Tuesday, July 31, 2007

You’re Not In Kansas Anymore

Vickey Hollingsworth

Well, I did it! As a reformed Arena Queen, I managed to take the plunge from the dark side and surface in the light. Somewhere on the other side of the arena fence was a big wide world, full of equine athletes, zillions of miles of trails, and adventures I never imagined. I still can’t believe I managed to make my dream come true and complete my very first two LD rides this season! Okay, so I didn’t actually “complete” the second one, but I darned near completed it! And surely that counts. What the heck does 8 measly little miles count anyway?!

Let me back up a bit and tell you that I am not the adventurous type. I’m the kind of person who panics if I leave home without the cell phone because my car might break down between here and the Kwik Trip, 2 miles away from my house. I would be stranded on the highway and would probably die before anyone ever found me. My experience with adventure consisted of going eyeball to eyeball with a Banana Spider in the garden and screaming in bloody terror all the way back to the house. So it goes without saying that this whole endurance riding thing came as a shock to my family. After all, who would imagine that “I” would set out on trails through the woods when the sight of a spider initiates convulsions?!

But, that’s exactly what I did.

I think it all started a few years ago when I bought Padrona Auventera, the scraggly little 10 month old pure Arabian filly. I had dreams of transforming her little 500 pound bay body into an elegant dressage horse, or a flashy halter champion. Those dreams got snubbed out somewhere in the first year of ownership. The little filly was outgoing. She enjoyed taking walks through the woods around the farm, and climbing the manure pile. She played in the water, and seemed to have a love for tarps, small animals, and tree branches. Surely this little horse should be a TRAIL HORSE instead! Yes, that’s it, we will trail ride! The bulk of my trail riding experience was more like hacking around the pastures. But hey, I considered that trail riding. After all, I was riding, and we were on a mowed trail encircling the hay field. Voila! Trail ride!

As Padrona moseyed into her 3rd year of life and was under saddle, I figured it was time we hit the trails! After all, that’s what this horse was destined to be. There was a great trail about 1 mile from my house and I intended to take her there to ride. There was no sense in hooking up the trailer to go 1 mile so I set out on foot with the horse in tow. (And of course a supply of water and snacks, cell phone, first aid kit, helmet, and various other necessities for going 1 mile away from your house.) We arrived at the trail and I mounted the brave Padrona for our very first trail ride!

All my life I’d wondered if God had a sense of humor, or was He serious and stern? I do believe I learned that day that he has a sense of humor that rivals Pat McManus, or Erma Bombeck. He laughed until he cried as he sent a little black bear out of the woods and directly in the path of Padrona and the woman lacking all sense of risk-taking. Aaaaah! A bear! You don’t see bears in Wisconsin! And you sure don’t see them on your very first trail ride aboard a 3 ½ year old green Arabian! There must have been a mistake somewhere. This bear surely wasn’t meant for me! Spiders and snakes send me shrieking for help, so what am I supposed to do about a BEAR?!

Fast forward a bit, and we survived the bear. We even managed to survive some other minor adventures over the next year or so. Turkey and Sandhill Crane sightings eventually became non-events. Creek crossings and railroad tracks were par for the course, and the river was a main staple in our trail riding diet.

So now – the moment we’d all been waiting for...an endurance ride!!! My friend Jane is somewhat of the adventurous sort, like myself (tongue in cheek) and so we began to explore the possibility of endurance riding. We found a ride in the Northern Kettle Moraine and knew that this could be our endurance riding debut! I contacted the ride manager and learned the route that the ride would take. That Saturday, Jane and I packed up our trailer and horses and set off for a day of adventure, exploring the trail where this endurance ride would be held. After all, we didn’t dare go to the ride with no previous knowledge of the trail, because that would be too much adventure for us to handle.

We rode 18 miles of the trail that day. I had read that endurance riders find out within 1 mile of leaving camp what clothing and equipment works, and what doesn’t work, and yes, they were right. I learned that 90% of my chosen gear slipped into the “doesn’t work” category. All the way home we sat in eerie silence as we contemplated strategy. The trail was harder than we had imagined. There were rocks and hills and stumps. Padrona doesn’t “do” stumps. Stumps morph into Swamp Thing and eat horses for lunch. She does okay if I keep her moving fast and forward and focused. So sometime over the next few days we decided that Jane’s mare might be a little too old to complete a full 25 miles over that trail at the needed pace, so I’d need to find another partner. Enter Tracey to the scene. Tracey is more adventurous than myself, so things looked promising. Tracey rides a motorcycle and what can be more daring than that? So it was settled – Tracey would ride my older Appendix Quarter Horse, Twos’ China Doll (affectionately dubbed “Monster”) on the upcoming endurance ride.

The Friday night before ride day arrived, and we were pumped! With the horses loaded and trailer stashed with every manner of portable thing imagined, we were under way! We arrived too late for the pre-ride meeting. Here’s a note to beginners reading this story – you must go to the pre-ride meeting. If you don’t, it’s like leaving for work in the morning without your underwear on. All day you know you’re missing something, and things just don’t quite feel right.

So having missed the meeting, we didn’t know where the trail left from camp, or how far out the vet check was, or many of the other little details one might consider essential. But that was okay, we got through our pre-ride vet check, mounted up, and were under way! Within the first 3 nanoseconds we learned what it was like to be left in the dust. I had envisioned trotting along happily for mile after blissful mile, chatting with other competitors and getting to know people. It was a bit of a slap on the head when I realized the only “person” I was chatting with was Padrona. Okay, so I wasn’t chatting. I was cussing. I couldn’t understand how my sweet little girl had turned into a raging dragon foaming at the mouth and cantering in place.

Oddly enough, there is something about pure mileage that settles a horse. By about the 10th mile, Padrona was settled in to the pace, and Tracey and Monster were holding their own off our right hip. Let me tell you what, I was so happy to see that vet hold pop into view over the horizon that I wanted to kiss every person there. Sweet relief, we made it halfway! Now we can relax for 40 minutes, grab some grub and a soda, and replenish the senses before heading out again. And then came slap on the head number 2 for the day. If anyone ever tells you the vet hold is a place of relaxation, they have as twisted a sense of humor as God does. I had no idea I could pack so many essential tasks into a 40 minute timeframe. I don’t think I moved that fast when I saw the Banana Spider. And I didn’t know Tracey could move that fast either! It was especially funny to watch her 5 foot 2 inch self trudging through the belly deep weeds to the edge of the woods for a potty break. I’m still trying to rationalize this, but, wouldn’t it make sense for the porta potty to be right at the entrance to the vet hold? Why do they make you sprint 500 yards through the weeds to get to it? Is this some kind of rider conditioning program? Or do these ride managers have a sense of humor too?

In any case, we managed to get through the hold, and get back to camp in 5 hours and 1 minute. I was feeling pretty darned proud of our accomplishment until I saw that the front runners completed in 2 and a half hours. How on earth could they have gone twice as fast as us? It looks like I have a lot to learn about this sport!

Ride number 2 of the season was slightly more adventurous. We suddenly realized that sometimes rides will be full of tree roots, boulders, and trails skinny enough to warrant throwing a leg up over the saddle, as the beautiful 2-track trail dwindled down into a deer path. We climbed one hill so steep that our horses’ 4-wheel drive almost failed. I was afraid we’d have to push them up.

