Tuesday, July 29, 2008

2008 Pink Flamingo Day I

Saturday July 26 2008

Well, you learn something from every ride.

My lessons from the Pink Flamingo Classic were: never, ever, eat another muffin before an endurance ride; and, don't just assume your horse will follow your plan for the day.

Steph and Jose, and Carol and August, left on the 50 mile ride at 5 AM. I had plenty of time to get ready for my 7:30 AM start, stuff a muffin down with a few cups of coffee. Only I looked at my watch, and it was 7:20, and I still had to get my helmet and chaps on, and I'd planned to ride Mac around a bit to warm him up, because it was a chilly, very damp, morning, and Mac had cramped up once before at a ride on a cold morning in the hind end, even after a very good warm up.

Well, it wasn't that big of a deal, I'd just start out on the trail walking a ways, then gradually take up a slow trot until he was good and warmed up, then go on from there. I led Mac up to the starting area and mounted him, all the while wishing I hadn't eaten that muffin for breakfast.

Now, Mac is from Rushcreek Ranch in Nebraska, where there is nothing but grass, more grass, and a handful of scrubby bushes no higher than horse fetlocks, with maybe a few scrubby 'trees' along a creek (like we have at home in Oreana, along which Mac sometimes grazes). He'd never seen a real TREE, much less a FOREST. I was prepared for that, expecting he might be spooking at first. Mac had done 3 LDs in Oreana (the one of which I pulled him from when he cramped up), so he had some idea of what an endurance ride was all about - horses coming and going at different speeds, passing and being passed. He'd handled Jose and August leaving him at the horse trailer early in the morning quite well. However, he'd never done an endurance ride away from home. With some horses that doesn't matter; with some it does.

The first oh, forty-five seconds went according to my plan. We let other horses go out onto the trail, then started off ourselves, just walking... but it sort of disintegrated about 30 yards from camp. I was riding a different Mac from the one I knew, one who was getting himself more wound up and excited and fretful every step further from camp. I had worried slightly about showing off on a horse with pink ribbons that might just buck me off, but it wasn't the ribbons that were stirring him up. If I had WARMED HIM UP PROPERLY, I could have let him go on with other horses for company, you know, the horses who had been properly warmed up before the start and were able to take off at a good trot. Since I hadn't done that with Mac, I worried about him going too hard right at the start, and cramping up again in the cold.

The further we went, the worse he got, and then we came to a big steep hill. Which he wanted to run up. I tried to keep him moving forward, but that turned into a climbing leaping half bolting, which expended 4 times the energy he should have been expending at this point in the ride. Robert Washington's words were echoing in my head, TAKE CARE OF YOUR HORSES. Then when a horse came galloping up the hill behind us - that was all she wrote, full panic Mac attack.

I jumped off (Mac did come to a - frantic - standstill when I said, "Whoa!"), and I started walking him on foot up the hill. Did I say this was a very steep hill? And my stomach was disagreeing with the muffin? Mac was much calmer now, and when we had a break from a view of the horses in front of us and behind us, I got back on him. We continued more forwardly (rather than the up-and-down bouncing) until some more horses came up behind us, and Mac panicked again.

I jumped off again, and kept leading him up the hill. The steep hill, which, with the exertion, was really making me regret my breakfast. Bruce Worman and Joni Cornell on Zippy and Quinn were coming up behind me. They slowed down and offered to wait for me, but I told them to go on, I'd keep leading Mac for a bit.

Mac settled down some when they were out of sight, and - I figured we were last by now - I got back on him, and he was more manageable. He was still keyed up - but at least moving more forward instead of up-and-down, and slowly we caught up to Bruce and Joni - Mac was so focused on catching the horses he knew were ahead of us, that he hadn't noticed yet he was in a forest. Which was probably a good thing.

