Here’s a new ride for me. I have not had the opportunity to attend this ride. If you follow my silly blogs, you will know that last year I was going to go to this ride but saw that the weather was NOT going to cooperate with a hurricane coming through and predicted to dump eight or more inches on the ride trail. I was glad I opted out as many experienced riders that did drive up there, didn’t even start the ride when they saw the boggy muddy trail conditions.
I am hoping that Mother Nature will hear my plea for nice weather and keep the rain away. I do not believe she is listening (at the moment as I write this) because the 15 days outlook says rain the entire week leading up to the ride. I have sent my entry, but only with a deposit, so if we get closer to the ride and it truly does rain up there all week, I will not be going.
Because if very experienced riders will not subject their horse to those trails under muddy conditions, I am going to listen! I love my horses too much to subject their legs to deep knee breaking muddy conditions on trail. PLUS (gasp) I am not particularly fond of riding in the rain to begin with and have pulled halfway through one ride due to the cold rain at Mustang one year.
As we get closer to the ride date, the weather is looking more and more likely to cause some trail conditions. I sent an email on 09-08-15 to the ride manager asking for a quick review of current trail conditions. We’ve been very very dry here and three days of rain for us wouldn’t even start to moisten the ground. Ride manager says it’s been very dry up there, as well. Now, current forecast is giving us rain all day on Saturday and cold. Temperature forecast has dropped dramatically. I like the 67 degrees, but not with rain involved.
Kathy Shank will be Steel’s rider. Dom is going to be riding Wendy’s Asgard gelding so Steel was sad to miss yet another ride. Steel told me to call Kathy because she remembered (when I didn’t) that Kathy rode her very well at Mustang last year. Kathy was very excited to have the opportunity to ride Steel again so Miss Daizy and Steel will be traveling together. We may have a crew person, too! Lindsey thought it would be fun to come up to Hector and have more driving time with me.
Renee is joining me and Kathy on trail so our team of horses, riding in the rain, will be:
- Happy Happy Joy Joy (ridden by Renee)
- Riding Miss Daizy (ridden by me)
- Steady Steel (ridden by Kathy)
I have spoken with four Hector Trail Experienced endurance riders regarding the trail under raining conditions. They have all cautioned me to take it slow and steady because the trail can get knee deep in mud. I have also spoken with the Rain Gods and asked them to please hold the rain until the afternoon so we can get through most the ride dry. I am not sure they’re listening … I have not had a response back from them.
Hard to believe that Saturday is going to be a wet soggy mess as I drive up to Hector, NY in the sunshine with large puffy white clouds floating in a lovely blue sky. No humidity, and perfect driving weather. I had the windows down and music on LOUD. The drive went very well and I arrived in base camp exactly one hour later than I wanted to… at 2:00 pm. Now, it was not the drive that made me late, it was Steel. She absolutely did not want to be caught in the morning so I spent over forty-five minutes waiting for her to chillax and let me put her halter on. Miss Daizy was pretty agreeable to being caught so we cannot blame this on her!
It was a lonely drive. Three of my riding friends passed me on the highway on my way up! First, I saw Corinne’s rig blow by me. I’m sure they didn’t see me as they didn’t blow their horn or wave. Then several miles later Tracy’s rig passed me. She DID recognize me and she slowed alongside of me to wave and smile. I think that was Connie with her in the passenger seat, but I’m not sure. Didn’t matter as she also waved! A little later, here comes my favorite pair … Dom and Mike. Dom made my day by hanging out the window and making a big to-do over seeing me! Made me smile and I didn’t feel as lonely driving.
I did not bring Poe with me for two reasons.
- I have no crew to keep her company while I was riding
- It is going to rain and I’m not sure I want to share my bed with a wet soggy poodle, who is like a sponge and will soak up every bit of water then bring it to bed.
They were parking us in really tight. A fella in a pink gator was parking us. He told me to park tight to the trailer and put my pen in the back. I tried to explain that my pen attaches to my trailer off the side. he said no, need to put the pen on the back.
I waited for the rig behind me to come up and told him that my pen goes on the side. he listened and left me the perfect amount of room. He also took advantage of that and then set his rig in front of mine, in between our two trucks, so we weren’t hogging all the “sideways” space. Everyone had nice big pens set up (expect me and him!) And let me tell you, it was a tight maze of pens once everyone had arrived and setup. There were one hundred and seven riders entered at Hector between the three distances so parking was a premium!
