Thursday, July 26, 2012

Vermont 100- Nancy & Zanie's ride!

july 25 2012

We got home last night from the Vermont 100 and I am just starting to reflect on the fabulous experience it was!! Zanie and I have had bad luck this year even getting to the start line of a 100 miler! At Biltmore she had a freakout at the trailer right before the start when her buddies suddenly left and was off after bruising her shoulder on the trailer, Then I was too sick with a sinus infection to do the Old Dominion so when I got bucked off my young horse just 2 weeks before the Vermont 100 bruising/cracking my ribs and hurting my shoulder I thought I was done for this one too. We were going to make the trip anyway just in case I could recover, also my sister lives in northern Vermont and we were going to pay her a visit for a few days before the ride anyway. 

Well the power of positive thinking won out and with lots of arnica, Alieve and my bionic Enell bra to support my ribs I made it to the start of the Vermont 100!!! How far I was going to get was anybody's guess. I had a fabulous crew to help me out which consisted of my husband, Bill, sister Betsy, niece Lisa, friend Lisa and her sister Karen. It was a real family affair!! After having no crew for most of my 100s it was so nice to just hand the horse over and plop my butt in a chair!!!

Well you know how it goes, as soon as we get on our horses all ailments miraculously disappear! At least while riding! I actually felt pretty good so I was optimistic that we had a chance. 

Actually I almost didn't get to start as the vet thought he saw something at vet in in Zanie's rear end and I had to represent later. Thinking that it was probably some stiffness from the trailer ride I massaged her and warmed her up better and she thankfully passed but is was niggling at my brain which made my stomach upset. Argh! Not what I needed the night before the ride!

Zanie started the ride feeling great and I soon stopped worrying about her soundness and started really enjoying the ride! The "trail" took us through downtown Woodstock and people were on the street corner cheering on the riders and runners! We got in with some horses at first that were too fast paced for my liking and Zanie was a little hyped up at the first 2 vet holds causing her to have a B on gut sounds and a CRI that was 2 points higher(very unlike her!). I realized that I had to disconnect and get her to start taking care of herself! We came into a pit crew stop by the side of the road (not a hold) and I chose to stay there until she calmed down and started eating well. There was good grass and soon she settled and ate a good meal and drank a bunch of water. After about 15-20 minutes we continued on at a more relaxed pace and really started to have some fun!. I had my camera and took tons of pictures and video clips (soon to be on Youtube). The runners were amazing and many times we came on their aid stations with the roads lined with their crews and spectators, it was like running a gauntlet of well wishers! "Good job!" was the main compliment/encouragement statement of the day! I was decked out in purple as usual and after a couple of these aid stations people started to recognize us and cheer us on even harder! Many times we would pass the same runner over and again as we would overtake them then have to stop for a vet hold only to overtake them further down the trail. The runners are not required to stop. A camaraderie developed between the riders and runners that intensified throughout the ride. 

The weather could not have been more perfect, the high was 82 with low humidity. After we got by ourselves Zanie started to get into her zone and by the time we got to hold #3  she vetted in with all As and stayed that way for the rest of the ride! The vets were surprised and pleased with her recovery and complimented my care of her and the decisions I had made.

We past through the most beautiful Vermont countryside, crossed a covered bridge, climbed the "Sound Of Music" hill, rode through private farms, it was just awesome!! People would put water tubs out in their yard and on several occasions would actually be there hosing off horses and runners! There were many times we passed runners aid stations and were handed watermelon or carrots for the horses, you could not go hungry on this ride! 

After a while I connected with several other riders whose pace was similar to ours and we enjoyed the company into the night until I missed a turn while they were getting some water and I lost them for the rest of the night. I only went a little ways out of the way before I realized my mistake and soon got right. The night riding was beautiful but with no light at all from the sliver moon I relied on my headlamp for navigation. Soon I started to hear the music from the finish line party and knew we were nearing the end. We rounded the curve and into the finish line to cheers form the large crowd and I realized that we had done it!! Zanie looked great at the final vet out having all As once again and an energetic trot and really was fit to continue!!

There is so much I could write about this ride and this is but a summary. Some day I will write more details but in this format you at least get the idea!!
To finish is to win!!!

