|Thursday April 5 2007
VET IN DAY
Apparently Julia slept at the fence by the horses all Tuesday night, because when we got up, she was still there and the horses seemed unbothered. In fact Zaandel was in the middle of his pen, and when I went to pet Julia, he slowly crept forward. If the pig wasn't eating me, maybe she wouldn't eat him. He got close enough to almost sniff her, and while he snorted loudly through his nose, Julia just kept grunting happily. Later I saw Zaandel actually walk to the fence on his own and sniff noses with Julia. Maybe Sandie and David will have to get him a pig of his own when they get home.
We were among the first 4 horse floats to move into ride camp about noon yesterday. It slowly filled up during the day, and the clouds slowly built up...
Around 4 PM it started DUMPING rain. The North Island had some trouble with torrential rains in the last week or so, and I could see why. It poured for a half hour, then rained for another solid half hour, and rained on and off all night. Hopefully things would dry out for the ride, or else there would be some slick footing out there.
Thursday morning dawned bright and cloudless - for a few hours anyway. Ridecamp kept steadily filling up with horse floats from the North and South Islands.
Lois Hosking and her handsome chestnut Highlander were parked right next to us; Linda Pullar arrived with her mares Razzy and Abigail; Trevor arrived driving Chris's float with a load of horses. Lois is riding the 160 km and the 100 km on another horse. Linda Meredith from Australia will be riding Linda Pullar's Razzy in the 160 km, while Linda will strap for her and then ride her own Abigail in the 100 km on Sunday morning. Trevor was going to ride Picksy in the 160 km, but Picksy didn't feel just right after the ferry ride, so he's waiting till the 100 km on Sunday. Paul Jeffrey arrived with 2 horses, Gemstone that he will ride in the 160 km, and Gazelle who a girl will ride in the 100 km. Both horses completed the Horse of the Year ride a few weeks ago.
At noon, dozens of riders saddled up to do a mini-parade down the street and back. Some New Zealand news channel is here to film the ride.
Vet-in for the 160 km and junior-youth 120 km started at 2 PM. There are 4 New Zealand veterinarians, and 2 vets from Spain.
I watched Sandie getting her saddle ready for the 160 km. Since it's a 160 km FEI ride, she has to carry minimum weight of 75 kilos. She rides with 3 saddle pads, one of which has pockets to slip weights in. She also wears one of those vests that you get wet to keep you cool and carry extra weight.
At 6 PM the rider briefing started. There was some discussion over rules to sort out the time slips and horse logs, the represents on two of the loops, the weighing of riders (usually every rider has to weigh with tack in coming in from every loop; this time it will be 2 random loops for all riders, and individual random weighing of riders) and there was a suggestion that there should be some follow up of riders on the first loop. The first loop is 30 km, in the dark (and it's going to be a cold damp night), the first part up a hill, with no number check till about 26 km. What if a horse tied up out there after 8 km? It was decided that a motorbike would follow along a half hour or so after the riders left, for safety.
A big filling meal was served, and riders went to get ready for the ride and grab some quick winks before starting to saddle up around midnight...