February 14 2018
by Crysta Turnage
I have done a couple of back-to-back rides over the years, but nothing more than 2-days. This past week, I attended, and completed, all four days 200-miles at the Eastern Mojave Scenic XP Ride. Here are some things I learned at my first true multi-day:
1. Some things may go just right. Thankfully the drive down and back were both very smooth and without issue. This should not be taken for granted. I packed plenty of food and water for both my horse and I and didn’t seem to forget anything critical (YAY!!).
2. Some things will probably need some help. Waking up to discover swollen “armpits” and a girth gall, something I haven’t had to deal with before, on the morning of Day 3 sucked. Thankfully...
3. PACK EXTRAS – that saddle you haven’t used in a while, that spare girth you have laying around, those thin tights which work well as another layer, etc. Bring them. Being able to switch to a different saddle with centerfire rigging, and having the option of a contour girth, allowed us both to be able to ride comfortably on days 3 & 4. In fact, his gall looked much better AFTER riding each day as the movement helped to reduce any edema. And my back and other body parts appreciated the change in saddle as well. New areas to get sore! 😉
4. Going with a buddy is more fun. I’m super glad a friend from home could attend as well. I was prepared to go solo, but it was great having someone to camp near and visit with. Our horses instantly fell in love and got married the first night they camped together. Thankfully they also were a great team on the trail with mine trotting just a touch faster and hers walking just a bit faster so we leveraged their strengths.
5. A multiday will help you fully develop a routine. The beautiful thing about a multiday is you really learn to fine tune your pre- and post-ride horse & rider care. All those things you do for single-day rides, you start to evaluate how necessary they are, or how to be more efficient. Having my crew bag fully stocked (we were out of camp ALL day, every day) so I only needed to grab my small people lunch box (I wasn’t eating the ride food) and put in a fresh grain baggie each day meant I didn’t have to haul my entire bag back and forth. Having a post-ride care routine of icing legs and then eating a snack while I rolled leg wraps, or pre-soaking mashes, all those little things began to get streamlined and I’m sure will make things seem easier at future rides. Even the way I packed things in my trailer was better by the end.
6. Day 3 will probably suck, Day 4+ will be better. I’ve heard this many times and it totally held true. My back was a locked-up mess in the morning of Day 3 but substantially improved as the day wore on. I do think a big part of this was a change in saddles, I was trying a newer one on its first (and second) 50 and let’s just say it’s not a healthy relationship. By the end of Day 4, I felt that I would totally be able to go again tomorrow if there were additional days.
7. Having a buddy system at home is invaluable. The evening of Day 3 we were warned to “batten down the hatches” and it was NO JOKE. I had to get up and catch my horse after some blowing equipment spooked him and he released a safety measure on his Hi-Tie. The wind shook and rattled the trailer all night long and it was still blowing on the morning of Day 4. My mental state was wobbling severely between “We’ve already accomplished so much, this doesn’t seem fun now & Don’t give up now, you’ll regret it.” A couple of texts home resulted in both support and encouragement and “Get your ass on the horse. Nobody likes a sissy.” Both of which were EXACTLY what I needed to hear.
8. Be conservative, take things as they come, but don’t be afraid to set big goals. I have a young horse who is proving to be very talented. I have some lofty long-term goals for him, so the focus this year is on building a steady, strong base for us to accomplish those things in future years. He had 150 miles before this ride. My goal was to ride two days and see how he felt. We could take a day off, or just go home if things weren’t going to plan. Instead he happily and steadily just kept going down the trail, generally asking to go faster (No, buddy). He doubled his lifetime mileage to date and we even managed a top 10 on Day 4 when some inclement weather reduced the number of starters (we finished about 2/3rds through the “pack”). To say I’m impressed is an understatement.
9. Try new things at your own risk… See newer saddle above (it had seemed to work on training rides). I had also changed my own eating habits to a ketogenic diet, but have not done a ride on this high fat / very low carb way of eating before. I was a little worried the lack of carbs might impact my energy and recovery. I actually didn’t have much trouble during the ride, but HAVE been surprised by the cravings since. Being prepared with good choices has helped me stick mostly to plan. I also tried some new electrolytes which didn’t work very well for me, soured my stomach. But discovered frozen (thawed by the time you get there) precooked meatballs are AMAZING for lunch in your crew bag.
10. Last – If you glue boots, the ONE you’re sure is going to fall off may just surprise you. This was my first-time gluing solo and I had an Adhere mixing issue. I wasn’t very confident in how they would hold. One of them came off immediately, as soon as I had put all the supplies away. I quickly wiped it off the best I could, got a fresh tube of glue, and slapped it back on. We took dibs on if it would even make it to the ride. He lost 1 boot the first day and 2 more on the last. The one that fell off during gluing? That sucker made it all the way there, through all 4 days, and I’m going to have to pry it off. 😝 LOL