Most years in July, Mom hauls me over to the Big Horn 100 in Shell, WY. This year was no exception. It would be my first endurance ride of the season like it was last year. Mom conditions me enough right here at home, I felt GREAT this year. Ready to roll! I even had company this year as Monty came along for some trail riding in the rockies after.
We woke Mom up just before 3 am demanding more hay. She was kind enough to oblige. (I can make her do all sorts of stuff to spoil me once we get to ridecamp.) As usual the ride started at 4 am. There were lots of other horses starting this year. The most I've ever seen. Monty didn't want to be left behind. He cried so, I actually felt a little bad for him. But, I had a job to do, so off we went into the darkness.
Mom wouldn't let me do my big trot early, she kept me at a nice steady pace. We led the pack early on with a couple other horses. My buddy Fly, whom I rode with at Wolverine 100 in Michigan a bunch of years ago, showed up next to me on trail. We had so much to catch up on, we rode together the rest of the ride.
When we got to the canyons, Mom had a big surprise for me. She actually got off & tailed behind me up out of the canyons. I guess she's gotten in better shape herself. I did notice she'd lost a couple pounds, I didn't realize I would get this lucky though.
At the first vet check I of course passed with flying colors. I always enjoy the chance to eat without moving down the trail (although, I do enjoy that also). That second section into Antelope Butte is always fun. Lots of good grass & plenty of wildflowers this year. Heck, there was even water running in creek beds that had always been dry before. Once into Antelope & passed through the vet, it began to hail and rain. Grrr. I didn't really slow my ability to eat however, so I did.
The next loop always had the worst section of trail, I HATED it. There was this hill that went on forever, I made Mom get off & walk it in past years. Much to my surprise (again) there was some new trail! Less road & more beautiful trail. It was awesome. By now there were 3 of us, Fly (with Libby Lopp), a nice bay horse that Andy Bown was riding & me & Mom. The great company & new trail made that loop fly. Mom even got off & tailed me a couple more times. The next vet check at Jack Creek came quickly. We split our vet check since it had begun to rain again.
As we headed out for our 14 mile loop we saw a moose by the road. This loop had me wanting to make Mom work to push me some. I really wanted to conserve my energy for the last stretch to camp. The bay & Fly were in cahoots with me there. We took our time at the creeks & ate well when given the chance. (Sometimes forcing the chance--hehe.) The mud from the rain had the footing really slippery. It wasn't really too much of a break to walk because of the slickness, but some parts we just had to.
At the last check we found out that there were no markers out for the next stretch of trail. The people with the equipment to mark it were in a bit of a pickle because of the rain. Their trailer had gone off the road in a really bad spot & they couldn't get any of it out without a wrecker & that took some time. Meanwhile, Patti asked Mom if she would at least flag the rest so there would be something for folks to follow until the blinkers could be put out. No problem...not. I don't like flags. I didn't want Dad to hand them to Mom after she climbed on to go out. I didn't like the sound they made while we rode out. Once we started to trot & the other 2 caught up, I just knew they were getting hungry & wanted to eat me. Mom threw them away before I could toss them all off (her included). Good idea. Fly, on the other hand, thought I was being a dinkiss & proved up by letting Libby carry them. What a show off. I would not release my suspicions though & kept on eye on them for her sake.
This was by far the earliest we had ever left Jack Creek for camp. Mom knew the trail pretty good for awhile, but at a certain point she asked me to pick the trail. See, she had always ridden it in the dark, but it was still light out. Stupid lady, she actually got to second guessing me. The 3 of them sat around looking at a gps & a bad map. Finally she let my reins go & booted me on. I knew the way without hesitation! Why don't people listen sometimes? I knew it all along. But, no, she continues to feel out of sorts. I wanted to tell her she was on the right track, but didn't know how. The awful rain that had come earlier (I felt like we were being shot at by hundreds of sniper teenagers with pellet guns) & the resulting awful mud definitely added to the stress level.
We all finally came to the great decent. The footing was good here, as it had not rained here. The riders all got off to walk anyway, they were still in a bit of a hurry but still not sure about being on trail. So, they continued to drop flags at any point that another trail intersected. They did know they would be getting to camp one way or another & that anyone following, who could find the flags, would get there too. As the night started to get dark, Mom started to feel that they were maybe on the right track. I wish she could hear me tell her she was. Finally, the ride manager, Jeanette, came along on her quad. She was putting out the flashers & confirmed that they were indeed on the right trail. Even in the dark, I could see Mom's relief. At that time the 3 riders made a pact to take good care of the horses & I by staying together & tying at the finish.
Eventually, we all finally made it to our pit crews at the base of the mountain. Oh boy were we glad to get some feed & a little rest. Since Mom had been leading me, she didn't know that I had hurt my left front foot. (Seeing as she doesn't listen to me anyway, I'm not telling her how or exactly where--she likes a good mystery.) When the 3 headed out for the trail, she noticed I was off. She got off & checked my leg but couldn't find anything. Hoping it was maybe a cramp that I might work out of she thought about walking the last 8 miles in. We hadn't gone far when she changed her mind, but Dad had already gone on back to camp. So, we hung out a bit, me tied to Jeannette's trailer, until someone's crew came along. Turned out to be Don Blue. Nice guy. Anyhow, he gave Mom a ride back to camp to get the trailer to take me back.
Monty came in the trailer to meet me. He was so happy to see me. I told him all about my adventure on the ride back. Once at camp, Mom took me to the vet to have my leg checked. I let him think it may be a soft tissue injury in my fetlock. After I had a few good rolls, Mom poulticed & wrapped it. Then she put some liniment on the other legs & wrapped them too. Then, Monty & I got fed lots of food for the night & I got lots of extra love. She finally got to go to bed. In the morning I was still lame.
Sunday, we trailered to Pacific Creek in the Bridger-Teton forest. That's where we met up with our buddies from MI, Jesse & Charlie. Before dark, Fly & her friend, Mable, showed up too. My leg felt fine after the trailer ride & there was no swelling. I wouldn't let Dr. Quentin look at my leg either, so it's still a secret to them--what happened & what had hurt--good mystery. The next day, even though I was totally fine I had to hang out in a pen there while everyone else got to go out & see the trails, even Fly. To add insult to injury, Mom even rode Bob's HORSE instead of me (Charlie). That really stunk. BORING. At least I got to graze outside for a bit after they got back.
The same thing happened on Tuesday, except Mom rode Monty & Dad didn't ride. They didn't ride long though, so I still got to hang with my buds most of the time. We just got home today (Wednesday) & Monty & I are glad to be here & running loose. What stories to have to tell the rest of the herd!
From Marirose: I would like to add a little to Nellie's story from my perspective. The ride was awesome! Libby & Andy were great company all day. I, for one, had a blast! The storms were impressive! The trail marking right up to the point where I took over were great! I apologize to those riders behind me that I couldn't have put out the blinkers too. I apologize to Libby & Andy for the added stress of thinking we were lost. I should have trusted wholeheartedly in Nellie without question, as she was right as usual. Things just didn't look the same in the daylight. ;o)
Congrats to Libby & Andy's finishing & to all those who completed! Great job! To all those who tried & didn't make it--great job! To the RM's who had to work though some amazingly bad weather-related problems--great job!
As for the camping at Pacific Creek; Chuck & I had a great time with our friends from MI, Bob & Anita Maynard and also our friends from NY, Quentin & Libby Lopp and some folks from MN, Phil & Cheryl. The trails were awesome & we didn't see any griz (may have smelled one on the second day though). I did, however, see one off hwy 14 on our way there through Yellowstone---pretty dang cool!