Monday, March 30, 2009

Red Barn, Chester GA - Angie's Story

Just back from Red Barn/AHA Championship. If you looked at the techno-color weather
channel graphics, yep, that was us. said it was going to rain 2" or so
Thurs, 1-2" Fri. have tornados and hail with rain Saturday. Then I had to make the
decision whether to just say, "what the heck?" and go or actually say,
"This is insane; why would I drive TOWARDS Armageddon? Well, for one thing we couldn't back out since Josie had been offered a ride on an FEI horse to get qualified for Young Riders and we couldn't stand the owner up. So...decided it was just one of those days you hope they're wrong and go.

We headed out Thursday morning. When I got up the wind was so strong the house was
popping and moaning. I had to lean into the wind to do my chores. It died down by 9 AM
but we drove I was getting constant updates from all sides on my cell phone, people
telling me the "convection index" was extremely high and climbing. That's
apparently something that tells you if your chances of joining Dorothy and Toto in Kansas
are good. At one point as we were driving through Atlanta in a blowing rain I said,
"So, what should we do? Turn around? and Bill just laughed and pulled out his
wallet and handed me a quote someone had posted on ridecamp which was a forward from
another site.

It said some stuff about how as humans we need to place themselves in spots where the unexpected can ambush us. " It said "On a subconscious level, we need these mishaps. We understand that they pack powerful medicine. They're antidotes to the quiet desperation of modern life, reminding us that we as individuals, as a species-are survivors, showing us how truly extraordinary it is what humans can endure. How much we can outwit, outflank, or with clenched teeth, simply withstand." Then it ended with, "Sometimes we have to set out-presumably innocent of our interior motives-and go have a really bad time".

It seemed so appropriate at the time I just decided what the heck, let the bad times roll.

We drove through rain almost till we arrived. When we pulled it it was clear, and the ground was dry! They were supposed to have a couple of inches of rain but all they'd had were high winds. We hurried desperately trying to get a ride in on the borrowed horse to set stirrups, etc. It's not every day an 18 year old gets to ride one of Valarie Kanavy's horses and we were pretty overwhelmed by even the prospect when she offered. Managed to get in a pre-ride, set up camp, and still no rain! Went to bed expecting al heck to break loose any second. Nothing. Friday dawned with a light rain at 5:30 AM, but it stopped in time to saddle. We couldn't believe our luck when the ride started in the dry. All day reports came in that the "big storm" was hitting in an hour or two, then nothing. Finally some HIGH winds came through and rain for an hour and a half but considering what we'd expected it was blissfully wonderful weather.

I've got to throw in now that the camp and management for this ride were something I hadn't expected. WONDERFUL!!!. The name "Red Barn" made me picture cow pastures with a big red barn. Nix that. Try a summer camp setting, lots of TALL pines (lots of picket line opportunities) a lake, cottages, WONDERFUL. Also, management was unreal. The FOOD!! Would you believe racks of bbq ribs & all the fixings? I couldn't believe how well everything worked out. Then, Josie's borrowed mount, My Wild Irish Gold was an absolute DREAM (OK, she can throw a heck of a spook but lets herself get caught again thank you Megan Savory & Kyle) and came in 3rd and took BC! We'd worried how Josie would handle two days, but she rode a 50, came in and did a pre-ride with Cade & my borrowed mount Bailey, and then was good to go for Sat. All was well Friday night. We were still getting all the dramatic weather predictions but I'd pretty much decided this place was charmed. All the wild violent stuff was just splitting and going north and south of us. I went to bed to a warm peaceful evening.

Saturday morning I was out at 5:30 and saw flashes of lightning in the distance. Ugh. The 100's & 75's rode out in a controlled start at 7 AM with thunder rolling and the lightning coming closer. The treetops were unmoving against the dark sky, no wind at all, whatever it was was coming slowly and would probably hang around. The 50's were supposed to start at 8:00. As the thunder and lightning picked up I got Josie to come out and saddle early and figured we could walk them thirty minutes to warm up and maybe get back in the trailer during the worst of the storm and hope it blew over quickly. We made one trip across camp and a huge KRACK-BOOM!! sent me hustling back to put the horses on the picket line and jump inside the trailer. The rain started and the lightning increased. I thought a lot about how stupid it is to get yourself killed but how much worse it would be to see your kid hit when it had been your call. Josie got all mad and was saying, "Let's just GO!" but I saw no reason to start on time when I'd just heard from the timer that we were catching the tail end of the worst of the storm and after that we'd be all clear. Why die for a top 10 muck bucket?

Might throw in here that I was not riding my own horse. Buddy Lynda Webber had a small skin cancer removed from her forehead this week and her Dr. wouldn't release her to ride fearing an infection. I needed a mount and her Bailey is a doozy so we both agreed I'd put a fifty on him to help her get him ready for the 100 at Biltmore. I figured I had plenty of horse to go fast later since he was BC at Hahira so what's a few minutes?