Nancy Sluys

Monday, July 23, 2012

Rockin' the City of Rocks - Karen Bumgarner

Karenshorsetales blog

The hot temps of day 2 I knew had taken a lot out of Thunder. He wasn't tired but even though he is a big red bugger sometimes I still don't want to hurt my horse. But his appetite was good all night and he was raring to go in the morning. There was no way this boy was going to be camp lizard!

My friend Trish Frahm wanted to ride Blue on Day 3 and I figured the "two boys" would enjoy the trail together. Steve Bradley got a great shot of us on the trail! We came into the vet check near Twin Sisters when Colleen who was riding the 25 miler had only 9 minutes left, and we managed to keep her out of the boys sight so not one nicker was heard! Rushcreek Hollie looked great and CM gave me a thumbs up. They went on to finish 3rd in 2:51!! Woohoo!! And another great shot by Steve Bradley!

The route took us on some gravel roads but at least we could usually find a nearby cow trail. The Teeter crew had hauled LOTS of water and the horses stayed tanked up in the cooler weather than day 2...

Read more here:

City of Rocks: Castle Rocks - Karen Bumgarner

Karenshorsetales Blog

Day 2 of City Rocks promised to be a scorcher and it warmed up fast as soon as the sun came up.

Our trail headed towards Castle Rocks Park, a section of private land that had been purchased for National Parks. We rode past the Castle Rock Lodge and up to the Circle Creek trail which we looped around twice.

Then out to the Tracy Homestead for a vet check in the City of Rocks Reserve. Some of this was beautiful and great footing, however we had quite a few miles of hard pack gravel road to connect it all. This was probably my least favorite day because of the rocky roads with no shoulder.

Because it got so hot, 101, several horses had to be rechecked for their Cardiac Recovery Index, including Thunder. His pulse jumped to 68 on the trot out but for our recheck his CRI was 48/48 so I was very relieved and happy about that!!...

Read more here:

Thursday, July 19, 2012

City of Rocks 2012 – 200 Miles in Idaho! - Karen Chaton

Enduranceridestuff Blog - Full Story

Just back and finding time to write a bit about the City of Rocks ride in South East Idaho. The ride also crossed state lines into Utah.

We had a great time and really enjoyed each day of the ride! I decided at nearly the last minute to go. I had been hemming and hawing over it for some time as I really wanted to go, but then also was weighing going to do Tevis again.

In the end, I decided that I wanted to ride both of my horses and that I’d have a greater chance of riding each horse 100 miles at City of Rocks over going to Tevis where I’d have a 50/50 chance of riding one horse 100 miles. Plus the ride looked like it was in nice country that reminded me a lot of Fort Schellbourne.

The trip to camp was almost 600 miles for me. When I got there, I found the instructions from took me to a campground rather than to ridecamp.

Fortunately I was able to call my husband who looked up Steph’s # and by some miracle was able to reach her and find out that the instructions were indeed wrong and that I was only a mile and a half from where I should be. I was one of the first ones to get to camp, that’s why I had trouble finding camp on my own. A day later and I would have seen enough rigs that I probably would have been able to figure it out on my own. They were able to put up more signs, ribbons and arrows and update the website so others would be able to get to camp without the detour.

I had a day and a half to let the horses rest before the ride started. I like to give them at least a day to rest after they have hauled a long distance. It was hot in camp. I was able to get a pretty good spot on an overgrown RV pad (camp was in an old RV park) with the trailer facing so that it provided shade to the horses in the afternoon when it would be the hottest part of the day. As it turned out, the ground temperature in the sun where my horses were reached 135 degrees. In the shade, it was in the 90′s. It is amazing that the difference in ground temp was consistently 40 degrees different between the sun and shade...

Read more here:

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

City of Rocks - Family Day - Karen Bumgarner

Karenshorsetales Blog

July 17 2012

The first days ride was "Indian Grove", a trail that took us up to 7400 feet elevation. We traveled through places like Granite Pass over the California Trail and along many rock formations including Twin Sisters. However the darker spire is much older granite than the other so they are really more like mother and daughter.

