After our dinner of steak, corn and ice cold margaritas after 7 hours in the saddle marking trail for the back to back ACTHA rides, I retired to my tent for the night and slept like a log.
The next morning, after breakfast, we saddled up with the plan to head back and finish marking the last 2 miles of trail that we had ran out of pink ribbons the day before. It was just going to be Karen, Priscilla, Shane, Shelley and I on Friday’s ride. Except Shelley got this crazy idea to ride one of Dacodah’s green horses that day, instead of her own horse, Macho. I had a bad feeling about it from the start, because this horse, Guru, was making it known that he was not in a good mood and didn’t want to be ridden. He was twitchy, nervous, spooky and highly reactive, blowing back and rearing off the rail several times. I told Shelley I didn’t think she should ride Guru that day, especially since the next day was her birthday and 2 days of ACTHA rides that she was hosting. But she’s pretty stubborn and said that if she didn’t ride him that day, he would think that he could get out of being ridden anytime he acted up when tied.
So, she mounted up and things seemed to be ok. We even rode through the village and stopped off at Karen’s house to talk to some of the remodelers that were working on her front patio. But we never did make it out to the trails because just a short distance away from the horse paddocks, Guru lost his mind and went bronc. I was right behind Shelley and watched as Guru reared up, hopped a few steps forward, then humped up his back and went to bucking and twisting. Shelley seemed to stick in the saddle and I thought that she might not get tossed if only Guru would stop, but he didn’t. He wanted her off and wasn’t going to stop until she was on the ground. She landed on the gravel road with a thud and she began moaning and didn’t move at all.
Shane, Priscilla, Karen and I hopped off our horses and tied them to the nearby pipe fence. Shelley suspected that perhaps something had broken. Her chest and ribs hurt from hitting the saddle horn, her right hip and back was painful, and her helmet had made contact with the ground. So, Shane hopped on his horse and rode back to the schoolhouse to get the truck and after Shelley was loaded into the truck, I took Splendor back to the schoolhouse, too. Karen and Priscilla were going to head out to the trails and finish marking those trails that we had ran out of pink ribbon for, and I was going to drive Shelley to the Socorro ER.
A sign at the ambulance entrance to the ER. If you’re going to be bitten by a rattler, at least you’d be in a safer place at the ER.
We spent the rest of the afternoon at the ER waiting for test results and x-rays, and once the drugs started working, Shelley and l enjoyed quite a few laughs.
Here she was in the ER calling her hubby to let him know what had happened. She was crying and laughing.
Amazingly, all of the test results showed that nothing was broken and she was fine to go home with crutches and pain meds. We asked the doctor, also a horse person, if Shelley could still enjoy some margaritas that night even though she was also taking pain meds. I love the way that he answered us: “If it was me, I would”.
And that’s exactly what we did once we got back to San Acacia and grilled up some more steak and heated up some cowboy beans. When I finally headed to my tent that night, I slept like a log once again.
Good thing, too. Because the next day was the first ACTHA ride of the weekend, and even though I was supposed to ride out to an obstacle as a judge, Shelley needed me to stick around close to help her back at the base camp.
Rider’s Briefing with Shelley.
First there was the Rider’s Briefing…warning riders of some of the wildlife that might be seen while out on the trails. Like this rattlesnake that Dacodah had seen the day before.
So, I did Gate Control, checking names and numbers, making sure that riders and horses left the start gate, spaced 15 minutes apart, in the groups they had signed up for.
That day’s ride theme was Birthday Party, in honor of Shelley’s Birthday, and she asked everyone to dress up in their best ‘party animal’ outfit. I decided to wear my leopard riding tights that were custom made for me by The Tights Lady. And since I wasn’t riding that day, I just placed my helmet cover on the top of my straw hat.
About 2 1/2 hours after the last riders left the start gate, I went back out to the finish line and prepared to judge the Soundness Test as riders and horses returned to the old schoolhouse again.
When all the riders and horses had come back to the old schoolhouse base camp, and had untacked and fed their horses, it was time to gather together for our Potluck and Birthday party.
Including the delicious Birthday Cake, too!
And Shelley’s two paint donkeys, that she had recently bought from a gal in eastern NM, had arrived just the day before. They were the best Birthday Presents!
Shelley had handed out water pistols to everyone and between margaritas, wine, and getting spritzed by water from friends, it was such a fun evening. When my head finally hit my pillow that night in my tent, I once again slept like a log.
I was going to head home in the morning, but Shelley had a judge do a no-call-no-show, so I offered to stick around, as long as I could leave as soon as I returned after judging my obstacle, so I could take my kids up to the top of the Sandia Mountains to watch the Annular ‘Ring of Fire’ Solar Eclipse.
But after 3 nights of sleeping on the ground, my lower back was screamin’, so I asked Dacodah’s friend Mike, who is a Chiropractor for the Air Force, if he would adjust me so I could move more comfortable before I mounted up to head out to my obstacle. Mike always brings his folding Chiro table to San Acacia because Dacodah always needs adjustments from his hours in the saddle, horse training, hay baling, and farrier work. After he adjusted me, I felt so good!! And then Mike saddled up to compete in the ACTHA ride.
My young friend Hunter, one of Dacodah’s Wrangler’s tried on my helmet just for fun.
And then after getting the horses saddled a small group of us, including Karen, Priscilla and I, headed out to judge our obstacles.
My buddy Shane, also another one of Dacodah’s Wranglers, was my Assistant Judge. Our obstacle was ‘The Downhill’. See him up there at the top of the hill?
Shane was up at the top of the hill to brief the riders on what was expected for the Downhill Obstacle (Pleasure Division: walk down slowly in 30 sec. Open Division: walk down slowly and stop at the pink ribbon, halfway down, and stand for a count of 5 seconds, then continue to the bottom of the hill.
I was at the bottom of the hill with my clipboard and timer…and Shane’s horse, Ember, and my horse Splen Splen! She was such a good girl. So patient. I rewarded both of them with lots of cookies. hehe!
Shane also showed me some beautiful pottery shards he had found while out riding around San Acacia. Wow!
And after all the riders and horses had completed our obstacle, we mounted back up and returned to the old San Acacia schoolhouse. Riding back from our obstacle, Shane had me ride in front of he and Ember, and I enjoyed one of the longest and most exhilarating canters across the desert mesa that I have ever had. It was also exciting because it was one of the first times that I’ve ever felt that comfortable, secure and confident…and free….while cantering! It felt like we were flying! I was grinning from ear to ear and laughing from pure joy!
If that had been the end of my weekend, it would have been perfect, but I still had to read my judge’s scores to the computer entry volunteer, then pack up all of my stuff and then drive the hour and half back home, pick up my kids, and meet the Boy Scout Leader to drive up to the top of the 10,678ft high Sandia Mountains so we could watch the Ring of Fire Solar Eclipse.
What an awesome…but busy day!