It died down enough to feel a little less INSANE to get on a horse and we left camp 8 min. late but walked a full 15 min. to warm them up before beginning to trot. 30 min or so later we were on 2 track going through the woods coming up on a dirt road crossing and I saw a chestnut horse running full tilt with no rider down the road. It was almost past us when for some reason it just hit me to do my best horse whinny. I used to be pretty good at that when I was a kid. Amazingly enough, the horse slammed on the brakes and took a hard left and trotted towards us in the woods. I jumped off Bailey and with both horses blocking trail managed to catch the mare. Josie had a hay rope in her pack and after a couple of tries we got her caught, tied and ponying down the road behind us. We could see she was a 75 miler so had at least an hour and 15 min. lead on us so figured it might be 10 or 15 miles before we found the owner. A mile or 2 later we saw a rider running across a distant field, staggering in the mud, waving. Josie said it looked like the love scene in an old movie. >g< I rode out to meet her and it was Eva DePaulis. She mounted up with her new blue hay rope reins and did the rest of the loop with us.

The rest of the story is, RAIN, THUNDER, RAIN, LIGHTNING, Why do you speed up when you see a bolt snake across the sky ahead? I dunno. I guess we figure a moving target is harder to hit. The trail held up pretty well CONSIDERING. I mean, things can always get worse. The sound of that ride was SPLASH, SPLASH instead of clip-clop. The trail had a current. The worst part was circling huge plowed fields. Those got bad. Management stayed so calm it was amazing. No snippiness. No panic. Just calm concern for us and appreciation for our sticking it out. Gary Sanderson made a run to town and came back with cups of Raman noodles and hot drinks. He was dishing it out. Honestly, the cup of soup he put in my hadn when I finished that ride was HEAVEN! Everyone was smiling all day. Something about doing something absolutely STUPID makes people smile. You just had to laugh at the rediculousness of it all. There was actually a tornado WARNING for the first few hours. In other words, one was on the round somewhere near. The trot out area was a swamp. It was pretty funny to watch riders and horses slogging along and imagine anyone telling what we were doing. The horses were doing great. We actually made good time overall after you averaged in the firm footing roads you could FLY on, and they were down when we got to the checks. We slowed down at the end since it was easy to be going along on firm ground then suddenly hit super soft sand that just gave way and almost do a nose dive. Pat Oliva passed us 1/2 mile from the finish line and knocked us out of top 10. Oh well, considering how we started the ride it was amazing to be that high up and honestly, who wanted to hang around for another hour and stand for BC when you could stay in the trailer and put on dry clothes! :-))

I think I read a typo that said the completion rates were low. I think starting rates were low. Half the 25 milers didn't start. Something like 17 out of 33. Only 17 50's started out of twenty something signed up. I think 10 out of 15 75's started and around 20? 100's.

I was so wet that I may as well have jumped in the lake to get the sand off. It was worse at the checks where you were near all those metal tent frames and freezing. I'd rather take my chances with lightning going down the trail keeping warm. Finishing was BLISS. I know I'll enjoy my next thunderstorm when I'm snuggled in a warm bed 10 times as much as anyone who didn't do that ride. :-) I can only imagine how those in the longer distances felt.

Kudos to Eric Reuter who ran a computer and handled sorting out probably a record number of different rides including AERC, FEI, AHA, and CT and never getting short tempered!!! He was amazing.

Nobody would ever have dreamed there was an FEI going on so far as being trouble by it. It was as down home a ride as any Million Pines you've ever been to. I can't say enough about the place & people and will definitely go back, despite the forecast again. Thanks to all involved!

Angie McGhee

Friday, March 27, 2009

The John Singleton Mosby Heritage Multiday Ride - Team Virginia

Original Article -

The final seven days of the VV rides are here, and it is time to put all our conditioning ..for both equines and the test in our very own multiday -- a week long series of LD rides through the Loudoun, Clarke and Fauquier countryside Civil War haunts of the famous (and local!) Confederate hero Col. John Singleton Mosby and his Rangers.

John Singleton Mosby and his Rangers - 1864

Born in Powhatan County, Virginia and raised within view of Jefferson’s Monticello, John Singleton Mosby was the ultimate citizen soldier. University of Virginia-trained, he was a small town Virginia lawyer opposed to secession when the War broke out in 1861. Mosby started with 9 cavalrymen from the Confederate Cavalry command of J.E.B. Stuart on detached duty in Loudoun and Fauquier counties in early January 1863. Stuart supplied several more two weeks later. Mosby had immediate success with surprise attacks against the Union cavalry screen and its many small outposts on the Loudoun-Fairfax county line. This led men home on leave, boys ages 16 and 17, infantry convalescent’s, and a limited number of transfers from Stuart’s command to join the Rangers. The force grew in size, until some 1,911 men had served under Mosby.