I am three rows back but pretty much straight across from the vetting area. I figured this would be a perfect spot because I can just crew right from the truck when we’re at base camp for the first hold and the last hold. Knowing that it’s going to be pouring down the rain all day, I cleaned out my trailer after setting up the girls and then setup camp inside the trailer. It was very homey and cozy. I actually really liked it. I am now wanting to get a weekender trailer even more. I had two chairs, my camp stove, cooler and food box in the front, then all the horse stuff at the back. Very nice and it would all stay nice and dry tomorrow.
Dom and Mike and Wendy were my neighbors so we chatted a bit before the ride meeting. Renee and her friend Julie (who came along to help crew) also came over and we had a great visit. We are all very excited to be riding tomorrow, not so excited to be getting wet. We heard a rumor that the rain was going to hold off until lunch time … so we could at least start the day dry.
I need to interject a small side note here. I have NEVER (no never) attended an endurance ride that feeds you and hydrates you as well as this ride. And I include Ride Between The Rivers, which is the best party in town. We were fed a huge dinner, then a big breakfast, then sandwiches at first hold, then a huge dinner at awards Saturday night, the the firemen had a waffle and pancake breakfast Sunday morning. See the cooler and blue food container in the above picture? I barely used any of my drinks and the only food I ate was my sandwich at the away hold … because they had food and water EVERYWHERE for the riders. It was most amazing!
Renee, Julie and I went out to the away hold and setup a canopy and all our stuff. The only thing Julie would need to bring out in the morning was our food. Julie has no idea what she’s in for, with three riders coming in ready to roll for 45 minutes. I told Renee to buy her lots of presents after this ride.
Okay, so Kathy texts me she is almost at the ride and it’s time for supper and the ride meeting. She made it just in time to get eats and be there for the briefing. We had seats at a table but when we got up to get our food, SOMEONE (named Libby) stole our seats so we ended up sitting in chairs along the back. Actually, that was a little better as it was less crowded and we could hear perfectly well. The room was jammed.
Another side note here. I am not feeling well at all today. I keep getting hot, then sweating profusely and my heart is racing. At one point I took my pulse and it was 120. WOW! My normal resting pulse is around 75 so I was wondering if I was getting sick. I did take my temp and it was slightly elevated for me (normal temp is 96.7 and it was 99). I decided I was going to ignore it and just get on with the day. I took some aspirin.
No real excitement until I went to bed. I was almost asleep when the horse next to my truck started coughing and stomping the ground. I am sure he had choke and I was just about to get up and go get his owner, when the fella came out to check him. I hollered out my window that I had a tube and we could flush him. The fella said thanks, but his horse does this all the time.
I lost a horse to choke. He choked all the time and the last time was so bad we had to put him down. Aren’t you at all worried about your horse?
That poor horse coughed well into the night and as he is right next to my truck, I only got about 4 hours sleep, but that was a good hard sleep. I woke up ready to roll and very refreshed. Adreneline may have had something to do with that.
Seeing as they had breakfast ready by 5:30 am … I didn’t even need to fire up my stove that I had prepped the day before. I could have left the table and stove and coffee pots packed in the truck because they had coffee, tea, hot chocolate and all kinds of goodies down there at the meeting hall.
Let me talk about Mistake #1. I had been playing around with this new saddle over the past weeks in between Ride Between the Rivers and this ride because I had such knee pain the first time I competed in it at RBTR *AND* I got the most horrendous rubs behind my knees that they took over two weeks to heal and they scarred my legs. I found comfort in dropping my stirrups two holes. Now, you may not think that is a tragedy, but it does change how a rider sits in the saddle. I have to say, I rode all day without any knee pain and I did not get any rubs behind my knees. So I know that dropping the stirrups was the absolute correct thing for me as the rider. It may not have been the best thing for Miss Daizy as the horse wearing the saddle. We did a NACMO competition with the stirrups down and two conditioning rides … but that is not the same as running a full 50 mile ride with the stirrups down.
We are out on trail at 7:08 am. I had already prepped Kathy that I do not ride to top 10, I ride to finish and wherever we finish is where we finish! I don’t really care as long as my horse is happy and healthy. NO PRESSURE riding with me! As we walked out of the base camp onto trail, and walked the first 1/4 mile to stretch out legs, backs and brains, Kathy said to me that is the first time she has ever started an endurance ride at a walk. She was pretty amazed by this start, actually. I told her that I made mistakes with other horses I had started to this sport and one of those was letting them learn “race brain”. With Miss Daizy and Steel, I never gave them the opportunity to learn to be stupid at the beginning of a ride.
very big grin
I told her that is the ONLY way to start an endurance ride … and watch us, because we would pass riders all day. And we did. Miss Daizy led the ride all day. There were a couple of occasions where Steel took the lead for a mile or two, but for the most part, Miss Daizy was the locomotion engine and Renee ran caboose . These three horses worked very very well together all day. Speed and terrain was perfectly suited to all three of them.
