Things I can do better next time:
- Take better care of myself. I’ll admit I had some excited nerves – which part of the fun – but I was very focused on the horse and not so much on eating breakfast. Not a bad thing since I’m ultimately all about the horse anyway, but I do need to remain functional! This mostly applies to drinking more, since I am heat sensitive and dehydrate quickly when doing any kind of intense exercise.
- Have horse-care stuff available at pulse-in. For this LD I went back to the trailer for a cooler on that cool first loop – not a big deal as ride camp was small. For the future I think throwing a cooler and some other things in a waterproof bag would be good. I don’t think it’s common for things like this to get stolen at a ride?
- Get different water bottles! It’s a little thing I didn’t really think about before, but those sports-drink tops that you can suck on while moving? GREAT invention. My wide-neck water bottles? Not so great! (Seriously? How was this not obvious to you Marie?) I need to be able to drink at the trot. I may consider looking into a camel pack given I know this is a weakness…
- Half chaps and generally more protective gear! I don’t normally wear them, but more protection is needed on these rides. I've learned that 25 miles is very different then even a long conditioning ride. Protective clothing is a good thing. Mesa was not a puller and listened to half-halts, so I was able to ride with a pretty loose rein for most of the ride, which saved my hands even though I did have the foresight to wear gloves. I imagine with other horses that would be different (for instance, Deli! Who is also never a puller but certainly did some leaning during our Grizzly ride experiment).
Things I did right (I think):
- Focusing on riding effectively even when I was tired and my ankles hurt from being rubbed raw by the fenders! It took a lot of focus at the end of the ride. I’d like to think I’d do this no matter what – but it was certainly a focus of mine throughout the ride because I was very aware I was riding a stellar borrowed horse and wanted her to remain comfortable. Happily, her back felt great at the final CRI. Note to self: the horse’s soundness matters, yours doesn’t! The vets made that VERY clear.
- Certain food choices were good. Bringing coconut water with me was great. Again, it’s not something I EVER drink; I picked it up on a whim when getting snacks for the ride. Back in ride camp after the ride, when I was exhausted, water tasted gross. Everything tasted gross – except for the coconut water. After I downed a ton of that I was able to perk up and drink water without retching. I don’t know that sports drinks will work for me because very sugary drinks make me ill, but it would be good to take some electrolytes myself. Cubed watermelon was also great both as hydration and food – and Mesa loved it too, so it was a good treat for her as well post-ride.
(I think this truth is probably what will keep my husband from competing – he doesn’t understand the appeal of anything that might hurt.)
I DO understand now how a crew can be useful. I was fine taking care of Mesa and myself, ultimately, but I bet if I'd had my husband putting water in my hand before the start of the ride I would have been in better shape dehydration-wise by the end.
Altogether - I can't wait for more!