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[RC] The Sun didn't shine on the Sunflower Classic! - Lucie Hess

Sorry for any possible double posts, my first post
from AOL didn't get to everyone.

Hillsdale, Kansas was NOT the place to be on Friday
and Saturday of this weekend.

I must first give a great deal of thanks to Susan and
Dan Kiel who put this ride on.  Susan had marked 3
different courses for us to use.  Each time the
weather got worse over the previous week, she went out
and changed the trail!  She wanted so much for this
ride to go on. 

I left my house in Columbia about 150 miles away to a
dry drive.  We were almost to KC before the rain
started.  Rounding the south outer loop of the highway
system was a huge bear, traffic stopped and slow, rain
was really heavy. Once we got within 30 miles the rain
started to look a little "squishy" when it hit the
windshield.  Oh, no... Snow!  There was a forecast for
snow showers starting at midnight and this was 4pm!
Well, the rain and snow were coming down and all of
the drainage ditches were full and running hard by the
time we arrived at the campground.  I made the best of
it and got the horses settled in.  I had my horse
Buddy, and my grandkid's horse, Rebel, who was going
to be ridden by a friend.  My friends who were going
to camp next to me had gotten there a  little bit
ahead of me and we weren't there longer than 30- 40
minutes before they decided to go back home.  They
were concerned about the horses being cold, not enough
blankets, etc.. so they took Rebel, whose rider was
coming from St. Louis, they called her, (5 or so hours
away) told her of the weather conditions and advised
her not to come.  I was concerned about the road
conditions, getting worse with all the snow, so I
decide to stay put.  There were some permanent pens on
the east side lower down on the ridge that had a
pretty good windbreak so I put Buddy there.  Plus the
floor of the pen  was gravel as he was already in
fetlock deep mud just standing at the trailer.

The ride meeting was to be at 7, so it was pretty
close to 6 by the time I and the horse got checked in.

I was soaked by that time.  At the time of the ride
meeting the trail had been remarked the 3rd time and
all the ride was to be on gravel and some asphalt
The plan was to change the 55 to a 50 and have the 30
and 75 mileage stay as planned.  Dr. Dane Fraiser was
VERY concerned about the health of the horses, he said
he has seen some of the sickest horses ever at very
cold and wet rides. So he advised folks to ride
carefully.  During the ride meeting, it lightning ed
and thundered. Oh, no Thundersnow.. always makes for
deep wet snow.
The friend who went with me and I went to dinner in
town, the roads were just getting covered, but by the
time we left for camp, you couldn't see and the roads
were covered completely.  Did I mention the snow
flakes were as big as your fist?
Folks literally were driving at this time trying to
get into camp.  Louise and Bruce Burton and Susan
Young, both got in around 11:30, they told me the next
morning, how bad the road conditions were, a real
White out, and they were in front of the snow plow!  

I went to bed after taking Buddy for a walk and giving
him his late night snack.  I was soaked  again by
I think I was in bed by 11 or so, snow was just coming
I  got up around 6:30, fed Buddy and then went to talk
to Management  around 7 to see what was going on.  I
was told the ride was cancelled, as we had 2-3 inches
of snow on the ground and after driving the course,
management decided the footing conditions were too
dangerous, not to mention it was still kinda raining
and snowing and the temps were hovering around
freezing.  The main concern was that the gravel roads
would cross asphalt roads and there were some asphalt
roads that needed to be ridden or ridden on the side
next to the road, but since you couldn't tell what was
gravel or pavement, management was VERY worried about
horse slipping and falling during the transition from
gravel to asphalt, since you couldn't see enough to
slow down! 
Susan was so disappointed, she was so apologetic, but
she had to make a decision and she made the right one,
in my opinion.    I had asked her if it could be held
on Sunday, she said that logistically with her help,
and the vets, she couldn't make it happen.. plus her
husband was leaving for Paris, France on Sunday.

Unfortunately some riders, particularly one, who I
won't mention names, were trying to talk Susan into
changing her mind.  They weren't very nice about it
either.  One girl said well, I'll pay the vets and put
on the ride.  There were threats to protest!  How
ridiculous.. some folks just need to get a life!  and
The ride was cancelled for the best of reasons, so
don't try to brow beat and threaten the ride
management to attempt to make them change their minds.
We waited around for it to warm above freezing before
hauling home, around 11 the sun came out and it
started to melt.  
The drive home was unremarkable, except we stopped at
a Mennonite food store and had a handmade sandwich of
very fresh meats and cheeses and Mennonite pastries..

So that's my story and I'm sticking to it. 

Susan and her help did the best they could do in the
most unfortuante of situations.  And I greatly
appreciate them.
I do think that ALL riders need to either put on a
ride or be part of management, before they start to
question decisions made by management that are made to
protect the horses and the riders.   
Just my opinion!  Hopefully, this ride can be
rescheduled for a later date.  It's a great location,
nice campgropund and an excellent trail!  

 Columbia, Missouri
 NATRC Region 6
 AERC # 65 
 AERC Central Region
 OCER member

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