Weekend Update/Results from McDowell Ride

No riding for me this weekend as I have my family members slowly making their way out to Arizona for Thanksgiving. I can’t relax and go ride knowing I have family members who could be waiting on me.

Last weekend was the Lead, Follow, or Get Out of My Way ride at McDowell Regional park where I did the 30 mile LD. This ride was monumental because it was the first ride I did that got me interested in Endurance. About a year ago, I did the 12 mile fun ride and met my good friend Katherine. We did this ride together once again, but in the LD.

When I did Las Cienegas last month, Annabel did not pulse down in time and we did not get a completion. I was more then prepared this time on how to handle her with the heat and I’ve also been working on keeping a pace between 5-6.5 miles per hour.

The preparation and the pacing had paid off and we were able to complete the ride without too much trouble. The vet check was a bit heart-breaking for me though. The vet noticed she had some swelling in her rear right hock. I asked what the possible cause was, and he considered her many years as a show jumper, along with her age that she was just getting older and that I may need to look for a new horse soon. I even tried to convince myself to start looking for a young Arabian (but I’m not really an Arabian person). This wasn’t just one vet’s opinion that broke my heart, it was the result of the last three rides the control vets have noticed soreness on every different leg. For now, I plan on competing her at least one more year and I am putting her on a new supplement that the vet recommended.

Early on in the ride at about mile 8, Annabel had gotten so frustrated with allowing horses to pass us that she turned into a hot mess. I checked my Endomondo and noticed our average page was about 6.9mph, so I decided to stop and let her walk the next 1.5 miles. This helped both Annabel, and Katherine’s hot mare out. It gave them the opportunity to chill out. It’s no fun riding a hot horse with so many miles to go; it really just wears yourself and your horse out. I had been sponging Annabel’s neck at every opportunity to keep her cool. As I came into the vet hold, she pulsed down fairly quickly in about 2-3 minutes as I drenched her with cool water. I was worried though because she wasn’t drinking. I eventually convinced her to drink some sweet water after she had eaten some hay and gave her electrolytes. On the second loop she was drinking more which brought me some relief.

During the second loop, I started talking to this older woman on a pretty little black and white pinto mare with two blue eyes who was gaited. I asked her what kind of mare it was and she said a Spotted Saddle Horse. I mentioned how I had been looking for a Tennessee Walking Horse. Later in the ride she informed me that her mare was for sale. I started to strongly get interested and told her I would come ride the mare as soon as I had a weekend to do so. I still have my heart set on a Rocky Mountain or TWH though because of their specific gait and don’t know how Spotted Saddle Horses do in endurance. This mare didn’t seem to have a problem but I like different gaits of the TWHs.

We made such great time on the second loop we took a lot more walk breaks as the temperature started to increase. I was super pleased that I had FINALLY completed a ride (this was LD #7) without being uncomfortable or in pain. I honestly probably could have done a 50 based on how I was feeling, but I wouldn’t put Annabel through that yet. It only took me 7 rides to finally figure out how to stay comfortable and the secret was… walk breaks. After about 10 miles and once the pack had spread out, I started taking quick 30 second walk breaks to kick my feet out of my stirrups, roll my ankles, sip some water, and check our average pace.

Annabel had no problems completing and got all A’s and B’s on her vet card. All I wanted was a completion and I got it! Katherine also got a completion on her mare as well and I was happy for her.

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Annabel gets her 6th completion at the final ride of the season.

I’m trying to plan a camping and trail riding trip around New Year’s out in the mountains near Tucson. As of right now, that is my next ride away from the usual local outings.

On another completely random note; I am going to start selling Pampered Chef products. What does this have to do with riding? Well, everyone who knows me knows I love cooking and someday would like to come out with a camping cookbook for stove tops, grills, and campfires. Equestrians typically don’t spend a lot of time in the kitchen because they’d rather be out riding. I will be selling products that promote my healthy eating habits, save time, and save money. I can’t wait to get started on that!

 

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Weekend Update + Las Cinenagas

I first want to start out this weekend update by informing you how Las Cienegas went. I was really excited that this was a convenient ride for us to attend to. It took place in Sonoita, AZ (the same organizer who puts on the Old Pueblo Pioneer in March) and was a quick three hour drive.