We followed several roads taking us along the base of Camp Rock and Register Rock before reaching the lovely dirt trails amid the abundant rock structures. The area reminded me of Colorado's Garden of The God's. I was riding with Layne Simmons, who was aboard Thunder's son, Beautys Harley. We had been in the vet check for about 20 minutes when my friend riding Thunder's dam, Rushcreek Hollie, arrived. They were participating in the 25 and we now had three generations of endurance horses on one trail. I don't think that happens very often and I am not sure that I have ever seen it!

After the vet check we had a lot of mountainous trails. They weren't really steep as it the trail weaved around via switchbacks worn into the dirt and granite.

The scenery was awesome and many of the rocks looked like pyramids or anything you might want them to be...

Read more here:

Finally a real endurance rider! - Full Story

July 17 2012
by Jillybean19

We completed our first 50 Saturday! It was completely unplanned, but that is just what we did!

Our first two rides were LD's at Owyhee Fandango and Eagle Spring Fling (both in Idaho), and this ride was our first where we planned to ride multiple days at the City of Rocks ride (on the Utah-Idaho border), a brand new ride this year. On Thursday, I rode with the same person I usually do, but, while we haven't had a ton of issues and no pulls, I wanted to go ahead and ride apart for Saturday's ride (we'd planned on another LD together) due to pacing. My solution? Ride the 50! It was beautiful country and I'd already ridden part of it on the previous ride, so why not? I checked with the vets and other people who know me and my horse, and we got lots of encouragement and confirmation that we should be good to go!

So Saturday I was up bright and early for a 6am start. I wanted to go slow since he's never gone more than maybe 30 miles within a week with conditioning and rides, and now I was asking him to do 75 miles within three days. I set the goal of turtleing and found a great group to ride with to take it slow and they have lots of experience. Snickers was losing his mind at the start since he was leaving his buddy, so we went ahead and rode out to the first trough. By then, he'd gotten over leaving his girlfriend and I got of and waited for my riding partners to catch up. I rode with them for the first loop, which was very steep but absolutely gorgeous! They get off and walk a lot, and I even learned to tail with them - WAY easier than trying to lead a horse uphill! It really makes a huge difference and I really recommend trying it if you have a horse that will do it ;) It saved a lot of energy for Snickers on quite a long climb, and I wasn't even winded even though I was exhausted after attempting to lead him for about 100 feet lol.

The vet check was an out vet check, which was new to me for these two rides. All you really need is horse snacks and hay, people snacks, and a re-supply of water. All packed neatly in a gear bag. Easy!...

Read more here:

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

City of Rocks - We are here!!!! - Karen Bumgarner

Karenshorsetales Blog

Over a year ago Steph Teeter and friends began planning the new City of Rocks endurance ride near Almo, ID. The pictures all looked so beautiful I knew I had to go. It takes a lot of work and planning for someone to put on a multi-day ride but hey, it takes a lot of work and planning to get there and ride it too!! It's a darn good thing we all started early!! HAHA

My good friend "Charlie Mongoose" from Washington went with me and we caravaned over with Trish Frahm. We arrived Monday the 9th and got our camp all set up before the big thunderstorm hit. Hmmmm....was this a sign of things to come?

The next day we unhooked the truck and went for a drive up in the City of Rocks Reserve and checked out the campground and a few trails. Gorgeous place is an understatement! Plus there is a great deal of history in the area. This old homestead site, now known as the Tracy Homestead has a very long history and was a vet check site for day 2...

Read more here:

Dead Dog 2012 - Keith Kibler - Full Story

July 16 2012

First of all, there is no Dead Dog Creak at this ride in Kinmundy, IL. Secondly, it is not in Kinmundy, it is at Stephen Forbes State Park outside of Salem IL. The ride is put on by the lovely Mowrer family with no backing from other groups. They are endurance heroes in my book.

Thirdly, the ride was named after the previous ride where there was also no Dead Dog Creek. Supposedly, there was some ride about 30 years ago that did have a creek that featured a dog past his prime and the name stuck. Go figure. Such is the lore of endurance.

This ride features up and down and around and mud. Usually it has lots of mud and sometimes impassible creeks. They moved the ride date to miss the rainy season. Someone forgot to tell the weather. Record drought fell on the ride site. It left the course with hard as concrete dirt and mummy dust. I have never seen dust on this course before.

