Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Hell on the Border Ride - Katrina Mosshammer


Sunday, December 10, 2006

Hell on the Border Ride - Katrina Mosshammer

I just had to share my ride story about the Hell on the Border Ride this past weekend. For me the Hell was just getting there.

Mom had to work Friday so I took off work and was going to go to her house Thursday night and meet up with Gared Dale and the boys on Friday and drive the rigs up together (Shelia also had to work).

So I get home from work Thursday night between 6 and 6:30 and all I have to do is leave food and water out for the animals staying home and then I'll be on my way. Well I had to change the bandage on my appy mare (who cut her leg during the ice storm the previous week). So far I had not had any problems with it. Well I took the bandage off and it started bleeding for the first time since she had cut it. Well I finally go the bleeding stopped and got her and the other animals taken care of.

I got all of my clothes for the ride in the truck, get the house squared away, get the corgi's in the truck. (Mom already had my mare at her house but I was bringing her a load of hay that was already loaded in my little trailer). I checked the tires and sure enough had a flat on the trailer. Well my air compressor had just died 2 weeks before and I hadn't replaced it yet. So I have to change the tire. I get the Hi-Lift jack out, jack it up, change the tire, start to let it down and it gets stuck. Well in the process of trying to get it unstuck the handle slipped and I now have a beautiful black eye.

Finally get finished with the tire and am ready to go. I get in the truck and go to start it and nothing happens. (I had just moved it the day before with no problems, but by this time it was getting pretty close to 32� outside). Thankfully, I have 2 vehicles so I hooked up the car and jumped the truck. Ok, finally pulling out of the drive @ 9:45. I looked down and the needle is on empty. I pray that I have enough to get to the gas station 7 mi. away. I do and finally start for mom's @ 10:15. I get to mom's @ 12:30.

Mom gets me up @ 7 the next morning to put out a round bale for her horses and then to take my rig over to the tire shop. She then leaves for work. All I have left to do is fill the water tanks in her rig, wrap the horses legs, put the hay in and feed her dogs. I catch the horses, put the hay in, start wrapping their legs, grab the hose to fill the tanks. The hose is frozen solid. So I wait to let it thaw out, finish the horses and feed the dogs. I go out and I now have water the only problem is that when mom hooked up the truck she backed over it and it is now cracked the down whole length. So I have to get out the short hose and pull the rig as close to the well house as possible. I call Gared to find out where and when to meet in town and the person that answers the phone is another lady friend of ours. Mom had the wrong number programmed in her phone. I call Shelia at work and get the right number and we meet and finally head out for the ride. Get to the ride and when I go to back in, I get the 4x4 stuck in the mud and have to be pulled out.

I get Perle checked in. All A's. Yeah, my luck is changing. Get ready to head to the start in the morning and Perle has an absolute fit about leaving her buddy at the trailer. I finally had to get mom to lead her and hold on to her until we could actually go down the trail. As soon as we get going she is a perfect angel. This is only my second ride on her and the first one was a max time 50. So I had decided to let her go fast this time and see what she was capable of (I've only had her since March). We did that first loop with Gared and the boys. We get back to camp and she vets through again with all A's. I find out I'm only about 30 min behind the leaders. She's looking good. I was out about 7 min ahead of the Gared and boys, so I had to leave camp by myself and she did not like that. She wasn't moving out as well as she had on the first loop, but I couldn't really tell if she was tired or just pouting about being alone. Well, that first time we passed some of the other riders she perked right up. The only problem was they were going the other direction (There were some out and back so we had some common trails). She did not want to go the opposite direction. Had to fight her every time we passed somebody until we finally caught up the people in front of us. She moved out perfectly fine behind them and we got back camp and had actually been within 15 min of the time it took us to do the same loop the first time. We get pulsed down. We were 6th and only 48 min behind the first horse. She got all A's again and we decide to stand for BC. We do our hour check and she still has all A's.

Well, long story short, with her athleticism and my heavy weight butt, we got BC. I was so proud of her. I keep think I'm going to find her limitations but I haven't yet. When I bought her I asked Leah if she would want her back if things didn't work out; she said she wasn't worried, she didn't think the mare was going any where. Well Leah you were right. Miss P is here to stay.

Katrina Mosshammer and H. Perle

Monday, December 04, 2006

Friday, November 24, 2006

2006 Sultan's Cup - Malaysia

Endurance.Net is travelling to Terengganu! John and I will leave from Idaho on November 20, and arrive in Malaysia November 22 (it's a long way around). We will be joined there by Belgian friend and fellow adventurer Leonard Liesens. Leonard and I will be both be riding horses from the Sultan's Royal Stable. Leo is doing 160km, start time 5pm, finish time..? I'll be riding 80km - start time is midnight! It's monsoon season which means thunderstorms are common. Might be another wet ride - but at least it will be warm :)


We arrived last night after a long trip, met up with Leonard Liesens, and
Paul Jeoffrey (New Zealand) - were met at the Terengganu airport and
shuttled off to the Suria Beach resort - a modest little resort on the coast
where the riders are being housed. Hot and humid - the warm coastal air was
a shock after hours of airplane and airports. A little smokey from the open
markets, and very very humid. It had rained during the afternoon, everything
was still wet and steamy. A night drive along the coast from the airport to
the hotel - images of Terengganu - the first images are always the most
interesting, before the newness wears off.

[More ...]

Getting Ready

A little time to write, just a bit. We went out to the stable early this
xmorning to try the horses out. Woke up to pouring rain (the kind that will
deafen you if you're standing in a tin roof barn) but it soon stopped, and
was already drying up by the time we went to breakfast. Sunny and gorgeous
when we got there. I brought a saddle with me (the Gaston Mercier - which is
very very light for travel and seems to fit most arabs reasonably well) and
provides a degree of comfort and familiarity which is quite welcome when
riding strange horses! My horse is 'Murphy' - nice horse, smooth gaits, a
little young and playfully rambunctious, but I think he'll be a good ride.

[More ...]

Friday, November 17, 2006

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Skymont, Hahira, and Gunner's hoof injury - Angie McGhee

Well I'm caught up on my other deadlines, so thought I'd give a report on my horse's cut hoof & the last two rides.

I posted about 2 weeks ago telling that I went out to ride Gunner and he had what looked like a bad hoof injury that went from the corner of the frog, straight forward as if it had been sawed for about 1" forward. It was about 1/2 way up his heel. He was totally oblivious to it, couldn't care less when I put testers on it, no sign of blood or any wire that he might have hooked it on. John posted pictures and most thought it was probably a wire injury and he'd be sore soon. Farrier came out Tuesday, thought the same, didn't seem overly concerned and put patching material on it. He didn't think a clip of any sort would help.

It was four days till Skymont and I was supposed to sponsor my daughter Josie and Joni Buttram. Dave Bennett had offered me his good horse Rocketeer as a backup, but we had a pretty complicated situation where I had to drive an hour and a half, drop the horses off at the ride site, vet in, leave them with Bill and drive 120 miles to my school's football team's playoff game, film it (it was COLD!) pick up Josie there and drive back to the ride at about 1 AM. I didn't want to leave Cade, Josie's horse without a buddy he trusted, so we decided to gamble that Gunner would stay sound. I've gotta admit. I didn't mind the 2 1/2 hour drive after the game because I knew that was the warmest we would be the rest of the weekend.

It was cold enough to have ice on the buckets Sat. morning, but perfect ride weather. I had washed our girths the day before, left them out to dry and thought they were, till we got ready to put them on Sat. and they were both frozen solid! The horses stayed sane though, and we had a great ride. The thing about Skymont that gets you is that you just don't seem to get anywhere very fast. The trail is nice, but very time consuming. There's lots of twists & turns, knee knocker trees, loose trippy rocks and just stuff that seems to slow you down more than you realize. The horse has to be careful every time he puts his foot down and it wears them out. The good part is that the trail is beautiful and the colors are at their peak, so it's still enjoyable. The scenery looks like the movie "Last of the Mohicans" and you get lots of views off the mountain with beautiful rock formations. This is my fourth time to do it (I think) and I've learned my lesson...don't fool around or you could very easily get caught out there after dark, and you have to allow for the short days.

Jody had sworn they were there to take it easy and get a completion but the truth is...and don't tell everybody this...Jody is *kinda* competitive. >g<>g<>g<>G<>
Angie McGhee

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Saturday, November 11, 2006

A slice of French Endurance Life

by Nicki Freud

At short notice we had been given a horse to train for one specific race, a 119k 2* (which richard was to ride in) so we worked him for a fortnight but 48 hours before the race the neighbour's cows broke into our field and trashed the electric fencing which allowed our Alpha Horse (Dougal by name) to give the newcomer a thorough seeing to. Poor little gelding, he didn't have a square foot on his body without a bite mark and had also suffered a kick on one hock which then went septic. So we had to pull out of the race but the owner was really good about it and suggested we aimed for another one three weeks later down south. It was touch and go as to whether the cut would heal, he wasn't lame on it but it seemed like a demand too far to ask him to canter for 200k with a seeping wound. Endless poulticing alternated with borrowing ice from the local bar (we have no freezer section) and we knew it would be a close run thing.

The ride in the South was a two day 200k 3* called Montcuq. It was celebrating its 30th birthday but there'd been a highly charged political movement to sabotage it this year by a group of riders who were putting on a seemingly identical ride the following weekend. As well as riding, we were writing and photographing both rides and therefore being hosted by the respective organizers (who, needless to say, don't speak to each other). Diplomacy would rule.

