Thursday, February 28, 2008

New Zealand: Marriage starts with long trek - Full Story

By RACHAEL MURPHY - Taranaki | Friday, 29 February 2008

Two "crazy" Auckland adventurers have had a very unconventional start to married life.

Two months after Genevieve (23) and Kerrin Revell (28) tied the knot, the pair quit their jobs and set out on a year-long horse trek to travel 5300km along New Zealand coasts to raise money for charity.

After 10 months travelling clockwise around New Zealand, the pair have trekked into Hawera and are set to ride the Taranaki coast for the next six days before reaching New Plymouth.

They have raised more than $22,000 for CanTeen and intend to finish at their starting point, Cape Reinga, exactly a year after they set off on May 3.


Saturday, February 23, 2008

EMS, Day Two - by Nancy Reed

Sunday, February 17th, dawned cold and clear in the Eastern Mojave as Dani began preparations for the days ride. With the phone alarms working and many tasks completed the evening before we had time on our hands to enjoy a cup of coffee and grouse about our oatmeal. Jerry was a BIG oatmeal fan and we had discovered it made a good breakfast before a long ride. Dani however thought it’s appearance was akin to something that had been pre-digested.

Jazzi’s water bucket had less ice in it than the morning before. You could see were she had been drinking all night by the round hole her nose left in the ice. She was very happy to get more alfalfa, but became indignant when we started tacking her up. This was her second multi-day ride and someone had forgotten to tell her she still had more trail to cover.

Bubba and Karl, being old pros were ready in no time. Bubba had bonded to Jazzi and was very unhappy when Dani took her out of eyesight to mount up. Soon they were off to the start at the end of the dirt road that leads into camp. This gave me one whole hour to get ready to be trucked up to Cross Rocks for the lunch stop. I had thought I would get some reading in. Silly me, that hour was gone in no time!

The trail for day two was longer and harder with 55 miles to cover instead of the normal 50. The trail had significant climbs into the Mescal Mountains, Striped Mountains and the Cima Dome. Most of the mountain work was before the lunch stop, making the return to camp appear to be an easy feat. Many riders instead found that the early climbing forced their horses to slow down on the way home as they had used up much of the horses energy in the mountains. The front runners however, had lots of reserve to draw on and kept up a swift pace right to the finish.

The map of the trail was again GPS’d with excellent information. The names of the places the ride traversed were as colorful as the environs were not. They included Chevy Canyon (the home of a skeleton of an auto. How anyone knew it was a Chevy was beyond me), Lost Chinaman Mine, Blue Buzzard Mine, Evening Start Mine, Copper King Mine, Iron Horse Mine and Piute Valley to name just a few. The instructions on the map were almost comical: turn at the steam shovel, lunch at the old Bus and Bulldozer diner, cross Nudist Alien Road and my favorite “don’t do anything stupid.” Some folks had a hard time with the last instruction.

Lunch was at “Cross Rocks” which I was told use to have a cross on it. Some one with too much time on their hands had litigated the cross into oblivion, however the name remains. It was a very good spot for lunch with nice views, lots of room and easy truck access for supplies. After unloading the mountain of crew bags, Kim from Australia, Merri (yes, that Merri) and my self were put to work making 120 turkey, egg salad and other assorted sandwiches. To my utter amazement the most popular one is the egg salad, go figure. Us girls had a fun time bonding while making sandwiches chatting about kids, horses and correct way to dress a tuna sandwich.

By about 9:30 am the front runners started to arrive. Dr. Q and I were put to work taking pulses as the ever efficient Cheri Brisco kept tabs on everyone’s in and out times. That Cheri is the queen of keeping everyone on time. Dr. Q had much better ears than me and I was thankful he was able to find all the heart beats that I could not. 99.9 percent of the riders were appreciative of us and I only recall one person getting testy when their horse’s pulse was not taken fast enough. For the better part of 2 hours the riders came in groups less than 4 which made our work pleasurable. Then 2 huge packs came in and I lost track of time. Most riders knew if their horses met the 60 criteria. We had less than a handful of horses that had to take more than 3 minutes to pulse down.

Dani and Karl came in and pulsed down within minutes of each other. Dani reported that Jazzi was drinking well on the trail and was eating at every opportunity. During the hold Jazzi ate anything she could. Dayna Weary was kind enough to donate her leftover hay to Jazzi. Everyone, horses and humans looked good and ate and drank throughout the hour hold. Soon it was time for Dani and Karl to start the last half of the ride. I was so proud of Dani and Jazzi, they have come so far in the last few years from complete novices and a green 5 year old to happy travelers.

I had a very fun time with Cheri talking about the different rides in our region and horse confirmation. Cheri has 18,000 miles and she is a wealth of knowledge. We really enjoyed the several stallions that came through. I was so blessed she shared so much with me.

After the last of the riders left the lunch stop we gathered up much of the paraphernalia. Cheri was concerned as several riders had been reported lost and had not made it to lunch. The Duck’s daughter was sent to pull ribbons and the rest of us were trucked back to camp. I was finally able to rest and enjoy a bit of time for myself. However, it was short lived as Dani and Karl finished at 4 pm, one hour longer than the day before. They came in 20th and 21st!

Jazzi looked very good and was again hungry eating anything and everything she could. For Bubba it was another good day on the trail. Dani complained her legs were sore from posting, but was excited as Jazzi was able to out trot Bubba. Only a few horses have been able to make Bubba canter and Jazzi is now a member of that club. Jazzi had an issue when vetting out as she was trying to rack and fox trot. This makes it hard on the vet as Jazzi looks very off as she attempts to find the mystery gait. Bubba vetted out without any problems.