Sandy and I held a “This Is Endurance 101” weekend two weeks before the ride and several of those folks who attended showed up to ride. Some showed up to help and learn and they even brought someone. Sandy moved down to the LD to mentor a first time rider on a twh gelding that we had sold him. The new owner was thrilled to try his first ride but apprehensive. I told him to relax, have fun and let Sandy mother him. She is superb at that.

I had a friend come to the pre ride who had done an Ld on his mixed breed gaited horse named Buddy a few years ago. The friend, Kelley is a very experienced and gifted gaited trainer and Buddy is a super horse. In fact, I tried to buy Buddy from him when I started this adventure many years ago. I took Kelley and Buddy to the Ky Horse park a few years ago for their first 50. That course, which was held during the Egyptian Arabian Festival, it extremely stressful on the horse. It was a bit too much for Buddy and Buddy had to be pulled and it really shook Kelley up. Even though Kelley rode one of my mares in a later 50 and ended up tying for 4rth in a very well ridden ride, he was still apprehensive about another attempt with Buddy at 50 miles in hot conditions.

This was to be Kate’s last ride for a while, as I am hoping to breed her. She had been leading her last ride through 34 miles at the Ozark wilderness 100 when she lost a shoe and some hoof, along with the shoe. She had almost 2 months off to get well but her front hoof angles were wrong as not enough hoof had grown to set the angles exactly where I wanted.

Kate was the top endurance point TWH for the last two years and is leading this year. I am riding this weekend for points. Well, I am riding to help Kelley and for points. My plan was to ride on Buddy’s heart rate and let that put us where ever it put us. Kate already had a double 50 weekend this year and a 100 completion. I knew she was ready...

Read more here:

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Wild West - Nick Warhol

Wild West ride
June 22-24, 2012

Robert and Melissa Ribley held the 14th or 15th or thereabouts annual Wild West 3 day Pioneer Ride at Skillman horse camp, out on highway 20, about 15 miles east of Nevada City. The ride has always been held over Memorial Day weekend, but the weather that early in the year can really be a factor. It is always really nice or really bad- not much in between. I have ridden there in the choking dust, pouring rain, wind, and snow many times. (Usually not at the same time!) They moved the ride out a month this year to help with the clearing of the trails. Robert does most of the trail clearing himself, and that’s a lot of work. This ride is a single track bonanza, and wouldn’t you know it, single track is my favorite.

Judy and Color could not make the trip, since Color’s sore hoof is still on the mend. I took Donnie up on Thursday morning by myself and found a nice, quiet, secluded spot in the woods to camp. Right! The place was absolutely packed. Melissa is the parking cop, and woe be it to you if you park someplace without her blessing. She stuck me in a nice spot, with enough room for Gretchen and Jackie’s rigs when they got there. Gretchen showed up in a while, but Jackie would not come until the next day. So much for her parking spot. I probably could have sold it for a ton of cash! (I would not do that to poor Melissa!) We used up every inch of space- at one point there were 3 rigs blocking me in. Full horse camps, the works. They were great- they approached me and said they would do what it took to get me out of there when I had to go. You always get to see and hear parking disasters here- the crunch of metal on trees is far too common. (And the cursing that always follows!)

We got a real treat when guess who pulls into camp with a horse- Julie Suhr was riding! The last ride she had completed was in 2008, so this was a pretty neat thing to see. (She has 30,000 miles!) She and Barbara had been doing a lot of riding, so she was going to give the 30 mile ride a try on Friday. Even though she tried to play it down, the camp was buzzing with the news- “Julie’s here, and riding? Really? Fantastic!” They parked in a temporary spot next to me that turned out to be their permanent camp. (Who’s going to evict her? I would have given her my spot if I could have gotten out!)
The weather on Thursday afternoon was nice- a little warm, perhaps 80 degrees, but very, very dry and dusty. That’s one downside of the date change; Sierra Nevada trail dust in the summer is the pits. On Friday morning at 7am Gretchen and I rode out of camp on the first of two loops on the 55 miler. We had a road warrior loop first, which consisted of lots of fire roads for about 20 miles. It was nice enough, and wound around through the forest, but it was only roads and was pretty dusty in spots. (At least we got to avoid that monster climb that used to be on the Scotts flat ride) We had a quick 30 minute hold before setting out on the second loop, the pink loop that was talking us to the meadow. This was the second year we got to go to Bear Valley, which is as nice a vet check/lunch stop as there is in all of the state. The second loop left lunch on single track, but then headed over to Omega road. Yuck. Three and a half miles of really hard pack gravel. It will be over soon. After a long, clomping trot we hung a right on the bear trail (I call it that ‘cause I saw a bear here once) and climbed back up to the highway rest stop (“Can we pet the horsie, please?”) then back across highway 20. Now we get the deluxe single track for about 10 miles out to the meadow. Really nice, but dusty for the people behind. Sorry Gretchen, but you know how much Donnie likes to be out front......... She put up with following my horse for most of the day. A long, downhill, switchback trail leads down to the one hour hold at the

