Sunday, August 21, 2011

Shore to Shore - Shannon Loomis

August 21 2011

My daughter and I attended the Shore to Shore Pioneer ride last week put on once again by Wayne Gastfield and Drs Rae and Brett and timer extraordinaire Bruce Birr (no numbers here, Bruce does it all by name and acts as PR, in-timer, out-timer, and direction giver)....

The miserable hot weather of the last month or so finally broke the weekend before the ride.  My dad was in the area about 10 days before the ride and called me to suggest perhaps we should reconsider due to the extreme heat and humidity but we were committed and figured we could always slow down and take our time.

Unfortunately, my daughter's mare hurt herself in her stall the week before the ride, so we had to bring the emergency back-up horse, my son's fat gelding, Qui instead.  Originally, the plan was for me to ride the 250 on my gelding, Quest and sponsor my daughter as she rode the LD 125 on Qui.  When we arrived at camp, however, Morgan was really disappointed that she couldn't ride the 50's, so I wandered around camp wrangling sponsors and back-up sponsors for the week with contingencies for sponsors who may not finish the 250.  Fortunately, Morgan has ridden the 125 there twice and the whole 250 last year, so she is familiar with trail and method of marking, which may be a bit - shall we say "subtle" for those not used to it and she is a very experienced competitor (she finished OD 100 this past June).  I was a little nervous as Morgan had never ridden my horse before and he can be a handful, but for some reason he is a different horse at s2s - he unloads at the first camp, looks around and says "Not this again!" and starts to eat, knowing that he won't be done for 5 days.  He is overall relaxed at this ride and paces himself, knowing exactly how far he will have to go before he gets in the trailer again, this being his 3rd year in a row.....  And she is a very strong rider, as her mare is not a walk in the park to ride, but I still held my breath the first day.

Five riders signed up for the whole 250 (Lois McAfee also showed up to ride all 5 days on one horse, but did not sign up for the pioneer) - Morgan, Bill Wilson, Earl Baxter, Denise Tudor-Hayes (a fellow Ohio Arabian and All-breed Trail Society (OAATS) member) and Rodne LeCouteur, a local Michigan endurance rider.  Denise and Rodne were completely new to Shore to Shore but decided to attempt the entire ride.  

Four signed up for the LD, myself, two OAATS riders, Leah Palastrant and her junior rider Paige Underwood, and another rider whose name I do not recall (sorry!).

My mom and son very graciously offered to pit crew for us.  My mom never drives my rig except at shore to shore and of course my check engine light was on (don't get me started!), so US Rider was on speed-dial.  Denise's 18 year old daughter, Rebecca, crewed for her mom and had never driven the gooseneck before.  Leah and Paige had Paige's mom, Carla, to crew, again a very novice driver and Rodne's wife, Barbara, drove his huge rig.  Other OAATS friends, Mary Mast and Mary Chmielski, showed up to take turns riding and crewing for the week.  Everyday, a big caravan drove out of camp with my mom leading her little line of ducklings from check to check.  Mama isn't the most experienced driver, but this was her third s2s and she is fairly competent with map, gps and driving directions.

I rode the LD's with Morgan and her sponsor(s) for the day.  My fat little black horse is very herd bound and the first few days became very distraught if a horse was between him and Quest, but by the end of the week, had improved greatly, though still screaming if left behind in camp.  He also improved a little bit if Quest moved more than 15 feet away from him at the vet check, but definitely something we need to work on, though it is hard with a horse usually ridden by a junior - he is just never alone at a ride!  This arrangement actually worked out rather well with my mom as I was able to help her make crew stops along the road in the afternoon (there are no official checks after the halfway at s2s, which can make for a very long afternoon for horse and rider) and set up once we arrived at the next campsite.  After the first day or so, we would pass our ducklings off to Leah, who would lead them to the final camp of the day and take my horse with them so he wouldn't have to stand in the trailer all afternoon while we zoomed ahead to offer food and water to any and all who passed by our road stop.  

