March 29 2011
Well it all started with a blizzard back in February. The weather was too bad for us to go to MD Anderson in Houston Texas for my wifes annual breast examination. Icy roads and sub zero temps forced us to cancel her appointment. This is the 5th year after her surgery and chemo, so we really wanted to get it done. When she looked at re0schduling dates available, March 24th popped up. I checked and realized that the Shanghai Trail Endurance ride was 2 days after that. They were offering a 100 mile distance for the first time this year.
After doing some creative math, I figured that driving the big rig and pulling a horse trailer would cost us only $150 more when figuring in motel rooms and dining out costs if we drove a car. So we decided to multi task the trip and do the exam and then I would do the 100. It worked out even better when Kris Anderson, near Houston needed a horse hauled down there, which I agreed to do for $150. Yay, now we broke even... Ha!
Piper had done the 100 at Blazing Saddles on February 26th, so would have had 4 weeks off. We only did one 10 mile conditioning/tuneup ride between these two 100 mile rides. He was strong and full of himself, so I decided to do another 100 on him. It is about 700 miles from our home to Houston, so we planned how to give him the best recovery trip possible. We went down south on Wednesday, stayed at Darolyn Butlers place, and stole her car on Thursday to drive into Houston. There we had the tests done, which determined that Patsy was 100% fine, so she went shopping!! Now we are not broke even, we are just broke.
Friday we drove the 1 1/2 hours to camp, and hauled Boomer, one of Darolyns horses who doesn't play well with others along with us. Set up, vetted through.and went to the ride meeting. There we found out it was going to be much hotter than we expected. Upper 80's were expected, with high humidity and wind. The weather had been very dry there, and the trails were rock hard. They were flat as can be, but no cushion at all. Very concussive. The black loam had 1-2 inch wide cracks in it. In addition, some of the trail was in uneven cow pasture. Not bad, but deceptively smooth. We had 11 entries in the 100, and 8 in the 75 mile ride. The 75's had the option of elevating after completing the 75.
Saturday morning was cloudy and seemed cool. I had on my lucky Western Australia Endurance Rider shirt with a t-shirt underneath. Off we went at first light. The faster riders quickly disappeared down the trail, and we settled into a group of 3-5 riders. It warmed up quickly, and we let several other riders go on by. The first loop was 22 miles and we did it at about 9 mph. When I went into the rig, I pulled off the t-shirt. it was soaking wet. This warned me that the wind was drying the sweat off the horses and making it look cooler than it was. Piper had pre-warned me of this by drinking deeply at every water tank, rather than his normal first loop tactic of not drinking or maybe taking a sip one time. So we backed off on speed a bit during the second loop. And some more on the 3rd loop. Riders kept getting pulled left and right. We lost Dave Goetz from Oklahoma who was riding with us at 46 miles. Scott Godwin had some issues and dropped back some more. Several of the front
runners were pulled.
On the 4th loop we came across Sophia Bashir. She was off her horse sitting on the ground with her helmet off, horse tied to a tree, and she was very unhappy. We asked if the horse was ok, and she told us he was fine , but refusing to go. In the small world strange encounter cataqory, it was Boomer, who we had hauled there. Boomer was at the WEG in Kentucky as a mount for Olivia Mattai on Team Namibia. I was the groom for Boomer there and knew him, and his attitude well.
So the conversation with Sophia went something like this:
Sophia: "I will be ok. They are coming to get me"
Me: " No they are not. You are not on a road, this is just a trail along a fence. There is no breeze here. It is too hot to just stay here. They won't be able to find you. Get back on the horse and come with us."
Sophia: " He won't go. It must be me"
Me: "Fine. Put on your helmet"
Sophia: " But he will just stand there"
Me: "That's fine. Tighten up the girth"
Sophia: "You will see . He won't move"
Me: "That is wonderful. Now get in the saddle"
Alexis Jones was with us, and I asked her to start walking off with her horse. I got Piper behind Boomer and started herding him like a cow. I knew he would kick or bite if he had the chance, so stayed back out of striking range. " Hyah!!! Git up!!! Hyah!! Move it !!!" I even threatened to start yodeling if he wouldn't move. He decided that following Alexis was less irritating than listening to me, so down the trail we went. When ever Sophia asked me how much further we had to go, I would reply, "Just a bit further to camp I think". Along the way, Sophia complained about her knees hurting and I told her my secret for ignoring knee pain. She was excited to hear it... until I told her that my secret to ignoring knee pain was
because my back hurt much worse. We nursed her along for the 10 miles for the loop which was her first 50 mile completion. I had told her that completing would fix knee pain, and I was correct.
