Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Blazing Saddles 2011 - Keith Kibler

Shawneesunrisefarm.net - Full Story

March 15 2011

One of the challenges of doing endurance in the Midwest part of the U.S. is that there are not many rides in the heat of the summer, or the cold and snow of the winter. The 2010-2011 winter in the Midwest was a real lulu. Much of the months of December and January were 25 degrees and under. So, we have to travel south to find rides in the winter.
We like doing rides in the South, because the people we meet are very friendly, and the vets often have an understanding of gaited horses. Blazing Saddles features one of our very favorite vets, Otis Schmidt. Dr. Otis not only understands gaited horses, he owns a TWH. All we ask for is an even shot, and Dr. Otis always gives us this. This is one of Sandy’s favorite rides because she likes the food. The ride manager, Terry Price, arranges for Southern homemade food the night before the ride and Cajun food after the ride.
Sandy had decided months ago to get her 7 year old TWH mare Cheyenne ready for the mare’s first ride. Her thought was that Cheyenne was a long term horse for her and she didn’t want Cheyenne even thinking she might be finished at 25 miles, so she started her out at the 50 mile distance. Cheyenne can be just a little emotional, so Sandy really worked on that issue, and hatched a ride plan to make sure Cheyenne had a calm first ride.
Did I mention how cold it had been in Illinois? Cheyenne was as wooly as a sheep. After the 11 hour drive, we had a rest day before the ride. At the vet in, the vet said Sandy needed to shave the wool off of Cheyenne. Fortunately, she had electric clippers. Now, you need to understand that telling Sandy she needed to trim a horse and turning her loose with an electric set of clippers is very much like telling a chocoholic they should add a bit of coco to their diet. Sandy is infamous for her clipping work amongst our gaited buddies. Please note I said “infamous”. There is very little that my little woman can do to make me mad. Approaching any of “my” horses with anything sharp enough to trim hair is an exception to that rule. She has left one of my favorite mares looking like Billy Idol singing “Rebel Yell” with a prominent Mohawk.
As it turned out, the neighbor in the next trailer provided help. He mentioned that he and his wife owned a sheep ranch and loved shearing. Sandy was in hog heaven and the results looked pretty humorous. Cheyenne lost a considerable amount of weight in fur. In hind sight, I should have made use of our new friend’s expertise and sheared Kate.
5 minutes before the start, Sandy turned Cheyenne around and went backwards on the course. Cheyenne was the only gaited horse in the 50 mile ride. Sandy started Cheyenne out after the other 20 riders had left. 2 more late starters passed her while she was trying to keep Cheyenne calm and in gait. She looked at her heart rate monitor and discovered it had no signal. At least her GPS watch worked. Cheyenne started out a little rough with a lot of head tossing because she wanted to GO! Sandy calmed her down and backed way off from the last riders, then moved her into an even gait. Cheyenne eased into a racking gait between 8.5 and 13 miles an hour.
Cheyenne is a long legged and muscular mare. She is a beautiful bluish grey dapple with a black mane and tail. She has what I would call a “big motor” and is capable of really moving down the trail in a square racking gait. Cheyenne started picking off the horses ahead of her, one by one.
She had started the last of 22 riders and finished in 12th place. Sandy was very happy with those results on Cheyenne’s first endurance ride, especially after an 11 hour haul. She had all As on her vet card except for one B+ on gut sounds at the 2nd vet check.

The 100 started out pre dawn. Kate is about as good as I could hope for during the pre start and many of the Arabians get pretty worked up. My concern for the day was twofold. First, the weather was going to be warmer than previously thought and would prove to be about 80 degrees with high humidity. Secondly, the course was going to be a little different than I had thought and would be about 55 miles of flat road riding.

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