Endurance Riding

Jul 16 2012

Gold Country 30

Published by under Endurance Riding

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Part 1: Does That Count as Falling Off?

We arrived at ride camp in Georgetown, CA just before noon. After getting camp set up, eating some lunch, and having Dianna (our hoof trimmer, fellow endurance rider, and camp neighbor) trim our horses, we decided to set out for our pre-ride. Jakob and I both decided to ride bareback. We started at the beginning of the Dru Barner trail, the trail named after the first woman to ever complete the Tevis Cup ride. We had a great time on our pre-ride, but we experienced some decent hills. At one point, on our way back to camp, we were climbing up a hill, when I heard a small shout from Jakob. He had lost his balance, plummetted off his horse, and landed in the soft dirt on his bum. He stood up, hysterically laughing, and then said, “Does that count as falling off? Because in my book, that was just a slip off.” Then he preceded to convince me that he had done it on purpose, as if it had been an emergency dismount. Jakob’s horse is almost 16 hands and when he realized he wasn’t going to be able to get back on, he decided to hand-walk her the mile back to camp. I dismounted and did the same with Asali.


Leaving our campsite for a pre-ride.


The Dru Barner trail.


Jakob riding bareback.

Part 2: Being in Two Places at Once

It was after dark and Jakob and I were cuddled up in the tent. Yes, that’s right, a tent. Thanks to my dad, who purchased us a 2-person REI tent, we no longer have to sleep in the back of the horse trailer. Jakob and I were almost asleep, enjoying the air from our battery-operated fan, when a couple text messages came through on my cell phone. My brother had sent us two video clips from World Fest, a music festival him and his girlfriend were at. The video clips were of Ani DiFranco, one of my favorite independent artists, playing live. Jakob and I played those video clips over and over again, inside our quiet tent. I closed my eyes and was transported to the World Fest, my body moving with the beat Ani was creating.

Part 3: UFO in Ride Camp?

At 2:10 am, I was awakened from a deep sleep by a soft roar from the sky. When I looked outside my tent window, I saw a hazy glow on the other side of camp. I swear I saw headlights rising through smoke. I was frozen inside the tent, not wanting to venture out to the bathroom. I could just imagine the headlines in the next issue of Endurance News: “First Rider Ever to Get Abducted By Aliens in Ride Camp.”
The next morning, I found out the smoke was from a camp fire that had just been put out. And the headlights were head lamps – several riders had been up trying to catch a few loose horses that were running through camp. As for that soft roar I heard in the sky, that still remains a mystery…

Part 4: Crazy Horse

At 8:00 am, Jakob and I were off on our first 5.5 mile loop. Both horses were feeling good. And of course, Asali was a little crazy. She tried to bolt. Then she tried to buck. Then she thought if she rode sideways down the trail, maybe she would be able to get out from underneath the death grip I had on the reins. Beauty kept pace with us, calmly wondering why we looked like we belonged in the circus. I was secretly wishing I could switch horses with my son.

Part 5: Back to Loving My Horse

On the second loop, we began to have an incredible time! Jakob and I experienced narrow, single-track trail that we could really move out on. The footing wasn’t bad, the trail was well-marked, there was plenty of shade and water, and the scenery was beautiful! My favorite part of the ride was at mile 14 when we rode the horses into the creek and let them splash and play. We were about half-way done with the ride and we were loving it!

Part 6: Worried About Beauty

A few miles after the creek, Jakob and I noticed that Beauty was breathing really hard. Asali had been setting the pace and Beauty had been keeping up, but when I saw how hard she was breathing, I became worried that maybe we had been going too fast for her. We decided to park it in the shade for awhile. Jakob fed her an apple and we waited. Then we decided to continue on without re-mounting. Jakob and I handwalked the horses for awhile. Just before Jakob remounted, I gave Beauty a second dose of electrolytes. We continued on in our saddles, but at a walk. When we finally approached a water trough at our 20.5 mile mark, Beauty drank almost 1/2 the trough. I had never seen a horse drink so much at once! After that, she was a new horse! When we got to the vet check a couple miles later, she pulsed down before Asali and had amazing vet scores!

Part 7: Booking It to the Finish

Because we had spent a great deal of time allowing Beauty to recover out on the trail, we left our vet check with little more than an hour to make it to the finish. We had about 7.5 miles to cover – we knew we could do it, but we knew we had to move out the entire time. That last bit of trail was fun – it was a whirlwind of more narrow, single-track trail. The horses knew they were headed back to camp and they didn’t slow down until we clocked in at the finish at 3:04 pm, just 11 minutes before ride cut-off time.


Right after completing the Gold Country 30!




And strawberry crepes for dessert!

Part 8: I’ve Got Muscles

After the ride, I arranged rides home for Asali and Beauty. I had blown the power steering pump on my truck pulling into ride camp and I did not want to travel down the hairy 49 with no power steering and two horses in the back of the trailer. So, Asali went home with Dianna that night and the next morning (after a long night of stress for Beauty who had to camp by herself), Dennis and Joann Martin got Beauty safely off the 49 and into Auburn. Robert Weldin was kind enough to drive my truck and trailer down the 49 for me, while Jakob and I followed behind in Sharon Wimberg’s car. And while another endurance rider, Nikki, had offered to get Beauty from Auburn to Paradise, we collectively decided to put Beauty in her own trailer. I muscled the truck home on manual steering, picking up Asali on the way. We all arrived home safely, thankful for the help we had received from those endurance riders we now call friends.


4 responses so far

4 Responses to “Gold Country 30”

  1. Emma and Archie Moffaton 17 Jul 2012 at 9:02 am

    That’s the lovely thing about endurance, all those great friends that you make!

  2. Birdon 18 Jul 2012 at 8:28 pm

    Nice post, great job for you and your son. Nikki and I were starting to want those 20.5 mile water troughs badly and Blaze drank about half a trough there, too! It’s neat to see you and your son out there doing it and Beauty is a very striking horse alongside your pretty mare.

    Maybe see you on the next ride!
    Bird recently posted..Fantastic Fairy Falls

  3. Carol Baileyon 18 Jul 2012 at 9:27 pm

    LOVE reading these blogs! Great job, Jakob and Beauty… Jaya, you are such a cool MOM!

  4. Ann Byrnson 19 Jul 2012 at 3:09 pm

    Envious of all the fun you guys are having out there (I’ll pass on the truck experience, though–that sounded scary)!

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