Hello again.....if you read part 1 you will know that we have had some problems over the years to say the least but now want to tell you of how putting the lessons I have learned to the test and how a ride can be perfect. Sandhills, 30-55-75 Stampede what can I say, very well managed, very well marked fun trails, great friends, ...a big THANK-YOU to Patsy Gowen, Liz Sine, Alison Bailey, all the vets and volunteers and the park service and the H Cooper Field Trials for allowing us to share the trails. And to God for perfect weather, except for the very cold start at about 30 degrees but that was OK, as guess what, we had a rump rug on.
So, two weeks before the ride, began feeding hay in increasing amounts. Renegade is on pasture 24/7 unless he is pigging out (he gains weight just looking at grass), then he gets half day dry lot mostly or muzzle occasionally. I also start a gradual increase in a high fat content grain and wet beet pulp. He has free choice salt lick in the pasture but I also give him a low sodium salt in his feed. He gets a vitimin/mineral supplement along with selenium/vit E crumbles. His hay before a ride is pressed timothy and a little bit of a leafy alfalfa. On Thursday evening before a ride he gets a small dose of e-lytes. I clip his neck only as it is quite cold here in the mountains as it is predicted to be hot in SC but I don't want to have to blanket all winter. He is well hydrated for the 5 hour ride down and I keep his blanket on during the cold first 2 hours. He has a combo of Timothy and Alfalfa for the trip and has eaten it all by the time we get to camp. He looks good, drinks well and starts eating as we put him in a stall next to one of his BFFs, usually we high tie but just in case of bad weather we reserved a stall. Set up camp with our tent and had a good laugh at hubby who later claimed to be glad he had heart burn as the low temp was 28 degrees...LOL, I however used my trusty, rated -32 degree mummy sleeping bag and was just fine. Before this, he had gone out trying to find food in this remote area and got stuck at a train crossing for about 45 minutes and could not find his way back but had to wait out the train and go back the same way he had come, my crew was not very happy. Renegade was though and gave him another small dose of e-lytes and put his blanket back on. I also clipped his neck a little better as my clippers had seen better days and had not done a very good job. Ride meeting went well and Steve had made it in time for most of it. Had a quick dinner and turned in about 9. Steve checked on Renegade making sure he was drinking well and eating, which he was, then I got up about 1AM and gave him his final very soupy grain, chopped grass forage and beet pulp meal and went back to bed leaving him to rest. Steve got up in plenty of time to walk Rene around warming up with blanket on, then saddled up with rump rug attached and fleece cooler on over all that and walked some more. I'm ready by now, usually I eat something but had too much nervous energy as I was very worried if I was doing the right thing in trying this ride so soon after the nail injury. I could not eat. Small mistake as I took some Motrin with some water and nothing else. More on that later.
So I'm up on Renegade with rump rug in place and warming up more at trot and a little canter and some dressage moves for stretching and listenability...LOL. We are here with several friends, one, Mel that I would ride with for awhile and Bonni who was in the 75 and usually top tens or wins. The start was to be at 6 and my plan was to start mid-pack. I meet up with Mel and ride out to the start checking in with the incomparable Nancy Gouge. The 75's are leaving out on red and the 55's on orange but the both trails start at the same place then split. So the plan for the controlled start was to take the 75's with a gator first and then the 55's with a 4-wheeler down the trails till it is light enough to see the markers...we ended up start about 6 minutes later than planned as the 4-wheeler would not start and we could not start and there were no glow sticks out and we could not see the color of the markers. Ahhhhh...finally we are off and trail is open at about 6:45. Great warm up during the controll phase. So I am where i want to be with a very well warm up horse, quite upset that I have put a bit in his mouth, but he tolerates it well enough. After an hour and a half or so of this 24 mile loop I realize that we are going faster than I originally planned by riding with Mel who had different goals and a different ride plan than I did. So at a water break in which Renegade did not want to drink from but knowing that he usually would I stopped him, got off, told my ride group of about 5 to go on without us. Well sure enough as soon as they got out of sight, Renegade drank and drank!!! Now we are on our own and can more easily pace. I wanted to be between a 6 to 8 mph pace and that is what we did from there on. Normally, we do negative splits but today my goal was just to finish this ride with a happy and very sound horse both metabolically and with no lameness issues. Renegade usually takes very good care of himself so I also planned to listen to him and go at his pace now that he was away from his BFF. He doesn't pay anyone else any attention except for a slight pick up in pace when others come in sight either in front or behind us. So, he is drinking now, pooping, peed once on this loop, snatching what food there was along the way and eating carrots with each water stop and ears pricked forward we are in at 8:48, a little faster than planned but had looks and acts great. Steve is there to help and we take our time here as I don't care about our placement. He pulses down quickly to 56 in about two minutes, criteria is 60 but we take time to get some of the sand off his belly and legs as he hates that. Off to the vets, explain to them about the nail injury as I want to make sure they watch that leg, but he is sound and gets all A's. YEA! Back to crew area and he eats quite a bit but then wants to graze on the grass there, thats fine with me. I did not eat but drank plenty including an 8oz grape juice...another small mistake as I developed hear burn almost immediately on this second loop. Ddin't last long as Renegade helped move it out of me (belches) and was very glad we were alone so as not to embrass myself...you know southern belle manners and all that...not...LOL