Like land privateers, these “partisan” Rangers were allowed to keep what they took from Yankees. Mostly they took pistols, carbines (short repeating cavalry rifles), and horses. Most of the Rangers possessed 4 pistols and 4 horses to be always ready and well-armed for a raid with a fresh horse. Other materiel was sold to the Confederate Army or given to homeowners who took the risk of boarding rangers locally.

Mosby’s unit was formalized as the 43rd Battalion (later it was a Regiment) of Virginia Cavalry on June 10, 1863 in the parlor of the Rector House at Rector’s Crossroads (today’s Atoka). While one of only two units allowed to remain partisans in the Confederate Army, they took orders directly from President Davis, General Robert E. Lee, and Stuart. Raids were coordinated with other Confederate military activity. Usually, their goals were to demoralize the Union cavalry screen west of Washington, to attack supply trains, wagon trains, and outposts. In 1864-65, many of the Rangers’ raids focused on the northern Shenandoah Valley, aimed at Sheridan’s invading Union army.

On to Day 1!!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Team Virginia's Ride over the Blue Ridge to the Shenandoah River and back - Flora Hillman

Original Post

What a glorious day!! Clear, bright, 60's, warm -- the perfect day for Team Virginia to host a 27 mile "Ride to the River" from Flora Hillman's Auriga Farm, over the Blue Ridge to the Shenandoah River, and back... at least half of the trail following the original trail of the Old Dominion when it was held in Loudoun County 30 years ago.

Team members Larry and Kathy Tumblin, and friends April Dobson and Mary Ann Wates (a former OD board member) arrived at around 10:30 to park in my spacious front field. Amid the unloading of eager horses and greetings all around plus general "endurance folk chatter", all five of us set off around 11:30 across the gorgeous wide hayfields towards the Blue Ridge 5 miles to the west. We had a bit of a halting start -- Kathy and Larry's easy boots didn't want to stay on, so they both eventually just attached the boots to their saddles and rode barefoot the whole way. Happily, the 27 mile route is mostly grassy byways and gravel roads -- no rocky trails or hard footing.
At the 4.5 mile point we passed the ancient remains of William Littleton's barn and house. William lived at the base of the mountain prior to 1850, and now only the standing chimney remains as a reminder to a pre-war era now long gone, but still remembered.

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Crazy Coyote - Susan Garlinghouse, DVM

The Crazy Coyote was this past weekend and went well overall. Alexa Olney was ride manager and she and her group did a great job and really worked their tails off to get everything put together and handled. The weather could not have been nicer---almost down to freezing the night before, but calm and clear and in the high sixties with low humidity all the next day. 16 starters for the 55, 10 finished and 36 starters for the 30, 29 completions. Brad Green from Auburn on Pawnee won the 55, Audrey Scott on Fire Mtn Blaize was second right behind Brad, and Pippa Davies on MW Warrior was third and BC (also high vet score). The winning time was just a bit under six hours.

Sheila Hall on My Oscala Gold was the first horse to complete the 30 in Fit to Continue condition (the first two LD horses to cross the line were in unacceptable condition and did not receive either a placing or a completion). Mindy Wolfe on Splash was 2nd and BC. Lisa Schneider on her wonderful horse Drew was high vet score for the seven horses that showed for the LD BC. Lisa told me that even if she had gone fast enough to be competitive point-wise for overall BC, she said to give it to someone that cared about that sort of thing---no agenda here, she was just happy to have had a good ride on a good horse and compete against the trail, for which I admire both she and her husband Shel.

There were a lot of minor lameness pulls, including a bunch of tired hind limb muscle problems. There's a fair amount of sand and flat trail on this ride and if riders didn't change gaits or diagonals often enough or went too fast through sand, it came back to haunt them at the VC. One horse in the LD wasn't recovering at VC 1 at 15 miles and so was pulled for metabolic. Aside from the one horse described below, there were no treatments, which made me very happy.

On the 2nd loop, one of the LD riders (Steve Downs) was walking past a man standing near his SUV parked off the road, who very casually commented to him, "This might be interesting, my son is up there with a dog that doesn't like horses." Steve thought that meant maybe the dog was afraid of them, or might bark or something, but the guy was still just standing there like it wasn't that big a deal. Further up the trail, there's a teenage kid with a big dog on one of those retractable leads and it turns out that "doesn't like horses" means "intends to attempt to kill and eat them". It got away from the kid (who didn’t say anything and sounds like didn't put up much effort to really hold it), the dog attacked Steve's horse and bit him in the belly just in front of the sheath. He was clamped on pretty well until the horse kicked him off. The kid grabbed the dog (who was looking like he was getting ready to jump in again) by the collar, everyone was yelling and shouting, and by the time the other riders turned to see where the kid was going with the dog, they were back in the SUV and driving away, despite many people yelling at them. They got the license number and description, animal control came out to take photos and a report and they're going to track down the owner and at the very least, cite him for dog violations and so on. Steve is going to try to get reimbursement for his vet bill, lost entry fees and so on, but of course getting a judgment is not the same as getting payment.

