RABBIT RUN 50 2016

(I think I need to rewrite this story, it’s awfully depressing and I wasn’t depressed, I was enjoying myself immensely!)

If you sort back through my ride stories, you’ll not see one for Rabbit Run.  In my mind, I have never been ready to kick off the endurance season with a 50 mile ride, in March, after little to no conditioning over the winter, and during a time in our weather patterns where Mother Nature is at her most unpredictable.

Oh yeah, bring on some wind, rain, coldness and you’ll pretty much know how the last couple years have been at Rabbit Run.

But this year is different.  I am putting it out there that I *AM* going to ride a 100 mile endurance competition so I have to get going, and I have to get Miss Daizy going.  So, I am entered into the Rabbit Run with a possible entry the next day in the Bunny Hop CTR.

Am I insane?  Probably.  Look at the weather forecast.  Rain, wind and bleck … the bleck is because I am sick with some stomach nonsense … bleck.

weatherAnd to make my ride weekend even more eventful, I made a mistake.  Lindsey offered to bring the horses to the ride in her trailer (she’s riding Steel) because she has sleeping accommodations.  Little did I realize how much work unpacking and repacking all the gear for my two horses would be to move it from my trailer and truck into her trailer.  THEN, I find out that she doesn’t have LQ in her trailer, just a bed in the gooseneck.  Well, that’s not going to work, I am not a nice sleeper so it would be pointless to share a bed with Lindsey and keep her up all night.

I should have said “No, I’ll bring the horses in my trailer.”

Whatever …

The bonus part of moving all my stuff from one trailer to the next is I found things I had forgotten I had, I threw away things that have been broken or used up, I replaced things that should have been replaced long ago and all my gear (yep, every bit of it) was cleaned.

When Lindsey got to my barn, I had everything stacked and ready to go.  I was also doubly prepared that I  might have to follow her in my car because I had too much stuff.  The car was unloaded from all my grooming gear and the back seat laid down.

We were very efficient, me and Lindsey, we had everything packed and secured in under an hour.  We did get every bit of my stuff into her trailer and had room left over.  Amazing!  We look like an old hillbilly couple moving, it was packed so tightly and haphazardly.

What??? Rabbit Run??? We're going somewhere to chase rabbits???

What??? Rabbit Run??? We’re going somewhere to chase rabbits???

For some reason, Miss Daizy was totally prepared to be caught and came right to me.  Steel, well, she decided it was time to play a little ring-around-the-rosie and it took me a couple minutes to get the halter on her.  The entire time The Baby (Bombardier) was like, “Take me, I’ll go, I’ll be a good endurance horse!”

Loaded up Miss Daizy and Steel and we were ready to roll.


Okay, I know most of you read my stories just to find out all the mis-adventures that occur on the way to the ride.  I hate to disappoint everyone, but the drive to the ride was totally uneventful, except for missing Rt 206 south because we were talking too much.  We only had to drive an extra 5 miles to get back on route so I can’t even count that as a mis-adventure.  And the drive went really fast, because we were talking too much!

Once again, Lindsey and I were very efficient because we found a parking space that was BONUS!!!! and we had everything unpacked and organized within 30 minutes.  I kid you not.  Camp was all setup and ready to go in 30 minutes.  I have decided that someone needs to loan me money to get one of these gooseneck trailers because everything is tidy and neat and doesn’t have to be unpacked from the bed of the truck.

campAdded bonus, we used the gun rail as a partition between Miss Daizy and Steel, which made their pens larger. AND, see the pavilion in the background?  We set up our hold stuff underneath there, in anticipation of the rain we are expecting tomorrow, and we would be nice and dry.  No need to set up pop-up canopies and worry about them blowing away.


So everything is done and I am feeling queasy again.  I keep my wits about me (and keep my mouth shut) and go visiting.  Not for long, I sure don’t feel well at all so after we have the horses vetted in and every one is told “Hello!”, I go back to the trailer and just sit at the nice picnic table under the pavilion.


Dinner is at 6:30 pm and the ride meeting is at 7:00 pm.  Everyone in camp is looking at the weather channel (like every five minutes) in hopes that the torrential rain they’re calling for is going to go away.  Temps are supposed to be in the upper 70’s so the rain won’t be as bad as if it were normal March weather.  I have all my rain gear (plus lots of extra riding clothes) packed and while riding in the rain isn’t my favorite, I am more concerned about my stomach issues than I am about the rain.


So, I am doing two things that I have never done.  Starting the season on a 50 instead of a CTR or LD *AND* I have never competed the Rabbit Run 50 mile ride.  Nope, in seventeen years of competing, I have never done this 50 miler.