Mac was now doing much better with some babysitters, so we stayed with Bruce and Joni the rest of the day - thanks guys! I did worry a bit that we were moving too fast for Mac, and I still kept hearing TAKE CARE OF YOUR HORSES in my head, but I knew I was expending less of Mac's energy than I would be if I tried holding him back. And I didn't want to be the tag-along whiner, "Can you slow down for me? Can you go slower here? Can you ride my ride and not your ride?" I took my chances letting Mac move on out, hoping he'd warmed himself up properly. I just didn't want to be the only person whose horse was treated today!

So Mac was settled and moving along better, but my stomach still wasn't happy. I was still expending lots of energy keeping Mac at a steady pace with my legs, and riding his big trot - he really picks his front feet up, which was bigger on the slight downhills. It wasn't till we'd covered about 14 miles that I really started to feel more normal, and notice the trails we were on. We'd climbed up into the mountains on soft logging roads and a few cross-country trails - and I didn't recall seeing one rock. Wow. Every endurance rider's fantasy - a trail with no rocks! The towering firs and Ponderosa or Jeffrey pines kept us in the shade most of the day, and we got a few scenic glimpses of the valley below.

We cruised into the vet check all of a sudden - seemed like a short loop in distance, but then, I was on a horse with a big trot, and we'd moved right along over much of it. We walked straight to the pulse taker and Mac's pulse was already down (criteria was 60), and we went on to the vet line where Nance Worman was waiting for us. She was crewing for Bruce and Joni, (and me too by tag-along rules : ), and she trotted out all of our horses for the vet. In fact, Nance generously trotted out many horses for many people all day, and Susan Favro, assisting the vets, noted that Nance probably did her own 50 miles on foot today.

It was in the crewing area that Mac found religion - Vet Check Horse Treaties! Ohmigod there was the natural meadow grass, there was hay and alfalfa, there was a BIG BUCKET OF FLOATING OATS WITH BRAN ON THE BOTTOM (!) and there was a BUCKET OF FLOATING CARROTS! It was pure Horse Heaven. Mac didn't even notice at first that Quinn and Zippy had gone on to their horse trailer, nor did he care when he did notice. He gave one little nicker and turned his nose back to the floating oats. Mac stayed and ate and ate - not knowing which Treatie was best and which one to eat next!

I finally drug Mac away ("Come on Mac, leave some for the other horses!") to the Wormans' trailer, where Nance held onto Mac (and plied him with more bran and alfalfa) while I walked back to our trailer. First thing I did was hide those wretched muffins so I wouldn't have to look at them again, and get some cold drinks, because I still didn't feel like eating anything.

On the second loop, Mac was so much more settled, he wanted to take the lead! And now, he was settled enough that he noticed the TREES and the FOREST. He was pretty brave leading in front, albeit pretty slowly and cautiously. He was so overwhelmed with the huge trees everywhere they didn't register individually, but he sure noticed some of those laying-down trees, and tree stumps, and big boulders. The 4-foot tall trees tended to be a bit scary too, especially when they were in the middle of a two-track logging road. Horse Gods only knew what those things were or what they were hiding!

A group of 5 riders caught up with us and passed us, and then Mac was happy to follow, having done his brave stint in the lead for, oh, a half mile. We passed this group again, but with the braver Zippy leading the way.

Zippy did encounter a scary cougar which produced a HUGE spook, which Bruce stayed on by flying up onto Zippy's neck, hanging on, and muscling his way back into the saddle. Zippy waited patiently for Bruce to straighten himself up, partly because I think she was embarrassed by the cougar turning out to just be a rock. It could have been a cougar though; we'd heard rumors at the ride meeting last night of a bear sighting, and prints - either wolf or feline - bigger than a man's spread hand.

This loop was 12 miles, but part of it was tough: a Big, Steep, Long, hill, and just when we thought we were done with climbing, it continued upwards. The horses were huffing and puffing and sweating just walking up it. Mac was using muscles that he probably didn't know he had, to propel himself up that steep hill.

And what do you think was at the top of that hill as a reward for our efforts? Not just the beginning of the long winding downhill, and not just a big water trough for the horses, but a nice young man handing out frozen OTTER POPS - and he even cut the tops off for us! Mac dove his nose into the water, and we humans eagerly grabbed our Treaties and groaned with pleasure. With all the great trails, the plenty of water on the trail for the horses, the great Horse Treaties at the vet check, and these Otter Pops, we decided this was one of the best rides ever.