The horse will be okay, but it was a pretty deep bite wound, and needed suturing, a drain, some IV antibiotics and so on. He was looking really good otherwise, and it was really upsetting that just because of the serious bite, the horse could not be defined as fit to continue and so could not complete. Steve was given a completion award anyway, but this sure comes under the heading of Hard Luck. On the other hand, it also could have been much worse, that deep a bite on a lower leg could easily have been a career or even life-ending injury.

Susan Garlinghouse, DVM

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Jay's Fernvale FEI ride report, Australia

As we left home early Saturday morning, the weather report stated that Cyclone Hamish was moving south along the coast and that SE Qld could experience wet weather on Sunday! Well, that meant a hasty addition of some wet weather clothing into the bag, as I HATE getting soaking wet while strapping!! (Even though I usually end up with wet shoes and wrinkly feet anyway!)

So Saturday was hot and dry as we arrived at the Fernvale Rodeo Grounds, where the newly-formed Fernvale Endurance Club has developed quite a good ride base. The prime movers of Caroline and Paul Fitzgerald, Peter and Penny Toft, Toby and Sue Crockett, and many other local endurance enthusiasts, were joined on the day by a wide selection of local Arabian Studs who are also getting very heavily involved in endurance riding in SE Qld. Thanks to all concerned, as the weekend was a huge success!

The weather throughout the day ranged from hot to hotter, with periods of very hot, and the river crossing was greatfully appreciated by most!

The prime focus of the ride was the Youth Challenge FEI** 120km, with the goal being for many entrants to qualify for the World Youth Championships in Hungary this September. Eleven young riders (all female) started the 120km ride, with 10 successful completions.... a BIG congratulations to all involved! Unfortunately, the one elimination was Splendacrest rider Tarni Kittel, after her lovely mount fell in a hole on the second stage of the ride. Commiserations Tarni, but I know that you are determined to try again!

The winner of this ride was Erin Krahnen, who also gained the Best Conditioned prize, as well as the "Best Presented" prize (a special award decided by Foreign Delegate Sarah Adams along with photographer Sue Crockett).

The FEI* 82km ride was hotly contested, with about 50 entries, and a winning time of about 4:30 by brothers Brook and Matthew Sample in a "gentleman's agreement" that saw Brook finish 1 second ahead of Matthew. For a 3-stage 82km ride over pretty hard terrain, this was a great finish, with reports coming in off track of the third-placed rider, Ben Caslick, trying his heart out to catch the Sample brothers in a gallop towards the end of the ride. The last 15km loop was completed in 28kph!

The Splendacrest Team had great results also in this ride, with Rod Strahan on Shardell Prince Ali (owned by Prutirat R. Serireongrith of Thailand) finishing in 7:24 for 17th placing (this young gelding's first open ride), Kristan Kershaw on Bullarto Fiorelli finishing in 7:26, and John Dugan on Performance Park Lady Kharisma finishing in 7:26. Angela Head completed the Youth division, placing 6th on Dallas Blakely's lovely gelding.... congratulations Ang, and thanks to Dallas and Andrew! Our one casualty in the 82km ride was Gerard Bou on Splendacrest Fiesta, who unfortunately vetted out at the re-present before the third leg due to the extreme heat, with a high heartrate! But as with every vet-out, it was a learning experience for us all.

The 45km training ride saw about 30 horses set off at daybreak, with Splendacrest fielding 5 of them! Three of my new riders were doing their second qualifying training ride, and Ted Fitzgerald was roped in to ride Shardell Prince Valiant (a huge brown Anglo owned by Rod Strahan) in his very first outing. Lisa Roosen (who has moved here from The Netherlands) rode Mt Eerwah Silver Mariner (aka Pete), Marcia Burger (who has moved here from South Africa) rode Splendacrest Zhateau, and young Steph Tulk was mounted on Splendacrest Ulysses, and all were successful in gaining their "Novice rider" qualification by completing this second training ride. Ted also completed the course, with Prince Valiant attracting plenty of attention!

Many of you may remember a crazy German girl that used to ride for Splendacrest 5 years ago.... Clio Rauch. During her three years with us here (while she was attending University in Australia), Clio was a regular rider and became very successful. Then she had to go home after Uni, and we have missed her dreadfully. Well, SHE'S BACK! Yes, Clio has returned to Australia to take up endurance riding again, having not had the chance to do any in the past 5 years! She arrived last Wednesday night, slept in on Thursday morning (jet lag), jumped on a horse on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning, received her QERA membership card in the mail on Friday (thanks Dee!), and then travelled with us to Fernvale on Saturday, and rode my lovely stallion Splendacrest Zafire in the training ride on Sunday!

Clio used to ride Zafire's sire, Zakah Zahara, when she was with us years ago.... in fact she completed a Quilty and an Easter Marathon on him too!