Also on that ride we somehow got lost in the woods and covered more territory than was in the plan. It seemed that we kept covering trail that we were sure we’d ridden already. Either this was the twilight zone, or this Arena Queen was a really bad navigator. Tracey of course was as cool as a 5 foot 2 inch cucumber, despite the sweltering heat. I, on the other hand, was cussing and scanning the landscape for berries and a natural water source. I mean, if we’re going to die out there, we could at least have a berry meal first. Then I remembered, the cell phone!! The blessed cell phone! One call to the ride manager would get us out of the pickle. Reality hit when I got her voicemail. We’re lost in the woods, and our only link to civilization is not taking calls! I called my husband. I figured I could share the misery with him and alert him to the last landmark we passed. He seemed a little annoyed with me. So great, we’re lost in the woods, and he’s annoyed because I’m interrupting him from working on his Camaro. In any case, two people now knew that we were going to die in the woods.

Just when I thought all hope was lost, we heard something. We heard something in the woods! Oh no, not a bear. Surely God had had enough fun with me and bears already. No, it wasn’t a bear, it was Steve! Steve was a 100 mile rider out on one of his loops! We weren’t going to die after all! Steve led us out of the woods, and into that blessed vet hold. (Where we worked frantically again for 40 minutes, but this time there was NO porta potty!) I guess they figure when its this sweltering hot, you sweat, you don’t pee. If you feel the need to “go,” just wait a few minutes and you’ll sweat it out. Either that or you were supposed to sprint over the hill to the woods and squat in the poison ivy. (I’m telling you, everybody has a sense of humor but me).

On that ride, we managed to get another 12.5 miles to the second hold before we fizzled out. It was too blasted hot, and we were fading fast. The crew at the vet hold tried to convince us to bang out the last 8 miles, but I couldn’t chance any more excitement for the day. I had reached my quota somewhere along the second half of that red loop. Of course I never “really” thought we’d die in the woods, but I was prepared to gather some firewood and ration water for a day or so.

And there you have it – a warm welcome to endurance riding! In all my years of riding dressage, I never imagined that my goal for the day would be anything more than making it from A to C and getting that canter transition. I never knew how fulfilling it could be to put your total trust in a horse and know that they will get you back to camp safely. During this ride season I have learned that endurance riders are perhaps the kindest and most caring people in the horse world. Nothing is more important than your safety, and your horse’s safety. And once they know you’re safe, they’ll concentrate on making sure you have a good time. Endurance riders will share their water, their electrolytes, their blankets, their feed, and whatever else you might need. They will congratulate you on a job well done, and offer encouragement to come back and do it again. They will chat with you around the water tank at night, and hold your horse if you need it. So no matter how lacking you may be in the adventurous department, you owe it to yourself to give this sport a try. I don’t believe there can be any more fulfilling and rewarding time you can spend on a horse.

But one last note to the ride managers – could you please move the toilet onto the same property as the vet check? One of these days I might be sprinting through those weeds and come upon a Banana Spider and have to run all the way back to camp without my horse. (Wait a minute, isn’t that called Ride & Tie? I knew there had to be some dirty trick to convince people to do that!)


Monday, July 30, 2007

A Nice Day for a Long Trail Ride (Tevis 2007)

A Nice Day for a Long Trail Ride (Tevis 2007)
Paul Sideo

Imagine you had a booked a 4 day scenic horseback riding vacation with Wrangler Bills Western Rides. But when you got there, Wrangler Bill came up and started talking to you. " Well Pardner, we had a mix up with our new fangled compooter and got ourselves in a heck of a fix. We can't take all four days to go over the beautiful trail we promised in the brochure, and have to get er done in 24 hours. But don't you fret, cause Ole Bob will still have the chuckwagon at the stops we planned. He will have some some of the gals and ranch hands there to help take care of you and the horses. We will have grub and cool drinks. We had to get Doc Brown to show up at our rest stops and look over the horses to keep the PETA people of our butts, but it ain't no big thang. You will still get to see all the beautiful spots we advertised in the brochure, but we just have to cobver the ground a mite quicker. Oh, by the by, the danged compooter also messed up the reservations so bad that instead of 4 other riders, there will be 185 in your group. Kinda a cozy little gathering."

So you say to yourself, " Dang, if we are going to ride that far in one day, I had better ditch the Stetson hat and blue jeans and wear a helmet and tights. Wrangler Bill and the other cowboys may poke fun at me, but that's better than getting rubbed raw." When you show up the next morning there are 185 other horse and riders waiting to head out at the same time. Some are wearing shorts and tank tops, ( Dave Rabe, you know who you are), some are wearing blue jeans and Stetson hats, but most are in tights and wearing helmets, so you don't feel too far out of place.

That is Tevis. For a few dozen who have a realistic chance of winning or even finishing in the top 10, it is a Race, For everybody else it is just a very long trail ride over really pretty countryside. Some riders don't seem to realize that and get stressed over it. I knew that Top 10 wasn't going to happen for me, so we just came out to have fun and complete.

Before my Ride Story, I would like to mention one of the finest examples of Sportsmanship and Horsemanship I have ever witnessed. For me Tevis was just a ride, but for some top riders it is a much coveted win in a historical ride. For a rider to mention they finished first in the So and so Barn Burner LD is nice, but winning at Tevis conveys serious bragging rights. Last year, John Crandel III amazed the endurance world with his sweep of the Old Dominion and Tevis. This year, two horses had a rare chance to duplicate this feat. Since Stagg Newman had tied for 1st at the OD, he was in a position to establish himself and his horse forever in Endurance history. During the ride he was up with the leaders, and in position to win. At Deadwood, the vets passed him through, but he knew his horse wasn't quite right. Super and He have accomplished a lot in their careers together, and with the tempation of a historical win right there in his face, Stagg chose to Ro-M. When faced with that choice between a possible permanent place in history or possibly damaging his horse, Stagg chose to take care of Super.

His actions are a great example to all of us in this sport. If you ever wanted to know what kind of person he is, this showed you. After his pull, he patiently waited for the horse trailer ride back to Foresthill and then on to Auburn. He was greeting other riders from back east as they came in and offering them encouragement. Later that evening, instead of sulking in his trailer, getting drunk and kicking a dog as lesser people might do, he was at the finish line until the wee hours cheering in the other riders as they completed. He may have had a bad day riding in a race, but as far as I am concerned, he had a world class day as a Sportsman and Horseman..It was truely something for our sport to be be proud of.

Last June, my horse Piper and I had just completed Top Of the Rock in Indiana. It was our first 50 mile ride. Later that evening, I wandered down by the vet tent and sat in listening to the folks visit about rides. Dr. Jim Baldwin who has vetted Tevis and completed it as a rider was telling some stories about the ride. The next day, Piper and I completed the LD and so we had done 80 miles in 2 days. That evening I asked Dr Baldwin if he thought that someday my horse and I could complete Tevis. He said it would be no problem as long as I thought of it as a long trail ride and just rode vet check to vet check. That sounded reasonable to me, so I started making plans. See how easy it is to be led astray by evil companions?

