Getting away to go to the Prineville Endurance ride was my Mother's Day present to me. I hadn't been to the ride in years and there were so many people that I wanted to visit with. What fun to catch up, it was like a reunion! This was the first time Thunder and I had ventured off to Oregon for a ride. And it was to be his first 75 miler.
My plan was the usual, start late, keep him by himself and out of trouble. Which wasn't too hard since most everyone took off fast and then I got on and we headed out of camp. He was a bit wound up but I thought the climb up Grey Butte would settle him down. Wrong! I was keeping him in a trot, but he was a boing machine with a pogo stick trot. On the narrow trails he was pretty good but whenever he got out in the open he was pretty spooky. Only came close to dumping me once and I hooked a heel in his side and hung on. :-) Whew! I really like those trails the Ridge Riders have built over the years! And the views of the Cascades are phenomenal!
My biggest concern was that he was so intent on wanting to catch horses ahead that he didn't want to stop and drink. I'd get him to stand at the water but he'd just stare on up the trail - watching. He breezed up Kings Gap and on into the vet check at Cyrus Horse Camp. He still didn't drink and he was pushing me everywhere. Despite his antics his pulse dropped well and he vetted with A's and we went back out the trail. A couple 50 milers caught up to us and now he really wanted to go. I got off and led him for about a mile and he calmed down. I got back on and he hit a nice trot. It is just easier to settle him down that way than fight with him.
We reached our junction for the 12 mile Warner loop that would circle us out towards Haystack Reservoir and back across the ridges to Cyrus for another vet check. Here he finally drank. That was a relief! He vetted through just fine and ate well. After our hold it was back out across the Grasslands to Pine Ridge and into camp at Skull Hollow. We were on the trail by ourselves and he really is pretty good that way. Occasionally we'd travel along with a 25 miler but for the most part, he was content to go his pace and didn't really care about the other horses. He'd pass and not look back.
Camp was a welcome sight at 37.5 miles. I took a little extra time over our 45 minutes so he could stock up on food. We were last so it didn't really matter, I was riding our own ride at the pace I thought was best for him. On our second loop we passed several 50 milers before reaching the check at Cyrus. Thunder looked and felt strong and vetted through with all A's again. On the Warner loop we caught another 75 miler. She was leading but got on and followed. Her horse didn't want to go by himself and Thunder led the way back into the vet check. He pulsed down immediately but the other horse took several minutes. So we trotted out of there all by ourselves and he never looked back. I told him we were going home.
Thunder was getting a bit hungry again so the last few miles he'd grab grass and trot, grab a bit and trot. Even with grazing we made the last 11 miles in less than two hours. The grazing kept up his energy and helped him vet through at the end of 75 miles with all A's once more! What a guy! He wasn't tired. I was but he still had some left, which is what I wanted. Our time was 12:18 which for a first 75 over that terrain wasn't bad. There were 18 starters, 4 pulls and we weren't last! WOOHOO!
A Bald Eagle in the tree
I had a great trip home. The valley through Mitchell was beautiful and green and I had to play Chris LeDoux music through there because it just "fit". RIP Chris, your music is wonderful! Going through Dayville was great because the locals were sitting on the bench outside the store and waved as I went by! Where else does that happen?! I saw two Bald Eagles along Mountain Creek and had to stop for a picture of one. I just really counted my blessings and was grateful for everything as I drove along.
A huge force behind the Prineville Ride is Cole Still. I remember years ago helping the Ridge Riders at the ride and breakfast when we lived over there. Cole and the RidgeRiders have worked hard for years to build this trail. It didn't just happen to "be" there, they built it little by little. Without their trails the ride would be on roads. The club also worked with the USFS to get this trail as a permanent trail. You can go ride it anytime. Also thank the Ridge Riders for building Cyrus Horse Camp, what a nice place.
It was a great weekend and I really enjoyed it!
Thank-you Cole Still and the Ridge Riders!