Lindsey goes off doing Lindsey stuff while I sit and chillax.  Miss Daizy is doing 50 miles in her paddock and I watch her dancing back and forth while Steel is relaxing and eating hay.  I’m not sure what has gotten into Miss Daizy, she started this whole pacing thing last year at The Nationals ride.  I am a little bit concerned that Miss Daizy is ready to kick off the ride season on a 50 mile ride. She was injured at The Nationals and I pulled her shoes and let her sit in pasture from October to February.  Put shoes on her and did a couple tune up rides then brought her here.

Apparently, her brain isn’t in the game because she is ALL worked up in her paddock.  Typically, that behavior is coming from Steel.  Right now?  Steel looks like a well seasoned endurance horse, standing with one leg cocked and crunching hay.

Dinner is served.  Time is passing pretty quickly, amazingly, and dinner is a well rounded mix of noodles with red sauce, potatoes baked with chicken, salad, and lots of desserts (most of which have walnuts so I am not having any of that).  Usually I chow down at dinner, but my stomach has other thoughts on that … I get a wee bit of everything and pick at it.

We sat with Nina, Mary, Dawn and Dean and had the most marvelous conversations while we ate supper.  Dawn had me rolling on the floor with tears of laughter as she regaled us with stories of her conditioning rides on her new horse.  Attacking dogs, attacking dump trucks, attacking birds.  My goodness, her new boy is gonna go down trail thinking something is wrong because it’s too quiet.

Ride meeting is pretty straight forward.  50 milers – RED-WHITE-BLUE loops.  30 milers – WHITE-BLUE loops.  We start at 7:30 am.  One comment was made at the ride meeting that set my teeth on edge.  I am still chewing on a comment from Mustang 75 where the ride manager told us as we left on the last loop of that ride to hurry up and get back because she wanted to go to bed.  Hey, we have 18 hours to finish a 75 mile ride, I’ll take as long as I like on the last loop.

Well, the awards ceremony is to be at 4:00 pm.  Ride manager said she expected most riders on the 50 would be done before then because the trail rides easy.

HEY!  DAMMIT!  I have 12 hours to complete this ride, why put pressure on us to get back in before the awards ceremony so we can be involved?  I pretty much think that sucks out loud.  And yes, I am complaining.  If you wanted to get the 30 milers an award ceremony at 4:00 pm, great – but save the 50 milers their own award ceremony so that they can all be involved and know who top tenned and who got BC, who turtles, yada yada yada.

What a let down.  I am seeing this more and more.  Ride management is more about their own comfort than giving the riders their due.  I can complain … because I have been a ride manager (twice( and a ride secretary (three times) and I do not agree with this new philosophy trend.

 Okay, enough of that … dinner is not sitting well in my tummy.  I go back to the trailer and tell Lindsey I will probably turn in around 9:00 pm.  She goes off and does Lindsey stuff.

I feed Miss Daizy and Steel and top off their buckets.  Miss Daizy is still pacing and under her rain sheet she’s soaked with sweat.  Great, I’m gonna start off the ride with a tired and dehydrated horse. I have no idea why she’s getting so worked up.  Steel is quiet, there are horses around but not too close, and she has everything she needs.

My mattress is in the trailer and although it’s a little “ripe” in here, I feel very comfortable and cozy and I fall right to sleep.

Temperatures continue to ride all night.  I got up around 3:00 am to empty my bladder and it was 10 degrees warmer outside the trailer than inside.  WOW.  This is not good.  The one nice thing, it’s a full moon and the sky is clear.  No clouds yet.  Maybe the rain will pass us by after all.  how nice would that be.

Believe it or not, Steel is laying down sleeping.  Miss Daizy is still pacing.


After another 2 hours of restless sleeping, I get up at 5:00 am and feed Miss Daizy and Steel.  They both ate their entire hay bag empty (YAY!) so I refilled them.  Steel drank most of her water, Miss Daizy only drank a half of one bucket.  Normally I wouldn’t think too much about that as she doesn’t drink a whole lot anyway, but after pacing and sweating all night, I figured she would have wanted more than that.

Briefly, it crossed my mind to give her a elyte before we start.  Since I never do that, the thought passed as quickly as it came.

Lindsey is still sleeping so I go get some coffee (which is really flavored water, it was so thin it looked like tea.)  and I sit in the bunk house talking tot he other riders in there.  My stomach is protesting the coffee.  Is it because it’s really not coffee or is it this stupid stomach virus.  I don’t know, but it’s not a fun feeling at all.

I skip eating anything because my stomach said so …

Back to the trailer and time to get the horses brushed and tacked.

BRUSHES?????  Holy crap.  Guess what I forgot to ask Lindsey if she had any … and I didn’t bring my own.  Lindsey had some soft brushes and a rubber curry but she didn’t have a metal curry, a shedding blade, a hair brush …


My bad.  I guess Miss Daizy will just have to have crazy hair like me.


tacking upMiss Daizy has a trench dug from her pacing that is over a foot deep.  This photo doesn’t really give the reader a good view of it, but as I was tacking her up, I kept falling into it and almost fell flat on my face at one point.  I got her saddled up and she promptly dropped her head, closed her eyes and fell to sleep.