Later that evening Jazzi was sweating under her blanket, everywhere except were her saddle was. I was able to borrow a cooler (I had forgotten Jazzi’s after it was washed) and gave her some e-lytes per Tammy’s suggestion. However later when I asked the vet he did not think e-lytes were a good idea. I guess I have some research to do here. I guess I really need to get the gait trainer over to help Jazzi find those mysterious gaits.

Many thanks to the Duck and his crew for a great ride, a well marked trail and excellent maps. This is a wonderful ride. I am forever indebted to Karl and Bubba for taking my girls safely down the trail. Karl and Bubba, no body does it better!

Nancy Reed
Lazy J Ranch

Elfin Forest , CA

Friday, February 22, 2008

Paddi in Egypt

Paddi Sprecher
Canadian Trail House

Sit down and get a cup of coffee. I will start my tale of Egypt:-)
My neighbor Linda went with me so when I say we I mean her and me.
Packing for this trip was interesting. Between the 2 of us we had 200 pounds of luggage plus carry on. AND I took very few clothes. I had no room for clothes.
I had a saddle, bridles. You see my friend Maryanne Gabbani lives there and runs a guest ranch.
She can not buy tack locally.
We got to the airport and luck was on our side. They just tossed them on the belt and gave us our boarding pass. It helped that we were in line behind Builders without Boarders and all their boxes. They were going to Africa to build dorms and houses.
They asked me what was in the boxes and I told them it was horse equipment for a stable in Egypt. Maryanne does children's lessons.
They just tossed the boxes on the belt and away they went.
The plane was over an hour late leaving which was bad. We only had one hour between flights in Montreal our first stop. With the 40 folks from BWB on board also heading for Paris they held the flight.
A 4 hour wait in Paris before we could board air France for Cairo.
Everyone laughs at me because I take my pillow every where. Well I pulled it out of my carry on found a bench and got a good 3 hour nap. Linda was not so lucky. I can sleep any where.
We arrived in Cairo:-) about 7 pm.
Now here is where it gets interesting. Maryanne said she would have someone meet us to go through customs with all the stuff (my mom was worried I would go to jail)
Scanning the guys holding up signs we did not see our names. When arriving you must buy a $30 USD Visa. We figured this out gathered up the boxes and suitcases headed for customs. My arabic is non existent at that time. The customs guys do not speak very good english.
I pull in and they want to know what is in the boxes. I tell them with some charades horse stuff. They want to see. I have visions of being there all night as I scan the crowd looking for Maryanne. She speaks arabic and it is her stuff.
Well all turns out okay, they really only wanted to see.
Now it gets more interesting. No Maryanne. A very nice man asks if we need a cab. I say no thank you I have a friend coming. 5 minutes, 10 minutes 30 minutes no sign of my friend. (Steph sound familiarJ)The people in Egypt are so nice.
They really are. This same cab driver offers to call my friend. Well what the heck did I need her number for. She was going to meet me. OOPS not good.I have no number, address and I am not even sure of the area she lives in…. always an adventure
You need to know that there is no phone book for Egypt and everyone uses cell phones. I explain I need an internet connection. He offers to take me to one. I leave Linda with the luggage and head off to find a connection. so here I am in a strange country doing exactly what my hubby told me not to do . I left the airport with a guy I do not know in a country I am visiting for the first time. He was great. Took me to a hotel across from the airport and right beside "Radio Shack" was an internet /phone place.
I called Maryanne and said "Its Paddi and I am at the airport" She said no you are not. You arrive tomorrow.
You cross the date line and she figured we were arriving on the 19th since I told her to pick me up on the 18th. Most people get confused but I left on the 17th.
The cab driver paid for my internet and phone call. I had no money....
(I paid him back when I found Linda, she had some Egyptian pounds with her)
Now here is a few hints in case you ever go to Egypt.
All t paper goes into waste baskets not flushed. Carry 1 pound notes to tip the washroom attendant. They clean the toilet seat, give you hand towels. In fact you tip everyone in Egypt.
Maryanne shows up looking flustered and apologizing. This just never happens, well except when Steph came. I think it just endurance riders she forgets:-) and we are a pretty independent non panicking personality group so that is okay.
It is about an hour drive to her house, Maryanne gives us a running commentary of the areas we are driving through. She also teaches us our first lesson in arabic.
how to say hello. Everyone in Egypt says hello.
It took me the next 21 days to get it right. I am not good with languages.
We settle in for her guest house and fall into bed about midnight.
Remember: I said I can sleep any where!
I woke up the next morning rested about 10 am. Linda on the other hand said did you here the call for prayer at 4 .30 am ? Did you hear the dogs barking? Did you hear the pounding? (the grooms were chopping wood)I stretched and said NO! I slept like a dream. Next night same thing.
Maryanne taught lessons until lunch and we enjoyed the sun. Later the grooms saddled the horses and we headed out to the desert for a ride. To cool here, we are on Arabian horses that are well trained and fit riding to the pyramids. There are many pyramids not just the ones you see in pictures. Those are the GIZA pyramids.
A great supper followed and the next day we went riding then grocery shopping. Picture west Edmonton mall on boxing day times 10 for crowd.
Amazing , this store is kind of the Egyptian wally mart. They sell everything literally. I only went there once. I hate malls. Food is cheap and you can get all the name brands you see at home. We bought really yummy juice. Milk comes in tetra packs (yuk). I forget what we all bought but it came to about 40 dollars and filled 4 bags. Try that at Safeway.
Maryanne and I spent the evening catching up on stuff. We have been friends on the internet for years. I finally took her up on her offer to visit.
Kids are every where. They are cute happy and well fed. It is a farming area and they may not have much money but they are rich with love. Egyptians love children.
The kids ask for money but we only give them smiles. Maryanne has a very strict rule that no one gives the kids anything but smiles. They have learnt that and if the rule was broken no one would get any peace when riding or walking.
I just laughed and said yes I want money , you can give me money. They would laugh at the idea that I would ask them for money.
*the kids here go to a government school. The girls quit at about grade 3. The schools are not very good. These kids want to learn but the school system is a failure.

