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2007 Day 4 - Wildhorse
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2003 || 2004 || 2005 || 2006
2007: Day 1 Results || Day 2 Results || Day 3 Results || Day 4 Results || Day 5 Results
2008: Registration, Directions, Camp info

Preparations

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Openings

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Day 1

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Day 2

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Day 3

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Day 4

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Day 5

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Homeless || No Better || Moonshine Day 1 || Petroglyphs Day 2 || Sinker Creek Day 3 || Wild Horse Butte Day 4 || Hart Creek Day 5

Overall 5 Day Horse/Rider Teams





Day Five: Hart Creek

Day 5 of the Owyhee Canyonlands ride was a day of laughs and cheers and tears - all good.

The morning started out blustery and cold - hard to get out of that warm bed in the morning - but beautiful and sunny. No rain last night down here in the canyon, but a very light powder-dusting of snow on the Owyhee Front Range mountains, with remains of a few storm clouds hanging over.

56 riders, 38 on the 50 and 18 on the 30, braved the cold winds - which lasted throughout the day and could threaten to blow you off your horse on the ridges - bundled in layers of clothing, some of the horses wearing butt blankets, warming up well before the starts.

Connie rode Cap'n again, and I rode Rushcreek Mac again, on the LD. The first loop took us up out of Pickett Creek onto the eastern plateau, along the beautiful Rim Trail overlooking Hart Creek. We hadn't gone more than 5 miles when Mac went ouchie on some rocks, more than once, so I abandoned the trail, turned off and took a shortcut home with him. Being a Nebraska ranch horse all his life, he's been barefoot till he came here - apparently Nebraska does not have rocks. I was bummed to miss the rest of the trail, down along Hart Creek, back up a steep, narrow ridge, and another rim loop trail for loop 2, but I've been lucky enough to see these trails already. Besides, it was just as well for Connie and Cap'n, because Cap'n (aka Deckhand), who always wants to be the boss, was having FITS because Mac, the lowest horse on the totem pole, was allowed to go in FRONT of him for a while. Connie reported later that as soon as we parted ways, Cap'n was the perfect gentleman to ride.

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Day Four: Wild Horse Butte

I like a good thunderstorm... when I'm safe inside somewhere. Today we had a 40% chance of thunderstorms moving in after noon, with 20 mph winds gusting to 30, and a 70% chance of rain overnight. I think I was the only one of 56 riders on the Wild Horse Butte ride who even noticed the cloud patterns and the development throughout the day. Steph knows how afraid I am of lightning, and she said, "Don't worry, you won't be up high." Well - not up high in the mountains, but up high on the wide-open flat, exposed plateau where every horse and rider is taller than all the sagebrush! But I tried not to think too hard about it during the day as the clouds developed.

And Connie received a great blow early on in her endurance career: she lost her scheduled mount. This was on Rhett, the horse that everybody loves most. She'd been looking forward to it all week, but that's what happens sometimes - the mount you thought you were going to ride isn't available, or, you travel all the way from British Columbia to Idaho to do a 5-day ride, and your horse goes lame. When Connie heard that had happened to Barbara Holmes, and that it was also Barbara's 64th birthday today, well, it was pretty easy to give up a mount for that. Besides, Connie got to ride Jose instead, and everybody loves to ride Jose almost as much as Rhett.

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Day Three: Sinker Creek

Today's ride took 29 50-milers and 15 30-milers down to and through Sinker Creek Canyon, a rich, biodiverse, flowing creek framed by rugged red cliffs and lined with willows and cottonwoods. Our limited distance trail took us up onto the plateau above Bates Creek, and cross-country to Sinker Creek. The 50-milers did this loop and another loop up on the plateau toward the north.

I was riding Rushcreek Mac, Steph's newish horse from the Rushcreek Ranch, on his first LD ride; Connie was riding Cap'n, John's big black brute on his first LD, and Carol joined us on her horse August on his first LD. We were drag riders again, assigned to close gates behind the last riders, although it ended up that everybody had to open and shut gates, since cows and semi-wild ranch horses were out and about.

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Day Two: The Petroglyphs

The way for an endurance rider to really see what goes on in an endurance ride is to ride one and to work one. Today Connie and I worked the ride. Day Two was a 60 mile out-and-back loop to the Snake River and the Petroglyphs. Perfect day for it, chilly in the morning again and 70's in the afternoon - though it felt a lot warmer down in the canyon.

The vet check was set up out on a bluff above the Snake River 20 miles out, and the same one was used on the way back. The morning began with a cup or two of coffee, which resulted in mad scrambling to get the trucks and trailers loaded in time to get on the road to meet the first riders coming into the first vet check. Well, the vets were on time, but the rest of us lingered a little too long over our coffees.

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Owyhee Canyonlands - Moonshine Day One

Tuesday September 25 2007

It was a day of firsts - namely, Connie's first 50 mile ride. We had the Very Important Job of being drag riders - gate-closers. Here in the West, the general rule of thumb is, leave the gates how you found them. Some of the gates were left open for a few hours today for the convenience of the riders, but we had to follow and close some of them to keep cows in or out.

It was a chilly morning - a little bit of ice down on Pickett Creek - and 41 horses were puffing steam for the 7:30 AM start. I hiked up the steep badlands hill just before the start to catch the horses scrambling up to the ridge. Then I hiked back down to the yard, where Connie and I saddled our horses, Jose and Rhett, and we headed off onto the trail at 8:30. We wanted to give the last riders plenty of time to get ahead of us and through the gates, so we could cruise right along, and I really didn't want Rhett to get a glimpse of the horses ahead of us, because he's one horse that knows how to pull.

We didn't have to worry about catching anybody, because Jose (aka Chunky Monkey), was a little out of shape. And it was only his second 50, so we used this ride as a training ride - for Rhett, (learning to relax and go at a slower pace, be patient for closing gates, and be patient for Kodak moments), for me (learning how to ride better from Connie's instructions), and for Jose (learning to be patient for Kodak moments and closing gates, and a variety of other things that you'll see).

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IT DON'T GET NO BETTER THAN THIS - Monday September 24 2007

Said head veterinarian Dr Michael Peterson at the ride meeting for tomorrow's Day One 50-mile 2007 Owyhee Canyonlands - 260 miles, 5 days in the desert.

Most people here would agree. This is one of the best places to ride on the planet, and you get 5 days of it. Riders from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California, and a bunch of invaders from Canada are here to hit the trails, with 42 riders starting tomorrow.

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HOMELESS SWEET HOMELESS - Sunday September 23 2007

Or, 'Home' Sweet 'Home'?

Either way, it's great to be back in the US, in southern Idaho, the beautiful high desert of Owyhee County.

I'm not sure what exactly was the best part of getting back: emptying the suitcase (!), or wearing different clothes (!), or getting back in the saddle (!!). My first day back I grabbed Steph's awesome horse Rhett, who took me for a splendid ride along the Rim Trail over Hart Creek. This is mine and Rhett's favorite trail. He knows where we're going, and I let him decide what he wants to do. He was into it as much as I was - it was a Welcome Back ride. We trotted along the winding trails, cantered up the hills, galloped up roads and along the grassy flats, strolled along the rim admiring the view, ripped along cow trails through sagebrush, stopped to watch a jeep of hunters drive down a road, galloped along the Pickett Creek Rim and cantered back home. Rhett is the coolest horse. Everybody who gets on him says the same thing. Neighbor Carol calls him her "10 horse. He's the horse I compare every other horse to."

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