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Shamrock Ride - story

Shamrock ride:

I had to work late Thursday.  I told the engineer to get his
comments to me on Wednesday, but no, he had to wait till Thursday
afternoon to get them to me.  So, it was past 7 before I could 
leave work.

Friday, pack up the truck, double check the packing list, load
up Drake and start down the mountain.  Did I remember the directions
to the ride?  Drive all the way to the bottom of the mountain,
turn around, drive back up the mountain.  Look all over the house
for the directions.  Finally go back to truck. Yep, there it is
in the truck just laughing at me.  So start back down the mountain.
I'm only half an hour late in starting, I have plenty of time.

Get to the freeway, drive along listening to the radio.  Just outside
of Fort Collins get to the dreaded "Under Construction".  It's one
lane all the way into Wyoming.  Still, not too bad on traffic, if you
ignore the foreigners who have never seen the plains before.  Almost
had a run in with one of them - 35 in a 65, and trying to stop, they
were all looking out the right side window, including the driver.

So, I get past them and straighten out.  Check the map, make the correct
turn off, drive a bit, more construction, find the school house and
make the turn.  The map says follow the signs.  There is a small sign
that reads "Endurance ride".  There is only one sign for the next 10
miles.  Follow a dirt track, some times road, watch for deer and antelope.
Beginning to wonder if I went the right way, when I see a lot of rigs
out in the middle of nowhere.

They all look like endurance rider rigs, you know, stuff hanging off
them, corrals, saddles, solar showers.  Find a nice place to park
and settle in.  I found the ride manager who gave me the entire
riders meeting pitch in a single minute.  I could sign up after
dinner, and vet in come morning.  OK.

Set up the tent, double check that Drake has food and water, even if
he won't eat or drink.  Wander around a bit to find where everything is.

Here's a picture of ridecamp.  You are in the middle of a great field
of grass.  There is an old barn and a very old house that hasn't been
lived in for many years.  There are hills on two sides, and just more 
fields on the other two sides.  Around the camp, the field has been mowed.
Elsewhere the grass is knee high to a horse.  There is a bit of a stream
running through the field, although you don't see it till you step in it.
There are a few trees, old of course, around the house.  

I untied Drake and led him to the water.  He wouldn't drink from the
tank.  But he did think the grass looked good.  So I hand grazed him
for an hour or so.

Most of the horses out on day one were already back.  Dinner was started
about 5:30.  After dinner were awards.  Then I was back at the truck.
I grazed Drake again.  He ate grass and his mash, but turned up his
nose at old dry hay.  I filled out my paper work and was officially
entered for the next day.  My stomach grumbled at me.  Nerves?

Early Saturday morning with a stomach ach, I got up and checked on Drake.
He still hadn't eaten.  Stomach demanded immediate attention and I 
hurried to the port-a-potty.  The big D hit me.  Just what I needed.
I visited the port-a-potty a few more times.  I did my massage thing
to stop any further flow, which did work before the ride started.

I gave Drake a mash of Equine-Senior, grain, 1 dose of electrolytes 
and a bunch of water. He wasn't interested.  I hand grazed him for
awhile.  I also found the old outhouse which was cleaner and smelled
better than the new modern port-a-potty.  

When the vets showed up at 6:30, I went out and vetted in.  Drake
got all As.  This is good.  This is the first time he didn't get
a B or lower on gut sounds.  Guess the grass was good.  I gave him
a light dose of electrolytes via syringe.  I saddled him up, and
got ready for the ride.

Just before 8, the ride meeting was called.  Do this loop in this
direction, ignore the white, follow the red and orange.  Do second
loop this direction. Do third loop this direction.  End of meeting.
I left Drake at the trailer.  He is all excited.  He knows what a
ride is.  At 8, 25 riders head out.  A little later, a few more riders
leave.  A few minutes later a couple more riders go out.  A few minutes
later I go get Drake.  He's a bit confused.  He staggers down the
road looking for other horses to chase.  No horses in sight. We walk.
We walk. We walk. Away from camp, I let him trot slowly.  I still
have his attention.  Up hill we trot. Down hill we walk.  He's ok,
but he's still looking for horses.  Occassionally we see one or two
on the hill side, but they are too far away to be competition.

Eventually, I see two people at a gate.  I hate gates, particularly
the wire pasture gates.  They are hard to open and harder to close.
So, I let Drake hurry up.  The person trying to close the gate had
been there several minutes.  She let me through.  Then it took the
two of us to close the gate.  I rode with her and her daughter for
most of the day.

Up and down a few hills.  Then comes a steep hill.  The saddle begins
to slip back.  I get off and tighten the cinch.  The two wait for me.
We go up and down some more hills.  Did I mention that you could always
see a ribbon or two up ahead? The trail was easy to follow.  We
went through a few small herds of cattle.  There was water on the
trail, but the horses weren't interested.  We went through a couple
of gates that were a bit easier to close.  We came up to another couple
of riders.  The two I was riding with fell back, and I moved up with
the new two.  Past them.  Came to a gate. Opened it, and all four were
there.  We went through two gates, closed them and went on.

We come to a spot where you can see camp.  It's just a tease though,
more miles to go.  Watch the deer, antelope, lots of rabbits.  Great
flowers too.  No shade.  Some clouds start to come in. No rain.  Then
there is a spot where the wind died down.  When the wind is gone, the
flies come out.  Lots of flies. Ugly flies.  We rush as fast as we
can go.  All this time, Drake's heart rate has stayed down.  Going
up hill, maybe he reaches 160. On the flats, even at a fast trot or
canter, it's 120-130.  

