In preparation for riding (and surviving) the Mongol Derby, I have been trying to ride as many different horses as possible in as many different terrains and various saddles. This year a new ride was introduced in Chase, BC put on by Lori Bewza. At first I didn’t think I would be able to attend as Jamison was still not feeling very well from his incident on the Island and I didn’t want to rush him into anything. Luckily Lynn Wallden offered her sweet gelding, Hawk, to me to ride in the 50 mile.
The ride started at the private property of Chase Creek Cattle Co, which was an absolute treat. There is so much history at this ranch, that everywhere you looked you were seeing a part of Canadian ranching. We were also very lucky to have a clinic the day before from veterinarian Dr. Jim Bryant, who has a long history with the endurance community and lots of FEI experience. Everyone at the clinic questioned Jim for hours as they tried to learn as much as possible at this rare opportunity.
It’s always fun to ride in someone else’s saddle and to see their set-up. Lynn is only a few inches taller than me, but her stirrup leathers were about a foot longer than mine. I tried to ride with longer stirrups than I am used to, but it always feels a little off balance. In the Mongol Derby handbook they recommend changing your stirrup length to try and save your knees over 1,000km.
I just love riding single track trails and Chase definitely had a lot of it. Hawk is really sure footed and rarely took a misstep, which helped us keep up a decent pace. He is such a good safe horse, that even when a brown bear appeared beside the trail he took a look and kept on going. I highly doubt I will have the same kind of safe horse in Mongolia.
My next training ride was at the Timber Ridge Trails in Lumby, BC and I was lucky once again to have Hawk. Unfortunately about two or three miles into the second loop Hawk’s shoe came off. I grabbed it and put it into my backpack just in case it was possible to put the show back on. Hawk really wanted to keep up with the other horses, but I didn’t want to take the chance of him going lame while I waited to get a borrowed boot on that hoof. So I hand walked him until I ran into some very kind ATV & dirt bikers who happened to have a fresh roll of duct tape.
I made a boot out of the duct tape, but this did not mean I would be able to pick up the speed as the duct tape would wear through pretty quick. However, after crossing a rather deep river the duct tape boot came off. For this next taping I used up the whole roll of duct tape to make a boot. It was thick and sturdy and lasted until almost the end of that 18 mile loop when I able to borrow a “real” boot. I hoped that the boot would be good enough to finish the final 10 mile loop, however, I could feel while riding that Hawk was a bit unbalanced, so I got off and led him the remaining seven or eight miles to the finish. All of this walking would be great conditioning for the times, I’m sure, I’ll be walking during the Mongol Derby (as I understand it, everyone loses a horse at one time or another).
My final training ride before the Mongol Derby will be the 100 Miles One Day Western States Trail Ride, fondly known as the Tevis Cup. I have the wonderful opportunity of riding a little grey Arab gelding by the name of Pimpin who is owned by Jesse Jarrett. Jesse is an amazing endurance rider so I am thrilled to be riding with and learning from Jesse, who is riding 50 Shades. The icing on this training ride is that Sam Jones, 2014 Mongol Derby winner, will also be riding one of Jesse’s horses, a stallion called Majestic, so I get to pick her brain as well. And, the cherry on top is that Stevie Murray who also rode in the Mongol Derby will be crewing for us. I couldn’t be happier to have such a strong group to teach me the ropes!