After last weekend’s ride, I’m pretty set on a 50 at Grizzly. There’s a lot going into this, so let’s dig in:
- Three times I have tried this ride, on three horses that weren’t mine, and I haven’t finished due to rider option pulls, all different reasons. This makes Grizzly my Elinore, hence my original decision to stick with an LD and get it in the bag.
- The longest ride I have done is a hard 35 at Mount Adams years ago, again as a catch rider. I’ve never done a 50, and of course neither has Tarma.
- This is an early spring ride with crazy fresh horses, and the first ride of the season for most folks, including us.
- My main goal is to complete 50s with Tarma, and I know she’s already capable of an LD. We have been preparing for a 50 since last October. She’s a smart lady, and she would benefit from knowing that there is another loop out there, sooner than later.
- We’d be without our comfort gelding, as Cody is clear that he only enjoys LDs. We have ridden solo plenty but not recently, so motivation becomes a factor.
- I am stressed about the first five miles, as Tarma has proven she feeds off the energy at the start and has gotten me off twice before. I’ve changed saddles, added a bit and groundwork and I have no qualms about hiking out of camp, if that is what it takes to have a safe start (at 6am, fun!)
Our last conditioning ride went swimmingly; the Octos stayed on and both horses were thrilled to move out without feeling the rocks as much or dealing with rubs, we got several up and down climbs in and we both still had plenty of horse left. Tarma rated well and didn’t try to bull past Cody, including following at speed without too spicy of an opinion. I still plan to pull off trail or even hop off if anyone need to pass at speed, but thankfully most folks are understanding and don’t hustle past without warning.
I’ve figured out the secret to getting Tarma to take her electrolytes (molasses), and I might need to hunt up some clippers to give her a last minute trace clip to help with the heat. You have 12 hours to complete a 50 (realistically only 10 if you subtract the two vet holds). I think I can get Tarma through, rating her and motiving her, and remembering to eat something myself and avoid Gatorade like the stomach churning drink it is during a ride. Worse comes to worse we overtime, have saddle issues or a rock with our name on it, I have a bunch of lessons learned and homework for the next 50.
So while there’s plenty of nerves and additional to do lists to follow, I also have the vision of riding my pretty mare through the high desert, the sun shining with a few clouds scattered around, a nice breeze in her mane as I sit deep in the saddle and lower my hands, take a deep breath and let her fly…