Horse flies started coming out around noon on the trails, but they weren't too bad for us. The 50 milers later in the afternoon got swarmed at places. Luckily, there were none in camp.

We headed on down logging roads at a mostly gentle angle, at one spot passing a group of Drill Team Gaiters - a drill team from Boise riding gaited horses (a good number of Tennessee Walkers were at this ride, like last weekend's ride at Bandit Springs, Oregon). I couldn't talk them into doing a little performance for us at the ride meeting and dinner tonight.

We came to a right turn off the logging road - that we almost missed, and that several people did miss, going by the horse tracks continuing on straight - a steep long downhill trail, using the other muscles Mac never knew he had (we got off to walk), coming out eventually on Diann Simpson's ranch. Diann's an endurance rider, and since her main endurance horse was off right now, she was helping with the ride. A couple of easy flat miles through the grassy valley, passing a herd of cattle that Mac looked at inquiringly ("are we going to go round them up now?"), we quickly came back into Horse Heaven (Ride Camp) and the finish.

Mac's pulse was immediately down again, Nance vetted him through, and we went straight back to the Horse Treaties. The Raven, who'd had a great time in his Raven bag, with his own pink neck ribbons flying in the wind, got his own vet check. Dr Danny Borders checked him over thoroughly, and marked him down with all A's! Go Raven!

Mac chowed down on the Horse Treaties before I dragged him back to the trailer. He ate more there, then fell into a doze in the hot sun. As a reward for his strenuous performance, I took him for a walk - back up to the vet check for more Treaties. We did try to leave some for the other horses who were still out riding - but I was so pleased that Mac was eating and drinking so well. When Jose and Steph came in from finishing their 50 mile ride, Mac and I escorted them to the vet check - where Mac sampled the Horse Treaties again. (Really couldn't help it!)

The ride dinner started at 6:30, with a long line of hungry people waiting to be served chicken and sweet beans by one of Sally Tarbet's sisters (several of us had asked her, are you Sally's sister? They could almost pass for twins.) Then for dessert - what - only 1 small box of brownies?! I confess I was one of the ones who ran, shamelessly ran, up to grab one of those brownies, leaving many people behind me with an aching sweet tooth (I did at least grab the smallest one! Does that make me a slightly better person?)... but plenty more brownies were soon brought out for the rest of the crowd (and I did not go get another one!)

66 of 68 starters finished the 50-mile ride, the only pulls being a horse lame that had been kicked, and a rider option. 41 of 43 starters finished the 30-miler, with the 2 pulls being the riders taking wrong turns. The trail was very well marked, but if you aren't paying attention (as almost happened to us), you might miss a turn. I believe these two riders were pointed in the wrong direction and ended up following different colored ribbons. Happens to many of us at some point in our endurance careers. Best of all, no horses were treated, and I sure was happy that my horse and I were included in that statistic!

All of the finishers got nifty camping chairs as ride awards - perfect for sticking into your crew bags for out vet checks, so you don't have to sit on the ground (like at Steph's Owyhee rides) and get stickers in your ride pants - and there were awards for the youngest rider, oldest rider, and riders who came from the furthest away (which was Canada and California, both over 1000 miles).There was the best Flamingo Camp award, and the Best Dressed award: Vicki Green, who looked like an inflated walking flamingo. There were Mid-Pack awards, and Bad Day awards. I think there could have been a Handsomest Horse award, which would have gone to Dick Root's huge half mustang half ? (surely part draft horse), Rocky. He's near 17 hands - Dick gets him to lower himself by moving forward his front legs, so Dick can mount a little easier. He's "a little heard-headed," said Dick, and he uses one big bit on him, but he sure is one good-looking horse.