(this is where I put in a note that I am raising money to build a literacy center, more on that later. Selling the most beautiful scarves from Egypt to raise funds) and yes I will have some at the AERC convention $25 each and they sell in Paris for double that in the stores

The Cairo Museum is quite fascinating. It is an old museum and lots of the items are not labeled. I saw the King Tut display. WOW!!! The mummie room is really interesting in a creepy sort of way. The entire place is amazing. Hard to believe they did all this without any modern stuff. I put it down to no TV or computers…lol

We rode the horses to Giza. The sphinx is not nearly as big as I thought it was. I rode a camel named Mickey Mouse. That is right like Disney the young boy told me.
Mickey and I got along petty good. I will take horses any day. Camels are rough to ride.
They shave the most amazing designs into their coat.

The only badly abused and starved animals I saw in Egypt were the pyramid horses and some of the camels. Not all. The horses are all babies under 2 years old. They live in horse hell. They are dead. No life in their eyes. Hey have little training, sores on their bodies from poor fitting tack.
The horses are then chased and whipped to make them run
If you go to Giza , Mexico or any where else they have trail rides and you get on these poor abused animals you are as guilty of abuse as the person who owns them
Nuff said!

When we ride up from the back side of Giza there was the body of a dead horse in the desert. The feral dogs will eat the body.
There are worse things then being dead. Being a pyramid horse is just that. I will be posting pictures on my blog (which I need to get done)

Shopping at the market was heaven. You could spend days there and not see it all. All the vendors were friendly. You can barter The market is still located where the caravans came with trade goods across the desert. The stone work is amazing.

Old Cairo was really fascinating. Not a normal tourist stop. The nice thing about going to stay at Maryanne's is that you are not cattle penned through shots by tourist companies.
I was in the back alley bartering for tack when a rat ran right by me and down the alley.
It was the only rat saw. There are a million cats in Cairo. They may even out number the people. There is about 22 million people in Cairo.

I must say I felt safer in Cairo then in Paris. The people in Egypt are the friendliest I have met in traveling.

We became friends with the grooms and were invited over for dinner.
The food was unbelievable. The women take great pride in their cooking. They really
go all out.
We sat on cushions around a small round table. The woman laid the table with lamb, chicken, salad, soup and fresh baked bread. Vegies in sauce. I was in heaven.
I can not believe they can balance these BIG aluminum trays on their heads covered in dishes. I could not balance it empty.
The homes are simple but spotless. We ate from communal plates. (no double dipping)
You use the bread or your fingers. Spoons were the only cutlery for the soup.
I love the food.
Finished off with tea , fruits and pastries.
The last day we were there I bought toys for the kids at a toy store in Maadi.
I noticed there is not many toys in the village. They do not go into Cairo often..
The average income is $60 to $140 per month so it does not leave much for extras.
We loaded up the donkey cart and Farag the groom drove us to the village.
Quite a stir was caused. 2 western woman in a donkey cart makes everyone smile and laugh. They stopped working in the fields to laugh and wave. They yelled greetings. Linda was Lady Di. She gracefully waved and greeted everyone with a hello.
The kids loved the toys. I bought bags of marbles so everyone could have a few.
I bought a baby doll, beads , play dough.
The kids were so excited. They showed me how they could count to ten and say hello welcome to Egypt. I taught them colors in English. These kids want to learn. They are smart.
When it was time to go I felt like the pied piper. I had so many children walking me to the donkey cart.

We were invited to lunch and for a tour of the Bin Laden stables. The horses were breath taking. What a beautiful place. They even had a set of twins which is very unusual in horses. They rarely live.
Lunch was great! The houses are really nice. Marble flooring is cheaper then lino or carpet.
I found a house I want to buy. It looks like something out of Disney land. I would turn it into a guest house and offer belly dancing lessons on the front lawn . Yoga in the back garden. I would love it. Just cannot convince hubby to move. Darn his love of snow.
It is right next door to my friends place. I would hire gardens since my thumbs are all brown.

That brings me to shopping again. Anyone want me to bring them home a belly dance

I did so much, saw so much I can not even think of it all.
Driving. You would never want to drive there. It goes by the bumper rule. Whoever gets the bumper in front gets to go. The 3 lane freeway has 7 lanes and in the mix is horse and donkey carts. Pedestrians dodge traffic. Traffic is a zoo.
Maryanne has a driver who will drive you where ever you want to go. It is included in the tour package.

I actually saw a pickup truck with 3 water buffalos and 2 donkeys in the back in downtown Cairo.
Housing is interesting. The parents build a house then they build a second floor for the oldest son. When he gets married they finish it. The next son goes up a level. Got 4 sons 4 levels. They build houses but they are not finished until they are ready to be moved into.

