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July 13, 2015: Moving Forward at the Speed of Light

Now preparing for the upcoming Fairbanks-based Challenge of the North Competitive Trail Ride. The preparing is, in many respects, similar to last year. Pete and I have (again) been sorting through horse and human gear, making piles, then sub-piles, deliberating about taking this, that, or the other, then after making weighty decisions, checking things off the big list. And in addition, like last year, we’ve been tending to and riding the horses.

Pete is again going to ride Tinni who in recovering from being lame, taken himself out of retirement. And I’ll ride Raudi, who I rode last year. Both horses, like last year, are in excellent condition.

Pete will again ride in the one-day novice division because we are thinking that as good of shape that Tinni is in, that it would be a stretch to enter him in the two-day competitive pleasure division. I’m moving up a notch this year and riding in the two day open category. The difference between the open and the competitive pleasure division is that the distance is greater (25 versus 17 miles each day); plus this distance needs to be done at a faster rate of time. And, additionally, the judged obstacle portion of the event is more difficult. For example, you have to back in a straight line in the novice and competitive pleasure divisions, and do a figure eight around two trees in the open division.

There are a few other differences between this year and last year. Last year we left Hrimmi near where the event was held, that is in Wasilla . There she had a large grassy paddock. This year we’ll be leaving her a ways from where this event is going to be held, that is in Fairbanks. This year she’ll be in a round pen. Last year she primarily had horsey company. This year she’ll have horsey and human company.

Last year our garden buddy, Mimi tended to the garden and the remaining critters. This year our canine buddy Jay will tend to the remaining critters and the garden. We were gone two days last year. We’ll be gone six days this year.

I’ve been rereading the competitive trail ride literature that I have on hand; this information pertains to event particulars; I’ve been doing this in order to reacquaint myself with the innumerable regulations relating to horsemanship and animal care. I’ve also been reading Dan Stewart’s Pressure Proof your Riding. Today I’m going to write some of the quotes and given advice in his book on notecards. I’ll then flip through them on the drive to Fairbanks and in the two days preceding the ride.

I am also working at maintaining a positive attitude about the days ahead. Only once have I wavered; this morning I expressed some doubt about doing well to Pete. As I now well know, articulating what I perceive to be shortcomings affects the subconscious, which is not at all discriminating. So if I believe I’m going to do well, then I will do well.

This is what I now believe: Raudi and I are going to wow all in the CTR; this includes the veterinarian and the horsemanship judge. This is because she is now a very agreeable and level-headed horse. She is what she is, an incredible trail horse. I’m also a far better trail rider than I was last year because this past winter I spent considerable time learning all I could about centered riding, and this past spring and summer putting what I learned to practice. It’s simple – to do well all I need to do is breathe, use soft eyes, think about body alignment, and consider my core. I am beforehand going to have Pete do the bubbling springs exercise on the bottom of my feet so that I am better able to envision the soles of my feet resting on skateboards, thus further grounding me.

Raudi is also more adept this year than last in going over, through, and around obstacles because we’ve done so much agility training. We can now sidepass and open gates with ease, and as always, we make our way across the most treacherous of creeks.

We are now the best matched competitive trail ride team of all time. In addition, she’s now trotting in hand in a calm and relaxed fashion. Practice makes perfect and we are perfect.

I rode her all winter, in all weather conditions, so we are used to seasonal variations. It’s going to be warm, but not overly warm – her pulse and respiration vitals are going to be unusually low this time around. From the onset, our evaluators are going to be impressed with our combined willing attitude, relaxed demeanor, professional appearance, and overall level headedness.

Every single word of the above is all quite true. Most importantly, this horse and her rider are going to have a wonderful time when in Fairbanks. We’ll meet up with old friends and make some new ones. I’ll ride with others in the open division, and we’ll all be in very good spirits the entire way. I won’t have to sing, but I will sing anyways.

It’s going to be like doing clinics. I’ll have so much fun that at the end of the day I’ll be sad to see the day come to an end.

I will keep in mind the big three: The acronym: Greatest of All Time. The song: I’ve Been Working in the Barnyard. The logo: my knitted goat hat that Pam made for me. I can now, after writing this, hardly wait to get to Fairbanks. Yes, this is how I truly feel about what’s ahead. I am continuing to move forward, now at the speed of light.

Next: 181. 7/14/15: Competitive Trail Ride – Getting Ready

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