Jackson Forest
"Three's a Charm?"
August 16-17, 2014
This year was our second attempt to finish the Jackson Forest ride.  Last year, I made the mistake of entering in Open when Jake was no where near in shape for it.  This year, I entered in CP.  I knew Jake was in better shape this time but I however, was not.  After Round Valley my knee never quite healed.  I recently started physical therapy so I knew I could tough it out and ride, but I wasn't sure I could push myself to ride Open.

    Friday started out a little different than usual as my riding buddy Lisa was not able to accompany me.  However, thanks to my rockin' mother I now had my own trailer and was able to make the trip on my own!  ...Sort of.  At the last minute I convinced my boyfriend Dylan that he had to join me for the journey because I was trailering by myself for the first time and to a remote location.  Though I love my various riding partners, I must say it was a breath of fresh air to have some "family" time for once (Dylan, Jake, and I).

    The trip up to Jackson Forest took a couple of hours but Jake was a trooper as always and made the trip very smooth.  Jackson was just as beautiful as I had remembered.  Once we were there, we had to vet in pretty quick and set up the trailer before breifing.  Now that I know a good majority of the Region 1 riders, I find it comforting to see so many familiar and friendly faces at every event.

...More to follow after my finals!

Round Valley
"Between a Rock and a Heavy Place"
June 14-15, 2014
What a weekend!  Friday Lisa and I got a late start heading for the camp site as we had spent a fair amount of time (and money) at the Western States Horse Expo that morning!  We were excited; we had just bought new gear for the ride including some SWEET icefil shirts from Kerritts.  It felt great to be back at a NATRC ride and the boys were calm and ready.

    Check in went smooth and we had time to hang out and chat with the other riders.  We were feeling very confident about the ride ahead as we had decided to train the very same trails in the weeks leading up to the ride.  I always find it comforting to have a general sense of an area before competing in it.  I heard rumors that it was a hard ride earlier in the year, so Lisa and I thought we had better see what we were getting ourselves into.

    That night we slept in my tent out by the trailer.  It was pretty windy for a summer night and there were lots of noises to keep us awake.  Every once in a while we would hear something rubbing up against the tent.  When we worked up the courage to finally peek out and see what it was, we were surprised to see a big Jake butt outside the tent window.  I have no idea how he got that close, but he did.  Luckily he didn't step into the tent.

    The ride started early and with quite a twist.  One of the other riders fell off nearly right out of the starting gate!  It appeared that she wasn't hurt too badly, and I was able to wrangle her horse for her.  After reuniting the two, Lisa and I decided to get ahead of the group.  Jake and Kingsley live for the moments we let them lose on trail, I swear!  In the valley they picked up a nice big, yet controlled canter.  Sometimes all we can do is laugh at them while they get their sillies out.

    We approached a large incline.  We had trained on it a few times before so we thought we would already know what to expect.  But as always, life tends to through curve balls when you least expect it.  I pulled out my map to check our progress and how we were doing on timing when all of a sudden, I felt my horse go unbalanced.  I looked down in just enough time to see that he was struggling to maintain footing on a slipper patch of granite.  But, it was not enough time for me to react.  As if in slow motion, I remember falling distinctly and maybe being in too much shock to brace myself.  It was probably for the better anyways as I often break bones when I do that.  The next thing I remember is laying on the ground while Jake's large body mass crushes my knee for a brief moment before he pulls away and struggles to his feet.  His eyes reflected his fear as well as mine.  A sharp shooting pain consumed my knee.  I did my best to hold back the tears and shake it off, but this one was not wanting to go away as fast as I had hoped.

    I hopped back on Jake and off we went.  I could feel a pulse in my knee and the swelling was already bad.  I couldn't let an injury stop me.  Especially since Jake seemed to be fine after our tumble.  I popped some pain meds and on we rode toward the vet check.

    Throughout the day, my knee became visually more swollen.  I felt like I traded my leg for a sausage.  But on we went.  It was a beautiful ride and Lisa and I were having a lot of fun despite the fall.  When the day's ride finally came to an end, it had never felt so good to be out of a saddle.  After we did our vet check and got the boys ready for bed, I changed into the clothes I was to wear the next day so that I wouldn't run into so much trouble if my aggravated knee decided to swell more.  That was the best decision I made that night because when I woke up (after a near sleepless night due to the pain), my leg looked as if it had doubled in size.  It was actually quite frightening, but I was sure it was something that could wait until the end of the ride.  I was very determined not to pull.  I was not able to put boots on over my swollen foot so I rode in my sneakers.

    I was very grateful that Sunday's ride was a shorter one.  I hadn't been in that much pain in a while and was starting to get the feeling that I was going to need to see a doctor.  I never like that feeling.

    We finished the ride and the boys were great all around.  They were on their best behavior and their metabolics were phenomenal at each vet check.  I was glad I was able to stick it out.  As a bonus, Jake and I even got to come home with some ribbons!

    Since that wasn't my only souvenir, Lisa decided to take me to the ER shortly after we got back from the ride.  It turns out I had ruptured the bursa in my right knee.  The doctor told me I was very lucky that I didn't tear my ACL or break a bone.  Apparently that is what they commonly see with falls like mine.

    Despite the injury, it was a great ride that I hope to do again next year if my schedule allows.  Not only is it a fun place to ride, but the people who helped to put it on were great, and I love the NATRC atmosphere at the rides.  I feel like I have found a home within the equine community here with them.

To view our ride, please visit: Jake's Round Valley Day 1 & Jake's Round Valley Day 2

Some History
What Inspired Me to Blog
June 6, 2014
I have been a NATRC rider since 2007.  Though I only recorded a few of those in writing, I will not post them here.  I regret not recording all of those rides including what I learned and how much fun I had so it has inspired me to blog future rides.  NATRC, as well as the people involved in the organization have been a huge part of my life as a rider and I hope to share my experiences and knowledge with others through this blog.