So, there she was on Sunday, grinning from ear to ear, saying 'hello' to friends she hasn't seen in years, and riding Zak's son Zafire in his second ever outing for a great completion, and gaining the "Best Presented" prize as well!! WOW! She hasn't stopped smiling yet!

Another new addition to the Splendacrest Team is Johan de Bruto, who has moved to Australia from South Africa, and who is an experienced endurance rider. Johan spent the weekend with us in strapping mode, and became very envious of all those riding. He also took lots of great photos of the weekend, and seemed to enjoy his first experience of endurance in Australia. Thanks Johan, for all your hard work over the weekend. (Oh, and by the way, Johan also turned up on Saturday with an esky of beer.... I think he'll fit right in here!!)

We were also joined on Sunday by Bert Hartog, who some of you may know. Bert is well known in the 'other' disciplines, especially dressage and vaulting, and is now interested in learning about endurance riding with a view to possible becoming involved in the sport. So Bert took the time to come and crew for our team in order to learn a little about the sport, and he was a very handy and capable strapper!! Thanks Bert, for your assistance on the weekend, and I hope you learned a lot!

The team cannot survive without Shane Hopkins, who is always there to put a shoe on, or to make sandwiches, or to run to the store to get ice (and boy! did we need ice this weekend!!!), or to organise everything and anything! Thanks Shane, for once again being an intregal part of the Splendacrest Team!

There was much comment over the weekend about the new FEI rules, and some confusion about the requirements to qualify for further FEI rides. The added expense of FEI rides will certainly keep many people away, however I am sure that if people would just try it out they would enjoy the experience. The weekend was well run by the Fernvale Club, and we had a great time!

The promised rain did not happen, however Cyclone Hamish is causing some grief up north, and today it is a bit windy and overcast here. Hope everyone else had a great weekend, whatever you were doing!

Jay Randle

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Post Ride Reflections

Endurance Granny Blog: Post Ride Reflections

#1 Trail Conditions at Henryville: Most of what I saw yesterday did not warrant or require booting. About 2 miles of the ten mile loop was gravel service road. I wonder how much that would slow our time. If Phebes cantered over it I think she could roll over it. Trotting the mechanism is a little different, and that might be a bit of an issue. The Goat Ridge Trail... I would not want to do that switchback if it was wet or muddy in boots. What an incredible drop! If anyone can hurry either down or up it, they are welcome to it. Chris has an onboard heart monitor for her horse and Toby's rate was incredibly high going up that switchback. It is so steep it feels like if you let go of your horse gravity is going to suck you right off the hillside. Road riding: If there is anything I truly am uncomfortable with right now it is riding on the road with my horse. Yesterday was her first experience with that and I am sure she had to be picking up on my sense of panic. We didn't encounter any cars, but we crossed a highway twice. The first time across she got right in the middle and didn't want to step over the yellow lines. David passed me so that Phebes would follow.

Endurance Horse Fitness: An endurance horse in my mind is an "elite" horse. They have to know, experience, and be calm about so many things. They have to develop unbelievable stamina and fitness, and they must learn to take care of themselves. It is no wonder that it takes a couple of years to bring a horse up to peak fitness. I let Phebes out yesterday and we cantered a lot. She did not react physically until about thirteen mile mark. Meaning she did not huff, puff, or get winded. After that we did more intervals. I feel that if I can keep at it with Phebes, give her time between training rides to recover, that eventually she will be a tough little horse. She loves to be out in front, churning along, and I am beginning to find that is not such a bad place to be. Fighting her has been a battle in futility. So my plan will need to shift to building this horse up to do the job she wants to do. We need more work on rating though. If she could learn to trot out instead of canter she would be working aerobically. Maybe I can borrow an onboard monitor and find out if she works better at the canter than the trot. There has to be some reason that she prefers the faster gait. If she is working more effeciently cantering, then should I leave well enough alone?

Hoof boots: Yesterday was my first experience going at speed in hoof boots. Me being me I had visualized tripping down the trail over them. It was amazing how she just moved on out. I want to put Easycare on notice: PLEASE MAKE SOME GLOVES THAT WILL FIT THE ANGLES & PROPORTIONS OF THE NATURAL BARE FRONT HOOF!!! Round hoof vs. long hoof, and hooves that may have a slightly steeper angle. Come out and mold my horse's front hooves will you? The Easyboot Glove is awesome! I want some for the fronts SO BAD! The Easyboot Glove has been one of the best investments I've made for my horse to date. The Epics performed well, but much harder to apply, and much harder to remove.

Barefooting: Will I continue to truly go barefoot? Absolutely as much as possible because I feel that is the best way to build my horse's tough bare hooves. (But happy to know I have protection for extreme situations).


