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Wine Country Ride Story

Jessica Tuteur
Thought I would post this so all can read it :-)

The Wine Country 50 by Haywood
Nanci and I didn't want to drive for 4 or 5 hours to Castle Rock, although all our friends went. We picked something closer in Napa and only a couple of hours away.  We didn't know what to expect, but it was 'Terrific'.  The camping area was huge and grassy and more good news, ya didn't have to bag the horse poop, just scatter it.  At check in Susan said that my horse Doc was off 'just a little' on the left front.  Jamie and Melissa saw whatever it was too, so his check in vet card indicated a grade 1 lameness.  Boy what fun.  Start with a lame horse.  Nanci's horse Remington was fine.  Come morning, the start was semi civilized, 6:30 a.m.  There were close to 100 horses on the 50 and the start was on a dirt road so all the horses had time to spread out.  It was 6 or so miles to the first trot by and lunch was at mile 26, back at base camp.  The course was well marked and I lack the skill to describe the visual buffet.  We passed picturesque vineyards and trotted through green fields alive with cattle.  The course was rolling hills, with several steep climbs and descents.  At times we could see the countryside alive with hot air balloons punctuating the sky.  We went through open fields and heavily brushed narrow single-track trails.  Back at the lunch stop Doc's grade 1 was non existent.  I felt better.  The second loop was similar terrain with the last vet check just 8 miles from the finish.  It was getting hot and the horses were drinking often.  There were frequent watering areas along the course, because of the cattle.  Both of our horses dropped to 60 criteria fast at lunch but the last vet check was on top of a hill and it was getting hot.  It took them a little longer to drop, but they did so at the same time.  We had walked our horses the last 1/4-mile into the vet check; those who trotted past us into the vet check were still there when we left.  Steve Elliott made the mistake of telling us we were in the top ten and it was a surprise to both of us.  We assumed we were in the middle of the pack.  The final 8 miles was a lot of fun.  Knowing no one could catch us as we buried one poor rider who did not have much horse left.  We arrived at the finish line together and Nanci finished 5th and I, 6th.  We were 44 minutes behind Kathy Thompson on Zane Grey who finished first. We did not compete for BC.  At any rate, Kathy and Zane Grey won it and deserved it too.  Dale Peterson rode, but I don't know how he finished.  The mule folks were there, Frank Cano, Frank Smith, and Jode Collins.  Greg Kimler rode his pony on its first 50 and did well also. Lin O'Kelley did well on the 30 miler. The post ride meal was good and abundant and we ate, drank beer and stayed the night and went home happy on Sunday morning.  Chuck Mather was not there.

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