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[RC] rocks, hills, weather/my first 75 - Ed Kilpatrick

i have only done distance riding for a little over two years now.  i just really enjoy the challenge, really enjoy the people in this sport and the comradeship. i did my first 75 miler at the ponce de leon pirate run a few weeks ago.  i was signed up for the 55 and prepared for the 55. i felt really comfortable with my horse's condition and preparation for the 55.  i had some friends doing the 75 and they said they needed one more rider in order to be able to get points, so would i pleeeeease do the 75?  so for me, taking some time to change my mental gears was important.  i really felt like my horse could do it, if we just went slower and steady.  but i had to change my thoughts and attitude about how to do the longer ride.  sometimes, it is not the distance that gets you, but the hours in the saddle. my wife kathi lee, told me,"you know you want to do it, get out there and do it!" well, i will try not to make this a long story,  but we did it, we finished, it was pretty tough, it got hot and it was a long way to go.  but it was one for the memory book!  i was the last one in that evening and knew i would be, so i told kim williams, the ride manager, to just go ahead with the awards ceremony without me, i didnt want to hold everybody up.  well, nothing doing!  what i didnt know while out on the trail was that joe shoech gave the rallying cry to meet me at the finish line!  when i got near the finish line (in the dark), i saw a shadowy figure which turned out to be kathi lee.  she told me, well, are you gonna loaf around all night, or are you gonna lope in this last hundred yards and show me what that old horse is made of? i could see the faint glow of the in timer's light just ahead, but what i couldnt see until they turned on the truck lights and swarmed around me was  the entire crowd or riders, volunteers, ride staff and vet staff that had come down to meet me, and greeted me with a huge cheer like i had won an olympic go ld medal!   
well, my horse, gorgeous george, vetted out fine in the few minutes it took to get to the vet check area. thanks to all who made it special, kim and all of her family and friends, for a wonderful ride, kathi lee,michelle, kay, paula, pat and others who talked me into it, joe and howard for making such a fuss on my behalf, randy, for coming out to check on me to see if i was still on the way in.  i second-guessed my decision to do the longer distance a few times out there on the trail, never about me, but out of concern for my horse.  in his eyes, he had already finished his job hours ago.  i had just asked him to go an extra 20 miles and he never faltered.  if there is anything to be commended here, it is the heart and spirit of gorgeous george and the many, many horses like him who are so willing to go the distance.   ed