Heading to McCulley Farms.
My friend and I went down to the farm where the ride was Friday afternoon. Our ride was Saturday morning. We wanted to set up, get the ponies settled, go for a little ride, and relax. The ride was at McCulley Farms in Jasper, FL. I'm a little disappointed in myself that I haven't taken any horses there before this weekend. It's only 40 miles from home and it is a drop dead gorgeous place to ride with miles, and miles, and MILES of trails! I knew it was there and had heard it was nice but for no particular reason I just had not taken any ponies yet. Well, I will now.
Some of the camping.
Let me remind all of you first that not only have I never been to a ride like this, neither has my friend. She saw the ride somewhere and since it was so close we were like, why not? Let's go have a fun, long trail ride with our ponies. It was pretty hilarious between the two of us figuring out what was going on.
First, we had to vet in. For those of you that are as clueless as we were about this sport, all horses for all rides must vet in. What happens is a vet does a quick exam of your horse. They take their pulse, feel their back, listen to their gut, check capillary refill, look for any sores from tack rubbing, etc... You also have to jog them for the vet and they look for lameness. Each piece of the exam is graded on a letter scale, there is even a box labeled attitude. Attitude just means is the horse perky and alert? They don't want an over-trained, sore, tired pony showing up, or continuing. I thought that was pretty cool...and then I took Mochi through.
I know Mochs is not the typical breed you would see at these rides. It's Arab, TB, and gaited horse land. Within 45 seconds of looking over Mochs the vet stops and looks at me and asks, "Have you been riding this horse?" Wtf? I thought maybe she was referencing something I wasn't understanding. I said "Do I ride her? Yes, at least four times a week right now." She proceeded to tell me she asked because she was concerned about Mochs' weight. She told me she was way too fat and she was concerned about her recovery. I told her we were there for only for the 10 mile ride and that we had zero interest of actually pursuing this discipline, we were just there to have a leisurely trail ride with a friend. I told her what my real plan is for Mochi is lower level eventing. She stopped, looked at me and said "Oh, she's too fat for that." Say what? She asked me what she eats and I said she's been on round bales and half a pound of Strategy. The vet's reply "She's THIS FAT on round bales?" She also went on to say she would consider her borderline metabolic. Wow, I guess I missed the announcement that it was open season on POA mares. Despite all this, Mochs still scored all A's on her report card. But the vet gave her a 6.5 (!) BCS. A 6.5? Here is Mochs the next morning before I tacked her up for the ride:
THIS is too fat? A 6.5?
I have no rose colored glasses on. I know Moch could lose a little weight, but that will happen when her work load increases this month. I don't expect everyone to be in love with her and think she is as adorable as I do either, but that vet was acting like I was about to abuse my horse by participating. She had me genuinely concerned. I was in their world, they know more about what's acceptable. As soon as we were done I texted my vet and she reassured me Moch is fine. She shouldn't be any heavier than she is, but she is not some out of shape, morbidly obese pony.
Then again, Mochs was in the land of horses where you could count the ribs on 95% of them. So compared to what that vet saw all weekend, Mochs WAS fat. But there was a horse in front of us that was vetting out from just completing a leg of his ride and the horse drug both his back feet and actually rolled forward up ON his rear pasterns. He was passed. I was more than a legit trip, this horse looked tired. Here is a picture of what the majority of the horses there looked like:
If Mochs' spine was visible like this, we would have been good to go.
Oh well, we were over it, and we got all A's. After that we tacked up and went for a ride. On the way back I saw a beautiful leopard Appy mare. She had no more excess baggage than Moch. I walked over on Moch and talked to her owner. The App got a BCS of 5.5. There was NO difference in the build between her and Moch. The only difference is the leopard App had more spots and was taller.
After our ride we got the ponies settled in their stalls. Moch isn't the best drinker. Klein is a champ at drinking. She drinks out of ANYTHING, anywhere, anytime. Moch isn't so great so I gave her some OTC Jug paste before we left on Friday and I gave her a big bucket of water, and little bucket of water with orange Gatorade powder. She could not have cared less about being away from home for the night. She ate all her hay, drank a little of the Gatorade water and almost the entire big bucket of water. I could tell she laid down too, so I knew she got some good rest.
