Saturday, October 21, 2017

Oak Leaf Run 2017

What. A. Weekend.

And now that it's been a week, I have time to sit down and write about it!

My parents flew in from their new state of South Carolina, partly to help Eric with the girls while I was away, and partly because they were trying to stay busy until it was time to close on their new house. I took Friday off and cleaned the house a bit while packing up for the trip. I got on the road a couple hours later than I intended, but I honestly wasn't in a huge rush and I knew I'd be arriving before dark, which would be an improvement over the past two years, lol. 
Even though I wasn't planning to ride competitively this year, I WAS bringing Gwyn, come hell or high water. The drive over was great. We just reactivated the wi-fi in the truck so I had signal the whole way and listened to podcasts or talked to Eric as he drove home from work. The truck had wifi the whole weekend so I was able to check in with family when I had time (which was like.. .never)

Gwyn seemed to know that we were there to have fun. I got the highline set up first thing with hay on one end and water buckets on the other to encourage Gwyn to move around. She figured out she could move back and forth pretty quickly. The camp site was all sand and easily drive throughable. I like it! And right by the bathroom (the green building behind the haybag)

Toward dusk with the tent set up now with rainfly. I knew it was going to be rainy. I was hoping what I had would be enough (hah... hah... hahahahahah)  I figured I'd hunker down in the horse trailer if I really needed to. In fact, I purposefully swept it out and laid down my outdoor rug in the trailer just in case. I used it as a changing room. So roomy!

To keep an eye on Gwyn I stuck reflective wraps on her legs (loose) and braided in a glow stick to her mane. She was wearing a leather halter and also a rope halter. I used the leather halter for the high line rope.

Ride meeting on Friday. The weather was surprisingly mild for mid October in Michigan. 

My tent. This year I decided rather than layer on the blankets and cushions and sleep on the truck bed, I was going to bring the cot. It was the best decision. I had my sleeping bag and two blankets and I was plenty warm.

But then it was like this ALL DAY.

Camp site in the rain.The trail went past this site ALL day so Gwyn had to watch all the riders going out. It was either great training for her, or just pure torture and meanness on my part. I can't decide which. I know which one Gwyn thinks it is.

Us volunteers (I was the ride timer all day) hung out in the pavilion. Thank goodness for the pavilion. It would have been a miserable day if we hadn't had it. Papers stayed (mostly) dry and there were picnic tables for dry seating.

While it was raining all day, it wasn't ridiculously cold, which was good. I had brought my muck boots so my feet stayed cozy warm and dry, which pretty much kept me happy. I had a poncho but it started ripping halfway through the day and basically became useless. I wish I had remembered my rain jacket or an umbrella. Next year.

Cute horse I was asked to keep an eye on while his rider ran to the bathroom. He stopped eating to watch her go and wouldn't eat again until she came back. It was sweet.

The long wait into the night. This year was the first year Oak Leaf (that I'm aware of) has had a 75 mile ride. There was one rider who did the 75. We also had a planned 25 mile LD evening ride, which would have been amazing to do. The trail markers the ride manager's sister cooked up were amazing and reusable! Two people decided to do the evening LD. So we were still working through the Saturday potluck (Soooo much food!)

The rain got heavier and then it started to get windy AND thunder and lightning! Our riders persevered though! The rider finished her first 75 in the pouring rain and thunder and horse was still ready for more. Apparently she had been boasting at the last ride that she had never had to compete in the rain.

Don't tempt fate, kid. Look what it did to you. TO US.


The next morning I woke up to no rain on the tent (which kept me dry!) aside from what the wind was blowing down from the trees. I helped call the start for the Sunday ride since I actually had a voice and can project really well. Then, after breakfast, I decided that I was going to ride my damn horse regardless of weather. It was still spitting and pouring rain in spurts so this was a big mental hurdle I had to deal with.

Gwyn seemed relieved when I started tacking her up. I hopped on and rode out on the camp loop and came back in as riders were starting to come into their hold. The ride manager got my attention and asked if I wanted to help unmark trails since I was already mounted.

Um. Yes!

So I was handed a bag and instructed which loop would be a good one to do (since I did want to get home eventually and had a 2.5 hour drive ahead of me) So Gwyn and I unmarked some of the trail (Creek View Loop)  This was REALLY good practice for Gwyn, who was very confused at first why we kept stopping. Then she realized we were stopping at the colored streamers. THEN she started poking them all with her nose. She figured the game out! We pulled down plates that were stapled to the trees and the ribbons that were clipped to branches. At one point I dropped a ribbon and hopped off to grab it. Getting back on was also a good lesson for the Goober who had to stand still. And yay, with a decent bank I can still mount from the ground, all good things to know and do.

Loving on me while I try and pack up. She also knew the carrots were kept in the truck.
I was given a nice bottle of cider as a thank you when we got back. It's pretty much been decided for me that I time these rides that I can get to. I don't mind. It's a relaxing weekend, even with the rain (and my period, dammit) and this time I got to both help out and go camping with my horse and just be without kids for a little bit. 

The first trail I did was the black loop through camp. Then I took down trail markers on blue. The tiny heart is where my campsite was. It was about 2 miles all told of riding, but wonderful and relaxed and chill. And it stopped raining while I rode!

The drive home was uneventful and I came home to two sick kids who very much missed me, though Hazel was MAD at me for a bit and wouldn't let me touch her or play with her until nearly bed time. 

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