WHAT???  You can’t sleep now, silly mare!

2016_rabbit_run1Steel, on the other hand is now wide awake and being a typical Steel horse, shivering in anticipation, dancing around, and being generally annoying.  Lindsey said she wasn’t bad, but I saw her being annoying!  Don’t try and fool me!  I am actually pleased to see she is awake and ready to go.  Lindsey is a good morning partner, she is quiet and kind and doesn’t even yell at Steel.

Okay.  Plan is … wait until everyone is on trail and then go out about 7:45 am.  That’s right.  I am always wasting time.  because I don’t care about anything other than finishing the ride with sane and healthy and happy horses.  And starting a ride with Miss Daizy in a pack of horses is NOT how that gets accomplished!!!!

Trust me.  She’s gonna be passing horses all day long so starting 15 minutes behind the time is alright with me!

 I eat a banana.  I know I need to eat something.  I also drank a bottle and a half of water.  My stomach is not happy but at least I got something in there.  I pee like 20 times and then I say, “Let’s do this!”

leaving_first_loopAnd they’re off.  We come up to the trail start right at 7:45 am.  The timer lady started with, “Trail has been open 15 minutes, go!”

Yes, I am well aware that trail has been open for 15 minutes.  I wasn’t sure how to take her “tone” so I just passed it off as a morning – need more coffee – attitude and smiled and started the ride.

YAY.  50 miles here we come.  As you can see in this photo, Miss Daizy is prepared to do the 50 miles in about an hour.  Steel is all chillaxed and moving along like, “Whatever.”  What a pair these two mares are.

Okay, I had already told Lindsey that if she felt that Steel was struggling, to tell me so I could slow Miss Daizy down.  About three miles into trail, Miss Daizy is blasting along and I do have her rated to her “medium speed” trot and Lindsey says, “Hey, Steel is contering to keep up, can you slow down.”


We slow down, and that lasts about a mile and Miss Daizy is slowly speeding up again.

I slow her down again and we come to a wide open service road that looks like it goes on for several miles.

Okay, let’s canter a bit.  I let Miss Daizy out into a canter and my stomach starts protesting … loudly …


The miles are flying by and Miss Daizy feels great for a horse that only got a 20 minute nap in the morning.


Steel and Lindsey are feeling each other out.  Mostly Lindsey trying to get a grip on us working so fast.  I had pre-warned her about this.  Miss Daizy is so tiny, it’s hard to believe that she can do a 14 mph trot, and hold it for miles and miles and miles without breaking a sweat.  Steel is so used to working with Miss Daizy for the past three years that she just canters along behind without issue.

Passed three riders.

Passed four riders.

Came up on Dawn and Dean and the jingle bells were giving her new boy a moment’s pause.  I told her he needed a little excitement so he would feel that he was just on a conditioning ride.


Passed them by.

Passed Kristen.

Came up behind Skip’s group and had a short conversation with Dom.

Now Miss Daizy has become a handful … Skip’s group were moving at a nice pace and I wanted to stay behind them but Miss Daizy has her own thoughts on that and is pulling and pulling.

STOP!  Right now.  STOP.

We pull on the side of the trail and let them get out of sight.  I tell Lindsey to put Steel in front and do Steel’s medium trot for a little bit.

Couple minutes, Miss Daizy settles down and we take the lead again.

coming in first hold2WOW – 20 miles just flew by, there’s the “One Mile To Go” sign.  How did that happen???  I see Skip’s group just ahead of us and Miss Daizy starts to get excited to pass them by and I’m like

STOP!  We have to get relaxed so you pulse in. Of course, she doesn’t listen, all she knows is she has to win.  Thank goodness she’s not a hard horse to handle because even though she’s like “GOTTA GO” she’s listening to me.


coming in first holdShe will not give to me and just walk the last half a mile so we get off and force them to walk.  This is a mistake for me because this is deep sugar sand coming into the timer and I am twisting my ankles left and right and left and right.

Bah humbug stupid sand.

But, I am thrilled that we did 20 miles in 2 hours and both horses are perky and peppy and the ride manager not only says, “Way to make up time, girls (I’m a girl, YAY) but also says we’re tied for 9th coming into hold.

No, I am totally NOT about the placing.  I am about the miles and the happy horses!  But it was an impressive statement!

Okay, they drink long long long at the water trough and we go straight to pulse.  They’re both down.  Steel at 48, Miss Daizy at 52.


