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Stensgar Mountain- First ride (real long)

Hi Dede--  Sounds like you have a really nice horse.  The +ACI-just riding+ACI-
you've done is a real good foundation for this sport.  My riding partner,
Marsha, had been an endurnace rider years ago, and all of a sudden she
decided it was time to get back into it.  Now, I was intrigued, but not all
that sure I'd want to go that fast  all the time.

Anyway, she talked me into going on a 15 mile +ACI-novice+ACI- ride with her so
she'd have someone to be with her in case her young horse had problems.  I'd
been in a car accident earlier this summer and hadn't ridden my little Buddy
for about 6 weeks, but thought, +ACI-oh, what the heck.  I could probably walk
15 miles if I had to, and of course, we can take our own sweet time.+ACI-  Our
horses are used to riding in the hills, so in spite of the layoff, my boy
was in pretty good shape.

So the innocents went off to slaughter.  The first thing the vet tells me at
check in is +ACI-he's a pudgy little appy, huh?+ACI- and I assured her that I was
trying to loose weight, and then she said, +ACI-no, I mean the horse+ACI- but she
did give me a once over and didn't say, +ACI-why, no dear, you're just fine+ACI-
either.  Then, she said he was in his late teens.  No waaaaaay+ACE-  Yes, she
said.  Well, in horse years I'm in my late teens, too, so we'll just take
this slower.  Regardless, he passed with all A's.  Yea+ACEAIQAhACEAIQAhACEAIQ-

At the ride meeting the manager made a point of saying +ACI-ride in control,
ride in control, ride in control+ACI- and I nodded my head in agreement.  Ah
yes, that's what I had in mind.  Of course, I had my trusty little Buddy,
the calm little appy, so nooooo problem.  I was a little concerned about my
friend Marsha's horse , Meia, though, as she was a younger horse ( and an
A-rab at that), but thought,  we'll stay in the back and out of trouble and
we'll be just fine.

So, the ride is about to begin.  The butterflies in my stomach were
unbelieveable+ACE-  I couldn't believe I was so nervous about a little jaunt
around the hill.  Anyway, we saddled, mounted and went into the post
position.  Or whatever its called.  A very strange thing I noticed.  Meia,
the A-rab I had worried about, was standing there looking around with bright
curious eyes, her head stretched out looking for grass.  Little Buddy, on
the other hand, had his head up, his tail up and was all worked up.  Hmmmmm.
We started in the back and the music +ACI- the William Tell Overature+ACI- was
playing REAL LOUD.  Slowly, slowly, Buddy crept up till we were in the
middle.  Oh, I thought, probably feels safer in the middle.

Then, Mr. Ride Starter, in a very loud voice, yells into the loudspeaker
+ACI-There're Off+ACI- and I darn near was.  Little Jarhead took off  up the trail
like a raped ape, knowing that it was a horse race and the last one got
eaten and it for darned sure wasn't going to be him+ACE-

Managed to get slowed down enough to let a few horses by us.  One cowboy
goes by and says +ACI-Ride in control+ACI-.  I swear, I am not a violent person, but
if I'd had a gun, and if I hadn't of needed all my arms and legs to hang on,
I'd probably have shot him.  In the back of me , I hear Marsha saying +ACI-slow
down and pull over+ACI-.  Great idea, Marsh.  Why haven't I thought about it?
We're trot-a-loping sideways now, but a few more horses go by, Marsha
catches up, we pull over, dismount.  Let them +ACI-settle+ACI- (HAH) and try again.
Jarhead was still not out of the race as far as he was concerned, but kept
him in compound low for the next few miles, which mercifully were gradually
up hill.  I kept asking Marsha when we were going to start having fun.  He
did settle in though, although both had to shy a few times, were really
pretty darn good.  The ride was beautiful.  The weather was beautiful.  The
trails were beautiful.  We took our time, finished dead last, and both
horses got all A's again.  Well, almost, sweet little Buddy got a B+- on his
guts.  But , the vet said he came back in real good shape.  All right.

Turns out, old Marsha and Meia could have done this ride by themselves
blindfolded.  What a nice mare.  But, I wouldn't have missed it for the
world.  I cannot tell you of all the nights I have gone to sleep going over
and over the ride, re-riding it and riding it anew.  If I never ride another
ride again, this will always be the highlite .

My husband spent the day at the camper watching the horses be vetted,
listening to the gossip, and watching the riders coming in.  He had a blast+ACE-
He thinks this is a great sport--not one he wants to participate in, but a
great spectator sport.  (Could it be the lycra???)

 I signed up for the 1999 ride season, even though the rides in this area
are few and far between.  I probablly will never do a 50.  I probably will
never break any speed records, but its like when I play golf, and I really
play against myself.  No, I don't think of myself as an +ACI-endurance rider +ACI-,
just as someone who enjoys being around and hearing the tales of derring do.
The excitement, the comraderie , the trails+ACE-  Why in the world wouldn't I?
Next time , though, I think I'll let all the other horses give me a good
head start--say maybe an hour or two.

I know this is long, but just one other quick thing.  I'd really like to
thank Linda and Eric Hovde for putting this ride on.  If it hadn't been for
them, it wouldn't have happened and I would never have known how much fun
this could be.  Unfortunately, this ride is one that is being cancelled for
the coming season.  However, if you change your mind,  I'll be there--riding
in controll+ACEAIQ-

Thanks again-- Gay and sweet little Buddy

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