Last year and early this spring, while riding with him on a few loops at different rides, Ron Chapman from Tennesse had offered to crew for me if I decided to try Tevis. After Piper and I finished the Old Dominion and Piper came out of it happy and healthy, I called Ron to see if he still wanted to come crew. He was excited and ready to do so. He was planning to try it in 2008, and wanted to see it beforehand. But after we talked, I realized he and his horse were ready this year. I offered to let him bring his horse and do the ride too. He was hesitant about this because he had committed to crew for me, and didn't want me without assistance out there. He finally agreed that if I could find a suitable crew within 7 days he would ride too. The next morning I called him and told him we had a crew. He started getting ready and packing. See how easy it is to be an evil companion too and lead others astray?

Our plan was to not get stressed out and plan for as easy a trip as possible. Instead of basing in Auburn at the farigrounds, we were so fortunate that I had met Dovie and Bob Pickering last year while out here on vacation. They were unbelievably gracious and wecoming to us at their place just outside of Reno. BEsides letting us keep our horses there, they opened up their home to us and fed us great food every night. We got here 8 days before the ride, so our horses had pleny of time to relax from the long (2000 miles) trip. We went down to Auburn on the Sunday before the ride to preride the last 6 miles of the trail . We were very lucky to meet up with a couple of trail riders there headed out for a nice Sunday ride. One of those riders was Leonard Davis, who has 10 Tevis buckles. He was very helpfull with trail details and good advice. We had a nice leasurely ride and came back to Reno to relax. On Wednesday we drove back to Auburn afor the welcoming BarB Que, and slipped into Robie Park on the way down to check it out. We picked out a couple of areas in the back away from the excitement to park when we would come there on Friday. It amazed us that there were already over a dozen rigs there in the heat and dust. Horses were hollering. It didn't seem relaxing to us.

THE CREW: Pam Bowen had posted several times about two women who had flown in from Florida and Minnisota to crew for them last year, Debbie Parsons, and Chip Jack. Pam had mentioned several times that somebody needed to connect with them to crew this year as they were coming out again. Amazingly, nobody had lined them up, so we contacted them and arranged to meet. We met up with Debbie at the BarB Que, and Chip didn't get in until Friday at Robie. Here is the Good News. They were amazing!! Everything Pam had said about them and more. Positive low stress attitudes, self suffuicient, reliable, responsible, full of initiative to do what you needed done but forgot to ask for. Both of them are experienced endurance riders and knew what was needed and what was not needed. We spent zero time having to show them what had to be done. Doive Pickering came down from Reno on Ride day, and they all hooked up at a rest area on I-80 to swap supplies from the big rig to the crew vehicles.

NASCAR drivers can only dream about having such a fine tuned expert crew. That's the Good news. The Bad News is that after 2 years of crewing, (and a 100% completion rate!!!) They probably won't be available next year(:,, Debbie is planning to try the ride herself. I like to think that Ron and I had something to do with inspiring her to do so. If two old .... excuse me... middle aged , still in our prime, farts like us can do this, then she probably can too :). When she saw our level of equitation, fitness and horsemanship, it surely helped her realize that she could do this too. It is a good feeling when you can help othere reach their dreams by example. It is like being an evil campanion leading people astray, but less proactive.

Ride Day came. We were camped and tucked away in the back, away from the starting area with all the noise and dust. We had a nice relaxing evening and a good meal. I went out to feed at 3:30 AM, and two riders were roaring up and down the road in fast flying trots. .. An hour and a half before the ride starts and they are already rocking and rolling! Wow, I was impressed. Since I am a fairly new rider, I didn't know that was what we needed to do before a 100 mile ride like this, so I went back to bed for a little longer. Debbie and Chip managed the camp packing up, Ron and I tacked up around 4:30 and walked done to the start. We were both in Pen 2. There were about 70 fast horses in Pen 1. It was surreal to see horses circling in the predawn darkness kicking up a fog like cloud of dust. About the Pens and the start. This is an excellant and fair way to manage having close to 200 horses hitting a narrow trail at the same time. It really didn't matter which pen you wound up in, as there were traffic issues and wrecks enough to slow down about everybody. We got off on time and away we went headed for Auburn. We left the camp in the capable hands of our crew and took off knowing that they, and our needed stuff, would somehow magically appear at Robinson Flat later that morning, and then reappear later at Foresthill. It did.

Just like in Los Angeles, it isn't the terrain that slows down your drive time, it is the traffic. If you can imgine LA traffic crammed on to a one lane country dirt road, you are prepared for Tevis, The hills were long but not too steep, There were rocks, but less than we train on in the Ozarks. It was warm but not as warm and humid as we ride in at home or other mid-west/southern summer rides. The dreaded canyons were long but mostly very ridable. There were only a couple of places I tailed up, and a few more that I got off and walked down. There were steep places to fall off and get hurt or killed, but as I told Jeanne Waldron a few days earlier, if you fall 40-80 feet off a OD trail bluff you are going to get seriously injured or killed, so what difference does the extra 500 or so feet of falling make? It just gives you time to scream more and empty your bladder on the way down. The trick is to stay on the trail and not fall off. Remember this as good advise. Stay on the
trail and do not fall of cliffs of any size.. If you follow this guidance, your endurance career will be more fun. Trust me on this one.

Piper was his usual reliable self. The rational part of me realizes that he is an average horse in physical abilities. He has his strong parts and less strong parts. We have developed a team that makes the most of his strong points. His heart and brain are well above average, (in my proud owner/rider opinion), and that is what has made him/us do so well. To do Tevis, I firmly believe that you need a horse sound in mind as well as body. There are stretches of trail that you do not want to "ride". You just want to stay in the saddle and let the horse pick its way down the trail. Riding in the dark between Foresthill and Francisco, you are on a narrow (3 foot?) trail with drop offs of 200-500 feet. The wrost thing you could do would be to try and steer your horse through those tricky moonlit shadows. You should just sit back and enjoy the views of the moon shining on the river way down below you. I realize that Piper is not a world class type of endurance horse, but I wouldn't trade him for Heraldic, Super, and Sunny, even if they offered a lot of cash to boot. I was able to ride Piper the entire 100 miles with just a cheap nylon turn out halter with a soft cotton lead rope/reins for head gear. That involves a lot of trust and communication between the two of us, and to me that is what it takes to do Tevis or any tough endurance ride. He is not just a horse, he is my friend.. at least as long as the carrots hold out:)

So we rode. We had traffic jams, ate tons of dust, had equipment issues, Ron fell off about 4 miles into the ride, but all and all we had a nice ride. My back muscles were still sore from hurting them tailing at OD 7 weeks earlier, so I was brought to you by the makers of Motrin, and then later in the evening by the makers of Aleve. The labels mentioned something about not operating heavy machiney, but fortunately said nothing about riding a horse for 100 miles in rough country on the side of cliffs in the dark. I carried a small DVD recoreder and shot videos while riding on trail. Mostly I focussed on taking care of my horse and myself, and enjoying the beautifull views. There was some excitement of being part of this big event, but given the choice I would prefer to take a couple of days to leasurely ride this trail to really get the time to appreciate the scenery.. The only really special thing to me about being a part of the organized ride was the unbelievable warm and
hospitable responses we got from the Volunteers, Ridemanagement, and the Vets. Also going through the little towns of Michigan Bluff and Foresthill where the populace come out to line the streets cheering us on was special. Coming in the vet checks with the trail lined on both sides with calling and encouraging people is not something we endurance riders often experience. It was a very special moment.