On Thursday 26th Oct we loaded up two horses (the alpha male plus the horse he'd beaten up; needless to say they were best friends immediately because there were no mares around to make life complicated!) and headed 600k south for twelve days. We've never left the homestead for that long before and we'd been worrying about it a lot before leaving; a couple of days before we were due to leave, Hannibal (the pest of the herd) had discovered a route out of the field and had taken some of the other horses with him so two or three times a day there would be as many as five horses loose on the very small country lane (but nonetheless a road) galloping up and down, disappearing into sown fields etc. with me flapping around uselessly imagining the worst. But we reinforced the boundaries, put more electric fencing units up and drove away with fingers crossed. We'd left a 'friend' nominally in charge, who was meant to come round every other day to water the horses and feed the cats and hens. We are blessed with abundant grass and about fifty chestnut trees keep the horses well stuffed with marron so they didn't need anything extra in the food department.

A nine hour drive down south, stopping for an hour midway, and we arrived in the small medieval town of Montcuq. Although we were being put up for both weekends we couldn't expect either ride organizer to house us plus two horses for the intervening week so had booked room and paddock at a 'chambre d'hote' and we dropped Dougal there immediately then took the other one - lets call him Biggles - to the stables which were in the middle of the town.

It was almost impossible to get anywhere in a hurry as there was always someone to talk to - and often in English which was a treat as the ride has always been well supported by the Brits who come over just for 'the crack'. Pre ride vetting was on the Friday afternoon about five minutes after the wound on the right hock had decided to heal over. Phew; and at eight the following morning an aptly numbered 30 riders (19 french, 11 from other countries) set off for the first day's 100k. Four horses hit the front within metres - an Italian girl, an English woman, a Spanish man and a local Frenchman, very democratic and truly international. These four dominated the lead all day and arrived back in Montcuq within minutes of each other having averaged 17/18kph but ridden the last 22k stretch home at closer to 22kph.

Richard was about forty minutes off the pace and losing ground at the vetgates as we hadn?t really had the horse for long enough to work on his cardio vascular and a speedy presenter he wasn't! My concentration was focused on Richard and Biggles and I'd completely forgotten that I was meant to be taking photos. We grazed the horse in hand all Saturday afternoon, had his front shoes changed, planned tactics, talked endless post mortems of the first day and generally indulged in feeling part of the endurance community. Biggles's 70 yr old breeder/owner, who had driven ten hours from the coast of Brittany, who was delighted with how he'd performed, took us out to a wonderful supper during which we went to the stables and brought the horse back to the restaurant where he ate a couple of kilos of carrots in the dark.

Late that night, after our meal in the restaurant, there was a hysterical call from the owner of the Chambre d'hote telling us to take Dougal away as he was nothing but trouble in the escaping department and had eaten all her plums off the trees and she'd had enough. So we sneaked him into the ride stables (there was an empty one) and realised that as we couldn't take him back there that we were, in fact, homeless with two horses for the next four days. However, there was Sunday's ride to worry about first.

We were up and leading him round at 6.30, delighted that he'd eaten a huge breakfast and just tried a trot before the vetting. Hopping lame on the left hind so immediate withdrawal along with five others whose horses had also stiffened up overnight (we're not allowed to corral at either 2 or 3* rides in France, the horses have to sleep in stables which I'm not crazy about). The good news was that Richard could then take the photos and we could follow the ride from the front. There were 18 horses left to tackle another 100k loop with both vetgates away from the venue. The GB lady hadn't started day 2 so it was the French/Italian/Spanish triumverate who raced each other round. At the last vetgate Jordi (insert surname) had sped through the vetting and set off for home averaging 26kph and arriving (with broken stirrup leather!) twenty minutes ahead of the Jean Francois Lassalle who took a safe second place. Patrizia was next but eliminated on pulse so a French woman (Christine Lef) who came in over an hour later, took third place on the podium.

That evening the tired and hungry entourage were treated to a slide show of the last 30 years of Montcuq. Interesting to see how there was no sign of leg protection for the horses until 1986, there were several horses in the early years being ridden in double bridles, hard hats weren?t even popular, let alone compulsory, until well into the 1990s. The introduction of plastics and Lycra proved easier to spot than the effects of France's excellent long-term breeding programmes, state support for the sport or the arrival of the petro-dollar.

The homelessness factor sorted itself out and we found a truly wonderful place to stay thanks to someone we'd met down there. Glorious well-fenced paddock, comfortable bed for us and clippers to borrow. The sun shone, we bought ourselves picnic lunches and sat in restaurants in the evenings and it really felt like a holiday. We had the small dog with us and she became very used to sitting under tables eating unsuitable things.

On the Thursday we moved to the house of the organiser of the second ride. This second ride had been well hyped and had 140 horses competing for 15.000euros prize money and we had high hopes for the alpha horse. At his trot up on the Friday there were actually oohs and aaahs, I promise, that's the first time that's ever happened to us and it felt lovely that others were appreciating our horse!

Richard had decided to start in last position as Dougal is only 8 and we suspected the excitement of jumping off with so many horses would mean he'd hit the front and want to stay there; he might have drawn oohs from the crowd but it doesn't mean he's that biddable in a race - or he certainly wasn't in his last one where there were a mere 50 starters. By the first vet gate they'd moved up to 95th, mostly by going straight in to vet and thus overtaking about ten horses. I'm going to draw a veil over the misery of crewing when there are 200 other huge cars on tiny French lanes but it was a 'first come, first to park close to where the horses cross' situation and for those of us further back - buckets of water feel really heavy after carrying them for five minutes! Valerie Kanavy was at the other end of the field, consistently presenting first on a really impressive mare she'd brought to Europe to do the Portugal trial run.

By the second vetgate he'd moved up to 77th and vetted immediately with straight As. This just left the 20k home stretch which they did in just under the hour, again taking only two minutes to get into the vetgate which put them in 66th position. And this is where we say goodbye to Dougal as he was slightly lame left fore, possibly from when he'd fallen in a hole whilst preferring to go up a bank than to stand still whilst being crewed (tipping Richard off at the same time) but probably just one of the inexplicable lamenesses where there's no heat, no swelling and a completely sound horse 48 hours later. So an ignominious end to what had (up to this trip south) been a wonderfully successful season but you have to cope with disaster just the same and there were photos to take, people to talk to, wine to be drunk!

Sunday morning there were 93 horses left in the race and Valerie set off again in front. She'd been ten seconds off the leader overnight but the first 15 were all bunched so tightly together in terms of time that it could have been won by any of them. Speeds were down slightly because, though the first day had been relatively flat, the second day was a series of long long climbs. A 94k loop today, again with both vetgates away from home (I told you it was pretty identical to the previous weekend's ride!) and Valerie again vetted through first at both of them overtaking three or four horses, if only by seconds, each time.

After vg1, as the riders left for the second stretch of the day, they weren't allowed to mount but had to lead their horses through the most incredible old tow path, cut into the rock and nothing between them and a steep drop down to the river. I'll enclose a picture and strongly suspect it will become the iconic image of French endurance in the same way that Cougar Rock is to yours. The organizers had thoughtfully provided a leg-up man at the far end where the race was back on (they'd all had to walk single file down the towpath)

At the last vetgate Kanavy was still in the lead, she had overtaken the overnight leader and had a two second advantage over an 18yr old girl called Morgane Payen whose parents are both endurance vets and whose mother has been on the French team in the past. Within two strides Morgane had overtaken your countrywoman and set sail for home at an astonishing 30kph which included being crewed twice where the horse drank really well.

There were sadly few (maybe a hundred) people to see Payen cross the line as almost everyone was still out on course but the mare looked great and as if she could do it all over again. The next horses home were also ridden by women and, like Payen, both passed the final vetting which meant the podium had three females. We've covered at least ten of France's major rides this year and this is the first time we've seen this; it's more of a man's sport over here. Two men came in 4th and 5th and Valerie finished 6th having seemed to really enjoy the experience, as did Larry whose only complaint was that the scenery was so beautiful he'd have liked to linger as opposed to pushing on to the next crew point.

There were 62 finishers altogether, a fantastic new race to add to the must-ride-it-before-I-die list. The ride has a website where stat lovers can get the facts. We photographed and wrote up both rides for EnduranceWorldOnline but it probably won't be out til the next issue.

Allen, Hannibal and Nicki

Monday, October 23, 2006

Josie Whelan's AERC NC 50

Mary Howell's AERC NC 50 2006

by Mary Howell

Last year, Darryl Downs, Fran Williams and I rode together on the pre-ride
NC 50 course and I thought the winning time of 7:23 was a pretty decent,
given all those rocks and climbs. This year's top finishers, many of whom
had never seen the trail before, tore almost 2 HOURS off that time!!

I certainly felt as if I was part of a championship, which pulled out of me
& Shiloh out one of the best performances of our career. My experience
wouldn't have been possible at all for me if it weren't for longtime friends
Becky, Bob and Jennifer Supinger, who have been boarding Shiloh, brought him
to the ride, shared their warm trailer and did an exceptional job crewing.

Loop1 (23 miles): At the start, Roxi from Iowa said she saw me and Shiloh
gallop off into the darkness and was inspired to follow, catching up before
the first bridge; we zoomed that first nine miles, slowing only for the 6
concrete bridges on the climb up to Moreland Gap. After just 45 minutes, we
came into the 9 mile pulse&go. Her horse pulsed about 2 minutes faster than
Shi & she was out of sight after that.

I'll never forget zooming along the rocky, uneven ATV trail along the top of
the ridge in pitch black darkness, with the downward-pointing handle of the
Big Dipper showing the way. I didn't have any lights on board but was
fortunate to be riding just in front of Ruth Ann Everett from North
Carolina, whose headlamp provided a reassuring beacon.

