Endurance Riding

Apr 13 2011

Whiskeytown Chaser – Our First Endurance Ride!

Published by under Endurance Riding

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Welcome to the sport of endurance, where tears can (and do) happen.

If I had to sum up the entire weekend into one word, I’d say: Wow. What an amazing experience. One ride and I am hooked on endurance!

Asali and I arrived at ride camp around 2 pm on Friday afternoon. (Thank you to my mom who had loaded Asali for me and then driven the horse trailer down to Chico so I could leave directly from school. Mom drove my car home for me.) I set up camp – Asali’s electric fence paddock and my bed (which I made in the back of the horse trailer). Afterwards, I checked in and then had Asali vetted. She had her pulse, respirations, capillary refill, and gut sounds checked. Then I trotted her away from and back towards the vet for a soundness check. She was marked with a 6, our competition number. We were ready to go!

endurance-ridingFriday evening I did my pre-ride on the Canal Creek Trail, which would be the conclusion to our 25 mile ride the next day. It was beautiful. We rode past snow-capped mountains, trees beginning to bloom, and quiet streams. I was riding bareback and enjoyed just being alone with my horse, in preparation for the next day’s competition.

endurance-ridingThat night, at the pre-ride meeting, pot luck, and wine tasting (I just imagined us all riding hungover the next day – what a sight that would be), I began to make some new friends. I was invited by Kathryn and her daughter, Madison, to stay in their warm camper. While I’m not afraid of roughing it, I decided I needed a good night’s sleep and accepted their offer, which saved me from sleeping out in 38 degree weather.

Five am on Saturday came way too fast. The hour and 45-minutes I took to dress, eat breakfast, enjoy a cup of tea, groom and tack up Asali went even faster. I barely remember mounting – the last thing I did was grab my rider card for the vet checks and jump on. Then after a countdown, we were off! I had planned on staying somewhere in the middle, but Asali wanted to move out in the beginning, so I let her go with the front runners.

Once on the trail, everyone was moving so fast. There was this energy that carried all the horses and riders, and it left me feeling exhilarated. Parts of the trail were extremely narrow – single track trail, with switchbacks. I remember looking out over the mountain and thinking, “I am so glad I’m not afraid of heights.” I felt like I was rock climbing on horseback. It was definitely a technically challenging trail. Many people had commented that I had picked a tough 25 for our first, but Asali and I loved it.

The first 14 miles, we rode with many different groups. We hadn’t yet found our place in the competition. I enjoyed this time though because I had the opportunity to share our story with many different riders on the trail, a place where memories are made.

We threw a boot sometime during the end of the first part of the ride. It didn’t seem to bother Asali though, so we just kept moving. We vetted in sometime around 9:26… Asali pulsed down immediately! I was so pleased! The vet said he was impressed too and said I had conditioned her well. We were cleared to continue, after the 30-minute mandatory hold.

At the vet check, I put Asali’s other pair of Boa boots on while she ate and drank. Then I ditched the polo wraps – they were sweaty and coming loose. I didn’t really think she needed them anyway. (I found out later that polo wraps are never used by endurance riders – at least not during competitions. We’re learning as we go – I figured out the polo wraps weren’t going to work the hard way; the same way I figured out that jeans and field boots don’t work in endurance.)

During the second part of the competition, we rode alone. I preferred it this way because it allowed me to make a connection with my horse and focus on the ride without the distraction of other horses and riders. I realized while we weren’t with the front runners, we were somewhere in the middle of the pack. I had originally decided I was going to ride my first ride slow – only for the completion. But I changed my mind when we were out there and I decided I wanted a solid placing. When I switched to my competitive mind, however, I made a crucial mistake.

I was traveling on the correct trail, but for some reason, I thought I had missed a turn off to the last loop of our ride. I took my map out for a quick look, then turned Asali around, backtracked, and headed off on another loop. I didn’t want to take the time to study my map and figure out where I was because I didn’t want to waste any time. I convinced myself I was going the wrong way, even though I wasn’t, and I fixed the problem immediately without taking a moment to re-group.

I didn’t realize my error until I was almost to the finish line, arriving too early, knowing I hadn’t completed 25 miles. I started crying. And then I begged. I told the ride volunteers I just wanted to finish my first ride. I knew we could do it. I asked them to connect me back to the loop and let me do it over again. The ride manager’s assistant said she couldn’t get me back to the loop I missed because it would take too much time – there were too miles of backtracking that would occur. But she said she could lead me up the street and point me to a connection – I could ride the entire last loop over again to get in my 25 miles. I had obviously lost my placing in the competition, but if I did the last loop again and finished by the cut off time of 12:45, I could get a completion.

