This past weekend I went to the Stormont Endurance ride. This time I didn’t take any horses. Just went to work as a lay judge (for the horses entered in the Set Speed ride), and also to teach a beginners clinic on Set Speed.
The weather was outrageously hot and humid. There was a thermometer under one of the canopies where it was slightly cooler, and that was reading 38-39C both afternoons (which is something like 101-102F I think?) I wasn’t feeling too well by the end of the weekend, and I was not the only one. Despite the heat though, the riders took good care of their horses. All of the horses were fine, despite some inversions (when they breathe faster than their heart beats, i.e. panting) and some hanging heart rates. Though one rider did end up in hospital with heat stroke (he was fine after treatment), and quite a few of the volunteers were feeling unwell.
The clinic seemed to go pretty well. Everyone asked a lot of questions and seemed to understand the explanations (as far as I could tell anyway). There were quite a few riders from the OCTRA Green Beans group on Facebook. It was good to see that so many of them felt prepared and motivated enough to come out and try a ride.
During the Set Speed rides, the beginners seemed to know what they were doing, and took excellent care of their horses. They were a bit handicapped on Saturday due to the late start time (11:30, so right into the heat of the day), and a finish line that was nearly a kilometer from camp, which ate up an awful lot of their 20 minutes of cooling time to get their horses’ heart rates down. Due to the circumstances, ride management elected to award mileage completions to the horses who failed the parameter checks, so long as they met parameter by the 30 minute check. Which all of them did. On Sunday, they started earlier and the finish line was moved to the vet check, so they managed a lot better.
It was the veterans who got confused and forgot what to do and when. Set Speed is not all that complicated. Not nearly as complicated as CTR and every one of the veterans could have sailed through a CTR without a glitch. But I think Set Speed so similar to endurance that they forget the actual difference – 20 minutes to meet parameter instead of 30, and then a final heart rate and vetting at 30 minutes (which, in combination with overall speed, is scored). Or maybe it was just so damned hot that brain cells were frying and they couldn’t have figured out anything at all, including CTR, Set Speed, or how to tie their shoelaces. I know I felt like that for most of the weekend too.
I was busy with the Set Speed, so didn’t have time to pay close attention to the endurance. But it was an FEI as well as Open ride. On Saturday they had a 160km (100 mile) which I believe Melody Blittersdorf from the US won. In the 120km (75 mile) There were only two entries that I saw. Valerie Kanavy from the US won the senior, and a young rider from Mexico won the junior level. Stephanie McLeod won the 80km (50 mile) riding Teresa Finnerty’s big handsome boy Thistle (aka “The Ploughbeast” – he’s half Clydesdale). On Sunday, Wendy MacCoubrey won the 80km on Agil’s Royal Indy. Nancy Zukewich won BC and HVS with Luba. There were two entries in the 120 km on Sunday as well. Monica Grundmann won on her Morab stallion, Excalibur Legend. Mike Downing was treated for heat stroke, so he was pulled on one of his last loops. He did recover fine after a short visit to the hospital.
I took my camera of course. I got a few photos, which are below. Nothing like the veritable tsunami of photos that appeared in the OCTRA Facebook group over the last 36 hours though. Wow… there sure were a lot of people with nice cameras wandering around ride camp.
[All photos are copyright Deanna Ramsay 2014. They are available for purchase]