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July 22, 2012: Sunday, all Day

We awake to overcast, but not rainy skies. I slept some, as had Pete. The night before, several people had considered bowing out, fearing bad trail conditions. The rumor, which proves to be true, is that the trail master has made several route changes. At the morning briefing, I discover that there’s good news and bad. The new route is one that I’d ridden a few years back, with friends, while on Tinni. The bad news is that we will still have to cross the Little Susitna River, which is at flood stage.

Raudi starts out (again) somewhat fired up, but not as fired up as before. Siggi moves very slowly, Pete remarking to our friends Cindy and Chuck Miller that he usually starts slowly. The previous day we’d attempted to ride with the pair, but soon were separated, in part because Cindy came off her horse. They’d even gone so far as to consider scratching, but finally decided to do day two. I’m glad to have the company, as is Raudi, who contents herself by staying behind Siggi.

Pete on Siggi
Pete on Siggi

The morning is uneventful. None of us have terrain problems. As for obstacles, well, as I tell the judges, Raudi has done better. She barely side-passes when she’s asked clip a ribbon to a tree. And she elects to go down a steep embankment backwards. Once again, we move on.

As for the afternoon – I have an unnoticed shining moment, this at the third and final P and R stop. Raudi is fidgety, and slightly sweaty, so I act on a contingency plan—I do not again want to be left behind again. I first wipe her down with a water soaked bandana, and then I begin fanning her with a piece of cardboard that I’ve brought along for this very purpose. I also do some TTeam body work on her. Her pulse rate and heart rate are deemed to be high, but I’m told I can go on. I’m relieved, for now we’ll be able to finish alongside Siggi and Pete.
Ahead is the river crossing. When finally we come to it, my heart sinks. We will need to float downstream, and ferry across, to the far bank. No fun, no fun at all, I mutter. Pete, ignoring me, urges Siggi to move forward, and the horse who three years before was water phobic obliges. I follow. It’s then, as her feet hit the water, that Raudi and I both see Vickie on Hunar, standing quietly. This, I think is what good sportsmanship is all about. Vickie is well aware that Hunar and our horses are buddies, and that his being their might provide them with directional incentive. At that moment, I can’t thank her enough, but later thank her profusely.

There are several miles ahead – they include bridge crossings, several more creek drop-offs, and more gnarly trail. Oh yeah, and then there was the cow barn and manure crossing. We came to it, and Raudi, being Raudi, seeing some ponies, did a quick 360 and bolted a few hundred yards. After, I sat on her and laughed.

Finally, it comes to an end. All that’s left are a final vet and horsemanship check, and a BBQ and an awards ceremony. Both Siggi and Raudi were pronounced as being sound at the final veterinary check, though a flexion test revealed that Siggi was a bit sore. This was good news. It was my goal, and Pete’s too, to finish this event with sound horses, and in the allotted amount of time—and we’d done both.

There is always the hope that there will be icing on the cake, which is that one will win a ribbon or two. Pete and I didn’t place, in part because there are no heavyweight and lightweight, or junior divisions in the competitive pleasure categories. Also, there were more entrants in this than there were in the novice and the open categories. However, the Icelandic contingent did very well, which speaks well for our horse community and for the breed itself. Chuck Miller and Drynafari won a sixth place horse award, and Vickie Talbot took sixth in the horsemanship and best conditioned horse categories. There were no injuries – pretty impressive when you consider that of the 57 who entered this ride, only 34 finished.

Pete later examined his scorecard and noted where he got dinged. I decided to look at my card later, for I wanted to continue to dwell on the positives. There were many, including Tinni’s stellar performance. But most importantly, Raudi and I finished this event with me now feeling confident about riding with others. It was a huge hurdle, but we managed to clear it with room to spare. Finally, the horse that I raised and trained is my number one riding horse.

Next: 227. 07/23/12: Unpacking