Stop by my booth at the AERC convention. I am bringing horse tack, scarves and pictures.
A little bit of Egypt for you all to enjoy.
Maryanne has a groom who is her right hand man with the horses. He is coming to Canada this summer to stay with Dave and I. Part of the money from the tack and scarves will go to help him pay for a ticket. It is more for his ticket then he makes in a year.
I have arranged for him to learn trimming and shoeing from farrier friend Susan.
Wayne Delbeke has offered to work with him and Teena teaches English as a second language. Got it all covered just need to get him a ticket.
There are few pictures on my home page as a link to flickr
I am not the storyteller Steph or Merry are but I hoped you enjoyed it.
Paddi Sprecher

A few years ago Steph, Merri, Jackie and Tracy were Maryanne's guests in Egypt. Here are some photos and stories from that trip, plus the first running of the Dawshur Dawdle Endurance Ride.
Dawshur Dawdle

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

EMS, Day One - by Nancy Reed

Danielle and I had the pleasure of riding days one and two of the Eastern Mojave Scenic Sunrise Ranch/XP ride. I rode Jazzi day one and Dani rode Jazzi day two as her horse, Lyric was not in shape for the ride. Due to an unexpected rain all day Thursday, we were late getting on the road Friday. Fortunately, we only encountered one traffic jam were interstate 15 meets 215 just below the Cajon Pass in San Bernardino.

The ride camp was massive, relatively flat and less than a quarter of a mile from I-15 (this is the main road to Las Vegas from LA and southern California). This is the good and bad news. Super easy to find, a joy to use, but the incessant freeway noise got to me the last night in camp.

The weather was beautiful and perfect for riding. The nights were cold with ice covering the water buckets in the morning giving way to high 60’s and low 70’s by mid day. Although the wind was cold, it was less than 5 mph and intermittent. Jackets, hats and gloves were either being removed or added both days. It was deceivingly dry. The horses’ hard work was not evident in their sweat patterns.

The views were also deceiving. What appeared to be a relatively short distance away was in fact miles down the trail. This is due to the clean Mojave Desert air and the short stature of the umbikuous (?sp) Joshua trees that are usually less than 10 feet tall. This landscape is a stunning mix of native cacti, evolved through the ages to survive in a land both beautiful and dangerous. I found that the native plants could pierce the toughest jacket, jeans or gloves. The horses found the chollas cacti very dangerous as the spines had tiny barbs that make them difficult to remove. If left in the horse’s legs the spines could cause lameness and infection. This was not a place to brush against the flora as it would bite back.

Jazz, my 7 year old half Arab, half saddlebred mare did very well traveling without Lyric. In camp and on the trail she had the handsome Bubba G to keep her company. I am forever grateful to Karl and Bubba for sponsoring both myself and Dani. No one could ever have a better companion or mentor. And that Bubba, he can fly down the trail!

In true Duck fashion, the ride meeting was short, sweet and to the point. We were admonished to stay out of the washes with the deep sand by using the single track on either side. The maps were a joy with what appeared to be National geographic topo maps and numbered boxes on one side and matching GPS coordinates, mileage and helpful hints on the other. (Now I whine about losing Jerry who knew everything about a GPS and would have loved teaching Dani and me how to use a GPS on the trail. I’ll stop whining now.) A typical hint was turn left here, water at this corral. The trail was superbly marked and the footing, aside from the deep sand washes, was excellent.

Day one was very cold in the morning with ¼ inch of ice in the water buckets. Our phone alarm did not go off. It was a race to eat, get dressed and in the saddle in 45 minutes. Somehow we got all the tack and trappings on in time and we were off in the cold, clear morning air. Bubba and Jazzi had one small disagreement and then settled down. Well, Bubba settled down and Jazzi took a bit longer. We ended up behind Crockett and Sharon for several miles. It was a beautiful thing to see how they moved down the trail taking turns leading, following always pushing ahead, but always safe and sane. Their horses moved along happily listening to their rider’s commands. I am grateful to have witnessed such cooperation between man and beast and between two people.

Now Bubba is something else, an American Spotted Saddle Horse that can fly down a trail at a trot, rack or a canter. And Bubba is always happy to fly down the trail; any trail is fine with him. I never saw him take a bad step, all day. Karl and Bubba are one of the best teams I have ever seen in action. They have logged thousands of miles together and are one of the top rated mileage teams in the nation. Karl would never boast about this, he is a humble man who is happy to be owned by Bubba.

All day Karl and I took turns leading and following, finding the single track, discussing important life issues. Bubba, true to form was fine as long as he was with Karl. Jazzi however, was better leading; something to work on at home. Karl was always on the look out for the ribbons, as he admits to having a bad case of “Ribbon Attachment Disorder.” This syndrome causes extreme agitation when ribbons are not found every few minutes while on the trail. Not a bad syndrome to have if you are a distance rider.

We ended up walking most of the gentle up hill trail in to lunch as by then Jazzi was tired and hungry. We lost time here, but Karl did not complain. At the lunch stop Jazzi was drinking well and eating anything but what I brought for her. Due to the cold lunch was only 30 minutes in stead of the normal hour hold. I stayed a bit longer and let Jazzi eat more as she needed the fuel to get us back to base camp. Again, Karl did not complain.

The ride home went fast as it was mostly either flat or a gentle down hill grade. I am the first to admit I do not like trotting downhill. According to Dani this is because I am an old worry wart. Well, she is right, but we trotted most of the trail home with no trouble. It seemed like we were back in the ride camp in minutes when in fact we finished at about 4 pm. In true XP fashion we vetted out and in at the same time with happy though hungry horses. I was tired and very sore from the new saddle that put my feet too far forward for my liking.

