Endurance Riding

May 06 2014

Gold Rush Shuffle

Published by under Endurance Riding

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There is something about crossing the finish line just as the sun is setting. Being blinded by the vibrant orange and red filling the sky, and then squinting as your eyes adjust to the dusk. Galloping across the field, just a 1/2 mile from your destination, the chill of night caressing your cheeks….

Just as the holiday season began last year, Jakob and I headed to the Gold Rush Shuffle near Camp Far West Lake outside of Wheatland. It was a fairly quick drive, and as we pulled into ride camp, the excitement began to build. Jakob and I had signed up for 2 days with our horses, Asali and Beauty. We were to ride the 30 on our first day, and the 50 following that. It was to be Jakob and Beauty’s second 50.

We had a fantastic ride on the first day! The horses did well and as always, I enjoyed the time I got to spend with my son on the trail. The following morning, Jakob and I headed out with well-rested, fresh horses. The sun was making its way high into the sky and its rays danced on the meadows in the front of us. The fields were green, not brown and dry as they are at summer’s end.

Not far into the ride, Asali jumped at the sound of the guns as we rode past the shooting range. At every pop, she became more and more nervous, and afraid I would become unseated, I dismounted and decided to hand walk her down the trail. She danced circles around me as we made our way forward. I did not remount until the bang of the guns hitting the air was a distant charm on the wind.

Jakob and I continued down the trail, talking and reminiscing around every corner. We shared jokes, frustrations, complaints, and laughs. We chatted about the day before and how we were excited to ride our favorite loop over again that day.

That favorite loop found us tired after a day of riding, but its trailhead and the cool evening approaching fed our worn bodies and perked our horses up. We enjoyed the views of the lake, camp in the distance, and the horizon ahead as we traversed the sandy trail. We played games as we rode, seeing who could spot the dots that marked our trail on the rocks ahead. Lime green dot after lime green dot painted on the boulders and we were one mile closer to the end.

When we left the sandy lake shore for a meadow, we picked up the pace. We ran through a herd of cows and then spotted a coyote crouching in the weeds. We spent a moment with our eyes fixed on that coyote before galloping off again towards the finish.

As we approached the finish line, darkness had hovered in and the vet check was lit up with portable electric lights. I looked over at Jakob as he searched for his vet card and I was filled with this immense pride. Here was my son, a young child, and his rescue horse, working together in harmony to carry each other through a day’s adventure, taking care of each other every step of the way. I realized then that it wasn’t just another ride we had ridden, but another treasured memory we had just made. And the next morning when we spent time playing by the lake with our horses and our dog, I knew these were memories that would last our lifetime.

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