Tuesday, April 28, 2009

2009 Pan American Championship - Uruguay

Steph's Wrap-up Stories:

Part 1 - The Ride Venue

The venue is empty - all the tents are packed up and put away, the USA horses left this morning, all's quiet. The hotel here is empty too, except for me.

Part 2 - The Team Effort: Uruguay and Argentina
This event really felt like a team affair. More so than other Championships I've been too. Perhaps it was due to the individuals who participated, or maybe the nature of the countries - more sensitive to each other, to a group effort, to National pride. Maybe it was just my perception - but it was a delightful competition in this respect.

Part 3 - The Team Effort - USA

And the Americans had a great competition! Finally! The last time the USA won a Team medal was at the Pan American Championship in 2005 held in Argentina. It was a very good event for the riders, the crews, and the USEF staff.

Part 5 - The Team Effort: Guatemala and Malaysia

And hooray for Guatemala! They have only been doing Endurance for 4 years, but are learning fast and are highly dedicated.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Million Pines - Angie's Story

Whoopee, finally back at Million Pines my FAVORITE event after one year
of being a good mom and staying home for daughter's senior prom. (I
talked to her on the phone the other two years that she went and she sent
me photos of her hairdo on my cell phone) :-P We have gone to this ride
almost every year...I think 15 out of 18 that they've had. It's always
held on Josie's birthday weekend and she's had most of her birthday
celebrations there until a 3 year break where she went to proms that were
always held on that weekend. That's finally history so we were excited to
be back! Buddy Lynda Webber hauled down with us with her horse Bailey and
she and Josie would be riding possibly top 10 while 7 and I aimed for a
good completion a little farther back.

As Steve Rojek said, the weather was a "gift". It was cool, low humidity,
a light breeze, no sign of rain, PERFECT. They warned us the trails were
WET but that just meant there were some deep creek crossings. No mud
worth mentioning really. While I went south to Million Pines Jody went
north to Chicken Chase. Whoever that was that said they wanted to ride
with Jody, let me warn you...she is rediculously COMPETITIVE in ALL
THINGS. If you trained with her she'd try to beat you at training...and
she'd want Joni to beat you too! :-) So, she's turned Joni loose to ride
as an adult featherweight this year, meanwhile Josie is finally competing
more after graduation and she rides as a featherweight. Meanwhile Jody
and I are both dealing with trying to get a decent horse started and
having our share of delays, so our kids are getting the impression they
might be better than we are at this...and of course we talk to each other
about how *we're* the reason they're doing any good anyway...but she
still wants to BEAT ME at getting a horse started and her kid do better
than mine to show she's better at that part too!

Long story short. Perfect day, everybody had a great time, 7 had a good
day but Lynda and Josie were having a *really* good day. They did have
one mishap. There was the coolest swamp you had to ride through. I'd
give anything if the photographer could have gotten us there. Without
markers, and a great deal of faith in Wesley Crowe I would never have
*dreamed* of letting a horse put one foot in it, much less ride through
it. There was just a low black lake (swamp), in a darkish hollow, with
Cypress trees growing right up out of the water with the creepy looking
roots. The grove was thick but had a wide path through the middle that
was wide enough for a car to have driven through if it had been drained.
There was a good current crossing the path at one point and as the horses
stepped down into it the water went up high on their chests. When Lynda &
Josie were crossing it with the front runners Lynda's horse Bailey
stepped through is running martingale and had a not so fun "incident".
She had to jump off into the chest high water and try to disassemble the
thing with an anxious horse trying to go on with the others. He knocked
her off her feet at one point. Josie & Kyle stayed with her but it took a
while and they finally convinced Kyle to go on. Could have been a lot
worse I guess. >shudder< Lynda's pretty tall. I crossed the same thing
with a running martingale and if I'd have had to get off I might have had
to dog paddle! :-O

At the next check Lynda decided to drop back and let her horse eat a bit
so she took herself out of the hunt. Wesley Crowe's horse won the race
with Brandy riding, Josie, Steve Rojek & Elizabeth Allen? tied for 2nd.
When I finished Josie ran over and told me Jody had called and Joni had
won Chicken Chase. Great, Josie pulls off a 2nd and "Miss Competitive"
had to manage a first! >gWesley to give away that beautiful big hand made wooden tack trunk for
BC...Josie's Cade won!!! OK, so what *I* wanted to know was how Jody did
on Booger since I'm sure she'd consider that the tie breaker on the
weekend. Well, she finished higher...I *think* she said 11th...but there
were 30? entries. 7 finished 18th, but there were over 60 entries... hmm.
This could get involved. I mean...their times beat ours, but you just
can't compare different courses...right? I would be willing to call it a
tie and not count the rest of the season but that will never do for her.

