Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The 2009 Chief Joseph Trail Ride


We were to meet at 6 AM at Shaw Truckworks, Andy's truck shop. We got there pretty close, then had to wait for the late people to show up. It was at least 7 AM by the time we left. We met up with my grandparents and their friends on the edge of town and caravaned to Idaho where we picked up a couple more trucks. We got to Montana and the first camp after 11 hours of driving. We stopped and watered and walked horses 3 times during the trip. At the first stop, we discovered that somehow Toby and Sparkles had switched places. Dazzle was in the front minding her own business.

We got to the camp which was on a river. We tied the horses to the picket-line and relaxed. We missed the brand inspector and check-in as we got there late. We packed into a couple pick-ups and went into Darby for dinner. We took over a little restaurant and filled them up so they closed for the evening. It was fun.

The trip wasn't too bad, especially getting to ride most of it with Melissa and Ted and Norman in Andy's pick up. The horses did fine, even Dazzle who had never trailered more than an hour away before.

We made breakfast for ourselves and Melissa and I crawled onto Dazzle and Sparkles bareback with no helmets and flip-flops to go check in with the brand-inspector. Trudy led Toby. We discussed how we were totally breaking all our own rules. We made it through camp to the inspectors and slid down. Dazzle checked in easily since I already had her brand inspection down before we left down. Toby had to get a temporary inspection there and Sparkles already has her permanent from the first time she did the ride.

We checked in and got t-shirts and pins and teased by the guy checking people in. He has been on the ride for years.

After we were all checked in, Melissa helped set up camp and get things ready for dinner. Trudy and I needed to get the horses ridden so they wouldn't be sitting a whole day after trailering 11 hours and before riding a long ways Monday. Melissa was able to come at the last minute. We tacked up Western and headed down the road we had gotten to camp on. It was a long dirt and gravel road. The horses were a little nervous, but relaxed pretty quickly. We reached the end of the road and turned up a new road that wound up the mountain. We trotted and then I let Dazzle canter and Toby and Sparkles followed. We cantered a few minutes and Trudy had a great time. We could see the camp down below, it was really neat. By the time we got back to camp we had been riding about 2 hrs. I burned my nose and Melissa got sore knees from riding in a western saddle. But it was fun.

Back at camp, we rode through all the camp sites and got down to the river. We rode through the sandy beach into the river. It is solid rocks. They all went right into the water. Dazzle went in up to her knees and had a wonderful time splashing the other horses.

Later, we changed into swimsuits and headed down to the river. Melissa observed that you can tell all the equestrians because we all have brown arms and faces and the rest of our bodies are pasty-white. lol.

Dinner was the first meal the crew was responsible for cooking for camp. We got to meet the crew. I already knew most of them from previous years. Big John, Little John, Marcia, Diane, Ervin, Jessica, AJ, Charlene, Laurel, Ted, and Melissa. Charlene was the lady that came to study under Norman from Ohio. She was awesome; always cheery and hard-working, not a complaint all week. We found out at the end of the week she was really sick, but didn't want to give up and go home. They hope to hire her next year. Laurel had been with the crew in past years, but somehow I hadn't met her before. She is awesome. She lives in southern Oregon and currently manages a horse ranch. Trudy and I are going to go see her at the end of the month when we head down to watch the Appy show at Bresda Ranch.

Rode out with the journal photographer, Tafra. She rode Toby. Trudy rode with a scout since she is a Jr. Scout. They were a little nervous on the road we had to ride out of camp, yes the SAME road we rode on the day before. Once we got into woodsy areas they were fine. We stopped a few times as a whole group for potty breaks and took turns holding the horses. Lunch break, more potty breaks. The whole ride was pretty easy terrain-wise. We had to ride along a river a long time at the end, then through town. My butt hurt so bad I was about ready to cry. My knees were sore. Riding down the main street was fun. Every sort of scary truck and bike and trailer were going by us and Dazzle didn't bat an eye. She is used to all that. I guess she would be good for parades!

