This ride was very well managed and a lot of fun! The ride managers have been putting it on for 22 years and they really kept things going smoothly even with all of the rain they had earlier in the week!
The camp was beautiful. We camped around a pond and the view was incredible as there was a low fog almost all weekend! The trails were along a river for a lot of the time and the views were great. Apparently, the area was logged in 1906, but there were some areas that were too boggy at the time of logging and were left intact. We got to ride through some of those areas and the trees were magnificent! The ride was a 17 mile loop done twice and then 16 miles on the roads. The 17 mile loop was really very nice with a few good water crossings and a few good climbs. I enjoyed it a lot and met up with another lady shortly into the second loop and we rode together for the rest of the ride. I actually really enjoyed riding with someone for a change! Keeps your mind off the clock! The last loop was a bit dull, but went by quickly since it was on the roads.
Other than our fall, the ride was pretty uneventful. Our times were fairly predictable and very consistent. We finished 7th out of 19 starters. I think 14 finished. So, we top tenned again and finished in 7:45, which is pretty good given the terrain!
Boomer got straight A's on all of our vet scores at every check! That was a first and I was so proud of him! We stood for Best Condition judging, mostly for the experience. BC is awarded based on vet scores, rider weight, and finish time. As we were the lightest rider and were the last finishers standing for BC, we really didn't have much chance, but I was thrilled to learn how that whole process works. Also, I was glad to get the extra eagle eye on Boomer since we did have a rough start to the day.
I am starting to learn how to really take care of Boomer. I know that on his own, Boomer will not drink until about 30 miles or later. I also know that he doesn't really want to eat anything except grass and grain. So, in the past his scores have been low for gut mobility and hydration. My job is to learn how to work with him and get him to perform the best he can. I can't force him to drink earlier (I try) and I can't force him to eat soaked mashes (I try) but I can prepare him as best as possible before the race so that he doesn't crash before he gets to the point where he is ready to take care of himself. I fed him all the beet pulp he can eat plus his normal grain Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday before the start. I offered it during the ride, but he wasn't interested. So, I let him graze and gave him soaked grain. He didn't drink more than a half gallon the whole ride until the end. It wasn't hot and he wasn't losing much sweat, plus he peed at every vet hold- so I was trying to not be too worried (plus, his scores were fine). Once he did get thirsty, he drank about 6 gallons straight, including a bucket of sponge water. So, I know he will take care of himself once he needs it, but I just need to prepare him in advance so that he doesn't tank midway through the ride. It is a learning process, but I think we are figuring it out! Oh, and no girth galls, tack rubs, or any other problems!
This ride was a very bonding weekend for Boomer and I. I was so happy with him and really made a point of petting him often and telling him he as good. During the holds and after the ride he would nicker every time he saw me. It made my heart melt! He was just as sweet as could be!