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[RC] PAC Story - 4 - Steph Teeter

Time to finish this story - back in Idaho, riding my own horses, marking
trail for next week's ride, - the images of Argentina are fading fast.

- the ride -

Off we go on the 3rd loop - just me and La Gordita - and the dunes and the
beach and the pines... a long loop, (37.5 km - almost 23 miles)  - riding
alone, which I like to do, focus on the horse and the scenery. The mare was
forward and willing, even alone, she has a lot of heart. Long loop though,
and afternoon sun - we both arrived a little hot and discouraged. Another
hold, everything fine with the horse. My legs were still sore, but better
than before. I hadn't seen much of the others - Miguel and Leo still going,
Miguel still moving up. Hugo had pulled, Hugito was still in but his horse
was getting tired. My mare actually felt very good, we were still hopeful
for a decent completion.

The US riders were doing well - Valerie had pulled after loop 2, but
everybody else was still going strong. Meg Sleeper was also riding an
Argentine horse, owned by Carlos Larerre - another major breeder of
endurance Arabians in Argentina. The horse had qualified the year previous
with a 2-day 160km ride, hadn't done anything since, so Meg was taking it
real easy. Danielle and Cia were both moving up, horses going strong. Steve
and Dinah Rojek were holding steady in the top 15, doing well.

Loop 4 was a fun one, I met up with Steve and Dinah and we rode together
most of the loop. The horses were glad to have the company and we cruised
along. Through the shady town of Carislo - sandy streets, manicured yards,
lovely homes. Lots to look at. And another lovely gallop along the water,
Dinah and Phoenix splashing through the shallow waves, Steve and Finally
staying up a little higher, as usual the perfect picture of horse and rider.
Steve is one of those incredible horsemen - always riding in balance, the
horse perfectly balanced too. He and Miguel are probably the finest riders
I've seen on the Endurance trail.

I let Steve and Dinah go when we hit the dunes and headed back in, being
very careful with my horse, many more sandy miles to go - save the legs. I
was feeling like Gordita and I were a team - she was still willing and happy
to move out, but also tuned in to me, not as worried about the other horses
out there. Nothing like 120 km to settle a horse down :)

Back at the hold, vetted in fine, still looking good though needing to eat
and drink. Hugito had pulled, so it was Miguel and Leo and i at this point -
still going. The next loop was the toughest. We had been told this by the
OC, so no surprises, but it really was nasty. Lots of deep sand, actually
almost entirely deep sand. I walked the sand with Gordita, trotted the
downhill slopes and anything flat that came along. Took forever and I hated
to lose time, but figured it wasn't worth the risk for this horse to go
faster. There was one section where the trail was shared with the final
loop - I saw Mercedes coming the other way, Kasal trotting out very strong,
moving up. Miguel had moved up to 2nd place by then (10km to go), Mercedes
was just behind him in 3rd. I saw Leo too, behind Mercedes - looking good.
Waved to all, and wished them good luck. We finally hit the beach and
galloped along the hard sand at the waters edge, she was still strong -
amazing horse. Back through the town streets and pines and back to camp.

We arrived to camp just after the top three raced in, lots of people
watching and cheering along the finish - Gordita and I headed to the finish
stretch (still one more loop to go) and John was there shouting go! what the
hell! - so we galloped in, lots of cheering, Gordita felt so proud... what
the hell :)

We vetted in ok again, though the vet thought she was getting a little sore
on one of her front legs - be careful. 15km left to go (9 miles) - we'd go
easy, almost done.  We still had light as we left on the last loop, but
night fell about half way through the loop. This is my favorite thing -
riding in the dark at the end of a 100 miler. Tired and a little spacy, just
letting the horse find her way, moving along. I love having the 'other'
senses take over - the sounds and feels and smells are stronger as the
vision dims. And Gordita was still moving forward, happy to trot when the
footing was good. There wasn't much for marker lights on the trail, just a
few flashing red lights (very few), but the mare seemed confident following
the trail of the horses that had gone before us. This trail didn't go down
to the beach, but along the road above it, with the beach houses and hotels,
dogs barking, a few cars parked above the water. Quiet and eerie with the
streetlights, the sound of the ocean below.

A few more trails and crossings, through the woods, towards the lights, and
back, again, across the finish. John was there to greet me, and Pablo and
all the Pavlovsky kids (more kids and grandkids than horses I think). Miguel
was finished (3rd place, Mercedes and Kasal had passed him and Tigre in the
final stretch) sitting with his family, looking tired but content. Miguel's
twin brother, Santiago, had come for the weekend too - also a doctor, also a
horseman, but competes in driving instead of Endurance. He looked very proud
of his brother.

The kids were cheering and the music playing (some spanish reggae stuff) and
we were feeling great heading for the completion exam and trotout. Dancing
to the music, happy happy. The mare had felt wonderful the last loop, I was
pretty pleased with her. Pulsed down, to the vet, trot out. Uh oh.... she
looked great going out, but coming back there was a slight head nod,
especially the last few steps. The kids were still cheering, but for me time
stood still. Ann Stuart (chef d'equipe for US) came over and stood next to
me while the vets deliberated. My heart was pounding - Ann said - she's not
bad, but not perfect - it could go either way.  Gulp.

Pass! What incredible relief. I had pulled once before at the end of a 100
miler, it's the pits. What relief. I thanked the vets, thanked the staff,
thanked Ann, thanked the kids, thanked the gods...  thanked Miguels' mare,
Mora Afamada.

next - just a little more - the celebration


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