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I was planning on riding with my friend Andrea and her friend-who is now my friend, Britteny. The ride started off great as we rode through cattle country but about 8 miles into the ride we were trotting along a dirt path when both Annabel and I observed at the same time that there was a cattle guard. We both slammed on the brakes to avoid it causing Andrea to run into us and Britteny to run into Andrea in which her gelding ended up crushing Andrea’s ankle. She ended up with a fracture. The cattle guard came out of nowhere and none of us saw it. There were a couple of reasons why it caught us off guard. One being that the ribbons were hanging on a tree to the left of the cattle guard which is what caught our eye. For the previous miles of the ride if there was a cattle guard the ribbons would have been tied to the gate we needed to go through. There was also a large tree branch of the cattle guard, and it was hidden in some really tall grass much like the photo I posted above. I have the whole thing on video and will eventually post it. We stayed together and walked as much as Andrea needed to. She occasionally attempted to trot without stirrups but it still put Britteny and I behind at the control check. I had to lead Britteny for the rest of the ride without Andrea who remained at the control check. The afternoon was surprisingly hot for an October day and even though I started walking and hopped off as I approached the final vet check Annabel was really hot. I have no crew and they did not have any kind of water bucket/sponge combination back at camp. I threw off my saddle to the ground as soon as I got back and started sponging her off back at my trailer. The vets were concerned about Annabel not cooling down as well. After about twenty minutes of attempting to get her pulse down one of the veterinarians finally lead me to a hose that was supposed to be used for horse drinking water and started aggressively hosing off Annabel. I was grateful that someone was finally able to help me. Annabel and I ended up getting over-time and did not complete. This was the first time we did not complete a ride. I was not the only one though. There were 25 starters in the LD only 18 completed; the rest of the horses struggled to cool down as well. I wouldn’t have changed the way I rode though. I knew we were pushing our luck with the time after walking a lot in the first half but it was either do a quick trot the last five miles and risk her not pulsing down or going slower and still not completing. The veterinarians were also noting that she seemed a bit off in her left front and left hind along with some muscle soreness in her left hindquarter. I asked what it could be from and they said anything from a calcium deficiency, to overexerting uphill.

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I am putting Annabel on Total Blood Fluids Muscle which is designed for replenishing the nutrients lost in extreme exercise. We are also working on maintaining a speed of 5.0-6.5 mph. I tend to let her trot at a lot faster of a pace on long, flat roads. Her trot can reach up to 12mph so I want to work on having her not overexert herself. I did a short 5 mile ride today at Estrella and checked my Endomondo every time I hit another mile to see what our pace was (and to drink water). We finished with with a pace of 5.3mph which is suitable considering the amount of walking I actually have to do because of the terrain there. Over the past year, I’m learning to enjoy endurance mile by mile. Next year, I plan on doing all LD’s again, but want to mentally start preparing myself for 50’s. I don’t know if Annabel can be successful in 50’s because she is a bigger girl (16hh), but it is a goal of mine to eventually do.

The ride at Sonoita was still a great way to hit the trails and I always love camping with Annabel. It was a ride that had it’s teachable moments.

On Monday, I was heart broken though to find out a friend of mine, an older lady I have ridden with a couple of times lost her beloved mare. I don’t think I’ve ever met ANYONE who loves their horse as much as this woman did. Her mare developed some type of toxin in her intestine months ago that had been eating away at her. She had no idea and her mare never showed any kinds of signs. She attempted the 100 on Saturday but pulled as she finally started showing signs of what she came down with. I did not expect the mare to not pull through. I thought she would have gotten better with treatment but was shocked to go on Facebook and find out she had passed away. My heart broke for Carol. I remember what that heartbreak feels like when I lost my gelding to colon cancer. Take time to give your horse an extra hug or kiss today, you just never know.

 

Virgin Outlaw

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.

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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

Grand Canyon Ride

It’s been a very busy few weeks for me as I have been off on adventures the past three weekends in a row. This is the first Saturday in God knows how long that I’ve gotten to sit and enjoy my morning cup of coffee. It’s also been a very busy short week for me.

I left for the Grand Canyon ride last Saturday at 4:30am. The drive was fairly easy and straight forward. I also did something a bit different. I wrote down the directions to the ride without using any sort of GPS. Most of these rides have no address for the base camp and I attempted GPS to the Mt. Carmel ride in May and ended up having to drive my truck camper and trailer through Zion National Park. I arrived to the base camp after 7 hours start to finish with my directions that I had written down. I was a little proud of myself as a millennial to not have to use a GPS and will attempt this now for every ride!