And then came the Raffle drawings. Sally's sister-in-law Theresa, a breast cancer survivor, headed the raffle, to raise money for the American Cancer Society Strides Against Breast Cancer Research. It turned into one rip-roaring, jolly good party, all for a good cause. It was expected that close to $2000 had been raised here at the ride, and, that amount would be added to by entry fees from this Pink Flamingo Ride, and by Sally Tarbet's husband's company. Raffle prizes - including plastic water tanks, artwork, restaurant dinners, horse blankets, gift baskets, etc etc - were donated by so many companies and individuals.

It was like Christmas for Naomi Preston - who had been crewing all day, so she had much spare time to keep buying tickets and dropping them in the buckets - and a handful of other people - like Steph Teeter. Steph had left me at the raffle, while she and Carol walked our horses, to "pick up anything she might win."

Well. Steph won so many things, and of course, nothing small, that I had to borrow the big Hot Pink Wheelbarrow (won by Sally Tarbet) to cart all her things back to our camp - where Steph was really shocked when she saw her loot!

And so concluded Day I of the Pink Flamingo Classic. I learned a few things at this endurance ride - about horses and breakfasts, and Mac learned a few things too: there are a lot of REALLY REALLY big plants out there that stick way up, like 210 hands (!) into the sky, and some of them lay on the ground and might attack you or hide things that might attack you; and, Vet Checks are the best things since cracked corn, because they have Really Great Horse Treaties!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Reveal Your Inner Pink

Friday July 25 2008

Friday morning I saw Rhett far out in the pasture by himself, which can often indicate something is wrong with a horse (recall the story of Phinneas, where he'd about sliced his back leg off and was out laying by himself) - especially Rhett, who never does that.

I hiked out to see what was up with him, and oh, no, nothing was wrong with Rhett. He just didn't want to get in that trailer that we'd pulled up and parked in the yard. If you don't want to go to an endurance ride, what do you do? You hide, peeking out from under some shady trees to see if anybody is going to notice you.

Rhett hadn't been lame but he did have a mysterious crack in his coronet band for a week, and Steph decided last night for sure she wasn't taking him to this weekend's endurance ride. Rhett hadn't gotten the message, so he decided it was better just to hide. Maybe it was really the thought of wearing Pink that really scared him, because, if you go to a Pink Flamingo ride, there is a good chance you are going to be dressed up in pink, whether or not you think it is a manly color for a gelding.

Which happened to at least 2 geldings from Owyhee County. Jose and Mac willingly hopped on the trailer, and Steph and I headed off to the 2-day Pink Flamingo Classic endurance ride in the "cool, forested mountains around Cascade, Idaho," about 3 hours from Oreana.

As we drove into ridecamp, in a private meadow full of rich grass by a creek, we heard the first (and, as it turned out, fortunately, the only) casualty of the weekend - while out riding one of the trails earlier today, Marilyn Hornbaker had, in a freak accident (with horses, many are freak accidents), fallen off her horse, and was airlifted to the hospital. She'd turned to swat one of the nasty horseflies off her horse's butt, and was turned one way in the saddle as he jumped the other - and landed on her hip, and broke it. Later we found out she actually broke the femur where it joined the hip, and she had a rod inserted during surgery. Sally Tarbet, who along with Linda Walberg manages the Pink Flamingo ride, reported that Marilyn was mad - mad that she would miss the Pink Flamingo ride this year.

There was a bigger number of riders than Sally and Linda had expected this year - 68 entered in the 50 mile ride and 43 entered in the 30 mile ride. There was also a trail ride each day.

We were advised at the ride meeting to RIDE SMART, said head veterinarian Robert Washington. "We are here to help if anything happens, but we do NOT want to have to treat your horse." A lot of the horses and riders were from desert country where little hills and sand training is common, but here there would be a lot of hills and some steep climbs, and it would be a warm day. "TAKE CARE OF YOUR HORSES." More and more vets at the endurance rides are giving these talks at the pre-ride meetings, but people always still seem to listen. New riders are always encouraged to come see the vet after the ride meeting for any questions they may have about the ride.

