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2014 Strawberry Fields Forever

A sample of Vicki Gaebe's photos

See all of Vicki's Strawberry Fields photos here

Connie Holloway Photos

2014 ‪Strawberry Fields by Sarah Holloway‬

You know some things are hard, amazing and fun all at the same time, that is how my Strawberry Fields experience worked out.

Carol Brand picked us up from the airport Wednesday evening and we quickly got our tack together and loaded so we would be ready to leave early the next morning. Carol, and her horse August, Connie and her horse DWA Saruq and I, plus the dog crew of Amigo and Max left for what we though was a 5 1/2 hour trip, maybe if you have a sports car.

It took us 8 1/2 hours. We arrived the day before the ride, met up with Judy Bishop who had brought her horse Malaysia and my horse MiLan and her dog Angel. MiLan is not really my horse but I think he is. The Ridecamp is at 8,000 feet and Judy said on Tuesday there was 4 inches of snow. Lucky she did not tell Carol or we would not have come, but it is all melted and nice now.

At the ride meeting that night the dogs maybe outnumbered the riders and there were over 120 riders. A big ride, the biggest I have been in. Howard and Kathy the ride managers told us there were no rules, no dogs on leashes, fill out your dance card for Saturday and have fun, don't worry about times, take care of your horses, there is lots of grass and water.

DAY 1 when we left camp 'STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER' was playing through some car speakers. It was a bit of a mess, we were a little late leaving camp, and then our horses coming from the desert did not like the muddy creek crossings at the beginning. Then my saddle pad slipped, and the LD's that were starting 30 minutes later then caught up to us on the narrow trail and passed us. MiLan was getting upset because he could not see Malaysia, but then she came back and we fixed things so we all were on our way again.

As I said this was a hard technical ride with lots of climbs. First a big hill, with stepping or jumping over logs, lots of logs/trees, someone counted 240 on day 3 on loop 2. We trotted a little bit but it was hard with the hills and the logs. We lost a boot but put it back on. All along the hills there were aspens forests and wildflowers. I don't know the names of all but lots of yellow flowers, balsam root and Indian paintbrush. Later one of our horses doing a surprising twisting jump over a big set of trees lost the rider. Lucky no one was hurt, just bruised, and we went on our way again.

Vet check went smoothly but I was taking off boots and putting them back on because MiLan kicked them off.

Second Loop - Believe it or not the 2nd loop was the harder loop. We got to a narrow ditch and muddy on both sides. Connie finally got over with Saruq, then Malaysia. MiLan decided he needed to be on the other side and jumped the biggest leap I have ever rode. Carol was smart and got off and out of the way and let August do the giant leap without her. We climbed up some steep stuff and came to the Great Wall of Utah (Howard named it that). It was a wall at times 7 feet tall that follows down the ridge of the hill and up the next. There was a hole in the wall that we rode through part way down, and switchbacked to the bottom.

Then we climbed up the steepest hill of the ride. Judy lost 2 boots which Carol somehow was able to get. Connie was huffing and puffing leading Saruq. Carol told her to get back on as Connie joked her heart was in overdrive and her horse seemed fine. We had a really steep downhill with lots more trees to jump, lots more boots to come off (obviously we needed to refit our boots they were too big).

We were tired and happy as all of us completed, Connie and Judy said it was the hardest ride they had done. Carol said it reminded her of rides she used to do along time ago. It was a beautiful day! Ride meeting was fun, they just read top 10's as there were too many to name out .

Day 2 we took a day off for our sake and the horses. We went and had breakfast at the Summit Lodge and got supplies in town like water!

Day 2 ride meeting. We had dinner and enjoyed a two man Band. We had dance cards to fill out, I did not. Connie put a guys name on her card, she got off a dog tag, she did not know but we met his friendly dog Kodiak when he visited our camp. Connie did dance with Tom Noll, another Idaho rider, and so did Judy, while Carol and I watched.

Before bed, thankfully Carol refit both MiLan and Malaysia's boots for tomorrow and we kept them on so we would be ready for the start in the morning.

Day 3 we changed it up. Carol rode with Trish Frahm another Idaho rider, Judy decided to do the LD, so that left Connie and I together in the 50. We left a little late as there was a loose horse and it took Connie a while to convince Saruq to go across the 3rd muddy muddy bank plus creek. He did not like it day 1 and now no one was in front of us. She said she should have let me go first as MiLan probably would have done it, but now that Saruq put on a display of not wanting to cross, MiLan did not either. But once Saruq got across MiLan did not think twice. We got to do some long trots not like day 1 and on our way to the top when we were resting our horses Judy ended up catching up with us.

We rode together now enjoying the scenery. We had big views of the lake below and the red cliffs we saw from camp were right above us now. We were at our highest point of ride, maybe 10,000 feet. Malaysia was very happy to catch up with us, it was like we left without her, I think Malaysia probably smelled MiLan was just ahead of her! We had a fun ride with Judy, the sun shining on us as we were winding back down the mountain, across the fields back to camp.

At the vet check I was not messing with my boots, they all looked good on both horses. Our horses looked good too, and it was Saruq's first time doing 2 50's at a ride.

Day 3 Loop 2 Judy started off with us. We were back on the jumping course again. I would look back at Judy and grin when MiLan jumped big because we both LOVE to jump. After some miles and many photos, we separated, Judy turning left for the LD, and we went right.

We had a great rest of the ride, passing through more camps, crossing creeks, taking pictures, climbing hills, grassing the horses, sightseeing. We saw a deer, trail riders, and we even caught up to a couple on 2 white horses doing the 50 as well. We took our time enjoying this day this ride. We had one final big creek crossing with a ditch too, and when Saruq did a big leap over, it warned me that MiLan would jump even bigger, because he loves to jump and knows I do too.

We finished so happy, no boots came off, no riders either. We walked back to the trailer after completing and Max, Amigo, and Angel 'our' dogs came running towards us. Our teammates Carol and Judy were cheering, and Malaysia and August were whinnying to their buddies.

Thank you to Carol and Judy for making it all possible for us to be at STRAWBERRY FIELDS, the memories will be forever, Howard and Kathy and all that helped putting the ride on, and of course our FABULOUS HORSES MILan and DWA Saruq!

Trish Frahm's report Day 1:
This ride was the prettiest ride and toughest ride I have been on. The trails are extremely technical with dead fall everywhere. The horses must have stepped over 1000's of fallen trees and climbed to nearly 9000 feet. There was plenty of grass and water so it was easy to take care of them. Ride management took very good care of the riders with sandwiches and chips at the break and dinner at the end. There were bogs that had to be crossed and it was surprising that I never lost a boot on Sahra.

Day 1 Photos

Trish Frahm's report Day 2:
On day 2 I rode an LD with Janet Tipton and her mare Ladybug. Indy was very upset to start the race, we had a loose horse coming running at us full blast dragging a lead rope and with the rock music blaring he did not know what to do. Janet Tipton was nice enough to suggest ponying him across the creek and I could walk him out of camp and away from the music. He settled down the minute we turned up the draw to start the first loop. We would climb to 9000 feet and see the Great Wall of Utah for the second time. At the vet check he would still be running circles around me and I had a hard time holding him for the vets. At the finish he acted as if he had not done anything all day.

Day 2 Photos

Trish Frahm's report Day 3:
Sahra looked so good after day 1, I decided to ride her in the 50 on Day 3. I would ride with Carol Brand and we would go up to the red rock cliffs. This was the easiest of the 3 days and the best trails. I was able to get done an hour earlier than the first day.

Day 3 Photos