Thursday, June 19, 2008

Old Dominion - Nancy & Blue's 1st 100!

For years I have talked and dreamed about doing a 100 mile endurance ride and especially the Old Dominion. The stars just have never lined up for me to do one due to scheduling of my real life or horse issues but this past weekend my 100 mile dream came true!

After the Biltmore ride when Blue and I took a wrong turn and ended up doing almost 60 miles and finished looking good I had a feeling that we could do the Old Dominion or at least give it a try. I went ahead and sent in my entry before I chickened out, after all, no matter how far I would make it the experience would be quite an adventure.

My husband Bill and my friend (and massage therapist) Lisa agreed to be my crew and we did our best to organize everything. A big feat in itself since I did not know what exactly I would need and all the vet checks were away from camp. I was most worried about keeping myself going and hydrated because I have had some past experience with heat stress and upset stomach on hot rides and I didn’t want to be the weak link in the team. I did some research on the internet about what marathon runners and bike riders do during a race and stocked up on some energy and electrolyte products to help me along. We also brought along a lot of food possibilities to entice me to eat even at my low times. We had sushi rolls, flank steak, roasted veggies, muffins and all sorts of great food, which we shared with others that were hungry as well. The sushi was a big hit!

The night before the ride at the ride briefing they encouraged the formation of teams. I overheard Laura Hayes, who was sitting across from me, say that a member of their team couldn’t make it so I asked if they minded if I took her place. Our team was Bill and the Babes and consisted of Bill Taylor, Laura Hayes, Libby Lopp and myself. Our crew was also Bill and the Babes since Julie, Bill’s wife and crew, had decided to ride with Bill Sluys and Lisa and all crew together. Since we were planning on riding slow Bill T, Laura and I decided to ride together the next day. Laura was riding a fairly young horse, it was Bill’s horse’s first hundred and it was Blue and my first hundred as well.

I was hoping for cool weather but although the temperatures were a bit more moderate than the previous weekend the humidity was off the charts. We left camp at 5:30 am wearing t-shirts with my glasses fogging up. The three of us walked out of camp and proceeded down a gravel road for a half of a mile or so before we hit the trail, which started climbing immediately. The climb was gradual (I say gradual but that is in comparison to what lay ahead!) at first with some ups and downs but soon became very steep as we came out of a hardwood forest into an open gas line area. Laura and Bill got off and walked and tailed for a while and I did too for a few minutes until I realized that I was not used to it so got back on my horse. It was beginning to get pretty hot and I didn’t want to stress myself too much at the beginning of the ride and Blue is used to carrying me everywhere down the trail since he is a seasoned NATRC horse.

We continued on single track trail through hardwoods climbing to a ridge that was much more alpine with scrubby trees and lots of mountain laurel that was blooming profusely, sometimes creating a tunnel effect. It was just beautiful and the occasional views we glimpsed were spectacular. The footing was sometimes good and sometimes very rocky and slow but we seemed to be keeping a steady pace. By now the horses had become acquainted and were establishing a hierarchy. There were two geldings, Blue and James(Bill’s Horse), and the mare, Mo, Laura’s horse. Blue must have told them unconditionally that he was the leader because after a while neither one cared to pass him so he led the way.

After riding the ridge for a while we descended down a steep gravel road for several miles. Laura suddenly felt that her horse was off and sure enough she was bobbing her head consistantly. Thinking that she might walk out of it in a minute we continued for a ways until she realized that the horse had lost a shoe. I had an Easyboot and offered it to Laura. Since she was entered in the Cavalry Division she had to think about it for a minute, as the assistance would eliminate her from that part of the competition. Looking at the map and realizing that it was still quite a ways to Rogers Field Vet Check where the farrier would be she accepted the boot and dropped out of Cavalry. We were on our way again but it wasn’t too long before the boot had fallen off. We went back a ways to see if we could find it but alas, it was not to be. I had one more boot and again offered it but with some tips to make sure that it would stay on.

We got back on a wooded trail that later came out into a gas line for our first check which was a gate and go. We pulsed down and trotted for the vet and were on our way.

A little more wooded trail then it was pretty much gravel road from there to the Rogers Field Vet Check and the boot stayed on.

We all passed the first check and Laura had the shoe replaced. Our crew was relieved to see us as we were the last to arrive. They had a nice place set up in the shade of some trees and we feasted on all the goodies from the cooler. Blue was eating and drinking great and enjoying being fussed over. I was thrilled to actually have an appetite and honed in on the veggie sushi. I was feeling amazingly relaxed and was having a blast.

As we left Rogers Field we passed lots of the 50s coming into the vet check. It was good to see some of our friends and slap hands on the way by. Everyone looked like they were having a great time. We got a mile or so down the road and disaster struck once again for Laura. The shoe that had just been nailed on came off! She headed back to the vet check not knowing if anything could be done about it. Bill and I were disappointed to have lost our team member and the geldings were devastated over the loss of their mare. They began sucking back a bit and the pace slowed especially when we hit the big climb. It was seven miles up a steep gravel road in the hot sun and our pace began to crawl at what seemed like 2 mph! I don’t think Bill T and I talked much on that climb, we were just willing our beasts up that mountain.

Since we were in the open and nearing the ridge I realized that I had a cell signal and called my Bill to see if he had heard anything from Laura. He said that as they were leaving the check they saw her heading back out with yet another shoe on her horse. We were glad for her and wished her the best.

When we finally got to the top there was a much welcome water tank and some friendly volunteers to greet us. Blue drank more than he ever has at a water stop, he just kept going back for more. Both we and the horses were hot but then a light rain started to fall as did the temperature as we entered another single track trail where the hundreds split off from the fifties. This one had the most beautiful areas of mountain laurel and some awesome rock formations. The trail was rugged and beautiful and the horses were revived by the rain, we steadily made our way alternating walking and slow trotting as the terrain allowed. The rain got harder and we both got soaked. I had decided not to carry my raincoat at that point because it had been morning when we left the last check and I didn’t realize that it would take us so long to get to the next one. I didn’t really care at that point though because the rain felt so good on my hot body. I started to notice that Blue was slightly hesitant and he started looking over his shoulder from time to time. All of a sudden I heard someone on the trail behind us and gave a hootie hooo and got one back, Laura had caught us! Our little herd was back together and the geldings were most happy. “I hate to quit!” was Laura’s answer to the problems of the day and was just the attitude one needed to make it through this ride!

We got to Bucktail Vet Check at 41.8 miles and once again our crew was relieved to see us. That 16 mile segment had taken us almost 5 hours to complete, we were dropping farther behind and we were not even half way through the ride. We would have to pick up our pace to make it to the next check before the cut off time. I pealed off my soaked clothes and replaced them with dry ones and this time tied my raincoat onto my saddle.