There would be a raffle on Saturday after the ride dinner to raise money for the American Cancer Society Strides Against Breast Cancer Research. There were some great prizes on offer donated by many companies and individuals, with, of course, many of them in the Hot Pink variety. There would also be awards for the best Flamingo camp, and the best dressed rider.

I hadn't planned to dress pink-ly, and I don't own one item of pink clothing, but... there was the Pink Bling for the horses to consider. It all started with that pink marker we used to put numbers on horse butts. I put Mac's number 503 on one side of his butt in flaming pink, and the other butt got... a flamingo. The one flamingo led to a couple of flying flamingos on his other big white spaces - shoulder, gaskins, forearms, and his forehead.

And, we did bring along some bright pink flagging tape. Might as well put a few ribbons in Mac's mane, right? Well, you know how it goes, one pink ribbon led to another, and soon not only Mac's mane and tail were flowing with long hot pink ribbons, but Jose's also. Oh boy, I bet the cowboy that used to ride Rushcreek Mac at the Rushcreek Ranch in Nebraska would love to see pictures of him like this!

Even though the Raven doesn't normally do LDs, he got into the Pink Bling Thing too, tying on a few pink ribbons around his neck and hopping into his Raven bag on the saddle.

And it was early to bed for the 6 AM start of the 50 miler in the morning - for Steph and Jose. I'd be sleeping in, having a few extra cups of coffee waiting for my 7:30 AM start on the 30 miler with Mac.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Cowboy John

Wednesday July 23 2008

"I'm not going to show up in one of your stories am I?"

Well what else you think is going to happen when you come to the Owyhee Riding Spa?

Connie's friend John from Seattle came to visit for a few days. He came more for the company and the scenery and the surroundings, but got as a bonus: great food, red wine ("wow, you guys really eat well out here!"); a great porch to sit on and watch the birds go by or sleep on with the dogs; evening serenades by screech owls and early morning serenades (not so welcome) by LOUD Eurasian collared doves; an inside fascinating view of a trip to the vet (Connie's horse Finneas is mysteriously lame); and what could be better, and more lucky for John, than a short road trip to the historic mining ghost town of Silver City in the Owyhee Mountains with the Raven?

Well - maybe a scenic horseback ride in the evening with 3 women. On a scenic trail that we only take people we like on.

John's a biker but had only been on horseback a few times in his life. We put him on Mac, Steph's Rushcreek ranch horse. We took him on the Rim Trail, which never fails to impress people (if you won't be impressed, we won't waste it on you). He was impressed. I am impressed, every single time I ride this trail. Even Jose likes to admire the scenery. (One day I'm going to see a cougar from this rim.)

We'd thought we would be walking the whole time, since John claimed to be a novice rider, but he looked quite balanced, with a good seat, and seemed to be comfortable - or at least he wasn't outwardly exhibiting any clenched jaws or a tight grip on the reins. So pretty soon, we got him trotting. He didn't bounce off, so we trotted quite a bit on the ride, and he even cantered on Mac! Unintentionally, but he cantered! We said we'd slow down for him if he screamed. "Why would I scream?"

"I don't know, pain? Fear? Falling off? Extreme pleasure?"

It was a great ride, and we all made it back - even coming down our little Tevis trail in a Big Wind that had suddenly whipped up - with nothing even close to a mishap. "We waited till you got back safely to tell you how many people Mac's bucked off." (Which was nobody here in Idaho.) The horses had a good ride too - Mac sure enjoyed taking John for a ride because he got to graze quite a lot on the way.

John wasn't limping or walking bowlegged when he got off back at the ranch, and he SAID, next day, that he wasn't sore. His biking muscles must have helped prepare him for riding.

Although we were all wondering how he'd look getting out of his car after a 10-hour drive back to Seattle.

The Morning After (Bandit Springs)

Sunday July 20 2008

Look at the finish percentages for the ride:

100% on the Ride N Tie
86% on the 30
89% on the 50
85% on the 80
76% on the 100

Oso was found! At 7 AM Max Merlich was back out searching on the 4-wheeler for the lost chihuahua, and running towards him on the road was Oso... being chased by an antelope! That was enough to terrify Oso into seeking out humans as a refuge again. Darlene didn't let go of him after that!

