The horses had no problem with the first 15 miles though I was still trying to slow down the pace (my stomach was not agreeing with me that morning). Nelson and Uncle Daniel were faithful in their pit crewing though the horses really had no interest in water yet. The first check was total chaos...I don't remember there being that many horses at White River when I have been there and horses were crowded around the vet in area. Rae had reduced the pulse parameters to 64 bpm to slow down some of those riders. When we presented Malik, he was at 68 (he had been down under 60 but the horses literally crowding around must have been too much excitement for him). So we had to wait. As we did, riders who came in behind us came up and went around INTO the vetting area, ignoring what might have been a line. We eventually got our pulses taken and wasted much time...had I been a front runner and vying for top ten, I would have been quite upset but our goals were more modest this time. In this case, "don't sweat the small stuff".

Horses ate and drank like champs in camp during our hold and off we went for our 10 mile loop at an easy canter. Malik finally settled into his huge trot and my stomach settled down and life was more efficient. The day warmed up. Uncle Daniel quickly settled into his slave labor role as the "water boy" (keep in mind "Uncle Daniel" is about 30 something) and was a fast learner. What he hasn't learned is that there ARE paybacks for those who get their riders wet at pit stops.

The second vet check was much less eventful than the first. The front runners were really running hard but far enough ahead of us to not cause any congestion at the check. Now all we had to do was do it all over again. The hour hold seemed almost too long and I wondered how I'd get back into it but I did and was surprised at how easy it was to mount up and go again.

We slowed down on the 15 mile loop this time...the first ride of the season is a rude awakening! We are never as ready as we hope we are!! I had also been sick with a nasty cough the week before and my lungs were complaining and causing some wonderful coughing spasms from time to time. We were also more careful because the more horses that go over this trail, the looser and deeper the sand gets and it seems to be 40 miles in sand that in the past has been Max's and Malik's nemesis and they had both been a little tight at the 2nd check.