The next morning the horse bat signal must have been out because Moch could tell something was about to go on.
We tacked up and headed over to check in. I had Mochs in a flower hackamore for this because I knew she would be excited and I didn't want to undo any progress we have done lately in the dressage ring lately. She had the potential to pull on me and I was not about to let her catch herself in the mouth. I have ridden her in a hack a lot and she always listens so I knew she would be fine. I am thinking of using it when we start back over fences here pretty soon actually.
Ready to start!
We were still like tweedle dee and tweedle dumb at the start line. We had no clue what we were about to get into. Thankfully both our horses take whatever is thrown at them in stride. My friend's gelding is a super sweet guy that goes with the flow. The time limit for the ride was 2.5 hours so we said let's make our goal two hours.
They did the count down and we were all in a group at the starting line, 21 of us. The first part of the trail was very, very narrow and through thick trees so there was no room to do anything but go in a line. Every one started off crunched together at a fast trot. We just went with it. We ended up trotting the first two miles.
We got to the first water station and there was an entrance to another trail marked with our color but they said "OUT," indicating you come out of that spot. We were still with a decent size group and we assumed these people knew better than us and followed them past that sign. About half the field ended up going that way. And really, the signs said OUT, so why would you go IN? I'm sure you can guess where this is going... About a mile after that a lady came down the trail and asked us if we were intro and we said yes. She said "Ok me too, turn around, we are going the wrong way. We should have went in the fence at the water." What? The fence that had our signs that said OUT. Awesome trail marking guys. So, we turned around and hurried back to the water, went in the fence. The field had spread out by now so my friend and I could pace ourselves however we wanted.
The trails were GORGEOUS. Part of it was by the river, and it's just a beautiful area.
Taking a walk break.
Since we got off track we ended up doing 12 miles. We exceeded our goal though. We were going for 10 miles in two hours and we did our 12 miles in two hours and that wasn't really pushing it either because neither of us were a, there to compete, and b, run our horses into the ground. That was a comfortable ride and the ponies felt good. Mochs was GREAT. She wasn't tired at all by the end. She was a little strong because she was so excited for the first few miles but she eventually settled.
Here comes the funniest part. I hope you all laugh as much as we did. We get to the finish line like hell yeah, we have half an hour to spare! The timer wrote our times on our cards and told us to make it to the vet box within the 30 mins we had left. Ok, no problem. We untacked and sponged the ponies. We ate snacks, drank some water, let the ponies graze for a few, then we were like well, we better head over to the vet box, we have 10 mins left.
On the way over we saw two people in the vet box already that we had passed on the trail. We were like "Why are they in there already? They have 15 more mins. What's the hurry?"
I did not get the same vet that I had the day prior. The vet I had for the vet out was very nice. Moch got all A's again and had a pulse of 44, the minimum required is 60. My friend's horse had the same. We were so proud. When we saw our times they were 2:27. What? We came in at 2 hours??? Then...it dawned on us and why those two ladies were in the vet box before us. Your time officially stops when you vet out. We busted up laughing and renamed ourselves Dumb and Dumber. We totally thought that your time stops when you come across the line and then if you vet out ok your time is official. We didn't know the clock kept running until you vet out. We still finished 11th and 12th out of 21 even after adding two miles to the ride and taking our sweet ass time back to the vet box.
We were there for fun so we didn't care and we will laugh about this for a while. We still had a blast and agreed we'll do another one together.
Getting ready to load up and head home. Ina had the right idea!
Overall I am really glad we did the ride. We really had a great time and it was a great gauge of fitness. I'm super proud of Mochi!
Moch and I stopped at the truck wash on the way home. My truck and trailer needed a bath and the truck wash was on the way home, so we stopped. I pulled in the wash bay and told the guys to give me a second because I needed to unload my horse and close up my trailer.
Moch in the wash bay.
I unloaded Mochs in the wash bay and every person that worked there had to come out and stare. I don't think they heard me say I was getting my horse out. Moch and I walked outside so she could graze while we waited.