Singles – 12 mile – Saturday Oct 7
|1||Jac Deweese||Cake (Arab)||386|
|2||Wes Licht||Annie (Morab)||376|
|3||Mary Clapper||Benjamin (Rocky Mountain)||359|
Singles – 12 mile – Sunday Oct 8
|1||Jac Deweese||Cake (Arab)||394|
|2||Mary Clapper||Benjamin (Rocky Mountain)||369|
|3||Katz Jackson||Talon (Morgan)||349|
Sunday, October 9, 2006 Northern Illinois Challenge @ Shenandoah Riding Center, Galena, IL
Hi, Ya’ll! My name is “Feather Ridge Talon” and I am a six year Morgan mare raised and owned by Gary & Katz Jackson of Feather Ridge Farm, in Marshall, WI. This past Sunday I entered my 5th competitive drive of my short life, at the Shenandoah Riding Center in Galena, IL. It all started at about 5:00 AM Sunday morning when Katz came out to greet me-way earlier than usual-and it seemed like she was on some kind of mission or something. She didn’t bring me my breakfast, or take me to my regular harnessing spot between the cross-tie posts, but rather she put my halter on and led me out to that big silver box they call a “trailer” where she had already parked the cart I have been routinely driving. No harness. Nothing but an assurance from her that “It’s all right. You’re just on your own today, and your old man “Horus” gets to stay home and have a day off”. So I waited, not too patiently, I’ll have to admit, being as I was all alone out there, it was a crisp clear fall day, and I soon realized that she was up to no good, as they say.
Minutes later I was instructed to load myself into the trailer and fill my face with one of my favorite things, freshly baled hay, so of course, I did, and that wasn’t too bad, because I did after all inherit my mother, Bethesda Ballerina’s hunger gene, and I subsequently dug in and chowed away, forgetting about everything else. The trailer stall divider soon closed, my cart was loaded up, and the Chevy diesel engine began to purr like it does when we’re going somewhere new. That was all fine with me, since food was good, the daylight was barely upon us, and the full moon from the night before still shone brightly. We commenced to move on down the road at a comfortable rate for approximately 2 ½ hours, the last part of which proved to be filled with some hills and more than one curve, as I recall. I did wonder where she was taking me this time.
When we arrived I know not where, 123 miles later, Katz seemed to be in a bit of a rush trying to find out where the vet check was, what time the designated drive would take off, from which point we would be taking off, along with the details of the selected route. I knew that something was up, but just happened to be in a fall weather full of p— and v—— mood, so I really didn’t cooperate as much as I might have had the temperatures been just a little bit higher. I felt frisky and young, rambunctious, juvenile, a little contrary and almost forgot that I really was a driving horse and had just worked myself pretty darn hard a day and a half before driving around the farm as good as gold in the evening hours. At any rate, the vet check went very well, with a good score in pulse and respiration, no sensitivities anywhere, and I was nearly ready to get harnessed up and put to my cart. I still had some misgivings about the route—there was talk of some possible confusion on the route.
Katz declined the invitation to go in between the other two drivers, Jack and Mary, and took off third in position as originally prescribed. The truth is that she wanted to have me alone for a while and try to get my attention somehow. The trail markers were to be yellow, or yellow and red, with arrows pointing which direction to follow, so we decided we could make it on our own. The first part of the drive went briskly, if I say so myself, with all my extra energy and need to get some of my spunk out. Those cows out on that pasture were pretty exciting, but not enough to lose control. When Katz’s whip got caught on that barbed wire fence and jerked completely out of her hand, I cooperated while she got out and made me turn around a tight circle and retrieve it. We also rescued one of the endurance riders’ scarves, but not until I had a chance to stomp on it at least one time. The trails were fine, too, lots of up and down, several giant newly constructed culvert crossings, and those water crossings, which were oh so fine. If it weren’t for my overcheck, I’d have been able to really get into the water and do some good splashing, but as it was I had some good drinks and got my feet cooled down. That part reminded me of our Colorado trip 3 weeks ago when we went elk hunting in the Rockies.
The only glitch in the drive came when we arrived at a bonafide “T” in the road, and saw no arrow to go left or right. I could feel the anxiety in Katz’s hands as she tried to figure out which way to go. She decided to consult with a passing driver of a car who appeared to know where we should be going. So we followed the lady’s advice and went left, but that wasn’t “right” after all, so we backtracked-a wise strategy according to Gary when you’re lost-then tried right, but that wasn’t exactly correct either, so we went round and round for some time, and after much frustration being exactly on the marked trail and off, we knew for sure we’d be penalized for time, since we were clearly running out of it fast.
We arrived back at Shenandoah 17 minutes late with no time for the last 2 mile end-of-drive slowdown. My pulse and heart rate were higher than they should have been for a horse as well-conditioned as I should have been, but hey, I tried. I did everything Katz told me to do, I went over the trail more than once, and I cooperated as best I could. We got slammed with P & R points, along with time penalty minutes, but we did finish with hardly any other physical problems, even in spite of the hills and the road driving conditions at times. We, needless to say, came in third, but you know what, it was a good learning experience, and the next time, we might just look beyond that “T” in the road and see that the route does indeed go straight ahead after all. And besides that, I’ll be another year older and another year wiser, right? (I hope that applies to my driver as well…ahem! I heard her mumbling something about getting a compass and a GPS for her birthday.)
In retrospect, it was a phenomenal day, everyone was so helpful and positive, that we couldn’t help but feel grateful to them, and thankful for such a fine opportunity to be out enjoying one of the most perfect days of fall yet this year. We’ve even decided to go early next year and volunteer to join the trail blazing markers! No more getting lost!
As for me, I got to go out to my paddock that evening, have a fine roll in my favorite dust bowl, and get back to the business of eating my supper…isn’t that what it’s all about?