The drive there was beautiful as I passed through the Glen Canyon area on the way to the North Rim.

On Sunday, I ended up riding with another “Zonie” friend named Shannon. Shannon was going to do the 50 but I pleaded how I had no one to ride with in the LD, which ended up being 35 miles. My training partner Andrea did the 50 on Saturday in a saddle she hasn’t used before in a 50 and was too sore to ride with me. The morning of the ride was chilly and it was a strange feeling to have a rain jacket on considering it’s still 100+ in the valley. I bought Annabel a “Rump Warmer” from Riding Warehouse as I was told to be prepared for rain and it helped fend off that morning chill.

The first 10 miles of the ride were down a forest road on a slowly declining flat gravel road. The cold air felt good and Annabel was surprisingly calm while leaving the camp and settled right into a brisk trot with her new Arabian gelding friend “Temptest”. However, my ankles started to give out early on in the ride. I don’t know why, usually they start to get weak the last 5-10 miles. My ankles became numb and started curling under me which was extremely painful. I became miserable and did not get to enjoy the ride. After several more miles I started riding with one hand and gripped the pommel of my saddle with the other to keep me balanced and help me rise in the post. I had a refreshing view of the Grand Canyon which took my breath away and made me forget about the pain I was in.

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I ended up doing 24 miles before the 1 hour hold. That was the longest I’ve ever been in the saddle without a hold. I was hopeful that during the 1 hour hold my Ibuprofen would have kicked in more and my ankles would have felt better but unfortunately that was not the case. After the hold, I trotted off into the woods for about five minutes and my ankles started to give again. I gave up and told Shannon that I’d have to walk the last 9-10 miles. Shannon had prepared for this but we found out during the hold that we had a couple hours to make it back and it could be done at a walk. I decided to just enjoy the scenery and was back. The walk back felt like it would never end, but I was so happy it did unfortunately. I really wish this would have been an enjoyable ride for me.

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However, I did tie Annabel up to another trailer later that evening and got to take a peak at the Grand Canyon for the first time. It was so amazing, I could have looked at it for hours. It’s been somewhere that I’ve always wanted to go but have never gone to see.

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My next ride is in Utah on Saturday September 24th, just two weekends away. I’m a little stressed I have so much to get done in such a short amount of time now that the fall rides are starting to take place. I need to take my Camper in to fix a leak, need to get my sway control welded back on my trailer, I need to take my truck in and get it serviced for an oil change, have my checked, and tires rotated. Annabel is having her wellness exam on Monday. I need to order some new stirrups to help with my ankle pain and a new saddle pad. I need to figure out what I’m going to do with her shoes as she is due September 27th on her back hooves.

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Descanso Ride; our 3rd LD

It is a very warm day today considering the start of this heat wave attacking the west coast. I am grateful I decided to pull Annabel from the LD today. Here are the details from our ride:

I arrived at base camp at around 1 or 2 in the afternoon on Friday. I thought I was nuts for trying to leave my barn by 10 and arrive at noon but the base camp area was already getting packed full of trailers. My ride partner and mentor, Andrea, surprisingly was there before me even though she drove all the way from Arizona (they left at around 3am so her mare, Lily wouldn’t have to be in a hot trailer). Later that night at the Ride meeting we feasted on Mexican food that was included as a part of my entry. Annabel was a hot head though because of Lily. Even though they were facing each other. She was obsessed and would not eat or drink and just stare and whinny at Lily who was about 50′ away. If Lily got out of her sight she would spin in circles and start bucking.

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I have to say. I look forward to my camping so much. I love escaping from society and technology to enjoy the smaller things in life.

I woke up early Saturday morning (freezing) and made coffee with my newly acquired French Press, it wasn’t as good as I hoped but it feels like a luxury when you don’t have much. I’ll keep working on it. The ride management was awesome enough to provide a little breakfast for us of quiche and donuts so I didn’t have to do any cooking.

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I laughed a little in the morning as I started tacking her up after the amount of things that I had to attach to my saddle. I strapped two different Easy Boots to my saddle for the fear of her back right shoe coming off (it comes off frequently) and added the sponge and pommel bag. I told her she looked like a pack mule.

The first 15 miles of the ride were a breeze! The addition of Andrea’s fleece cover to my saddle eliminated the chafing problem I was having and my stirrups finally felt just right at the length. Annabel charged up all the hills without a problem and set a good pace for the rest of the group.