PINK LOOP 22 MILES. Everything went very nicely. We set a good 8 mph pace and really traveled along well. There were, however, some very interesting things to talk about on this loop.
First of all, this ride cuts through cow pastures. oh yes. We have to go through pasture gates, through rutted pastures, and through COWS! On one of these most interesting cut through the pasture trails, we encountered cows that didn’t want to get off the trail. My oh my. This was very interesting for our non-cow-savvy horses! When we came through the first time, all the cows were at the top of the pasture and our horses didn’t even notice them, but on our way back … the cows must have decided all these horses traveling through their pasture were interesting, so they gathered right on the trail.
Miss Daizy was the only brave horse and although she was like WTF? she led our little train right through them.
We came into the hold with horses that were still pretty fresh and openly willing to get back to work. We pulsed right in and then went to our trailers to let them eat and rest. Miss Daizy and Steel consumed everything in front of them. I am very happy for this ride because Miss Daizy is acting her old self. She was eating on trail, she was gorging herself in the first hold, and she had already peed three times and drank a bucket dry. She was “off” at Ride Between the Rivers so I am very very happy to see her enjoying herself today. And me? Well, although yesterday I felt like crap, today I feel like a million bucks so whatever was making me hot and racing my heart around seems to be gone.
While waiting for our out time in the hold, it had started drizzling. It was too warm and muggy to “suit up” in my rain gear just yet so I decided to pack my rain gear in Miss Daizy’s fanny pack.
This may have been mistake #2. Miss Daizy has an extremely short back and if you’ve been following my saddle woes, it has been very difficult to find a saddle that is short enough to fit her that it’s not banging onto her loins. I did not stop to think that filling her fanny pack with rain gear would be putting weight on the back of the saddle, along with my two water bottles and snacks. Nope, didn’t think about this at all.
GREEN LOOP 18 MILES: We left the hold prepared for the rain that had arrived. Right out of base camp we picked up a fourth rider. Her partner (Sylvia) was having terrible muscle cramping and got off her horse to walk. Apparently Sylvia said, “Go ride with them, you’ll have a lot of fun” so marilyn asked to join us and I was like, “Hell Yeah! Come on!”
We rode a lot of road on this loop. in fact, too much road for my tastes. This ride is relatively flat with some little ups and down, but lots of straight flat road. Unfortunately for Miss Daizy, who thrives on single track trail winding through trees and climbing up and down hills, this was pretty boring. Not only that, but it gave the horses very little change in positioning and put a lot of pounding on their legs. At the cross roads, five miles into the loop, we walked up the hill and Marilyn says,
“Wow, you walk when you ride?”
I raised one eyebrow and responded. “Well, yeah! I do whatever Miss Daizy wants to do. She’s the one doing the work. If she wants to walk, we walk. If she wants to canter, we canter. AND, if she wants a snack, we stop for a couple mouthfuls.”
Marilyn grinned ear to ear, gave me the thumbs up and said she was glad she is riding with us because that’s what she does. She was afraid that she would have to bail out on us if we were going to go to fast.
Yep yep, ride with Dodie and never top 10 but always finish with a happy healthy horse.
So now we’re on the green loop. We picked up Dom and Wndy on our choo-choo train and Miss Daizy was a very happy locomotive as she cruised through this one section of trail where the weeds were higher than we were on a narrow single track trail. it was WAY fun! I was whooping it up as we motored through this couple miles. I’m telling you, it was very very fun. As we came out of that trail, there was a little water off the side so I pulled us over to see if our horses wanted some. Marilyn’s horse drank and so did Renee’s. We lost Dom and Wendy as they continued on.
Now we’re on our own again and very shortly after we got out onto some road work, the trail manager comes along in a car and asks if we missed a green marker?
Well, she told us a couple horses were off trail and had called about it. I wondered if it was Wendy and Dom because when we came up onto the road, they were nowhere to be seen.
We travel along at a good clip and guess what? Where the green loop and the final blue loop travel together is through a cow pasture! Oh yeah, and not just any cow pasture but one with a bull in it and he’s courting a cow, right next to the trail.
OH MY GOSH! We quickly get through that pasture with no incidents. As lady luck shined down on us, that bull was far more interested in courting the cow than he was in us being in the pasture.
