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Scott's Flat 5, Part 1
Lucy Chaplin Trumbull firstname.lastname@example.org
It occurred to me today, while I was cleaning out my mailbox
that I meant to post this to RC a couple of weeks ago, but never
So here it is. They told me it would get easier the more 50s I
did, but they lied - this was Provo and my third 50 and they just
keep getting worse... <grin>
Anyway, this is really, really long (every excruciatingly boring
detail described at length) so might not be for the jaded <g>.
* * * * * *
OK. So I snuck Scott's Flat up on both me and the horse, which
meant that I didn't have to fret about it nearly so much. This
worked much better, no worrying about what to feed, when to feed,
how to condition, nothing, just that very easy "oh well, if we
don't finish...never mind..." feeling. Much better.
(Despite that, I still had the obligatory "horse does something in
paddock and pulls its foot off" type dream the night before we're
due to leave. Perhaps it's part of the rules?)
Camp looked a lot like Robie Park, only without the dust. My friend
Karen had saved us a place in amongst the trees, so we set up the
horse in front of his piles of buckets and haynet and even got to
sit around (albeit briefly).
The ride started at 6am, only it didn't start at 6am - it was
a lie, and a ploy to get us up even earlier than we needed to.
You had to start going along at 6am and go 2 miles down a paved
road to the official start for 6:30. Ack. Got ready pretty much
in time, except for forgetting to put on the HRM, and then having
Patrick hunt for a pair of woolly gloves just as we were leaving,
but it was better than last time.
Off we went, along the 2 mile paved road, Provo and I sidepassing
in an elegant manner. He's quite good at lateral movement. We
did shoulder-ins and piaffe, all sorts. Very accomplished we were.
Karen laughed at us.
I got tired.
And then we were off. Provo was behaving pretty well, not brilliantly,
but at least he was under control - unlike the woman who galloped
past us, shouting "I've got pneumonia and can't stop" (??) Very
odd. We went along a nice uphill logging trail for a good long
while - Provo's pulse up in the sky with excitement at all the
other horses he'll be able to catch and overtake (?? We have never
done this, so I'm not clear why he thinks this will happen).
Eventually the logging road ended and we dipped down into a creek
and then up a vertical bank. I'm not kidding, it was almost
vertical and went up and up and up (dodging in and out of the
The horse in front of Karen started to slip and began lunging
wildly and throwing clods of mud into Karen's face, so she got
to spit dirt for a while. About half way up, I decided to take
a double loop of Provo's mane (instead of just hanging on to it).
At one point we were heading straight for a tree (no steering
when all you're thinking about is staying on) and I thought
we were going to hit it, but at the last minute Provo veered to
the side (I didn't *think* he was that stupid). And then we
were on the top. (And we thought of you, Glenda <g>).
More dirt road and then into a wiggley knee knocker single track
section. Somehow I ended up in front trotting and cantering through
this bit, but of course we were going too fast, so that when
the trail made a sharp right, Provo and I didn't, and instead
went crashing into the woods. I'd hoped to just turn him around
and rejoin where we'd fallen off the trail, but he had other
ideas - cantering after Weaver who was continuing on the trail
(all the while with Karen laughing her head off). We crashed
through more undergrowth, over downed trees, in between trees,
and I really thought we were done for - if he didn't knock me
off on a tree, he was sure to skewer his leg open on one of the
multitude of sticks in there. But no, we spat out onto the
trail behind Karen and carried (me a little weak at the knees
and resolving to stay behind for a while).
Staying behind didn't help. Even though Weaver is wider than
Provo, he's easier to steer, so I still whacked my knee on a
tree going between two of them (there were a multitude of these,
so I'm surprised I only did it once), but at least we stayed
*on* the trail.
Eventually we came down into the first vet check at 16 miles.
I was pooped.
It's bad news when you get to the first 16 miles and are already
pretty much used up. At about mile 10, my legs started to rub
on the saddle flaps, so I'd been performing bizarre wriggles
on the saddle, to try and reduce the friction. No such luck.
By the time we got to the PnR area, Provo was down to 60, and
I was just starting to unhook my sponge and call for a PnR
person, when I noticed he was back up to 83. <sigh> Too many
*things* to look at. So I let him eat some hay (Karen squeaking
at me "don't let him eat, it'll keep his pulse up!") just
to get him focused on something (other than gawping) and
when we did finally get a PnR person they said he was the
lowest horse they'd seen all day. Oh well.... better to be
low than high, I 'spose.
The vet was Jamie Kerr and he told me not to worry about the
dribble-covered time-in card I was offering him, cos he'd spent
the morning checking anal tone... <g>
I had interference boots on all four of Provo's legs in an
attempt to keep him from beating the hell out of his ankles.
Of course, all four were too big so were slipping down his
The worst one was the left rear, which would slip down on
average every thirty seconds, causing me to have to get off
and reset it and then struggle to get back on again.
But he was surprisingly good for all this, standing without
being held - even though he did run into me when the guy next
to us reversed his horse into us. But it was a real pain -
but I was too paranoid to take them off.
But by the time we got to that vet check, all of them were filled
with grit and mud and crud from all the boggy bits we'd ridden
through, so I had to splish them in a bucket to try and get them
Eventually (and you have to remember, it was probably still
before 9am), I figured out that he wasn't actually interfering
on the boot that slips down every ten seconds, so I could probably
take it off, so I looped it onto my saddle... Got the other
three boots on, and we were off again. Personally, I'd have
rather just sat there quietly for another half an hour, but
Karen dragged me out. :(
Another section - more trees, more opportunities for Provo
to fall off the trail (only this time I was a bit stricter
with him about getting back on trail before killing us both).