All day long Debbie, Chip and Dovie had taken care of us and our stuff at the vet checks. They foccused on taking care of us and the horses so well that all we had to do was sit in a chair and eat and drink until it was time to ride out again. After having done the Old Dominion as Cavalry, this was a nice change and I felt as pampered as I could be. Ron and I had been riding fairly close together timewise early in the day, so at Robinson Flat they had two riders to crew for at the same time, but by Foresthill we were almost an hour apart. We arrived in Auburn and they cheered us home and took care of our horses. As always the very helpfull and postive Volunteers guided us through the final steps. Ron and I completed and got our buckles.

For those who might have considered trying Tevis, but have been intimidated, you should just relax and give it a shot as a very long pretty trail ride through tremendously scenic countryside. You don't have to be a super veteran rider on a super horse. All you need to do is get both of you fit, do a little studying, come up with a game plan, and send in your entry. This ride now gives me a grand total of 560 lifetime AERC endurance miles. It was Ron's first 100 mile ride, and his first nighttime ride. He is 64 years young, and this ride put him over the AERC 1000 mile mark. Neither one of us have any real equitition training.

Several people asked how Tevis compared to the Old Dominion. The Old Dominion was a tougher trail, but Tevis is equally as hard a ride due to the number of people on trail and the dust. My belief is that continualy starting and stopping is very hard on a horses body and brain. It is like how in a vehicle "city" miles are considered harder on a car than "highway" miles. I saw two riders fall off due to traffic congestion causing their horse to do something that helped them have a wreck. If the OD had 185 entries, it would have an even higher pull rate.

We are still in Reno recovering from the ride and enjoying the Pickerings hospitality. Tommorrow we head back east for home. Somebody asked me how I would wear two buckles now that I have a Tevis and an Old Dominion pair. Well now a days lots of men wear earings, and I guess I am not too old to get my ears pierced:) Would they be too obvious and gaudy as earings?

Paul Sidio
Piper (510 AERC miles including the Old Dominion 100 and the Tevis 100.. Not too shabby for a unsuccesful show horse)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

2007 Vermont 100

2007 Vermont 100
Patty Stedman

Last Wednesday I turned forty. I spent the day packing and grocery
shopping and laundering and wondering why previously functional body
parts suddenly hurt for no apparent reason and listening to friend’s
laughingly sing “Happy Birthday!” on my cell phone’s voice mail.

On Thursday, my husband and Ned and I left home to go back to South
Woodstock, the site of the VT 100 Run and Ride, the only concurrent
100 mile ultra run and endurance ride held today in the USA.
VT is special to us, not only because it was where we completed our
first 100 two years ago just before dawn (yawn, stagger) but because
it is a beautiful course, full of climbs and quaint New England farms
and gardens and rock walls and views over the mountains, and more
magical exponentially because the ride course is shared by nearly 300
runners. Sue and John Greenall work tirelessly with countless
volunteers to make it all happen. Quite honestly, camp looks
bizarrely like a circus.

(It is important to know that, amongst other than the runners
themselves, there is clear consensus that while 100 mile riders are
nuts, 100 mile runners are a whole special brand of crazy!)

My husband, as a birthday gift of sorts I’m sure, had volunteered
months prior to just come and crew (without competing himself), and a
new-to-endurance friend, Zoe (also crazy), had agreed to come up from
NJ to try crewing for the first time. Rich knew what he was getting
into – nearly 100 miles of driving from crew stop to crew stop (the
ride is a single 100 mile loop, as opposed to some rides with loops
out of base camp) and slaving over high maintenance Ned and me. Zoe
was in for a baptism by fire, but she’s a manic sort, so we knew we
could put that to good, some might call it exploitive, use.

It rained nearly the entire way to Vermont and it had been raining
copiously at the ride site for some time, but the rain switched to
off and on showers by the time we arrived and set up, and we were
pleased on Friday to see that the ride camp field was draining pretty
well from potentially-government-protected wetland to just a little

Runners arrived, filling the camp, going for pre-runs, and we caught
up with friends and packed up the plethora of stuff needed to crew
thru a 100.

The weather was ridiculously Ned-friendly – highs in mid 70s, lows in
the 50s, little chance of more rain. The course is Ned-friendly too,
with lots of climbs and descents, but also a great deal of gravel and
hard-pack wide-open road riding, which is Ned’s favorite kind of
trail. He also seems to love chasing down (but not actually charging
over) the runners and having that much more company on course.

Our plan was to pick up our pace a bit, this would be our fifth 100,
our fastest completed by about 1 a.m.

The runners started at 4 a.m. in the dark to the piped in sounds, ad
infinitum, of Chariots of Fire, and Ned and I started out right with
the pack of eighteen starters at 5 a.m. It was to be about 12 miles
to a 10 minute stop and go, and the pack stayed fairly formed and
traveled at a sane pace, and Ned and I actually took the opportunity
to go up front for several minutes along one road, which allowed Ned
to be ego-boosted (how do they know they are “winning”, I wonder) and
to really stretch and go at his own pace. I told everyone,
laughingly, to enjoy the sight of us up front, it wouldn’t last long,
as we’re well known for finishing mid-to-back-of-the-pack. They
cheered and yelled “Go Ned!” and I was pleased to be sharing the
trail with experienced folks, most of whom I knew and admired.

My GPS said 16 miles when we got to the stop and go at about 6:30,
and we all came in in a pack (those poor in-timers, attacked by the
mob of us). Rich fed Ned, I hit the potty (aka the woods alongside
the barn), and drank some Pepto Bismol. My tummy was not feeling
good at all. Maybe the excitement of leading the pack?

We started passing the last of the runners, giving them plenty of
space, cheering them along and having our photos taken by several of
them, as they stopped and turned to face us alongside the road,
giving us the thumbs-up.

We all headed out in a pack as well, and Ned got chummy with Patti
Pizzo’s Spot, who has an enormous and effortless trot, and at least
seven or eight of us arrived together (including we Pattis, Team
Rojek, Christina on Lana Wright’s horse, Suzette on a cute bay, Wendy
Bejarano on Jake and Doug Lietzke on his chestnut) a few miles later
at the first (18 mile) hold.

Zoe met us there, having stayed in a hotel the night prior after a
nightmare drive north. She’d had to leave later than planned as she
was taking her Citizenship Oath (becoming a dual citizen of the US,
along with Canada, where she was born) in Newark the afternoon prior,
so she just met Rich there. She says she became a citizen simply to
cancel out my presidential votes.

The extra set of hands was great, and Ned vetted thru with As except
for gut and skin tenting – time for some chow and lytes. The weather
was grand, crisp and cool and with fairly low humidity. July? Who

We headed out of the hold amongst the first riders, and this was a
long loop, 24 miles, but it went fast with two pit crew stops
(Desitin for Ned’s pasterns, a snack for Ned, a few sponges of cold
water on his neck and we were off quickly at each of these) and Ned
trotting along joyously with several of the front runners.

At Vermont, the horses have vet checks, the runners have aid
stations, crowded with family and friends and volunteers, all
cheering you on. It is grand. Ned, alternately puffs up and does
the big trot, sure he’s won the Derby, or later in the ride, asks to
stop and visit for a while.