Friday, March 06, 2009

Twenty Mule Team: Adventure in the desert - Victoria Thompson

Twenty Mule Team was probably doomed before it even began for Kat that Friday before we left home. We wanted to be on the road by noon and neither of us even got to the barn until after one PM. Then there we things we needed to attend to with our other horses before we could concentrate on getting packed up and on the road. Kat plowing into the back of my pick up with hers didn't help matters any either (rather humorous accident, but that will have to be told over a bottle of scotch). We finally got on the freeway to head out of LA just as rush hour began, about quarter to 4. Once off the main interstate we got stuck behind a big rig and had to crawl our way into Ridgecrest. We pulled into the fairgrounds literally within minutes of the start of the ride meeting, so I went to the meeting while Kat unloaded Twiggy from the trailer. After the meeting we vetted Twig in and got everything arranged for the next day. Kat's plan was to try and ride a 10 MPH ride in the hopes of finishing before the moon went down. Since there wasn't a full moon for this ride everyone who did this last year learned that it really gets DARK out there - Kat included. So she really wanted to be done by 10:30 when the sliver of moon we had would disappear. Well, that was the plan.

Had a wonderful night's sleep and got up about 4:45AM. I discovered the night before that old age is finally beginning to hit as I managed to leave home, for the first time, without soap, brush, toothbrush or toothpaste. So, when I jumped up in the morning to run to the bathroom to 'take care of business' I managed to beg some toothpaste for my finger and a comb for my hair. We got Twig saddled and Kat fed and off they went. As soon as the start began I unhooked the truck from the trailer and took off for Vet 1. I saw a fellow in an RV pull out before me and he soon pulled over to let me by. Little did I know that with that kind gesture I was now the first person out there. I remembered the road to Vet 1 from last year, and just kept going along expecting to see rigs already there. The RV was behind me for awhile, but he turned back when the road started getting rough. I mean tire popping, axle breaking rough. But I kept going. I kept telling myself that I didn't remember the road being quite that rough, but maybe they had some bad rains out there. And I kept going. For 4 miles I kept going. I kept going even when I saw little pink ribbons (benignly thinking it was nice of them to put trail markers up for us). It was now 7 AM and I still hadn't come to Vet 1. I stopped and looked at the directions and they said it was about 15 miles to Vet 1 from the fairgrounds. Well, I'd gone 17 miles. Oops. Needless to say I turned around and went back. Pulled into Vet 1 about 7:20 and got out to a fellow wagging his finger at me saying he'd a kept following me if the road had let him (he was in the RV). A couple other guys kind of laughed at me, but I have to admit I drove right by the vet check. The only things out there were the 2 water troughs and I could not see them when I drove by. Shoot, the hay and porta potty hadn't been delivered yet and I was late! Truth be told I was having fun out there and if it weren't for Kat I'd have continued on down that road. We weren't expecting anyone until 8, and right about 7:30 Jeremy Reynolds came into view. Hot on his tail were the two girls, Joyce and (darn, the name starts with a J - Jennifer ... Janet ... whatever. The other J). Low and behold about 10 minutes after Jeremy came Kat. I was not expecting that. I had everything ready. I just wasn't prepared to see her so soon. Twig looked great. She drank and ate and went through the trot out without any trouble. In 15 minutes Kat was back on board and on her way.

Off to Vet 2 - you can't get lost going to Vet 2. You can, however, be going down the highway too fast to make the turn off and have to turn around and come back (I do this every year). I was the second person there this time. I helped unload the crew bags after I got Kat's stop set to go. Hay, water and the porta potty finally arrived. We gabbed a little and next thing you know there's Jeremy with the two J's just a couple minutes behind. Kat had slipped to 17 minutes behind Jeremy, but she was still a good 30 minutes in front of the next person. Twig looked great. She ate and drank. After 20 minutes we took her to the vet out and she passed with flying colors. She ate and drank well for the rest of the hour. We cleaned her up, re-saddled and off Kat went. So, off to Vet 3.

Got to Vet 3 without any problems. Sat and talked with people whose names I can never remember (but that's OK because they can never remember mine). Before you know it, in comes Jeremy and the J-girls hot on his heels. I helped Jeremy with his crew bag again and held his horse for him. I didn't like the looks of one of the J-girl's horses. Walking funny. Sure enough she got pulled. About 15 minutes after Jeremy left Kat came into view. Twig looked good. She drank, but she was picking at her food. What she really wanted was to roll. We were next to a pile of sand and she was trying desperately to go down and roll. We bandied the idea of pulling her tack and letting her roll, thinking she would eat then, but we really didn't have a good way to wash all the sand off and didn't want to risk putting the saddle back on a sandy back. Twig vetted through just fine, so Kat just got on when her 15 minutes was up and left. It was only something like 8 miles back to the fairgrounds for the second hour hold and we'd let Twiggy roll there.