Dawn broke as we descended the ridge, with a spectacular view of the sunrise
on our right as Ruth Ann and I galloped the remaining miles of gravel road
into the first hold. One of my favorite vets, Otis Schmidt, vetted Shiloh
through with a CRI of 60/60. Shiloh's pulse time was 7:10, nearly an hour
fast than I'd told my crew to expect. They hadn't arrived yet, but their
friend Mike Condon, a volunteer, helped me out immeasurably, carrying my
saddle to a safe spot and borrowing grain, hay and a blanket from kind
others (thank you Peggy!) When Bob and Jennifer arrived to crew, ride
staffer Bonnie Snodgrass brought us the sad news that Becky had been
involved in a multi-horse incident at the start and had to pull at the
pulse&go because Electik had scrapes all over his body.

Loop 2 (15 miles) Ruth Ann and I left out together on Loop 2 and kept a
steady pace climbing Veach Gap. We were passed by Ed Kidd of Tennessee and
two others, but opted to play it safe on the rocks. Ride photographer Genie
Stewart-Spiers had hiked a whole hour to reach the top of the ridge, which
provided the perfect fall colors as backdrop for the ride photos. Ruth Ann's
horse was a bit shy of the camera so Shiloh took over the lead as we passed
by. On that loop, I enjoyed having a chance to talk to her about horses and
other things; she admired the scenery and explained that her horses train on
the steep Leatherwood Trails but that the amount of rocks was a surprise.

Descending Milford Gap, Amy Cieri of Pennsylvania caught up to us and shared
more about the train wreck at the start. She and John Crandell had a tough
time catching the loose horses, removing their loose saddles and securing
the horses to trees, but she was able to make up about a half hour time
difference to catch up to us.

No sooner did Shiloh reach the flat road along the Shenandoah River than he
broke out in a flat out gallop - Amy's horse Ruby not only kept up, but
passed us coming up the steep grade near Indian Grave. Wow, what an
exhilarating feeling to be able to go that fast after negotiating all those
rocks and climbs. At the hold, another one of my favorite vets, Duane
Barnett, vetted Shiloh through. His fatigue was starting to show a bit with
a 60/64 CRI. He gobbled all the grass he could and had a chance to roll
while we chatted with Sperryville native Eve Bargmann, who reminded me of
the technical trail on the 3rd loop. I decided to keep the size 2 EZ boots
over front shoes that Shiloh had been wearing all day - he could never have
gone as fast over those loose rocks and stayed sound without them.

Loop 3 (11 miles): As I worked up the steep rocky climb to Hebron Gap on the
first part of the second loop, Shiloh was ravenously hungry and wanting to
take his time. I let him walk at his own pace and grab some random clumps of
grass. By the time we crested the ridge, he got his second wind and we
caught up to the others. As we neared the road crossing at Camp Roosevelt
just a half mile form the last hold, the sense of urgency increased and our
group of 5 (Amy, Ruth Ann, me, and two heavyweight division riders) zoomed
down the rocky and muddy trail into Hickory Lane.

I am a defender of having this hold. If you've ever ridden Hebron Gap, those
11 miles take most riders over 2 hours, and there's no water on trail. It's
humane to give your horse a chance to recharge before a final raceoff. As it
so happened, Shiloh lost an EZ boot about 1/4 mile from the hold and then
took a few minutes longer to pulse down than Ruth and Amy's horses. Although
his CRI was 60/52, Vet Amy Worrell saw something a bit off on the trot out
and felt an increased pulse in that right front leg, so we set his leg in a
bucket of ice water during the brief hold. I'm sure that break helped ensure
his completion - but he was angry to be left behind!

As Shiloh saw Amy Cieri's horse Ruby gallop out, Bob and Jennifer had their
hands full trying to reattach his bridle and dose him with electrolytes. He
had a competitive gleam in his eye and he wanted to race after them! But it
was another few minutes before our out time of 12:20, so we cantered
steadily in, crossing the line at 12:24 and 56 seconds.

Heat vet Art King said Shiloh looked fine & he had a 10 minute CRI of 60/60.
Even though me & my tack were only 153 lbs, I presented for BC an hour later
just to learn how he was doing. Although his metabolics were still fine, Art
saw a big difference downward in Shiloh's quality of movement, and
encouraged us to cut out the pads from the front shoes. I think Shi was just
tired and sore like me! BTW, Amy Cieri's horse was padded too but remarkably
Ruth Ann's horse, the first-to-finish FW, didn't have any pads on at all
and still stayed sound!

By midafternoon several horses were being treated and Michigan State vet
students was also taking blood samples and blood pressure readings (with the
cuff mounted around the upper part of the horse's tail) as part of a study.
Since Shiloh was already getting blood drawn for the study, I told vet Joy
that Shiloh could serve as the 5th (random) horse for the AERC drug testing.

I can't match Flora's poetic description of the ride scenery, but our
spectacular surroundings were as much a part of what set this event apart as
the competition itself. The 2006 AERC NC was a wonderful opportunity for me
to meet and talking with riders from other parts of the country. I hope they
all make it home safely and gain newfound appreciation for our Old Dominion
Trails and the staff and volunteers who made this event possible.

- Mary Howell

Josie Whelan's AERC NC 50 2006


by Josie Whelan

I was very happy to have finished the ride. It started out rough when I fell off my horse after he was spooked by 2 other loose horses, and ran away. Meg Sleeper was my sponser and we had to walk for a mile and a half before we saw my horse tied up to a fence. When we came into the 8 and a half mile check we were already last ,but we didn't mind we just wanted to finish. We did all right for a while, but then took a wrong turn and went out three miles. Meg had done the hundred mile ride 2 days before and thought that the part of the trail we were on was the same. Luckily we ran into Stagg Newman who was driving down the road and he told us we were on the wrong trail. So then we had to back track and get back on the right trail. When we were just about to get to the vetcheck my mom came up the road telling us to hurry because the check was closing soon. We asked how she had known we were lost? Apparently the Drag Riders had come in before we had so they knew that we had taken a wrong turn. Everybody cheered when we came into the vetcheck. It was actually kind of cool to get there last because my mom got a spot close to the vets since everyone had already left. It was also cool because lots of piles of good alfalfa hay were lying around. And since everybody elses hay is better than yours I was running around grabbing bits of hay and ploping it in front of my horse. We finally left and th 2nd loop was rocky ,but okay. We went through the second vetcheck fine and started up on our last loop. Well who ever said that the last loop was better than the 2nd is dead wrong. Just as you thought you were at the top of the hill you would start going up again. The entire trail was basicly a rock graveyard. The views were beautiful and amazing, but the trail was tough. We finished with 10 MINUTES to spare. I decided to let Meg have the Turtle Award. She said I couldn't be first junior and get the turtle award( I thought it was strange being 1st junior in 2nd to last place) I want to thank Meg Sleeper for being my sponser and sacrificing her ride, John Crandell for catching my horse, Stagg Newman for turning us around because we would never have made it, Karen and Steve Cummings for hauling my horse, and everyone else who helped me

Josie & Rock (my horse)

Mary Howell's AERC NC 50

Flora Hillmans AERC NC 50

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

A Weekend of Firsts

A Weekend of Firsts - Margit Krellwitz

It is Sunday; an amazing sense of self-satisfaction fills my heart as I sit in church. I am grateful for so much. Each attempt I make to stand or kneel during the service is followed by a quick pang of excruciating physical pain. I know the pain will only get worse over the next 24 hours. Still, I am happy today, and thank God for the wonderful weekend I just experienced.

This adventure began Friday morning, shortly after I dropped my children off at school. I was so excited. I'm 52 and in the 26 years I have been married I have never had a girl's weekend away from my family! A weekend doing something new, challenging and just for me!

The trailer is packed quickly, the horses loaded and we are off. Three women who love to ride horses! Annetta and Linda have been working with me for over a year, slowly building my confidence and stamina. Finally, I said yes, I was ready to take on this challenge. Linda and Annetta have many years of experience; I have none.

We are headed for the Indian Territory endurance horse race at Lake Oolagah, Oklahoma. The road trip passes quickly and before long we are pulling in to camp. Despite arriving in the early afternoon, there are trailers and horses everywhere! We set up camp, taking care of the horses first, of course!

Once the horses are settled in we head for the ride manager's camp. We check in and show our horse's current Coggins and receive our race card. Annetta switches from the 50 to the 25-mile race. Linda & Misty will do the 50-mile. I will attempt the 25-mile race. After the paperwork is completed we return to our camp to get our horses and walk them to the vet's camp for out pre-ride vet check. Once our pre-ride vet check is complete we settle the horses in for the evening and check our tack for the next morning's ride. A ride meeting to explain the course was schedule for that evening. They would honk a horn when it was time to come!

I was glad to have Annetta accompanying me in my first race, my horse, Shahb El Shiraz (AKA Comet), would behave better around his buddy Fernie, but I was afraid I would either not be able to keep up or worse, hold her back! We went back to camp and prepared dinner. We had a great meal with mashed potatoes, pot roast and veggies all zapped in the microwave thanks to Annetta's generator! We sat outside in our camp chairs and watched the sun set on the lake, not 40 feet in front of us, our horses peacefully grazing between the lake and our trailer. This was nice!

The "mom" in me kicked in and I grabbed my cell phone and turned it on, I had left it off all day. I had three missed calls and several messages! I listened to the messages and called home. I straightened out the confusion about what to feed the mare and colt and what to feed the pony and told everyone I loved them and would call after the race ended.

The ride meeting was short. The start time of the 25-mile race was moved from 8 am to 9 am, giving the 50-milers a two-hour head start. The ride manager and head vet explained what the rules were. The directions were deceptively simple: go to your right, follow the ribbons, pick up a token at the end of the trail, turn around and come back the same way. 17 miles for the first loop, 64 pulse, vet check, 45 minutes hold, then out again, go to the left this time, 8 miles for the second loop, 4 miles out, pick up a token, then back the way you came, 60 pulse, Vet check then done. No maps just follow the ribbons! Seemed simple enough. No maps!!!

