Thursday, May 10 2012
Picture from Left to right: Elaine Lemeiux holding Riverwatch, Garrett Ford holding Bound For Honor, Jeremy Reynolds holding Stirgess, Heather Reynolds holding Kenlyn Irishman and Rachel Shackelford holding Cleopatrah.
This blog should have gone out several days ago but I am just now starting to feel human again as far as sleep deprivation goes! On Wed May 2 we loaded up our 7 horses plus our friend Bob's horse to head to the Biltmore. The eight horses got on the trailer around 8:30 pm. Our plan was to drive thru the night to avoid the heat and humidity.
The reason we had so many horses was because we would be continuing from the Biltmore to our summer training that would take place in Durango CO. Ever tried packing for 5 horses and riders to do an FEI race and then also packing for the entire summer training with a trip abroad with potentially two horses flying??? A little bit of work.
The drive was uneventful. Rachel Shackelford had flown out to FL to help us drive to NC for the Biltmore. She was also going to help us with the crazy drive from NC to CO! What a hero!! I love her!!
We arrived Thursday with the two trailers, 3 dogs, 3 people and 8 horses around 10 am. We were in Zombie mode for sure! When we arrived several friends jumped in to help us get water and feed for the horses. This is when Bob's horse went with Bob. We then headed to town to go to breakfast. Melody and Chad went with and we had a great time. After this we went back to camp to get things organized. Jeremy booted a few horses while Rachel and I tried to stay awake.
For dinner we went to a BB-Q at our friends Lynn and Mark Ashby's camp. Very nice and fun catching up. Lynn and Mark are who we got A Kutt Above, Merlin (the chihuahua), Cleopatrah and An Honest Crook from. It was super fun because Merlin's mom, brother and niece were there! The Chihuahua's had a blast. We were party poopers and headed to bed super early, go figure!!.
Friday, Garrett Ford came to camp, he had landed at some unreal time in the wee hours of the am, I think Friday at 3:30 am or something! Jeremy and he went for a run. Rachel and I went to the Biltmore hotel and had breakfast with Elaine and Guy Lemeiux. These are our friends that we bought our newest horse, Honor, from. I think we had a lot more fun than the boys! Barbara also arrived later in the afternoon on Friday.
The rest of Friday was spent getting things set up, vetting, then pre riding, followed by the ride meeting. Then another early bedtime.
Saturday Jeremy and Stirgess started their ride at 6 am, Rachel and I were 30 mins later, followed by Garrett and Barbara another 30 mins later. The start of the race went very well for Rachel and I, both horses were traveling well and were relaxed. Our goal was to get Riverwatch aka Marvel his final qualification for the London World Championship and get Cleo through her first 2*.
We arrived at vet check one as Jeremy and Stirgess were heading out. Both of our horses ate really well. Lynn told us a story about Jeremy catching a loose horse and helping the rider get back on, why does this always seem to be the thing Jeremy gets to do?
After a while Barbara arrived but no Garrett, Uh oh. We went to ask Barbara about it and she said that there had been a loose horse running straight to them and Garrett had jumped off to help catch it and right as he made the catch Honor pulled back so Garrett let the other horse go to hold onto Honor but then Honor pulled more and was loose. Barbara said the last thing she saw was Honor running up over a hill top with Garrett in hot pursuit. I was worried after hearing this but if I had to pick someone to be in charge of tracking Honor down it would be Garrett.
Rachel and I rode around loop 2 and when we were almost back to camp I asked the ride manager who was at the number check point if Garrett had found the horse. He told me that he had and that he was back on the trail. That was a big relief.
At the second vet check we heard the story about how Jeremy had left vet check one and shortly after he passed us (when we were headed into vet check one), he came upon a loose grey horse. The rider he was with said something like "not again!" and right about then Jeremy realized it was Honor! He went after him and had to go a ways off trail. Jeremy was near Honor and then Honor and Stirgess started to race each other and it was getting dangerous. Jeremy realized that they were headed up the hill that had a number check and a horse rental string and many people at the top of it so he let Honor go to them and he turned around to get back on course.
Rachel and I had a nice ride for the rest of the day. The scenery was beautiful and the weather was cooperating nicely, although we did get rained on for a bit.
