Saturday, January 10, 2015

2015 Death Valley Encounter, Day 2, 50 Miles

Day 2 was Hoss's first day at this ride. Riding fresh horses on consecutive days is a bit of a challenge, I will say. I was glad, though, to ride Hoss after having ridden DC rather than the other way around. Hoss is a seasoned horse and while bigger and stronger, he also knows what is expected of him.

When I pulled Hoss's saddle pad out of the truck, it was frozen into the weirdest, least horse-back-shaped position I think it could possibly be in. It would have to warm up some before it assumed an appropriate shape. The saddle went on over it and my next hurdle was before me. Hoss has gotten a bit pudgy, and between that and the hard saddle pad, I couldn't get the girth around him. It took me and my husband putting an effort in to get the girth secured.

Because the girth was not tight, once I was ready to go I started simply leading Hoss around camp. Once the saddle pad warmed up, I was able to tighten the girth properly and mount up.

We got out on trail, going at a pretty hot clip. Hoss knows his job well. On this day, he was pretty motivated and wanted to go fast!

Of course, being seasoned doesn't mean Hoss doesn't ever misbehave. He's also strong willed and opinionated. He will take advantage of me when given the chance. We caught up with a pair of riders, and Erasmo wanted to say "hello" to the camera. So I turned it on, and while my attention was distracted laughing and joking, Hoss got one over on me. He got in a good bolt, and it took quite some time before I was able to get him back under control (see the video above).

I was pretty tired from managing DC on Day 1, so I finally said the hell with it and pretty much let Hoss has his way. This turned out to be not such a bad idea. He stayed with the front runners all morning, coming in to camp for the vet check in 9th place. I laughed and said that wouldn't last.

We took back to the trail after our hold time, moving a little slow since he'd already been in camp for a while and didn't see any purpose in leaving (well, he feels that way about out vet checks, too). He still got going at a pretty good clip once I convinced him we really were leaving.

We held our position for quite some time. For what seemed like a very long time, it felt like we were out there completely alone. The trouble started when we hit trail we had done earlier in the day. He thought this meant we were going to do the exact thing we'd done before, and without other horses nearby to keep him from getting discouraged, he wasn't having it. He dropped to a slow walk.

I decided I wasn't going to let him be demoralized, and held onto a positive outlook and just kept telling him how awesome he was. He really did not want to believe me. I persevered. I wasn't about to let him pull me into his dour outlook. Ultimately it worked. Sort of. He'd pick up the pace when we headed toward camp, and slowed when the trail took us away from camp.

Toward the end of the day, we came within a mile of camp, only to have to turn away for several more miles (very similar to the Coso Junction ride of a couple weeks before). As soon as we headed away from camp, Hoss slowed to a walk.

Hoss is a very helpful soul. He kept showing me trails that would take us back to camp. He was completely convinced I was lost, and he needed to show me the way.

A couple of horses passed us, and I hoped he'd perk up and want to keep with them. No, that wasn't about to happen. He didn't want to be with those horses. Those horses were just as stupid as his stupid rider!

Finally we turned back toward camp and he picked up the pace. There were moments when he thought I might be tricking him, but ultimately, he made it back to camp.

We placed 11th. Had he cared, he could have kept his 9th place position. But that's jut not Hoss. Still, he acquitted himself well, and I am very proud of him.

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