I don’t remember much about this next segment because this is where I made a grave mistake that almost cost me the ride. At the last check I had loaded up my saddle bag with some energy gel food and a package of electrolyte concentrate that you mix in your water bottle. They were both packaged in those little foil packs and I got one out while I was trotting down the trail, ripped the top off with my teeth. Thinking it was the energy gel I took a big gulp only to find out that it was the electrolyte concentrate. My stomach went instantly bad and it was all I could do to keep from throwing up. I realized what a horse must feel like when we force too many electrolytes down their throat. I had that same wrinkled up nose look that they get.

Soon the rain began again and this time with dangerous lightning and thunder all around us. I had first put my raincoat when the rain was light but soon took it off again because I was sweating profusely under it and thought I would be better off without it but then the deluge really hit. The temperatures instantly dropped about 20 degrees or so and the wind picked up fiercely. The horses bowed their heads and trudged through the rain even though their instincts told them to stay put and turn their backs to the storm. The wind was strong and being in the woods we prayed that no trees would fall on us. The trails became raging torrents irritating Laura and me since we were both certified AERC Trailmasters. We had been taught that the water must run off the trail not down it and by now we were nearly knee deep in raging water! The movement of all the rain and water and trees in the wind was not helping my sick stomach a bit either. I was hitting the low point of my ride and I was hoping that I would make it through. At this point I had been further down the trail on my horse than I had ever been in my life so if I had to pull I at least have had a good adventure. I kept thinking of Laura’s mantra “I hate to quit!” and it helped me to get through.

We had picked up the pace but were still dangerously close to the cut off time by the time we got to the Wates Run Gate and Go. I was still dizzy and sick feeling and wasn’t talking much. Blue still felt great and was thrilled that the volunteers had set up pans of mash that had a variety of beet pulp, grain and all sorts of goodies in it. He dove in and started sampling the different mashes and several kinds of hay. He was in heaven since he loves any food that is not what I brought!

At one point Bill was checking his horse’s feet and realized that the right rear was about to bust out of his shoe on the outside. The nails were loosening and the hoof wall was breaking apart. He had an Easyboot with him but when he put it on we realized that it was way too big and would never stay on. I tried one of mine but it was too small and would not even go over the foot with the shoe at all. The only choice was to continue and hope that it held. If it came off maybe I would be able to get the smaller boot on if needed. The volunteers told us that the next 11 miles to Big 92 was mostly gravel road so we vowed to make up some time. Focusing on keeping our pace up helped keep my mind off my stomach and I felt a little better for a while.

Along this stretch we caught up to another rider, Crystal Woodhouse and her Morgan mare, Misty. Blue, angry that he was no longer in the lead, charged ahead and passed them and any time Misty tried to take the lead back Blue would pin his ears and snake his head at her. This became their conversation for the rest of the segment. Soon Misty was subdued and like the others refused to pass Blue. They would just quit and let him regain the lead. They obviously had their own ideas about how to ride this ride. The competition was good and helped us to gain at least 30 minutes of our time. We got to Big 92 Vet Check with 45 minutes to spare before the cut off.

My crew, Bill and Lisa, took one look at me and were worried. Bill knows that look when I am sick and he feared that I would not make it. Lisa trotted out my horse as I was unable to at that moment. They tried to get me to eat and drink but nothing was passing my lips. Lisa started loading my packs up with crackers, cookies, protein shake, yurba matte tea and anything she could think of to get me eating once I got back on the trail. Big 92 was a 45 minute hold and I thought it would never end. My head was swimming and I finally went into the porta pottie and threw up. I was pretty pale when they put me back on my horse but I was not quitting. It was starting to get dark and we were only at the 65 mile mark. We were in for a long night!

The moon was nearly full and already well up in the sky by the time the sun had set and I was looking forward to my first experience with night riding. My stomach was beginning to feel a little bit better and I was able to drink a little tea and protein shake. I gradually started to recover except for a little vertigo that I was experiencing from riding in the dark. The trail was gravel road at this time and we were instructed to look for a left hand turn onto a woods trail. We trotted a long way and finally we came to it. It was a small, close, single track trail but it was well lighted with glow sticks. We had no problem negotiating it until it came out at a paved road intersection with three choices on where to go. We were dismayed to find no glow sticks in sight but a small pile of torn up ribbon indicating that some vandalism had taken place. It was really dark and foggy by this time and we cast about for a sign as to which way to go. We went down each choice for a while and found nothing. We really didn’t need to be wasting time at this point so I got out my map and really started studying it to determine exactly where we were. I figured it out and felt confident that we were to have taken the road that went straight after leaving the woods even thought my horse was convinced that left was the fastest way back to camp! About a mile up the road we finally came to a glow stick, yay! Our spirits were lifted and we trotted down the gravel road on to Rogers Field Vet Check for the second time.

The scene we witnessed when we arrived was like night and day from the cheery scene we had left in the morning. The 2 inches of rain that had fallen had turned the field into a lake and our crew had to park at the road at the entrance. We took our saddles off there but had to slog through the mire a couple of hundred yards to the pulse checkers and vets who were stranded in the field unable to get their vehicles out. By this time we had gone 75 miles and if we could make our time, finishing this ride seemed well within our reach. My sickness had gone away, thankfully, and my energy had returned. Blue looked fantastic as the slow pace of the day was nothing more than he had been doing in NATRC for 2500 miles of competition. We were headed home and by now all the horses knew it. We took advantage of the pull of the horses towards camp and with renewed commitment set out on our second to last leg of the journey to the finish line.

Once again with our delay in finding the trail we were really pushing our maximum time. Blue and Misty had buddied up and he was really getting into his zone. He was really working the trai,l which had become slow and rocky again, trotting a few steps and walking a few steps trying to keep up the pace in the dark. We began pulling away from Laura and Bill. I didn’t have the heart to hold Blue back and wait up so I just let him do his thing with Misty in tow. I felt like Laura had enough experience to get her and Bill through and at that point they would somehow make it without us. I wanted to finish this ride so much by now and I know we would need the extra time on our last leg which was one of the most difficult, it was time to ride my own ride.

We came into the Pump Station Gate and Go to cheers from the volunteers who were surprised on how much time we had made up. We had gained about 15 or 20 minutes in 7.2 miles and things were looking good. Bill and Laura came in right after we did and we all pulsed down right away. Somehow Bills bad shoe was still on the hoof and Laura’s new shoe was holding as well. I had Easyboots glued on the front with shoes in the rear and all was well with my system. We were all jazzed and wasted no time getting back on the trail, we were going to finish this thing!

