Day 105 Thursday
We left for Tarkastad with the 4 team horses: Karoo, Kandahar, Mabruk and Mercury. Ashley and I went in the bakkie towing Karoo, with Ashley driving.
It was a few hours drive to Tarkastad and we arrived in the dark. Horses were settled first before we unloaded bedding, tents etc for the night. We had a braai with the ride organiser and then it was off to sleep.
Day 106 Friday
Awoke to a beautiful sunny day and I could finally see my surroundings and the terrain I would be competing on, come Saturday. The ride would run through the valley with small gradual inclines on all loops.
Team PSV rode our horses out for a short ride, just to stretch their legs. We were all thoroughly happy with each of our horses. The plan was for Laura and I to ride together, followed by Bob and followed by Ashley.
From mid morning to the afternoon all the other competitors arrived ready for the following day. We all had to register, weigh in and vet our horses. There would be 8 teams competing for the R10,000 cash prize!
Briefing was in the evening, all in Afrikaans. Although I can get words, stringing sentences together when someone speaks fast is a NO! Luckily, I had Wesley Hayes (cousin to Laura and Lucy) sitting next to me so he was able to translate the relevant parts for me. It came to the end of the briefing and the general question of "Does anyone have any questions?" came up. My answer "Yes, can you just repeat that all in English?" This got a fair few laughs within the room.
Day 107 Saturday
Race Day!! Start of the 120km was at 4am, so it was another start in the dark. Kandahar at least has done this before! Team PSV left the venue and lead the way. All 4 of us rode the first loop (40kms) as a team coming into the first vetgate within seconds of each other. Mabruk practically walked straight into the vetting, Karoo followed a minute or two later, followed by Mercury and Kandahar.
Into vet gate 1 and what's this Kandahar is noted as a borderline horse. What did I not do , check the feet before I went! Stones removed before went out to loop 2 and we were A-ok! All 4 horses through and it was onto loop 2 of just over 30kms. Our plan changed with Laura and Bob to ride together and Ash and I follow behind. Laura was out onto loop 2 first, followed by Bob, then Ashley and then finally Kandahar and I a minute behind. We caught Ashley up and carried on loping along. Kandhar then starts speeding up, oh whats that I see a rider wearing a green hat, couldn't be Bob could it? For loop 2 Ash, Bob and I rode together taking it in turns to lead and work as a team. There was a small incident on course when a rider's horse bolted with her and she came off right in front of us and was knocked unconscious. Ashley knew the rider so a ring to the organiser with name, where we were etc was made. The rider's mother caught up so we left her in capable hands as we went to make up some time. Later found out the rider had a broken wrist but other than that was ok and still partyed the night away with everyone later that evening.
Into vet gate 2 and all 4 PSV horses are once again through. Kandahar's pulses were not dropping like they normally do so we were once again last into the vetting. This third loop was another 30kms. Laura left way ahead of us with the "Machine Mabruk". Bob, Ashley and I had been given the minutes we had spent helping out the rider back so all three of us left together. Kandahar was not at all himself this loop and had no forwardness what so ever. We mostly followed Bob and Ashley around this loop.
Into vet gate 3 and this was to be where my ride ended. Kandahar's pulse was elevated and although would drop it would then peak again. He trotted up sound but the vet's eliminated us due to his erratic pulse and said he was fatigued. Mercury and Karoo passed their vettings so could at least carry on. Team PSV therefore, still had 3 riders in which to complete with and be in with a chance of winning the prize.
Whilst Laura, Bob, and Ashley were out on course, I spent my time with Kandahar massaging his hindquarters as his muscles were starting to cramp up.
Laura and Mabruk were the first 120km riders home, so it was all hands on deck with Lucy, the two grooms and I to help crew him down before vetting. Mabruk passed!
Ashley was next in for the team with Mercury, also passing his vetting. Bob was a few minutes behind Ashley with Karoo and also successfully passed his vetting.
Laura won the 120km Standard Weights and Mabruk was awarded Best Condition. Ashley won the 120km Young Rider and Mercury also won Best Condition. Bob and Karoo came 3rd in the Heavy Weights.
Although the Team had good results their times were not quite fast enough so we just missed out on winning the cash prize. However, that night we all had a braai and a party regardless to celebrate the days achievements.
Day 108 Sunday
The worst point about camping has got to be the packing up of everything after the ride. At least with the 7 of us there it was all done pretty quickly. We left mid morning for the drive home, which would take a few hours.
Once back at the farm we sorted out the horses and then crashed in front of the tv. The England match had been on that morning so I was keen to catch the highlights and see the results. England won of course!!!!