Radio Silence…

Sorry about that.

Another endurance blog I read when I should be working mentioned the “post 100 bleughs” and I certainly have had a case of that… It’s all the worse when you don’t finish. Joe and I got our first vet out EVER (in fact my first vet out EVER in about 1500km or 900+ miles of rides) at the Quilty. It came down to a stupid accident in the end and in some ways that made it even harder to bear. BUT – Joe is sound again now, I had a fabulous three weeks in the UK with my family and saw NO horses, and we live to ride another day. I have now reached the “when does the 2015 ride calendar come out?” stage so I guess that means I am ready to write about our Quilty experience..

First the pre ride build up..

Thursday was registration and weighing in day. Because we live so close to the ride base I was able to scoot down in the afternoon while Joe stood in his paddock and munched grass. Only a slight quiver of panic at the sight of a full on vet ring with SEVEN vet lanes, and another one when I passed an actual for real international endurance rider in the weighing in queue… I managed to hook up with my good friends with whom I planned to ride, and scouted out our allocated campsite (no “park where you want” this time!). Then I went home and continued to pack, repack, check lists, recheck lists… At least I would be close enough to shoot back home if I did forget something.

We arrived in good time to vet in Friday morning. Joe was his usual chilled self and  gave a very lacklustre trotout but was declared good to go by a very nice vet from interstate. Even vetting was not quite like anything we’d done before: there were a LOT of horses:

Vet ring pre ride          vet ring pre ride vetting

Then we got a LONG briefing and a walk through of the vet ring. The whole process was a real step up from anything we had ever done before, but then we had never ridden in a National championships before and certainly never in a 160km ride that was going to involve a hundred starters.  There were trade stalls and everything!

Trade stalls

I had to keep reminding myself that  I had qualified to be there and we deserved to get a start, whilst simultaneously reminding myself that this was going to be NOTHING LIKE we had ever done before and I needed to take a deep breath and remember to ride my own ride regardless.

I had my usual less than stellar attempt to get some sleep before the midnight start: I reckon I got about an hour. Then it was up and at ’em in the dark. The Quilty gets underway with a shotgun start and we had all been directed to ride laps of the trotting track to warm up and provide a spectacle for the surprisingly large crowd that was there to watch us leave… I am a big fan of my quiet walking starts: I’m no racer and I’m quite happy to use the first 10 minutes of my actual ride warming up! So we hovered slightly off the track and let everyone else do laps, then snuck out 5 minutes after the front runners had gone, as usual. 100 headlamps and 100 fit horses leaving in 5 minutes does make a pretty good spectacle though:

Riders in fog Quilty14 Start (2) Quilty14 Liz Cullam on Phoebe Wagin at NIght

Quilty14 Ady McIntosh Deep Forest Hy Light

As usual, no photos of me… But Joe headed out on a loose rein looking pretty damn calm about it all, even though Emma’s horse Chloe was determinedly trying to buck her off, which I was very proud of.

And then we were off.. Into the dark, into the not-quite-unknown but certainly newly challenging.

To be continued..


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