We started down the trail together again but soon Blue and Misty were pulling away from the others. He was on a mission to home. The trail became rocky and slow again but with his big walking stride he pushed forward adding a few trotting steps in when he could. The fog was getting thick and was messing with the light from my head lamp causing me to feel a little dizzy again until I learned to focus on a point ahead and ignore the water droplets that were swimming around my vision. We were so focused and thinking as one being, it was such a powerful feeling. The moon was getting lower in the sky and the night was dragging on. We came into the final vet check 30 minutes before the cut off time. Laura and Bill came in 20 minutes later and we were so relieved when they arrived. I don’t know how they were going to make it but don’t forget, Laura won’t quit, so I know that somehow they would.

Blue pulsed down right away but Crystal’s horse was hot and it took a lot of work to get her pulse down since we had hurried over some pretty rough terrain. The temperatures were still warm enough for us to be in t-shirts even though it was 2:30am and the fog was like pea soup. It became apparent that I would have to finish the last leg by myself and maybe she would catch me on the way. I followed the directions to get out of the vet check but when I got to the paved road the light sticks once again stopped. This was beginning to get frustrating because we had no time to lose, we had 9.5 miles to the finish line, 2 ½ hours to make it in on time and the toughest, slowest trail yet to do. Blue wanted to go left so we tried that for a while but saw nothing. I went back to the intersection and heard Crystal coming so together we took the other choice and soon saw a friendly light stick swaying in the wind.

We trotted up the road not realizing that it was the last real trotting that we would be able to do. The trail soon turned back into a single track and became rocks on top of rocks with the slickest, snottiest mud in between. This part of the trail really prayed on our minds. The moon had set and it was pitch black, the fog was messing up our head lamp light but we needed it anyway, my batteries were starting to die and I hoped they would last to the finish. I had lost the light sticks I had tied onto Blue’s breast collar earlier. Little glowing eyes were looking out at us from the bushes and sometimes I would recognize a deer or possum. One time some eyes darted across the trail in front of us and the body language suggested a fox or a bobcat. It was like the night creatures were cheering us on to the finish. This last leg had three significant climbs, each one steeper and higher than the next. Our pace became dangerously slow again as the mud and the 160 horses that had gone down the trail before us had made the trail nearly impassible. I was really worried about laming my horse in the last 10 miles so we were as careful as we could be while still trying to maintain at least a 4.5 mile an hour average pace. My worst fear was after all that hard work we would be a few minutes over time and not get credit for it after our horses had worked so hard for us.

This part of the trail seemed like it would never end. Just when it seemed like we were done climbing the trail would dip down only to climb further up. Sooner or later we would have to go down. We thought a lot about Laura and Bill and were hoping that their ride was going well, sending good energy their way to help them along. Finally we started going down more than we were going up and it seemed like we really were getting close. It probably took us an excruciating hour to get off that mountain as going down was much slipperier than going up. Blue just tucked his butt and slid down a lot of it except where the rocks would stop him from skiing all the way to the bottom.

We came to a big water tank and celebrated because we knew that we were just a mile or two away now. Still it seemed to go on forever when all of a sudden an awful smell met out noses. At first I thought it was a dead thing in the trail until I recognized the putrid odor of the turkey farm that was right on the gravel road to camp. One more little slide down and we were on the gravel road with less than a half a mile between us and the finish line!

It was 5AM and the sky was becoming pink with the rising sun. We had ridden for almost 24 hours to get back home! My heart was pounding and my excitement was building but there was a heaviness in my heart because my hope was waning that Bill and Laura would make it. All of a sudden I heard a rattling of hooves on the gravel road behind us and here they came hooting and hollering! Laura’s horse, missing the company of the mighty Blue had picked up the pace and made up that lost 20 minutes and caught us. I had a great idea that we would all hold hands and tie for the turtle but Blue had other ideas, he was not going to lose this 4 horse race and charged ahead as the others tried to ride up even with us. As we rounded the last curve we saw a small crowd and the lights of the finish line. Blue became animated and elevated, prancing down the road, spooking to the left and the right a bit. I could not believe this horse had just gone 100 miles! It was overwhelming and the tears began to flow as I dismounted and gave my amazing horse a big hug around his neck. We had done it, completed our first hundred, the toughest on the east coast and so had the others!

Mary Farris and Gina Hagis, my 2 best riding buddies, were there to meet us at the finish and accompanied us and my faithful crew to the final vet out. Blue vetted out with all A’s with a B on gut sounds (typical for him) and an overall impression of A-. Wow, I couldn’t have asked for better and was quite proud of my horse and the way I had ridden him. I’ve seen what he looks like when overridden and that was not this picture. He looked like he could do it all over again. What an accomplishment. It was the most fun and challenge I have ever had on horseback and I truly can’t wait to do it again.

I would really like to encourage more people to attempt a hundred mile ride as my experience proves that with careful pacing and a little luck it can be done. If an 18 year old competitive trail horse with only 4 50 mile completions and a 50 something year old rider can do it, so can you! This was the most significant challenge I have ever attempted and I can’t begin to tell you the strength and confidence in my own power and that of my horse and our partnership it has given me. It is overwhelming and so worth it. I understand now the real meaning of endurance!

I would like to thank first and foremost my crew, husband Bill and friend Lisa, who really got me through the tough times, Laura Hayes for helping me to trust our slow pace, Bill T for his quiet companionship, Crystal and her feisty morgan mare for giving us a spark when we really needed it, Ann Stuart for suggesting I use Body Glide to prevent Blue from getting scratches (it worked!), Meg Sleeper and Tom Sites for their pre ride advise to ride it like a CTR, Mary Farris and Gina Hagis for telling me over and over that my horse could do it and getting up at 5am to meet me at the finish and Garrie Bates for telling me it was time to start living my dream! Thanks go to Libby Lopp for finishing 2nd and pulling up our team score, the team of Bill and the Babes finished 2nd in the team competition on perseverance, we just wouldn't quit!

Also thanks to all the volunteers who worked tirelessly to provide us with a well organized challenging and fabulous event that will go down in my minds history as the best thing I have ever done! As a previous ride manager and trail master for a competitive trail ride I know what goes into preparing an event like this and these people made it look easy! Thank you so much and see you next year!