My favorite question of the day took place at the second pit crew
stop on that loop – Zoe and Rich checked with me on what I needed,
the usual sorts of things – water? Electrolytes? And then Zoe asked
if she should snap the glowsticks attached to Ned’s breastcollar. It
was 10:30.


I laughed and laughed and laughed and said it wasn’t THAT long of a
loop and trotted away, still roaring.

Into the 42 mile hold with Team Rojek and Patti Pizzo.

A few minutes to pulse down, but Ned was clearly in his element,
eating like a pig and clearly enjoying himself. We were riding in a
new Solstice saddle at that point, but he’d gotten the tiniest rub
from one of the pads, the Supracor I think (this THRU the sheepskin
pad – Ned is the equine version of The Princess and The Pea), so as
planned, we switched him to the treeless saddle

Crucial error here, related to the potty, which will surprise none of
my friends or those who read the Endurance News article about our
first 100 mile completion (subtitled “A Tale of Determination,
Urination and Hallucination”). I took a walk to the potty while Rich
and Zoe tacked up Ned. Ended up heading out a little over a minute
after my out time.

Patti and Spot were gone. We headed out alone onto the 18 mile
loop. No hope of running to catch them as Ned had switched
immediately over to “pout mode” having lost his new best friend on
the planet and having no company. Eventually Linda Crandall and her
mare, riding in the 75 mile ride, caught us but it was of little
comfort to Ned. He wanted Spot. He wanted to be winning. And if he
couldn’t be winning, he was going to crawl. There was no cajoling,
no spanking, no urging him into going faster. He followed Linda’s
mare in a completely lackluster fashion.

We had an endless climb up a long road, and it was here Ned hit his
low point, allowing Linda’s mare to trot away, refusing to trot at
all, and I climbed off to hand walk for a while. Maybe he was tight
behind, I thought. Maybe I went too fast at the start. His skin
pinch and gums looked good, his eyes were bright, he appeared to be
in absolutely no metabolic distress, he’d been eating and drinking
great all day, but as Mary Coleman likes to say “it was a sit and hit
sort of situation.”

A runner passed us, and I told him I thought we were done, that Ned
might be tight behind. He expressed sadness, but we both agreed that
such things happen. I started to fantasize about being back at camp
mixing up Cosmopolitans and grilling and sitting and watching the
runners come in. Not so bad. I patted Ned and eventually climbed
back on and we continued to crawl along. It couldn’t be too far to
the hold, we’d get him checked out and get a trailer ride back to
camp. I was at peace with this. Some days it was just too much to ask.

Then we heard the pitter patter of hooves behind us. Ellen Tully,
Wendy Mancini and Cara on Irving’s Spark, all in the 75, catching up
with us at a jog. Ned’s head went up, and as I started to tell them
we were done as they passed, he leaped into a trot and joined them.

I wasn’t sure whether to kill him or hug him, so instead I just
laughed and in we went to the hold. Ellen, an old pro, assured me
I’d been duped by the big boy. We were soon caught by Linda Carangia
and Nancy Walker, old chums and entered in the 100, and in to the
hold we came, where Ned was starving but all As, despite his usual
show of displaying his penis during vetting and refusing to trot
until he’d gathered it up. Poor Zoe had to trot him back and forth
and back until Otis could see he was perfectly sound.

Just as soon as he didn’t have to swing his hind legs around his
dangling wanker.

It is always such a relief to have vets who know Ned vet him as I
don’t have to explain and re-explain the penis thing. Ah, the
quirks that make Ned, well, Ned.

We were at 60 miles at this point, and I was hours ahead of my
previous course time, and had the company of two other 100 milers
with whom I could finish. Ned was not in any way, shape or form
tight behind. Things were looking up.

Well, other than the fact that my husband had hit a rock in the hold
area, and dislodged a “non-essential” part of the steering assembly.
Who knew there were “non-essential” parts of a steering assembly?

Zoe continued to crew with zeal and enthusiasm, kneeling on the
ground behind Ned, applying Desitin to his pasterns in the hopes we
could stay one step ahead of the scratches which plague him at 100
mile rides (and ONLY at 100 mile rides).

“That looks unsafe, Zoe.”

“Will he kick me?”

“He could.”

“He wouldn’t.”


“Would he?”

“He could.”

“Well why didn’t you warn me he kicks?!”

It was going to be a long day.

Ten miles to Tuackenback Farm, a gorgeous farm with yellow buildings
and this huge lovely lawn where we have the 70 mile hold. I got
separated from Linda and Nancy for a couple of miles, and they
stopped at the Margaritaville runners’ aid station and they both had
a margarita!

We were going fast enough that we were pacing along with some of the
Top Twenty runners at this point, and boy, they looked great, running
evenly and smoothly, looking as tho they were just out for an
afternoon jog.

It was about 6:30 when we were at Tuackenback (our cards were kept
for an AERC research study, so I might be lying about some of this
stuff) and Ned was ravenous for grass. Still all As. Well, except
for the B on impulsion given to Ned by Nick Kohut as reward for
another penis dangling lackluster trot out.

Poor Zoe, I can imagine her telling her non horsey husband about the
crewing experience and lamenting about having to trot Ned to and fro
because he has “this penis thing.”

The 50 milers, starting at 2 p.m., joined us on trail here, and it
was a busy place. I chatted with Nancy Roeber-Moyer outside the
porta-potty and we contemplated whether it wouldn’t be more fun to
just do LDs from now on, doing some social drinking in the afternoons
and cutting down on our consumption of Advil.

The temps were dropping and we had another 18 mile loop ahead of us
with two crew stops, one near Smoke Rise Farm (Rojek’s farm) and one
on the road where ride camp was located. Linda and Nancy’s horses
led thru the woods, where big and lanky Ned had more trouble
negotiating the twists and turns and steep downhills of the trail,
and he’d jump out in front on the wide roads. Ned thinks 100 miles
of interstate “trail” would be ideal, thankyouverymuch. The horses
trotted VERY enthusiastically down the road heading to camp, got
crewed and were a teensy bit less enthused as we turned them away
from camp towards Route 106 and O&H Farm, the location for the 88
mile hold.

It was fully dark now, the runners passed us and we passed them
alternately, many had the pace runners they were allowed to pick up
at 70 miles. Many wore headlamps to light their way, and Ned just
hates headlamps. He’s okay when behind them, but hates having the
trail alternately lit and darkened in front of him, it seems. We had
what seemed like a forever-long climb to the trail into O&H Farm, and
Ned was hot when we came in. At 10 at night, we were using ice to
cool him down and untacked him to help the process. I cursed about
that – it is so easy to screw up re-tacking in the dark.

Once again, a penis dangling trot out, and Doug Shearer, who doesn’t
know Ned quite so well, had him trot again, looked a bit perplexed (I
would too if I didn’t know he’d dangled his way through the pre-ride
vetting in, and every vetting for just about every ride for the last
few years), but said he was fine to go on.

At this hour, it gets tough to eat and drink for me. You just want
to be done, but you know you need to keep taking care of yourself, as
12 miles is twelve miles and you need your faculties and strength to
get through it. I managed to down part of a PowerBar and a Snapple
Ice Tea. We re-tacked in the dark and Linda and Nancy waited a few
minutes on me (it took longer for Ned to pulse down) and we headed out.

