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[RC] Million Pines & Bekki Crippen (long) - rides2far

Just back from Soperton...Million Pines ride....the  friendliest, best
organized, best food, best camp, best ride meeting, best awards, best
community support, etc. etc. Not enough superlatives to brag on it.

This ride was special so I'm going to tell it from just one perspective.
For anybody who doesn't know who Bekki Crippen is you can read her first
ride story at http://www.endurance.net/Stories/ShowStory.asp?Counter=126
Picking up where that story ends, Bekki competed on Buddy for a couple of
years. After the first year or so he really didn't need to be doing
rides, he was pretty old and it wasn't his thing but he was willing to do
it for the perks at the vet check...and it was handy to have him around
to clean up everyone in camp's uneaten beet pulp. >g< But finally it
wasn't fair to Buddy any more to ask him to do 25 so we decided to find
Bekki another horse. NOT an easy order. It's hard enough to find a
beginner type horse...one that we could trust for Bekki to ride alone
several miles from home was tough enough, but to find one that was safe
enough for her to ride in a ride...and could COMPLETE a ride was a tall

You people who refer to the "great saddle hunt" or the "great horse hunt"
have no idea just how GREAT (insurmountable type great) a hunt can be.
When you've got a female with the tenacity of a bulldog, who has a lot of
time on her hands and put her on a quest...that's when you see great.
Bekki checked the ads first thing when the paper came out and called to
read them to me. One by one I'd rule each one out. Finally there'd be one
that sounded promising. We'd spend a Saturday driving out to find out the
people were either clueless or liars. Many disappointments. Then there
were the ones that were promising but just didn't work out. We brought
home a nice little gray. Too much horse. Two four hour round trips of
hauling. I posted to Ridecamp and got a flood of offers. Many GENEROUS
people offering horses that sounded like horses I wanted for myself!
But...nothing close enough that sounded right for her. 

Time passed. Nothing. Finally, to give Bekki something to do I taught her
how to search Equine.com. Big mistake. :-) Now she was wanting to look at
horses in Oregon. >g< But then she found one about 3 hours from here that
sounded perfect so we drove down. He was 14.1 perfect. He'd done 4-H and
was wonderful in a ring. perfect. He'd done ENDURANCE. He was wonderful
looking. He was great in the open field around the house and in the ring.
We bought him. Brought him home, I went to Kentucky that weekend and my
horse fell on me and I broke my collarbone. It was a month before I got
to go to her house and see what was going on with the new horse. He was a
maniac on trail! I couldn't believe it. I'd never known  a horse that was
10x worse on a woods trail than out in the open but this one wasn't
anything I needed to ride on trail, much less Bekki. So...sold him to
someone who wanted a ring horse and back to the drawing board. 

Finally found a wonderful trail horse, brought him home for a trial. He
was so great with her around the farm but after a week of gentle riding
was totally unsound. I wondered if after all this time she'd just like to
have the horse to ride. I said, "Bekki, if this horse could carry you
around the farm but couldn't do endurance what would you want to do?" She
didn't hesitate. Just said, "Keep looking". She's very stubborn and she
loves endurance.

When Bekki did her first ride it was at Million Pines and Wesley made a
huge fuss over her, so her whole year is spent looking forward to that
ride. When it rolled around last year and we had nothing for her to ride
we borrowed a retired 100 miler that we hoped could get her through it.
But, when we got there he remembered the good old days and had an
adrenaline overload. She couldn't ride him so she spent the weekend
brushing him. Another year gone.

So...it's been 3 years or so of looking. During this time Bekki's saved
every penny she's made with her own personal money maker a female
Champion Bearded Collie. She bought a trailer, and a nice 1/2 ton pickup
truck. She had $2500 or so saved up and still no prospect of the "right"

Finally, I guess around Nov. or so she called and read an ad in the paper
to me, "Gentle Arab $1500". Saturday morning I picked her up and we drove
45 min. or so to the place to see the wonderful horse the woman
described. There was a beautiful farm, nice long driveway up to a nice
house. Two fat Appaloosas, and a *very* skinny...boney, rain rot
encrusted Arab. The guy led him out and I almost left but thought, what
the heck we might as well make the most of the outing for Bekki. I'm a
pretty small woman but I felt guilty getting on the poor thing. There was
a dip between his spine and hip bones, he was that skinny. I also knew
I'd have to wash the saddle pad after it had been on that back, but I got
on and turned him up their woods trail  to the field on top of the hill.
When he started up the hill I could not believe I was on the same animal.
He felt like a CADILLAC. His trot was effortless and long. He broke into
a nice big but controllable canter around the field and never tried to
build into a runaway or anything.