Then we get to another pasture where we have to open the gate ourselves. Miss Daizy let me open the gate, but as we did a bunch of cows started running back and forth across the trail and she got too excited to let me close the gate behind us. Marilyn tried it from her horse’s back but that didn’t work out either. Renee got off and closed it then we turned to watch as the cows galloped back and forth across the field (and our trail).
Nope, I’m getting off. Miss Daizy is tensing up like a ton of dynamite and I’m not prepared to go cow chasing.
We got through that pasture and sighed a big sigh of relief. All four of us.
The drizzle is getting pretty steady by the time we come into the hold. Julie is there waiting for us and she has a beautiful buffet all laid out for us. I quickly pull everything off Miss Daizy, who has her head buried in the lush green grass at this hold. I dropped her reins and let her eat while I made up food for her and Steel. We run over to the pulse and get our hold time start. I looked at the line of people waiting to vet in and it was LONG! Seriously, I counted 9 horses waiting in line to get vetted.
The pulse taker told me they only had one vet so it was taking quite a bit of time.
Miss Daizy is mostly interested in eating grass so I tie her to a tree branch and grab a cigarette to wait for the line to get smaller. Kathy is having some trouble with Steel who doesn’t want to stand still. Joy is standing with her head buried in a bucket of slurry.
The line shrinks to five horses in front of us.
We wait and we wait and we wait … as our hold time ticks away.
And we wait. I ask a volunteer to hold Miss Daizy so I can eat my sandwich and refresh my water bottles. It starts to rain so I pull my ponchos out of the fanny pack and put it on.
Did I remember to pee? Nope.
It’s raining hard now and we finally get our turn at the vet. The horses have been standing in the rain and are getting chilled and this is NOT good for the vetting in. They could be cramping from standing so long and being cold and wet.
Dammit. And we only have nine minutes until our out time, and all three of our horses still need to be vetted.
Renee and Joy went first. All good to go!
Kathy and Steel went second. All good to go!
I went last and although everything was A’s, Miss Daizy was like, “DO NOT TOUCH MY BACK!”
Her loin area was very very sensitive. Not to push on the muscles, but to run your hand over. She got a B, but in my mind it looked more like a C. It was really sensitive.
We ran back to the canopy, in the pouring rain, and saddled up. We needed to get out of the hold as our time was up. I threw the saddle on Miss Dauzy and she dropped her back, almost buckling her hind legs as she scooted away from the pressure.
I’m about to cry. She is in agony and here I am going to ride her again.
I mount up and she is taking itty bitty baby steps.
The sky opened up as we leave hold. I was very very glad for that rain, actually, because it hid the fact that tears are running down my face. I did not want to get back on my horse with her back being so sensitive. In this photo she is not eating, she is stretching her back away from me sitting on it. If this hold had been in base camp, I would have pulled her on a Ride Option. As we are at an away hold and the horse ambulance was not there, and it was raining very hard, I decided since her muscles were not sore and it appeared to be brush burning on her back, I would start the last loop. If she gave me any indication in the first mile that she could not do it, I would ride back to the hold and pull her.
I had no idea if the saddle was hurting her, if the pad had burned her, if the stirrups were too long and putting me on her back too close to her loins or if the rain gear in the fanny packed bounced up and down on her for 18 miles causing this pain. All I knew is that I have NEVER had Miss Daizy have a sore back. This is her 20th competition since we started this sport and I have NEVER one time had her experience back pain except the one time I bought an Equipad that was felt bottomed and it burned her. I very quickly dumped that pad after one use and never bought felt again.
BLUE LOOP 14 MILES TO FINISH: We left out of there doing baby steps. Tears are streaming down my face. We’re all kinda starting a bit depressed because we really didn’t get to rest ourselves properly in the hold due to the vetting taking so long. Within about a half a mile, Miss Daizy picked up a trot and held it. She did it all on her own and was moving along at Normal Miss Daizy speed. We talked about going through that cow pasture again, where the cows were running around like crazy and we felt bad for anyone riding that trail alone. It’s one thing to have multiple horses to give each other confidence, an entirely different scenario when one horse is alone with galloping cows.
I let Miss Daizy set the pace. She cantered on both leads. She posted on both leads. No faces, or hesitation on her part. I’m pretty sure this is not muscle, but is back burning from something. Pow this pad I have on her is a woolback pad, but it is new and it’s wet and god only knows what that is doing to her while she’s working.
I am riding this last fourteen miles in a complete 2 point position to stay off her back. I am getting my happy back, but my thighs are complaining. I did completely forget about my thigh, however, when we came upon this sign on the trail. That’s right, the sign is in the woods, on the trail, and I promise you, the trail did not do this … the trail was straight.