Nancy was trying out her new headlamp and Linda and I yelled at her
for looking at us when she talked to us, as she blinded each of us a
couple of times. Ned was happy out front on the road until a
headlamp got too close from behind, either from a runner or Nancy and
would walk and pout until his vision was restored.

At this point, I knew he was a little sore and leg-weary. He sought
out the shoulders of the road rather than the concussive road surface
and asked to walk the downhills. Still, he was doing the big Ned
walk, ears forward and plucky so I let Nancy and Linda go on ahead
and like we’ve done so many times before, we enjoyed the last several
miles on our own.

Saw Rich and Zoe at the crew stop about five miles from the finish,
gave Ned a snack and told them to skip the final crew stop and meet
me at the finish. Boy, that sounded great! The finish.

I had quite a lot of horse left, and Ned alternately walked and
jogged in. I changed diagonals to make sure he was still even on
both hinds, tried to keep myself straight and light in the saddle
despite being sore and weary myself, and we had a long chat about
what a treasure he was, and how sorry I was for having screwed up his
good time with his fast friend Spot. I told him to make sure he told
Sarge, his barnmate, that he had been WINNING until I messed up.

Lessons learned, once again, and clearly for Ned 100s are largely an
emotional and mental (more than physical) challenge – just as they
are for his human partner.

Shared a couple of granola bars with him, let him snatch grass here
and there but kept him moving on, promising him lots of grazing time
once we were done.

Soon the trail glowsticks turned to glowing jugs on each side of the
trail, marking the last downhill section of trail into the finish line.

In we came, at about 12:30 a.m. (4 hours cut from our previous VT 100
time, and I was NOT the turtle this time). Rich and Zoe there to
cool him down and cover his rump with a wool sheet. We vetted out
amongst more laughter and eventually got Ned to trot. He looked
grand once he got his innards back, well, in. Hugs and
congratulations, and all As except for that damned “impulsion” mark.

Nancy and Linda had finished in fine form several minutes before.
Had heard that Patti and Spot came in 2nd, and that there was a good
completion rate, no serious problems. Such a relief.

Runners were coming in (and would continue to do so until 10 a.m.),
and Ned planted himself grazing the lush grass alongside the runners’
tent while Zoe and Rich hauled his stuff back up to camp. I chatted
with one runner shortly after he finished and asked him what he’d be
doing first now that he was done.

“Hot chocolate” he said.

We chatted for a while, comparing the horses and the runners, and
places we’d be sore, and how we might consider the possibility of
going down stairs backwards for a day or two, and how long we’d rest
before starting up again, looking for the next ride, the next run,
the next challenge.

Two, make that three, crazy creatures, communing on a starlit July
night, reveling in a success few aspire to, and even fewer achieve.

And most profoundly humbled by it.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Big Horn 100-2007, Don's adventure

Well I guess this story starts with Willy's (Wild West) finish at Tevis last
year. After his fall several years ago, and he came back and beat that
trail, I promised Willy that I wouldn't ask him to do Tevis again. Since my
heart is with Tevis, and having many friends that live in the area, I will
surely ride Tevis again, just not on Willy.

So this year Willy would start his preparation for the Big Horn 100. He
completed at the 20-Mule Team 100 for cold weather training, not Willy's
favorite. We also completed all three days at Eastern Mojave, with some
altitude and a lot of rain, sleet and snow on day three. Next would be
Cuyama for three days with some speed work. Cuyama was most memorable this
year because on the third day, when Willy finished, the Duck actually asked
Willy, "well Wild West, how was your day?". He was missing a shoe but
trotted off sound and finished in the top ten for the day and again,
completed all three days.

So after Cuyama, I called Tom VanGelder and said Willy and I were planning
to come to the Big Horn 100 this year, depending on the fire season and if I
could get the time off. The next challenge was to help my wife, Pam, manage
the Malibu Ride and still get some work in for Willy. I have a lot respect
for ride mangers and even more now, and somehow Pam and I managed to stay
together after Malibu!

Four weeks later, it was off to the Californios 100. This is the ride the
Pacific South riders do to make their final adjustments before Tevis. Willy
looked good all day and ate well. We did most of the ride alone so this was
another good test for Big Horn. Willy finished well and looked great. So
another call was made to Tom about our status and my current situation.

On July 4, the National Situation was level 2, meaning there were enough
fire fighters throughout the country to handle the amount of current fires.
I called Tom that night and said Willy and I would be leaving Saturday
morning and would be arriving Sunday night or Monday morning. Well, Saturday
at 2 a.m., Willy was caught, and by 2:30 a.m. the Malibu white trash boys
were on the road to Wyoming. After passing Las Vegas the trailer got a flat
and I changed it before Mesquite at one of the stations. You should have
seen the look on the faces of some of the people watching me change the
tire, I had to hurry, it was getting hot. I called Pam to see if anyone had
a tire on ahead so I would still have a spare and it was BIG O Tire. The
good thing is there are a lot of them in Utah and they never made me wait
because there was a horse in the trailer, I was in and out.

At 11 a.m. the fire office called to see if I wanted to take out a Hand Crew
for a fire assignment and that the National Level had been raised to 3. Well
I was already past Cedar City in Utah having a first hand account of the
fire that was in that part of the state. As Willy and I were traveling up
Interstate 15 we experienced the biggest fire in Utah history. We were at
the I-70 detour when the fire bumped the road. For some reason all the
traffic was stopped and not moving. The fire had to be within a couple
hundred feet and we were not moving, so there I am in my truck and trailer,
hay in the bed, windows down on the trailer and we're stopped on the road, I
start honking to get people to move. I was thinking, "great, I slip out of
the Park just to go on this trip so I don't have to fight fire yet and now
I'm going to burn up the truck and trailer, Willy and myself, because these
people wont move". Well the next flash in my head is I have 5 gallons of
diesel in the back, how much backfire can I make, with that much diesel, and
get back to the truck. (Remember I'm a wildland fire fighter so I wouldn't
suggest this plan for everyone.) Well I didn't have to set a backfire
because traffic started moving and we were out of the smoke an hour later.
As we were traveling down the 70 I was calling Pam to explain my situation
and that I needed a new route change to get to Salt Lake. We pulled into the
Spanish Fork fairground before reaching Salt Lake City that evening and
called it night, I still had my truck, trailer, hay and Willy. Here, you can
have a stall with shavings for $10 a night and the caretaker will give you
access to a human shower.

The next day we left early for the Big Horn. At Rock Springs I let Willy out
for a travel break and usually we got the tourist questions and petting. One
lady just couldn't believe a horse could do a hundred miles in 24 hours so I
teased her and told her in the early days of the sport we used to ride them
to the ride. After Rock Springs we headed north and crossed the South Pass
of the Continental Divide which was something I had never done before so
that was pretty cool. As a side note, fuel is a lot cheaper in Rock Springs
than Lander or Riverton. The next cool thing was the drive along the Wind
River and its mighty canyon with railroad tracks on the other side. When we
got to Greybull we had crossed the Big Horn River a couple of times. I
figured we were getting close and had just another 25 miles to go.