The ride manager announced a first-timer meeting with the vet after the general meeting. I moved up to meet the vet. Did I have any questions, he asked? I truthfully answered that I didn't know enough to know what questions to ask. Have you crewed on a ride, he asked? No. Have you come to a watch a ride? No.

I felt like a neophyte. I was a neophyte! I told the vet I was riding with Annetta, if I could keep up with her, she would help me through the ride. One kind gentleman standing nearby offered to let me ride with him. I said great. Of course, I never recognized him the next day and to my knowledge I never saw him again all weekend!!

We went back to our trailer, got ready for bed and waited for morning to come. Anxiety about the race settled in my gut! Great, I thought, I'm going to be stuck in a port-a-potty all night, or all day tomorrow and miss my race! Eventually I fell to sleep, listening to the rumblings of my intestines!

Linda's alarm sounded the start of the day at 5:30. Morning finally arrived. I had woken up at 3 am to go to the bathroom, stepping on Annetta's head getting down from the bed. I couldn't get back to sleep, but thankfully my stomach had stopped making noise! Annetta has taken the couch while Linda and I shared the bed. Annetta and I tried to go back to sleep, but gave up at six. We decided to help Linda get ready for her 7 am start time.

What a glorious morning. The Harvest moon was full and heavy, ready to sink into the west, but still provided plenty of light. The sun was creeping up in the east. You could see the moon reflected in the dark lake water. Someone grab a camera! Horses quietly grazing with the moonlit water behind them and the sunrise too! Does it get any better than this? Before long, it was 7 am and Linda was off! Our turn to get ready to go!

We had checked and double-checked everything the night before. It didn't take long to get ready. What to wear? Why is that always the hardest thing to decide, even here! If I dress too warm I'll get hot, but I don't want to freeze either! Layer and strip, decision made. One last pit stop and I was ready. We walked our horses around to get them warmed up.

It was time to go. Lake Oolagah was a beautiful place; plenty of the people who came to the ride lazily enjoyed the scenery during the ride. We, however, started out at the front of the line and never gave up first and second place!! Annetta was #29, I was #15. We did a 17-mile loop at the start, with a few people on Comet's tail, but gradually we were down to one lone horse chasing us. We thought we had lost him for a few miles, but he caught up and stayed with us until the vet check at the end of 17 miles. With a strange horse on our tail Comet wanted to go faster to get away from him, Fernie in turn didn't want Comet on his tail, so I was stuck in the middle trying to keep Comet off Fernie's tail, and remain far enough ahead of the horse on our tail!

Time flew by, and we expected to meet Linda on the trail as she started her second 25-miles. We saw the front-runners; Linda was not in the top 10 horses. Something was wrong. Time passed quickly and it was 10:38 when we rode back into camp.

Linda was waiting for us and helped get us through the vet check. Misty had slipped on the 8-mile loop and the vet noticed something in her trot during the vet check and pulled Linda and Misty from the race. They had been in the lead for the first 25 miles of the 50-mile race.

Annetta and I both passed the vet check with no problems, and then had a 45-minute hold. She could leave at 11:25, Comet and I at 11:26. We took care of the horses, took a potty break and then it was off to the races again. Annetta graciously waited until 11:26 so we could leave together. We were off again, Annetta and Fernie in the lead. We had hoped to have a few minute start on the horse who had been chasing us. We never saw that horse and rider again.

The second loop was a short 8 miles. We felt great and since it was shortly before 11:30 hoped we could finish before it got too hot! The second loop was rocky in many places and we were cautious after learning of Misty's slipping in the terrain. We still went fast, but walked down the rocky hills and tried to be careful!!

At the halfway mark we were both doing well and felt great. On the way back we passed our closest competitor. We had about 2 miles to go. We pushed to extend our lead. We dashed down a small ravine and up the other side. We had a tree to jump/walk over. We had done many jumps on the trail and had done this very same log on the way out. Comet jumped, I fell -- HARD!! My ears were ringing, I saw stars and heard Annetta say, are you OK? She was holding Comet and was about to head to the finish line and get help. I said no I was fine. I struggled to get back in the saddle. I got back up, determined to finish. Luckily I really was ok, and did not get dizzy as we raced to the end.

At the finish we walked in, Annetta in the lead, Comet and I right behind her. We quickly headed to the water trough. Linda was waiting for us, and helped cool off Fernie and then Comet. Linda urged me to get off Comet. Annetta had gotten off and walked Fernie in. I slid off and started splashing water on Comet. Someone handed me a scoop. I used it and quickly returned it, grateful for the help. Linda instructed me to quickly head to the P&R (pulse and respiration) station. I watched my heart monitor as it dropped and headed in as soon as it registered 60. Annetta had entered before me, and as it had been for the whole race, I was right behind her.

The P & R area was teaming with activity. Several people were taking P & R's. The timer's table was strategically located to record the times as the volunteers shouted the horse's number and the time. 50 milers were coming in at the same time as the early finishers for the 25-mile race. Comet's time was recorded and we were whisked away to the vet. Several vets were checking horses and I moved to the first available. Annetta and Fernie were already being check by a vet. All went well until the dreaded trot out! After completing 25 miles and taking a fall, the last thing I wanted to do was run to a cone and back! But Comet and I did what we had to do. We weren't going to stop now!! Next we had to strip our tack off the horse and step on the scales holding it all! Ugh!!

We had one hour to get our horses cleaned up and ready to present to the vet for the best-conditioned horse evaluation. Fortunately, the campsite had access to a hose so it was easy to clean them up. Linda was a big help!!! Were it not for Linda and Annetta I would have been lost in the chaos of the moment.

We fed and watered the horses and finally got a minute to take care of ourselves. That's when I noticed that my brand new helmet was cracked at the base! I was grateful to have had a helmet that worked. That would have been a nice C-1 injury! Always wear your helmet!

Soon it was time to go for our final vet check. Amazingly Fernie and Comet had each pulsed down at the same time. We were both scheduled to report to the vet at the same time. The vet looked at the best conditioned paperwork she had been handed by the timekeeper and asked to see Comet first, that was when we realized that the timekeeper had mistakenly placed #15 ahead of #29. It was an understandable mistake; after all, the P&R station was like Union Station at 5 pm on Friday. Annetta and I told the vet and timer about the error and asked the vet to check 29 first as 29 had finished first. She said fine. We both vetted out fine, although I thought I was never going to do Comet justice in the trot out; I had run beside him as he trotted up and down a small incline, which, after 25 miles, felt like Mount Everest to me!

We were done at last and could now have lunch! After a nice lakeside lunch, Annetta and Linda took Fernie and Misty bareback into the lake to cool off their legs and just have fun. I stayed camp side and called home to let everyone know I was alive and well and had finished second to Annetta. I was happy and proud of my accomplishment. I took some pictures of Annetta and Linda in the lake.

As the afternoon passed we wandered up to ride manager's camp to see what time the potluck dinner was going to start. She said the last 50-mile rider had just left to complete the last 8-mile loop. Dinner wouldn't start until they returned. I guessed 6:00ish. While with the ride manager we learned that the error in place finish we thought we had corrected at the vet check, had not been corrected. #15 was recorded as finishing first and #29 as finishing second. We had brought that error to their attention at 1:22 when we went to the vet check; we thought we had fixed that error!

It's ok, we thought, we can fix it now, no harm done. Unfortunately we were the ones who were wrong. The rider manage would not change the results. The times had been recorded that way and she was not going to change it! Changing the results, she insisted, would require thirty minutes. It's too much trouble to change it now, besides its no big deal; limited distance (25-miles) doesn't count anyway! Imagine how that made me feel as a first timer!!

We went back to camp and Annetta checked the AERC rulebook. It stated clearly that in the event of a tie the first person entering the P&R area would be awarded the first place finish. OK, we thought, we'll just go back and show her the rulebook; surely she will change her mind. We trekked back to the ride manager's camp and tried again. No luck, despite attempts to reason with her, the ride manager would not change the results. We left, dishearten. I was so embarrassed! I did not deserve to win. I was proud of my second place finish. I could never feel that way about this win. As we walked back to camp I hoped Linda and Annetta would be ready to break camp and go home.

Annetta insisted we stay for the awards ceremony anyway; we would break camp afterwards and head home. At the ceremony I reluctantly and very embarrassingly accepted the first place finish award. I wanted to shout "I didn't finish first - I wouldn't have finished at all without my friend, who lead me the whole way, and gave up a minute for me, and babied me though a fall!!" But it was my first time and I had already alienated the ride manager enough! Strangers who were tired, hungry, and just wanted to go home surrounded me, they didn't want to hear me complain about finishing first! I just offered Annetta my prize as I returned to my seat. Later, I had to stand before the crowd again, this time to be recognized as a first timer. I stood, but I didn't turn to face the crowd. I simple turned several shades of red when I overheard the whispers when people said, "she finish first in the 25, and this is her first time!"

We headed back to camp after the potluck to break camp. Just before pulling out, we broke out the Razzleberry pie I had baked for the potluck. We had chosen not to share it as a silent protest to the finish; it was Annetta's favorite pie and I saluted her with a big slice. The pie lifted our spirits and we headed for home.

We didn't miss a single turn during the race; we missed several, on the way home! We pulled in late, but as always took care of the horses and tack first. I offered the rest of the Razzleberry pie to Annetta. She insisted I take it home to my family.

I drove the 30 minutes to my house. It was after midnight. My husband greeted me with a hug and congratulations. He emptied my car for me while I jumped in the shower, my first since Friday morning. Afterwards I popped several Ibuprofens into my mouth and happily fell into bed. My prayers were simple thanks, I was grateful for so much. I fell to sleep quickly.

All in all I had a very nice time with my friends and our wonderful horses! Will I do it again? We'll see.