At the trailer Jazzi ate continuously for over 2 hours. Her head never can above the hay bag or her pan of beet pulp. Dani found several chollas spines in Jazzi’s butt that came out easily. Dani was an expert on removing chollas spines as she removed many for riders at the lunch stop while helping with the pulse checks. And true to form no spines were found on Bubba, that’s the kind of campaigner he is.

Jazzi started a new fashion craze, soon to be seen at every ride camp: fleece blanket with contrasting waist band. What really happened is I forgot her clean cooler in the back of my car at home. (I need to finish making my check lists as last time I forgot Dani’s helmet.) Soon it was time for the ride meeting and bed as day two was Dani’s turn to ride. To be continued.

Nancy Reed

Lazy J Ranch

Elfin Forest, CA

2008 Far Out Forrest - Debbie Parsons

It wasn't pretty, it wasn't a lot of fun, but we got it done! 5
started the 100, 2 completed--the horse traveling in first and the
horse traveling in last. You can guess which one I was! Ride time
was 16:15; finished at 1:45am.

The sand was the worse that I've seen it there and I've actually
hauled the 100 miles to work on those trails. There had been rain
earlier in the week but just not in the part of the forest we were
riding in so the sand was dry, loose, and deep. And it was warm--
upper 70s/80.

We rode out as a group at 6am since it was dark. It wasn't long
before you could actually see the colors of the marker cards. It was
then that we spread out a bit but the group was still probably all
within a mile of each other. One of the things this ride is known
for besides the nasty sand is the low branches. I had eye protection
for my night portion of the ride but didn't wear it at the start.
Big mistake as I found a branch that went for my left eye. I got a
good whack on my left upper eyelid. Talk about pain! I could feel
moisture but it turned out not to be blood (thank goodness for a
white tissue in my pocket to use in the dark to check for blood). My
actual eye was OK but I had enough swelling of my eyelid that it was
irritating my eye. But on I rode. The first loop was 15 miles with a
trot by into camp and then out again for 15 miles before the first
hold at 30 miles. Not what I'm used to but good training for other
rides. I decided to actually go to my rig after I trotted by to
electrolyte Boomer and to check my eye. This resulted in the other
100s getting several minutes ahead of me. I never rode with any of
them again that day. My eyelid was swollen and fuschia colored but
no open skin to worry about which was good.

The 2nd 15 mile loop contained the worse and longest stretches of
sand. It didn't seem THAT bad on my first time on that loop but on
the 2nd time through, it seemed a lot worse, thanks to the heat of
the day and many hooves along the trail. After the 40 min hold, we
repeated the first loop of the day. Now in the daylight, I could see
long stretches of "moguls" that were made by the ATVs that use the
forest. They are miserable to negotiate--hard to get a rhythm or
find a gait above a walk that feels comfortable so I walked them
this time (last time we trotted them in a group in the dark which
was a weird sensation). When I came in for the 2nd hold at 45 miles,
I got a reminder that Boomer is a bulky horse and just doesn't cool
as well as some of the others I've ridden. He had a poor CRI and low
gut sounds but I knew he'd eat. Unfortunately, my rig was in the
full sun. My bad in not moving some stuff into the woods for shade.
My plan had been to park my rig so I could set up my pen in the
shade but 2 other riders had gotten there early and parked their
rigs horizontal to the shade rather than vertically, thereby taking
all the shade for 2 when about 5-7 rigs could have parked there.
Something to think about when you park your rig. Boomer's gut sounds
came up but his pulse at the end of the hold was 56. Not good. I was
OK'd to go out though and I went out to repeat the sandy 2nd loop
again, this time at a much slower pace. I know I took at least an
hour longer than the prior time, if not more than that. I walked
whenever the footing was even a bit questionable, and handwalked the
last 1/8 mile into camp at the end. Much improved marks going into
the 50 min hold despite limited water on this loop. Boomer ate and
drank and looked good although a bit tired.

The next 4 loops were 10 miles each. I got in one of those before
dark. When we went out in the dark to start the last 30 miles,
Boomer had decided I was truly crazy. He did go out and he did trot
when I asked but it was what I call a "screw you" trot--not much
faster than a western jog. That was his pace and he wasn't going to
go any faster unless I really got after him and I didn't see any
point in doing that, figuring he knew best what he could give me. I
had to deal with this on his first 50 and then did battle with him
to keep the pace down on his 2nd one because he thought he knew the
game then. So we trotted along slowly in the dark. I started
counting 50 strides before changing diagonals. I did this pretty
much the entire time we were in the dark. I bet Boomer can now count
to 50. I think the poor horse was in a state of disbelief and was
hoping I'd come to my senses. Even though he trudged along, he kept
moving. This is a horse that I've thought to be a quitter. He has
stopped on me in the past, taking a lot of urging to get back in
motion but those instances are becoming more distant. If there was
ever a time for him to have quit, it would have been Saturday night.
We had been by ourselves for probably 85+ miles of the entire 100
(we'd caught up with some 50s after 45 miles and rode along with
them for about 5 miles before moving on). We kept going back "home"
and then going back out, leaving food and rest behind. He really
dragged on the last loop until we hit the forest road coming back
towards camp. That section was about 3 miles long and this time he
actually stepped out a bit more. I had told him that he would be
finished this time. Maybe somehow he understood or perhaps he was
just hoping!