meadow. It’s two way traffic, and can be a little hairy when you come across riders coming back up, but this year we had absolutely zero issues. Everyone was very good about giving way where they could. Once at the meadow we got to spend the one hour hold in the beautiful meadow in lush, green grass about three feet high. My buddy Rob Lydon vetted us through, and all too soon we were on our way back to camp and the finish. We missed a turn thanks to a pink forest service ribbon, but after wandering around for a bit got that figured out. The return trip was 12 miles or so of 100% single track. Oh yeah! We had to climb back up the long hill from the meadow, but once at the summit it’s a nice, slight downhill all the way to the finish. We finished at about 4:45 or so for a long day, but way more than half the ride was still behind us. The first thing I did was to ask about Julie’s ride- Melissa reported she finished just fine and had a wonderful ride. How cool is that! They had already left the camp, but their prime parking spot was quickly taken by a lucky rider. Every parking spot was full and then some. It was packed! Jackie had shown up during the day but was wedged tightly into a spot between some trees. A beer, a hot shower, dinner, walk the horses, ride meeting, and go to bed in that order. I went to bed before 9pm, and was sleeping soundly until about midnight, when I was awakened by, what is that? Yes, rain. It was raining, and reasonably hard. I hopped outside to give Donnie a better blanket, and in the morning I was glad I had. It was still raining lightly as we tacked up for day two, but it was more of a mist than rain. Okay, it was rain, but very light. It was in no way muddy or slippery, but just enough rain had fallen to make the footing perfect. Oh yummy!

Day two is a neat day that has a little of everything in it. We start out on forest roads for about 3-4 miles, then I hop off to lead down the gonzo downhill single track that every time I go down I’m thankful we don’t have to go up it. It’s long, twisty, and straight down through the trees. Really steep in spots. It ends at the river where the horses drink, then its straight back up that climb on the other side on a very long, steep uphill jeep road for a couple of miles. Donnie was blazing up the climb; I had to remind him to walk please, which he does. We pass by houses in the boonies that are accessed from this road, and finally arrive at the top and a water trough right across the highway. Big drinks all around, then it’s time for the wonderful single track that parallels the highway for about 5 miles. This trail is a blast, and the footing was perfect. We had somehow ended up with a pack of about 7 horses following me, which is a lot. We were going really fast, with me leading, just flying down this trail, when we came across Bill Gore taking pictures as he always does. The group flashed by, all smiles, but it turns out the woman who was in the rear of our group had her horse slip and fall right in the turn where Bill was. She hit hard and injured her shoulder and probably got a concussion. Bill helped her out and brought her back to the vet check to get help. That’s what good people do. I never even knew it happened until after the ride! We got to the vet check for our 30 minute hold, and once done, we decided to split up. It’s just too hard to ride with a group that big. I went with Jackie and our new friend Marina from Canada, while Gretchen joined up with Cassandra DiMaggio. We went and rode the next loop that takes you downhill to the spotters and water, more single track and forest roads for about 12 miles, back to the spotter, then back up to the vet check for lunch. (I showed Jackie where Zayante had been stuck in a bog one year- yuck) The weather was perfect and the footing great. The trail now heads back to camp along the several miles of single track along the highway, which is fun on its own, but then we get treated to the flume trail. This baby is a tight, narrow, single track on an elevated ridge in the forest that runs alongside an old logging flume. It’s a tight, twisty, knee knocker as you slalom along between the trees.