Nancy and Blue

Descanso Ride - "Almost a Disaster"

The ride started at 6am and everybody was moving along smoothly until just past the photographer at 7am. We were on a single track, windy, rocky, technical trail that crossed a creek several times. At the first creek crossing Doug and I came upon a horse tied to a tree, a woman sans helmet, soaking wet, covered in mud, appeared hurt, very upset, saying her horse was down, couldn't get up, very scarry stuff, disaster #1 has struck. I asked where was the horse and she pointed to a man standing in the bushes holding a rein that disappeared into a hole. I got closer and could see one hind hoof waving up in the air, not a good sign. The bushes were 6 feet high, very dense stickery things like a briar patch and I could not see anything of the horse. I started stomping bushes and moving forward.

The guy with the rope said I was almost stepping on the horse's head but I saw nothing. I brushed my foot sideways crushing the small dense plants and there was the horse's nose, all cut and bloody sticking up even with my boot at the edge of a narrow deep gully. The horse made a feeble attempt to wiggle free then laid back breathing fast, didn't look good but I had seen worse and tried to assure the woman that we would get her horse out. I reached down and started removing tack, bit, hooked the rein to the halter, martingale, breastcollar, the horse didn't move and was breathing fast and quivering. The guy with the rein was at the rear and above the horse in a good place to keep the horse from kicking me by keeping the rein against the rear hoof so I got down in the gully next to the horse's shoulder. The saddle was mostly out of sight jammed down in the mud and water.

The horse was sort of on his left side against a nearly vertical dirt bank, front lower than the rear, all 4 hooves in the air with his back and right side tight against a big 4-5ft dia smooth rock. I could see all of 3 legs and part of a 4th and they looked okay so I figured once the saddle was unhooked the horse would be able to thrash itself free assuming his back was not hurt from hitting that big rock. There was only one place for the horse to go and that was toward the rock and me so I released the offside billet and scrambled out of the gully. The horse didn't move.

We poked him a little and slapped him with the rein and he made a feeble attempt then laid back. The lady was really scared now but I told her that her horse just didn't know that he was free yet just wait. Less than a minute later the horse made a move rolling toward the rock and really came alive, thrashing to get his hooves under him and struggled up the bank stopping next to us. We all cheered and the lady's tears changed from worry to joy. I asked the other fella to help me pull out the saddle and it took both of us pulling really hard to get it up out of the mud. It appears that the saddle was what was holding the horse in the gully. My GPS showed that I was there for 26 minutes but it seemed longer. During all this time my buddy Doug rode back a half mile to the highway to find help. He flagged down a crew vehicle going to vet#1 and they got word out and sent a rescue trailer back. We loaded the tack on the horse and the lady walked back to the highway, trailered to the vets and the horse was found to be only bruised and sore.

I'm sorry that I did not get any names (see photos below) but I did get some info on how this wreck came about. Lady #1, the one we helped, was riding with lady #2. Lady #2 was in the lead and her horse made a wild jump over the creek and up into the trees at which point lady #2 bailed off and her horse went crashing cross country with her chasing it on foot. Lady #1's horse got spooked at all the commotion and spun around in the narrow creek crossing, lost its footing, fell in the creek at which point lady #1 comes off getting wet and muddy. Her horse tries to run off but keeps falling into the narrow deep gully that is hidden with bushes, keeps thrashing around and finally drops out of sight with a squeal, her words, not a good sound that squeal. The guy with the rein was already helping when Doug and I got there 2-3 minutes after the wreck and you know the rest. Lady #2 returned to check on her friend just in time to see the horse get out of the gully.

Lady #1

Guy with rein

Doug rode for help

Me before disaster #2


Well you might remember my new motto "To Eat Is To Win" and I'm currently "Undefeated" for dinner but on this ride I came very close to missing my first dinner since 1996. After lunch I was tailing up Middle Peak Fire Road, a crooked, rocky, 2 mile long steady climb of 1100ft which is a 10% average grade. My horse was feeling good and kept trying to trot but I was tired and kept pulling him back to a walk. I should have got on but oh no, I needed the exercise. Probably a half mile from the top during one of the many "horse yanks me into a trot, I pull his head with the rope and say whoa, we continue walking" he yanks me completely off my feet and my grip on his tail turns out to be stronger than my right shoulder joint and disaster #2 has struck. After lots of yelling and ramming my shoulder into my horse's chest my shoulder joint went back in.

That could have been a semi-happy ending because I was still able to trot some and we were making good enough time to still finish the ride but of course disaster #3 was coming....I had to pee. I had been riding for about an hour after the initial injury and had taken 2 Alleve and the shoulder was just a deep dull ache so I got off just fine using one arm. I'm right-handed and managed the zipper and other things and was feeling not too bad. I started to get back on, got some mane and reins in the left, reached up and grabbed the cantle with the right, pulled and all hell broke loose.

My shoulder popped out in front and looked like it was coming out of my shirt pocket. I was yelling and ramming my shoulder into my horse again but it wasn't working. I don't know what made me try it but I arched my back, looked at the sky, pulled both elbows toward my back and the shoulder went back in the socket. Not only did the pain lessen a lot but all that yelling stopped and my ears quit ringing. Lucky for me my horse and riding buddy Doug did not spook and run off so I found a really big stump, Doug held my horse and I just stepped on. Trotting was not fun anymore and another rider, Ron, whose horse was just not right agreed to walk the last 4 miles into vet3 with me so Doug could continue on. We made the 3:45pm cutoff and of course my horse vetted thru perfect so we got a ROS, S for stupid or shoulder, whatever.

End results, no injured horses, no broken bones, no ambulance ride, I'm still undefeated for dinner even left handed and my Marquis Performance Glueon boots were perfect.

Don Huston
donhuston @ cox .net
SanDiego, Calif

Monday, June 16, 2008

Old Dominion 25

Dodie Sable

OLD DOMINION 25 [June 14, 2008] Beautiful weather! high 84, overcast, breezy

also known as: 25 miles is for weenies, let's do 31 instead

Old Dominion Endurance Ride is 34 years old and they moved the trails this year. The story goes they've gotten too big for where they used to hold it and the 4H center couldn't accommodate them any more. I can tell you that's truth! Last year, we were packed like sardines and there was no room to walk between rigs.

I was terribly excited to try out the new trails. First because I love new trails and second because I wondered if they were going to be as tough as the old trails.

Okay....We set up an OD team of riders. New Promise Farms Trail Trash (grin). T-shirts were donated by Dan's Tees of Allentown, PA. They read New Promise Farms, Proud to be..TRAIL TRASH. Cindy made us hats that says RACK ON (gaited riders really have the rack, ya know.) Teams are made up of four riders. Our team was to be:

Dodie on TWH "Flaming Lucy"
Cindy on UST "gods, I forgot his name already"
Cheryl on SSH "Cosmo"
Jen on AHA "Luke"

Unfortunately, Cheryl emailed me earlier this week and bailed on the ride because she was afraid it was going to be too hot, and she saw that last year hardly anyone completed the LD (due to the heat). She didn't want to subject Cosmo, a young horse on his first year of rides, to that kind of ride so early in his career. She should be commended for thinking of her horse first and foremost. That killed the team, though I felt I could find someone at the ride who didn't know who I was, and didn't know they'd be in a story for the whole world to read, then I could charm that person into joining us keeping the foursome together.

