Donerail Farm
Dressage and Sport Horses

Sandblast
Athens, TX
February, 1999

I am a jinx when it comes to endurance rides. it usually rains on me! As a result, I am not sure my friends are really happy when _I_ decide to go on a ride. I think they figure they are doomed to ride in the rain.

Early in the week the forecast called for beautiful weather, and I was sure my curse had lifted. But the closer the weekend got, the worse the forecast got! Friday morning there were severe weather warnings all over the exact area we were heading
toward!

Athens is a long way -- by my standards, anyway. it is nearly 5 hours from my house. Add an hour to pick up Margaret and Faaji, and it was a long way -- especially since the majority of our drive was made in the rain. part of 287 from Corsicana , at Palestine, was washed out. fortunately we had not gone that way. we saw lots of creeks and rivers way out of their banks, and there was water across the road a few places, albeit only a few inches deep.

Camping in the rain is the pits. Camping in the rain in a tent is even worse!

Luckily, the rains stopped long enough for us to put up our palatial tent when we got there, around 3 ; we then saddled up Muscatyr and Faaji and went on a short little ride to help them stretch and loosen up after being in the trailer for so long.
 

We vetted in and then the rains came. It rained off and on until dinner. Fortunately it stopped then, and we enjoyed camaraderie under temporary shelter ride manager Carolyn Hosmer had set up. We were feeling pretty optimistic during dinner, since we got a peek at the nearly full moon and stars. But it was just a tease. almost as soon as we got ready to go to bed it started raining. Fortunately I had brought just about every single piece of horse clothing I owned, and one of the items was a very nice waterproof Rambo sheet. So Muscatyr was able to stay dry. Unfortunately, his owner spazzed out and forgot the electric fence tape, so I was not able to try
out the electric corral I had so proudly planned on using for the first time. Muscatyr has a healthy respect for hot wire. he is the only one of my horses who has never run through it. so, Muscatyr had to spend another
night tied to the trailer -- well, almost.
 

It rained all night -- ranging from sprinkling to "raining and blowing so hard we were waiting for the tent to come down on top of us."
i didn't get much sleep. It finally stopped around 4 and I thought I heard the distinct sound of a Rambo-sheet-clad equine tiptoeing past the opening of our tent. I stuck my head out and Muscatyr froze like a deer caught in the headlights. "WHAT are you doing????" I asked him. I swear he had a guilty look on his face. He also looked like he was thinking "HOW does she ALWAYS KNOW when I am doing something naughty???" He surrendered without budging from the spot where he'd been discovered and
I tied him back to the trailer. Only temporarily, as it turned out. About an hour later, once again I got this 'feeling' that there was an
equine out on a stroll. I had to search a little further for him this time, but found him at the trailer next door, happily making some
new friends. Repeat tying scene, stumble back to bed.

The 25 milers weren't starting until 9 am, which was nice, since I got my best (and maybe only) sleep of the night between 5 and 7 a.m. I normally prefer to start earlier, but I wasn't complaining this time.

The next morning, the sun was out and it was clear and cold -- a perfect day for a ride. While waiting for the start with 60 something other horses  -- Muscatyr alternated between laid back and horse from hell. This is normal for him at the start of a ride. He actually has gotten better. We were actually in control the entire ride this time! Margaret and I had no plans to try and win any glory on this ride. Muscatyr is not nearly as fit as he was last year, since he was off all summer due to anhidrosis, and by the time it got cool enough to start riding him again, I could only do it on weekends due to the time change. Kinda tough to get a horse really good and legged up only riding on weekends. Our plan was to do a nice leisurely ride and just finish. Both of us being somewhat competitive, I knew we
wouldn't be in the bottom of the pack.

It was an adventurous ride. You can only imagine what the footing was like, having rained virtually all night the night before, plus several inches before we even got there. I remembered Muscatyr sinking in several boggy crossings up to his hocks last year. I did not want to think about how bad those spots would be today.

We were cruising along making good time through the woods when we came upon a group of very excited Boy Scouts. (The ride was held at a gorgeous boy scout camp that must be 10,000 acres.) There was a horse stuck in a bog up ahead, they told us (there was a group of about 10 of us riding together). We carefully inched forward, careful to stay on the trail. Sure enough, up ahead, we saw an equine (I have to say equine, because later i found out it was a mule) floundering in a bog past its belly.

They were about 300 feet from us, and several people were trying to get the animal out. we turned around and went back to the road and sat and debated the best way to proceed. none of us wanted to go off trail to pick our way past the bogged down mule -- we were afraid we'd discover more bogs. We also did not want to get disqualified for 'skipping' trail.

I suggested we travel down the road a bit and see if we could see where the trail might cross the road. We could tell from the map that
it must at some point. Some of the women were whining about not getting a completion for the ride, and I just told them if they were going to disqualify us for trying to safeguard our horses' safety, then they could go ahead -- I'd rather not get a completion than risk getting my horse in a bog like that. They would have to tranquilize me if that happened to my horse. I'd be hysterical.

I guess i was just having flashbacks to the time I was 13 and got my newly purchased horse in quicksand.

Luckily, we had not gone far when we came upon the ride manager, who already knew about the situation and was busily rerouting the trail. She pointed us in the right direction and off we went again. (As it turned out, there were a number of horses that got stuck in bogs during the course of the ride -- and the poor ride manager ended up rerouting every trail by the time it was all said and done.)

We finished the first loop with no mishaps, in 2 hours and 15 minutes (nearly 16 miles.) Muscatyr's pulse came down to the required 60
beats per minute with no problem and he vetted out with all As. Margaret and I went out on the second loop a little slower, since the vet had told margaret that Faaji looked a little stiff on his left rear --

On the second loop we continually came up behind riders who warned us of boggy spots on the trail. Several times we were forced to go off trail and pick our way through the forest -- never knowing where our horses might sink on us. The boggy spots did not look boggy -- the floor of the forest was covered with leaves, and you just couldn't tell what was firm ground and what was bog. Every time we went off trail i held my breathe and felt like we were walking through a mine field. Once we got in a boggy spot and Faaji and Muscatyr scrambled uphill to find firmer ground.I t is a awful feeling when you feel your horse sinking and struggling underneath
you. I could tell by watching Faaji, though, that they were only sinking to about their ankles, although it felt much worse than that.

We finished the second loop in about an hour and 15 minutes. Muscatyr again vetted in fine and got all As on his vet scores. we didn't stay for the award ceremony, since we wanted to boogie on home. i heard from my friend Debbie Quinn (who owns flash Gordon, who finished just fine not far behind us) that we were around 26-27 out of over 60 finishers. just about where we wanted to be. until i can condition Muscatyr better we won't be going for any top tens.

Margaret and i had a great time, despite the rain. so we successfully completed the first 'jewel' of the texas triple crown.
on to montel in march! if we complete all 3 rides we get a really nifty jacket!
 

Read the Montel Cliffhanger Story