Monday September 29 2014
I don't know if he'll ever be an easy horse to ride. So far, I can never just sit back and enjoy the ride, like I do on Jose. I've got to ride Dudley. Always using my legs and hands and seat to communicate, keeping him at a steady pace, staying alert. It's exercise riding Dudley. He can wear me out. I feel like I've run a marathon after I've ridden him 50 miles. And he's got a little buck in him.
It's always somewhere near the start of an endurance ride. Dudley and I rode Day 2 of the Owyhee Canyonlands with Carol and August. It was Dudley's third 50-mile ride this year, and we picked up the pace a bit, keeping up with Carol and August. The start was a single track trail up a steep hill. That's always good for getting a horse's attention right away. All went well until we got off that short steep hill and flattened out onto a two track road, where Dudley could see horses miles ahead of him.
He puffed up, got very big and tense, thinking this was some big important race (it wasn't), and I knew if he got his head down, he'd buck. He's bucked a few people off before, so he's got it in him, and I felt it those first couple of miles, like sitting on a lit stick of dynamite, not sure when it's going to go off. But Carol and August were great escorts, setting a good steady pace, giving us a good working rhythm to fall into.
After a couple of miles the Dude settled down and got to work with his big rolling trot, and all was well until about 8 miles, after we descended the steep hill down to Sinker Reservoir. Once we got to the bottom, he could see horses in the canyon ahead of us, horses above us descending the hill, then, oh no, a 2-legged monster!
Both August and Dudley were suspicious and spooky of photographer Steve Bradley, even though they've seen him countless times, and they could hear him talking so they knew that it was indeed Steve; so Carol and I had our picture taken together so that we would not individually get dumped in front of the camera. Don't the boys look fabulous together in Steve's photo above?
Dudley settled down the rest of the ride and worked well. He got tired the last 7 miles, but I wanted him to get tired. He walked when he needed a breather, trotted after August when he was ready. We ended up finishing 10th - Dudley's first Top Ten finish, thanks to August's excellent pace! Although, since there were only 14 horses, you could just as well say we finished back of mid-pack. It's just a number anyway - Dudley was pretty proud of his effort. He's just a big handsome beast I love to ride (most of the time)!
Dudley's favorite parts of endurance rides are still the eating parts