...Full Story

Monday, June 09, 2008

How many Sponsors does it take to get a Jr. through her second 50 miler…?

Janice Taylor

The Pyramid Challenge was on our list of 'may do' rides even though it was only one week after the Top Of The Rock. It all depended on how well our horses came out of their first fifty of the season.

With Paige's first fifty under her belt, she was eager to get another one there too. The Pyramid Challenge isn't one of my favorites, just because I don't care for riding around fields, in such an urban atmosphere, and the heat was really becoming an issue… I don't do well in that kind of heat at all. Must be an age thing, as Paige was rearing to go, go, go! So, as Grannies often do, I went ahead and packed up. After all, our horses looked great, it is only a 30 minute haul, and maybe the weather would be better than expected…ha!

Our parking for ride camp was moved to an open field away from all the construction going on at the Horse Park in preparation for the WEG. Boy, when that is finished, it will be something indeed! However, there were maybe four trees for shade…and they already had trailers clustered around them like little colonies in a desert of green…so we just parked on a flat spot, out in the open, closer to the Vet Check, and enjoyed the constant, strong breeze…Thank the heavens for that breeze or it would have been unbearable. The heat index of the day before was 105! But clouds and maybe a thunder storm was predicted for ride day…

Upon check in, a ridding buddy/friend's horse checked in with a sore ankle, I actually spoke these words out loud. "Oh, maybe my horse will be lame too, and I won't have to do this ride." Goodness, never, ever do that! As my horse checked in with a grade 2 on LR…uh…wasn't expecting that, as I had ridden him the day before in the arena and he was sound as could be. Was given the choice of loosening him up and bringing him back, but two other ridding buddies volunteered to sponsor Paige. So, I got my stupid wish and bowed out. Paige's mom was going to arrive on ride day and crew for us, so now Paige had two to crew for her and Amy and Brenda, her new sponsors.

Ride day arrived cooler than expected, thank goodness, as it was a bit cloudy and still had that nice breeze. RM opted to start a half hour early so as to get a bit of a jump on the heat. Thank You!

My horse wasn't a bit happy at being left behind, but little Breezz and Paige marched right out with their new buddies for the day. Another rider friend, Lucinda, joined them, so, off the four of them went to begin their ride right beside Interstate 75. Amazingly, most of the horses don't seem to mind the noise and sight of that constant traffic at all. They did get to make their way around in the open fields for a few miles before heading into the heart of the Horse Park, thus getting those little energetic spells worked out before facing those 'real' spooky things. I understand that a few riders did get to 'kiss' the ground though. Ouch…

First VC and everyone is looking good after their first 15 miles. Paige's mom has showed up and we crew members take over and get the horse's pulse down in no time… Well, Paige has a new heart monitor and delights in telling all around her that her horse is down, calling out the number aloud so that her friend, and last year's teacher/ rider/ sponsor knows that she has beat her in this… Thankfully, Amy has a great sense of humor…ha, ha…

But then, uh oh, disaster strikes, Amy's horse is out! Then Brenda's horse is out! Small grade 2 lameness's that might get worse in that footing. Being careful riders, they opted to pull. We all look at Lucinda, and she readily agrees to take on Paige as sponsor. So, I take off to change Paige's sponsor once again…

Out they go for the second loop which is 10 miles. They pace well together and are back in a little over an hour. Still looking good, but the heat is beginning to show up with its sticky heaviness. Thankfully, both horses get through Dr. Mike Habel's (head vet, and sometimes only vet) scrutiny and gives them both the go ahead…whew, getting through with a sound horse is becoming an issue here. But, then he may be feeling the pressure of all us crew which has swollen to four, looking over his shoulder, and biting our knuckles…. Thankfully, he also has a good sense of humor…

Second VC, half done, and the horses are getting down to business. And, once again, the crew is hard at work to take care of our charges, stuffing Paige with food and drink, cooling down the horses, and cheering them on. Brenda had bought a new shade to put up for the horses at the VC and boy did that make a difference!
Breezz just wanted to take a nap for goodness sakes…Paige was yearning for that second fifty! Lucinda is working hard to see that she does too!
Then off for the 15 mile loop again. They looked good going out, and we had our fingers crossed for a good go 'round.

Third VC and, oh no! Now Lucinda's horse is off… there was a collective groan of disappointment…even Mike….poor guy, was distressed with the outcome.
I went to Nancy Gooch to see who was in, or coming in, that might pick up a Jr to sponsor…no one for quite some time, but what else could we do but wait and hope that one of them would be willing? But, Brenda marched back to our crew area where we had struck up conversations with a fellow from GA. He was already sponsoring a Jr that had lost her Mom as sponsor, but they were due out soon… I didn't have the heart to ask it of him, but, Brenda had no such shyness…

Without a bit of hesitation, he agreed to wait another 30 minutes or so of his own time to wait for Paige…Goodness, there really are angels out there and Foster Olson is one of them. THANK YOU! The poor guy now had to put up with all of us until Paige's out time rolled around…
Now, Breezz really, really wanted his nap and resented my rubbing his butt, and offers of nice cool slushy food. 'Leave me alone for a nap, PLEASE!'
Paige was holding up great even with all the ups and down's of her sponsors.

As Foster trotted out with his two Jr.'s, in tow, Dr. Mike gave them the thumbs up! Now the heat was getting hazy and the whine of I-75 was a drone of the ever increasing oppression. Could they make it that last 10 miles?

Finally, there they were crossing the finish line. Foster, being the extraordinary guy he is, let the Jrs cross first. Sabrina went first as she had had to wait those extra minutes too, then Paige, then Foster for 7th, 8th, and 9th. Foster really should have been 8th…it must be that Southern Gentleman thing… Poor guy once again had to endure Paige's crew, but, they all did get their completion! Wha Hoo!!

Now at last Breezz could get his nap without too much interference from his annoying crew.

Congratulations to Karen Cummings who won, and her husband who crossed the line second and also added another BC to his long list.

It was a tough ride, not only because of the heat that can really suck it out of man and beast alike, but the footing was tricky indeed… if I remember correctly, 29 started the 50 and 14 finished… so 'To Finish is to Win' really was the motto for this ride.