The camp was quiet when we finished as all sane people had gone to
bed. I wasn't happy with our final trot-out. Boomer was really
dogging it and didn't look to be moving well or evenly but it was
good enough for the completion. Everything else checked out fine and
Boomer couldn't wait to eat. He ate the best at this ride he's ever
eaten. At the hold at 90 miles, Darlene Krell brought him some
pellets and he almost devoured the feed pan along with the pellets.
He couldn't get enough of the feed or the hay so I stayed beyond the
very short 10 min hold time to let him eat. It paid off.

My friend Cindy called out from her rig to offer help as I untacked.
My mistake was not taking her offer. I had not taken care of myself
as well as I should have. By the time I finished poulticing and
wrapping Boomer's legs, my head was really swimming and things were
getting black. I closed my eyes as I unsnapped Boomer from the
trailer and turned him to his pen. He went in to get to his food and
I got the top strand of his pen done before lying down on my trailer
ramp, hoping the spinning and nausea would ease up so I could finish
what I had to do. It was not a good feeling. After about 5 mins I
got up and finished off what needed to be done outside and then
staggered into the camper. I managed to change my clothes and call
my boyfriend to tell him we were done and I was near death. I set an
alarm for a few hours so I could check on Boomer and was out like a
light. Sure beat dealing with the spinning head and nausea. I could
hear Boomer eating and drinking so I knew he was OK. Should have
known when I started "seeing" deer standing alongside the road that
things weren't going well in my world!

By the time I was ready to leave Sunday morning, everyone else had
already left. I went to take Boomer for a walk before loading him
for the ride home. He planted his feet. It took a lot of
encouragement to convince him to move and when he did get going, he
just dragged along. I felt terrible seeing him like that. I got him
walking and then had him trot a couple of circles around me. He
looked a bit awkward which made me wonder what was lying beneath his
bandages. We continued to walk around and Boomer seemed to finally
realize that everyone else was gone and he was done. He suddenly
brightened up and started dragging me around and even trotting
spontaneously as he spied leftover piles of hay to investigate. He's
a pretty crafty horse; perhaps he was "tired" to avoid more work!
When we got home, I unwrapped his legs--they looked great. I was
happy to see that. I turned him out and watched as he rolled
vigorously several times. He even trotted off to check out the
hanging feed bucket.

He has a sore area on the left side of his back that is something
new. This appeared at 45 miles. I realized as we trotted along in
the dark that I've not checked his saddle fit since November and
he's done a lot since that time. That is a stupid thing to forget to
do. I ride him in a Reactor Panel saddle so it's not like I can't
adjust things for changes in his back. He'd done fine with the 50s
other than loin soreness. This time, no loin soreness but he's had a
loading dose of Adequan, a shot of Legend, and chiropractic work
along with shoes on his formerly bare hooves. There's some soreness
in the girth area that he didn't have on his last 50 (the one
previous to that he did but I changed to a different girth and
thought the problem was solved when he was fine on the next 50).
Overall though, he looks good--his weight stayed up and he's as
obnoxious as he was prior to the ride. He nickered at me a while ago
when I went out to check on him. I doubt it was in greeting . . .
probably a direct threat that if I came near him I'd die! But at
least he looked happy (maybe at the thought of me lying crumpled on
the ground by his hooves!).

We won't discuss how sore I am. Actually, parts of me are OK today
but there are parts of me that are hurting for the first time ever
after a ride. Physically, that marathon I ran the Sunday prior was
easier (I did that in the "blazingly" fast time of 4:52:16 . . . .
Kenyans beware!!). Being up for 22.5 hours is not easy, especially
when the bulk of that time is on a moving horse. I hope this is like
they say childbirth is . . . you soon forget the pain and want
another! I'm still not 100% with my stomach but I'm eating and

So, it's done. Now to sit back and analyze the ride and decide if
Boomer did well enough to have a chance at finishing Tevis. I didn't
like the slow and poor recovery. I didn't like the way he was moving
at the final check. I did like how he ate and drank. He did not get
much time for any of his traditional naps--maybe he dozed 10 mins
the entire time because he was too hungry to nap. That was likely
the product of 30 miles before a hold. That length of time/miles is
a good thing when considering Tevis since the first real rest is so
far into the ride. And I did like the way he kept going, despite
being alone and tired. The pace was slow but steady and he did it
for miles and miles in the dark. He was surefooted and didn't spook
in the dark other than to eye a few dark areas of ground

Boomer gets a month off now. He deserves it and needs it. He won't
see the saddle until it's time to go ride again (at which time I'll
definitely check the fit and make adjustments). Next ride is
Leatherwood, just one day for 50 miles, the last weekend in March.
That will give us some mountain riding. Yee haw!

Thanks to everyone on the list for their encouragement and thanks to
my unofficial crew of Darlene Krell, Thurmon Tolbert, Cindy Ryan,
and Teri Hunter. Without them in those later hours, I'd have been


Monday, February 18, 2008

Riders saddle up for Cracker Trail ride - Feb 18 2008 - Full Story


With the dying embers of campfires in the morning chill, people lining up for chow as the sun rose, and the clanging of gear and equipment, it almost had the feel of an army bivouac.

Except the uniform of the day was cowboy boots, jeans, and floppy western hats, and these folks would be mounting up on horses, not Humvees...


Shanghai Trails Endurance Ride - Feb 17 2008

Pam' Site - Full Ride Story

Braving the threat of rain and severe weather, we went to the first running of the Shanghai Trails Endurance ride at Pierce Ranch this weekend. We arrived early on Friday since I had promised Cindy, the ride manager, to help her with the ride. Helen pulled my three horse bp trailer with the Kawasaki mule so that we would have extra transport for Cindy.

