I couldn't be more pleased.
We hauled Aaruba to the Eagle Extreme endurance ride today. The 50-mile and LD entrants were well into their rides by the time we arrived around 9:30, having started from home a few minutes late because, despite hours of practice, Aaruba remains very suspicious of the horse trailer. Our arrival time didn't matter, of course, since we'd only signed up for the 10-mile trail ride.
We chose a parking spot off to one side of the ride camp, which nestled in a valley among the Boise foothills. Aaruba hopped out of the trailer all eyes and ears, but well under control as I walked him around for a few minutes, then tied him to the trailer and saddled up.
We weren't three miles into the ride before I knew for sure that he likes this sport as much as I do. Forward and full of air, he could hardly wait to see what was around the next corner or atop the next hill. And steep hills they were, too! The combination of dirt roads and single-track trails wound us up and down amid the sand and sagebrush. Overhead, raptors sailed like kites on the wind, and blue ribbons marking our trail fluttered in the brush.
We passed several other riders, most of them doing endurance or LD and going in the opposite direction. Aaruba carried on eagerly, showing no dismay at leaving the other horses, drinking at each galvanized trough along the way.
We walked the sharper grades and trotted level spots and less daunting hills for a total time of 1:53, which equals 11.3 minutes per mile and 5.3 miles per hour. I was aiming for 5-6 mph because that's the pace I have in mind for our first LD on May 25. Considering the hilly terrain, I'm happy with today's time.
Travis met us by the vet check area as we came in. "Aaruba thought that was the best thing ever," I told him.
Aaruba wasn't the only one.
We hung out near the vet check for a while, letting Aaruba take in the new sights. He was quite undisturbed by the proceedings. During an idle moment, one of the ride vets did a practice cardiac recovery index (CRI) for us. He calculated Aaruba's heart rate at 42 bpm, then we trotted a hundred feet away and back. One minute after stopping, Aaruba's heart rate was once again at 42 bpm, indicating that he was neither tired nor in pain.
Though officially fit to continue, we were at the end of our ride for the day. Back at the trailer, we ate a quinoa salad and chatted with a rider from Oregon who had pulled because her 18 year old, veteran endurance horse wasn't doing quite right. Aaruba stood peaceably by the trailer, snacking on hay.
Nothing could have iced the cake better than having Aaruba load quietly for the trip home. He was still a bit nervous, but our ride seemed to have taken the worst of the tension out of him and he rode home peaceably.
Did I mention that I couldn't be more pleased?
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