Hats off to ride management, headed by Gunnar Palm, for keeping The Pyramid Challenge going. Working with the Horse Park is not always easy… He had a great team working to make us all as happy as was possible.

And a special hats off to Mike Habel DVM for getting us through it all with healthy horses!

So, now Paige and Breezz have two fifties under their belts/girths…whew, hope the rest aren't so hard to come by…

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

That First Fifty ~ ride story: Janice Taylor

That First Fifty!!

Well, here I am again, bragging on my granddaughter…

Paige has been competing since she was 8 years old, (now 11), starting with a 15 mile fun CTR, and slowly progressing to 25 and 30 mile LDs. She wanted to do a 50 last year, but her horse just was not a 50 miler, and had a couple of bouts with tie up on 25s… so she had to wait. We've been looking for a suitable horse for some time, but unable to make a match that would also fit my pocketbook. With the ride season looming, we struck upon the idea of borrowing our best friend's horse that was about to retire… Mary Lynn has a new horse, so 18 year old, Breezz was just filling in when Mary Lynn's horse needed a break, or her hubby's horse needed a break. He is a fun little horse that always looks like he is having a blast going down the trail. Mary Lynn agreed…

So after doing a difficult 30 miler at Chicken Chase, followed by a 25 miler the next day, then going to a very muddy CTR at Sheltowee Run, she decided she was up to a 50. Breezz has done 50s, and was in great shape, so we went for it.

Top of the Rock is always a great ride, well run and the trails are beautiful, so we couldn't have picked a better 50 to start off with. Oh, it would be my horse's first 50 also, so the pace would be conservative. Another friend, Brenda Kenley was to ride with us which is always fun. Mary Lynn's horse was on rest (opps)…so she agreed to crew for us. We couldn't have had a better set up for Paige's first fifty.

We were trying the Natural Balance shoe, on Breezz as he tends to grow lots of toe, and needs a better break over with his bit of arthritis. They really have been a good decision for him, as he moves very well with them and his usual slight gimpyness is so much improved.

We took off at 6:30 on a clear morning after most of the pack had left. My horse tends to get race brain when a horse passes him, so we hung back and had a good start. Our first loop was 25 miles, and we just trotted steadily along. This trail is absolutely beautiful, but it does have some climbs and steep down hills. On the final couple of miles back into camp, Paige was giving me those long sighs, which means she was getting tired. All that steady trotting was getting to her. This was the first time she had ridden that far without a break. But, the horses handled it easily and in no time we were back at camp for the first VC. Horses passed without a blimp, and we took that much needed rest and refreshment before saddling up once again.

This loop was 15 miles, and part of the difficult 30 mile route taken at the Chicken Chase. It took us almost as long to do it as it took us to do the 25 mile loop… To finish it off with a little excitement, a kid decided to wait until we were directly across from him (on a paved road) to pull his lawn mower into full throttle start up! Weeeeeeeee…Brenda and my horse did a find flamingo dance on that slick pavement, nearly giving us all a heart attack… however, little Paige and Breezz simply walked along until we got our horses under control… It wasn't the noise, it was the sudden noise, as our horses had just passed other mowers going along this same road without even a flicker of an ear.
Oh well, we all survived and the poor kid got a hard look along with some unheard reprimands…
Again, our horses checked through, fine. Mary Lynn was starting to work a bit harder as the day was heating up, but still we pulsed down within minutes and passed through the vet check without incident.
Paige was getting a bit of heart burn, but couldn't resist the cool cantaloupe Brenda had brought along, so naturally the heart burn did not go away for a while…

Finally, the last loop of 10 miles. This one is especially beautiful and we ohhed and ahhed as we trotted along. Our conversations are a bit like this: "Goodness look at that!" "Oh yeah, it's beautiful!" "Are you ready to trot again?" "Yes, indeed." Then as the day wore on…the leader would look back, the next two would nod. Then even later, their was no need to look back, the last rider would simply 'quack' when ready to trot again…(Explanation ~ our local endurance club, the Daniel Boone Distance Riders, have a Team competition. There are currently four teams. The Bush Whackers, Jim's Harem, The Wild Bunch and ours is the LucKY Ducks ~ hence the quacking. We do a lot of quacking )

The heat was building, but there were lots of creeks and some grassy areas that we let the horses relax and cool for a bit. Well, Breezz and Brenda's horses did, my horse wants to drink and go… he did grab a mouthful of grass on occasion, but mostly we just circled while we waited for the other two more experienced horses. Then, at last the last big climb to the gravel road, which takes us home for the last time. We had them in a nice big trot headed home, our hearts were already there. But, then Paige yelled out "Oh, my gosh!" I turned around to see her stirrup and leather lying in the road… Guess that long climb worked it off the leaver… she couldn't get it back on, and finally I got off, (my horse is tall, and I try to avoid getting off unless absolutely necessary) and, I couldn't get it back on either…and darn it, people were passing us…Oh well, we weren't racing after all, just wanted to finish, and we weren't exactly vying for the top ten. Brenda had just the tool to prize up the leaver so I could force the leather over it…goodness, is anything easy?

When you ride with Brenda, you always know she will have just the thing you need! She even had a long string when I needed it earlier. Thanks, Brenda.

At last we dismounted and walked the last several yards to the timer…Paige was smiling big time!

We had to yell for our crew, but she finally pulled her nose out of her book and got us cooled, through the pulse, and the final vet check…Ya Hoo, Paige had done it! Her first fifty! It was my horse's first fifty too, so I was proud that he had all A's and B's through out the day. He'd had a hard time of it at the 30 miler here a few weeks ago, so he'd made big improvements.

As youth will do, Paige shook off her little aches and pains, ate, took a nice long nap and was good to go!

And best of all, the horses were too. Horses are amazing creatures indeed, thank you for giving us those 'ah' moments over and over. We truly are lucky ducks…

And, thank you, Mary Lynn for letting Paige borrow your favorite horse, so she could get that first fifty under her belt…no going back now… Let's just hope Granny Jan can keep up…

And lastly, thanks to Lois McAfee for putting on this ride again and again. What a great place for the National Championships this October, one not to miss for sure!!


Sunday, June 01, 2008

In the Wake of our First LD: Scattered Observations

Tamara Baysinger
Owyhee Fandango 2008

For several years now, I've been reading everything I could find about endurance riding. Web pages, forums, books, blogs, articles -- you name it, I've read it. This background served me well at the Owyhee Fandango last Sunday. I understood more of the procedures and equipment than I would have without this research, and I knew the answers to many questions I overhead from other riders -- though, as a newbie myself, I kept my mouth shut!