Honestly, Million Pines is the friendliest, prettiest setting, best run,
*fun* ride I know. Nobody does it better and they just keep pulling off
the good weather. I had the prettiest camp I have ever had, parked in a
shady grove of pines looking across his beautiful lake watching his 2
Arabs and a very fit goat trot and canter circles around that lake night
and day. Josie has had a heck of a Spring and this was definitely the
cherry on top of the icing on the cake. She's been coveting that same
trunk for as long as she can remember and had been soo disappointed when
she was a little girl the year Kaboot came in 2nd in BC and *almost*
brought one home. This was a dream come true for her. :-)))

Angie McGhee

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Serious about Saddlery

Horsebytes - A blog for Seattle-area horse folks
Posted by Monica Bretherton

No group is more intense about saddle fit than endurance riders - with good reason. Ideally, the saddle is the "user interface" between horse and rider, helping to distribute weight and keep rider and horse in tune, but it can rapidly become a source of discomfort or outright pain for both on a longer ride.

So I was intrigued when a few months back, Cathy Leddy showed me her Specialized Saddle's shim system that customizes the fit under removable foam panels. In theory, this seemed like a great system, but I am skeptical of perfect systems, as life as a way of throwing me the curve balls.

There are already a lot of shim systems out there, most of them in saddle pads. the best known is perhaps the Corrector by Les Brown. Some upscale makers like Thinline and Mattes have also added systems of their own. There is a big market for correction saddle pads as a quick fix for some of the most common saddle fitting problems, like a back that is changing through fitness, as skilled saddle flockers are hard to find. At between $150 and $300 dollars, though, pads can be a pricey bandaid that don't quite do enough.

A different animal

The Specialized Saddle is different than a correction pad. The adjustment shims are an integral part of the saddle, through the wonders of velcro with high density foam ships sandwiched in between. The adjustments are made in the space between the tree and the thick foam panels that spread the weight on the horse's back, so there is no lumpiness or bumpiness in the curved weight-bearing surface.

The gullet width can also be altered by adjusting where the panels are attached to the tree, so the standard saddle is truly customizeable to almost any horse (for a super-wide back, the company makes an extra-wide tree).

Well, I thought, sounds great, but how does this work out in practice? With all this focus on fitting the horse, was the rider being neglected?


Monday, April 13, 2009

MONK Wins 50 Mile FEI Endurance Ride

FEIRedHorse.blogspot.com, Chris Martin

Sunday, April 12, 2009
Get R Done, FEI Endurance Ride
MONK Wins 50 Mile FEI Endurance Ride
at Get R Done, Inyokern, CA

There is a reason not many people live in Inyokern, CA, that reason is weather. We made the 10 hour drive to the ride and arrived at about 5PM on Thursday. The wind was blowing maybe 40mph before it really picked up. I got MONK's food and water out and tied him to the trailer and went inside and hunkered down and read my book. The trailer was rocking from the wind blasts. As soon as it got dark I went out and put on his blanket and walked him around a bit. The wind blew until I fell asleep at about 10PM.

Friday morning came and the wind was gone. Tempature was mid 40's so I stayed inside for awhile after I got walked MONK and got him some more grain.

The camp is situated about 1/2 mile from where everything else happens. We made the trip over to the vet area at about noon and vetted in. I actually made the jog down and back without my knee giving me too much problem. We headed back to camp to wait for Lindsay and Eric to arrive. The crewing area is at the main vetting area so you have to haul all of your stuff to the crewing area, so I loaded up the truck and drove down and then hauled all of the stuff the 100 yards to the crewing area. Being there early help secure us a primo spot, so I laid out the water buckets, chairs and ice chest in a area of about 12x12.

