by Stagg Newman
At Angie's encouragement, this is the first installment of the Old Dominion. This is the preface that I wrote at Jayel Super's urging. The rest of story is told by Super with a little help from Drubin and myself. Note that Super claims he is sharing some of his secrets.
On Friday evening before the Old Dominion I gave a clinic entitled "To Finish a 1-Day 100 is to Really Win" to encourage riders to try 100s. I asserted that there are 4 "P's" that are key to successfully completing one-day 100s. As you will see all of these came into play the next day, some in rather ironic ways.
The Four P’s are: Patience, Practice, Pacing, and Pulse. Will just mention some points related to these that came up during the ride.
Patience is necessary because it takes years to get a horse ready to do tough 100s. Patience is necessary you must go at your horse's pace and not get caught in riding somebody else's pace. The first 50 is just a warm-up for the second 50. Patience is necessary because no 100 will ever go exactly as planned. You must have the patience to deal with it and adjust. .....
Practice is key so that the horse is trained as well as conditioned for whatever is needed. Practice is key so that as much as possible is routine. Then one is better prepared for the unexpected. I had actually planned to practice the finish by trailering to the last check, Liberty Hall, and then trotting and galloping up over the mountain and running down the otherside to the finish so Super would be eager when we arrived at Liberty Hall. However it was raining the day before the ride and we did not want to take the trailer out so I settled for riding from the finish up to the top of the mountain and just down the otherside a little way, turning around and trotting and galloping a short ways to the top and then running down Hickerson Hollow until the last fairly flat part into the finish.
Pacing is critical if you are going to have a strong horse for the second half of the ride. I made the point that a 100 should not be ridden as a competition with other riders but as a test against the trail where one sets a pace based on the toughness of the course, the weather, the capabilities and condition of the horse .... And the pace should be set for each leg of the ride depending on how the ride is going. And no, it's not true that I was trying to convince everybody else to slow way down.
Pulse is key sign of whether the pacing is proper. The horse should be staying well within the aerobic range most of the time. This is one reason I strongly recommend riding with a heart monitor as pulse is the best indication. The other key pulse indicator is time to recover at the vet checks. Unless the weather is hot and humid, in a 100 the time to meet parameters should be just a few minutes throughout most of the checkpoints and the horse's pulse should be way under the parameters by the end of the hold period.
Before the ride Sue Greenall and I agreed to ride together. Sue was riding Charlie, owned by Maggie Price, my mentor and the breeder of my horse Ramegwa Drubin [some of you may have heard me him mention once or twice or ..... :>) ]. I was delighted to ride with Sue as Super is a horse who likes a companion, Sue is superb at pacing, and has a great sense of humor, something very helpful on a 100.
And now a CONFESSION. I did have as a goal that I had shared with very few people. No horse had ever won the Old Dominion 3 times. Super had won the Old Dominion in 1999 and then in 2001 when he finished in under 13 hours and set the course record for the course used from about 1995 to 2001. My goal was for Super to be the first horse to achieve that feat. Super, who has a very healthy Arab ego, told me he could do it and was ready. However to be consistent with what I said above about pacing, the specific goal I set given the good weather was to ride a pace of just over 8 miles an hour except for the really rocky sections such as Habron Gap and Sherman Gap. That would put me on a pace similar to 2001 :>) .