We arrived at the trail head at 11:59. Asali and I had 46 minutes. I pushed her on the last loop – and I kept apologizing to her. It was my fault she had to “haul ass.” I kept promising her treats at the end of the ride. She was amazing – she cantered around tight switchbacks and made it to the finish line at 12:22, with a ride time of 5 hours and 7 minutes. A group of volunteers cheered for us at the finish, but I was so exasperated, I didn’t even realize they were clapping for us. The first thing I said when I dismounted was that I was afraid Asali wouldn’t pulse down because I had run her so hard at the end. Then I said, “I just have to pee!” I think more tears followed after that.

Asali did pulse down. She was only one beat above the pulse limit of 60 at the finish line. After a drink of water and about 90 seconds later, she pulsed down. I was so proud of my horse – my partner and friend.

I met so many amazing new friends on this ride, including Kathryn and Madison, who I enjoyed sharing horse stories with. Madi, who is only 11, gave me some valuable tips on endurance riding – she is quite the horsewoman for her age. Then there was Cynthia, who shared my goal of riding the Tevis in 2013 at the Awards Dinner. And Linda, whose ridden Tevis twice and promised to take me out on the last 50 miles of the trail. And Teresa, who put her horse first and took a respectable RO (rider option – pulled herself from the competition when she became concerned about her horse).

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Junior Rider and my new friend, Madi.

Katie, who is graduating from nursing school at Humboldt State the same time I graduate from Chico State, said, “I have many friends I see only at endurance rides. But they are some of my best friends.”

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Ride Manager, Bonnie Sterling, and me with my First Time Rider award, an endurance book, which Bonnie signed for me.

Asali and I made it home on Sunday evening. It was quite a challenge getting home. At the conclusion of our wonderful weekend, I ended up with an eye injury. Apparently, I had picked up some debris in my right eye sometime during the ride. All night on Saturday, I woke up in pain. My eye felt like it was on fire – it was red, slightly swollen, and constantly tearing. Sunday morning, after I packed up camp, I drove a few miles into town and pulled into the Sunset Urgent Care. Asali waited outside in the trailer as my eye was numbed, the debris scooped out, the eye flushed and medicated with antibiotics. Because I had a deep corneal abrasion, the doctor decided to patch my eye. I ended up having to call my husband and mother to come get Asali and me in Redding because I could not drive.

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Asali and I relaxing in the back of the horse trailer, patiently waiting for Gary and Mom to arrive to take us home.

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Thank you to Dr. Ramseyer, Jane, and Renee, who were all just as concerned about my horse waiting in the horse trailer as they were about me!

THANK YOU TO RIDE MANAGER, BONNIE STERLING, AND ALL THE INCREDIBLE VOLUNTEERS (AND VETS) WHO MADE THE WHISKEYTOWN CHASER A SUCCESS! SEE YOU NEXT YEAR – WE’LL BE RIDING THE 50!

15 responses so far

15 Responses to “Whiskeytown Chaser – Our First Endurance Ride!”

  1. Katie Azevedoon 14 Apr 2011 at 5:19 am

    Oh Jaya, that’s an inspirational story of perseverance both emotionally and physically! I’m so sorry about your corneal abrasion, is it looking fine now? It was a pleasure to meet you- next time I’d like to meet Asali, too! Thanks for sharing and congratulations on your first successful endurance event!

  2. Bonnie Sterlingon 14 Apr 2011 at 2:30 pm

    Oh, my gosh, I didn’t realize you were the person that initially contacted me about the ride, Jana. What a wonderful recap of the ride. Yes, you will never forget this ride. I’m so sorry about your eye and glad you got it treated before going home. You added even more memories. You were a joy and I look forward to seeing you on more trails. Are you planning on Cache Creek?

    Bonnie Sterling

  3. Bonnie Sterlingon 14 Apr 2011 at 2:31 pm

    Jaya, I’m sorry I misspelled your name in the response. Yikes! I thought I had recovered from the ride, but my brain is still a little slow.

    Bonnie

  4. Garyon 14 Apr 2011 at 2:37 pm

    Fantastic post! You guys are well on your way and I couldn’t be more proud of you. πŸ™‚
    Gary recently posted..ActuallyRankβ„’ – Real Links – Real Rankings

  5. Carol Baileyon 14 Apr 2011 at 2:57 pm

    Good times , Jaya! Don’t ya just hate it when you miss read a map! Darn! Sounds like you are off to a great start! Good for you!

