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Longstreet's Charge - Manager's View!

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Absolutely cannot say enough good about the people who showed up to ride
& work at Longstreet's Charge this weekend. As a first time "doing it by
myself without a club's backing" ride manager I was stretched, stressed,
and fairly inadequate...but volunteers showed up in droves, the vets were
fantastic, riders were great, and the whole thing seemed to run quite
smoothly. Didn't hurt that the weather cooperated either. I know I'll get
a atmospheric disaster someday but it sure helped to have at least one
year of good weather to get my feet under me. I ESPECIALLY APPRECIATE
those who worked so hard to make the camp work. Most parked really tight
and kept their corral space down without embarassing us by asking them to
reduce them; and those people have a place in my heart! We were able to
hold 92 horses even with today's rigs and had room for more so that's
promising for next year.

The trail was proclaimed "Tough as Sh*t" by someone who *lives* at
Leatherwood, so I suppose he knows what he's talking about. Funny thing
was, riders were all smiles and seemed to love it. Not everyone in the
sport just wants to set a new time record! :-) The Mountain Laurel was
in FULL bloom, the woods were so thick that I had just given up trimming
after the stuff grew at what seemed like the rate of Kudzoo. We do well
here to just keep an opening to slide through in what looks like Rain
Forest vegetation sometimes. There were miles of trail where I walked,
lopping off limbs, cutting back underbrush, etc. but when I rode it to
mark I certainly couldn't tell much had been done, so I'm sure it looked
overgrown to the riders.

Exciting moments for management: When we arrived on top at the vet check
Saturday morning there was what looked like a LARGE American Bulldog
(boxer/pitbull cross) young dog, no collar, just having a ball running
laps playing with another dog in the vet check area. There is backpacker
camping across the hill from the horse camp and he was apparently from
there. He was completely non-aggressive, just had a big smile on his
face, tongue hanging out the side of his mouth and RAN in circles
constantly sort of dive-bombing the other dog. He didn't come up to
anyone to be petted, never stood still at all, looked like a big playful
puppy. So...first 50 miler comes to vet check, then when she starts to
trot out her horse here comes this dog, wide open and he dives for the
horse's rear legs! People started yelling at him and kicking and he just
ran in faster circles and would dive in at the horse again! I could so
see what the attack was like on the Tevis trail. This dog *absolutely*
intended to get ahold of this horse, and it would have been BAD, and he
was playing. There was chaos in the check, the girl with the horse (Debi
Ivey) was just trying to defend her horse but even with three people
surrounding it and others trying to catch the dog all around the
perimeter of his circle he was still getting at it. Finally, after what
seemed like forever, I grabbed at the dog and it swerved towards Ike
Nelson (vet) who made a diving tackle, getting him by the scruff of his
neck and the skin along his back. The dog made no attempt to bite him,
just looked like a kid that had been repremanded. Our farrier, Guy Buck
who has been a Memphis policeman and just got back from a tour in
Afghanistan (not afraid to confront strangers) put a lead rope around its
neck, kept looking till he found the two passed out stoners in the woods
with an empty collar tied to a tree, had to kick them to wake them up and
informed them if the dog came back he would shoot it. End of excitement.

Next excitement, daughter Josie arrives at in-timer (she's competing) and
informs me all markers are gone from section behind camp along drivable
road. Nobody else really noticed since arrows at each end were intact and
they didn't know it had been heavily marked before. I jumped in the truck
and went out to re-mark it quickly. Then I decided to drive out to the
most distant road crossing to make sure those hadn't been tampered with.
It hadn't. Did see a pile of my flagging out on the main road where the
tamperers had tossed it. :-( After I'd checked the distant crossing I
was driving back up the road and met Bill headed my way in the other
truck. We stopped to talk with our windows down and suddenly he said
"Horse!" I looked up just in time to see a chestnut running straight at
us. I jumped out and waved my arms but he never slowed down, just passed
us and kept going. Bill was facing the way he'd gone and took off after
him. He was headed completely away from all other activity, towards the
wild blue yonder. I got turned around and started to follow, then decided
I'd better search for the rider instead. Turned out she had stopped at
our first water stop where there were 8 or more muck buckets scattered
out over a clearing. Her horse had swerved around and put his foot in a
smaller bucket behind him, scared himself, threw her and RAN. Not just a
little, he'd ran *hard* for a good five miles when he passed us.
According to Bill he just kept going. Bill followed it in the truck from
a distance hoping it would slow down but after it showed no sign and they
got to wider, better road and he was able to pass it and block the road.
That's when he caught it. :-P Rider walked all the way in (we of course
were sending trucks back to where she'd come off to get her) got back on
horse and did a little more mileage but felt sick, probably a concussion
and pulled. Her riding pardner who'd chased the horse, did many extra
miles, insisting on retracing *every* step of official trail (we finally
understood when we learned she's an engineer), finished the trail
eventually and earned everyone's respect.

Those were my high points of pulse and respiration for the weekend. Thank
goodness the riders all did a good job of keeping my excitement level to
a minimum. No helicoptor rescues, etc. Nothing but positive comments and
encouragement. I'm sure many had ideas for improvements but understood to
wait a few weeks before offering them. :-) First time I've run a ride
since we have cell phones. What a difference! Biggest mistake, not
exchanging numbers with all staff members night before ride. For future
reference..Verizon works at Pigeon. Don't believe any others did.

I didn't spend much time at the ride meeting naming names on the helpers,
too afraid I'd forget someone there or here, but I am forever indebted. I
was absolutely amazed at the difference that has come about in the last
10 years since I have managed a ride. Things have gotten so organized,
and professional, that it took a huge load off the ride manager and was
so much better for the riders. I am totally indebted to all who stepped
in and helped.

Also, thanks for your patience RIDERS...who rode a tough, rugged, long
trail and were still nice to me, good to their horses, and smiling at the
end of the day! Special thanks to riders who were pulled, had to wait a
long time for the rescue trailer, then gave up their place in line to let
more critical cases go on ahead of them. Not one complained or even
sighed. Very high completion rates are tributes to high quality entries.
I don't believe we had any fluids administed...only one mild colic a
little banamine took care of, a trip/cut, a couple of hitches in the get
along. Not bad for that size ride.

Angie McGhee
Longstreet's Charge
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