Well it wouldn’t be a ride at Spruce Woods without blistering heat for the weekend!  And man was it hot!  I was supremely glad that I wasn’t housed in a tent as has been the case in previous years. The AC in the trailer was a welcomed relief but as winter is always just around the corner one needs to just enjoy the heat! In the shade. With a cold drink in hand 😛

When I pulled in to the equestrian centre early Friday afternoon I realized I should have come the day before!  There were lots of rigs all ready at camp and I was fortunate to get one of the remaining electrical spots. 

The spot was ideal as I got to sit in the shade and play arm chair vet while watching numerous trot outs. I also didn’t have to move to take pictures of the trots outs so perfect! 

I’ve no idea how many were in the 100, 75, 50 or 25 mile rides but there were definitely horses coming and going all day on Saturday. I could be wrong but I believe there were horses from Florida, Wyoming, North Dakota, BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan and, of course, Manitoba. 

I had my young mare Serenade in the 25 mile ride. I started about mid pack with 3 other riders. I had borrowed a Go Pro to record the action of the ride. We were about 3 miles into the ride when, unfortunately, one of the riders came off when her horse had a rather massive spook. Once we determined she was fine other than a few bumps and bruises I said “Hey!  I got that on video”. Well not so fast. It appears that the video wasn’t running. Note to self: make sure the red light is blinking!

The remainder of our loop was uneventful of course as the video was running. 

I headed out on the second loop behind 3 other riders. I somehow got separated from the rider I thought I was with but I guess she slowed down while my horse had picked up a rather impressive trot. As I continued on alone I was happy with Serenade’s willingness to go down the trail by herself.  I was hoping I wouldn’t have any unplanned dismounts but despite crossing paths with what Serenade thought was a rabid rabbit and a demented deer we came through unscathed. 

I kept thinking I’d spot the 3 riders ahead of me but they were sight unseen. Imagine my surprise when I got into camp and asked how far behind them I was and I was told I was first in!  What??  As it turned out the other 3 missed a turn and had to backtrack so were now behind me. So surprise! I was first!  

After the ride I went for a lovely shower which is a nice feature when riding in the heat at Spruce Woods. I got back to the trailer and started applying body lotion to my rather burnt body.  After I had lotion on my legs, arms and now face I thought the lotion seemed rather sticky. I put on my glasses and read the label. Well I had just applied shampoo all over me!!  Another bath and I was squeaky clean. Note to self:  use your reading glasses for the fine print. 

We had a lovely potluck supper that was well attended. Later there was a bonfire. I didn’t see any dancing nor hear any singing so I thought it best to get to bed before it was me that was doing both!

With a rain overnight the day started off pleasant but became more humid as it went. I had entered Tia in just a short 15 mile pleasure ride as part of her rehab. Wendy was riding one of her young horses so we set out at a leisurely pace once the riders in the 25 mile division were gone. 

All was well until we hit the 7.5 mile mark and did the turn for home. Tia, ever the competitor, wanted to turn the after burners on. There was much discussion regarding speed, some cantering on the spot and lots of head tossing. She made it very clear that she wasn’t happy with the sedate pace but we made it back in one piece. 

3 of the vets watched her trot out and all agreed she looked better after the ride than prior so more riding is in order. 

I’m not sure how many horses were out on the Sunday but definitely not nearly as many as on Saturday. The cooling area was much quieter than the previous day. 

A big ride like this is much more work than our local rides. A lot of time and effort goes into planning these events. This is mostly Maura’s baby however I’m grateful to all of those who help her out on this mammoth task . 

For any of you reading this that have never ridden at Spruce Woods put it on your bucket list. The equestrian area has permanent corrals, a barn, toilets, showers, electrical hook ups and a hose to wash your horse. The trails are numerous with a variety of terrain including some nice hills. A trip to the Hogsback for pictures is a must. 

Next stop-Belair Provincial Forest

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