Sunday, 11 April 2010

Melaka - ride day! What an epic day!

What a day filled with mixed emotions!  After another delicious breakfast, we went on a tourist tour of Melaka (or Malacca), it's a splendid city with influences from Portuguese, Dutch, British "invaders" through out the past centuries. There are also a lot of Chinese and Indian living here.

The architecture is very interesting as Asian, Portuguese and Dutch managed to leave a strong heritage. It's a very colorful city, with many little houses along the Malacca river, parts of it being mangroves, we saw a type of crocodile while on the cruise tour, right in the middle of the city.

Our guide was very pleasant and knowledgeable, he explained us there is a huge cultural festival taking place in Melaka, and you could see musical groups performing in the streets.
It was a very odd feeling to be a tourist knowing in a couple of hours, I'll be riding a horse in the Malaysian palm tree fields!
We went back to the hotel for lunch, I tried to rest for an hour before getting ready, i hadn't slept well the night before and was in need of sleep, but of course, I had too much on my mind and did not get to get any, well at least I laid down for a while and then it was time to get to the stables.

There was a LOT going on at the stadium (where "ridecamp" is established), horses being walk, ridden, washed, a lot of security since The governor of Melaka was attending the race start!

I was getting my helmet ready with a headlamp when I left my camera on a trailer for a second, I realized and came back but it was already gone! I felt very frustrated and angry at myself for such a stupid thing I did, here I was watching everything around and not able to take pictures, so my apologies for this as I'm not sure I'll be able to provide you with any pictures of the ride, I'm trying to get the pictures of one of the photographers there and credit him.

I watched the start of the CEI** 120KM (75 miles), these horses were fit! They were eager to go but very respectful of their riders. I missed the CEI* 80KM (50 miles) start as I was getting my horse ready for the 40KM (25 mils), the start time were 30 minutes apart.

There were 12 riders in the 120KM, 54 in the 80KM and 66 in the 40KM, 132 horses total, biggest turn out for the MGIER.

Shaklan was a little bit nervous, I let him grazed before getting tack up, he seemed to relax a little but as soon as I got on, the "I need to go NOW" behavior started, I was thinking of what Dawn Engle had suggested me for my own little nervous mare: think quiet, easy ride, but when you enter this big stadium on a horse joining a group of 65 other horses, quiet is quickly replaced by a Oh My God, I'm on a horse in Malaysia about to go on trail for an endurance ride!!!! Craziness!
That got quickly interrupted by a FEI steward telling me I had to change my shoes (I had not enough heal for open stirups, safety, safety!) if I wanted to be able to start in the ride!
So now I am off my horse, running around for caged stirups, nobody had a spare pair or they were not understanding me (between my frenchglish and the grooms not speaking fluent english, it was probably pretty comical to watch), so I quickly changed strategy and asked for shoes, I had several people (women and men!) offering me their!

But all way too big for me (i'm a size 6), so I started scouting around and found a group of young Malaysian girls in riding clothes (they were crewing), I asked one of them and she was exactly my size! And had a spare pair (probably for their rider to use as I got my shoes back all wet and dirty, more than fair to me though, and it's not like the ones I used were sparkling clean after I used them).
So here I was on the horse, the last one to leave the stadium, but the stirups/shoes hunting got me and Shaklan distracted from the start buzz, so that was finally quite a good thing, but I would not advised it to anyone.
So I was riding Shaklan who realized quickly what we were doing, he was not happy with me trying to hold him off at a certain speed, it was HOT and HUMID! I kept an eye on my HRM and each time the horse was above 170/180, I can see some of you jumping in front of their computer, but a fit horse will walk at 100, 110 here cause of the humidity, so it was reasonable to keep him under 180 and walk until he was back down to 110 or so. My plan was also to walk all the uphills, as it was not a flat track and to trot on the side of the roads at a around a 7MPH trot, about 25% was on tar roads, and the dirt roads were actually very concussive, this was not an easy ride! I stopped at all the water stops and poured water on Shaklan. He was doing great! Not drinking enough to my state though!

Riding in the palm tree fields was absolutely magical, tropical birds singing along the way, people and kids waving hello as we were passing by, it was all too unreal!

We finish the 1st 20KM in a little less than 2 hours and 10 minutes, Shaklan pulsed down in 8 minutes at 52, pulse parameters were 56 in the 40KM with 2 presentations only and the horses needed to be in pulse criteria in under 20 minutes. We got cleared to go on the 2nd loop, yeah!

Shaklan ate well, I kept pouring water on him and checked him before we left, he was 46, everything looked good. We went off but I quickly felt nauseous, the heat was taking its toll on me and I sadly realized I would not make it through, so I decided to withdraw and walk back toward the stadium with a car escorting me and Shaklan to make sure i was OK!

Shaklan pulsed down right away, passed his vet check looking brilliant and I had so much sadness in me, but oh well, it happens, just I wish it did not happen right there.

I felt better as there was a nice breeze in the stadium. I got to watch horses going through the vet inspections, there were quite a lot of pulls for lameness and tired horses, but some of them were still looking full of GO!

I helped a couple of riders to cool down their horses and I was back on my game, feeling happy to help and still realizing how amazing it was for me to be doing what I love in Malaysia!
After a while things started to be quiet as the riders were more spread, I had a snack of Malaysian noodles, very yummy and I was falling asleep on a chair, a British lady (Joannie?) living in Kuala Lumpur told me one of her friend was going back to the hotel if I needed a ride, it was around 2:30AM, so I gladly took the offer. We unfortunately got lost and it took us about an hour to get back to the hotel.
I took a shower, set up my alarm clock and crashed!

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