This ride was a long time coming. It wasn't just a matter of getting in shape and doing it, there were so many hurdles jumped to get there.
Wrecks! Injuries. In 2006 I fell down the bus steps and broke my tailbone, blew three discs in my back and missed a whole year of endurance riding. I was lucky to ride at all during late summer but had two patient friends in Carol Brand and Karen Steenhof while I rode Rushcreek Hollie. A year later i felt that I was doing well enough to start riding Hollie's son Thunder. I took him on one 50 miler but the trotting and such was just tough on me. We did finish though and I stuck with trail riding. Then the day before my birthday, Thunder spooked, bolted, I came off when he skidded on the gravel road and that was the end of that ride, and any rides for awhile. Broken ribs, punctured lung, concussion, lost horse for 6 days, great friends out searching for him, oh my gosh what a nightmare.
I learned that I will never ride in a bosal again, a one rein stop doesn't work in a true emergency in wide open spaces and I also learned the horse when panicked is totally unpredictable. I also learned what superb friends I have as they worked so hard to recover my horse which is a story in itself.
As I healed up I started riding Hollie again and Thunder went to my friend Joe Nebeker for some "remedial learning". And no more hackamore, I told Joe "I want a bit in that sucker's mouth!" You know, until that day when he spooked and bolted, he was not a spooky horse. Obnoxious and bucky yes but he was not spooky. Now he is still spooky. Joe rode him on cattle and a couple endurance rides. I had people telling me to never ride him again (even though I was) and that I needed to sell him because he was going to get me hurt. I started to believe them and was going to sell him, but couldn't actually do it to my dream horse. I had bred and raised this horse and had a special conncetion with him from the moment he was born. No I had to keep him and get through this. I had a few friends encouraging me and I am so glad they did.
Thunder is never easy. He "allows" me to sit on his back and he takes me places. We bargain and reach compromises as we go along. He likes to play games and push my buttons, just like a playful boy child. But as he matures he is getting better all the time. Four days in the Sawtooth Mountains really built our teamwork. We crossed talus slopes, granite fields, traversed narrow trails so high they scared me till I was tremebling, rapid white water streams all while looking at some of the most gorgeous God's country I had ever seen.
It took a lot of time, prayers and courage but Thunder and I gradually worked it all out. Miles of trails, time spent riding alone, plus endurance rides here and there pushed us towards the ultimate goal. A 100 miler. Amidst all this I was still strengthening the weak back and working my way into shape again. Of course old bodies don't just keep healing, there are always set backs and you just have to deal with them.
With that 100 mile in goal in mind, we started with Tough Sucker 50, the Owyhee Spring 60, a week later we did Prineville 75. The 75 kicked my butt. I was tired and hurting but Thunder had been a very eager beaver the first 25 miles, just bouncing me everywhere. But I was still determined to do the 100 at Oreana. My daughter was convinced her mother was crazy when I said "I have to do it - to see if I still can."
Well we all know that we did do the ride and I had a blast. The trail was fantastic, the scenery gorgeous, the challenges were there but doable. And I felt good. I'm back!!! And it's great. Life is a journey. I'm glad I didn't run from it and chicken out, riding a shorter distance. I'm glad I stuck with the horse that nearly killed me because I kept telling people he wasn't a bad horse, we just had a bad day. The best things we do in life aren't easy, that's what makes them the best.