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[RC] Jennings, Part Three - Howard Bramhall

I looked behind, off my right shoulder, and watched them approach and then fly by.  If there is a gait beyond full-throttle, wide-opened gallop, this pair was in it.  I had never seen a horse run this fast in my life.  The girl had, obviously, lost control and I do believe this steed thought he was approaching the Preakness Stakes finish line at Pimlico.  He went by me and America so quickly it looked like we were standing still, when, in fact, we were close to wide open. 
 
The horse continued at this pace ahead of us and I noticed they were approaching a very large body of water completely covering the wide dirt road and over 40 feet in length.  Water was everywhere alongside this part of the dirt road we were using as a horse trail (welcome to SwampWorld).  The racehorse, never once breaking stride, decided he was going to leap this entire thing, and that's exactly what he attempted to do.  I swear, as he was airborne over this large body of water, he retracted all 4 legs, quite similar to an aircraft after take-off to reduce wind resistance (drag).  And, even though he didn't clear the entire body of swamp water, he traveled well over 25 feet of it, and came crashing down in the middle where the depth of the water had to be over 3 feet. 
 
This 1,000 lb. creature, with a 100 lb. rider on his back, did a belly-flop the likes of which I have never seen before. The splash was incredible, because of the speed, the weight, and the lowering of the landing gear (just in time). Simultaneously, the rider let out a hair raising scream as she came crashing down from her two second space flight; she landed so hard her head crashed down on top of her horse's neck. America and I were close enough to see the entire event.
 
In spite of this amazing horse & rider long jump (a new world record, never to be beaten, had just been set) the tiny-hiney female rider remained on the horse after hitting the water.  Her legs and entire being were wrapped around this horse in some sort of death grip, because if she were to release any of it, death might surely grip her off this incredibly insane horse.  The Arabian racehorse never missed a beat, picked up right where he had left off upon landing and they soon disappeared, ahead of me and America, into the darkness.  The woman was too scared to scream any more.  Or, she was in her moment of Zen and was no longer afraid of anything Life or Death could throw her way.  Right then I doubted if anything I might see the rest of the day would ever top this.  The funny thing is, I was the only witness, besides the rider, and my credibility, while telling a story, has come under question lately.  Nobody will believe this, even if I tell it accurately.  
 
The first loop was only ten miles.  Three of us got into camp so quickly I'm not going to tell ya'll how short that part of my ride was.  Let's just say, I wasn't going to be the first one in, so I got off my horse and walked almost a half mile until I handed my vet card to one of the volunteers.  A few of the riders passed me, but I didn't care.  America and I went right thru the vet check quickly and I knew we'd most likely catch the riders in front of us on loop two, which was 15 miles. 
 
During our first break I fed America (he always is a good eater during a ride) and gave him some electrolytes.  I tried to hydrate myself (no beer, not yet anyway) with tomato and orange juice with a little coffee that was left over from this morning (it was still morning).  If I had remembered to bring the whiskey I would have added some to my coffee, but I had left the bottle at home.  Not soon after our arrival, Jen and Erica show up with their horses.  They have already vetted through and are only ten or 15 minutes behind me.  I'm quite surprised they are traveling this fast, but, hey, what can I say?  Me telling someone they're going too fast is kind of like Bill Clinton telling a buddy he really shouldn't cheat on his wife.  haha.
 
We head out on loop two, first in an extended trot, than, in a canter.  Within 20 minutes or less, we have caught up to the front riders, a group of three wimmen, one college age, one mid twenties and another older than myself.  And, the four of us have all come to Jennings to boogie this week-end, of that, there is no doubt.
 
We don't talk much.  I sometimes like to gab, to see if I can get them all to slow down into a trot, and, eventually this we do, but not for long, and not because of anything I said.  This is a fast ride and I don't think anyone in this group of riders are going to approach it any other way.  I keep America back, thinking I'll let one of the others set the pace.  If I let America pass all of them, the speed would increase more than I'd like to see.  It's early in the game and we have a long way to go.  So far, this is turning out to be one fast Florida ride.