Oh, and speaking of complaining. (too funny this one)
Renee had a “happy arab” on the first loop so she had some complaints about her horsie. Then on the second loop her knee started to bother her, so had some knee complaints. On the third loop she was drenched and had some wet coochie complaints. Renee won the complaint competition.
When we came through one of the gates, Marilyn stepped up on top of a very large rock. When she went to mount her horse, her foot slipped on the wetness and she went “splat” off the rock. She hit her buttock pretty hard on that rock and started to cramp. She was very game to keep riding but she did have some butt pain complaints. She did, however, admit that it took her mind off her knee pain. So maybe that was a good thing???
Kathy was feeling her quad by the last loop. We all found out that she had torn her quad years ago and it never really healed correctly. This is also Kathy’s first 50 mile ride in a very long time so although she is a kick ass marathon runner, she wasn’t in the best of riding shape so she had some thigh complaints. .
Then they all wanted to know why I wasn’t complaining about anything. And why was I always so happy all the time. And they really hated me right about now.
Well, I did get a big gash on my forearm when we were trotting through that high weeded trail so I held up my arm and pointed out the gash and made a small complaint about getting blood from my wound on my new saddle pad.
They all laughed and said “Thank you for complaining!”
I had told Julie to expect us around 5:00 to 5:30 pm to the final hold. I had been right on the money all day with times to arrive and sure enough, we got into the hold around 5:15 and timed at 5:19. Julie was reading a book and didn’t see us. Renee’s trailer was right at the in-timer tent so I hollered over at her.
She quickly jumped up and rushed to help Renee. I asked her if she had brought back the waterproof sheets for my horses and she said yes but they weren’t at my trailer. I asked if she could get them because we needed the,.
Kathy and I went to our trailer and dumped stuff off the horses. Julie promptly arrived with the sheets and we threw them on to keep Miss Daizy and Steel semi-dry and warm until we got our pulse and vetted out.
THANK YOU TIFFANY! She came over and helped me and Kathy to get down to the vet-in and pulse. Tiffany rode the 35 mile LD and still had enough energy to trot Miss Daizy for me.
Getting to the pulse timer was interesting as Miss Daizy just wanted to eat. She is eating everything in sight. Her head is buried in her feed pan, then in the grass, then in someone else’s hay, then in the grass again and getting down to the pulse people is difficult because I have to keep pulling her head up from eating.
YAY, she is her normal piggy self at the end, even with her sore back.
Miss Daizy pulsed right in at 48. Her CRI, however, told a different story. The vet touched her back while doing her pulse and it shot up to 60. So we start the CRI at 60. I watched Miss Daizy trot down and back and she was loose, tail in the air and trotting square.
When the vet went to do her CRI pulse, she put her hand on Miss Daizy’s back. Miss Daizy’s back dropped like a stone in water and her pulse shot up to 72.
Final CRI? 60/72 … and it was all because of her back.
In fact, her back was SO SENSITIVE that I was sure the vet would pull her as not fit to continue. The vet was very thorough, however. She gave Miss Daizy a C on her back after she did some manipulation on it. She said Miss Daizy is not muscle sore, she is back sore. I don’t understand the difference, but the vet felt she was fit to continue and we completed.
Everything else? All A’s with two B’s.
Steel? Kathy did a marvelous job with her. She got all A’s and one B. Final CRI 48/48.
Renee? She is so happy to have completed her second 50 with Joy. Happy Happy Joy Joy.
We put our horses under waterproof blankets, got them lots and lots of stuff to eat and then we cozy upped in my trailer out of the rain to wait for the awards.
Joy 23rd, Miss Daizy 24th, Steel 25th. I don’t know why they didn’t just tie us (LOL) Marilyn pulled back two miles out to come in slowly. I’m not sure of her placing as there were two other riders pretty close behind us.
37 riders started the 55 mile ride. 31 riders finished. So we ran back of the pack. It was a faster trail than that but I worked at the speed Miss Daizy set and we all four completed with happy healthy horses. I’m happy to say, that Sylvia took an horse electrolyte for her cramping and we did pass her at one point on the trail as she was coming into the away hold and we were on our way back out. She was riding and smiling, so that electrolyte must have worked out very well for her!
Here is a note about time. We rode fifty-five miles in 8 hrs and 14 min. Our actual ride time (official) will be 8 hrs 49 min. Overall time is 10 hrs 19 min.
Miss Daizy and I, as a team, have now completed 20 rides together (CTR and Endurance)!
Miss Daizy officially has 24 rides (CTR and Endurance) since she started her career in 2013, four of those rides with other riders in 2013, her first year out, when my back went out halfway through the season and I couldn’t ride.