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GERA: Part Four, Conclusion (finally)

We get through the Land Of Jackets without a sting.  But it seems like I 
might have went through a Poison Ivy Farm as Dance Line and I tried to 
sidestep the area where I thought I remembered the Yellow Jackets living.  
Well, guess that won't be bothering me till tomorrow or later.  I can still 
feel the sting from the jackets, even though it happened a couple of hours 

Dance and I are still flying.  I know Bernie is up ahead somewhere; he left 
the vet check ahead of me by about ten minutes.  Kay's horse got pulled for 
an irregular heartbeat.  It's a new horse for her and she's kind of upset 
about it.  I'll have to make her some coffee tomorrow morning and add 
something special (rum) to it to make her feel better.  I know she wanted to 
be out here running again; that lady can ride like the wind.

I'm not too tired yet, although I'm just remembering I forgot to brush my 
teeth this morning.  This is one of the reasons I'm not crazy about camping; 
grooming takes a back-seat and by the time you go home you're grungy, dirty 
and nasty smelling and only your dog will sit next to you in the truck.  And 
this is that same dog that rolls around in horse manure with a smile on his 
face.  Maybe I'll stop by one of those Trucker's showers on the way home, 
since I have to buy diesel anyhow, just to get clean.  Yea, right, sure I 

I spot some riders ahead, but it's not Bernie, so I pass them.  This is one 
of the few areas on the trails were you can pass without it being a big deal. 
 There are so many trees here with tiny trails, you kinda gotta beg to get 
around anyone.  This has me thinking that being in the back of the pack at 
the start this morning was not such a smart idea.  I would love to place 
higher in one of these things, after all, not one rider has passed me all 
day.  My horse deserves better credit for his labors. The Awards Banquet 
should recognize the horses, not the riders.  The top ten horses should be 
pranced up at the awards ceremony, given his/her prize (some cake would be 
cool) and take a bow.  I mean, who really does all the work here?  It 
certainly isn't the rider.

As the day gets closer to the afternoon, I'm just amazed how cool it is out 
here.  A ride back home would not be possible (ever) this time of year and I 
picture myself living here and actually being able to ride in the summertime. 
 Imagine that!  We get to the river crossing and there is no one around.  I 
get ready to urge Dance across, but this isn't necessary.  He just jumps in 
like he's been doing this for years, stops, takes a drink, and goes to the 
other side.  I reach behind me and grab my new sponge.  I check to make sure 
everything's attached and throw it in the river.  I'm actually able to 
retrieve it and put it to some use.  Today is a good day to sponge.

We march on and spot a group of riders ahead.  Dance wants to catch them, so 
I let up on the reins and let him fly.  We start loping but soon he's 
galloping.  Where he has this energy, I have no idea.  As we close in on our 
quarry I pull him back to that floating lope he does so well.  If my 
competitors knew how cool it is to do this gait, with my horse, they'd all 
convert to Saddlebreds.  If I had a younger back I could do this all day.

We come up on the group and I recognize the leader.  It's that old gal who 
butted in front of me in line at the vet check.  She's a tough old thing, but 
I decide right there to make it my goal to pass her on this ride.  She's in 
the 25 also, but I can tell she has done some hard rides in this sport and is 
probably only doing the 25 cause her Social Security pension won't allow her 
anything more difficult.  The way she just walked in front of me and Dance 
irked me cause it was like we were "nobody," not one of the "in crowd"  (I 
hate cliques).  I plan on showing her here and now that atleast my horse is 
somebody to be recognized.  OK, that's a bit silly, I know, but out here on 
the trail at the end of the ride you can get a bit weird.

We're in that woodsy area again, where it's hard to pass.  And I sure ain't 
asking here cause these people are going just about as fast as you can 
anyhow.  Since she's (Butt-in-Front) in a group of about 5 it won't be easy 
getting around them all.  But life isn't easy, and this sport is one of the 
things I live for, so ...........ah, never mind.  I'm rambling.  All I know 
is it sure is difficult to top ten and anyone who does should feel very 
proud.  The competition at these races, horses and riders, is awesome.

