Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Old Selam - Here We Come!

Friday August 29 2008

Well, lucky me, John T volunteered to stay home and feed all the critters (approximately 19 horses, 4 dogs, an unknown number of cats, and 4 birds) for absentee owners along Bates Creek for the weekend, which meant I got to go with Steph to the 2-day Old Selam endurance ride around New Centerville, Idaho. A new ride for me in a new area, and a forest as well - a double treat!

The ride is named after an old cart horse, Selam, who was used by a couple of prisoners in escape attempts from the old 1800's Idaho State Penetentiary near Boise - see Tamara's story on that. The trail is also right in the middle of one of the old Gold Rushes in the Boise Basin. Idaho City, 7 miles down the dirt road from New Centerville, was, in 1863, the largest city in the Northwest. Now it's a historic town, (population about 450), and the county seat of Boise County. During the peak of the rush, in 5 years, almost $24,000,000 of gold came from the Boise Basin mining area. In today's prices that would be... $396,000,000 (according to one calculation). That's a lot of old riches we'd be riding over.

I'd be riding an ol' ranch horse, Rushcreek Mac, on Day 1 - his first 50 - and my ol' pal Jose on Day 2 in the 50. Steph planned to ride Rhett both days. Steph and John hadn't had much luck at Old Selam over the years - several pulls because of lameness and one from metabolics, the unfortunate experimental treatment of which lead to several days in the hospital and a big vet bill for Quickie. (The treatment hasn't been used since!) So I was hoping for better luck... lift the curse maybe (if that's what it was)?

I had my doubts I could do that after the ride meeting. You know how most ride managers go over the details of the trail - every turn, every rock, every groove in the trail, things to watch out for... well I have a rather short attention and absorption span, and all I got from Day 1's trail directions was: danger!. Cross-country trail across a logged area on some loop: "Walk through it!" On one loop, we had to ride a couple hundred yards along the dirt road between towns - "Dangerous!" because of the speeding cars. One loop we had to cross this road - "be very cautious!" - because we didn't have a clear view of the road...

It sounded rather daunting! Better just to tell me, "follow the pink ribbons loop 1, checkered ribbons loop 2..." (and give me a cheat sheet because I can't even remember that) and leave me surprised by the perils of the trail.

Then there was the coming weather. Head vet Robert Washington said this ride was sometimes hard on horses, not just because we were in the mountains at 4100', but because it could be below freezing in the mornings, very hot in the afternoons, then freezing again at night - extra stress on a hard working horse's body. And we were supposed to have a big cold front blow in Saturday - someone said winds up to 60 mph, temps below freezing at night...

The start and vet check times were adjusted to take that into account. The start would be moved back to 7:30 AM (woohoo! sleep in till 6 AM!). There would be 4 loops for the 50's: 15 miles, a half-hour vet check; 15 miles, a half-hour vet check; 10 miles, an hour hold, and 10 miles. There was a good turnout: 56 entered in the 50 miler, 24 in the 30 miler, and several for the trail ride.

Well, I'd try not to worry about the trail, just worry about staying on Mac's back tomorrow, since he was an anxious, wigging-out horse on his last LD ride at Pink Flamingo.

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