Happy Trails

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Yellowhammer 2006 - April in Nashville

by April

Nashville, TN

Tuesday morning, Daniel and I finished packing and headed out for the
Yellowhammer 3-day Pioneer Ride in Alabama. The drive was pleasant,
although a bit warm. This was our first visit to the Yellowhammer
ride. We attempted to go in 2004, but about an hour before we were to
reach ride camp, our engine blew. We spent the next several days
fixing the truck and getting our horse home. Then in 2005, I was
recovering from a broken arm and didn't want to risk reinjury to
myself. So when we reached camp with no mishaps, we were thrilled.

Tamra Schoech, the ride manager, met us as we drove in and we figured
out where to park. Soon Tanna was in his livestock corral panels and
set up with a large muck bucket of water and some hay.

I spent Wednesday morning getting my saddle ready for the ride on
Thursday. I was planning to ride Tanna in the 55 miler. I also packed
my away vet check bag as the first vet check was to be out. The
remainder of the vet checks were all in camp for the rest of the
weekend. Around 11:30 or so, Daniel and I meandered over to the
registration canopy and hung out there all day. Watching people arrive
and attempting to direct them to suitable parking spaces. There were a
lot of people rolling into camp. The weather was predicted to be nice.
Warm on Thursday at 88 degrees or so, but cooler on Friday and
Saturday in the mid-70s.

I enjoyed hanging out and chatting with people as they came by to
register. During the afternoon, I registered myself and vetted Tanna
in for the Thursday 55.

At 5 PM, the ride meeting took place. Tamra welcomed everybody and
thanked the numerous volunteers, many who had been there since
Saturday or Sunday helping with all those things that need doing for a
ride. Then Sarah Engsberg described the trails. We were to go out of
camp on the Blue trail to the out vet check 18 miles from camp. The
second "loop" completed the Blue loop back to camp for another 19
miles. The Blue loop incorporated some rolling hills on the road. They
are hoping to do a 100 next year at Yellowhammer and they wanted to
try out the road on some of us to get feedback for using the road in
the 100. The road was gravel. Some of it wasn't a whole lot of gravel,
though. Anyway, after the second vet check at camp, we were to do the
final 18 mile loop to the finish on the Green loop. Then Otis Schmitt,
the head vet, got up to do his thing. 64 pulse (60 at the end for "the
short race"), tack off at all checks, holds 50 minutes.

Then Dr. Otis diverted from the normal ride meeting routine. He said
"Ya'll know Becky over here and how we've been hanging out together
for awhile now..." Becky joined him in front of the crowd. "Well," Dr.
Otis continued, "We went to Heflin this morning and got married!" Of
course the group went wild with excitement and cat calls. They had
snuck off and gotten married Wednesday morning! Then had hung around
camp all day without telling!!! Then a cake was produced with "Otis &
Becky" written on it and we all had cake in celebration of their
wedding. What a great start to the weekend!

Ok, back to the boring stuff! I have to say, I really, really liked
the ride meeting at 5 PM! After the meeting and the wedding reception,
I still had time to fiddle around camp getting ready for the next days
ride and got to bed by 8:30 or 9 PM. I think I got the most rest I
ever have before any endurance ride!

Thursday morning I got up at 4:15, 2 hours before the start and went
through my ride morning ritual. Dress in my endurance costume, feed
Tanna, feed me (oatmeal and fake hot dogs for protein), saddle, forget
how to saddle and have to resaddle and reposition and saddle again.
Finally I was ready and mounted up while Daniel held Tanna. I had not
ridden him the day before. I like to ride the day before a
competition, but it seems that's when he acts up worse, so I
consciously did not go for a ride. He was jumpy and tense, but
controllable and no rearing or bucking ensued. :-)

I warmed Tanna up and went to the start to give my number to the
timers who would keep track of us riders all day. My number! OOPS.
Forgot to put that number on his butt. So I went back to the trailer
and wrote a big "7" (lucky 7, I was told) on Tanna with a livestock
crayon. Numbers generally are used for horses in the 50 or 55 mile
competition while the 25 or 30 mile competitors are assigned a letter.
This makes it easier for the timers to distinguish the riders.

I hung back and started pretty close to the back. I usually do this.
Occasionally, I'll start mid-pack, but most often, I just start in the
back. There was a controlled start for the first few minutes to allow
all the horses to safely cross the pavement onto the trail and allow
the sun to come up a little bit more. After the trail was open, I
found myself riding with Joe Schoech and Sarah Engsberg. Joe was
riding Kit (he has another nickname...). I'd ridden with Joe a couple
times before and always found it a pleasant experience. Joe is the
nicest guy and is a great mentor for those that are fortunate enough
to ride with him. After awhile we were 4. We caught up with Tracy and
the four of us walked, trotted, cantered, and chattered our way to the
vet check. The miles flew by and we reached the vet check around 9 AM,
where Daniel was taking pictures of the horses going in and out of the
vet check.

We four split up as we went looking for our vet check areas. It took
me a few minutes, but I finally found my vet check bag. I unsaddled
Tanna, got some water and presented to the vet. Dr. Ken Marcella
vetted us and asked about my electrolyting schedule and commented on
his nice shoe job. After vetting through without issue, I returned to
my area set up right next to Sarah and Joe. We talked and chatted some
more while we took care of our horses and ate. The horses enjoyed
eating one another's food. I'd never really had that experience before
as I've most often had my vet checks alone. It was nice. :-)

Joe and Sarah could have left long before me, but they tacked up with
me as my out time was at 9:59. I'm almost always late leaving a vet
check and this was no exception. We were only a couple minutes past my
out time. Sarah and Joe had gone on ahead, but I wanted to see if
Tanna would drink one last time from the common buckets. He did drink
some. I finally left when Sarah yelled at me to find out what I was

The three of us took off down the road on our 2nd loop of 19 miles.
There was more of the road for while and then we veered back into the
woods. I don't remember much of this loop, to tell you the truth.
After awhile, the loops just manage to blend in together! I do
remember Tanna started drinking about 4 miles out in this loop and
drank really well the rest of the ride. We got back into camp around

I went directly to my trailer to unsaddle and then back to the vet to
vet in. Again, no issues vetting in. His pulse was under criteria and
everything looked good. I returned to the trailer and tied him in
front of his food and hay and went back into our camper to make me
something to eat and sit down for a few minutes. The 50 minute hold
flew by and I was again late leaving.

I didn't see Joe or Sarah so figured they went on without me. Sure
enough, I saw Joe just leaving out as I walked toward the out-timer. I
mounted and followed from a distance. Tanna, however, did not really
see Joe and Kit, so wasn't motivated to leave camp. I gave in and we
moseyed along, not really trying to catch up, but it would have been
nice if we had. We had done the first couple of loops in pretty good
time and we had over 5 hours to complete the last 18 mile loop, so I
wasn't concerned about making the cutoff.

About an hour into that loop, Mr. Barnett caught up with me as I was
hand-walking Tanna down a hill. At the bottom of the hill, Mr. Barnett
went on along and I hung back, allowing them to get out of sight and
down the trail a little. I remounted and we walked for awhile longer
and then picked up a nice trot. I enjoyed riding along the beautiful
trails. Plenty of water on trail. The trails were gradually always
going up or down. The trails are very nicely laid out, though, so you
don't necessarily noticed the gradual incline and decline, well,
except on the nice short roller coaster up and down trails! During one
part of this loop, I could have sworn I heard somebody behind us. Two
female voices it sounded like. Tanna also thought he heard something
and we were distracted for a bit.

We finally made it to the finish line at just after 5 PM. I passed a
sign that said "1056 to camp. Run....Run." I puzzled over that sign.
Was 1056 the name of a forest road? Or had they named the trail? Oh,
well, it did say run, so I asked Tanna for a canter and we cantered
until we saw Nancy, the finish timer waiting for me under the finish
line. Wow! That was an unexpected surprise! I was done! Never did
catch Joe, but I didn't really try very hard at all. I wanted to
complete and be ready to go the next day.

I took Tanna back to the trailer and immediately untacked him. I
cleaned him up a bit and took him to the vet for his completion exam.
He completed just fine, but was stiff in his right hamstring. I paid
attention to that. I massaged him some and walked him several times
between the completion on Thursday and the start on Friday. I went and
got my map and my vet card for the Friday 50, ate (thanks to my
husband who fixed the meal while I complained of soreness and rubs),
prepared for the next day's ride and went to the awards/ride meeting.

24 started in the 55 and 16 completed. I was 16th and Turtle (last
place). Joe teased me a bit and said that this was my FIRST Turtle
ever. This was not my first turtle. It was actually my 4th Turtle.
Coulda sworn I had more Turtles than that! I got an award for being
Turtle. A nice statue of a turtle looking at a snail hitching a ride
on his shell. The bottom says "Yellowhammer 2006." That's going on my
desk at work! :-) I also picked out a T-shirt with the Yellowhammer
logo for my completion award.

Friday's 50 mile ride was on different loops. We would do the entire
Orange loop for the first loop. This was a 20 mile loop that would
include a 10 minute stop at 12 miles so Otis could watch us trot out.
Then back into camp for the first vet check and 50 minute hold. The
second loop was the Orange loop again, but a shortened version at 17
miles. The final loop was pink at 13 miles. Pulse was again 64.

Back to camp to get some sleep. I checked Tanna and he was better. No
more tight hamstring. I set the alarm and got up at 1 AM to walk Tanna
and feed him, then back to sleep until 4:15. Start time wasn't until
6:30 on Friday, but I wanted a little extra time to walk Tanna around
and loosen him up before the start.

When I went up and gave my number to the timers for the start, I
trotted Tanna for Otis to watch to make sure he was ready to go out
again for the second day. This was nothing special for me, all the
riders were required to do it, but I was glad of it since I wanted to
be sure Tanna was not still stiff from the day before.

