Monday, July 18, 2011

Cedar Ridge NSW - April 2011

My friend Colin and I set out for Oberon in NSW to attempt the 80km AERA ride at the beautiful Cedar Ridge property. It was my first 80km ride on Jim in just over a year and I was pretty nervous. What if I didn't last the distance? What if I couldn't do it? But all my doubts melted away with the morning fog as I set off with Jim as dawn broke over the hills. Jim was feeling good. Really good! He flew along the track, completing the 33km first leg faster than I would've believed possible. The ride was vet gate into hold, so I had 20 minutes to present Jim to the vet before they would start our "hold" time. Until I presented Jim to the vet I was still on "ride time." We got through with no problems and set out on the second leg.

I ended up riding with a lovely man called Duncan, who had come back to endurance after suffering a serious back injury. His motorbike helmet and body armour made him pretty hard to miss, but they also made it possible for him to do endurance again. It was inspiring to ride with someone who was so passionate about the sport and had been doing it for so long. The second leg followed the same route as the first leg - unlike most 80km rides, this ride had three legs instead of two. We'd ridden 66km when I rode into the ride base for a second time.

I was shocked to see Colin there with his horse. He told me the vet had detected a heart murmur and he'd made the decision to withdraw rather than risk a vet out. I hit a speedbump myself after I removed the saddle and discovered Jim was a bit sore over his back. We only had 14kms to go, but I didn't know if he was up to it. I gave him a nice massage, rubbed him down with some Rapigel and took him over to the vet ring. If there were any other signs he wasn't coping then I was prepared to withdraw him. To my relief he vetted through with flying colours and a quick inspection of his back showed he wasn't sore anymore. The Rapigel and massage seemed to have done the trick! I saddled him up for the final 14km and he didn't disappoint me, notching up another successful completion. We vetted through and to my surprise we'd placed 2nd in the Lightweight Division. I did my first ever Fittest Horse workout, but Andrew Mackinder's horse from the Junior Division proved the stronger competitor. Still, I was pretty chuffed! I took home a beautiful glass trophy, a shiney gold buckle and a whole lot of memories.

Me and Jim coming in off the second leg
Photo courtesy of Jo Arblaster