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Longstreet's Charge -- First Ride, Part 1 (LONG)

Hello all,
Just thought I'd relay the events of our first ride.
Apache and I arrived at camp around 3:30 pm.  We hooked up with Carla and Penny and parked the trailer.  Carla and Penny were minus their horses, Baru and Pao, respectively.  Lisa, a friend coming to crew for them, was hauling the horses and hadn't arrived yet.  Carla and Penny set about setting up their pen for their horses, while I started wandering around getting Apache out of the trailer and settled and getting the dog out of the truck.
After awhile, Carla reminded me I might want to go check in, so I gathered all my paperwork and my checkbook, and Apache and I headed for the big tent.  I paid my money, received my ride packet, complete with a dinner ticket (for Sat night), vet card, sandwich bag for vet card, map, and a trash bag for picking up my hay after the ride.  We also received our "number."  Since we were in the 25 miler, we got letters, not numbers.  As fate would have it, we were number AA.  My buddies back at camp thought of Alcoholics Anonymous, and the initials of one of our last minute crew members, but I thought it stood for "April & Apache!"  :)
We vetted in fine with 40 pulse, and all As except for gut sounds.  Got a B in that.
Lisa arrived shortly after I returned to the trailer.  Out backed a young, white Arabian mare (Baru) and a flea-bitten grey Arabian gelding (?), Pao.  Also along for fun was Misty, Lisa's horse, a sorrel QH mare, hopefully pregnant.  After they vetted in, we saddled up and went for a short warm-up, calm-the-nerves ride.  We rode part of the trail until it was time to turn back to make it for the ride meeting that was supposed to start at 8.  I put Pache's food out (6 lbs grain, 2.5 cups beet pulp soaked, and a dose of electrolytes), made myself a sandwich, grabbed the dog's leash, and headed for the meeting.
As it turned out, the meeting didn't start until 8:18 (according to Angie!  :)  ), but it was informative and fairly brief.  Which was good because Carla and I were getting cold and I was tired.
I went to bed as soon as we got back to our trailers.  I had already eaten my supper and knew that wake-up call would come way too early.  I prepared Apache's midnight snack (2.5 lbs of grain, 3 cups beet pulp soaked, a carrot or two, and a dose of electrolytes).  Then I set my watch alarm for 1 am, to feed him.  Then I lay on my sleeping bag in my tent and listened to the noises of the camp.  I didn't sleep for a long time, but it was good to just lay there, soaking up the atmosphere.  Gradually, lights went out, people were quiet and I went to sleep listening to the tones of Carla, Penny, Lisa, and Andy and TJ (late arrival crew members) getting better aquainted.
All too soon, the my alarm went off.  Up I got.  I trudged to the truck and grabbed the midnight snack for Apache, dumping the beet pulp on top of the grain in his bucket.  I forgot to check his water level, but I didn't think of that until the next wake-up call!  I crawled back into bed and heard Carla and Andy or TJ talking.  I couldn't believe they weren't asleep!  :)  I fell right back to sleep, only to be awakened at 4:15 by some idiot going down the highway honking his horn every 10 feet.  I usually wouldn't have heard it, but the camp wake-up call was going to be at 5:00, a horn honking.  I checked my watch and went back to sleep.
Finally came the honking of the horn.  Somebody came driving through the entire camp, honking every couple of minutes to be sure EVERYBODY heard the wake up call.  Up I jumped, ready to go.  Since there were no showers, I made do with a bucket of water, a wash cloth and a bar of soap.  Well, I didn't look pretty, but I smelled good (for a few minutes at least)!  :)  I offered Apache some more beet pulp, but he turned his nose up at it.  I filled his water bucket, got some breakfast, took the dog for a walk, groomed Apache, looked over the map one more time, watched the 50 milers head out of camp for the starting line, fed Apache some carrots, made sure my away vet check things were packed, threw that stuff into Andy's truck, filled my water bottle, and finally put the bit in my horse's mouth. 
He was a little jumpy, but not bad at all.  He was listening to me pretty well at this point.  I led him over to the truck and hopped on.  I took off on a short canter/trot fest to be sure I could stay on him and that we were compatible today, then returned to the truck to get my sponge, my water bottle, and my hip pack filled with necessary items.
If you think I forgot a step, you're right.  No saddle.  No girth fittings, no saddle pad woes.  Just the bit and me.  Bareback in jeans.  Remember that.............
To be continued after breakfast!  :)
April & Apache, (the "AA" team!  :)  )
Chattanooga, TN

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