Saturday, October 08, 2022

2022 Autumn Sun/Distance Nationals 100 - Marlene Moss

by Marlene Moss
October 5 2022

So a little (lot) more detail on our Autumn Sun Pioneer Endurance Rides 100 mile ride - and a pic or two. Stace and I spent the 10 days prior to this competition in Spain, riding horses on the Camino el Cid and I'll do more posts on that soon. We planned our return flights to get home in time to sleep 6 hours, get up, pack the trailer, load Topper and Alamo and head to Gooding ID.

I'd originally planned to ride Hank, but our relationship wasn't good enough for a tough ride (ie one with lots of rocks with my head's name on them!) and then I found out there was a Shagya division for the AHA Distance Nationals. So I signed up Alamo even though when he did that ride 4 years ago I swore I'd never take him back there, even if I went back! The footing is technical and Alamo was a total clutz. Since then he's had lots of chiro (limited hip movement had him collapsed in the shoulders) and hock injections (silly boy decided to have a 3" growth spurt all in his legs at age 7, if I'd known, I wouldn't have been competing him before that) and just before this ride, the vet suggested coffin joint injections. This was definitely getting beyond my comfort zone on whether I should be competing him at all, let alone a 100. But since he's been trying to unweight his hocks making his fronts sore, it really was a necessary thing no matter what, just for his comfort. What a difference!

We also had front pads under his shoes and did pour in pads on his hinds. So lots of things to both help his body and help him connect his body to his brain.

Alamo mostly doesn't care about the trail, he likes to wander, so riding in the dark has been a challenge and he was nervous at the start so we started with Topper in the front. This always causes some tense moments between me and Stace because Topper is hard to control at the start, but I didn't want to loose the end of the ride by energy wastage at the start. Topper got us through a couple groups of riders to our window and then we put Alamo up front.

He did awesome with my headlamp, a first for me and him, even through some cows which normally terrify him. Then we just let the miles roll by.

Most of this was on really nice roads (who says that? ha, when the alternative is rocks!) But they were really nice roads and Alamo has a steady 9-10mph trot when the footing is good.

Very early in the ride Stace noted that his tights with silicone patches were wearing holes in his legs, so we knew there might be some difficulty there. But we rolled into the out check at 36 miles (probably the extra mile came from a change to avoid some of the cows) in pretty good shape. Except for Stace, he was in pain from the hole in his leg and his core was getting a workout trying to protect it.

Alamo was head down eating the entire hold. He loves the oat float we take out (Topper doesn't), either wet or dry even coated in salt. We didn't syringe electrolytes since they both do well without, but I had some just in case. Alamo had excellent gut sounds and had ate and drank at every opportunity.

I know Stace was sore but he was trying very hard to make sure he wasn't the reason I didn't complete another 100! I was 0 for 5. So he sucked it up for the next 25 miles which was very, very technical. We'd been over part of that loop at the start of the 100 the year before, but it was dark so I didn't know how tough it was - although then it was uphill so easier than downhill in the light (when our opinions matter more than the horse's, heehee). So it was a slow loop though the warmest part of the day, but it wasn't really that hot. I never sweated, but poor Alamo already has a winter coat and was a dusty, crusty mess!

I told Stace I would be totally fine if he needed to pull. I had no doubts I could ride Alamo at this ride in the dark, alone if needed. I know he didn't want to pull, but at some point you realize that riding poorly isn't helping you or your horse so he did the right thing.

This worked out because David Lewis and Joslyn Terry had heat issues so were hanging out longer at the hold so we hooked up so there'd be someone to dial 911 if either of them ran into further trouble. David was riding the amazing Alexander Hamilton and they helped us make some pretty good time on the 22 mile loop back to camp even though it was still tough on David.

Alamo took over the lead through twilight and continued without a headlamp since the half moon helped us perfectly. We moved out when we could, but kept it careful over the 3 miles of rocky downhill since David was so quiet I was worried and of course I'm always overly sensitive to Alamo on rocks.

Sadly David was pulled because his horse was a little stressed with the rest of his buddies leaving on the last loop as we came in for our last hold. Jos and I left on the last 16 mile loop. Back up the 3 miles of climb and rocks, then I led down the steeper hills until we got back to trottable surface. By then Jos was really tired. I gave her my last Jolly Rancher and a Hammer Gel and we started swapping stories and entertaining each other and soon she was wide awake (and a bit cold!)

It was a slow loop since what goes up must come down and there were either rock or shadows that looks like rocks, but we trotted where we could and finished with strong horses pulling at 9-10mph when we got back to the good road. I was so thrilled with Alamo, his second attempt, but first completion and he was so competent all day both with footing and taking care of himself metabolically.

No question this is a challenging ride, but it's supposed to be, right?! It's unfortunate we couldn't see the cool hoodoo canyon, but that just wouldn't have worked to get the 100 mile route and not something you'd do in the dark!

We finished and I'm doubly proud that it was Alamo for my first 100 mile completion and that we did it on a ride that I love which proved that we've overcome a lot. Bonus was that we were the only Shagya team so got all the swag! Here's some pics other people took, first two by Merri Melde and one demonstrating while we'll never be on the cover of Endurance News!

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