I did notice a significant number of riders NOT WEARING HELMETS! That deserves another exclamation point - ! Of course wearing a helmet is entirely a matter of choice, and everybody probably has harder head bones than I do. Except for Juniors: don't even think about riding without a helmet. When you're of age, say 65, you can make a choice.

Talk about quick thinking: in lieu of the silver Tevis Belt Buckles that some 100 milers might have won at Tevis, Janelle was able, on the spur of the moment, with the help of her young son, to come up with special Bandit Springs belt buckles for the 100 mile finishers! It was a plain little ol' skinny buckle for a skinny belt, with a special, handmade, handwritten tag: "2008 Bandit Buckle." It wasn't THE TEVIS buckle, but it will always be a unique reminder of the year of the No Tevis: Bandit Springs ride.

These in addition to the other generous prizes given to every finisher. Everybody was called up to come get their completion awards; the 30 miler was peppered with "Go Gaiters!" cheers many times, for the at least 11 gaited horses that completed the ride. (As a side note: two unique 'gaiter' participants were a McCurdy Plantation Horse ridden by Elayne Barclay, and a Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse ridden by Tiffany Sampson-LaPlante.)

Like in the Oscar speeches where the winners try to squeeze all their thanks to all who helped into too short a time, Janelle gratefully thanked the many many many volunteers who helped to put on this ride. Janelle lives 5 hours away from Ridecamp, so she couldn't have done it without them.

And - the ride wouldn't have happened again without the riders who showed up. Hopefully Tevis will carry on next year, but with the good trails and scenic setting in the Ochoco National Forest, and the friendly and relaxed atmosphere, while Bandit Springs isn't THE TEVIS, it sure is a fine alternative.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

2008 Bandit Springs

Saturday July 19 2008

Well, I HAD good intentions: I set my alarm to get up to see Nance and Jazzbo off, with 16 other starters, on the 100 mile start at 5 AM (along with seven 80 milers). I DID open one eye, and saw that it was too dark to take pictures, so I closed that eye after re-setting my alarm for the start of sixty-six 50 milers at 6 AM.

I opened both eyes for that one, and saw the light was good for photos, but it was oh-so-chilly outside - frost on the ground and inside my tent! - and I was so warm in my sleeping bag, so I missed that start too.

I did finally get out of bed for the 7 AM start of the forty-three 30-milers - including Bruce and his daughter Belle, and the four teams of 30-mile Ride N Tie. The sun was up and had melted the frost, and the grounds were quickly warming up.

Hundred mile riders started coming into camp off their first 20 mile loop at 7:10 AM. Some of the front runners got lucky and saw some wild horses; and in fact Nance and Jazzbo were followed briefly by a stallion, which might have not been so lucky if the stallion hadn't lost interest after a while.

After the 30-minute hold in camp, I jumped in Jim Archer's pickup, and we headed out of camp - picking up Jim and Gail from Seattle on the way - for the out vet check in the middle of the second loop at 30-miles. Jim Archer was crewing his wife Vicci and for Nance on the 100, and for Bruce and Isabelle on the 30. Jim and Gail's daughter was riding her first LD with her friend - all newcomers to the endurance sport.

The directions to the out vet check were probably pretty simple - for most people, involving only one or two turns along the way. We did read the directions, but, probably due to telling too many stories on the way, we managed to get lost. Then we had no idea where we really were, so we blindly guessed the rest of the way, and ended up driving into the vet check with just a few minutes to spare before Bruce and Belle rode in. Belle is a petite junior - made to look even smaller riding Nature's Kruschev ("Krusty") - Steph Teeter's BIG, WIDE, black Orlov trotter (we weighed him on a truck stop scale on the way home: 1250 pounds!) that competed in his earlier days all around the US, and in the 1999 Pan Am Championships in Canada, and in a World Championship in France in 2000, and the World's Most Preferred Cup in Dubai in 2001. He seems to be enjoying his semi-retirement, squiring around a junior for her first rides in endurance.