Back at camp I was exhausted. It was about 15 miles. I spent the evening trying to find someone to ride Dazzle for Tuesday. It was supposed to be 25 miles and I knew if I did that, I wouldn't be able to ride the next day. I managed to get Kevin and Tafra to agree to the challenge.

I helped feed, tacked up my horse in her pink gear, because all my gear is pink, and sent Tafra on her way. As the horses were leaving, one of the horses reared up, the rider pulled back and the horse flipped over on top of him. Kevin and some other important figures took him to the hospital. The horse was fine. BUT, it meant he had to trade with Tafra later than expected. They were supposed to trade at noon. They ended up trading about 2 pm. Really, it was probably more even that way. He came into camp to report much teasing over the pink gear, lol. But, he said she was good. Jumped the ditches, but other than that. I was very proud of her. That day ended up being 31 miles! I cooled her slowly and blanketed her.

Sparkles and Toby seemed very sore, so Trudy didn't send them out to ride. I tacked Dazzle up in my Dressage gear and she was fine. No one would be riding with us since Toby wasn't going and Tafra had been going to ride him. We headed out. I rode with Mrs. Bobbitt a bit, but Dazzle didn't want to go the same speed the whole day, so we migrated over the group at her leisure as she walked faster and slow and fast and slow. I was pleased when she crashed through muddy spots and went unhesitating over ditches. Went in my Indian Bozal, she was okay. I didn't make her walk a certain speed though. Another 15 mile day about. When I got back we massaged Dazzle and put liniment on her and her cooler until she dried. She didn't act uncomfortable at all.

Trudy and Sparkles headed out together, but Toby stayed in camp again so he could for sure go out Friday. Dazzle and I went Dressage again and figured out a better way to attach the saddle bags. You can wedge them under the back of the saddle and they won't rub because the English pad is under them. Worked a lot better than having them in front, but I didn't drink as much because it was harder to get the bottle out with it in the back. Rode by myself until after lunch when I teamed up with the Bobbitts again. At lunch I asked a lady to hold Dazzle so I could take a potty break and when I got back she told me that Dazzle had called for me when I got out of site. Dazzle is never affectionate so that is a real change for her. Apparently she IS kind of attached to me. = )

The afternoon found the most BEAUTIFUL flowers along the trail in the woods. It was like a fairy land. Nice trails through the trees. it was so pretty. Towards the end of the ride I got sick of arguing with Dazzle over her speed because she wouldn't listen in the bosal and my arms were getting tired of pulling her to a walk all the time. I switched back into my bit and she was instantly well behaved again. It turned out we were almost back in camp by that time, but I guess it doesn't matter because at least she had to behave. We walked through a wide creek to get to camp. She went in like it was nothing. I walked around camp, then went back and she didn't want to leave camp so we had some spinning and asking, spinning and asking until she would leave camp. When she did, we went back to camp for rub down and liniment.

Melissa got to ride on Friday. It was supposed to be a 2 hr ride. There was a lot of stop and go. It turned out people were watering their horses in places and they weren't supposed to be because it was a short ride and the land owner didn't want us using the water. So because of that it turned out to be a FOUR hour ride. Melissa rode Toby in my Dressage saddle and I rode in my Fabtron. We got to go up the side of the mountain and look down on the battle field. It felt like a long ride since I was so tired from the whole week.

When we got back we rested a little, then went to the museum. We looked at the exhibits and then headed back to camp. At dinner we found out the final count of the miles for the week was 92.2! Now when I look at Dazzle online it says her mileage for the Chief Joseph Trail Ride. Pretty cool!

Saturday we had to wait for everyone else to leave, then we loaded a donated horse into the trailer with ours and headed back to Idaho. We dropped off the gelding that was donated to the Nez Perce Foundation and trooped the rest of the way home. We were SO tired, but it was fun and by the end of the week we were almost used to the early mornings and sore limbs.

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