There was a nice open bit, winding through some manzanita
bushes, followed by another dip down to a creek. And another
Funnily enough, as we were coming down into the creek, there were
lots of moss-covered evenly placed rocks on one side that reminded
me of a place I train called China Wall - this is a bank shored up
by Chinese workers during the gold rush to help the mining trails.
Well, this was the same thing, and when I was talking to Larry, the
barn owner the following day, he mentioned it too, so I guess it's
the same idea. That's the odd thing about riding around here, so
many of the places you go are old gold mining trails.
So we go up the ascent, a lady, a guy, Karen and me. Karen knows
the guy and is chatting to him on the way up, asking him why he's
only doing the 30 instead of the 50? "Oh, he says, this is much too
much trail to do a 50 on"...
This guy has hundreds of miles on him, and he doesn't want to do the
50??? What does that tell me?
We get to the top of the hill, and Provo's HR is at 203. This should
give you an idea about what sort of hill it was. We are quite
astonished by the highness of it all. Karen says she doesn't think
she's ever seen such a high HR on her horses. I wonder (slightly
uneasily) if the HRM actually goes any higher...
(It's OK, I checked - it can go up to 240 - so we weren't even
But it drops down like a stone again, and before I can start
breathing again, we're back off down the logging road. I start
to hurt and wish I'd never started endurance riding.
I'm OK, so long as we don't go downhill, even slightly... but
that's all this trail seems to do... up a bit, down a bit, up a
bit, down a bit... And none of it is smooth, it's rutted and muddy
and, in places has big lake sized puddles stretching from one side
to the other. Thinking back, I think this was part of my problem.
I was permanently tense on this stretch - and this was where I should
have been resting.
Somewhere around this point, while scrabbling, trying to get yet
more pain killers out of my pommel bag, I dropped my tube of desitin...
(all important, for Provo's rubbed interference marks - he wasn't
interfering, but the boots put on to prevent him doing so were so
full of mud that they abraded away the scabs covering his old
interference marks, leaving him with pink bits. :( So I
needed the desitin. Next time, I'm leaving the boots at home)
..causing a very rude remark to enounce from my mouth (particularly
seeing as I thought Provo had trodden on the the tube) and making
me have to get off to retrieve it. Provo took advantage of the
situation, by turning sideways on the trail and stretching out
like he wanted to pee... and then doing nothing.
So I'm watching him: will he? won't he? does he need to? Is he
faking it? has he got some problem preventing him doing it?
fret, fret... ah no, he's just discovered that, like pretending
to drink from a creek, if he stands in this position, all I do
is gape at him, and he gets to rest. <sigh>
I take advantage of a six inch high rock and do a particularly
impressive off-side mount (Ann would be proud of me).
By 20 miles, I couldn't trot downhill any more at all. So I took
up a faint wailing sound, just so's Karen would know when to ask
Weaver to walk. I tried to just make faces, like the ones Weaver
makes when he's going up a hill (such a strange horse), but quickly
discovered that Karen can't *hear* the faces, so she carries on
trotting. Wailing pathetically is much more productive.
We went down another near vertical slope (OK, slight exaggeration)
which was pretending to be a road. There was a piece of land for
sale paralleling this "road", but we weren't sure what exactly you'd
do with the land once you'd bought it - there was no way of actually
*getting* to it.
At the bottom of the hill was yet another creek. These creeks were all
really pretty. Gravelley, stoney bottoms to them, tinkley clear water.
I made a mental note to come back here when it gets hot later in the
summer, and ride around on these trails and take time out to sit in
We played duelling pulses and for once Provo actually beat Weaver by
about 4 beats.
We played sponging. Karen demonstrated her very cool à la Julie Suhr
method of sponge attachment (lots of short loops), while I explained
that I was too scared to attach more than about three foot of string
to mine, for fear of it getting loose on the saddle and causing the
horse to gallop in a wild panic, 20' of sponge line dancing between
his back legs.
Admittedly, this paranoia means the only way you can actually sponge
is by flopping horizontal along the horse's neck and waving your arm
down the side of it. If the horse isn't on the horizontal, you need
to prop yourself on the front of the saddle. Of course, you need to
hold the reins with one hand (because they are too short to reach the
pommel) and prop yourself on the front of the saddle in the other,
and if you don't have three arms, you can't actually sponge...but I'm
working on it.
Then we went up a looong hill. I was proud of that there Provo. He
strode up that hill like a man. Even Weaver had to skip to keep up
now and again. They both drank from a large lake sized puddle and
eventually we made it to the 26 mile trot-by.
Karen elegant flips W's reins over his head and hops off him.
Lucy struggles to persuade Provo to stop briefly, slides off him,
being careful to keep his neck in her armpit, so that when her
legs reach the ground, she can hang off the horse and not put
any weight on them.
We "trot by". Provo trots. Lucy waddles.
They drink from the trough (by this time, mucho drinking is going
on, regardless as to the source of the water) and I drag Provo over
to a handy truck tailgate and slither back on him.
We continue. I don't feel too bright... my thighs are killing me,
my calfs feel black and blue from rubbing on the saddle, I still
can't trot downhill and am just generally not feeling like the
world's happiest camper. The next 4 miles crawl by (mostly, because
we are crawling along). Karen is very patient, and doesn't try to
suggest that we trot very often (probably because she's sick of
listening to my muttered wailing).
And finally we get to the lunch hold. I hand Provo to Patrick, pull
off his tack and Patrick takes him away to be vetted. This tells you
how badly I was off. Patrick is willing to crew (sometimes) but
"doesn't do trot outs" - he can't run, and if he tries, limps too
much. But in this case, he takes Provo and vets him through fine.
No problems there.
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