Second Training Ride

Second Training Ride, Horse; “Paint Mixer”

Start camp day two dawned bright and beautiful and Adam, Rose Sandler and I found ourselves scaling a nearby rock outcropping to oversee our surroundings better. It was an incredible way to start our morning and it began to hit me, tomorrow I would be starting the 2014 Mongol Derby… it was really happening! After a semi-relaxing day, a final improvised shower, and continued attempts to eat as much chocolate and calories as our bodies could consume we were called to ride our “point-out and back,” practice GPS ride. Unsurprisingly (This IS Team Fall Risk here ladies and gentleman!) neither Adam’s nor my GPS would allow the input of another data point (it having decided it was filled to capacity with the 28 race plot points…) so we were at the mercy of Jade who helpfully volunteered to aid us. Today we were supposed to start learning how to use a GPS and how the vet-checking would go upon arrival at each Urtuu. Having monumentally underestimated the importance of learning how to work a GPS and navigate this was unfortunate. The first time I would use my GPS would be tomorrow, on the first leg of the derby.
By the time Adam and I ambled out to the horse line everyone in our group had picked a horse. (Little did I know that this phenomena would be common-place for us as we often took the most time at each Urtuu and often found ourselves with interesting choices to make as we chose from well picked-over horse lines…) I instantly took to an ornery looking paint. He was solidly built and much taller than the stallion I had ridden the previous day (who had proven quiet but not fast) and Adam and Jade came up with two equally solid looking bay geldings. (I believe Jade even named her horse Tank as a tribute to his stature and nature!) Having watched only feeble attempts to resist saddling by my horse the previous day this blue eyed monstrosity made me sick to my stomach. He glared out at me and the herder and bucked expertly enough to dislodge the saddle before it could be fastened to him. My gear splattered on the steppe grass and I made a note to check my gear knots before riding off the next morning. What had I been thinking? Thoughts of being thrown before the race even began wheeled through my nervous mind. I thought of asking the herder to get on first but Adam and Jade had already mounted and were waiting. “Don’t look so nervous!” yelled Dylan Delahunt from the derby crew. I felt the eyes of the crew watching, calculating the odds between Paint Mixer and little blonde girl. I gulped and launched onto the horse before he could work out what was happening. I could ride this! I threw my feet out into the stirrups and sat back, deep into the tiny endurance saddle and felt him rock beneath me. I was so nervous I didn’t realize how much he bucked with me! (I was later told it was a semi-impressive showing). Jade and Adam had already started out as Mongolian ponies rarely wait around for anyone once you’re up and on them. I pointed my explosive little cannon at them and we were immediately caught up. Once he had somewhere to go Paint Mixer was perfectly happy to do as I asked! We took our ride easily and all relaxed into our horses, and I got my first taste for the gait which I named this little gelding after. The jarring trot/ tolt of a Mongolian horse can chip your very teeth if you let it, and rattle your guts no matter what you do. It can also be very smooth and incredible to ride. I had plenty of horses whose trot outran their canter. Paint Mixer was among these, but he lived up to his namesake and was not smooth. We posted along to our jarring trots and the late afternoon air rang with laughter as the three of us let reality engulf us. Tomorrow was race day.

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