Sunday, September 7, 2008

Atikokan Show Girls

Good Girls are just bad girls who don't get caught. Keeping this in mind, and as to not blow our cover, I will give you a condensed and cleaned up version of Lee-Anne and my weekend trail ride/poker derby in Atikokan.

We arrived Friday night to our first ever poker run in Atikokan, Ontario. The grounds were beautiful grass, with a great huge pond (or is it a small lake?), fire pits, a great chalet and some of the friendliest people I have ever met. Fuji blew a shoe the night before and the easy boot/duct tape route was not working, so Jessica loaned us the coolest leather boot and saved the day, as well as Fuji's foot.

We acquainted ourselves with the company around the campfire on Friday night, REALLY got to know each other (some more than others), roasted some smokies, lunged the geldings in this large beautiful sand area that was wonderfully level and perfect for the occasion, and generally had an awesome time. The police made regular checks on the facility to be sure all was well, and some of the rowdies got frisked on the police car.

The weather was a bit shaky on Saturday morning and the set 10:00 departure time was pushed off for those fair weather riders (aka, ME) we left a bit closer to noon. The first 20 minutes with the "show" horses was a bit hair raising, as both were wet, cold, and completely unfamiliar with the concept of being bush whacker trail riding, water crossing, hill climbing, cliff dwelling true blue redneck real workin horses.

We had a few hops, leaps, spins, and otherwise scare the hell out of my pansy self's panties moments when the snobby show horses couldn't wrap their delicate sensibilities around the sound of large groups of horses coming up from the rear, but in all fairness, between the gaited horses and the loose rocky, gravelly section we were in, the sound did remind me of a wild herd of horses thundering in from wild yonder. We did survive it though, and were awfully thankful it didn't happen on the very beautiful, but very scary (for me) cliffs with the sheer 1000 foot drop offs. Thankfully, we decided, since horses are rarely suicidal, most wont leap off cliffs even in a moment of panic. But truthfully, we did make it through these sections uneventfully (though I wouldn't let Lee-Anne be the photographer she wanted to be while in these sections). I thought.....the more time we linger, the more chance for umm...difficulty.
For Fuji, this was his first trail ride ever. He was well educated. Turns out he is a great pack horse (he wore his AND Jag decided saddle bags were fine EMPTY, but full ones were totally unacceptable..and rightfully so, he IS a show horse (aka pansie), after all.). Fuji did a great job and so did Lee-Anne, who piloted him through a few horse eating rock piles, boogy man water coolers, and monster leg dissolving water sections. He sucked it up like a true trail horse and was ready to say uncle about 10 kms into the 25 km ride.
It took us close to 4 hours to complete this ride at a nice graceful walk. Slow and safe wins the race. In fact, we were SOOOO slow, the other riders dubbed us the "Show girls" due to our super speedy mounts and actually sent someone looking for us, as apparently, there was some concern about what may or may not have happened in the cliff section (I should remind you that these sections do have a fair amount of trees dividing you and the actual drop off...but what I could see THROUGH the trees still made me pee a little). Ha. We were hiding in the last section during this time and arrived back at the camp a few minutes later, safe and sound.
We arrived to a hot meal of homemade chili and buns, pasta salads, burgers and smokies, drinks and desserts, the announcements of the poker winners, and the very cool prize winning. There was a large, beautiful tent set up for eating in, and a warm chalet with hot chocolate for those of us needing some warming up.
I cant say enough how awesome this ride and experience was. The trails were perfectly groomed, marked so well you could have found your way completely drunk (NOT that we would do that....), the people were wonderful, helpful, cheerful and welcoming. The facility was beautiful. The prizes (that absolutely every rider received) were great, the money (that we didn't win) was awesome ($350 for first place), and everyone left with huge smiles on their faces.
Thank you all for a wonderful weekend!
See you next year :)

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