So I went into horsetrader mode. These people were actually good people,
but not horse people. They'd had an App founder so they'd put the two in
a small paddock and were tossing in hay which the App guarded and the
Arab watched him eat. They honestly didn't realize how skinny he was.
They had no shelter at all and he had no body fat. I explained to them
that the horse needed blanketed, kept out of weather, fed 3 small meals a
day with this and this and this. That he needed yadda yadda yadda to get
rid of the rain rot, etc. etc. etc. I honestly did them a favor talking
them out of the horse since they weren't evil and didn't want to hurt the
poor horse, but really didn't have the time or facilities to heal him.
Bekki had more time than she knew what to do with and this was the
perfect project to keep her busy. I got him for $500 and that gave Bekki
money to have a spending spree getting feed aditives, blankets, and of
course a new turquoise bridle. >g<  People warned me that he might turn
into "Mr. Hyde" once he got the weight back on him but I figured if he
did she'd still enjoy rescuing him and he'd enjoy being rescued.

So...this weekend was the moment of truth. The horse looks 200% better.
No more rain rot. Round hips. Still a tad ribby but getting there. Bekki
had been riding him at home all winter and all was going well but who
knows how one will do in competition? First I planned to ride with her in
the 30 on my Welsh Pony but when we went for a test ride last week my
pony quit and "Graystoke" (the Arab) was still cruising along. Plan B.
Since Josie was stuck at school in the yearly achievement testing week
I'd borrow Ben Amil and ride him with Bekki. Ben's 22 and though still
fast and wants to go he's sensible. 

Bekki had butterflies all week. We loaded the horses in Bekki's rig. I
was a guest, she was a RICH woman with truck, trailer and an ARABIAN
horse of her own. I was so worried that it would be a disappointment like
last year. I'd figured that if I'd brought the pony and Graystoke had
been a fool we could trade, but Ben would be too much for her so there
was no Plan B. We pulled in, unloaded him in the huge campfull of horses
and he calmly walked over and drank half a bucket of water and started
eating hay. HALLELUJAH! That set the tone for the whole weekend. Saying
he was perfect is an understatement. He trotted for trot-outs. He left
his buddy without looking back. He acted like a veteran on the picket
line. He never shied on the test ride. He didn't act like a veteran
endurance horse. I own two of those. He acted MUCH better than that. :-) 

At the start of the ride we let everyone get out of camp and left about
10 min. late but still were with a few other horses (86 started). It was
a mile of open dirt road and our horses were hyped. Graystoke just got in
a zone and kept up. No tailgating. No silliness. Just in the zone. After
a while I rode behind Bekki some and she was slightly twisted in the
saddle holding her sponge out to the side. I told her to straighten up
and feel her seatbones hit the saddle and she was perfectly straight the
rest of the day. I'd rather have her on my horse than a lot of riders. 
At the vet check he pulsed right down and ate well. Everyone warned her
to watch out for me (which she enjoyed) as we left and off we went for
the next 15. 

Now, I was riding Ben Amil, the horse my daughter usually rides and this
was my first time on him. He's totally different than Kaboot but he's a
trotting machine. I held him back all day and he was wanting more. I
tried to keep him slowed down to be fair to Graystoke, but Graystoke was
game and when we put him in front he maintained the same pace. All this
was faster than Bekki had ever ridden on Buddy and she was the primary
casualty. I asked her if she'd like to walk awhile and she insisted "NO".

We finished 50 and 52 (she was 50) and you've never seen a brighter
smile. I was smiling pretty big too since I realized suddenly that this
was an elevator ride and I got to go get in another 50 on both Ben & me.

I later said I wouldn't blink if somebody offered $2500 for Graystoke.
Bekki said "Not for a MILLION!" I think the whole Southeast breathed a
sigh of relief that she's got a horse. Not just any horse...a GOOD one!
Suzanne Solis was bragging on him to her and said, "that's a 50 or even
100 mile horse" and Bekki stated flatly "50". >g< (she's always wanted to
do a 50 but draws the line there)

Once Graystoke sheds off this summer and we're ready for a really nice
"After" picture I'll get somebody with a webpage to put on a before and
after of him. For now I am officially declaring the nationwide hunt for
Bekki a horse OVER! :-))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))


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