At the 15 mile vet check I was literally bombarded with these adorable kids with trays of waters and gatorades, donuts and fruit, and carrots. Within 5 minutes, I had about 6 kids ask me if they could get me anything. I was so amazed as I’ve learned the vet checks are stressful. Not only that, but Annabel lost her front right shoe surprisingly and my saddle came a bit loose and the saddle pad slipped off and fell back so I had to dismount and walk the final mile. She pulsed down right away too and I immediately went to the farrier who was on-site to look for options for her front right. We ended up using one of the Easy Boots with some duct tape. I eventually chugged Gatorade like no tomorrow once I got Annabel taken care of and scorched down grapes with my dirty, dusty fingers. I had lost one of my Gatorades on the trail and considering I had 1 small bottle (like the kid size) left and 10 miles to go I chugged my Gatorade like a fraternity guy.

The next 3 miles were stressful after the vet check. It was a loop on a single track and I was about 8th in line. The dust that was kicked up from the other horses not only plowed me in the face, but I couldn’t see the track and was afraid Annabel would trip over a large rock. It was like riding on a cloud, but a really dusty, dirty, hot cloud. Annabel also likes to be the leader, and so her ears were pinned back the whole 3 miles and she was desperately trying to keep up with all the horses and fighting me the whole time. I only held her back so I could try to see what was on the single track we were all stuck on so we wouldn’t trip.

After a quick water break, we finally were able to spread out a bit and climbed up and down some very rocky terrain. Annabel was annoyed about the Tennessee Walking Mare who was part of our group had taken the lead. She continued to fight me and try to keep up with her running walk. One I finally requested I take the lead Annabel was happy again and climbed up and down hills at a great pace on a loose rein. Somewhere within the final 5 miles we had a 5 minute hold and water break for the horses. I managed to capture the one and only photo of the ride as I did not charge my Go Pro. Fortunately, it was a pretty scenic view and the photograph does no justice at all.

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The last 5 miles we okay, it was downhill mostly at a walk. I finally hopped off within the last mile and a half and did my John Wayne walk until I could feel again. I don’t know how 50 milers do it, my knees and ankles had started aching that second half of the ride. I’m only 26, I’m too young to have joint pain but athletics will do that to you. I also must mention that within the rocky terrain Annabel started losing her back right shoe, I heard it clanking louder and louder within the last 5 miles.

The final vet check was interesting. Annabel would not pulse down which was unusual. I started stripping her of her tack and sponging, then scraping her over and over repeatedly. She had a really hard time cooling down. It took about 20 minutes for her to finally pulse down. She got C’s for her gut sounds because she wouldn’t eat and was obsessed of where Lily was at. She was also a little bit off on her right side from using that Easy Boot (she’s never used one before). We completed, but big girl was not in the best condition. I immediately made the decision to pull her from the Sunday LD. She was also really dehydrated when I put her back at the trailer. Her urine was reddish/brown so I immediately gave her a full tube of electrolytes and gave her a wet mash and got her fresh water. I was surprised that she was dehydrated because she drank really well on the trail.

I later realized how much the heat had an effect on that ride during the BBQ dinner (which was amazing) and ride meeting. There was a high of 94 degrees and the humidity was between 25-35%. My ride started out with 40-42 people and ended with 30-34 people (don’t quite remember the numbers). Andrea ended up getting 12th place, and I would have gotten somewhere around there if Annabel pulsed down right away since we came in together. We got somewhere in the high teens or early 20’s.

During the dinner, Andrea and our other rider Sandy decided to all scratch from tomorrow since I had made the decision earlier. They both decided it was too hot and that they’d rather beat the heat and head back to Arizona. I was planning on camping one more night but Andrea said she’d be leaving about 1am. With Annabel’s obsessiveness with Lily, we would wake the entire camp up with her frantic whinnying so I quickly hustled to clean my camp up. She was a bitch to deal with getting into the trailer. She’s always a bitch to get in the trailer but it was worse because she didn’t want to leave her gal pal. I actually got her in and as I was tying her she started to back out and we had to do the whole process again. She became frantic in the trailer as we were leaving. I wish I could get her back to Arizona so she can recover in pasture and get shod by our regular farrier but there is a heat wave in Arizona this week. I figured it would be best to have her in a box stall, then to go out to pasture where it’s literally 120 degrees.

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Pretty sunset to end the day. I managed to take this as I was loading everything.