On our last loop Rachel and I were making bets as to when Stirgess would blow by us. It didn't happen but if we would have taken 13 mins longer it would have! We were on our mile long walk back to camp when we heard the cheering. Stirgess had lost the sprint off to a 16.1 hand Anglo! Stirgess is barely 15 hands and does not have long legs. He lost by 1/2 a length and the GPS read 34 MPH or 54.4 KPH!!! He was flying.
An hour after the race we showed him for Best Condition. He looked incredible. He won Best Condition and High Vet score. This was his second 100/160k. He is super. He had his dragon haircut, the same one he had at FITS. It's his look. I think he made his brother Sir Smith aka Smitty proud.
All 5 of our horses finished. Honor looked great. We guess he went around 68 miles, so he won the 68! He didn't have a mark on him, no cuts, grass stains from falling nothing. He was only missing his reins and even those were returned the next day. Someone had found them at a road crossing. They were totally fine, clips and all. Weird! We had 5 FEI completions so I was happy.
Sunday we went to the awards and then went swimming in the river. We decided that we would start our drive in the evening to rest the horses and avoid the heat. After packing up and then swimming we took a nap. We got on the road around 6 pm.
We made an immediate stop at the Starbucks that is at the front gate of the Biltmore estate entrance. We had a 1700 mile or 2720 km drive ahead of us!!
We drove until 1 pm on Tuesday and then stopped at a fellow endurance rider, Sandy Olson's farm. She was incredibly generous and put our horses in a 12 acre grass pasture and offered us showers and beds. It was so awesome and appreciated!
After showering we fell fast asleep. We started driving again at 8:30pm. About an hour into our drive I saw sparks coming out from under the trailer that Jeremy was driving so I had Rachel call him and we pulled over. A trailer tire had de-treaded so we put the spare on and continued.
By 4 am on Tuesday morning none of us could function. We pulled into a truck stop and took a 4 hour nap. We got going again around 8 am. It was only 4 more hours to go. As we got closer Jeremy decided he wanted to get the flat replaced so that we would have a spare. There was a super convenient spot and we were fixed up in no time. Another problem was spotted while we were there. One of the rims had cracked so there was a slow leak because of it. Everything was fixed. We hit up the coffee shop in the parking lot before heading onwards.
It was so great to pull into Garrett's driveway!! Just knowing that we didn't have to drive away 4 hours later was the best feeling!! After we visited for a bit we decided to go for a ride. Most people would be appalled. Riding in an endurance race, driving 40+ hours and then you WANT to go for a ride??? Diehard. Any how we all thought it sounded good...Idiots!
In Nov Jeremy dropped off three of our horses at Garrett's so that is who we would ride. Rachel would ride Envol, Jeremy would ride Nixon and I would be on my old friend Kingley once again. Garrett rode Fury.
We headed out and the views were stunning and the valley is breathtaking. We were about 2 miles into our ride when I called back to Rachel to watch for a broken, low branch. A few seconds later Envol got goosed by the branch and Rachel came off. Apparently Rachel had been videoing our ride when I called back to her and she was putting the camera away when things went down hill. Luckily Rachel was fine and she quickly got up and hopped back on, as cheerful as ever. She is awesome!! Did I mention that Envol had not been ridden since Nov?
When we were headed back, Garrett saw the tail of a mountain lion disappearing around the bend of the trail! It ran too fast to see anything more. When we got back to Garrett's house there were at least 30 elk in his yard! Crazy!
After the ride we cleaned up and had dinner with Lisa, Alex and Garrett. Lisa had made a yummy dinner that hit the spot after all of the road food we had consumed.
After dinner we all fell asleep before we even hit the pillow! Early the next day Garrett dropped Jeremy off at the Durango airport. Poor Jeremy had to go to CA to take care of all of his shoeing/ trimming clients. A little later that morning I took Rachel to the airport too. We are like a traveling circus!! In all, the trip went well and I am so greatful to Rachel for taking her time to help us with the drive.
I am in Durango with our 10 horses. I rode A Kutt Above today for the first time since the time trial and he feels amazing.
The next event will be the final evaluation for London. Our evaluation will be June 2. I will keep you posted.