  6. JayaMaeon 14 Apr 2011 at 3:16 pm

    Haha, Bonnie, I’m still recovering from the ride too! If you look closely at the photo of you and me, my right eye doesn’t look good… apparently, I just wanted to take home some of Whiskeytown with me! πŸ˜‰

    My husband was teasing me after my eye injury, saying that maybe I shouldn’t do any more rides during the school semester. But, since I’ve never been one to follow the rules, I think I’ll be signing up for Cache Creek (which is 10 days before final exams). Katie said she might be going to Cache Creek too! Will you be there?

    Gary, thanks for your support. You and Mom are my number #1 cheerleaders.

    And Carol, I plan to improve my map reading skills by the next ride! πŸ™‚

  7. Naton 14 Apr 2011 at 4:26 pm

    Wow, what an amazing and inspirational story! I am glad you finished the race and kept your head up πŸ™‚ which left you with an eye injury, but I am glad you are feeling better!! Keep the stories rolling πŸ˜‰

    Love, Nat

  8. Chrison 14 Apr 2011 at 7:16 pm

    WOW Jaya! I AM SO PROUD OF YOU!!! You did it!!! It sounds like it was an amazing experience and you got to meet so many great people! And Asali sounds like such a trooper, you’re so lucky to have such a great connection with a great horse! I can remember how not too long ago you were so nervous about the Tevis cup, and now its come and gone! We need to work together again so I can hear all about everything first hand! i hope school is going well also. πŸ™‚

  9. JayaMaeon 15 Apr 2011 at 4:45 am

    Thank you, Nat and Chris. I am so glad you guys are enjoying my blog – thanks for reading! I appreciate the support and encouragement.

    Chris, I am still nervous about the Tevis Cup… this is just the beginning of the journey. The Tevis Cup is 100 miles. So far, we’ve only attempted one 25 mile competition… we have a long way to go, but I’m excited for what’s in store for us. I’m planning on riding the Tevis in 2013.

  10. Ann Byrnson 18 Apr 2011 at 3:24 pm

    Congrats to you and Asali on completing your first 25 mile endurance test! I have referred someone who owns a BLM Mustang to your site.

  11. J. Ramseyer MDon 18 Apr 2011 at 5:07 pm

    Hi Jaya,

    this is Dr Ramseyer who pulled the debris out of your eye at the end of this amazing ride. It was so sweet of you to send the card. Our clinic team enjoyed taking care of you. When I left the clinic, there was another horse trailer in the parking lot with several horses, at first I thought you had not made it out yet, then received an update from Jane that you had, indeed, watered your horse and were picked up by your family. They were keeping an eye out for you and your horse. Asali sounds like a great friend, and your description makes me want to try endurance riding.
    I’ve only done dressage, which seems very tame compared to what you describe.

    We are all glad you have healed well. Stop and say hello next time you are in Redding, and wear goggles on your next ride!

    All the best from the Sunset Urgent Care team

  12. Kimion 19 Apr 2011 at 1:37 am

    Hey Jaya, wonderful to read your page. We are new to endurance as well, and are on a 4/5 year Tevis plan (2015/2016 maybe?) ;). We are in the South East region though, so it is a bit more of an ordeal to head out that far. Glad to see you made it through your first LD relatively unscathed, and your story of turning back on the trail reminded me of one my cohort has from a ride last season! Marco and I just tried our first 50, but unfortunately were pulled, found out we are not coming close to electrolyting enough and he got a mild case of thumps. Live and learn ;). We will be trying again here shortly. It is nice to see someone with the positive attitude who embraces challenges so well… you have the attitude of an endurance rider! You will go far with such a wonderful outlook. I feel the same way and many of your thoughts you posted were hitting close to home. Have fun, and remember, to finish is to win ;). I left my website if you are bored and would like to take a look at our region a little. Have a wonderful day, and get out there and ride!

  13. JayaMaeon 19 Apr 2011 at 3:37 am

    Dr. Ramseyer,

    Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. And you are so welcome for the card! It was so refreshing to meet an entire staff in health care who are not only good at what they do, but love what they do! You guys got me pumped to graduate nursing school this year!

    Keep up with the dressage – I have a lot of respect for that discipline. I took a few dressage lessons, but never stayed with it!

    I hope if we ever run into each other again, it’s either on horseback or when I’m a nurse (as opposed to a patient).

    Thanks again for saving my eye. πŸ˜‰

    Jaya

  14. JayaMaeon 19 Apr 2011 at 3:40 am

    Kimi,

    Thank you for your comment. Your words were encouraging!

    I love to get in touch with other endurance riders and share horse stories, so feel free to write often! I will definitely check out your website – looking forward to it!

    Happy Trails,
    JayaMae

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