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[RC] Chicken Chase 2008 Part 2 of 2 - April


Sunday morning dawned cool, cloudy, windy and misty. It didn't change much through the day. I saddled up adding lots of body glide to my calves and show sheen to Tanna's sides. My plan for the day was negative splits, going slightly faster each loop. Tanna tends to do well with negative splits, but in order to do negative splits, I have to keep the pace well under control the first loop and I hoped Tanna would be calm down enough from having gone on Friday.

We started down the road, Tanna doing a big trot. After a couple miles, I was able to put him into a small pocket by himself. I fought with him to keep him to an 8.5 - 10 mph trot. The first several miles of this loop was flat along the ridge and I wanted to make up some time, but not blow him out on it. Several riders passed us, me allowing them to get ahead so we'd be back in a pocket. Some made comments about the way he was acting even though he'd gone on Friday. He was very forward and extremely frustrated that I wouldn't let him run all to pieces.

When we reached that first steep switchback, we were still by ourselves and I hopped off and skittered down the hill on foot. At the bottom, I hopped back on and we trotted and cantered to the next hill. Off I hopped and walked up the hill. We proceeded in this manner until we came in sight of a couple riders. I immediately backed off. I did not want Tanna with any other horses. He was easier to handle as long as he couldn't see another horse and since we were alone, I felt free to do my own thing.

During that loop, I was passed by Mike on his grey gelding and then Michelle caught me at a creek. She was concerned that she'd cut trail, but I told her I was going slow and as long as she'd seen the spotter twice she was in good shape. Off she went up the hill and I hopped off and walked. Dixie and Sue passed as I was preparing to remount. I was pretty sure we were at the back now. Whew. No more horses to pass us! I got Tanna to pee and then remounted and off we went. He was very forward, but controllable. I knew he was wasting energy being so foolish, but decided it was better than allowing him to blast up the hills. He'd gotten Bs on muscle tone on Friday and I didn't want to repeat that.

When we popped out on the pavement near camp, I had Tanna walk the quarter mile back to the timers. He wasn't acting too bad at that point. He was starting to relax. I had come in a little faster than my plan (but not too bad), so I was killing time to get my average down.

Tanna pulsed down ok and into the vet. I've been practicing his trot outs. I speed up until I'm running pretty fast at the end. Then I stop, turn Tanna around and go back to the vet the same way. He got good grades and I took him back to eat. He ate a decent amount of hay, grain and apples. The 40 minute hold seemed just about right as I prepared to go back out.

We headed out on the blue loop. This loop I had a small back pack I'd received from Tamra Schoech at Yellowhammer. I had it stuffed full of hay. My plan was to hand feed Tanna while walking the hills. Tanna wasn't interested during those first couple of hills, but no big surprise since he'd just eaten.

As we hiked up a switchback, we saw a pair of riders headed down the paved hill. They were actually 3 or 4 miles ahead of us as we still had an out and back section of trail to traverse. Fortunately, Tanna is very good at knowing he has to follow the trail to catch up, so I had no problem heading him in the right direction. We trotted and cantered the out and back gravel trail with the riders ahead of us passing going the other direction. I really enjoy that aspect of out and back trails, especially when the trail is wide and easy passing. Out to the turn-around and then back to the pavement. I normally would have dismounted, but decided I'd be safer on horseback and down the road we went.

When the road leveled out, we moved into a good trot and passed Dixie walking her horse. We kept trucking on and caught up with Mike and Sue about the time we moved off the road. We rode with them for a little bit, passed them, then they passed us.  Tanna was pitching a huge fit, so I backed him off. We caught up with Roxanne and played leap frog with her for a bit before I finally decided we had to get back by ourselves again. Tanna smacked me hard in the face during a tantrum. Good thing it missed my nose! While Roxanne moved off down the trail, I electrolyted. That's fun from the saddle with a spinning horse. I was pretty proud of myself.

At this point, I began pulling hay from the backpack and feeding Tanna. He'd snake his head around and snatch a bite, then keep trotting on. Worked pretty well. When I was off, I would feed him, too. He ate about half what I'd brought, so I was pretty pleased. Definitely a successful experiment. Finally, we climbed onto the ridge with only a mile and a half to the vet check. I had him trot a decent speed, despite his insistence he wanted to go faster.

Into the vet check. I left the saddle on again. It was just chilly and I didn't want to risk a cramp. He was down quickly and trotted out nicely for the vets. He ate during the entire vet check until just a few minutes before heading out. Ted LaComette was really helpful this check. He gave me a diet Coke as I was pulsing in and followed that up with some peanut m&ms. Yummy. I got Daniel to trot Tanna out so I could see. Everything looked good to go for our last loop.

Ted gave me some m&ms for the road and I mounted up to head out. Tanna cantered briskly across the field to the pavement. We trotted to the gravel and off we went again. I wasn't holding him back this loop. If he wanted to go, we'd go. Except for 2 good climbs and the steeper downhills (which I got off and walked and ate m&ms), we trotted and cantered that loop. He wasn't a maniac this loop, so he did slow down and walk when he thought the footing was a little iffy. But I let him decide the speed. As we got closer and closer to the finish line, he got faster and faster. When we made the last turn down the homestretch, Tanna let loose with a full gallop and I let him. We were having a ball! I whooped loudly as we passed the finish line and let him canter to the pavement where I hopped off, completely happy with him and the fact that I'd held him back so that he'd have that much energy at the finish.

I hung around the vets waiting for my time to be recorded and letting Tanna eat grass. When I got my time on my card, I went to our vet check area and pulled his tack. I noticed his back was a little sore. Not too bad at that point, but not good. I threw his cooler on him and immediately went to the vets. I tossed his cooler and rump rug on Daniel (he didn't mind, they were warm!) while the vet checked him over. He completed, but the vet confirmed the back soreness and we discussed that and the new saddle I had used. Tanna's sides were also sore again. We have to work on the saddle to take care of those issues before our next ride. I replaced the cooler and went to take care of Tanna. I hoisted the saddle on his back over the cooler to take it back to the trailer.

After settling Tanna in his pen with plenty of carrots, apples and hay, I went back to get my vet check stuff and chat with the people there. I got another t-shirt with the Brushing or Riding cartoon (different color this time).

On the way home Monday, our water pump went out on our truck. Fortunately, Ted and Debra LaComette were behind us (barely) and we called them. They pulled over and then followed us to a repair shop in Portland, TN. They made sure we were safe and sound at the shop before continuing on their journey home. It's so nice to have good friends!!

I had a great time at Chicken Chase. It's one of my favorites ever. I love the trails, the ride management and the camp. I just can't say enough good things about the trail. They're challenging, but doable. Definitely not boring! I'm so proud of my horse for tackling those trails and coming through in such fine shape. The National Championships will be totally fun! Can't wait!

Nashville, TN

"It doesn't matter how slowly you go - as long as you don't stop!" - Confucius