There seems to be something about rides we “must” do that attracts near record rainfall…

I’ll admit it: in many cases, if there’s heavy rain forecast, I’ll happily forfeit my 20 dollar deposit and stay home. I don’t get to a lot of rides in a season but that’s not because I CAN’T, more because I feel guilty snatching too many weekends away from family time. if I skip one ride, I feel able to go to another one a couple of weeks later cos I spent that forfeited weekend at home with the kids (in the rain…).

There was ONE ride I felt I HAD to do last year: it was a 100km so a step up in distance and number of legs, so we needed to ride it as part of our long term strategy. This happened:


There were however a few “must dos” on the calendar this year, due to the event-that-shall-not-be-named looming in 5 short weeks. This weekend was probably the last “must do” and… this happened:

flooding preston

Creeks breaking their banks

42mm of rain in 24 hours, which is just.plain.ridiculous.

As a result, Pete and the kids piked out and stayed home, but I sucked it up and drove over anyway – the ride base is literally 10 minutes drive from home, and some of the tracks are ones I train over. Plus the terrain is very similar to what we will encounter at the Quilty. No excuses.

I helped with vetting in, as a bit of volunteer work. Being a government worker, although I am a qualified vet I am not subject (usually) to the vagaries of last minute call outs and on call rosters like vets in private practice. This allows me to nick off early on Fridays to rides! I try and help vet in on the Friday evening where I can, making for a much more pleasant, earlier finish to the evening for everyone.

It wasn’t THAT pleasant this time though, vetting in in a steady drizzle:

Vet queue Highbury

Queue of very damp riders waiting to vet in

but we got it done. Then there beers and a pretty nice campfire to keep us happy, even though it CONTINUED to rain. I turned in at about 10.30, as the 80km riders had the very luxurious start time of 7 a.m. I woke briefly at 4 when the 120km riders started, and then again at 5 when it rained AGAIN, just long enough to be very glad I wasn’t a 120km rider and therefore out in the rain, before going back to sleep!

I surfaced at 6, just as it was getting light and just as a group of VERY bedraggled 120km riders came back in from leg one. Poor souls. It was still grey and damp but the rain had mostly stopped.

I set out, as usual, 5 or 10 minutes behind the fast people, in the company of Emma and her lovely Arabian Warmblood Chloe, and Geoff with his Quarter Horse Astro. Joe was quite convinced for the first kilometre that we were going home, and very confused when we turned into a paddock and AWAY from his usual route home.

The ride brief the evening before had said that it would be “quite slippery”… They were not wrong. We hadn’t gone 5km before we came across a fallen rider. It was clear from the generous layer of mud down the side of the horse that he had gone completely over onto one side.. and presumably landed on his rider, as she was flat on the ground and barely conscious. The chief steward was there, having a conversation with the ambulance people that was going something like:
Ambo person: “which road is the injured party on?”

Chief steward: We’re in a farm laneway”…

I stopped and offered to help, resulting in a VERY frustrating 10 minutes during which the ambulance person INSISTED that she could only send the crew to a named road, and I, knowing full well that the crew would be local, kept trying to tell her to send them to (insert name here)’s farm, as I knew full well they would know who that was.

Sigh. Country versus city people. We eventually got them sent to a road at least NEAR where the person was, and by this time the fallen rider had recovered a little and was able to stand, so we moved on.

Not half a mile later we met a riderless galloping horse, heading FLAT OUT for home… We attempted to block the road and stop it, but it was having none of it. I could tell from the speed of travel that it wasn’t going to make the upcoming 90 degree turn into the farm laneway that actually led to ride base, and was therefore likely to follow the road all the way into town… I made a quick call to my husband who, obliging soul, hopped in the car and drive to town to see if he could spot a confused chestnut horse…

(It was found, safe, refused to get on the rescue float, was reunited with it’s rider, continued back on course, but withdrew some 10kms later)…

Enough excitement for one day…

Thankfully the rest of leg one was uneventful. The rain dried up, although the sun did not come out, and we finished leg one, despite the delays, in the very respectable time of three hours and 7 minutes. Joe vetted through with all As in his book, and a heart rate of 40… Maybe we should have gone faster!

Leg two was also uneventful, and VERY pretty:

Fields of wheat and canola Canola in flower main Lamb

Canola is beautiful, but sadly after 42 mm of rain it smells a bit like cooked cabbage!

We slowed down a  fair bit on the second leg, mindful of the fact that we all had a bigger goal in sight, but were still home in a total of 6 hours and 58 minutes, which for us is pretty respectable. Emma and I were equal 6th Heavyweight, but sadly Geoff’s horse was lame at the finish. Hopefully it is just a bit of muscle soreness, as the Three Amigos NEED to ride together for the Quilty.

A short ten minute trip home meant we took Joe home, and went back for awards, and I was still in my own bed by 9.30 Saturday night! Very civilised.

Joe has pulled up sound, and looks VERY well for a horse that has done 2 80km rides in 2 weeks:


That’s the last organised ride for us before the Quilty – he is now on a 5 week “taper”, adopting the “better underconditioned and sound than overconditioned and injured” maxim. We have a couple of short sharp hilly training rides on the calendar for the next couple of weekends, plus lots of gymnastics, massage, and TLC, and a visit from our lovely bodyworker.

Fingers crossed for no paddock injuries: he runs in a mob of 7, and I cannot separate him at this stage as it would do his head in, but one of the downsides of having  a VERY fit horse is they like to do bog laps in the mud, and stir up the other horses…

I shall just have to try not to look.



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