Overall, I felt well prepared...and yet, there's still plenty to learn, things that can be gathered only through experience at actual rides. Below are miscellaneous observations from the Fandango:

1) Attitudes about Limited Distance (LD)

Many times over the weekend, people asked what distance Aaruba and I were there to ride. The answer that jumped repeatedly to my lips was, "Oh, just the 25." After all, compared to 50's or longer on each of three days, or the 75 or 100 mile races, 25 miles seems paltry indeed! However, several times I was told to "Never say 'just' 25." One person went on to note that most horsepeople will never ride a horse that far in their lives.

Another rider expressed approval for the concept of LD's as training rides in preparation for longer distances, but said he felt there should be no top-ten rankings given. I got the feeling that he didn't appreciate those riders who choose to stick with the shorter rides and turn them into races rather than moving up to real endurance distances of 50 miles or more. Also, he noted that the lure of top-tenning often results in less training and more racing taking place on the LD trail. I see his point -- and even agree, to some extent -- but I must admit that the memory of this conversation made me a bit uncomfortable with my 5th place finish the next day. I wanted to shout to the crowd at the awards dinner, "I swear I just rode my training pace! I wasn't trying to top-ten!"

2) Ride Camp Organization and Atmosphere

The Oreana rides are extremely well managed and organized. Travis and I had no difficulty finding and following instructions...after the first ten minutes, that is. Upon arrival in camp, we experienced some frustration and even mild embarassment as a result of not knowing our way around. To those who kindly pointed us toward parking areas -- thank you. To those who shot us annoyed glances when we paused to study the layout -- hey, maybe it's been a while, but you were new once, too.

Being the shy type that never wants to intrude upon others, Travis and I hung back a bit during the ride meeting. The people who did speak to us were friendly, but their conversations naturally drifted back into the circles of people they already knew. I don't blame them -- it's human nature to tend toward the familiar. Being an outsider for a while is a natural part of integrating into a new community. Still, I hope I always remember how much I appreciated those who made a real effort to include us (Monika Steller and Melanie Shirilla in particular), so I can "pay it forward" someday.

Another thing I noticed about ride camp was that while almost everyone is friendly and interested in one another's horses, the atmosphere is decidedly non-judgemental. I didn't see anyone giving unsolicited advice or scoffing at another rider's choice of feed or tack. On the whole, it seemed that people with two-horse bumper pulls and tents were as welcome as those with air-conditioned, 6-horse vans with living quarters and custom details.

Were there cliques and unfriendly sorts? Sure, a few. When Aaruba and I caught up with a group of riders on Sunday and stayed with them for a mile or two, I got the distinct feeling that, despite my attempts at casual conversation, they were just waiting for me to go away. Oh, well. No group is perfect -- and overall, the endurance crowd seems closer than most.

3) The Importance of Crew

Okay, so it was just 25 miles. (Sorry. I mean, it was 25 miles!) Aaruba and I may have participated in the shortest race of the day, with just one vet check and hold, but I still learned how wonderful it is to have a good crew. Our hold would have been much more stressful without Travis there to hand me the stethoscope, hold Aaruba, fetch a sponge, carry hay, keep track of my rider card, watch the clock, run to the trailer for vetwrap, replace a hoofboot, take pictures, offer moral support, and clean up our mess once we were back on the trail. Besides, don't he and Wyrsa make the cutest crew you ever saw?

The bad news is that Travis has the bug, so as soon as we get a good horse-and-saddle combo ready for him, we'll either be training new crew or riding cavalry. Ah well, you know me. I'm always up for a challenge.

Link to Tamara's Blog

Ali's First Multiday

Tami Bromely
Owyhee Fandango 2008

What a wonderful weekend! We began with P.J giving Ali a cherished
blessing for an Endurance horse "in training." The beautiful braid
with turquoise stones worked its charm. Before this weekend- Ali
had only gone on two LD rides, and only a few solo rides: the
greatest all of five miles maybe and in familiar surroundings. He
had never gone on back to back LD rides, let alone three of them!

Day One: Turtle Day: Our riding partner was running on Oregon time,
and didn't show for the start- so after waiting over 30 minutes,
off we went on an unfamiliar trail- solo!

The kid had a few nerves about being out as a heard of two (Ali and
me) but over all did pretty well. Then the 50 milers started
racing past us in the other direction. He thought I was nuts for
going the 'wrong way" but go he did. At one point after two 50
milers sprinted past us heading back for camp, he thought he saw a
horse eating monster and spooked- leaving me riding his side rather
than his back. This further frightened him thinking that the
frightful monster had indeed caught him- so he ducked out of the
clutches of said monster and dumped me on the ground. As I looked
up tom see him, I saw his eye watching the 50 milers going over the
top of the ridge we'd just come over. I thought "This is it. He's
going to high tail it back for camp and follow the 50 milers" but
he didn't. I called him and he stepped towards me, as I got up,
and so down the trail we went. This led us to a highly valuable
lesson- when he spooks badly, and I try to right my seat, he thinks
the spooky thing has gotten a hold of him. So.. For the next five
miles I grabbed his neck and tried to train this reaction out of him..

Half of the way through the first loop, we saw five riders heading
back on the homeward track, and picked up our pace a bit. 3/4th
of the way near a water stop we caught up with two riders and Ali
was very happy to have found other horses out on the trail. We
finished coming in leading the way until about 3 miles out when
another took over the lead. This left us riding with a jigging 18
year old, so Ali thought he'd try to jig as well. Oh GREAT!!!!
(NOT!) Coming down a steep embankment, (sheer drop offs and sharp
U-turns) the lead rider decided to trot down (A death wish?) This
made the jigger fight even more, and of course Ali was fighting to
follow suit. P.J.'s charms and my guardian angels were with us,
and I was able to hold up Ali in a safe landing spot before we
broke our necks and continuing our descent.