When we got to Antelope Butte, Tom VanGelder was waiting for me. He looked
just like picture on the website and I am a better man for meeting him. We
settled in for the night, truck, trailer, hay, Willy and I with the night
sky. We would have days before the ride to eat, rest and get fat before the
ride. As the days went by people started to arrive and settle in and to my
surprise some of these folks actually knew of Willy the flying horse and me.
I did some trail marking with Tom, and got to meet Cindy Collins, who also
knew of Willy, she and her friend were there to mark the Horse Creek canyon
part of the trail for the first loop. The best part of the day was spent
riding around with Tom and getting to hear maybe a third of his stories, my
favorite was one about the flying mules of the army, after all Tom was a
Calvary man for a short while. I also got to spend some time with Teddy
Lancaster, the traveling vendor (Running Bear), and made a trip up to the
top of the ski lift in her jeep. Teddy will have to tell that story some

It's finally Friday and I'm going to spend time getting ready for the ride.
That night, Tom approached me about taking a junior through the ride. She
would be riding his horse Charlie and was the junior of the ride management
staff. I later found that other riders had been asked as well, but for some
reason weren't able to, either way, I was honored to be asked and looked
forward to the ride.

The ride started with a controlled start at 4 a.m. Mountain time until we
crossed the highway. Then we were on our way, Willy and me, Charlie and
Bryla. I thought Willy would be the oldest horse there at 17, but Charlie is
22, so the two oldest horses on the ride would be traveling together. When
we got to the first vet check Sue Lyke had already tied in with us and spent
most of the ride with us. One bonus for riding with the junior is she came
with crew. Lisa, sorry I don't remember her last name, was at every stop we
needed her to be. The horses came in at criteria, ate and vetted well. Next
would be the canyons of Horse Creek? Four of them as I remember and as usual
I did my share of leading and tailing. I guess we were in last place but it
didn't mean much because we were there to finish, not place. When we got to
the 50 mile hour hold we had made good time and the horses were looking
really good.

So we headed up on the second loop with plenty daylight to make time, except
someone forgot to tell the Wyoming weather we were riding that day. About an
hour into the second loop a hail and rainstorm came that lasted around a
half hour. It was bad enough that we had to shelter in the trees until it
was over. Due to the storm we lost our good footing for a little while but
ten miles later it was good again. When we got to the 70-mile vet check I
had misjudged the distance and thought we had gone further. Jeanette and Tom
asked me how long I thought it would take to do the next loop, not knowing
the course I guessed three hours for the14 miles, Bryla and I did it in two.
One thing about being a heavyweight, I go a little slower during the day,
let the horse graze several times during the day, so at night when we need
it they have the reserves and that's how we did that loop so fast. The rest
of the way back was trail we came out on so the horses knew the way back and
we made our plans for climbing the hills. When we got back on top the
footing was poor so we walked in the last eight miles. The two old horses
finished well and strong in 2nd and 3rd place and looked good the next

That morning Willy was his usual self, stall walking in his corral because
he could see cows off in the distance and I went to the ride breakfast and
completion awards. Also that morning there were 6 horses with no feed or
water and nobody to be found. I helped feed and water, and I removed the
twisted blanket from the horse that allegedly later died. I did see one of
the gals later on while I was packing and let her know what we had done.
That is really all the contact I had with them since I rode a different pace
than they did.

Willy and I said our good-byes and loaded up. We headed off the mountain and
spent the rest of the day and night in Thermopolis at the Healing Waters RV
camp. This is a great place to stop with two mineral pools for healing and
the owner does a little acoustic concert at 9 p.m. I tied Willy to the
trailer but I think they would have let me set up corrals if I wanted, the
cost was $30 a day. The next morning we headed for home with a stop over in
Cedar City. When we got to Cedar City they were having a huge thunder and
lighting storm and I couldn't get into the Equestrian Center to bed Willy
down for the night, the gate was locked. I started calling fellow AERC
members for suggestions. First I called Judy Hall and she gave me Dean
Jackson's number. While on the phone with Dean the caretaker saw me parked
and asked if I needed help. So we got Willy settled in a stall for the night
and watched the show for the next two hours. The stall rate at this
Equestrian Center is $12 a night. We were up at 3 a.m. and home early that
afternoon. As I climbed the hill to the house I could see Willy's nose
sticking through the bars and then he whinnied. I let Willy out of the
trailer and he ran down to his favorite rolling spot, rolled, got up and
started playing with the babies!

This was one of toughest rides we've done and probably the most satisfying.
Willy is incredible and I am blessed and privileged to ride him, after all,
God takes care of addicts and alcoholics! Willy is now 6 for 6 in 100
milers. The Ride Management was really great and I felt they were really
there to help us finish. The whole time I was there I felt like I was
family. Thanks Uncle Tom, Aunt Jeanette and the rest of the families for
keeping this ride going. I will never forget the third night at ride camp
when after dark we heard the howl of the wolves in the mountains around us.
Thanks to the Big Horn Mountain range for that!

Don Bowen
Wild West, better known as Willy, "the flying horse"

Monday, July 16, 2007

Barefoot AT Ft. Howes Montana

Hello Fellow Barefooters & those that like to read about it. Here’s my Barefoot Story of my recent Endurance Excursion to Fort Howes in Montana, June 2007. btw I'm leaving for the Canada ride... as I write, so I won't be able to answer any responses to this for about two weeks.

Darolyn Butler, Jason Stasiuk (CeCi Butler’s husband), & Devan Horn (crew) left the Houston, Tx area & started for Ft. Howes on June 4th. Rich Hill (crew) flew out to Denver & we picked him up at the airport on Wed. morn. Then on to Stan Sandick’s home in Cheyenne, Wy. Got the Renegade boots that we had ordered to be shipped there & started fitting them with Stan’s help & assistance since he was familiar with them. Jason was marvelous as usual when it came to the mechanics of fitting the boots etc. In fact he showed Stan some tricks too. We had brought DJB Cytron out for Stan to ride in the 100 mile ride.

We started driving to the ride, but got a call from Andy re: the ride site & mud & they were telling people not to come in too early as the parking field was too muddy. I was already stressing about keeping boots on in the mud now… as all our horses were barefooted & we planned to ride in the Renegades. We got to camp & only got stuck once a little bit be4 we settled in.

On Friday we got up & finished our camp set up, then went for a ride. Jas put boots on Roy & we let Rich ride Razz, Devan rode Mac, & I was on Merci for our exercise run. The rest of us were barefooted.

When we got back we assisted Stan getting boots set up on Cytron best we could. He had decided to use a combination of Epics & Bares by EasyCare. I discouraged him from using back boots as I thought he wouldn’t need those for sure, but his plan was to boot all the way around.

We were actually mounted & ready to go for the 50… I let Jason/Razz (he was booted in the front only, with Renegades) start with me at the front, then told him after we got out n the meadow that he needed to back off & stay n the middle of the pack for Razz since Razz had done no speed training in the last few months and is 18 years old. I was riding DJB DC Macproof totally barefooted and I ran up front. We did the 19 mile loop in 1:15 hour. (That’s about 15 mph). Jason came in about 10 min. later & Razz had a cramped n back left buttock & was pulled. About an hour later he was ok… but too late for Jason.

I busted on Pulse on the 2nd check & it cost me 2 min. I went out behind leaders about that. Kept them in sight around the loop & Elroy (national champ from last year) was vying with me. We both caught the other two, Mel Hare was on one of Christoph Schork’s horses) & it was a four horse race for a while. Mac really wanted to go with the two front horses, but I kept him back. Mac was magnificent on the back side of that loop. The part of the trail that was road was all torn up, large hand size rocks laying everywhere & erosion bumps to boot. He flew through that with such agility that it really increased my resolve that BAREFOOT was the way to go.