Above are some details from the ride. The timing is incorrect. We left at approximately 7:20am and pulsed down at the finish at 1:11pm. We had a 30 minute vet check at mile 15, and a 5 minute hold at around mile 22. This also made our average speed incorrect as my Endomondo would shout out we were somewhere between 6-8mph on trot miles, and 12-15mph on walking with terrain miles. Although, Annabel can be fast I don’t think we went 490 mph either lol.

Today, Annabel and I are recovering. Oh funny story…my summer boarding barn closes it’s gates at 9:00pm. I called the barn manager and informed her I would be hustling home and would need the gate to stay open until 11:00pm. I swear I arrived at the barn at like 10:57pm, but by the time I unloaded and unhitched, they shut the gates. So I had to sleep in my camper for one more night. Oh well, I slept like a rock. I got to my house around 7:30 am, and apparently my nephew had a get together with his friends and I walked in to about 20 wine glasses on the counter and people sleeping all over the house and in my bed. I went into my mom’s room and crashed for a few hours with my kitties while I waited for everyone to leave.

I took Annabel’s stable wraps off around noon, and I couldn’t believe how hot and humid it was at the barn. I rinsed her off for about 10 minutes until the water came off of her body at a cooler temperature. I’m going back in a few minutes to give her a PM turnout (I go to my boarding barn 2x a day so she gets an am and pm turnout. I feel so bad that she’s stuck in a box stall, in Arizona she has an indoor/outdoor stall and gets lots of time in a pasture with Lily. Annabel is getting this week off and potentially more time off if I can’t get new shoes on her.

Next ride is Grand Canyon Pioneer XP in September!

 

 

 

Mt. Carmel Ride

I did the long-awaited Mt. Carmel ride last Saturday and had an amazing trip! I am just now writing about it because I was trying to get through this final week of school/work where I can enjoy my two months off.

Friday.

I had a later than planned start on Friday morning  but was on the road around 9am. I thought it was quicker to go towards Vegas to Utah but I ended up probably doing an extra two hours and took the “scenic route” through Zion National Park (pretty but not ideal with a truck camper and trailer). I finally arrived close to 7pm.

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Driving through Zion National Park. 

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Both Annabel & I were happy campers. She now has a Hi-Tie and loves it! I love watching her on it too.

Saturday.
The ride was absolutely beautiful, scenic, and featured a lot of different terrain. We started out going up a woodsy hill with soft red dirt, to carefully climbing down loose rock, slate, and sand, to bobbing back in and out of trees, to open flat grass land. Our ride started out with a scare when within our first five minutes of the ride this horse in front of us reared up and fell backwards on it’s rider. We ended up finding the horse a few minutes later and returned it close to camp. For the most part, my ankles and knees were pretty pain free but I am trying to figure out how to be pain-free in my crotch area (I know, embarrassing). I currently ride commando with baby powder and that still didn’t help out. I was really sad to see my friend Katherine have to return to the vet check (at mile 16, I think) because her horse looked lame. I wish I had stayed with her and it would have made me feel better about finishing the ride. The night before at the ride meeting, the ride manager mentioned about climbing down the steep hill and pointed to this big hill and I thought it was an exaggeration. He wasn’t kidding! I could not believe I was leading my Thoroughbred down this steep, winding, hill with loose rocks and big chunks of slate. I probably should have tried to stay on her as I was huffing and puffing going down the hill. Not only that but she managed to step on my right foot, and literally a half second later I tripped on a rock with my left foot so I was on my knees staring down the hill. We did complete our second LD though which is exciting! I wobbled into camp and passed out in my camper as soon as I got Annabel settled. I was so tired!

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What I woke up to.

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My posse crossing some water. 

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The only time I was able to snap a picture of beautiful Utah.

Sunday.
I slept in a little bit despite waking up early to feed and un-blanket. For some reason, I get the best night’s sleep when I’m camping. It’s the peacefulness and hearing the horses, I don’t know but I sleep like a rock and love hearing horses outside. I made chorizo and eggs and took my time getting ready and enjoyed the morning. Annabel spent a couple hours just staring and whinnying down the trail because she didn’t understand why they all left and she was still there. She probably was ready to do another 25 again. The drive home wasn’t too bad except it was a bit windy. However, it was just as scenic coming home as it was going to Utah. This time I just went south from Utah into Arizona.

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Annabel looked sadly down the trail as all the other horses went for a ride without her. 

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Going over the Colorado River on a bridge. It was quite a sight!

Next ride: Descanso in San Diego, CA.