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[RC] [Enduring] The Red Rocket - Far's Fast 55 - Kevin Myers

Day Two at Old Pueblo in Sonoita was to be a big day for Far and me: I have been building speed on him since last October and I knew I wanted to hold him back less and let him move out more this weekend.

He was saddled and ready to go only moments before the start time and I had planned to start at the front of the pack, so I had to rush to get to the number-taker and make my way up towards the front of the pack. Far is the kind of horse that makes you feel nervous just getting on him and feeling how close he is to his untamed side.

He was as good as a pro and just happy to move out. I caught up to Clydea who was riding her husband's horse, Pepe, for the first time. We shared with each other how nervous we were and before long we were moving out down the hard-packed service road - Clydea at an extended trot and Far at a canter with lots of loft. He was very forward and did not respond to the bit or to my constant requests to bend a little at the pole. I have been working on his canter for several weeks now - he seems mechanically more suited to that gait than the trot most of the time, so this was to be an experiment with a different gait, too.

We climbed up and along a valley draw in a pack of six or eight people; alternating the gate-opening duty as we went along. We turned off onto the single track which would signify the start of crossing three or four climbs and some breathtaking views that would make your heart sing. Far was strong and pulled hard, no matter what the gait or the speed. We were up in the front five and the terrain was getting more technical and more challenging.

We passed the number taker at the road and saw the refreshment station for the runners who were out there sharing some of the trails with us on their 51 mile ordeal. As we climed up the mountain, Christoph Shork jumped off and started running. Suddenly I found myself up front and alone - which had not been the plan at all - and as I looked at the three different sets of ribbons going off in various directions and various colors, I quickly regretted not taking better note at the ride meeting of which robbons to follow. Far and I moved along, me with my map in hand, and Far following a trail with not a horse print in sight. It was a strange feeling and after a while I began to doubt myself. I slowed the pace down with the hope of hearing horses behind me and sure enough, Christoph and Clydea came upon me after a while. Phew.

We rode together for several miles, stopping at water where the horses would hardly drink, then down the hard-packed service road, past the runner's cars and down into a valley that would give Far ample miles to enjoy his negotaited canter. There were still more gates - too many to count.

Carrie Miracle Jordan appeared out of nowhere at a canter, and she and Christoph set off at a faster pace and soon Clydea and I were alone. Far settled into a much more manageable mindframe, we trotted more and catered less and within the hour we would see some 25 milers heading home: we knew the 30-mile out vet check was within a mile or so.

We pulled into lunch, pulsed, trotted and let the horses eat their way through the next hour. Christoph and Carrie were about five minutes ahead of us - we had a ten mile loop out - up and along a ridge, back down into a wash and to the ranch before circling back up over a mountain to the out check for a trot-by. Far and Pepe were pacing well - Far still prefering to canter and settling in to a really nice groove. We trotted by the vet and started the 12 plus mile trip back home the way we had left in the morning.

We knew Troy and Garret were fairly close behind us and as the miles turned, we began to feel quite attached to a top four placing opportunity, so we maintained our speed, and became quite skilled at opening and closing the remaining eight gates between the out check and base camp without dismounting.

The horses drank at the water tanks and maintained a good pace and good attitude. They even did well as we passed the people on the trail who were enjoying a little target practice.

We crossed the finish line hand in hand just before 1:30 with a ride time of just under 5.5 hours. What a rush! Clydea and I tied for third place - it is years and years and years since I finished at that end of the pack. Far's CRI was 52/52 at the one-hour re-presentation and his trot-out made me proud.

Thank you, Clydea, for an amazing ride! And thank you, Leslie Sptizer, for introducing me to this amazing equine. What a horse! Is he a horse!

Posted By Kevin Myers to Enduring at 3/08/2009 07:23:00 AM