We lost Alexis at that 61 mile vet check, and now there were only 3 of us left in the 100. It was getting lonely out there. Piper was still going strong, He vetted through great all day. From arrival time to pulse in time was 5 minutes one time. 4 minutes twice and 3 minutes the rest of the time. His pulse rate was 56 once, then 52's with two 48's. At one vet check, he pulsed at 48, and after trot out and the one minute re-check was at 44. This was incredible for such a hot humid day. He ate exceptionally well all day. We focused on grazing in camp as much as possible and then eating hay and grain. My wife was incredible in helping do this, Normally I ride with little or no crew help, but this day was wearing me down, and I needed to rest and take care of myself at the holds, so I could take care of him on trail. Without Patsy's help, this would have been impossible. In addition to eating it kept him moving a bit during the holds.
On the next loop I caught up with Britteny, who was the lone adult 75 mile rider left. There was a Junior who had lost 2 sponsors that day, behind her who was hunting for a sponsor to finish. Britteny and I came in together. I tried to get her to play a joke on the waiting people and tell them that she was elevating to the 100, but she forgot to do this :-)
So off we went. Now down to just us, and Jennifer Masters who was on her first 100 and about 2 hours behind us. It was dark, and Ride Management decided that the glowsticks were not adequate, so sent us us following ATVs. They would go ahead and open gates alongside cattle guards, and close them behind us, then go off into the night. All day, those cattle guards and other gates had been staffed by Boy Scouts volunteers. Jennifers guide got lost and she pulled. So now Piper and I were the only chance for a 100 mile rider to complete. I toll my guides, David from 7-IL Ranch that I was not going to try and keep up with them, but was going to walk the bad footing, and let him graze when needed, He said that was no problem. It took us 2 hours and 20 minutes to complete the last 11 miles. Piper vetted through great. Our first 100 mile win in the blazing time of about 15:40 ...zooommm!!! Not likely to happen again, so we enjoyed the moment. To Finish was indeed to Win
KMA Chazz Piper is a narrow built 14'2 hands tall Arabian 14 year old gelding. He wear OO shoes, has small cannon bone, and we have to special order 22 inch girths for his Specialized Saddle as he has such small chest depth. He weighed 780 pounds at the start of the ride, carried 212 pounds for 100 miles and only lost 20 pounds. He never balked or tried to quit. He seems delicate at first glance, and many people mistake him for a young filly. He is so calm and good natured that most people would not see how tough and determined he is. Of his 780 pounds, it is almost all heart and grit. I know that the congratulation we got after the ride were due to his effort and his willingness to let me come along for the ride.
It was a tough day. Only one out of 11 finished the 100. Only 2 out of the 8 starters in the 75 completed. Why?? My gut feeling is #1) the normal wear and tear stuff that happens in 100's. #2) Deceptively hard concussive footing that might have fooled some riders into going faster than they would have. At one point on trail, Alexis wondered if we were on trail, and she could see any hooftprints in the dirt. I told her to look behind us as there were still no hoof prints. (Then we saw a ribbon, so we knew we were ok). Riding a horse who lives on rocks helped me as he was used to concussion. #3) The wind dried the sweat from horses, so riders couldn't tell that the horses were working as hard as they were. We grazed a lot on trail and in camp. Plus Patsy had bought a watermelon that was not quite ripe yet, so Piper got to eat it. I think this all helped to keep his gut working and to keep him hydrated.
The next day, Piper looked great. There were Ride and Tie riders getting ready to go 20 miles who invited us to come along. I declined.:-) He ate like a horse while we packed up camp. We headed towards home, and soon blew a tire on the RV. While waiting for the service truck, he grazed in a field next to the truck stop for 2 hours straight. We spent the night at Val Jaffes place south of Dallas, where he had a round pen to move around in. We were fed a delicious meal, got a good nights sleep, and got home the next evening. Piper came prancing out of the trailer, trotted proud around the barn lot, and galloped off to be with his pasture buddies. Then, just for the fun of it, he did a victory lap around the field. Nothing quite like bringing a horse home from a ride that feels good enough to do that.
Now we get ready for the next ride.
Paul N. Sidio
KMA Chazz Piper (who now has completed five 100 mile rides)