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[RC] Fwd: JD's Carolina ride - John Teeter

forwarded by request:
Hello to all,

My brief summation of this ride is to agree that it was cold and wet. And I saw some beautiful things.

My Arab-Appy Lippy and I had been out of action more than a year, first due to his suspensory strain, and my work schedule. This was our last chance in 2008 to get back in the game, so on we went under sunny skies on Friday, with a forecast of 100% rain for Saturday.

We slept through the rain from about 2am, then tacked up in the rain. Temps about 45 degrees. We headed out after the last rider leaving camp, and headed onto a dirt road that was a mix of sand, clay, water, and gravel. Lippy came alive, but stayed under control. My main goal on the 55 was to keep his stride in a normal range of motion (no crazy first loop wild man trot), and the excitement level down to a dull roar. His winter coat is much thicker than last year's, so I had considered a trace clip, but decided against it.

First loop 20.something miles, and we did it alone but for a few miles with Tim and Lara Worden, and a couple of nice gals. Their horses had a nice thing going, and Lippy offered to pass. I thought he would go ahead, then lag when he realized he was leaving them, but on we forged.

Back in camp, I was suffering from cold, wet hands and feet. My hands were so cold, it took me 10 minutes to get off his breast collar, as I couldn't work the scissors snap. He was into the food, and we vetted through with a caution that his hamstrings were tight. I tried to run warm water over my hands, but only cold came out of the tap in the restroom. I couldn't light my campstove, as I couldn't turn the knob on the propane. I rubbed them with a towel as hard as I could, and they painfully came back to life. Dry fleecy gloves on, and out we went again. More rain, temp dropping.

Second loop a repeat, and about 3 miles from camp I heard the pitter pat of hooves, and turned to see Steve Rojek and two companions cantering quietly, smoothly, beautifully, in perfect balance on this slippery road. Each horse in perfect tune with its expert rider. They spoke a friendly greeting as they eased by, conversing like they were walking in the park, not working through the 100 miles I believe they were doing. Each man looked like he would rather be nowhere else. I was blown away at the image of balance and coordination they portrayed.

When I finished up this loop, it was gloomy evening, and my husband Mark had arrived, hoping I was finished. When I told him one more loop, he looked taken aback. "Just 12 more miles or so!" I chirped. He heated up the car for me to warm up, and I changed socks and shoes. The rain held up for a few minutes, then we fitted my headlamp to helmet, something I normally don't use. This ride started at 8am, so here we were heading back out in rainy, foggy darkness by ourselves at 6:15. I know, I know, how could I be that slow? We spent a good bit of time munching where possible along the way, and I walked all the slippery stuff given my suspensory paranoia. As Lip knew, any possible left turn was a shortcut back to camp, but he stepped up and trotted where the footing was good, and slowed to a walk for the hills, or any deep sand or mucky clay. We heard our foursome of friends behind us once or twice, and Lip listened, then trotted off on his own.

A mile long, straight stretch with great footing signalled the end was no more than 3 miles away. Lippy lifted into a strong trot, and I felt like the reins weighed nothing in my hands, my bum was a feather posting from the soggy saddle, and his feet skimmed the ground. I got tears in my eyes as I remembered this feeling of joy, anticipation, hope and gratitude to a wonderful horse. This is our sixth year in endurance together, and we'll never set the world on fire, but we've surpassed my dreams, as well as plumbed the depths.

Kind volonteers took pulse, slipped a blanket on him, handed us hay, and offered to trot out. My husband gave me a hot cup of tea. The first time ride vet said, "Good job", and I knew I'd sleep well that night, despite my sore muscles. Thanks to all who put this ride on. See you next spring!
Deb Ambrose
1155 miles
Aberdeen, NC


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