We were parked next to Jeremy and Heather, so when I got back to the fairgrounds I was a little shocked to see Jeremy already there. He was having a little trouble getting his horse to eat, so I tried enticing him with 'strangers' hay. That didn't work. We tried a couple other things that didn't work and finally gave him a dose of appetite stimulant (glycogen loader - karo syrup works too, in case you're wondering). In 15 minutes he was scarfing down his food and passed the vet check with flying colors. Jeremy was out the gate at the end of his hour hold just as Kat came in - still in third place. Twig looked good. She pulsed down in a couple minutes, we got our time, and went back to the truck. We took her tack off and cleaned her up, but she really didn't want to eat and she only drank a little. She was pooped. We gave her some glycogen and watched her. Next thing you know the P and R lady was coming over telling us we needed to get our time. Well, she gave us our time, but she forgot to write it down. It was time for us to vet Twig through. Twig was tired, but we were hopeful the glycogen would get her eating. Just as we were about to enter the vet area Twig pooped and it was really dry with a hint of blood on a few of the balls. Kat and I looked at each other and Kat said Twig wasn't going on. We took Twig over to the vets and told them Twig was done because of what we saw in her poop. She was vetted through and passed the check. The vets said to take her back and let her rest and eat and decide later if the pull was for real. Kat got one of the vets to go over to the poop and the vet said it was nothing to be worried about - probably just something she ate irritating her colon, and there wasn't enough blood there to be bothered about. Kat stayed and talked to the vet while I took Twig back to the truck. Just as I tied her up she let me know she wanted to roll. Kat came back then and we decided to take her to the arena where it was soft. Hard as a rock, so we went back to the soft vet area. Twig dropped like a stone and promptly fell asleep! That got a good laugh from everyone and Kat reemphasized that Twig would not be going back out. After a few minutes we got her up and took her back to the truck. Twig laid down again and just slept. She was in and out of her snooze for a hour (sternal the whole time) when she finally rolled over prone. She was flat on her side for a couple of minutes when the vet came back over. It was decided to get Twig up to get her eating, so much to Twig's dismay we made her stand up. She wouldn't eat. Kat made the decision to have fluids administered as a precaution. While the vet went to get treatment Twig started eating and she didn't stop until we put her in the trailer the next morning. Even though Twig was eating, Kat had the saline administered. After 17 liters Twig peed, but a full 21 liters were given. Twig drank another 20 gallons of water during the night and peed and pooped up a storm. Twiggy never showed any signs of distress. She was just very tired. She's been home a week and she's still eating up a storm.

Jeremy finished first with a ride time of 9 hours and 21 minutes (I like to think I had a hand in that :-)

Maybe next year. Oh, and I'm driving around in some POS Dodge Journey while the bumper on my truck gets fixed (thanks, Kat)


Thursday, March 05, 2009

Manely Montana: You might just be an endurance rider

Manely Montana blog
As we ramp up for our second endurance season (and second ride for that matter), I continue to immerse myself in the vast amounts of research and experience out there to get my “been there done that”Gazi and I ready to hit the trails together.

This was sent to be me by long time endurance competitor D… and while I’ve yet to see this “up close and in person”.. thought this summed it up… I guess I could relate to some of it from ultrarunning days. So without further ado…

You Might Just be an Endurance Rider:

1. Your rig costs more than your house, your neighbor’s house, and your other neighbor’s house - all combined.

2. The color of your tack is every bit as important as the fit of your tack although it really shouldn’t matter because it’s all covered in Sheepskin anyway.

3. You save every empty laundry detergent jug possible, and ask your friends to do the same for you.

4. You know how to pack every one of life’s essentials on your saddle, on your person, and on your horse. This would include toilet paper, food, water, tampons, maps, extra clothing, glowsticks, and a GPS.

5. You actually know what the glowsticks are for.

6. You only buy clothing that is bug proof, wind proof, water proof, and sun proof. And that my friend, is proof that you have a clue.

7. You are the only horseback riding competitor in the entire horse world to happily spend $100 on an entry fee, only to get a $5 plastic feed tub as a prize, and actually be thrilled about it!

8. Boulders? You haven’t seen any boulders. Oh, you mean those big rocks about 1 foot in diameter that you and your horse just climbed over for the last 2 miles? Heck, that’s just gravel.

9. You spend more money in a season on hoof boots and/or horseshoes than most people spend on their tack, their rig, and their horse combined.

10. Draft Horse is a 4-letter word.

11. You know precisely the speed of your horse’s working trot at all times, but you haven’t got a clue how fast you were going when the cop pulls you over on the interstate.

12. You are more likely to survive being stranded in Death Valley or the Alaskan Mountains than Surviorman is.

13. They always say you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. Give him to me dammit and I’ll make him drink!

14. Electrolytes are one of the main food groups.

15. You know it’s possible to have a complete conversation with a person while passing each other at a working trot, going opposite directions. In this brief encounter you can exchange information on weather, vet stops, horse health, food, and grazing, and never miss a stride.

16. You can find a digital pulse, gut sounds, and heart rate quicker than the average joe can change his underwear.

17. You can take a pee in the poison ivy so fast that it can’t even catch you.

18. Your horsie friends look at you weird because your barn is full of syringes, your closet full of stretch pants, and your truck full of “necessities.”