Friday afternoon, I decided to take Rio out on a short warmup ride. I rode with another friend, Tamsen on the pink loop, which is the 10 mile loop of the ride. We rode out for about 3 miles then turned around and came back. We actually rode pretty fast, but when Tamsen came back and vetted in, her horse came up lame from the heavy mud that we rode through in some places...


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Dr Strangles Or: by Lynn White

Dr Strangles Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Riding Alone

Merri Melde's story about taking care of horses with Strangles got me thinking about my own experience with this nasty affliction. Like most every thing with horses (and life in general), destiny comes via the most unlikely circumstances.

For those of you who grew up in the saddle and have no fear of riding, you probably can't relate to this story. But for those of you who took up riding as an adult, read away. There is something about taking up a sport as an adult. It's like your brain is not wired for it and you have to think about everything that you do. Though I'd never want to be anywhere other than on the back of a horse, I took up riding as an adult and my brain is just not wired for it. I have to think about everything I do and I think about all the bad things that can happen on a horse. I worry too
much sometimes.

Part of the reason I like this sport is because I like to yak with my horsey friends. I have to make it a point to shut up sometimes because I just know I must annoy the crap out of people. I can almost hear people thinking: "OMG here comes that lady who will not shut the hell up! Ride faster/slower!"

In July of 2006 I was alone on a conditioning ride and had a pretty serious fall. It was one of those I-could-have-been-killed falls. Nothing really serious happened besides landing on my face and people giving my husband dirty looks at the grocery store. But landing on my face really rattled me. I could have easily snapped my neck. I vowed never to ride alone again (like having someone around would magically keep gravity from being so unkind). I am lucky because I am blessed with living around other riders so riding with someone is about as difficult as picking up the phone.

The season of 2007, PJ Blondshine and I religiously conditioned together and things were proceeding as planned. Then I noticed that green goopy discharge on my year-old colt. If it wasn't for the fact that I handled him daily I would have never even known he had strangles. About the only other symptom that he had was a minor malaise. Instead of charging around the pasture at a full gallop for four laps, he'd gallop just two laps. My mare Agnes had a runny nose and was now considered a "shedder." I had become public enemy number one and would remain that way for the next six weeks.

With several rides left to go late in the season I decided that I was just going to have to ride alone again. So I started giving my husband detailed maps where I was going and with fear and trepidation, headed up to the hills armed with a cell phone and a hunter orange vest. I stayed on the roads and kept to the route I had told my husband (this was the hardest part).

Because there was nobody to talk to I really started to see things and think about my horse in a whole new light. I started seeing all sorts of birds and wildlife. I started to think about stories to write and new places to explore. Because there was nobody to talk to we were a lot stealthier. I found that I liked just being out alone on my mare. The fear of riding alone was gone. If it hadn't been for Strangles I'd still be dependent on riding with other riders. Now at least, I know I can do it alone.

I know that something could always go wrong. I could come face to face with a cougar or Agnes could stumble at a walk and I could end up with a broken femur. I could also end up with cancer in a year or have to spend a couple years taking care of a sick relative and not ride at all. Horses teach us to live in the moment because that is where they always are. Horses force us to relax because they don't do well with uptight people. They teach us how enjoy a sunny day and appreciate all the things and people in our lives, and they teach us how to overcome worrying. Kind of surreal, really.


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Freeze R Burn (subtitle: Don't Walk) - Feb 10 2008 - Full Story

Yesterday was my first endurance race, the Freeze R. Burn 25 mile at the Grasslands in Decatur, Texas.

Okay, so I was afraid. Not that Glamdring wouldn't make it. That I wouldn't make it. That I'd fall off and get hurt. Or some other disaster would happen. Like Mark Twain, my life has been full of disasters that didn't happen. Yet...


Saturday, February 09, 2008

My last day of being 49.....was kind of a bummer

Saturday, February 9, 2008

The Endurance Granny officially turns 50 tomorrow. Today was sunny and the ground was beginning to dry up with reasonable footing. So I figured it was time to get the Phebes out and start working her under saddle. I began with some light ground work and she was just really having a fit, spooking, blowing, and eventually bucking and having a royal episode. I had the crupper on her, so I thought maybe she was having issues with that, so I removed it, and lounged her around both directions and she quit bucking. Thinking I had the bugs worked out I climbed on and walked her a little, then suddenly she tried to bolt, commenced bucking, and I lost a rein before I could get her stopped. She promptly laid me out on the ground with me landing on my head...


Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Lucy's Death Valley Encounter, 2007

Lucy Chapin Trumball tells her 2007 Death Valley Encounter Story

Well, here we are, over a week after DVE, and my legs still feel kinda weird - covered in rough, dry skin from constant abrasion, battering, and friction. I was expecting to feel a bit crumpled around the edges after four days of riding, but wasn't expecting to feel that way within the first 20 miles or so. In actuality, as the days went on, the pain lessened and either my legs went numb from constant insult, or I just loosened up.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.


Human and equine interaction and dependency

D'Arcy Demianoff-Thompson interesting and vital piece of information regarding human and equine interaction and dependency. I never considered this relationship or the degree of importance until I was 45 years old. After a life time, up until 45 years old, with horses in one capacity or another.

When I was 45 I had a serious accident on Samburu KA aka Sammy. He was owned by someone else at the time. I worked him on a regular basis for this owner. Sammy and I had a working relationship in as much as I looked forward to the work and he did as well. I never got the sense that Sammy thought anything, about me, beyond the time we spent together. The relationship seemed to be, "I ride you, you let me ride you, you get a treat, and I will see you next time" type of relationship.