The Orange loop followed the same trail as the Blue loop from Thursday
for 7.5 miles. After the controlled start, I again found myself riding
with Joe and Sarah. This time we also had Sandy Thompson and Betsy
Knight with us for a little ways. After awhile, Betsy decided her
horse was calm enough and headed down the trail. Tanna bounced around
and wanted to follow, but I held him back and we moseyed on along.
Soon Sandy also decided to move out and left us. Those of us that
place last do not often ride fast. ;-) At the 7.5 mile mark, Joe also
headed on down the trail. He wanted to get some good training on his
horse to take to the Nationals in a couple of weeks. I was just out to
complete our first ever back-to-back 50s and was setting a very
conservative pace and walking many of the downhills.

Sarah and I rode along. Sometimes she fell back and then would catch
up again. We were riding fairly close together when we came to the
trot-by. Joe was waiting there, but took off soon after we arrived.
There was a nice water crossing there and I dismounted and sponged and
ate a granola bar. Becky was nice enough to take my jacket from me as
the day had warmed up some and didn't look like it was going to rain
anymore. It hadn't rained, but had looked like it might earlier. The
LD riders began to over-take us at this point.

I hate to admit it, but I had been hoping Otis would say Tanna was off
so I could stop. Terrible, I know, but true! But, no, Tanna was clear
to go and I remounted and Sarah and I took off up the road. Up and
down, up and down. There were funny little jokes on pie plates along
this stretch. "What is a turkey's favorite holiday song?" "I'm
dreaming of a White Christmas" "What do you get when you cross a
turkey with a banjo?" "A turkey that plucks himself!" "Time flies like
an arrow" "Fruit flies..." "...like a banana" Very entertaining!
Thanks to Mrs. Barnett for writing all those and Susan K and helper
(??) who put them out!

We got back to camp around 10:30. I vetted through and took my hold at
my trailer. Daniel was around somewhere taking pictures, so I was
crewing for myself for these rides. Tanna ate some hay and hung around
sleeping. I resaddled and headed out. Sarah was hanging out in camp
for awhile, so I went out on my own. Back over the Orange loop for the
shortened version. About an hour and a half later, Sarah caught up
with me again while I was off fiddling with the heart rate monitor. I
was using a mohair girth that I haven't used a whole lot, but my usual
neoprene girths had started to create girth galls during my 15 mile
training rides, so I was using the little-used mohair girth I bought
at Hoosier Daddy earlier this season.

Anyway, we finished that loop. I thought I was going to pull. I was
going very slowly and I thought after my hold, I'd only have a little
over 2 hours to finish the last 13 mile loop. That's not a bad pace,
really, 6.5 miles per hour, but that's faster than I'd averaged all
day, as my first two loops I averaged just over 5 mph. I'd have to
really kick it up a notch to make time. I decided to just vet through
and decide during the hold. I stopped at the in-timer to get my time
into camp. I dismounted and jogged to my trailer and quickly stripped
tack and went to the pulse takers. Out time was at 3:20 PM. What? That
meant I had 3 hours and 10 minutes after my out time to do 13 miles.
How had that happened?? Well, fiddlesticks, I couldn't use THAT as an
excuse to quit. I could almost walk the entire way and still make
time. I had mistakenly read one of the time fields on my GPS and had
thought that was the time of day, when it really was just the time I'd
been out on trail for that loop!

So I went back to the trailer for my final hold. Tanna ate and ate and
drank the entire hold. I think he was thinking I was going crazy at
this point and we just weren't going to stop. We have done a 50 on a
Friday and then another 50 on Sunday, but this was our first genuine
attempt at back-to-back 50s. Daniel showed up and I got to chat with
him while I rested and watched Tanna through the window of the camper.
At 3:10, I jumped up and resaddled and headed out on my last loop. The
timers asked me where Sarah was. I told them her horse was tied to her
trailer so I assumed she'd be along soon. I decided I was going to go
ahead and kick up the pace for the last loop. Tanna looked good and
had eaten well at the check, so I figured we could do this unless
something felt off or wrong.

So right out of the vet check, we picked up a very good trot. We had
been over this trail in and out of camp several times so I was pretty
familiar with the footing by now and asked Tanna to canter quite a bit
of it. In no time we were up crossing a gravel road and back into the
woods. We paused and Tanna drank from the red mud/clay puddle (orange
juice, Tracy called it!) before heading into the rolling single-track
trail. Very fun trail, especially at a good pace! I was having a blast
and Tanna seemed to be enjoying himself, too. Sarah caught up with us
and I told her I wanted to kick up the pace and move out on this loop.
So we took turns leading through this loop. I'm sure Sarah and her
horse were happy to move out, too!

About a mile or two from the finish we came up on another rider. It
was Joe! Wow, I thought he was long gone. He was on the ground so we
stopped to see what was going on. His horse had a sore back and he had
been walking a lot of the loop to save his horse. A trail rider came
through and said that the finish timer (Nancy) was getting tired of
waiting for us. So we all headed up the hill, Joe still on foot. We
continued on that way. A couple times Joe mentioned for us to go
around him. I said "No way, Joe, you're not gonna cheat me out of the
Turtle award after I worked so hard to go so slow!"

We got to the sign "1056 to camp. Run....Run." I had missed the ' mark
before. The sign read "1056' to camp. Run....Run." Oh, FEET! Ok, the
sign makes sense now. When we were in sight of the finish, I stopped
Tanna and let the others go ahead. Daniel was taking pictures and
Tanna was dancing and snorting in irritation. When Joe and Sarah
crossed the finish line, I let Tanna go and we cantered to the finish
line. Whew!!! Again, I finished just after 5 PM. And again, I was 16th
place. And once again, I was TURTLE!!! Yay. ;-)

I went to the trailer and stripped tack for the last time. I cleaned
him up a smidge and left his butt rug on. When I went up to vet in,
Joe was vetting out his horse. I asked Daniel to get Tanna's larger
navajo-type blanket that would cover his back muscles, too. I had left
it on his butt when I went out on the last loop and some good
samaritans told me and then got it out of the road for me when it fell
off. Daniel went to get it for me.

When Tanna trotted out, the vet asked me to trot again as she saw
something. So I went again. She said she didn't see it the second
time. Joe explained to me later that this meant that Tanna is sore and
he worked out of it since it got better the second time out. Good that
it wasn't a brewing lameness issue, but still soreness that needed to
be addressed. I settled Tanna back in his pen, covered to keep him
warm and keep his muscles from cramping from a chill.

20 riders started the 50 and 16 finished. For my second Turtle award,
I got a statue of a little turtle on top of a large rock. Very cute.
And I got another t-shirt for my completion award. I could have chosen
something else for completion, but I had worn my Thursday completion
award during the Friday ride and really liked it.

What a great ride! I really enjoyed it. I'm very pleased with my
horse. He is happily hanging out in his pasture with his buddy and is
fine. He has a very slight soreness in his back where I had water
bottles in my cantle bag. I, unfortunately, changed the configuration
of the bottles and I believe that is the reason for the soreness.
Also, on training rides at home, I rarely trained with water bottles.
Have to alter that.

Thank you so much to Tamra Schoech and Sarah Engsberg for managing
this ride. They worked very hard to turn out a very nice ride with
nicely marked trails and water and nice awards and the best timers
(Nancy Gooch, Samm Bartee, Jim Underwood, Jackie Mitchell) and vets
(Otis Schmitt, Ken Marcella, Page Jackson; I know there were 3 others,
but I don't know their names. Thanks to them, too!!!) and all the
volunteers that made the ride run very smoothly. And thanks to Joe and
Sarah for riding with me and encouraging me through mine and Tanna's
first back-to-back 50 milers!

Congratulations to Otis and Becky!!!!


Nashville, TN

Friday, September 15, 2006

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Friday, September 08, 2006

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Tevis Wind - Tom Noll


One hundred miles is the signature distance of endurance riding and the Western States Tevis Cup Ride is the signature 100-mile endurance ride. There are other rides and other distances, but the Tevis Cup 100-Mile Endurance Ride is truly the "Grand Daddy of them all." My horse Frank has a solid 100-mile record and I always thought that he was a Tevis horse, but I never knew for sure, until now.

Last weekend Frank and I ran the 100 miles of the Tevis trail and the entire experience was incredible. The trail, the veterinarians, the volunteers, my crew, the riders, and the horses, and especially the horses, were all phenomenal. The ride was an experience that I'll never forget. Emotion and passion runs along side with the horses on the Tevis trail.

Three weeks before Tevis, Frank and I ran the Big Horn 100 in Wyoming. We were registered for Tevis but I was worried about pushing him too hard and doing too much in only three weeks. I could not make up my mind after Big Horn. On the last day to withdraw, I wrote to the Western States office and canceled my entry. I wrote to my crew leader and told her that I was out. And then, all weekend long, I agonized over my decision. Finally, it was a post from Julie Suhr with an offhand comment about riding the Race of Champions at Big Horn one year and then on to Tevis only a few weeks later that crystallized my mind. On Monday I called the Western States office and asked to be reinstated. Jo Ann asked, "Tom Noll, are you in or are you out?" and I replied to Jo Ann, "Count us in." Frank and I were committed.

I called my crew leader back and asked if she would still help me. Jane answered with an enthusiastic yes. Jane put me in touch with Vicki Testa and Vicki went over every mile of the trail with me on the telephone. We were in and we were ready to run.

I drove down to California on Wednesday and arrived at Robie Park that evening. There were only a few riders at the park and I was able to find an ideal campsite. More riders arrived on Thursday and by Friday, Robie Park was bustling with activity. You can feel the excitement in the air at Robie Park. Tevis is not just any ride. All the riders know, that at best, only about half of them will make it to Auburn and different riders have different strategies to improve their odds. Some ride the trail ahead of time, while others trust their horses to various potions and supplements. Frank and I rested and bided our time until the start while we tried to relax.