Some people don’t like trotting on this trail, but, well, trot we must! This goes for a couple of great miles, then it’s up the beautiful halleluiah hill single track to the final couple of miles of single track to the finish. (another bear trail) It was faster today- we finished around 1:45, except poor Gretchen and Cassandra, who were behind us, took a wrong turn at the top of the hill and went out on the orange loop for a long while before turning around and making it to the finish. Tonight was the pot luck dinner, which is always good. Our neighbors brought this homemade chili that was excellent. More walking of amazing horses, the ride meeting, a few minutes around the camp fire, but then back to bed.

Sunday morning brought more perfect weather, but some of the trails in the sunlight were getting dusty in spots after only one day. Today for our first loop we got a forest loop, then back out to the meadow again on the second loop. Gretchen, Jackie, and I headed out at 7am on single track right from the start for about 3 miles over to the overflow parking at the overlook, then climbed back up over the top of Halleluiah hill and to the water stop. From here we usually head out on some roads and to a mix of trails and roads for the loop, but this year Robert had something else in mind. He had said in the meeting “I hope ‘yall like single track- the orange loop is pretty good.” He went nuts! Once we dipped into the forest we were in a maze of single track trails that even I could not figure out. I have ridden here a lot, and we went places I have never been. Left, right, between bushes, over bushes, trees, up, down, bike trails, horse trails, no trails- we were on a deep forest adventure that I could not believe. We must have made a hundred turns in that 7-8 miles. It was somewhat slow going, but was some of the neatest trail riding I have done. (With the exception of the surly bees that attacked us a bit!) How do people find these trails? They joked the map was a “generalization.” Right. I’d challenge anyone to map that trail. Most of it was on trails without names, and if you used a GPS and did a plot it would look like the track was made by a drunken fly. It was really, really fun. We left the trees and lush forest behind and had an hour lunch at camp. I told Robert that he better never, ever, change or remove that orange loop from the ride. So what if it took a month to clear and mark? (Thanks Robert!) The last loop was modified a bit for the better. Robert removed the almost pavement like Omega road, so the trip to the meadow was 100% single track all the way out and back. This day really is the single track day. We rode out up the Pioneer trail again, heading up to the high country. The trail down to the meadow was quite a bit more beat up than it was on Friday- I was a little surprised how trashed it had become with the rocks buried under the silt. The dust was back after only one day- sorry Gretchen. Her horse Spice is not really thrilled to be out front- that’s my rationalization for being in front all weekend. (Donnie’s favorite spot!) We spent our hold letting the horses eat that lush grass in the meadow, then moseyed back up the long trail to the summit, and then re-traced the trail all the way back to camp. Bill Whitlock had been riding with us for a lot of the day; with about 8 miles to go he went in front and whoosh- gone. He reported having a lot of fun blazing in on his still fresh horse. We trotted the whole way back in and to the finish of the third day.

Donnie looked like he always does- ready to keep going. (Robert- maybe a 5 day?) Its nice when you are done- toss the tack in the trailer and forget about it. Let the horse roll (10 times!) Have several beers, kick back at the dinner, and then when the awards are over, sit and listen to the musicians they had come out to entertain us around the camp fire. Not a bad way to spend an evening.

Do I like this ride? I’d say so. After this year I am 24 for 24 at 50’s here, and Donnie is 15 for 15. Not too shabby. Melissa is so cool- last year I jokingly griped that I have way too many 3 day sweatshirts in my closet, so she asked what I wanted instead? I said, half-jokingly, “a crew bag”? “Sure”, she replied. She got me a nice, big, red, crew bag with the Wild West logo and Donnie’s name embroidered on it that I now use on every ride. Is that neat ,or what? This year I said, “Ho hum, another sweatshirt”, half fishing for another nice prize. She said “What do you want this year?” “How about a hay bag”? “You got it.” This is great! Next year it will be a monogrammed 911 turbo. I will be here next year. (If not only to get some more of those cool etched glass giant beer mugs!)
Next stop- Tevis number 10.
Nick Warhol Hayward, Ca.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Colorado Mountain Mettle 2012: Are You Fit to Compete?

Notes from a Rookie blog

Posted on July 1, 2012 by admin

As an endurance rider, you know that the criteria for the successful completion of a ride is having your horse pronounced “Fit to Continue” at the end of the ride. But before you ever begin a ride, especially one like Mountain Mettle, this critical question must first be answered: Are you and your horse fit to compete?

