When I got up the morning of, after I had warmed Gallant up, and mounted, Eileen, myself, and Kim headed to the start line, and it was 27 degrees! I was freezing, but didn't want to over dress as I knew it would heat up soon.
The three of us started out and crossed the start line together. There were a lot of riders and the horses were feeling frisky and wanted to GO! A bunch of people took off and started out quickly. I held Gallant back with Eileen, as the first 6 miles or so is a long gentle uphill climb and I didn't want to wear him out as this was a 35 mile ride!
We finally got to the top of the rise and got to the first water stop and ride photographer. Eileen and I caught up to many of the riders who had gone faster in the beginning, and caught back up to Kim. I let those two ride together, and let them know I would be picking up the pace and going on ahead.
Even 1/3 of the way through this ride I could already tell it would be my favorite desert ride. The trails they picked were wide, safe, and had great footing with little rocks. The trails chosen were much prettier than any other desert ride I had done, and there was plenty of hay and water for the horses throughout.
I caught up to a couple of 50 riders, two older ladies, and asked if I could ride with them/ behind them. They said it didn't bother them, so we stuck with them from about the 15 mile point to the vet check.
Here is my ONLY complaint about this beautiful, well managed ride; the vet check, which is usually half way through a ride, was at the 25 mile marker. So I literally rode an entire LD before I got a break, then there was only 10 miles to the finish. I was so exhausted, that I actually fell off, while trying to get off, at the water stop before the vet check. I just kept telling myself 5 more miles, 4 more miles, etc. When we finally got to the vet check I was exhausted, nauseous, dizzy and didn't feel good at all. I was so glad to have a 30 minute hold. I took care of Gallant as best as I could, and had a vet check bag, so I was able to eat and drink as much as I could stomach. Kim was so sweet to give me half of her peanut butter and honey sandwich, and by the end of the hold I was feeling better. Even though I am "complaining" this really wasn't that big of a deal, we overcame!
HINDSIGHT: I found out 6 months after this ride that I had health issues that contributed to my not feeling well. I've spent the last couple months getting them sorted out, and am feeling much better, and should not have as much problems on my next ride, and in the future!
Gallant was strong, happy, and forward and we found our two 50 friends on the way out of the vet check. They were nice enough to let me continue riding with them, and I listened in awe to their many stories of Tevis, prior horses they had owned and ridden, and amazing stories they shared. The last few miles were a long downhill that we walked, and then we picked it up to a canter and fast trot to the finish line. There was a water there where we got off and let them drink until they were satisfied and then walked to the vet to pulse them out for the completion. The vet commented to me that Gallant looked great and that I did a great job with him. She actually said it twice! I was so happy and tired that I didn't know what else to say so I just kept thanking her.
It was about a mile back to the fairgrounds where camp was so we trotted back and then I weighed in and showed for BC. I thought I had a good chance.
This was also an FEI ride, and my first time getting to see the "professionals". They just blew me away! Their gear, horses, rigs, everything was just TOP NOTCH! Very humbling to a lowly newbie rider like myself!
We waited the eve for the awards meeting by watching the longer distance riders coming in and the vetting for them. They were all so amazing! They ended up not having the awards meeting that night, but rescheduled it for the next morning as many of the 100 riders were still coming in and they were still tallying everything up. Many people left, but we stayed! I really wanted to see who got BC!
We ended up in 5th place, and as they were announcing BC for the LD, they called us so I stood up, but they said "WAIT!" I was like "what?!?" We ended up getting HIGHEST VET SCORES, but they gave BC to the first place rider. His horse looked fantastic, and as they were handing him the award they said "next ride you need to be in a 50!"
Overall, I was very happy, and this was an absolutely amazing, beautiful, well managed ride. I don't particularly care for Desert rides, but this one is my favorite and I'll definitely be returning to do this one as often as I can!