Out here at the second vet check, at 35 miles, I attached the Raven bag to Captain Calypso's saddle, and stuffed the Raven in the bag with his head sticking out, and off they rode, Melissa the Aussie and the Raven II, on an endurance trail adventure together.

You'd have thought the drive back to camp would have been easy, but, we managed to get lost again, and quite turned around, until we noticed that somebody had, lucky for us, come along and put pie plates up pointing the way to the Vet Check. We used these as a crutch, looking in the rear view mirrors, to get back to camp.

It was still a reasonably cool day - which was good during the hills the horses had to pull on the 1st and 2nd loops - as the limited distance riders began arriving at the finish. Out on the trails the horse and deer flies were bad - swarms of them in places, biting not just horses but people - but we were blessed around camp with no insects at all. Michelle Green on her palomino Saddlebred came high-stepping into the finish first. Karen Brauer on Frodo came in first on the 50 mile ride.

The first of the rugged Ride N Tie teams came in, Liz Perkin and Darcie de Feritas on Punkin. I saw all the runners come in, and a bit later, one runner going back out. Wow - somebody elevating? To 60 miles? Maybe the Ride N Tie rules had some new options? No... it turns out that the team of Ben Volk and Tim Rubin had passed their horse that was tied up down the trail - like 8 miles or so down the trail! They'd been in first place, but one of them passed the horse right up. (I hear this is not so difficult to do when you're concentrating hard on running and the competition.) They could have gotten a ride out to pick the horse up, but the runner who passed the horse ran right back out to get him and ride him back - giving them a completion. Those were the Really Rugged Ride N Tie'rs!

Meanwhile there was another race, or chase, of sorts going on. Darlene Anderson's chihuahua Oso decided he wasn't interested in the Ridecamp Leash Law (Janelle offered to sell $5 baling twine leashes to those who didn't bring their own), and he escaped. I was by the road taking pictures when I heard a bell rustling through the grass, and saw, occasionally, a pygmy dog popping up like a jumping bean 3 feet out of the tall grass to get a view. I called the dog but he ran away, swallowed up by the grass, on an apparent mission. A couple of young girls came searching for the dog; and as soon as Darlene finished the 50 mile ride in 21st place with Max Merlich on Junior (who had been entered in Tevis) and 3 other riders, she and Max and others joined the search, on foot, on 4-wheelers and in cars. It went on into the night before he was spotted again about a half mile from camp, though he still wouldn't let any humans get near him. Darlene, worried sick, was going to camp out near him.

Meanwhile, as it neared dark, Frank Elmer - who won the Bandit Springs 100 last year - came in first in the 80 miler, with Hugh Vanderford coming in second while riding alongside Gloria and Haily Daeumler. In the 100, Katie Gliwaski narrowly led Naomi Preston and her husband Lee Pearce, all of whom had ridden last in the Sunriver 100 a month ago. They had a comfortable lead over the rest of the 16 riders - only Dick Root had pulled so far, earlier in the day.

Melissa and the Raven had hooked up with Tony Benedetti and were riding together in 4th and 5th place. Melissa was keeping a close eye or hand on the Raven - "I'd ride a hundred yards, then reach back to make sure he was still there. Then I'd ride on another hundred yards, and check back again!" Going out on the next to last loop, in the dark, Melissa about had a panic attack a mile out when she reached back and didn't feel the Raven head poking out of the Raven bag. She thought she was going to have to tell Tony to stop, until she discovered the Raven had slipped all the way down into the bag. She kept him well stuffed down inside with the bag cinched up tight for the rest of the ride.

Nance and Vicci's horses were looking well as they came in for their vet checks... only Vicci looked to be in pain from bruised shins. She didn't complain - she told Nance on the trail, "I don't want the whine bottle!" - but she did have her shins wrapped up in horse cool wraps by Susan Favro's bottomless pit of Healthyasahorse supplies, which happened to be right next to where the Archers and Wormans propitiously and conveniently set up their crewing area. Ridecamp was strung out a long way on the edge of the meadow, and instead of wasting 10 minutes at each vet check walking to and from the horse trailers, it was much more convenient to set up by the Favro's - Susan fed us all both nights with tortellini so she couldn't get rid of us anyway.