Jane Switzer and Jennifer Adam showed up and we discussed the crew activities. I could not help but notice that Jane had a Badwater 2002 hat. We talked, and Jane explained that she was the crew leader for a runner on the Badwater Death Valley-to-Whitney, endurance run. Jane mentioned that Vicki Testa and Kim Nunez, both Tevis finishers would help Frank and me at Robinson Flat. That was when I really began to feel the pressure. I had a world-class crew of endurance veterans and they were all there for Frank.

Frank and I walked around Robie Park. We saw the top riders, the top vets, and the top horses, including Galahad, Monsieur Joseph, and the Outlaw Trail horses. Bogus Thunder was there with the Halls. Barbara White and her horse were camped just down the trail from us. Lucky and her appaloosa Romeo were there from the Big Horn three weeks earlier along with Dave Rabe and Tom Sherwood who were also at Big Horn. Frank was vetted in by Jim Baldwin. Jamie Kerr was at the in check too. I told Frank that we were running in the big leagues now. We were going to run in the footsteps of Ann Trason and other endurance legends. I kept telling myself that once out on the trail we would focus just like any other 100 but I knew that was not true. This was Tevis, and Tevis is different from any other ride.

Frank is a tough little horse who has never been pulled. We both have the 100-mile trail experience and we both have the desire and savvy to make it happen. Frank and I think alike when we are out on the trail. We had primarily done multi-day rides for the past two seasons, but I know that Frank has the speed and I knew that I would call on that speed on the Tevis trail. So far, the winds of fate seemed to be with us too. I felt prepared but more than a wee bit nervous and unsteady as we walked among the giants around Robie Park.

We were split into three pens for the start and Frank and I were in the third pen. I would have preferred a different seed for the start, but on reflection, I though that I could be comfortable starting with the third group and that I would make the best of our placing.

After a restless night we were up at 3:30 to get Frank ready and pack the rig for the trip to Auburn. The stars were shining bright in a jet-black sky and I could tell that it was to be a magnificent day. Frank and I made our way down to the staging area for the start just before 5:00. We walked in some big circles to warm up. Soon the third pen was released and we were walking down the road. I was mildly surprised by how many horses had red ribbons in their tails and I began to think that perhaps there should be a fourth starting group for all the red-tailed horses. The start went very smoothly, the horses were all very well behaved, and soon we were running down the trail at a comfortable pace.

Within the first few miles I was right behind two ladies who could not get their horses over a small little ditch in the trail. The two women were making a very big deal over their command of the trail and emphasized that we should all stay back and give them plenty of room. I'll admit that I would have been nervous on those horses too. Frank and I were patient although the ladies could have saved everyone, including themselves, considerable time and anguish and had a better training experience had they just stepped aside and let others pass. Some riders clocked the wasted time at over twenty minutes -- twenty minutes that were never to be regained that day.

After much effort, the ladies got their horses through the ditch, but only a few yards down the trail was another ditch and the process started anew with more fidgeting, frustration, and commanding behavior. Frank and I were loosing valuable time. Finally, the two ladies parted to opposite sides of the trail and I directed Frank right between the two uncertain horses and their uncertain mounts. As I passed between the ladies I said, "Frankus, show them how it's done!" and we walked through the small ditch and on up the trail never looking back.

We rode along and on up through Squaw Valley. For the most part I was able to ride alone until we got to the switchback tracks up through Squaw Valley to the Sierra crest. We passed Cowman in his Cowman Hat near the top and I let out a cowboy yell. We were on our way. Lake Tahoe was behind us to the east and the Pacific Ocean was in front to the west.

My experience through Granite Chief was perfect. Early on the wilderness trail some riders had experienced some difficulties. I stopped and asked if they needed any assistance. The downed rider seemed to be a little shaken but I was assured that all was ok so Frank and I continued on. After we passed those few riders I got off and ran along with Frank because the trail through the wilderness is steep and rocky. There was no one in front of us and there was no one behind us. We crossed the Granite Chief wilderness alone at our own pace and it was a true wilderness experience on a day on the trail with 200 other riders. Somewhere along the trail I saw the biggest pile of bear poo that I have seen in some time. Frank was unconcerned with the pile, but to me it indicated that Granite Chief is still wilderness and the poo pile did answer the age old question for at least one bear; "Do bears sh** in the woods?"

We passed through the trot-by at Lyon Ridge and we came to Cougar Rock. There was a short queue waiting for a turn on the rock. Time was an issue and I opted for the Cougar Rock bypass deciding that I would prefer a buckle in Auburn to a photo on Cougar Rock if given the choice. Frank and I continued on to Red Star and then to Robinson. We were later than I had hoped arriving into Robinson and the tardiness was probably due to the delays early in the ride. I began to feel the pressure of the cutoffs and that cutoff pressure would continue unabated throughout the entire ride right up until we arrived in Auburn so many hours later. In fact, I constantly worried about the cutoffs. The cutoffs were like the Pinkertons chasing Butch and Sundance in the movie -- they were always behind us, and plenty darn close enough to be worrisome at that.

Frank passed the vet checks at Red Star and Robinson with all As which was a pattern that would be repeated throughout the ride. The two Tevis veterans, Vicki Testa and Kim Nunez met us at Robinson Flat. We had a nice one-hour break and then Frank and I were off on a new trail section. Our odds of finishing went up dramatically with our successful passage through Robinson Flat.

The riders who I rode with on the sections after Robinson were veteran Tevis riders. They were joking about the WSTF always adding more trail each year, yet the overall distance still remains constant at exactly 100 miles. We talked that replacing fire roads with single-track trail certainly made the course more difficult and time consuming, but the character was closer to that of the historical Tevis trail experienced in the 1950s and we agreed that the trail changes were a good thing.

We made our way to Last Chance. Last Chance would be our last chance for a nice break before the canyons. I paused for about twenty minutes to let Frank eat and recover. The next twenty miles of trail would be very difficult and I thought that a break now would pay dividends later. We saddled up and began our descent into the first canyon. It was down, down, down, to the swinging bridge at the very bottom of the canyon. Chris Heron and I were off and leading our horses on much of the descent. At Swinging Bridge I asked Chris to lead across first in case Frank got nervous. Frank showed us his big eyes but he remained mostly cool and collected on the bridge. We crossed the Swinging Bridge and then began our ascent to Deadwood. I could look across the canyon and see that we regained nearly all of the elevation that we had lost since Last Chance. Frank is a hill-climbing horse but these canyons are tough. Near the top I looked into his big brown eyes and questioned myself whether it is really right for me to ask so much of him. He is an awesome horse, however, I need to respect his limits, and the canyons are very difficult.

We stopped briefly at Deadwood and then began the traverse of El Dorado Canyon, which was even deeper than the first canyon. Again, it was down, down, down, to the creek. We passed by the points where unfortunate horses had fallen from the trail on previous trips. Seeing those places was so disturbing that I thought that if something happens to Frank, I hope that I go along too, because I do not think that I could live with myself after such an accident.

Again, some riders were reluctant to yield the trail. The riders that I was riding with were persistent and we passed on by. Again, we crossed El Dorado Creek at the canyon bottom and then began our ascent to Michigan Bluff. Again, it was another big climb and more questioning myself about how much I can ask of my partner. Frank is a good horse and he never faltered or wavered on the hills. We finally topped out at the quaint townsite of Michigan Bluff. My crew was there and we made sure that Frank had time to eat and recover. Again, all As on the vet card and we were off to Foresthill. Frank and I saw some wild turkeys as we were leaving the Michigan Bluff townsite.

Volcano Canyon from Michigan Bluff to Foresthill is shorter and a welcome reprieve from the previous two canyons. We quickly crossed the canyon and made it to Foresthill around 7:30 in the evening. Frank passed through the vet check with another set of As and we took our last one-hour hold. My crew prepared Frank's tack with three glow sticks on the breast collar and I had a little bit to eat. I noticed that Frank seemed to slightly favor his right front while he was standing and we trotted him out before leaving Foresthill. All seemed ok, so I joined up with Chris Heron and we rode together along the streets of Foresthill. It was Saturday night in Foresthill and people were out enjoying the horses. We passed bars and restaurants as well as private parties as we rode through Foresthill. Everyone wished us well. Chris and I descended from Foresthill into the nighttime darkness on our long trip to Franciscos.

Chris rides with a headlamp while I prefer no lights. We enjoyed each other's company on the trail. We walked the steep sections and trotted where we could. Sometimes Chris would lead and sometimes I would lead. I can say there is no other experience like trotting your horse, in the darkness, on an unfamiliar trail, after being out on the trail all day long. The night trail is one of the very best parts of a 100 and I love the feeling of trotting or cantering with my horse down a 100-mile trail in the darkness.

The seventeen miles of trail to Franciscos took us a few hours. Chris and I, Frank, and Impress, worked steadily up and down and along the trail. Every now and then we could see through the trees to the moonlight reflections on the Middle Fork of the American River. Frank vetted through Franciscos with all As again. We paused at Franciscos for a short break and then we were on to the river crossing at Poverty Bar and on to Lower Quarry. The trail along the American River does not get the attention of the canyons, still one slip along this stretch and it will be a quick slide down to the river and someone is going to get hurt. Chris and I passed up the opportunity for corn whiskey and rye at the Poverty Bar river crossing. We took a very brief stop at Lower Quarry and then we were out for the last six miles of trail and our final destination in Auburn.

No Hands Bridge was surreal. I cannot come up with words that describe crossing the bridge. I have seen the photos of the bridge and I have read others' accounts, but I never quite understood its significance. Today it is hard for me to look at photos of No Hands Bridge without a lump in my heart and my eyes misting over.