Then, one day, we were riding up on a canel road, in Merced, CA, that runs along the irrigation canal/ditch. The ditch was full of water. Next to this particular stretch of canal is a four lane road. So, water on one side - lots of traffic below, on the other side. If anyone is familiar with the canal system in the San Joaquin Valley you know how many miles you can travel uninterrupted and free of equine traffic. We were approaching a 'bend' in the canal, lined with trees, visibility was minimal. Imagine our surprise, when, around the bend came a run away horse and rider directly at Sammy and I. We didn't have much time or room to navigate out of the horses way. I turned Sammy away from the horse, next to the water side of the canal, to give the horse room to go by. Hoping this would lessen the fractious experience one can anticipate when an offending horse approaches a STALLION. Instead of taking the break in the path the horse came straight into the side of Sammy pushing him to the edge of the canal where he lost his footing. We went, over, into the canal sideways.

I was pinned, under Sammy, at the bottom of the canal. According to a witness, that had been driving on the road side of the canal, Sammy, at his own risk, tried to climb the cement canal, cutting up his pasterns and fetlocks to lift himself off of me. When I got out from underneath him he dropped himself back down into the water. Clearly he was not just trying to 'get out' of the water. Rather Sammy knew I was under him. After I got out from underneath him and held onto his saddle horn, he was able to keep his head above the water line, until someone helped me out and then anchored Sammy, so he could get his footing on the cement, and pull himself out. I was immediately, separated from Sammy and driven to the hospital. As I was being driven away Sammy kept calling after me. At the time, being in so much pain, I didn't think about why he was so upset. Sammy was taken back to his ranch. Needless-to-say I had a few injuries and was laid up for about 2.5 weeks.

I was unable to get out to the ranch where Sammy was located during those 2.5 weeks. I called regularly and spoke with Sammy's owner to see how he was doing. She didn't want to worry me and told me he was okay. Then at the 2.5 week mark she said, "he is okay but he seems to be getting more and more depressed as each day goes by. He is not eating much. When can you come out?" I had someone drive me out to see Sammy. As I got out of the car and called his name he scretched in return. It was one of the most plaintiful calls I had ever heard in my life. I got to his stall as quick as I could. When I entered his stall he dropped his head over my shoulder and ever so gently huggd me with his chin. He took a step back and looked me in the eye with one of his eyes and breathed into my ear with one of his nostrils. He then dropped his mouth to my hands and licked them and kissed the tops of my hands with his lips. I was no overwhelmed with emotions I started to cry and for the first time in my life I witnessed a horse CRY! Tears streamed down his face and he rubbed his cheek on mine to wipe away my tears.

The exchange and experience between Sammy and I was one of the most emotional moments I had EVER had with a horse. Up until that point, over the number of years in my life, the number of horses I had been involved with, owned, or trained, was in the hundreds. It was at that very moment, with Sammy, that I realized how important I was to him. How he came to depend on me. And how he may have felt that he let me down. That he may not have taken care of me as well as he should have. It wasn't until I said to Sammy, "it's okay boy, I am fine, and thank you for saving my life!" That he actually let out all of his breath, relaxed his neck, and leaned against me and breathed normally.

I was amazed and bewilderd by this experience. As I spoke of it to others and listend to similar stories I began to truly understand what lies in the heart and soul of the horse. I was referred to several different books on the beliefs of the Bedouins regarding their horses. One book, I believe it is Bazy Tankersley's, "Ride Away Singing," that explains the Bedouians belief that an Arabian horse, always knows where it's ''owner' (lack of a better word here) is at all times. that the Arabian horse has the capacity to love all humans and only 'bonds' with ONE human. The Bedouians, also, believe the horse knows, feels, and can communicate with said 'owner.' During my recovery process I had 'felt' as though Sammy may have been trying to communicate with me. I dismissed it as 'silly notions' that he would have had any idea where I was or what condition I was in. Apparently I was wrong.

A couple of years went by after the accident. My life became very full of work, travel, and committments to my own horses. I was rarely out to the ranch to see Sammy let alone work him. And yet I never lost contact with Sammy through our spiritual interaction. I woke up one day, I was living in San Jose (2 hours from Merced) at the time, and told my partner, Keith Clanton. we need to go and see Sammy. We talked about the feelings I was having. I told him I thought Sammy was trying to communicate with me and that I really needed to be there. When we got to the ranch and saw the condition that the horses were in (owner fell upon hard times and there was very little hay) I understood what Sammy was trying to communicate to me. We returned to San Jose with the feeling of such sadness. I called a friend who said he would buy four of the horses - Sammy, Cejlon, Czapral, and Iza Fire. Two weeks went by and it was time to pick up the horses and have them transported. I got a telephone call from Kentucky that the buyer had been killed in an automobile accident. I was grief stricken, not only for my friend, for the horses, Sammy in particular, as well.

Again, fate, karma, whatever you want to call it reared it's beautiful head. Keith comes home and hands me the money and says, "go pick up the horses!" That was July 1998. Sammy has lived with me ever since and there is not a day that goes by, unless I am off site, that we do not spend time together. We ride, we play, we talk, or we just have silent moments together. Sammy will be 28 on the 12th of March. I treasure each and every day I have with him. And he has taught me to never underestimate the strength and power of the horse's ability to be at one with it's human.

God Bless you one and all in hopes that Sammy's story inspires you and guides you to never underestimate the impact you have on the horses life.

D'Arcy L. Demianoff-Thompson