After flip flopping all over the place on whether to ride 160kms or 80kms at our state Championships, I finally sent off an entry for 80kms.
And all weekend dealt with people asking me why we weren’t riding “the big one”… But with a completion rate in the 160km of less than 50%, I think I’m pretty glad I didn’t enter. I felt a lot of pangs of envy watching them ride out at midnight, and I was REALLY jealous watching those amazing horses ridden out for Best Conditioned the next day, but overall, I think I made the right decision. And we have our first embroidered Best Condition rug to prove it!
Joe was a MACHINE. I was a bit concerned about him at first: we managed to park in entirely the wrong spot so we were close to where the 160 riders rode out of camp, and Joe spent the time from midnight till 6 a.m. doing laps of his yard and poking the rails with his nose in annoyance at not being out there as well. Since the yards are currently still attached to the float, this made things inside pretty noisy, and I don’t think either of us got much sleep! Pete and the kids got more, thankfully.
Joe was pretty lackadaisical (for him) as we rode out – no fire breathing dragon. I swung between worrying that he had done himself no favours overnight, and wondering whether he had finally grown a brain and realised there was no point rushing! In reality, I think he was just confused – we have done a few training rides in this area and I think he thought this was another one – only with more horses.
However, he got stronger and stronger over the next 20kms, and by the end of leg one he was stretching my arms as usual. we finished the first 39km leg in 2 hours 57, an average speed of 13.2 km/hr (8.25 mph). Leg 2 was 25km, and we covered it at 11km/hr, which was slower than I was looking for but we were travelling with a lady who was riding to novice time.
We left for leg 3 on our own, and I was SO impressed with the pony. Instead of dogging it out like he usually does he was very businesslike and set about trot-canter-trot-canter, averaging 15 km/hr for the first 5kms. Then we finished more slowly, but still with a good srping in our step.
At the end, our total ride time was 6 hours 33 minutes, which is over an hour faster than our previous fastest times. I was very happy with the boy, and to top it off we were first Heavyweight across the line and took out Best Conditioned (our first time ever having to run out for BC!). We got a rug! And a trophy! (Although the rug had to be given back to get his name on it – pics as soon as I have it in my hands, I promise!!)
We even have a ride photo:
And one of me clutching my rug: I remembered to thank my husband for all that he does for me at rides, and got quite emotional:
Joe has now done about 700kms without a vet out, and looks stronger and fitter than he ever has. He is bouncing around the pasture today and playing with his little mate, Ashleigh’s Welsh pony.
He will do a 16km “fun run” as part of a 5 person marathon team (run, swim, ride, paddle, cycle) at the end of October, and a couple of 20km rides with the kids, then have from November to February off. I feel quite sure he will come back next season stronger and fitter than ever. There is a 160km ride scheduled for next June so I haven’t totally written off my Quilty hopes, but we shall see.
Meanwhile, here’s a couple of pics of joe the morning after, watching the 160 riders warming up for their BC workouts. Looks pretty chipper, doesn’t he?