When they showed up at about 5pm we had to get the saddle adjusted for her stirrup length. I took off the fenders that I ride in and put on the webbers for her. That took more then a few minutes and I had her ride MONK around for a few minutes to make sure we got it right. Once we had the saddle correct we had to take all of the tack down to the main vet area to get Lindsay weighed. For the 50 mile FEI ride you have to weigh 155#'s. The scale weighed in KG and she was 70.2 which is just over the weight requirement.

Lindsay arrived at the trailer at 6am to get monk ready for the 7am departure. Everything went smoothly and we were ready to start a warm up a little after 6:30am. MONK looked good as did Lindsay, they make a great pair. The game plan was to have fun and keep MONK safe. Lindsay has 200 endurance miles of holding MONK back. We took a video of the start of the ride as we drove along side the riders. When we stopped to turn around Lindsay and MONK were 7th.

Controlled start, see video in Picassa link. Eric and I waited out on the trail to take some pictures of the coming down the trail. Lindsay was riding with 3 other riders, so top 4 riders, all FEI riders right together. We took some video and headed back to wait for them to arrive.

They did something that I had not seen before with the gate into the hold. As it was explained, you come into the first water troff where crewing is allowed. As soon as your horse is ready, 64bpm, you call for a time. If you are FEI and you reach the vet and your horse is above 64 your are out. If you are AERC you get to go to the end of the line and start over.

Being first in line we were not able to take advantage of what the other riders figured out in a heartbeat. As soon as all vets were busy you just called for time where ever your horse was because you knew you were going to stand in line for awhile. That way you got quite a jump on others who did not figure it out... Might work in a perfect world.

After lunch all 4 of the 50 mile front runners headed out. We met them at various locations along the trail and took more video.

At the last water trough all 4 riders came in together, all looking strong. I gave MONK his electrolytes quickly and Lindsay was out on the trail. She got about a 90 second jump on the other three riders. She held this lead all the way to the finish line............ Remaining 3 riders showed up 1 minute after Lindsay.

The other problem that caused miner problems was the scales at the finish line did not work.. Now this would not make a big difference except that FEI top ten riders have 10 minutes to present their horses for a CRI. If your horse has reached the 64 bpm you can get a completion at that time. If not then you have to come back in 30 minutes for another exam, but the CRI is used to compute your scores for Best Condition. The problem is that the finish line is about 200 yards from the vet area. We had to take saddles off and play games with the scales for 5 minutes. That 5 minutes is valuable time that we could of been taking care of our horses. There was no water or feed at the finish line so we just stood around, taking our saddles off and then back on and then back off again.

When we were finally done re-inventing the weigh in procedure we headed for the vet. Horses grabbed a very quick drink and out time was up. Again, being first in line has a disadvantage in this case is that all riders behind you have the benefit of being having to wait, their horses will more then likely have a better CRI then the first place horse, with was MONK.

Two of the front four horses were pulled for lameness. I understood that they had come a very long distance for the one star FEI ride, somewhere like Colorado.

After our showing for BC and our completion Lindsay walked MONK back to camp. Eric and I put all of the crewing stuff in the back of the truck and headed back.

Ride time was just short of 5 hours, which is not really that fast for a very flat 50. I do understand that it was a real 50 though.

Lindsay and I iced and wrapped MONKS legs before they headed home. I had decided to stay the night and leave in the morning.

MONK looked great in the morning. I pulled his wraps and took him for a walk. We went over the the vet area at about 7am to pick up Lindsay's completion T shirt and to see how we did on the BC score and to pick up his pass port. I was very disappointed that MONK did not get BC as he did get all A's except one B, BC went to the 2nd place rider, who I understand has a very talented horse. So, they were apparently out of the top ten bucket so I grabbed Lindsay's T-shirt and left.

A short 10 hours and MONK was home, he jumped out the trailer and immediately started eating grass. Where I live they can just hang out, as long as one is in the paddock nobody runs off.

On Firday morning I had a short meeting with Garrett Ford, owner of EasyCare Inc. the providers of the Glove and Glue on Easy Boots. I showed him the Goober Glue inside some used boots and told him about how well it worked and how I was using it. He seemed very interested. I will have product next week so will be looking for a few more testers.

Posted by Chris Martin at 7:10 PM