Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Delights and Delirium: Mendocino Magic 2013

I must begin this post with the above, our glorious Baylor/Gore ride photo from Saturday's Day 1 LD. It's possibly my new favorite ride photo ever and it's my first ride photo with Scrappy, since Gold Country didn't do LD photos. The glow-y blue accessories and ocean and my lovely Scrappy pony just make me smile :-) 


To begin at the beginning, last Thursday Scrappy and I did our toe touches and neck stretches, loaded up in the packed truck and trailer, and hit the road for a 5 hr drive over to the coast to the 2 day, Mendocino Magic endurance ride.
We had a relatively uneventful drive, in that my truck and trailer performed fine, but we were following J over and her rig and her parent's had a bit of passing trouble. Still we all arrived Thursday afternoon at various times and settled in:
 I grew up in the area this ride is held and made plans ahead of time to meet family. J and co were kind enough to Scrappy-sit for me so that I could dash out Thursday night, shower at my brother's so I didn't kill my very horse-allergic sister, and meet the family in town for dinner. Everyone was very tired but we chatted and stared off into space companionably and were all off to our various bed's before long.

Scrappy tucked into Blaze & Desire's blankets, Thursday night
 Friday there were the usual rounds of socializing, eating, drinking, and repeat. Plus J and I went for a short ride, and my mom showed up to visit later!

Away for a tack check ride Friday, Sedona is sexy and Scrappy is a bit of a snot around her. We don't ride together during LDs and may have to camp apart, too! 
Ride camp filling up

 This ride had phenomenal trail marking both days, with plates, ribbons, dolomite, and signs.
 Heading back down the first of many many many hills, Friday pre-ride
 My mom showed up and we had a good chat and then took the Scrapper over to vet in:

 We gave embarrassing dragging-a-dead-thing trot outs at Gold Country last month on our first ride together, so since then I have practice trotting him out every time I've haltered him. Guess what--IT WORKED! We went from Cs on gaits and impulsion at Gold Country to all As on the same, all weekend at Mendo.

This is Scrappy being really Arabian and excited for a trot out :-) 
With low 40s pulse and all As on our card and our tack prepped, we were ready for Saturday's start. I spent a typical nearly-sleepless night in my tent, and before long it was 5 am feeding time and after some great breakfast and hot tea in J's parent's camp trailer, it was time to tack up. Funny how time flies when you're cozy inside drinking hot drinks on a cold foggy morning! I do have to give a shout out to my Coleman tent here for keeping me completely dry and cozy throughout a weekend that was often foggy, very dewy, and even rained briefly one night.

Saturday morning tack up for the 7:30 am LD start
 Ready for hills? You better be! 
 The start for both days and distances was down in a large meadow with plenty of space for warming up and wandering away from the folks that left briskly at the front of the pack:
The start was quite tame, here we are walking off after N & Willow and the rest of the pack:
Hurray, go time! 
 This is obviously a long post and while I tried to trim it down, the scenery was just too gorgeous and I scored some pretty nice scenery photos, so here you go:.
 Following N, early Saturday's LD

 Ride photos were taken early with that gorgeous morning light breaking through the fog, and then it was on to business. I knew all the trails but part of one used on the rides this year so it was really nice to know where I was throughout the weekend. The footing for all trails is pretty well fabulous, with maybe a mile of a rocky stretch that I walked down on Loop 1 Sunday. I didn't feel Scrappy had enough time in the hind boots to try them again especially with all the downhills, so he went with front Renegades and bare hinds all weekend and the boots worked flawlessly again, despite starting out twisting on his feet in the longer, wet  grass at the trailer both mornings. After straightening them from the twist and getting out on the trail they didn't move again and didn't cause any issues at all. I'm a happy happy booter since switching to Rennys!
 N and I had notions of riding together but we split fairly quickly when Scrappy wanted to drink and Willow was ready to GoGo. Realistically Willow moves at a faster trot pace at rides than Scrappy's happiest 6-8 mph, so it worked out fine. Scrap and I spent some time leap frogging with others but mostly found our own spot in the pack and enjoyed our solo time.

  The hills at this ride cannot be exaggerated. I didn't get any good photos of the really steep stuff as I was too busy walking/sliding down it on foot, but oh boy, there were hills. Scrappy loves to go uphill at a glorious little dog trot he picks up of his own accord, but he consistently stops at downhills and turns his head and looks at me, especially after a few of the steeper ones this weekend. Okay human, your turn, he seems to say. Fair enough, and with my ankle well braced for walking/jogging and freshly padded, caged stirrups for the riding, my metal ankle was happy all weekend despite the hills. Also my bastardized Western saddle with Woolback pad was comfortable for horse and rider and stayed in place perfectly with no crouper despite all the inclines! Woot!

crossing the driveway, Almost back to camp, Loop 1, Day 1
We walked the last steep 1/2 mile or so down to camp after Loop 1 and he pulsed right through at 44 or some other ridiculous number. Rushcreek recovery love! We had a nice trot out and great vet through and it was time for munchies all around.

