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AhdraII 2004
12 Mile Drivers-Single
1st – Wes Licht with Lena Su Lady Hawk, 395 points

A True Experience by Wes Licht

It was a cool morning but by drive time at 9:30, the temperature was a pleasant 70 degrees with light winds, low humidity and no mosquitoes.  As Lena and I headed out of the Start to the cheers of a few onlookers, I had no idea how wonderful this drive would be.

Trotting down the solid road from the park, I initially encountered two small groups of riders coming in from their competitive ride.  We parked to the side of the trail while they moved past and from our pleasant conversation, I noted that they were all cheery and enjoying the day.

Two small creek crossings were just ahead and while Lena was initially apprehensive, she went through them with just a bit of coaxing.  The very shallow water was quite clear and the sandy stony footing was excellent. Shortly we were trotting down a very shady cinder road with occasional stretches of the meandering scenic creek along side.  Then into the large lower meadow on a mowed trail that skirted the edge between woods and prairie.  The warm sun felt good, the fragrance of sweet clover was wonderful in places and small patches of black-eyed susans were just starting to bloom.  Butterflies danced about the colorful blossoms and on three occasions, we startled deer that were also enjoying the meadow.

Back through the creek and on to the upper meadow.  The incline through the woods was mostly gradual with a couple of washouts but soon a wide open vista lay before us and again we enjoyed all the splendor of a lovely Midwest prairie.  After finishing this loop we headed back down and were directed by the trail markers to cross the creek and repeat the loop around the first meadow.

This time I had decided to stop for a few minutes and use the natural water of the creek to cool Lena.  We drove in and parked in the six-inch flow of the creek and I hopped out with my old tennies into the cool water.  With reins in one hand and a small bucket in the other I began pouring water over her legs, withers and shoulders.  After the initial surprise, Lena began relaxing and enjoying the cooling water.  Several riders joined us to give their horses a drink and sponge them down.  They gave me some cooling tips and I mimicked them using my large sponge attached with a shoestring to my bucket. I squeezed some water over Lena’s poll and held the sponge there for a moment.  She lowered her head and relaxed even more, almost telling me she didn’t want to leave the creek.  But I snapped my bucket back on to the cart and off we went refreshed to redo the lower meadow trail.  We then headed back into camp, finishing the final two miles in good form.

Wow!  What a pleasant day, what a great well-marked trail, what wonderful riders on the trail and what super folks working the rider’s meeting and vet check!  What else can I say but I wished you were there.

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