Monday was a bit wet but cool and went by without a hitch.  The only major incident of the week was on Tuesday when Earle Baxter's horse fell and caught him with a hoof across the forehead, laying it open.  I was sitting along the road with my water buckets and mash, waiting for riders when Earle, Tracy Blue and Amy Yatsko popped out of the woods.  I asked if they needed anything and they asked for bandages!  He had a bandana on but blood all down his face and neck.  I cleaned it the best I could and applied band aid butterflies but told him he needed stitches because I was looking at bone.  At the end of the day, he ended up with 13 stitches in his forehead....

Bill, Earle, and Denise all ended up on their back-up horses on Wednesday, so only Morgan and Rodne (and, unofficially, Lois) were left in the 250.  Rodne's horse had a pretty severe girth gall in his armpits where his saddle slid up a little, but seemed to be going along well.  Quest looked awesome, though he also suffered from a small girth gall which I treated by loosening his girth to hang a few inches under his belly, tightening the crupper a notch and telling Morgan to ride balanced....

Friday, Rodne very graciously offered to sponsor Morgan since he was the only one who could go to Lake Michigan with her (only entered horses could go on to Empire).  Otherwise, I would have had to walk the last 6 miles with her on foot....  His horse was a bit lame at the half, the girth galls flaring up.  We coated him in Desitin and put my treeless saddle and mohair girth on him, since I was finished with my LD.  With breastplate and crupper (which his horse, Son had never worn before, but on the 5th day, he didn't really care!) and girth hanging loose, off they went.

Morgan and Rodne went all the way to the lake, got their ice cream (of course!) and then loaded up into my trailer to head back to camp.

Lois beat Morgan and Rodne by quite a bit, as she, Earle and Bill battled for first all week, but since she was not signed up for the 250, Morgan ended up with 1st and BC for the week.  I don't know the individual day results, sorry....  My fat black horse finished 1st for the LD, Leah and Paige also completed the LD with Paige's mount, Apollo getting the LD BC.  The fourth rider did not finish the week on the same horse.

Overall, we had a great time, Morgan and Quest got along better than expected with only a couple of minor "Quest moments", Morgan kept her sponsors on the trail with her eagle eye marker-sighting skills, my little black back-up horse did great on his first major test since his colic surgery 18 months prior, the truck limped through the entire week without completely stranding us, the weather could not have been better, other than Earle's skull laceration there were no major catastrophe's, no one got seriously lost, and only a few fenders were smashed on trees in the tight spaces of the camps....

Shore to Shore is a great ride to go to.... Lots of camaraderie, everyone willing to give a hand and leave water on the side of the road to share (especially Linda Hamlin's husband - thank goodness for little herds of pastry buckets!).  I highly encourage one and all to come and join us next year.

Thanks again to all who put out buckets to share, to Morgan's sponsors - Denise, Rodne, and Mary Mast (we love you, Mary!), and ride management....

Shannon Loomis

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Fab F.E.I. Endurance Ride At Dullstroom, South Africa This Weekend! - Full Story

August 16 2011

Cules and I left for a bit of a holiday on Thursday...We loaded the horses...check...tack...check...camping equipment..check..nada! We booked ourselves into a chalet on the premises of the endurance ride! After two years of camping in the ice cold weather at this same ride,we booked a chalet four months in advance! It was heaven on earth,no dripping tents, no racing to the toilets in the middle of the night..,just exquisite luxury..Every morning we awoke to utter bleating,mooing,baaing,oinking,barking,quacking or crowing....only the horses making horsey noises...

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Wednesday, August 03, 2011

a different kind of ride story - Susan Franklin

I've been competing in endurance rides
since 2007, and one of my favorite things about a ride is the "ride photo."
I'm building my wall of 8x10's in my tack room as we speak. I love ride photos. In fact, even before I started competing
myself, I searched the internet for ride photos. There could be hundreds of pictures, of
people and horses I didn't know, it didn't matter, I'd look through them,
sometimes more than once, sometimes when I was at work and supposed to be doing
something else. I'd go through once
looking at the horses, then again looking at what tack they were using. Maybe a third time to look at the riders. I'm not sure why I'm using past tense. I still do this. And don't ask me why I can't look at all of
those things at once. I can't answer