Then we "discussed" the speed, rate and manner in which we would
finish, doubling back, schooling and repeating much of the last few
miles. Our hold went well, and we hooked up with our lost riding
partner. As we finished the second loop, we nearly got run over by
racing 50 milers as we crossed the creek. That did it! Ali was
determined to join the racing 50 milers! So, AGAIN we "discussed"
the manner in which he would travel in to the finish. Ali's never
bucked, but at this point I KNOW HE WAS THINKING ABOUT TRYING.
Then the sky opened up and started pouring buckets on us, which
further tried his patience with walking. Walk three steps jig
eight. Walk two jig nine. Walk at the side pass just to walk.
Side pass right- side pass left. Then a large crack of thunder
over head and we nearly jumped out of our skins. Yet walk we
did. And thus we earned a most meaningful and beautiful "Turtle

Day Two : Mom FINALLY learns important lessons. The second day was
moistly uneventful except for a few details. First I made the
mistake of over riding my poor friend. We were riding with our
new, experienced "trail friend." The friend's youngster had a big
spook which nearly unseated his rider. This caused Ali to spook,
but when I grabbed his neck he didn't try to get away from the
monster grip! The training from the previous day paid off!
Yeah!!!!!!! ;-) We trotted off, but our new friends wanted to trot
far more than we were prepared for. Ali kept up for the first
10-12 miles, but then started pulling. I finally pulled back and
let them travel on, but Ali still came in looking as if he was half
dead. He had a few shudders that had me a bit worried- vet checked
again during our hold to make sure he was okay. We took a bit more
time in our hold, and then went out solo. All alone up on the
mesa, we took great care to travel at Ali's pace: Major lesson for
me! By the end of the second loop he was feeling good again.
Three hours after "completing" he was throwing his head again and I
was advised to go out on day three or else...

Day three: Sheer HEAVEN!!!!! The trail was beautiful, and required
a lot of both of us. We rode alone, and started out first which
was great! Ali had no one "to catch." Ali settled into his own
working trot and went merrily along. Near Brand's two mature/
seasoned horses passed us at a very fast pace, and he was fine when
I asked him to keep his own pace. No anxiety- no jig. The first
7-10 miles we went back and forth with a foursome of riders who
came up behind us. The lost us as they trotted through the deep
sand. We walked being careful of precious pastern suspensors and
tendons. I told Hadid we would have an opportunity to use his
talents to catch up, and we did! Farther down the trail we caught
up again as elevations began to climb. We trotted vigorously
through high sagebrush where the trail was barely discernible,
Stopping for technical steep ravine crossings that required
pivoting on hind quarters at the tight bottom of the ravine before
climbing out. Leg yields mighty nice!

We were handily running third when we had to stop to secure my rain
jacket (incase of another downpour) Ali had an "competitive
youngster moment" and I held him back for a schooling session as
the other surged ahead. Than came the mountain!

The foursome was about half way up an 800 -1,000 ft foothill when
we started at the base. About this time Ali grew into Ali Hadid.
He finally "got it." He shifted into his hill climbing stride,
and we passed them as they reached the top of the foot hill. Then
there was a steep mountain that rose at least another 2,000
vertical feet. Hadid was moving with ease and he cruised up the
mountain with a steady hill climbing walk. By the time we reached
the top, the foursome was barely a third of the way up. We never
saw them again.

We finished up the loop, and had no issues when other rider came
speeding past. He came into the hold with no issues. We left with
instructions to go out and "try" to catch another rider IF Ali had
it in him to go. This rider was allegedly ahead of us by two
minutes. So out we went searching to the illusive competitor -
never finding them. Half way through the last loop, we had a mule
and two seasoned horses come up behind us as we climbed to the top
of the mesa. Unwittingly we "pulled" them up the rise. The mule
tried to make a move on us but was unable. Then the seasoned arabs
made a move and passed us. Ali was NOT happy about this state of
affairs. We shifted to Hadid's big trot. I didn't want to beat
theses speedsters, but thought their presence would motivate Ali to
catch the phantom rider we'd been looking for, and wanted to give
him a chance to use his BIG trot a bit. (We found out after the
ride the rider we sought had left the hold five minutes behind
us). After a few miles of trying to catch the speedsters, I pulled
Hadid back so he wouldn't over do and end up like the previous
day. We again trotted his working pace. The speedsters then
slowed their pace as well. By the time we got to the cliff, they
were only 300 feet ahead of us. We started down and by the time we
reached the creek, they were just leaving the creek. Hadid grabbed
a quick drink, and then lept back onto the trail. He did NOT want
them to get away!

On the road it was a clash of wills. Hadid desperately wanted to
catch them. Every racing gene in his body charged towards them.
Every sensibility of mine wanted to keep him safe. As we trotted
he moved back into his BIG trot- only it was bigger OMG!!!!!!
This trot is like riding an extra half beat of the post in the
upward position. He suspends over the ground and floats. He
fought me and tried several attempts to canter, only to be brought
back to a trot. I didn't want him to hurt himself. Finally I said
enough, and made him halt altogether and walk. Collect his mind,
and trot again at a working trot.

That's when I noticed the other riders were still on the road, and
had not followed the trail when it dropped off the road. They were
still trotting to keep ahead of us, but they were on the clear,
sure footing of the road. We were on the twisting, turning trail
going through sagebrush. All the while Ali would not take his
eye off of them! My heart ached for him. Ali Hadid wanted so
badly to catch them! I told him it would be all right, knowing he
didn't understand. I made sure of his footing and kept him at a
safe working trot slowing for poor footing areas. We needed to
just stay close enough to identify who the riders were that had not
stayed on trail. And so we did.

When we came in, and had pulsed down, they were told to go back out
and complete the ride. Ali Hadid, on his third consecutive day
came in fourth, just 11 minutes behind three very seasoned horses
with seasoned riders.

Hadid immediately pulsed down to 45. And again at his CRI. 45.
The vet who checked him must have been an intern, she was amazed
and said that his CRI was the best she'd ever seen. Her eyes were
the size of silver dollars. Mine were filled with tears, my heart
bursting with pride.

The vet said we HAD to show for BC, so show we did.

Time AGAIN for human error: Okay so this time I didn't let him
roll just before showing for BC. He was cleaned up, had grass in
his tummy, had Uncle Tempo standing nearby, but dummy Me trotted
him in front of Dr. Washington just before his check to make sure
he was "paying attention" so he'd be sure to pick-up his feet and
trot out. Skyla just shook her head in disbelief. MY BAD...
Live and Learn
Ali learned sooooooooooooooooo much this weekend, and he grew up
from being Ali, growing into his name: Ali Hadid.

Hadid did everything I asked. He went down the trail alone. He
faced his fears, climbed steep mountains without looking back,
learned to catch mom with his neck, developed three distinctly
different trots, and learned to stop and walk when asked as well.
And this week when I call for him, he picks up his majestic head,
and floats over the ground to reach me. He rests his nose on my
face and gently gives me kisses as his jaw is rubbed. I know he
loved every minute as much as I did. We're hooked!

I want to thank Skyla, Roz, Anne, Pam, Yvonne, and P.J. for all the
mentoring, patience and advice that has gotten my pony and me thus
far. WE would not have had this phenomenal experience with out
all of your help.
THANK YOU!!!!!!!
Tami & Ali Hadid ;-)