Now that I’m finally recovered from the excitement that was Big South Fork 100, I’m finally able to sit down and do my write up. From the start this ride was a challenge. I teamed up with Romeo owned by Tina Davidson Cochran for the 100. This was the first time I met Romeo but I went into the ride having confidence in this horse’s ability to finish a 100 because he had previously finished all three 100 mile rides he had done before.
Saturday morning around 6AM I went out to start getting him ready for the day ahead of us. We racked up, I lunges him around to get all the silly out and Tina and I hopped on. We started the ride in the front group and Romeo did so well the first loop, including multiple river crossings with one that we were almost swimming in. We came into the vet check and he passed with flying colors.
We did our hold and headed back out again for our second loop. This loop was much flatter and Romeo did really well in all the sand and rocks we had to traverse across. We can into the vet check where I noticed Romeo was acting a little strange.
We passed our vet check but I kept a close eye on him. About 10 miles into our loop, Tina and I made the decision to split up. The horses needed to go different paces and trying to go together would probably end up doing them more harm than good. Tina went off ahead and I jumped off Romeo to walk him and make sure he wasn’t going to do anything silly. We walked for about a mile and half and I jumped back on and we continued on our way at a much slower pace. We took it easy coming into a crew stop where we stayed for about 30 minutes and I just let him eat, drink, and cool off. We didn’t leave until he was completely cool and starting to get restless from not doing anything.
We left to do the couple remaining miles back to our 54 mile vet check at camp. Romeo and I came in and the vets agreed he was doing MUCH better but still not perfect but he was getting there.
I set off again for my next loop and just walked him for a little bit to make sure nothing would go wrong with him. He was very good and ate and drank on trail. We were trotting along a long gravel road when Romeo and I both got spooked at the sight of a bear right in front of us on the trail Romeo did not appreciate me telling him to go past this bear after it left but he ended up racing past at a very fast spee we came to a long down hill so I jumped off and ran/walked down with him.
At this point it wasn’t dark enough for my headlamp but it was too dark to see trail markings. The ribbons were dark red so we ended missing a turn and doing an extra couple miles. We turned back and found a couple horses going the right way and tagged along with them. We can into another crew point and at that point I was still worried about Romeo so I decided to walk most of the remaining 4 miles in. The last 2 miles I jumped off and walked in. Apparently that was all Romeo needed because after that, he was back to normal! He was performing like he normally does!! The vets passed him with flying colors and we were cleared to set out again.
There had been a lot of lightning in the sky so I put my raincoat on and got on the horse. At that moment, the sky decided to bless us and sent buckets of water down on us all Within the three minutes it took me to get to the trail, the water had taken over and Romeo and I pretty much walked the next 7 miles. I couldn’t see more than 2 inches in front of my face and Romeo kept wanting to turn his head away from the rain. we eventually made it through the longest 7 miles I’ve ever ridden and went on for the next 10 miles of our loop.
Luckily the rain stopped and Romeo and I made our way down a long hill. I ended up walking him down the hill and through the bogs and when we came to flat ground I jumped back on and off we went. We would see a light and just trot to catch it and we just kept passing little lights as we continued on the trail. We came around a corner where I met a rider who was needing to rider option but was having trouble making the remaining 4 miles into camp. I got her horse going and we walked most of the way together. Once we were almost there I took off to let her crew know what was happening so they could help.
Romeo was AMAZING at his 90 mile vet check and we were off for our final loop. They ended up moving the finish line into camp so they gave us a little more time to do the extra trail. Romeo and I had a little over 2 hours to get our 10 miles done.
And we did it! We went through all the single track and spiderwebs and spooky things in the bushes. We got onto the road that led into camp and Romeo just wanted to take off. I let him go and off we went, cantering our way back. At this point, it was daylight out. It was nearing 7am, 24 hours after our start. We crossed the actual finish line before cut off and came into camp at 7:10AM. We vetted him through and got our completion!! We came in dead last in 5th place. I couldn’t be prouder of this little horse and how he recovered as the day went on. We aren’t sure what happened to make him feel so off but he’s back to normal now and we couldn’t be happier! Big thank you to all who worked to put this ride on and make it happen! This ride was my 7th 100 mile completion and I was so happy to get to finish!
Another BIG thanks to Tina for letting me take Romeo through and trusting me to take care of him once we split up! I’m so happy he was able to get his 4th 100 mile completion and still has a 100% completion rate for his 100 mile rides!
Massive thanks to Jody Buttram for making me go back out again and again even though I was wet, bruised, blistered and miserable! It was worth it the next morning and I’m very happy I finished!!
Another big thanks to Lisa Rushing for helping out and making sure Romeo was all set up the day before and crewing through night after your 50 mile ride in the day!
This was not a ride I will ever forget and I can’t wait to come back again! Now it’s onto the next 100 miler
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