About 4 miles from the finish Roxy Rivkin’s horse ran out of steam & she fell back. I kept the other two in sight for a while, but they were going just too friggin’ fast, it was FEI & I only had a 20 min. recovery time & didn’t want to blow it. We ended up averaging 17 mph on that loop. & that is the one with the lonnnnggg climb on that gravel road & the really steep climb down about 10 miles out. I have always felt there was no way I could do that 1 mile gravel road climb barefooted, but both Macproof and Mercy had no problem with it this year & Mercy did it going up & down the next day in the 100.

I came in about 4 min. behind the first two, 3:56 I think, total time. Elroy’s horse was exhausted. He ended up getting treated about 10 min. after I came in, so that moved me up to 2nd place in the AERC, & 1st in the AHA & BC in the AHA. Elroy’s horse was ok in a couple of hours & he was lucky. Macproof also won the AHA 1st to Finish & the Best Condition Award.

We got a few more things ready in the crew area for Sunday, and at 10:30 PM found out that Stan was going to have to haul Barb’s horse to surgery (another twisted gut) & that’s when we decided to let Devan (14 year old Crew girl) ride Cytron in the 100. We quickly got Stan to get the saddle out of his trailer b4 he left, & the vet card… then Devan had to get all of her stuff ready. I now made the decision to at least start Cytron with no boots, and just be prepared to boot him if necessary. The Renegades are so quick & easy to put on it’s not nearly so daunting as other more mechanical types.

John Crandall on Heraldic, Steve Rojek on Finch (has won 3 100 miles this year), Joey Mattingly on his World horse & a tough gal from Cal. Cheryl Dell, Mel on one of Christoph’s horses, Christoph on the good mare, Elroy Karius, Sue Horn, were the front runners. Naturally, all of them were shod.

Steve Rojek/Finch got pulled at 65 Mi. before that long pink loop on the West side. … the one with several long uphill climbs & where you go to that out check at Cow Creek… I heard that another horse actually stepped on his heel. Cheryl & I took the lead when John Crandell took a wrong turn for a few minutes some how. We ran that first 10 mi. in 50 min. I’ve never, ever done it that fast. We did the whole 26 mi. in 2 hours… that’s 13 mph.

It probably was too fast. Our horse’s came in well, but her horse was pulled due to metabolics and I went out strong with a couple of min. lead over Joey & John, but Mercy ran out of steam after we climbed that long gravel hill. They caught me about 2 miles later as we were walking up another hill. I stayed with them for a while, but she was more interested in eating so until she ate for about 15 min. or so, she wasn’t the racer that she had been. I eventually finished about 35 min. behind them. Joey did not challenge Heraldic at the finish & John was 1st & Joey 2nd. It was pretty impressive. They did the course in 8:34, 8:35 & I was 9:11. And yes, the vets did take pictures of her hooves. I’m not positive, but I’m guessing that is the first time (not one, but two) barefoot horses have finished Ft. Howes totally barefooted. That’s two hours faster than I ran the Bluebonnet course. That’s totally the difference in a non humid race course, even though it’s a
tougher course. However, I’ve thought about it since… and it was probably humid to the “arid” type horses… maybe explains why there were several metabolic problems.

I had the Renegades waiting in the wings, but, I ran barefooted on Macproof (50 Mi) & Mercy (100 Mi), & Devan ended up riding Cytron, (100 Mi)‘ barefooted also. Jason Used Renegade boots on Royal Blue Star in the 100. Royal had gotten a little rope burn on the way out there. The boot abbraised it just enough that he got pulled at 82 miles from that or the start of an abscess. Myna Cryderman picked up Devan at 82 miles & got her in. Devan did have her hallucinations & was kind of teary at the 90 mile point. She got over it though & came in strong at the end. Cytron looked great… did whole race Barefooted and got all A’s on his last check.

We had a 2/3rds finishing ratio on our barefooted horses… the race finished 25/44. Texas rides equaled 1/5 of the finishers… thought that was pretty cool too.
Weather was spectacular both ride days. Could not have asked for anything better, AND there was lots of water on trail as well.

If you care to look at my ride record, or any of the DJB horses that I own or board with me… u can just about figure that I always ride barefooted if at all possible. I only shoed for two races in 2006 & had miserable luck in both with at least 2-3 horses. We usually have 4-6 in the big races & up to 18 in the local Texas races.

So… all u folks that wonder if endurance can be done barefooted…. Yes, yes, yes… & yes, I would use boots if I just have to… and right now it appears that the Renegades maybe the latest star! Just make sure your trim is appropriate and as often as needed. No one can quite tell you that… depends on the ground and the amount of riding you do.
Good luck to all … learn how to trim your own horse… no one knows it better than you.. I learned at 50 years of age & now I trim almost all 60 head of horses on our place.

Check out my web site for more great barefoot web pages… www.horseridingfun.com If you're interested, check out Mercy's ride record.... she's only done one ride in her career shod, all others have been barefooted.

Darolyn Butler AERC#25 27000 Miles and Counting

Ft. Howes Results
50 Mile Saturday
Placing Rider Name Horse Name Ride Time
1 Hare, Mel DWA Sabku 3:52:32
2 Butler, Darolyn DJB DC MacProof 3:56:54
3 Rivkind, Roxi FCF Kenya 4:10:54

100 Mile Sunday Texas Riders 1/5 the finishing field 3 top tens
Placing Rider Name Horse Name Ride Time
1 Crandell III, John Heraldic 8:34:49
2 Mattingley, Joseph SA Laribou 8:35:22
3 Butler, Darolyn DJB Mercy Merci 9:11:58
4 Horne, Susan Kavod 9:29:10
5 Windows, Lori Nelly's Thunder 10:14:00
6 Hayes, Suzanne Tezeros Gold 10:56:14
7 Worthington, Jan Grace Lightening 10:56:40
8 Stevens, Heather RSA Count LaQuen 11:40:08
9 Stevens, Jennifer Genuine Pizzaz 11:40:09
10 Holzer, Cameron Xtreme Buckaroo 11:41:40
11 Holzer, Vicki HK Rikoshay 11:41:41

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Never know how to navigate by pyramids... -- Maryanne Gabbani-Stroud

Never know when our riders need to know how to navigate by pyramids...

Blog: Turn Right at the Sarcophagus
Post: Pyramid Navigation
Link: http://haramlik.blogspot.com/2007/06/pyramid-navigation.html

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

NASTR 75 - Lucy Trumball

Roo n' me got one step closer to being a real endurance team when we completed NASTR 75 last weekend. 75 miles was a first for both of us, and didn't come without a few nerves (for me at least - Roo din't really care one way or the other ). We've been having some saddle rubbing issues which weren't completely resolved, so I was feeling kind of out of sorts as far as riding, having ridden the last two long rides in two different saddles (a demo Sensation and my old Sportssaddle), but opted to go back to my Barefoot Cheyenne for this ride. I was trying out some new thicker, firmer inserts in my Skito pad, and I was also demo-ing a Thinline Ultra pad over the top, in the hope that this would help the problem.

Lucy Trumball's NASTR 7r - Full Story