Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Our First 100, Kind of - Skyla Stewart

Our first 100, kind of

Skyla Stewart and Tempo

After almost 2 decades I was ready to try another 100-mile ride.
I came close a couple of times, but something in my gut was
just not ready, it seemed to be more then just the normal
doubt. Tempo and I had trained extremely hard all winter, with
the hopes of starting the year on a slow 75, followed by a slow
100. We came into the 75 in fantastic shape, only one little
problem.I had backed WAY off on the intensity of his training
rides about 5-6 weeks before the ride, while at the same time
tripling his feed, then to top off the 'making of a tie up' I
only did two walking, marking trail rides in the 10 days before
the ride. Wellllll, yuppers that did it for sure, he gained
almost 50 pounds, which he did not NEED, and even though we
walked most of the first mile out of camp, I caused him to tie-up.
Caught it early, got treatment and a trailer ride back (all of
1.5 miles to camp), and just followed the vets advice. Tempo
looked and felt %100 normal Tuesday after the tie-up, and had
seen the vet with a good report. Wednesday, I started to ride

The 100 miler that I had such hopes for trying was only 10
days away, it now was no longer on our personal calendar. I just
wanted Tempo to be OK and be back to his old self. I rode him,
cut his feed back 2/3rds, and gradually increased the speed and
distance, added some hills each day. One week after tie up, I
needed to give him a good exercise challenge over the weekend,
to determine if I felt he might be OK to go do the 60 at the up
coming ride. He did SO super, after talking it over with two
vets, they both said 'if' he is going to tie up again, it won't
matter what mileage you are doing

With a hearty 'go for it'
from the vet that had first treated Tempo, I decided I would
sign up for the 100. The week before the 100 I kept in touch
with friends that were of a VERY positive mindset, and were of
great support of us doing our first 100. I worked on MY
attitude, did not expose myself to any negative or doubtful
feedback from anyone, and just concentrated on what I needed. I
have found that many times I am not very pleasant company for
myself, and I had NO intention of inviting that part of me to
this ride! Instead of the bad things that I knew would be, I
concentrated on the good that comes with going at a turtles pace
and getting the ride done.

I worked on preparing myself
to 'accept' the pain, the fatigue, the dementia, and other not
so pleasant things, to accept them and to let them flow over me
and become part of the experience, and NOT to rule the
experience. I worked up my 'happy' side and used it to my full
advantage, and trust me, I can be a very 'happy' weird person
given half a chance.

I packed up, and headed off for what was to
be Tempo's first 100-mile ride, and what just as well be my
first, I had done only one and that was almost 20 years ago.
That was when it was 'only' another distance to be ridden. :oP
Sometimes being naive has it's advantages.

I had packed on my saddle: baling twine, vet wrap, easyboots,
hoof pick, bandana, flashlight with extra batteries, bug rep
that was compatible for human and horse, sunscreen, chap stick,
tush wipes, snacks, water, sponge, spare rein clip, PowerAde
powder, vet card, rump rug, tied a Gore-Tex rain coat on me,
gloves, sun glasses and probably a thing or two I have now
forgotten. For women I would suggest you NEVER forget a bit of
bag balm or something similar, it is amazing the pain you can
experience after a break on the trail, after 50 miles of

I LOVED my riding partner very much after that bag
balm kicked in! We rode a very conservative ride, a friend was
doing her and her horses first 100 and so we decided to ride
together. The two horses are pretty different in their paces,
but we were able to work around that, and each horse did his
part to not let the other one down. We have ridden together
enough to know that the two boys are willing and able to work
around each other's strengths and weakness. Same with the
riders, we just used our individual strength knowing that we were the
only two riders out there that were first timers, with first
time horses, it only made sense to pair up, after all 100 miles
is a LONG ways to go. The aches, pains, tiredness, grumpies,
hunger, thirst, frustrations, heat, cold, concerns, they all
showed up during the course of the day, but not one of us
(horses included) let them stay around long enough to start a

I had already hardwired myself into KNOWING this was part
of the experience and that I would NOT let it 'become' the
experience. 'This too shall pass', my motto for the ride, and it
DID work!!! Only one tiny 'experience' that did show up, and
stayed long enough to become a party was the vertigo I got about
3-4 miles from the finish. I have never experienced such a
thing, and frankly really hope not to ever again. I had to
decide how to handle it, I could get upset and let it get me
down, after all we had some really GREAT trotting we could
have been doing, or I could just take it for what it was and
deal with it. I took it, giggled, screamed, and did my best to
feel the whole effect of it (did I mention dementia), and we
just kept going forward.

I could only walk, and Tempo had
complete control of where we were going, it was a tiny single
track trail winding through the sagebrush, and the WHOLE thing
just looked like a big black pit to me. He was my rock and
source of strength, he walked right out with head up and a great
attitude, although it was very apparent he wasnt real happy
that Mom was no longer able to trot, and here it was SUCH the
perfect trail. :oP

My riding partner PJ Blonshine and her
wonderful horse Saudi, they babysat us the first 3 miles so
Tempo could get past the tie-up distance, and then they had to
baby-sit a rather strange and out of it woman the last 3-4 miles
at a walk to finish. I was very grateful for there kindness. We
all finished sound, healthy (expect for the dementia/vertigo)
and happy. This was the way to do a 100 miles! They say it
is mental (no pun intended), and so I prepared for that, and I
WON! We stuck together, and with the attitudes kept UP, the
horses were always happy on the trail, and we were too. It is
amazing what you can do, just dont fool yourself that things
will be perfect, they WONT. Realizing things would be
miserable, and preparing before the ride on how I would deal
with that agony was the key that made this a fantastic

I am an overweight (60lbs), 43 year old housewife, I
dont work out but did start walking with my horse on rides as
I know this is the only way I would get any exercise. I did the
homework for my horse, I did the mental homework for me. I
didnt do anything away from our normal routine, other then
getting off and walking.

You know, a 100 mile ride really isn't a monster if your horse
is strong, healthy, sound and has a good attitude, but most of
all, YOU must be ready to deal with the down's that WILL come
during the ride. How you handle that will most likely determine
how you and your horse feel about the experience. Will I do one
again? I have no clue, but at least I KNOW we can!

I have many; many people to thank, from the management, vets,
ride help to crew, without them, this story would not have been
told. Thank each and every one of you!! Too many names, but you
all know who you are, and what you did!

Just don't forget the bagbalm!

Skyla and Tempo (big, strong and beautiful horse, inside and
out (ahh shucks Mom, you're embarrassing me)

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