Sandy and I competed in our second-ever Limited Distance Ride. Our last ride ended with a lot of room for improvement Sandy didn’t recover as well as I was hoping and we ended up coming in last - which honestly wasn’t a big deal, I was just happy we finished!
This second ride was at Old Selam just North of Idaho City. It was a gorgeous location! We got to ride through some beautiful forests with some decent climbs and sandy footing. We signed up for the 25-mile ride and got there late on Friday night for our race early Saturday morning.
I was a bit nervous getting there, we had just spent months working on helping Sandy recover better and hopefully be in better shape then the last ride and I was nervous/excited to see where all that work would put us.
We started out at a good rate Saturday morning, but I made a mistake. When the trail was open I started not too far from the horses in front of me - which quickly became an issue. They were going much faster than I felt comfortable allowing Sandy to go as the first loop was 16 miles! But Sandy was fighting at the bit to be next to them.
I finally halted her and made her wait for everyone behind us to pass, which didn’t help at all. She was fully in ‘race brain’ mode. I thought for sure that she would calm down after a few miles, but no. After 10 miles I gave up and let her go the pace she wanted even though it made me uncomfortable.
Riding back into camp for that first vet check I felt defeated. All I wanted to do was load Sandy up in the trailer and head for home. I felt like all the work we had done was pointless and I was embarrassed that it looked like I couldn’t handle my horse. But, my husband talked me through it and I got back on for the second loop.
This loop started out much better, we were alone for the first 3 miles and because of that, we were able to keep a very nice steady pace that she and I were both happy with. We did end up leap-frogging a couple of other riders but Sandy didn’t get back into the ‘race brain’ mentality thank goodness!
But as we neared the end (literally only had about ½ mile left) I missed the turn and ended up lost 😅. After backtracking my steps and finally finding the turn, we made it back to camp! Thinking I was solidly in the back of the pack, especially since I went about a mile too far I was shocked to find out that we had come in 4th place!!
But the best part was, when we came in she rated down to 60 in just a few minutes and by the time the vet checked us she was down to 48 bpm! A record low for us at the vet area!
I learned so much from this ride and have some things I’ll be taking into my next:
1- Either find a buddy to pair with for the ride or allow there to be more space between me and riders who want to go faster.
2- Allow Sandy to run her race, if I could have thrown my anxieties out the door and just allowed Sandy to work out her nerves without fighting I think we would have had a much better first loop.
3- Sandy came in with a heavy winter coat and had a hard time cooling off. I’ll be researching some different clipping techniques to help her with that going forward.
I’m so thankful for the experiences I’ve been able to have entering this sport this year. It’s been quite the journey and I’ve learned so much! But what I’ve loved most is the connection Sandy and I have been able to build because of it all!
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for the thrilling conclusion of my fourth and final ride of the year! Don't forget to Subscribe to the Blog so you never miss a post!