|Gryphon sticking out his tongue while passing a field of canola|
The week before the ride, with forecasters predicting heavy rain and potential flooding of the French Broad River that runs besides basecamp, ride management made the difficult decision only host the longer distances (75 and 100 on Saturday and 55 and 75 on Sunday), with no limited distance rides to reduce the number of rigs). I'd entered Gryphon in the Saturday AERC 75 and 21-year-old Jessica diCamillo from New Mexico would be riding Siena in the Saturday 120 km CEI** (same distance).
The area ended up with much less rain than expected, with two full days to dry out before rigs began arriving late Thursday. I drove to Star Tannery after work that night and enjoyed a cookout hosted by Lisa Green before catching a few hours of sleep. John Crandell had agreed to do most of the driving in exchange for a free ride down, and he took the wheel @ 2am, getting us safely there before 10am. Hunter Green, who was going to cheer on his girlfriend Emilynn, spent the trip down sleeping in the gooseneck. We three quickly set up camp before and fetched water before my two traveling companions went on their merry ways.
|Siena led the way much of the afternoon|
m Hutchinson from Maine, was parked just across from me and asked if I'd sponsor his daughter Calla in what would be the first 75 for both she and her horse Sam. I readily agreed, since Jessica's goal and mine were just to complete, not to try for a COC.
Dinner catered by the estate's Deerpark Restaurant was as delicious as always, but the diCamillos hadn't arrived by 7 pm and I was getting worried when they called for help finding their way into the estate. Ride Manager Cheryl Newman talked them through all the way to basecamp, and they quickly set about weighing in (an FEI requirement - rider plus saddle must be at least 165lb for senior division and also young riders wanting to be on the ranking list) and shimming Jessica's saddle to fit Siena's little back. I slept soundly, getting up @ 3am to let the horses graze for about 30 minutes and giving them breakfast before heading back to bed for another hour of rest.
|Little Gryphon is such a joy to ride|
|Jessica & Siena at the finish - not a fast ride but they completed|