I made it back from North Carolina. I had a good time judging the ride. I just judged the novice division and there were a lot of riders. I’ve had rides where I judged the whole divsion and had less riders. A lot of these riders were first timers too. I like working with less experienced riders. They are a lot more interested in learning and less likely to be trying to earn national points. So, they listen to what you are trying to tell them instead over arguing over points.

Right now I’m still really tired. I’m trying to catch up on email. I hate this part of coming back from a trip. I’ll write up more about the trip later.

What Do You Think?

I had a great weekend. I headed out to Arkansas on early on Friday morning. My itinerary said I had a direct flight from here to Little Rock but I couldn’t figure out how it was going to take me that long to get there even considering the time zone change. Turns out I went from here to Little Rock by way of Atlanta. But, since I stayed on the same plane the hour and a half layover wasn’t mentioned on my schedule.

I got to Little Rock and was met by someone who actually had a sign identifying themselves as the person that was looking for me. You have no idea how rare that is in my life. Most of the time I end up wandering around looking for another person who is wandering around. We drove about 1.5 hours north-west of the airport to the ride site in the Ozark Mountains. On the way I saw the Clinton Library. I’ve seen pictures of it before and it didn’t look too bad. But on site it reminded me of nothing so much as an abandoned and half falling down warehouse.

I had a cabin to stay in with a bathroom that included a shower. I’m always happy when I get to take a shower at these rides. That is not always the case. The other judge and I went out on the back of 4 wheelers to examine the trails and look for good judging sites. I’ve never been on a 4 wheeler before but I was being brave. The trails were pure rock. I made a mental note to take lots of pictures so my mother could see that the trails that we are using for our ride are not so bad at all.

Then we came back and started checking in horses. Forty-one horses started the ride. There were 3 first time riders. One of them was hysterical. I’m guessing she was about 70 and her son is a rider. She made him bring her and let her ride one of his horses. She had a blast all weekend.

On Saturday we watched the horses go down (or up) several hard parts of the trail. The trail was very hilly and super rocky. The horses really had to work to get down the trail. But the weather was beautiful. It was in the 60s. That is wonderful for me but a lot of these people were from Texas and they were freezing. Last year at this ride it rained 16 inches in 2 days and the horses and riders got stuck in some flash flooding. So everyone was happy that this year was nice.

The other judge almost was eaten by a bear. She wasn’t terribly happy about that. We had dropped her off to hide in the woods so she could observe the riders when they thought no one was watching. She was so well hidden that a bear came over and was scratching on logs near her. She froze until it ambled away.

My driver flipped our 4 wheeler but I wasn’t on it at the time. He didn’t get hurt.

The ride was rough on the horses. About 25% of the open horses (the top level competitors who went the longest distance) finished with slight lamenesses from walking over all the rocks. Nothing serious but they were sore. They were also tired. Most of the time these horses are ready to go out and do it all again but these guys wanted a nap.

I got home at 1:00 AM Monday morning. Luckily I didn’t have to go to work until 2:00 PM so I could get some sleep.

What Do You Think?