Friday, January 9, 2015

2015 Death Valley Warm Up, Day 2, 25 Miles

On Day 2, I saddled DC up with her new gear to head out. She was quite nervous, not sure what to expect, and knowing Hoss was distressed. Hoss, of course, understood what it meant that she was being saddled and he was not. He was giving her last minute instructions as I saddled her up and walked her away.

DC sporting the ugly saddle, the day we found it.
I knew Hoss would be OK by himself. He's a smart and sensible guy and generally quits acting the fool pretty quickly. I did make sure his lead rope was well secured. By the time we left, he was looking up and nickering, but mostly keeping his head lodged in his hay bag.

Getting ready for the ride, feeling nervous
DC was a little silly at the start. She was spooking at every little thing she could think of to spook at. I realized her girth was not tight enough, but she wouldn't stand still for me to get off until another rider, taking pity on me, stopped her horse in DC's path so I could dismount.

Once the saddle was tightened sufficiently, I got back on and we were on our way. It only took a few miles for DC to settle in and get to work. She was clearly a little mystified by the number of horses around. It's been a long time since she has been at a ride, and our last one we took a wrong turn and it was her, me, Hoss, and Wendy for miles and miles. This was really a rather new experience for her  to be around a bunch of strange horses all going the same place.

We trotted along and stayed with various horses for brief periods, but DC never really hooked up with another horse. She could take or leave any of them. Often, preferably, leave them.

The vet check was a quick check and short hold. We didn't have to stay long, and DC showed no interest in her hay, so we got back on the trail quickly. She was looking back and trying to determine what in the world it was we were up to, so it didn't take long for another rider to catch up with us.

Our horses were pretty well matched (other than the gelding walked faster than DC does), so we remained together for the rest of the ride.

DC quickly discovered trotting downhill was a pretty nifty way to make time. And when we got to the long more-or-less flat portion, she got right down to cantering. Cantering is her new favorite thing. She would pop over into the canter and just go right along. I kept thinking she'd slow down on her own, but that wasn't going to happen. I kept having to slow her myself.

I was having difficulty keeping myself centered in the saddle. The previous day's ride on Hoss had left me pretty much without any "leg" left. Every time DC took the right canter lead, the lead she prefers, I'd start to lose the left stirrup. And every time I tried to get the stirrup back, DC thought I was asking her to go faster. She is, I have to say, quite fast. I could tell she had another gear to give. I kept her back, not wanting her to blow herself up.

We sailed back to camp, and I had to get off to get her to slow down. As we walked along the paved road back into camp, I could hear the telltale sound of a loose shoe. That left hind shoe was near gone. This was not a surprise. After all, she was due for shoes the next day.

After I got DC vetted out (she didn't give a hoot about Hoss; her heart rate came down right away), I took her back to the trailer and tended her. I got everything packed up and we were ready to go two hours after we had finished. I was satisfied with this time before loading up.

At the end of the ride, she thinks she's got this all figured!
I had loaded the horses in the trailer and was putting away the last minute stuff when someone yelled to ask what my out time was. Out time? I was done! I guess I've been doing 50s so long, it never occurred to anyone to think I was doing an LD.

We pulled out at 3pm, and were home by 10. DC cantered off into the pasture, shoe clattering, feeling pretty darn good about herself.

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