Out on the second loop (green) sooner than I thought it should have been, just knew the card said out at 9:36, strange esp as Mel was in much sooner than me and should have gone out ahead of me but did not take the time to really look at it....oh well would figure that out later. By the way, we had 50 minute holds across the board. Mel caught up with us put we did not want to go at her speed again so let her and her group pass us on by and Renegade was quite happy with that. Renegade very much had his brain back in his skull so I did not have a bit in on this loop. Carried it with me just in case but never needed it again. So now with the indigestion gone and alone again we are happily moving down the trail but realize that the sand which is everyhwere...hence the name...LOL, has become much deeper and I decide we are not going to risk a suspensary injury and we slow down. We ride this loop by our selves for the entire 14 miles. This loop was the shortest and so I thought might be the easiest but that was not so. The sand was just too deep so our time reflected our slow down. 14 miles in 2:04. So back in camp at 11:39 but our pulse down was even faster, 56 in a minute..by the way I usually get off and walk in the last 25 yards or so and loosen his girth as a relaxation cue, it works well. We take our time again to get some of the sand off and into the vet in 6 minutes. Also checked with the timers to let them know about the time mistake on our first 50 minute hold, sure enough they had shorted us 10 minutes of rest. It was decided since we had started 6 minutes late and were going to change everyone's time out, they would use some of that 10 minutes to make up for that 6 minute late start. Is that clear as mud?? In other words the 6 minutes to be subtracted from our total time became 4 minutes added to our total time. Got that? LOL Renegade again gets all A's and that particular vet suggested he could a little faster if we wanted...no thank-you we are quite happy as we are...! He eats alot of leafy alfalfa this time, less of his soupy stuff and then back to the grazing of grass. I eat finally and drink alot myself so we both are content. Forgot to mention, I give small doses of e-lytes before we leave on each loop as long as he is drinking well. We leave a little late, about 4 minutes, as Renegade was still interested in eating and I forgot to
Ok out on the third and last loop, navy and 17 miles and this time company catches us. Fun! The three of us have a blast as we all are going about the same speed.. Karen on a chestnut Arab gelding, Michele on a black Morgan gelding and us. All horses get along and no big competition troubles. All goes well till we get to the section in the pine woods that have bunches of hole along the way. We were warned of this at the ride meeting so slowed down appropriately. Also a comedian had put plates on trees with little suggestions such as better slow down now...are you walking yet, not done yet, one appropriately enough we had been whining about not having enough water on this loop, feet hurting, knees hurting and various aches and pains and then we have a plate come up that said "are you still whining"? LOL that was great timing...LOL So we are clear of that area and able to pick up some speed and finally water tanks!! Thank goodness!! all horses drink and drink and drink some more. And before we know it there is the finish line. This loop took us 2:33. Now we have an hour to present for completion. Steve and I decide to hose him down at a wash rack and get all sweat and sand off him. Massage him dry and put his cooler on and then head on over to the vets. Wow..he looks great. HR 42....CRI 42/42 and all A's except a B plus on gut sounds. The only thing we forgot to do was weigh in after each loop nor did we remember to weigh in after the race, so I can only guess at his weight loss but probably about 50 lbs. He is completely sound, not one bit of a hint of lameness. What a fantastic day!! Could not have been better for us, met all our goals and paced well. Made some new friends and absolutely looking forward to awards dinner of pizza, salad and various desserts...yummy. Renegade gets a various food bar as well with several different things to eat and he gets dessert too. He loves the stall toy that looks like an apple with a treat in it and a green ball that hangs down for him to try and eat. He loves it and I love to watch and laugh as he tries to bite it....LOL Oh forgot to say but we came in 23rd with a ride time of about 7 hours and 30 minutes...don't remember exactly as I was so pleased I wasn't listening. Later after dinner we had great converstaion around the campfire with great friends and other than checking on Renegade several times slept like a log.
To close this story, I want to say how very much I love and appreciate Renegade, the horse with nine lives...LOL. He always comes running when he hears me...he gives me anything I ask of him, he is very loyal, and we have formed an incredible relationship over the last 13 years. Even though we do not have many race miles we do have thousands of training miles. The getting to a race has become more important to us than the race itself. I hope that some of the lessons I have learned can be of benefit to anyone who reads this and if it prevents even one mistake for someone else it all will have been worth it. To Sandhills management again thank-you for an almost perfect ride!!!
Sharon Hinshaw and Renegade