Anyway, I've always had an interest in
photography, but the endurance horse is responsible for re-igniting my passion
for it enough to make me run out and buy one of those newfangled DSLR cameras, and
I started lurking around taking pictures at the endurance rides that I wasn't
riding in. Of course, nothing is ever simple,
and I soon realized that it was awkward, and maybe even rude to take pictures
where there was a professional photographer working. The last thing I wanted do was interfere with
a real photographer trying to make money, especially a ride photographer
because I love ride photographers! I
just wanted to take pictures. So I
decided to take the pictures, but wait until after the pro posted their ride
pics before uploading mine. Only my
friends knew about my photo album anyway. Now that more people know about my smugmug
page, I'm going to start posting a link to the ride photographer's website,
too. But I'm getting ahead of myself....

So I'm riding in some rides, and going
to others with my camera, having a good time, taking my bike and biking around
clicking pictures of fabulous endurance horses in some beautiful places. Then all of a sudden, a few weekends ago, I showed
up at a ride all ready to play (I was going to practice panning shots to streak
the background and some other stuff), only to find out that they had no ride
photographer for the weekend. Well,
there I stood with my big camera, planning to take pictures anyway, and I
couldn't stand the thought of all those riders not having some sort of ride
picture. That happened to me once, and I
was devastated! It was the only ride
where my horse top-tenned and got high vet score, and I had no picture. Very sad. So I quietly volunteered myself to try and get pictures of everyone, and
let me say this right now: that sounds a whole lot easier than it actually is! In fact, I decided I wanted to write
this little story to let everyone know about some of the stuff these
photographers are going through for us. It's kind of brutal. They're
definitely "endurance" folk, too.

To start with, they get up every bit as early as we do. 5:00 a.m. to get up, get all of your gear
ready, and get to your shooting spot before the leaders get there. I had no idea where any good places to shoot
might be, and now instead of just wandering around on my own time doing my own
thing, I had Responsibility... to be in
a good spot, in time to get the leaders, and to stay there long enough to get
the turtle. I had gotten a few leads about where to
go, but then when I went out "into the field" it was a whole
different thing trying to get to these locations. The Forest Service had closed a bunch of roads,
so people would tell me where to go, but I couldn't get "there from
here" on the available roads. But I
had my bike. I figured that I could just
ride out to the good spot on my bike. That did not work out. It was
very far and very, very hilly, and I almost burst my heart out of my chest
trying to ride that bike carrying my heavy camera equipment up and down and up
and down hill after hill after hill after hill, and I never I even made it out
to the spot. I gave up, turned around,
and decided the closer spots were fine.

I settled in to a morning of shooting
at the serene river crossing where everyone was pausing to do some serious
sponge fishing and cool their horses down. That's where I had the very close call when a horse spooked coming up
out of the water about two feet away from me as I tried to flatten myself
against the riverbank not to get trampled. Scary! Then, I switched locations
to what I thought was a very good strategic spot on a lollipop loop where I would
have riders coming from both directions. Turns out it was a really good spot for briars and bugs, too. After standing for hours (I'm talking Endurance
Standing. I mean you can't even stand where
you want, like in the shade. You have to
be at the best vantage point which inevitably turns out to be the full-sun spot),
my legs looked like I had the measles. I
had been eaten alive by some bug that didn't care that I had sprayed my legs
with Off before hiking out there. I'm
telling you -- hug your ride photographer! The job is perilous! And you
can't even move out to create a nice breeze.

Later that afternoon, I had moved to
another location to get riders coming in to the finish line. I had been standing still (soooo much
standing still) listening for the next rider for so long that I started to go a
little mental. Once, I heard the 3-beat
thrum of a cantering horse complete with huffing breaths, heading my way. I popped up the camera, turned it on, got
ready for the picture, and no horse. There was no horse coming. I
decided that I'd been out there too long. I was going crazy. I needed a
drink. It was only later that someone
suggested, "You know, there are bears in these woods...." And
then... I learned that it could have been an albino, 5-legged, mutant bear. Apparently, back in the 50's, 60's, and 70's,
our government used to zap Dawson Forest with radiation to see how long it
would take to recover if Russia decided to nuke us. A double-fenced, 3-story, hot-cell, concrete
block building still stands in the overgrowth just yards away from
ridecamp. It was a seriously big secret
facility back in the day, but the locals knew and have been telling stories of
seeing these albino, extra-legged mutants ever since.