Leaving Lower Quarry, you can barely make out the bridge down the river. In the nighttime darkness the silhouette of the bridge with its big rainbow arches and old-style architecture is dark, eerie, and almost foreboding. The bridge looms in the darkness down the river in the canyon. You can hear the quiet rumble of rapids in the river. You know that when you cross that bridge there are only four miles to the finish and your whole awesome Tevis experience will soon be over.

Frank and I were in the front as our little group made our way down the trail switchback and then onto the bridge. Frank and I took our time and we walked across the bridge even though one could easily trot, lope, or even gallop across the span. The rider behind me said that we could trot if I wanted. I was so emotional that I could barely get the words out, but all I wanted was to walk and savor the whole experience. Frank and I had traveled 96 miles on the most famous 100-mile trail. We crossed mountains and we had crossed canyons. We had crossed rivers and creeks. We had run miles of dusty, rocky trails. For a few moments, time stood still and it was just myself and my horse and the Western States Trail as we crossed No Hands Bridge together.

No Hands Bridge is a mystical spot on the Tevis trail. The spirits of all the past Tevis horses ran with Frank and silently guided him along the Tevis trail all day and through the night. The breath of those Tevis horses formed the gentle winds of fate that blew us steadily onward towards Auburn. The spirits of the past Tevis horses visited us one last time on No Hands Bridge before they turned the trail over to Frank; "Mister Frank, let's take it on home."

My Tevis ride embodies everything that is great about endurance. Frank is a wonderful partner and my best friend, the trail is very tough, the Tevis volunteers were just as excited to be there as we were, the veterinary staff was world-class, the camaraderie on the trail was excellent, and strangers who I had never met before came together and formed a perfect crew and kindly took care of my horse. I will certainly return to the Western States trail but my 2006 Tevis experience will never be repeated.

Best Regards,

Tom Noll

SW Idaho

Tevis Winds - Tom Noll

by Tom Noll

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Tevis 2006 - Pam Bowen

by Pam Bowen This was my first time riding Tevis, the previous 2 years I crewed for my
husband, Don. About 2 weeks before, I was overcome with fear, from what I
was never sure. Everything was falling into place, but I was scared to
death. Was it turning things over to our crew? That would be silly as we
had the best crew anyone could ask for, Becky Glaser and her daughter Lena.
Was it the start with 200 other horses? I was riding a seasoned horse,
Whyatt, who completed Tevis the 3 previous years, was I worried about Don
and Willy and that damn Kaput Springs they fell from 3 years ago? I'm not
sure I'll ever know the answer, I'm not a wimpy rider so it will likely go

I left work early on Wednesday and drove to Auburn to meet up with my
husband at the BBQ. Afterwards, we went back to our friend's at Michigan
Bluff where Don had been staying the week. We spent the night and got up
early to head to Robie. We got good parking and set up camp, horses were
doing well, my insides were still turning, but really found we didn't have
much to do as I had done most of the preparation and organizing ahead of
time. Friday came, we checked in and vetted through. There were a lot of
distractions during the day, but my insides were still occasionally turning.
For some reason, one particular person stood out that I just can't shake
from my head, it was a gal that was riding through camp nearly all day
bareback on a gaited horse. Everywhere I turned, she was there, gaiting her
horse through camp. It was in the afternoon that I realized her horse had a
number on its butt so was entered. I couldn't figure out why she wasn't
resting the horse and allowing it to tank up. We passed that horse
relatively early in the ride, I don't think they finished. Also, Greg
Kimler came to see Willy, he was one of his rescuers. It was very emotional
to watch the reunion.

Our rig driver showed up, Debbie Parsons from Florida, with her new friend,
Chip from Minnesota! Long story, but it was such a pleasure to have these 2
young women join our crew, they were both absolutely wonderful and a joy to
have around. Don and I went for a pre-ride and as we were coming back to
camp I found Becky and Lena driving through camp. Things were really in
place now! The 6 of us went to dinner and the ride meeting. Becky and Lena
left with their truck and my Jeep that was already packed with crew supplies
to get parked closer to Robinson. Time to sleep, yeh right! I think I got
2 hours? We were up and in the saddle without a hitch, once in the saddle,
I had to take deep breaths, insides were turning.

We were assigned to pen #2. I think the RM had a good idea that needs to be
refined, it was the riders that failed to follow instructions that botched
things. We had been instructed to keep the horses moving in the pen, then
assemble in order at the 2 minute warning and exit the pen in pairs and
maintain the 2x2 at a walk to the start. Folks in our pen started clogging
the entrance right away, and no sooner did we come out of the pen riders
started rushing and passing at a trot, to go where, I don't know. And then
the start, and the horrible back up at the trickle crossing. Folks giving
trail was a problem all day, but this was ridiculously rude, folks that
couldn't get their horses across refusing to yield and riders from behind
trying to push through when we were just as stuck as they were. I hated
them all! When we finally got to the trickle, ours just calmly walked
across, eager to move out. I never felt like puking after that, I was cured
from whatever was bothering me.

It was a beautiful, but tough ride. When we were climbing to the top, I
asked Don where Lake Tahoe was, he said behind me. Good thing I asked :).
I looked behind and it was the entire view! There were a few bogs in
Granite Chief, but mostly just a lot of rock, still pretty though, and
Whyatt was grabbing snacks of God knows what along the way. The snow bridge
was interesting, Cougar rock was fun, Willy refused, but Whyatt went up all
business, no real drama, but it is steeper than what it looks in pictures.
We got to Robinson and found the entire crew, so all was well. We had 4
people catering to our every need. Becky was in charge of the horses
though, she went over them with a fine tooth comb and made sure of what they
were eating and drinking. We left on the "new" trail, yuk! They said it
would be slower but prettier, the last thing Tevis needs is slower, and I
couldn't see anything for the dust! I vote for the old road, even though
I've never done it! When we were on the trail going over Pucker Point, Nick
Warhol was behind us, I was so glad because he pointed out just the right
times to look between the trees at the gorgeous views. I saw the
waterfalls, the river and the sheer drop offs, thanks Nick! We also teased
about giving trail, who should go on the right side :). We ran into more
problems with riders yielding on the way to the swinging bridge, don't know
why they won't yield when they get to good spots, perhaps they are tired and
not thinking clearly? The swinging bridge was fun, Whyatt decided to trot
to catch Willy, so we had a good boing-boing going (I love this horse!), and
I waved to Arnie who was down below cooling his horse in the river!

We were finally at that moment, Don crossed Kaput Springs on Willy, he
called back to tell me just as Whyatt started over. There is enough to
drink from, but I'm with Don, we don't stop there, nor did we dally to
survey the accident scene :). But tears came to my eyes, Willy beat this
spot, the unfinished business was over at last! On to Michigan Bluff, where
we found Debbie and Chip. They did everything they could for us, Whyatt is
a little heavier this year so needed a little cooling to pulse in, the east
coast girls were good at this one! Took a few minutes and he was good, of
course it's not like he was cooperating, he was on a mission to find the
best grub! Off to Foresthill, emotional going up bath road with the
cheering and finding your crew. Horses pulsed right in, straight to the VC,
Whyatt was at 48. Becky had prime parking, and we found ourselves next to
Leigh Bacco, another of Willy's rescuers, more emotional moments. Becky was
all over the horses, Lena was human intake control, Debbie and Chip did
every odd job. Becky had wash cloths and eye wash (to get that "new trail"
dirt out of our eyes, mine were nearly swollen shut). Becky has been dubbed
the "soup lady" after a comical episode between her and the horses. I have
to admit, I am very impressed with both horses, neither hit a wall the
entire time and both ate like champs.

Off in the dark, I didn't like this part. Very emotional moment going
through the town of Foresthill, even little children were cheering us on.
Later, the trail had been sabotaged at one spot and we were lost for a half
hour. I especially didn't like it that Don made me go first because he said
Whyatt knew the way. I really didn't like that one trail on the super steep
mountain with the loooong switchbacks, with a view of the American River
glowing in the moonlight, taunting me, no shore to be seen, a good clue to
the steepness is when you are riding by treetops! Whyatt led about 20
people down that section, it was very quiet, no complaints about speed,
Whyatt was power walking and trotting. There was one time that I asked
Whyatt to go left, I saw the trail (but I was also seeing extra horses and
people walking that didn't exist), he jerked the reins from my hand and
headed right, whoa, flashlight, drop-off to the left, trail to the right,
mental note, don't do that again. We got hung up again several more times
with slow riders that didn't want to yield.

We finished, Don and I both, what are the odds of that? Becky and the
entire crew were at the finish, Becky made sure we celebrated with champagne
and Martinelli's (Don had the cider, I had the champagne, 3 glasses!).
Becky and crew took care of the horses, we were sent to shower. Chip was
picked up by her cousin after the Haggin judging, Becky and Lena went home
after the awards, Debbie joined us when we returned to Michigan Bluff, at
the home of our wonderful friends, Gary and Judy Hall. We had a simple
meal, in the basement/bar, Gary faded first, then Don after sitting in the
hot tub, then us girls went to bed.

I have to thank my horse first, TR Whyatt was awesome, 4 Tevis completions
in a row, he surpassed 4k miles at this ride, his HR hit 160 only once
during the entire ride, the rest of the time it was remarkably low, Whyatt
taught me what to do in tough terrain, which was nothing, he has my utmost
respect. My crew, money couldn't buy what we were given in that department,
thank you to the awesome laid-back Becky, Lena, and my new friends Debbie
and Chip. To Kim Fuess, for pushing and mentoring me to get to the 100 mile
start, the hardest part. And to my husband, who has the Tevis experience
and had the good sense to put me up front in the dark and let Whyatt lead
the way, can I cry now?

Will I do it again? Don't know, but I know I don't have to, I have a
buckle, I did it................................

Pam Bowen