Thursday, April 14, 2016

Foxcatcher 25 2016 T-1

I had planned for the Foxcatcher 25 to be our first ride of the year.  Nimo did so well at it last year, and I really had a fun time riding with Saiph, so I was excited for a repeat of that experience.  Plus, I really felt like I was starting to get the hang of pre-ride preparation.  I was totally on it this year.  I had Nimo mostly on schedule with respect to the dressage and conditioning work I wanted to do, I washed his tail, I washed his mane (for the first time in 18 months, which is a serious violation of the Friesian Code, btw), I trace clipped him, then I modified the trace clip further just before ride day, I bought all the new stuff I would need at least 2 weeks before the ride, I was prepared for just about anything, and I had all my crap packed by the night before with a minimal amount of stress and sleep deprivation.

The morning before the ride dawned windy and a bit chilly.  I knew from the weather reports that I had previously been glued to that ride day was not expected to be one of those fine spring days that we often have in this area.  In fact, before I cut myself off from obsessing over the weather, I distinctly remember seeing a snow icon on the weather app on my phone.  Because there wasn't much I could do about it, I decided to go into a dissociative state and pretend that everything was going to be fine.  That plan was put to the test with a text from Saiph that included the words "icy hell" but I managed to keep it together and get out the door.

I had hoped to get to ride camp between 1 and 2, so I wanted to leave the barn by 9 am.  And that is exactly what I did because I am actually starting to get the hang of this whole process.  My GPS happily informed me that it would take 2 hours and 53 minutes to get to my destination.  I tried arguing with it because the preferred route would involve Washington, D.C.'s Beltway and then lots of time on I-95, but it refused to offer me any route that didn't involve heavy traffic areas, so I bit the bullet and put on some good music.  (And yes, if you are wondering, the first planning I did for my route was literally when I got into my truck after loading Nimo.  I already knew the route, though.  I had just been hoping for a surprise from the GPS.  I suspect that plan was part of the dissociative state I mentioned above.)

As expected, I hit more than a little parking lot-esque traffic.  My husband (who spends a lot more time driving in the DC area than I do now) assured me that Friday morning traffic is really "not that bad" and with the addition of the 8 million new toll lanes, I should just sail through.

Does this look like sailing through to you?
Yeah, right.  I basically crept and crawled through DC and north into Maryland.  Even once I was on I-95, traffic would sort of magically slow to a crawl and then speed up again with no explanation.  (I later heard from others traveling the same route earlier that there were a lot of accidents, so the back-ups were probably residue from those.)  Plus, the wind was strong and blowing the truck and trailer all over the place, which made things especially exciting when I was being passed on both sides by semi-trucks.  And I somehow managed to travel the route that took me under Baltimore's harbor.  That means I went through the Harbor Tunnel in my horse trailer.  (I also paid a whopping $12 for that privilege!)  I admit that it was not the kind of excitement I was looking for, but we survived and we probably only irritated about 100 drivers because I refused to drive more than 50 mph.  Anyway, after about 3 hours of wind, crazy traffic, tolls, tunnels, and bridges, I needed a break, so even though I didn't need gas, I pulled off to get some, grab a snack, and try to pry my fingers off the steering wheel.  I also checked on Nimo who ate most of the mash I prepared for him even though his eyes were the size of saucers with all the activity at the gas station.  Luckily, the rest of the trip was less stressful and we made it to ride camp a little after 1 pm.

I started shopping for a parking spot where Saiph and her husband could park next to me because I knew Saiph likes to use a high line to tie her horses.  I figured she could run a line between our trailers if there wasn't a good tree.  As luck would have it, I found a spot for two trailers with a couple of decent trees, so I called it good, parked, and saved a spot.

I got Nimo's pen set up, and even groomed him (including brushing his mane and tail!) to get him looking presentable for the vetting in process.  I had originally braided his mane, but I decided to pull the braids out due to the impending unmentionable weather.

Once Saiph and her husband arrived, all three of us checked in and got our horses vetted.  Nimo got all A's which made me happy because I'm sure that 4 hours on the trailer was not a picnic for him, so I was glad that he was doing well.

Then I unhooked the truck and Saiph and I headed over to the water station to fill every bucket we had.  The water station is a bit of a hike, so having a truck to do the heavy lifting is much appreciated.  Then, I hooked the truck back up (which was pretty impressive because I had to back quite a ways through a field and come in to the trailer at an angle.  I normally suck at that kind of hook up, but I managed it perfectly on the second try).