Some rides are easier than others, and there are a number of well-known rides that demand a “yes” answer to this critical question…..Tevis, Old Dominion, Death Valley, and Yellowhammer are a few that come to my mind. So before you attempt the Mountain Mettle Endurance ride, you’re better off knowing from the start that this gorgeous mountain ride is a “black diamond” run demanding the ultimate in fitness of both horse and rider.

Elevation climbs, technical trail, rocky descents and occasional triple digit heat are the hallmarks of this ride—combined with Rocky Mountain forest floors full of aspens, wild flowers, towering mountain views, and the incongruous patchwork quilt of urban Denver spread out below among red rock outcroppings to the east. Vet checks are held out on trail, which is my preference, but something that can also be tricky to deal with in the event of accidents or sick horses and people. Mountain Mettle isconsistently described by experienced endurance riders as “tougher than Tevis.” As such, it’s the perfect conditioning ride to gauge your readiness for a notoriously tough course like Tevis. It’s also the quintessential Front Range Colorado mountain ride, and one that you can say with pride, “We did it!”

I was able to sit down with some of this year’s top competitors to learn some of the things they did—and didn’t do—to successfully complete the ride at the top of the pack. In addition to an already tough course, this year was made more

so by triple digit heat indices on both days and no less than eleven wildfires burning in the presently drought-stricken state of Colorado. The following are some recipes for success that could help you and your horse better prepare for competition in your next endurance race:

The Serious Recreational Endurance Rider

Carla Hays, 1st Place in the 30

Carla Hays and her 8 year old Quarter Horse, Indigo, are an amazing anomaly in the world of Limited Distance endurance riding. Indigo is a handsome grullo Quarter Horse gelding with bull-dog conformation and old style breeding (Hancock line and Smart Little Lena) that gave him plenty of bone and big, strong hooves. His heavy build and Quarter Horse breeding fly in the face of a sport dominated by Arabians with greyhound physiques. When they’re not competing in Limited Distance rides, both Carla and Indigo love chasing cows and working in the arena.

Read more here:

Colorado Mountain Mettle - Paul Sidio

June 22-23 2012

Earlier this year, I was looking for a 100 mile ride as a prep for General Lee before Tevis. Colorado Mountain Mettle sounded perfect. It had away vet checks, plenty of hills and rocks,and beautiful scenery. As a bonus, it was a two day ride, so We could do the 50 on Piper on Day 1 and then the 100 on General Lee on Day 2.

It was about a 770 mile haul for us, so we broke it up into two days. Basecamp was a nice open field with good grazing. Plenty of room for pens. RM had put out plenty of horse water tubs. Everything was good to go. Then it warmed up, and warmed up some more until it went crazy hot over 100 degrees record temps. I think some folks decided that it was going to be too hot, so they stayed home. It was hot, but humidity was in the 5%-10% range.

So on Day 1, we took off with 16 other riders. After a gradual climb through open fields. we hit the woods, and started serious climbing. Even though we were gaining and losing a lot of elevation, the trails had lots of switchbacks.In the first 12 1/2 miles, I only got off Piper one time to tail a short way up a hill. The vet check was swarming with helpful volunteers. I try to avoid knowing where we are placing wise, so am not sure where we were at this point of the ride. After a 30 minute hold we headed out to a new piece of trail that wound up on the Colorado Trail.

This is where the fun began. It was beautiful, but very technical. Lots of up and down, and twisty trail. Then there was a section that needs a name. There were three places of about 100-200 feet each of steep slippery rock. Think of Cougar Rock times three. Except this was narrow, and tree lined. There were also two low hanging trees. I dismounted and led Piper through. There was also some steep hills that I tailed up, and some I led down. We went through Aspen groves, pine stands, and spectacular overlook views. By the time we covered the 12 1/2 miles to the next vet check, we had taken over 2 1/2 hours. Piper is not a fast flat open land trail horse, but does well on the tough trails. He has great recoveries. It was fun to see the vet's face when Pipers pulse was 44 only 4 or 5 minutes after getting to the check. After the CRI trot out, it dropped to 40. After a 30 minute hold, we turned around and did that section again in reverse. It was the hardest 25 mile
section of
trail I have ever ridden. Adding to the fun was the heat which got around 100 degrees. Even though Colorado is very dry right now, there was still water on the trail. In places we might not have any, the RM put out tons of tubs for drinking and sponging.