Vet check after Loop 1, Day 1
 MOOSHY mouth
 Are you looking at my butt? 
After an hour and re-tacking, we headed out for Loop 2 with N and Willow and once again said goodbye to ride camp as we climbed:
 The Blue loop was loop 2 for the LDs both days and it's a lovely trail (with a few hairy downhill sections).
 Loop 2, Day 1, LD

 N and I separated a few times where Willow was moving out or downhill more briskly, but we finished the day together and pulsed through at the Finish right away. Scrappy was gobbling carrot bites and whatever else he could get into and as I clicked to him to follow me over to do our final Vetting he did so, but while throwing his head up and down dramatically, and my heart stopped as my lameness-fried brain immediately jumped to horrified conclusions. I presented Scrap to Jamie Kerr and told him what was happening (we finished the ride fine and now he's throwing his head/lame?!?!) and he was very kind and calming and had me trot out first, saw that Scrap was moving great, then completed the full vet check without issue, assuring me Scrappy seemed fine if a little tired. Having ruled out lameness, the head throwing seemed to be related to when he was chewing and rapidly tapered off, disappearing completely when he was eating back at the trailer. After feeling around in his mouth inconclusively it was left at a "huh, that was odd" for the day.

Gobbling, post LD, Day 1
 Still gobbling, blanket style, post LD evening, Day 1
 Here's where the story gets interesting! Despite finishing Day 1 feeling great, I felt the beginnings of my dreaded migraine cycle starting a few hours later. I managed to eat and keep down not one but two dinners, thanks to J's parents and the lovely provided ride dinner, and I took medicine before bed, but it didn't stop the cycle. Sure enough my head hurt and I was throwing up and feeling rough on Sunday morning. Still, I really wanted to do these two tough 30s to see where Scrappy was at for a 50 next, so after many attempts at eating and drinking various things, some more vomiting, trying any medicine I could keep down, and some great help from J's parents and friend R, I managed to be saddled and at the start basically on time.

Away we go, Day 2 LD
 I was rather delirious but not suffering too badly for most of the first Loop, as evidenced by some sweet photos I apparently took (it's a bit of a blur!):

 maybe my favorite photo of the bunch...

 I leap frogged with a couple of nice gals most of the day, socializing to the best of my ability, and spent some time alone, deliriously trotting along...

 My favorite trail from the old days, Abalobadiah, a lovely winding single track through the forest and then guess what, more climbs! 

 The medicine started wearing off and I started feeling really shaky and crappy by the last 1/2 hour of the first loop. The temperatures were mild compared to our inland rides but once over the first ridge away from the ocean we did see sun and the humidity was really high, so I was a sweaty, sick, delirious mess coming in after Loop 1. Still we vetted through just fine and I dragged ass back over to camp to try to get myself feeling more human for Loop 2. This involved a change of shirt, salty chips, small amounts of various beverages, medicine, and a photo that rather reflects how enthusiastic we both felt about climbing the hill back out of camp again:
 Yes Scrap, again! Up up up!
After describing how I felt Sunday I hope that you can appreciate this Day 2 ride photo as much as I do! I really wanted a cantering ride photo and fortunately Scrappy is a smooth, willing partner--I can put on a game face with the best of them:
Baylor/Gore photography, neat one of us cantering away after the others
There are no more photos of Loop 2,  but it's the same as Day 1 loop 2, so you get the gist. I wasn't in photo-taking shape but Scrappy's downhill muscles were getting sore at this point so I did all the gnarly downhills on foot again. We meandered along and I started wondering vaguely if we'd Finish before cut off but eventually a horse passed us on the trail, Scrappy upped his Death March to a Trot, and here we are 1/4 from the Finish, with happy ears on the horse, at least:
I sort of melted off Scrappy at the Finish line and pulsed at 56, vetted through fine, and somehow had the brain power left to ask one of the vets to look in Scrappy's mouth since he was doing that weird head throwing thing eating at the Finish again. The vet quickly confirmed he had pointy teeth in there and definitely needed a dental, and that was a mystery solved. J and R were wonderful looking after Scrappy that afternoon and evening as I alternately lay in my tent miserably, got up to vomit, lay down again, and repeat. Luckily I started to feel a little better by dark and I slept hard that night, awaking Monday with a bit of slow brain/hangover but no headache pain left. Huzzah! 

Scrappy ready to load up Monday morning. I don't think he lost any weight this weekend....
We had an uneventful haul home on Monday and upon arrival Scrappy got a shower and more groceries in his field,while his human retired to her shower and bed. My vet will be out next Wednesday for dentals and I'll probably let Scrap rest on his laurels until then.