Monday, June 22, 2015

Wild Wild West 2015

About two and a half weeks ago, I found myself with the opportunity to go to Wild West, a multi-day endurance ride about five hours north. I cleared it with work, sorted logistics, and sent the entry on in. Live spontaneously and plan rides on less than two weeks notice, right?  

We've never been to a non-local ride, or a multi-day, or anything longer than 25 miles.. or anything involving me camping for 4 full days and not taking my car. Good thing about only having two weeks to figure it out: not really enough time to panic about how unprepared we are.  When Fetti bucked me off, that pretty well solidified my decision that she was in plenty good shape.  I borrowed a tent and cooler. She got trimmed a week before we left, promptly went slightly lame, and recovered within a few days. I even put the front boots on beforehand, plus verified that the hinds were still intact. No spares.. the fronts were new for Mount Diablo.. but they stayed on there fine, and the hinds weren't a problem when we used them before.. so that should be fine. Bonus: Aurora would be there and could reassure me that the fit looked good in person!

We hauled up Thursday morning, uneventful five hour drive, and settled on in. Thursday was a really stellar example of why it's been helpful for me to join a local endurance club. Club member got me to the ride, another gave me extra water when it became evident the human water was perhaps not really all that evident at camp, plenty more said hello and chatted.  I actually knew people! Plenty of familiar faces.  And as always, the Haflinger fan club started as soon as we showed up. We even had someone ask if this was the Confetti that he'd bred a bunch of years ago and sent to the local Haffie lady to sell on. She's not - but I knew who he was talking about, and there is another registered Confetti, though that one is registered with an East Coast suffix.. so who knows. Barn name Confetti? Crazy coincidence there.

Briskly-paced group!
Friday, we started the 30 early and fast. We did the first 3-6 miles quicker than anything before. Clearly, I misjudged how close to the front we were! I started my Garmin late, but the first four miles were pretty consistently 9-10mph every time I looked down. Eep! 
Then there was a puddle. A few steps later she told me the boot wasn't right - so I hopped off to fix it, and we lost that group. Thank goodness! The next rider kindly offered to stop so I could hop on. We ended up sticking together for the rest of the loop, as she also wanted to pace her mare at a more sedate 7-8mph trot.

Walk breaks make for better photos.
4 boots: early in day 1. Gore/Baylor Photography
The vet check was back in camp at about 12 miles. I knew one front boot was missing (safely stowed in saddlebags). I hopped off, glanced at her back feet, and swore: two hind captivators. Zero hind shells. When? How?! And oh shit, she probably did most of the loop with just one boot, what do we do now?! Will they let us go out with fronts only? Can I fix the front fast enough?
Pony tied to trailer, I swore and grumbled and failed at fixing the boot, so we vetted through barefoot. Thankfully, the head vet said we should be fine bare for the second loop, but would want boots for day #2. One day at a time! A few deep breaths and a muffin later, we were back out on trail, minus one boot and two captivators, and even back with our friends from loop 1.
Loop 2 was uneventful and moseying. No need for speed with how quickly loop 1 had gone, so we walked a lot, trotted occasionally. A few more folks caught up to us near the end of the loop, and due to some unfortunate circumstances, Fetti ended up needing to cope with one horse spook-bolting into her.  She flinched, and squealed, and stopped, and that was it; it was probably the highlight of my Friday.  Good mare! We came into the finish with a good 30 minutes to spare. She pulsed down to 60 within a few minutes and with very minimal sponging. Good mare!

Aurora pieced my troubled front boot back together (cables pulled through, same issue as at QS in 2014), and between Mel and Aurora they granted me a set of fitting hind Vipers to borrow for Saturday. I promised to try and bring them back in one piece.

keeping up with the more motivated Sparky
Saturday, we rode with Aurora and Sparky all day in the 35. It's kind of novel to get to ride with someone you sort of know at a ride! The first hour was general drudgery: fire roads, full sun, heat early in the day, downhill. I rejoiced when it went to shady singletrack downhill, then soon thereafter gave in and hiked down - steep, steep trail. Back on at a shallow river crossing, then uphill as we obsessively checked for eight boots and requested that the pony keep walking in hopes of keeping boots on.
Midway up the hill, Fetti stopped and gave me her 'fix it' look. Damn. Front right boot shell missing. Back down the trail we went looking.. but it was not to be. My best guess is that it went over the cliff, because it sure wasn't on the trail.  Onwards then, seven boots attached! The trail finally improved into lovely trottable singletrack and we made excellent time to the vet check.

