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June 30, 2012: Poker Ride

Today’s 12.5 mile Poker Ride was to be held in the same area as the upcoming competitive trail ride. A few days ago Pete suggested that we do it. This caused a lump to form in my throat. You see, two years ago I entered the novice division of the competitive trail ride. I didn’t get very far, in fact I quit about a mile into it. To make a long story less long: Raudi bolted at the ride’s very beginning. I got off when she finally stopped. She wouldn’t hold still, and so it was some time before I got back on her. Once in the saddle, she bolted again, this time across a barn yard. There, a handful of Angus cows clustered at the gate. Raudi saw them, did a 360, and off I went, into the manure pile. I did not,

Raudi resting after the poker ride.

after that, attempt to get back on her. Rather, I scratched from the event.

Both Pete and I have signed up for this year’s competitive trail ride. So as he said, the Poker Ride’s being on the same course was fortuitous. As Pete said, this way, we’d get a partial sense of what the upcoming route was like. This also made sense to me. However, this in no way meant that I was gung ho about doing it. In fact, I was dreading it.

And so this morning, we met Vicki in the field adjacent to the starting area. We promptly unloaded Siggi and Raudi, and tied them up. Siggi was calm and relaxed, Raudi was anxious. I did some body work on her, and also put a body wrap on her. Then I left her alone for a bit. I returned to find a somewhat calmer horse. Somewhat.

The route at the start of the ride differed from that of the 2010 CTR, going down a road rather than alongside a hay field. This didn’t make it any easier for me. There were a multitude of distractions, some of which included kids on bicycles, yard sale attendees, and auto repair shop bystanders. The road surface was gravel, and the road was slightly downhill.

Raudi and Hunar were both eager to get going. If we’d let them, they would have turned the area into another Churchill Downs. Siggi, who was moving at a relaxed place, was happy taking in all the sights. I figured that if Raudi and I held it together for the first five minutes, that we’d do just fine. I was right.

The ride wasn’t exactly a cakewalk. Raudi was in season and let all comers within a twenty-mile radius know that she was available. The entire way, she was attentive, but not reactive. I rode behind Pete and Vicki. Raudi would fixate on something, fall behind, then hurry to catch up with her buddies. This was challenging.

The course was challenging too. There were several creek crossings near the Little Susitna River. Most had steep, muddy embankments, made more slippery by the front traveling horses. It was good they were there because Raudi had to be focused and take note as to where she was placing her feet.

We three finished strong. I was most impressed with Mr. Siggi who went through all the creeks. Two years ago he would not have done this. I was also pleased with how Raudi did. I don’t let it be known that up until last year, I was a fearful rider. This had little to do with Raudi. Rather, it had to do with my lack of confidence. As we loaded the horses into the trailer, it occurred to me that the days of being anxious about riding with other people, and on strange trails are now behind me. In fact I’m feeling like Raudi and I are FINALLY a well matched team. And believe it or not, I’m now looking forward to the upcoming competitive trail ride.

Next: 205. 07/1/12: Return of # One Riding Horse