We get to the last river crossing.  This is where I make my move.  While 
everyone is drinking I sneak around all the riders and horses except for my 
butt-in-line buddy.  For some reason, I decide Dance and me are going to get 
her wet.  This is truly bad form in endurance and it might get me into some 
trouble later.  But we do it anyhow.  I kick Dance hard, he starts loping and 
the water just covers the OLE woman.  She starts screaming at me, I respond, 
"Sorry (she never used the word sorry when she passed me in line), do you 
mind if I butt in line ahead of you?" and up the hill we go.  And son of a 
gun if she doesn't come after us.  I look behind at her and see she's totally 
soaked and she's not smiling back at me.  Haha.

Never heard an old woman like that curse so much.  I don't know why I did 
that, I mean it's cool if you know the person, but I don't know her at all.  
And I'm sure she doesn't even remember me from the vet check.  Well, she 
remembers me now.  You'd think she might be a witch or something, how she was 
reacting to me and Dance soaking her like that.  Hey, maybe she is.  "I'm 
melting, I'm melting."

This motivates me to let Dance run.  He's in front and all I have to do is 
keep track of the ribbons.  I remember to always look to the right of the 
trail and this helps.  We fly and pass the sign that says 3 miles to camp.  
Up ahead I spot Bernie.  Man,  I would not mind passing him, although I know 
he'll give me a run.  He hasn't spotted us yet, so I try and sneak up on him. 
 His horse is in a slow trot, Dance is loping in high gear.  

I look behind me and don't spot Butt-in-Front.  We're closing in on Bernie, 
he turns around and spots us and the game is on.  I probably shouldn't do 
this, but I egg Dance Line on.  He loves to run and pass other horses and 
Bernie's Tennessee Walker seems to enjoy the same.  I spot a split in the 
trail up ahead and decide this is where we will make our move.  We take the 
more mucky side, but Dance just leaps over the entire thing, and we go around 
and cross right in front of Bernie and his horse.  That was very cool.

Now to just keep the lead cause the guy behind us is a bit of a nut.  I hear 
him mumbling, just like my teenager does back home when he's not happy about 
something.  I only wish Bernie was my teenager cause if he was I'd be 
yelling, "Haha teenager, old man got you, passed you by.  Now take a good 
look at his butt."  But I choose not to share this with Bernie.

We come up to a sign that says, "Camp 1 mile" and I know this is where the 
hoof meets the road.  No one has passed Dance Line all day long and Bernie is 
not going to have this honor.  Besides, Dance seems to know we're almost done 
here and he's not coming in behind anyone else.  

Bernie finally gives up (I'm constantly looking behind me to make sure), so I 
pull back on the reins and Dance starts trotting.  We get to the down hill 
part at the very end of the trail and actually walk down it for awhile.  And 
then we pass the finish line and it's all over.  YIPPPEEEEEEEEEE

The vet check was a pain, but no one butted in front of me.  Dance's heart 
rate was up and it took me awhile to get him down.   My fault, I know, but 
I'm not the only one who ran this race way too fast.  Besides, he seems to be 
in great shape and I know these challenges only make him stronger.  The pain 
with the vet check was Dance did not feel like trotting out after standing in 
line for awhile so the vet made a big deal about it and I ended up coming 
back later.  This was interrupting Dance's rest time and my nap time.  We 
finally got thru it and after de-tacking, sponging, feeding and making sure 
Dance was comfy I hit the tent and took an incredibly long nap (hey, at my 
age naps are a good thing).  The jackasses either stayed quiet or I was just 
too tired to notice.

In conclusion, I really loved this ride.  The people (can't beat the 
Southerners) were extremely cool, and the ride was beautiful to me.  I ended 
up going swimming with my neighbors in the same river that I had crossed 4 
times earlier that day with my horse.  We had so much fun and I went home 
clean.  The water was damn cold, but I'm a Florida boy, so I can't handle 
anything below 80 degrees.  Whether or not we all went skinny dipping will 
just have to remain a mystery.  Cya.

Rookie Rider


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