It’s official. I completed a Limited Distance endurance ride.
Now, that might not seem like much to people that routinely ride 50s and 100s (and can walk the next day), but I’ve been struggling since 2012 with nasty tears in my ankle ligaments. I had surgery to correct my left ankle in 2012 and I assumed I’d be 110 % within months. Ha. Here we are, almost 3 years later and I’m probably about 50%. Talk about a bit of a let down!
Of course, my expectations were a trifle, shall we say, unreasonable? I’ve always been able to power through injuries and set backs before. But, add in age and slower healing and you get…3 years.
Anyway, with a combination of time, angled stirrups, a great horse and good friends, I finally made it back to the not-so-vaunted reaches of Limited Distance Endurance Riding. I have done 4 50s in the past and had plans for moving up in distance, but my body said otherwise. My horse, Galen, could have easily done much, much more, but he’s stuck with me, so he’s taken on the role of “Uncle Galen’ to young horses and babysits me through rides.
Anyway, on to the ride story.
This past year I’d been getting the mileage and time spent riding up, but still couldn’t ride more than 2 hours without a lot of pain. I had almost given up when I saw a thread on the AERC Facebook page about angled stirrups. I bought some and have been upping our mileage and time ever since. I headed to the ride with my good friend Cindy Alberti and Aarene Storm’s partner Jim Biedel in the truck with me. It was only Galen in the trailer. I was hauling with my ‘new’ camper on the truck, which is about twice as heavy and much wider than my old one. I’m afraid I drove like a grandma. I did finally get a bit less tense on the way home though. Judging by the hand gestures on the two lane highways, I still need to get my driving speed up a bit..
My ‘new’ camper at home.
We arrived at the Mt Adams ridecamp, which was absolutely gorgeous, around 5 on Friday. I unloaded Galen to find he hadn’t eaten anything on the entire 7 hour trip. Although he vetted in fine, he didn’t eat much during the night or drink hardly anything overnight. I hadn’t thought about him being without a buddy – he’s always been such a good eater and drinker at ridecamps, I never even considered he might not be as happy as usual without a friend! His next door neighbor, Fiddle, seemed to keep him reasonably happy during the night, but I now had something to worry about besides myself. I had mentioned this to the vet when we vetted in, but he said Galen’s gut sounds and hydration were good, so to watch him on the ride.
I started the ride (very windy and blustery) thinking that if his gut sounds weren’t great (or I didn’t feel great), I’d Rider Option at the vet check. Off we went for our first loop, 16 miles, which we completed in 2 hours. I realized that he is much fitter than I am, as I was feeling pretty pooped by the vet check. He definitely was not in ‘Uncle Galen’ mode, but “beat every other horse out here” mode. My ankles were ok though and I even trotted him out. Still no drinking for him and not much eating, but the vet said his gut sounds were good and that I was watching the right things. Cindy met me at the vet check and took care of me, making sure I ate and drank too. So a nice hold (I did a bit extra, hoping he’d drink) and we were off for the 2nd loop of 13 miles. He was pretty sure we weren’t supposed to go out again – this was the first time in 3 years that we’ve done more than one loop, but it was minimal fussing. This time, we got in a sweet spot where there was no one in front and very few behind us. We slowed down a lot and did most of this loop on a loose rein. Thank heavens, as my hands and arms were feeling that fast first loop. I imagine he did too. I did keep thinking “the camp is only a mile down THAT trail” for a lot of this loop, but he was doing fine, so I put on my ‘big girl panties’ and continued. The trails were gorgeous, footing (besides some rocks and what can you do about that) was lovely, the trail markings were outstanding, so I enjoyed this loop. We finished the loop in about 2 1/2 hours, and finally! at the last tank before the vet check, he drank. And drank. And drank. His gut sounds at the last check were better than the middle vet check. He was also very hungry. I didn’t trot him out, but a nice young man did.
Our photo at the end. At least I’m still standing.
We headed back to our camp and I got him wrapped and cleaned up and then took a nap. We ended up around 35th out of 45 (I think that was it), but I was so happy that I finished and felt reasonably good. I only took a few photos on my phone – one of his sheen at the middle hold and then him eating. I was a little focused the rest of the time.
I did get my ride photo – turns out it was the second one in the series, AND the one that shows up in the link. All I can say in my defense is that I thought I’d be in the middle. Duh. As you can see, he’s got plenty of go. PLENTY. My arms are almost back to normal. Thanks to Jessica Wynne Photography for the shots.
Today is a clean the trailer and camper day and recovery. Thanks again to Cindy for all her help and for the Fish Creek gang for saving us a spot and being supportive! Our next planned ride is at Klickitat at the end of the month, but we’ll see what Aya and Allie say about that! Aya is due June 6th and Allie not long after. It should be ok…but…