We had now done 37 miles. It was now seriously hot. We had a 1 hour hold. I had been drinking more water than at any previous ride. We have done rides with high heat and humidity, and this heat wasn't as draining, we still drank a lot. Piper had done a hard 50 mile ride in Missouri 4 weeks before in 6:40. This ride we were going a lot slower. The last leg was not nearly as difficult as the last 25 miles. One of the best things on this ride was the views of the Denver metro area from the ridges as we headed home down the ridges.

We cruised on home and were surprised to find that even though our ride time was 9 hours, we were in second place. It would up that only 8 of the 17 entries came in and completed.

By the time we had awards, ate some dinner, took a shower, and got General Lee vetted in and ready, I only got 3 1/2 hours sleep. That morning we started off at 4:30 am. Only 7 riders answered the call for the 100 miles. My wife thought I was crazy to do this 100 after such a tough 50, as the temps were going to be even warmer. The first 38 miles had road, and trails in a county park that were nice and flat with mostly excellent footing. We had an away vet check, and then came back to base camp for the one hour hold. Then we headed out to do mostly the same trails we had done the day before. General Lee was strong and eager. When we vetted in, he acted like a wild untrained horse. He must have known what was coming :-)

By the vet check at 58 miles, we lost several riders.No major problems, but smart riders quitting before their horses got injured. The tough 12 1/2 mile stretch seemed even longer on this day. I was riding with Pauline Middleton, a first time 100 mile rider whose horse had a nice fast walk and trot. We had to hustle as the had a 7:00pm cutoff for leaving the river hold. RM didn't want riders hitting that slick rock section in the dark. We made it with 5 minutes to spare. After the turnaround and hold, we had gone about 3 miles back home and caught the lead horse, when I noticed Paulines horse had twisted a shoe. we stopped, and I pulled it off. If we tried to trot too much, she would have gotten back to the next vet check with a torn up hoof, and likely a lame horse. So we walked...and walked...found a few places to trot, but mostly...we walked. It got dark. it got dizzy out. Pauline had some electrolyte in an insulated water bottle that kept me going. We got to the vet check, and a friend of hers re-shod her horse. My wife had shown up to the vet check and took care of Lee for me, and I just rested. I was toast. Worn out, over heated, underfed, and sleep deprived. So I tried a 5 hour energy drink, and we hit the trail. The trail boss for the ride , Linda, was riding drag, so she went out just behind us. Lee was full of energy, and we trotted in the dark making time. Pauline was having problems, so we slowed down. More walking. About 2:00am, we came on the first overlook views of Denver. After being in the middle of nowhere for so many hours, it was an impressive sight to look out at all the city lights. We stopped several times to admire the view. After more time we finally hit flatter land.

I told Pauline we had two options. #1: Agree to tie for 2nd place. ( there was the rider ahead of us, Amanda Fant from Texas, but everybody else had pulled). or Option #2: The Race of Death. Run our horse as fast as they would go ...downhill.. in the dark... after 96 miles... I told her that Lee was up for the Race of Death, but I preferred the tie option. She did too:-)

So at 3:35 am, 23 hours and 5 minutes after leaving camp we came to the finish line. Both horses vetted through great. I was so weak, and unsteady, I had to get a volunteer to trot my horse out. We had indeed finished to win. The next morning General Lee, did his BC presentation like a horse vetting in for a ride instead of a horse that had done a really tough 100 miles. He got BC and High Vet Score. We received very nice awards which included a very nicely designed belt buckle. None of the 100 mile horses required any treatment on a tough day. The RM, staff, vets, and volunteers were all terrific. They made our successes possible.

This ride is a very tough test of horse and rider, but well worth the effort. Under normal weather conditions, we would have had much higher completion rates both days. The views are spectacular, and varied. We plan to come back and see it again. Put it on your bucket list if you like riding well marked challenging trail with great views.

Paul N. Sidio
KMA Chazz Piper
VA Southern Gentleman ( General Lee)
Spokane Missouri