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July 20, 2012: Competitive Trail Ride: Friday evening: What’s a nice girl like me doing in a Place like this?

It was early Friday evening. I stood at a far end of a field, taking in the sight before me. 57 or so owners scurried about, filling water jugs, setting up tents, tending to, and lunging horses. My eyes were drawn to our campsite. Raudi was watching the goings on, and Siggi had his nose buried in a mound of hay. And all was just fine in the adjacent site. Hunar, our friend Vickie’s horse, was standing quietly, leg cocked, as was our horse Tinni. We’d loaned him to Vickie’s stepdaughter Emily for the summer.

I was to ride Raudi and Pete was to ride Siggi in the weekend long Bald Mountain Butt Buster Competitive Trail ride, a bi-yearly, weekend-long event in which horses and riders cover a set distance on the trail.

This isn’t an endurance ride; rather, horse and rider are judged on their ability to work together in a harmonious fashion. We were to ride in the competitive pleasure division. Vickie was to ride Hunar in the open division, and Emily was to ride Tinni in the one-day novice division. The daily distance averages 22 miles.

I suspected that by the weekend’s end, all participants would have stories to tell. I hoped mine would be good, but I was not optimistic. I’d attempted to do this event two years before and had scratched a mile into it. Riders set out at 30 second intervals. Raudi, who was taken aback by the veritable sea of horses, bolted and galloped hard, happily passing one horse than another. She then concluded our ride by tossing me over her pretty little head into a manure pile. I told friends that that I’d do it again but was bluffing. What repeatedly came back to mind was the image of me clinging to her back, yelling whoa, easy, whoa easy whoa, whoa, whoa.

Come this past May, I again signed up for the event, thinking that beforehand, I’d find good reason to bow out. However, no reason materialized. I quelled my fears by repeatedly reminding myself that this time, things would be different. First of all, I’d be accompanied by five other Icelandic owners, four being friends, and one being my husband. And secondly, Raudi and I now had more trail experience under our belts. Last year, Pete and I rode our horses from Southern to northern Colorado, and this year we rode daily on local trails.

Pete interrupted my musings, saying that it was time to present our horses to the veterinarian and horsemanship judges. The veterinarian’s assessment would ascertain if our horses were fit for competition, and also provide her with a baseline for her final evaluation. The horsemanship judge’s assessment would center on grooming, manners, and handing. The veterinary check went well for Raudi and Siggi. The horsemanship check didn’t go as well. Siggi moved a bit too slow and Raudi moved a bit too fast. We both fumbled a bit on the trot out, and circled to the outside instead of the inside. As I often said over the weekend, best not to dwell on this; rather, just move on.

The exams/trot outs went from 3 to 9:30 p.m. After, there was a two hour briefing in which the trail master went over Saturday’s two routes in excruciating detail. I didn’t hear much of what she said; rather, my eyes were repeatedly drawn to the right hand corner of my map. This year we’d first head down a semi-residential road, past several homes and a construction site. If there was one consolation, it was that the start was seven hours away.

Next: 225. 07/21/12: CTR: Saturday, all day