Vicki Giles had joined up with Nance and Vicci Archer for the last two loops of the hundred. Vicki was riding the mighty mustang Robin Hood (over 13 seasons of competition: 8765 miles, 21 wins, 24 BCs, 4 Tevis finishes, only 6 pulls), and they both appreciated the company at this stage of the ride.

At the 5th vet check, 90 miles, Lee Pearce and Naomi Preston had caught up with Katie Gliwaski. Katie vetted through within minutes and passed the vet check, but later, she returned to the vet and withdrew her horse, as she just wasn't feeling right. Gloria Vanderford was pulled for lameness, leaving her great granddaughter Haily, a junior, looking for a sponsor to ride with. Kelly Nutter picked her right up and they rode through the dark together on the last loop.

Compared to most endurance races around the world, it's pretty low key here in the Pacific Northwest region. Aussie Melissa's husband Steve commented on the competitive, but casual atmosphere (they were enjoying it). Most of us like it that way. No big spotlights that you can see from outer space at the vet checks (a set of lights was hooked up to a generator, but the lights didn't work at first, so people pulled out their flashlights and headlamps and pointed them at the horses, and a pickup's headlights was turned onto the vet ring) - though we did have a nice big bonfire going for roasting s'mores. No mellifluous announcers broadcasting the riders and horses coming in.

It was Lee and Naomi arriving first in the dark, the full moon just rising over the ridge and throwing long tree shadows across Ridecamp, with Lee himself announcing, "Hundred milers coming in!" That brought cheers from the bonfire gang and the generator was turned on for the lights that were now working. Both horses looked great trotting out for their completions, in a ride time of 13:33, and again an hour later for their BC exams.

I was sort of hovering around the finish line with Steve and Ernie. They were of course waiting for Melissa and Captain Calypso, and I was waiting (not anxiously!) for the Raven. And an hour later, we spotted some swinging lights emerging from the dark - the swinging glowsticks from the breastcollars of Melissa's and Tony's horses. They agreed to tie for 3rd, and vetted through looking good, and the Raven was still smiling, stuffed down in his Raven bag. I guess he only did 80 miles, but since he rode with an Aussie friend, I think he gets Extra Special Credit for a hundred mile ride.

I tried my best but couldn't stay up much past midnight for Nance and Jazzbo. It was getting quite chilly, with a little breeze - one that would feel good on the riders and horses, but that made the waiting crews either crowd around the bonfire or huddle under horse blankets. Nance and Vicci Archer and Vicki Giles arrived in camp later than expected - at 1:30 AM - Robin Hood had lost a shoe on the last 10 mile loop, so they spent some time covering the foot with duct tape - they didn't have an easy boot that fit over his big hoof - and walked the entire loop. And after 16 hours and 47 minutes in the saddle, and covering 100 miles, dismally, Vicci Archer's horse vetted out lame at the finish. Argh!

Fifteen minutes later Kara Nutter and Haily Daeumler rode into camp and successfully completed; and next, an hour later, came the first of 3 generations of the Yost family riding in the 100: Chris and Kara (celebrating her birthday on Saturday!), followed a half hour later, at 3:18 AM, by Chris's son Gentry, his wife laura, and their daughter Chandler, finishing her first 100 miler. They'd had a wee bit of trouble finding their way on the trail - the first 5 miles had, at twilight, been overabundantly marked with glowsticks, and the last 5 miles, a slight underabundance. But they all eventually found their way with no mishaps, and all passed the final vet check. Chandler didn't get a whine bottle today either. Throughout the day, her grandpa Chris kept asking her, "Do your legs hurt? Does your back hurt? Does this hurt? Does that hurt?" to which she replied No, no, no, and no. Chris wasn't whining, only commenting, when he said "Well that all hurts on me!"

For the rest of the night, if you could call it that, Ridecamp settled into its peaceful dead quiet that comes after a good day's ride.