Wednesday 15th August - Day 7
As we woke up, the 7 of us all slightly wet from the morning dew, our host had made us coffee and breakfast which we inhaled while we fed and watered our horses. They had been corralled for the night which was lucky, as not 1 pair of hobbles we had installed were still on.
As we were saddling up, Rob’s horse was very flighty and hard to saddle. Again, our host to the rescue. While the husband was still asleep, she scuffed Rob’s horse, grabbed its ear and held on it while Rob saddled, all the while trying to keep the horse in the corral.
We were off and running on time, and with a big day we were hopeful of being able to catch the group in front of us.
As we made station 24 in good time we had a bit of a slow change with some high heart rates and got on our way. We took off quickly out of the station and as we cantered down the first hill, Henry’s horse took a sudden dislike to being ridden and dropped his head. In the process, Henry did a forward somersault and landed flat on his back.
He popped his head out of the long grass momentarily, just long enough to see his horse disappear over the next hill with Rob in hot pursuit. He chased the horse but was unable to get hold of the reins. After some time, the horse returned to the station. Henry had been collected by a motorbike and returned to base where he was reunited with his horse. As you can imagine, they exchanged pleasantries and we re-started having lost minimal time.
As we moved towards station 25, we started to have more horse problems. Rob’s horse appeared to tire and with Black Beauty still implanted firmly in our memories, we tried our best to keep the horse moving along.
As we got closer to the end of the stage, we realised there was a little more than laziness wrong with the horse. We had walked the horse in from nearly 15 kilometres and to the vet, where it was assessed and deemed to have colic. As per the guidance of the race HQ, we stayed with the horse while it was being treated. We had offered for Bots and Jos to continue without us, but they insisted on waiting with us.
The horse was administering fluid and appropriate medication and after 2 hours of treatment it was deemed stable enough for us to continue our way. Unfortunately, this cost us near 3 hours in total, but it is again just all part and parcel of the derby. It meant that we now had no chance to catch those in front of us and now had people right behind us trying to chase us down.
We managed to ride well for the rest of the day through stations 26 and 27, as we skirted another river along the valley floor. We managed to make it to station 28 with about 20 minutes to spare, but by the time we had cleared vet and would have re-saddled, we were without time to continue. Unfortunately, the horse troubles had prevented us from reaching the finish, today but with only 1 station to go, we were excited to be so close to the finish line.
As the 8pm curfew came, a lone figure of another competitor came into sight, Valeria from Uruguay, who had been riding on her own since station 15. We could only imagine how tough that would have been. The challenges of the derby are enough without the added challenge of doing it on your own!
We all chose our horses for the next morning, had some food and took in the last night on the steppe, knowing we only had 30km left to ride in the morning.
Day 7 Stations Travelled: 4.5
Day 7 Km travelled: 147