Vienna: Vienna is really a special horse in all senses of the word. That little mare has the biggest heart - she desperately wants to please her rider - but she also struggles with her emotions. We call her a Dragon Princess Pony, and that pretty much sums her up: She thinks she should be #1 (leading a trail ride, getting her feed first, etc.), and can get extremely and easily upset when this isn't the case. We didn't start with the front runners for Lopin' Larose for a couple of reasons:
1. This was Vienna's second 50 mile ride (first since September 2015) and Sarah's first 50 mile ride, so we wanted to take it slower than the more seasoned horses.
2. Vienna picks up very, very easily on the emotions of the horses around her and all the adrenaline and excitement, coupled with a rider refusing to allow a flat-out gallop to the front (along with some nasty kicks for those trying to thwart her) would have resulted in some very interesting pony temper tantrums, and a broken neck is not on my agenda.
Longer loops are not my personal forté. Between work in the city, house chores, a husband, and other various responsibilities (collectively known as "life"), I often find myself strapped for time and therefore opt for shorter (6-10 mile) rides at higher speeds to make up for lack of longer distance at lower speeds. This works against us for longer loops (Lopin' Larose had two loops of 19 miles followed by a 12.5 mile ride); as a result, both horses and riders became less than thrilled with so many consecutive hours in the saddle. This was compounded by the fact that due to the reasons above we didn't stay up with other horses, and therefore lacked the advantage of the horses' competitive natures propelling them into greater speed to keep up/catch up with the faster horses.
As a result, I will be hosting a series of three 20 mile Poker Runs for the Wildfire Arabians family over the winter, with a percentage of the points allocated for the poker hand accumulated (luck) and a percentage of the points allocated for heart rate at the end. Maybe work in speed somewhere in there? Possibly for just the last one? We shall see. But that will give horses and riders more practice at longer distances without stopping. The horses are physically capable of being mid-pack or slightly better, and I'd like to start preparing us mentally for a more competitive season next year.
Sasha and Starlet, at least, will start with the front runners. They may not keep up with them - there are some exceptional riders in Ontario! - but they will be allowed to use other horses for competition, now that they have their slower 50s as bases. Strategy will be modified based on performance, of course, but I am interested to see the improvement in both their times and their attitude if we allow them to stay up where they want to be (they perk up quite a bit when allowed to use more speed to stay with other horses).
Stay tuned for a writeup about Tay Valley (which happened over a month ago; amazing how little time you have when Trail Master for the following ride!), as well as future musings about what being on an Organizing Committee can teach you, and teach you good!
Once all photos are in, a full photo album of our adventures can be viewed on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/WildfireArabians/.