That evening, I was worn out. It was a long day on my feet, and I needed to
look at the pictures, charge my camera batteries, get fresh memory cards, eat
dinner, and get to bed early enough to get up at 5:00 the next morning to do it
all again, so I didn't stick around for the ride meeting. That was a rookie mistake because the next
day, they had 'called an audible' and moved the start time up fifteen minutes
which caused me to miss catching the leaders at my first spot. That day was another 12-hour shift of more driving
around on wild goose chase, closed-road hunts, standing and standing and
standing in the heat, this time in long, hot but also bug-proof pants, a snake
encounter at the river, and a major freak wind/thunder storm to top off the day. I didn't get to do any of the 'playing' I had
planned on, and didn't get to spend any time in ridecamp because I was so
paranoid about getting at least one good picture of each rider. I took 1,303 pictures. When I got home, I had to buy some hefty
software to handle the volume.

The moral of my story is... love your
ride photographer! They work for it, and
they endure long hot hours of standing still, bugs and briars, snakes and
storms, closed roads and mutant bears. And
if you're like me, you want them to keep showing up to do it. Buy their photos, and if there's a rogue
photographer at the ride (like me), please remember, we're there for us, not
you. Your ride photographer is there for
you! Thank them, and buy their

-Susan Franklin

Monday, August 01, 2011

Patriot's Day Lake Almanor LD - Funder

Fundersgoodidea Blog - Full Story

Sunday, July 31, 2011

My overall impression is: And now I know!

So, my original plan was to ride my friend's grey Arab mare in the 50. I've been helping to condition her for a month and she is a nonstop trotting machine. Aaaand Friday she was a three-legged trotting machine - she got kicked in the pasture Thursday night. Sigh. So I rode a green chestnut mare on her second LD. Fire's first endurance ride was last year or early this year, and she hasn't been ridden all that much since then. I thought a 50 would be iffy on her so I pushed to ride her LD - I think her owner would've been happy either way, and I think Fire could've done the 50, but I don't want to break somebody else's horse!

I knew Lake Almanor was an FEI* ride, and I knew that FEI rides are usually very flat, very fast, and precisely the correct distance. It didn't really sound like my cup of tea, but I'm a very openminded newbie, so off I went!

I drove by Lake Almanor... and kept right on going, a good 30 minutes away. It is a really pretty lake and I'd love to go back to see it!

Ridecamp is in a huge meadow. The tiny glints in the distance are rigs in the meadow. Most people parked back under the trees.

We set up our camps on the far edge of the meadow and took the Arabs down to vet in. Fire vetted in with all A's, and she behaved pretty well. We let the horses graze and listened to the ride meeting and looked over our packets.

I had three different sheets of paper detailing the 25. A color map showing all the loops (numbered phases), with my two loops written on the bottom - red white & blue and pink & pink checkered. A sheet showing all the out times and phases for each distance - again, rw&b and p&p. And a written description of my two loops - really handy, except it said rw&b and green & green polka dots. I did ask at the RM, but I asked at the wrong time, they said they'd address it, and I never heard them answer the question. (Neither did two other people on the LD.) I decided I'd go with my time-honored system of following everybody else, because I usually forget what loop I'm supposed to be on anyway. I figure if you're gonna get lost you might as well have company.

At the RM, they changed the start times. They were originally supposed to be staggered every 30 minutes (100s at 5:30, 75s at 6, etc) but management changed it to one hour intervals. As a lowly LD, I got to leave at the scorching hour of 8:30 am. Yippie.

The horses ate and drank well overnight, and the owner and I managed to cram four Gloves on Fire before she headed out on her 50. She warned me that at Fire's first LD, she had to get Karen Rabow, endurance mom extraordinare, to hold Fire to get mounted. I've lived through all of Dixie's meltdowns so I wasn't too worried about it.

Fire lost her mind when her buddy Spirit left without her...

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