blogger photo-shoot

I was very impressed with the vets at this ride. The vet check was a gravelled parking lot. I explained to the vet that we were having another rough boot day, she might not trot sound over gravel, she goes barefoot at home and we're taking it slow on this sort of footing today. Trot out verdict: not bad given three boots and the footing, occasional ouchy steps when she hit a rock but not consistent, have a good ride! Aurora was kind enough to wait for our out-time (pony pulsed down far slower than fit Arab Sparky!), and we had a spectacularly uneventful ride back to camp, all seven boots intact.

Gore/Baylor Photography. Happy happy.

Fetti vetted through at the finish, but with the note that she was 'intermittently lame' on her RF - not surprising given the circumstances! I was super impressed that the vet remembered it was her RF prior to seeing our card or our final trot out.  Midday Sunday I trotted her out for the other vet, who thought she looked fine. It's likely she was just a bit footsore post-ride; I'm grateful it resolved quickly.

Sunday the 50s rode on the same trail that the LDs did on Friday, and some extraordinarily kind soul found one of my hind boot shells.  Made my day.

Sunday, napping.

I wish we could have done all three days, but that was never the plan and I'm happy with my decision. The pony is absolutely capable, I have no doubts about that.  She's home, obnoxious, and looks better than when we left.  

- Fetti is almost certainly capable of a carefully managed 50 at this point.
- my calves are not thrilled after two days in the dressage saddle; either switch back to a Specialized or get endurance stirrups.
- consider sheepskin leather covers - even with half-chaps, the webbers are irritating after a while.
- cantle bag: total win. Very pleased. Thanks Saiph!
- 135x135 Vipers for her hinds: success.
- rasp the heck out of her front right before rides, plus take back any possible excess toe right hind
- pack spare boot adjusted for RF for any rides I think it might be needed.  
- slight bump on the right side of her back, where the electrode was placed. Drat! Not sure what to do about that.
- Equiflexsleeves: attempted on a front leg. Could not get on. Current theory is that they're too small for her feet, but may still be the right size for her legs... but her legs didn't fill noticeably if at all despite the lack of attention they got.

Rider management:
Cautious success.  I had a migraine when we hauled in, but only sinus pressure/sinus headaches post-ride both days, and did not have to take strong stuff to alleviate those!  This is the first time in two years I've made it through a ride without losing my head afterward.  I drank almost-all of my 2L camelbak before the check both days, and then again before the finish both days.

Rider food:
Chocolate chip muffins. Ate all four. Would have had more.
Cold cheese pizza. Ate three of six, gave away two.
Diced pears. Ate two containers.
Grapes: did not pack. Should have packed, at least for the first day!
Cheezits: nibbled at. Did not crave, which makes sense; this is my usual migraine-craving-salt food.
Croissants: ate four of four, but preferred muffins.
Gatorade: drank four? of five packed.
Luna bars: one on-trail both days.
Veggie burgers: ate one the first night, but then a packing flaw rendered the rest inedible. Still a good option, try again next time.

I nibbled at the potluck dinner Friday & Saturday, nibbled at the catered Mexican dinner Sunday.

Also packed:
Applesauce (will pack again in future), burrito/sandwich supplies (never got hungry enough to pull these out!), cheese/crackers, rider electrolytes (should pack again - just plain never pulled these out), chocolate/caramel wedges (did not crave, will probably pack again to alleviate sugar cravings in small package).


  1. You guys look so happy in the ride photos, and definitely lots to be proud about with Miss Fetti!

  2. haha i was going to say the same thing as Grace - Fetti looks so happy! glad you had an awesome ride, and hopefully were able to figure out a workable plan for boots and the RF!

  3. Great photos, nice to finally see you in person! Glad you had such a successful ride, minus the boot issues. Is there a 50 on your radar? Looks like you're ready for one!