It was only a few days before the 8-9 hour excursion up north to the Bryce Canyon area that I stood in the kitchen responding to some text messages. My mentor was battling some personal/family problems and felt she couldn’t be away from home for that weekend. I respectfully understood, but this meant my friend Katherine and I would have to do it alone.The thought was exciting, but caused a little anxiety at the same time. I have not traveled that far of a distance with my truck, camper, and trailer without the help of my ex-boyfriend. However, I also felt ready to do this. I was already excited for the ride and had begun the early stages of packing and preparing. I already took work off that Friday and had a sub planned to cover for me. Katherine and I finally decided to go for it.
On Friday morning we decided to meet in Flagstaff as it was a great meet up spot. I decided to let the horses drink and stretch their legs at Little Elden and Katherine was able to leave her truck there. Three hours down, six to go! Katherine and I chatted nonstop the entire way there. I think we were both excited to be able to talk horses with each other. As we started approaching Bryce Canyon, there was a lot of “oooooooooooooh!” moments as we saw fall foliage and lots of red rock. We also were excited on the drive into Bryce Canyon as we drove the truck, trailer, and camper through two rock arches. Once we arrived and got the horses settled we sat through a chilly ride meeting and were received to have a 9:15 start time as the mornings were freezing. It actually snowed a bit the night before we got there.
My goal for this ride was to have fun and not get lost, and I definitely hit that goal. I can’t help but be naturally competitive but the rides aren’t fun when I’m trying to keep up with my mentor’s pace as my body is still getting used to long hours in the stirrups. I was taking the “Trot when you can, walk when you can’t” slogan a little too literal. I’m realizing that I can complete an LD even if I allow myself to take walk breaks. I also would like to try to finish without being in a lot of pain. I was having some serious weak ankle issues at Grand Canyon and a much more pleasant ride with Shock Doctor Compression Ankle Braces on this ride.
This was the easiest LD I’ve ever done and fortunately the trails were kind to us to where we didn’t get lost. The trails were off-roading trails so they were wide and fairly flat. We trotted most of the first 12 miles and were surprised when we approached the vet check that we were already there. The XP rides are so kind to their riders at Vet Checks. We had a 1 hour hold, and enjoyed hot dogs, chips, lemonade, and brownies while our horses enjoyed grazing with the beautiful background.
The second half of the ride we were starting to get a little sore and tired so we took it easy the second half. I already calculated how much time we had to finish and knew we would be able to complete. We did a lot of walking and got to absorb the scenery. We even saw a herd of antelope that we probably would have trotted right past. We ended up finishing even though we accidentally did an extra 2 miles at the end. Annabel completed, but the vet said she was stepping really short on her back left which I thought was unusual. I didn’t see it, but the vet advised me not to do Man Against Horse this weekend because of the difficult terrain. I decided to stick the the vet’s advice and hold off for a few weekends to do Las Cienegas in Sonoita as I knew from Old Pueblo that it’s a fairly easy LD.
This entire trip ended up being a favorite of mine. I feel so liberated that Katherine and I were able to safely do that long drive, being able to operate the camper without the help of a man, grilling steaks for the first time, and being able to ride without a mentor at our own pace for the fun of it without getting lost!
Next Adventure: Las Cienegas in Sonoita, AZ