Next it was time to get my home away from home set up.  Charles, Saiph's husband, helped me out a bit with my truck tent.  I'm finally getting a system in place for setting it up.  Mostly my system involves remembering to put the shortest pole in the correct pocket to begin with instead of putting it in the wrong pocket and then struggling with trying to put the longer pole in the shorter pocket and wondering why I can't get it to fit.

Photo by Saiph
My new system was successful and I got all the poles in the right places on the first try and only experienced a little bit of mocking from Charles and another friend who stopped by during the phase of the tent set-up that I lovingly refer to as a "beaver trapped under the tent."  This phase involves me being under the tent trying to get the interior arch poles in place and there is typically a lot of swearing and banging around because I can't see anything and the tent is unstable.  From the outside, I imagine that it looks like a wild animal is trapped under the tent and fighting for survival.  The process also does wonders for the volume and style of my hair, which tends to look like a runway model gone horribly wrong by the end.

By that time, it was approaching 5 pm.  Saiph wanted to get a short ride in before the ride meeting at 6, and I originally thought I would go with her, but changed my mind.  I had already ridden Nimo twice during the week and I also wanted to get more of my gear set up.  So I spent the time before the ride meeting getting stuff organized for the night and the next day.

What we didn't know was that the ride meeting was moved from 6 pm (listed on the schedule) to 5:30 pm.  Apparently, there was a giant yellow sign with that information at the check-in area, but we completely missed it.  So we showed up just in time to have missed the whole ride meeting.  Luckily, Dom, a fellow blogger whom I finally got to meet, was on the ball, and filled us in on the salient details right before dinner.

Basically, we needed to take the yellow loop and then the pink loop.  The pulse criteria was 64 at the hold and 60 at the finish, and probably some other relevant stuff that I forgot as soon as she told me.  (I'm exploring just going with the flow of life these days, so I needn't concern myself with a lot of technical details.  This approach is useful because I apparently don't have as much brain capacity as when I was younger and didn't have a child.)

We had a great time at dinner and there was what will probably always be referred to as The Peanut Incident.  Saiph's husband, Charles, can be a bit goofy and likes to not take life too seriously.  We were chatting about all the peanuts on the table and how once you start eating them you can't stop.  That's when I said, "Yeah, that's why I'm trying hard not to start."  Charles took my statement has a challenge and kept trying to toss a peanut in my mouth every time I tried to talk.  That resulted in me covering my whole face to avoid the peanut onslaught and then Dom trying to assist Charles in his endeavor by pulling my hands away.  I get that it probably seems like 3rd grade behavior, but we all found the situation vastly amusing.  (Maybe the cold was already having an effect?)  And while Charles was not successful, I did eventually eat one peanut:).

Photo by Saiph
Photo by Saiph
Photo by Saiph
This is what crazy people look like
After dinner, Charles and I took the horses for a walk and then after we got the horses tucked in for the night and did a very basic crew area set-up, Saiph, Charles, and I crowded around a portable heater and chatted until about 10 pm.  At which point I was so cold, I didn't think I'd ever get warm and that was despite the winter parka, hat, fleece blanket, and heater.

But I had faith in my portable heater getting my tent warm.  I did have a bit of a scare when it was slow to light, but once I got it going, it did not disappoint, and I was toasty warm all night.  Regrettably, I was also in that pre-ride state of Can't Turn Off Brain, so I didn't get a lot of sleep.  I'm hoping eventually I'll work through it, but for now it seems to be a part of the process.  And then, before I knew it, 5:15 am arrived and it was time to get ready for the ride.


  1. You are so cruel dishing this out to us in installments! But it was still highly amusing... BTW I used to think that chaining up my truck and trail to get the horse off the mountain in the winter in Montana was rowdy driving conditions but I would take that ANY DAY over trailering my horse on the Beltway and DC Greater Metro area... !!!!!!!

    1. That's funny, Jo, because Inwould much rather drive on the Beltway than have to put chains on my tires to drive in the mountains!:)

  2. I burst out laughing over that last photo "This is what crazy people look like"! I always love reading your side of the story! And agreed: that patchy traffic on 95 was incredibly frustrating!

    1. I know - I love reading everyone else's versions of the ride because we all remember and highlight different things:)