19. You take flie personally

20. You refer to your horse as your therpaist.

21. When you horse is sick, your heart is sick.

22. You keep better track of your mare’s cycle than your own.

23. Windy days (ah yes those winds of Whitehall) put you on edge… because you know it’ll put your horse on edge.

24. Y ou know you’re surrounded by the best damned horsemen and sportsmen in the world when they stop on the trail to lend you a helping hand, even if it means losing their placing position.

25. And finally… you fill inteh blank here… Your intrepid innkeeper would love to hear what you think means you’re a horse person.

Trot on friends, trot on.

Full Blog

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Go Pony: Ultimatums

Go Pony Blog

Monday, March 2, 2009
Sometimes I wonder if I wasn't too hasty in making my Tevis ultimatum last fall, and pinning all of my future plans on the successful completion of one ride, a notoriously difficult ride at that. I recognize I was in somewhat of a depressive state last fall, and maybe declaring that "we finish Man Against Horse or Tevis is off" might have been extreme. The stars aren't always in alignment for every ride, and one unsuccessful ride doesn't mean the end of a career. Who knows what would have happened at MaH if the weather had been better, or we had done better on time?

On the flip side, a grand total of 2 50-mile completions doesn't mean we can finish Tevis. But I still want to try. If it was closer, and I had my qualification miles, I would do it, just to say my pony and I tried. The 2 day, 800-something miles, $300 in gas trip makes me a little more hesitant. Not to mention I still need 200 more qualifying miles. There's enough rides between now and then...unfortunately, they're all out of state.

I've got Tevis fever, bad. And the couple months break was good for me. I've come back much more refreshed and optimistic again. Pony's bright eyes and cheerful whinny yesterday were also a good sign.

Part of me doesn't even want to go there, not even take the risk...but then there's a part of my that says, "You don't know until you try. Have faith." There's no day like today, and I don't know where I'll be at with my life come next summer, or how long it'll take me to get established in my career and start acting like an actual grown-up, and when I'll have another horse in that kind of condition. The next few years are going to be hectic as I finish school, move out on my own, and settle into my life and career. I'll be lucky enough to have time to breathe, let alone get an endurance horse in condition for Tevis.

I promise there will be more to come on this subject as I spend the next several weeks hashing out the pros and cons, potential ride plans, etc. And come up with some fast access to money.

Posted by Ashley

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Sheikha Madiya - "It's Gonna Be Crazy"

Full Story, Merri Travels

Rider Fall Off, Rider Get Back On
Friday February 27 2009

Take 77 lady riders with varying degrees of experience in riding fast races, add a pile of crazy drivers (with questionable, varying degrees of experience), toss in a vast desert full of sand, throw in some fast horses with varying hardness of mouths and varying degrees of brakes, shake it up with an air-full of dust, then bake it at 35*C, then finally stir it up for 90 km, and you have the Dubai Equestrian Club Endurance Challenge for Ladies.

"It's gonna be crazy!" Shaikha Madiya accurately predicted before the race.

...Full Story

Good news and bad news from Valley of the Sun
I went up to the Valley of the Sun Endurance Ride Friday and participated in the 50 mile event with GE Cyclone. Cyclone and I didn't have a great day but got through it.

Bad News First.

I purchased GE Cyclone from Global Endurance roughly 18 months ago. Cyclone was an accomplished endurance horse when I got him and had just come off a 4th place finish at Tevis. I've had equally impressive results with him, as a team we have three Best Condition Awards in five starts. He's a great horse.

Today was a different type of day. He was a bit short in the rear at the 25 mile vet check. The vets and I both agreed it would be better to pull him from the race. I went back to the trailer and started packing to come home and decided to take him for another walk before we departed. He was moving very well and I couldn't see anything at a walk, trot or circles. I rushed him back to the vets before my hour hold was over and all four vets watched as he trotted and circled. They all agreed he looked great. I was clear to go.

Although he was moving well he didn't have a great second loop. He wasn't drinking like he usually does and was just a bit out of his game. We ended up finishing 5th place but he didn't look like the regular BC horse he is.

Many lessons were learned and taken from the experience. There are many things I could have done better.

The Good News.

The ride was beautiful and well managed. Congrats to Irene Murphy and staff.

The first two booted horses in the 50 mile event used Easyboots (1st place and 5th place).

The Easyboot Glue-On Cuff finished the first 50 mile event. The Easyboot Glue-On cuff worked awesome today! The cuffs have been on Cyclone for 17 days now. They have done roughly 60 miles of conditioning rides in addition to the 50 mile event today. When I vetted Cyclone in on Friday all the vets were pretty curious about the new design. I actually had a screw driver in my pocket and removed one of the boots right there for them. All the vets were pretty impressed.

Photos of Cyclones front feet and the Easyboot Glue-On Cuffs after removal. Cuff is still holding on strong and the holes in the shell are lining up well.