So, we come to a real road, and follow it for a mile into camp.
I get off and walk the last bit in.  We get to the water and Drake
decides to drain the tank.  I watch the heart rate monitor as his
heart rate drops like a rock down to 65.  We walk over to the P&R
and check out.  Back to the truck, off with the saddle, Drake pulls
me over to his mash where he slurps it up.  I add more eq-sr and grain
with water, and he eats that too.  Then he kicks back and says he's
done.  25 miles is over.

I sit in a chair and think I should eat.  I'll drink more water.
I try to eat, but it all taste bad.  I take Drake over to the vet.
She looks him over and says all As.  He's looking good.

Times up, and out we go.  We start out alone, but soon mother and
daughter catch up with us.  This loop is 15 miles.  They kept telling
me at the gates that I didn't have to wait for them. What they were
really saying, and I didn't catch, was go ahead of us 'cause we don't
want to go your pace.  Oh well.  We got to talking much later about
this.  There was more water on the trail.  Drake was willing to drink
more.  There was shade.  And there were hills.  Half way up a hill,
I felt the saddle slipping big time.  I wanted to stop, but there
was no stopping.  The other two were right behind me and the flies
were bad.  So, Drake lunged upwards.  I hung onto his neck and prayed.
When I could stop, the saddle was over his rump and the cinch was 
around his flank.  He was a very good boy and just stopped.  The
other two went on.  I adjusted the saddle and tightened the cinch.
I got on.  

Now Drake wanted to catch up.  I tried to keep him going slow, but
no chance.  Particularly when he could see them up ahead.  Should I
fight for another 5 miles, or just catch up?  I know what I should
have done, but I gave in.  We caught up.  This is where we got to
talking.  I told them that after the next check, they should leave
right on time and I'd wait a few minutes till they were out of 
sight.  Then I wouldn't have to worry about Drake and his attitude.

The first loop was 25 miles and took us 3 hours.  The second loop
was 15 miles, and I thought we were going faster.  It took us 3 hours.
Came into camp, Drake again drank the tank dry, and his heart rate 
dropped.  Walked to P&R, got through instantly, went back to truck,
Drake ate his mash, he rolled, he thought he was done.  I did eat
something.  Went back to vet.  Almost all As.  He had a single A-
on gut sounds.  I let him graze on the way back to the truck.

After the break, I saw the two go out.  I waited a few minutes and
mounted up.  Drake was still willing to go on.  Nice pasture with a 
single track trail to follow.  I'm sore and tired.  Drake isn't.
We trot along, canter a bit, walk a bit.  I get down to open a gate.
Find a big rock so I can get back on.  Drake is just so happy and
bouncy. We follow a stream for quite a ways.  Then come to a stream
crossing.  No ribbons.  Not anywhere.  Trails in all directions.
Back track.  Find a ribbon a hundred yards back.  Look around.
No other ribbons.  Take a slightly different track, and find a 
ribbon.  Walk, trot, canter along.  Boy am I sore.  Keep on going.
Drake drinks from the streams and even sneaks a bit of the tall 
grass.  More miles to go.  Through a beautiful canyon.  And finally
back to the fields.  I know the camp is just over there, but the
ribbons say go the other way.  Keep on going.  Walk a bit.  Going
up hill ask Drake for a canter, he takes off like a bullet running.
Slow down a bit.  Walk and canter, walk and canter.  Finally the
trail turns for home.  I'm thinking of cantering when I see how
uneven the ground really is.  Walk some more.  Get to the gate,
and have to ask where the P&R people are.  Get the vet to P&R me
in.  Vet does the trot out too.  Drake gets a few A-s for various
hydration things, but looks good.  Vet says he can go out again

31 riders started. 31 riders finished.  I was 27th.  The last loop
of 10 miles took another 3 hours.  So with hold times, 11 hours 
total.  I was bushed.  I was also starved.  There was big bar-b-que
for the nights dinner.  I had 3 plate fulls.  There was a table full
of awards, your choice.  Since I came in so late, I didn't get my
first or second choice, but still ended up with a nice award.  

Went back to the truck.  Drake is happy.  I crawl into bed.  In
the morning I talk with others.  Then load up and leave.  While
Drake is in fine shape, I don't think my knees would have held up.
On the dirt road an antelope runs along side easily, then bursts
up ahead and passes us. Boy can they run.  


          /\        -O-         
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        /****\   /\            
       /      \ /**\   Here there be dragons
      /  /\    /    \        /\    /\  /\      /\            /\/\/\  /\
     /  /  \  /      \      /  \/\/  \/  \  /\/  \/\  /\  /\/ / /  \/  \
    /  /    \/ /\     \    /    \ \  /    \/ /   /  \/  \/  \  /    \   \
   /  /      \/  \/\   \  /      \    /   /    \

 Wendy Milner                     HPDesk:   wendy_milner@hp4000
 Hewlett-Packard Company          e-mail:
 Mail Stop A2-5UB3                Telnet:   898-2182 
 3404 E. Harmony Rd.              AT&T:     (970) 898-2182
 Fort Collins, CO, 80528-9599     FAX:      (970) 898-2038

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