Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Foxcatcher 25: T - 1 Day

The day before the Foxcatcher ride, I was up at 5:30 a.m.  I wanted to take a quick shower (who knew when I'd next have the opportunity?), clean the guinea pigs' cage, and pack the foods that needed to be kept cold.  Once I had the cooler packed, I loaded the last few items into the truck and headed out to the barn at 7.  At this point, I must confess to a bit of sadness about leaving my daughter.  As much as I joke about needing some space and downtime from being a parent, knowing that I wouldn't see her until Sunday afternoon made it hard to leave.  I gave my best smile to her, though, and went out the door, so she wouldn't see my reluctance and start crying.

On the way out to the barn, I realized I forgot to pack my pillow, but with all the extra clothes and blankets I had, I figured I could work something out, and I felt pretty good that it was the only thing that I forgot.

At the barn, there was some initial confusion about whether Nimo had breakfast, so he ended up eating twice.  It wasn't that big of a deal, because he only gets 1 1/2 pounds of food and he would be working pretty hard the next day, plus he had a long trailer ride in front of him.  And then I had to hose off his crazy muddy legs and hooves.  So I ended up getting on the road about 15 minutes later than I planned, but all-in-all not too bad of a start.

The main reason the timing mattered was because I was picking up a passenger on the way to the ride.  It so happens that where Saiph's horse, Lily, lives is sort of on the way to the ride location for me and because Saiph doesn't have a trailer yet, we worked it out so that I could pick up Lily.  I was interested to see how things went in the trailer because the middle divider in my trailer is pretty anemic - it is just two horizontal bars across the middle with butt bars at the back.  There is no divider at all for the head area.  It normally doesn't matter because I never use it when I'm hauling Nimo by himself and in fact, I've never hauled another horse in my current trailer.  Luckily Lily and Nimo have met before and both of them are pretty laid back horses, so I crossed my fingers when Saiph loaded Lily.  And everything was fine.  The horses seemed content to hang out with each other, so we got on the road for what was the second half of the trip for Nimo and I.

Lily and Nimo on the trailer (photo by Saiph)

Saiph rode with me while Charles followed in their truck behind us.  It was great to have another person to talk to on the 2 1/2 hour trip, and it was also wonderful to have a navigator.  Neither Saiph nor I knew the area too well, but between the two of us and the directions the ride provided, we got to base camp without any trouble.

Saiph was planning to tie a line to a tree or trees for Lily and I had a pen made from cattle panels for Nimo, so we looked for a parking spot to accommodate both set-ups. We found a great one shortly after getting there, so we pulled in and got to work getting things set up and getting checked in.

Our campsite from the side (photo by Saiph)
Our campsite from the back (photo by Saiph)
Charles and I grazing Lily and Nimo (photo by Saiph)
Saiph wanted to vet in shortly after we got camp set up, although I initially wanted to wait a bit longer because Nimo had been on the trailer from about 8 until after 1, and I wanted to make sure he had an opportunity to recover before the vetting.  At first, I was just going to bring Nimo over to the vetting area, so Lily could have a friend, and wait another hour to vet Nimo in, but I eventually decided to just vet him in at the same time as Lily.  There was nobody else there and it occurred to me that it would be nicer to vet in without a crowd.  Although, when I saw the vetting area, I was pretty sure it would be a disaster no matter what.  The lanes for the vetting were divided by white ground poles, which have historically terrified Nimo, so I sort of imagined him refusing to even go down the lane, much less trot.  As it turned out, he was a very good boy, and stood quite nicely for the vet and did an animated trot that even included some spunkiness in the form of playfully half-rearing up as we trotted back to the vet.  He definitely let it be known that he felt good and he vetted through with a heart rate of 36 bpm and all A's.

Vetting area with horse-eating ground poles
Just after vetting in (photo by Saiph)
We returned to camp and chatted and took care of the horses for awhile and then a little after 4, we saddled up to do a short ride around the beginning of the trail to assess the starting line and to see if we could find one of the infamous tunnels that more than one person said Nimo and I wouldn't fit through.  So we spent about half an hour exploring.  Nimo felt very fresh and I could feel that there were a couple of enthusiastic bucks just waiting below the surface, but he kept it together.  And we found a tunnel to practice on.  It turns out that the "tunnels" are giant metal culverts that go under existing roads.  They are actually a pretty good size and I didn't even feel like I needed to bend over to get through it.  The tunnel was scary for the horses, but with Lily leading the way, Nimo did go through it without much fuss and I felt infinitely better about the ride the next day.

We rode about 30 minutes and then untacked the horses and got them settled back in.  At about 6, we headed over to the ride meeting and dinner.  The ride meeting was blissfully short and dinner was delicious with breadsticks, salad, lasagna, and peach cake. 

Getting dinner (photo by Saiph)
Dinner in a tent!  (photo by Saiph)
Saiph and I chatting after dinner (photo by Charles)
After dinner, we mostly just talked about our plans for the ride and had fun just chatting and enjoying each other's company.  Saiph is a really lovely person to talk to with lots of interesting stories about her horses and her job as a vet tech and her husband, Charles, is particularly entertaining company as well, so we laughed a lot and for me, it was a great way to destress and not spend a bunch of time obsessing about all the things that could go wrong the next day.

We headed to bed maybe a little after 10, after a final check on the horses, who were doing so well.  They were calm and eating and drinking and it made me feel good to know Nimo would have a friend through the night.

Lily and Nimo (photo by Saiph)

Nimo in the light of the camp lights (photo by Charles)
I was excited to try out my new truck tent and cot and especially my new portable propane heater.  I had gotten the heater up and running earlier in the night when the temperature had started falling and it emitted a pretty good amount of heat.  As it turned out, it produced so much heat, even on the low setting, that I spent much of the night either turning it on or off because I was too hot or too cold.  So I didn't sleep that well, but I was much more comfortable sleeping on a cot in a tent than I had been sleeping in the back seat of my truck at the Fort Valley ride last October.  And I was much warmer overall.  Still, it felt like no time at all before my alarm went off at 5:30.  In fact, Saiph had to call to me to make sure I was up (she sounded remarkably chipper for that time of the morning) and she was kind enough to get me some coffee so I could turn into a human being.  And then it was time to get ready...

(Note: To read Saiph's version of events, click here.)

1 comment:

  1. I think this was the most relaxed I have been at an endurance ride so far myself as well. Ditto re: loving your point of view on the adventures we share! Can't wait to read the rest! :)