We vet in and head to the pavilion.  No rain yet but it is humid as heck.  I am starting to feel the heat.  It has really come up and when the sun peeks out of the clouds, it’s baking me.  Miss Daizy and Steel are more about resting than they are about eating.  This concerns Lindsey but I tell her this is pretty normal behavior.  They are picking at their food and I am picking at my food.  I know I need to eat but my stomach says no.

Lindsey goes up to see if they have any food yet at the bunk house and as they didn’t, we eat a chicken sandwich and some chips and I drink a electrolyte BCAA because I know I need it.  I also down an apple juice and an ensure.  Lots of liquid in my tummy now and it feels a little better.


I had some technical difficulty with my saddle on the first loop so I make the necessary corrections.  Lindsey puts on some more sunscreen because her fair skin is starting to turn pink and after I ditch some clothing we’re ready to go. We get on and head out.  We were due out of hold at 10:45 am and we get to the timer at 10:51 am.  She is ignoring us.  We’re trying to get her attention to let her know we’re going back on trail and she’s talking to a kid, then she’s talking to another lady, finally Lindsey speaks up and says, “Hey, 515 and 508 going out.”

The timer lady looks up our numbers and is very snippy when she says, “You should have left already.”

Ohhhhh, I love the volunteers at rides, but this woman is working my nerves.  I do not know her so I don’t know if her “tone” is just how she is, or if she’s having a bad day because the coffee sucked, or if she just doesn’t like us with our rabbit ears taped to our helmets.


I don’t care if it rains now because I am really heating up.  We’re out on second loop and Miss Daizy is still cranking it.  I am not feeling the joy as I’m getting hotter and hotter and hotter.  Is this a hot flash?  Is this a heat stroke?  Is this a fever?

I do not know.  Moving along at about 8 mph I dig around in my saddle bag and grab two tylenol.


Within 10 minutes I’m sweating so profusely, my shirt is stuck to my back and it’s creepy because I feel cold.

Ah, must be a fever.

It’s good.  Drink water.  And I did, we flew along that second loop and I drank both bottles of water and the little bottle of elytes I had.

Towards the end of that loop, just when I was starting to feel a bit better, we came upon a white boat, in the middle of the woods, where no boat has business being.  Steel was in the lead and she jumped sideways and partially spun around.  Miss Daizy jumped sideways and did a 180.  My back went “POP” and I almost fell off.


We keep going and I am suddenly getting thigh burn.  What’s with the thigh burn.  It takes me about two miles to realize that my back is tight and my legs are trying to do all the work.


I do some Ki breathing, and force my back into relaxing.  By the time we came into the hold, my back was in better form and my thighs had quit burning.  However, my stomach is rolling.

Miss Daizy and Steel are both snubbing the water on trail.  I am well aware that they do not like the brown water at the NJ rides, so I’m not worried about that.  We go straight to the water tub and both mares drank and drank and drank then straight to pulse.  Steel is 56 and Miss Daizy is 52.

Good mares.

second holdVet in, no troubles, and off to the pavilion.  Just as they start eating, the sky opens up and it downpours like crazy.  Thank goodness for this pavilion that Steel wanted to be under.  Miss Daizy didn’t so she had to get covered up in a rain sheet.  And thank goodness Lindsey got up to the bunkhouse and back with chicken noodle soup BEFORE that rain started.

Oh please, God, let this rain cool things off.  I was told by two people on the way in that the temps had reached 80 degrees.  I didn’t believe them so while we were relaxing in the hold I checked the weather channel and it said 81 degrees.

It’s freakin’ March … come on!!!!

hold two1Although the girls were eating with great gusto, Steel ate all her slurry then we made her a second one and she was eating that one, too – Lindsey wanted to be 100% sure they were tanked up so she went over and was the “pan holder” for them.  Lindsey spoils them, to be sure!  I am actually feeling like a very bad rider at this point because Lindsey has ridden the same miles I have (although she’s on the smooth cadillac and I’m on the shockless land rover) and she’s doing all this stuff while I sit here and feel queasy.  I must have told her ten times “thank you thank you thank you”

The girls are definitely filling their bellies well.  I ate half the chicken soup and a power bar full of electrolytes and I’m at the point that I just can’t eat or drink anything.  My tummy is protesting loudly and I’m getting belly rumbles.


The rain ends just as our time to leave hold approaches.  Miss Daizy drooled on my hold cigarette so I decide to light another one quick while we tighten girths and get ready.  Lindsey wants to know if she’s making me nervous that I smoked two cigarettes back to back. I laugh and tell her she’s the best ride partner I could have today and it’s all Miss Daizy’s fault I had to have a second smoke.

We get on and go to the timer.  Our out time was 1:51 pm and we got to the timer tent at 1:59 pm.

Keep in mind, I don’t feel well … so when that timer gave us attitude, for the third time today, I almost got off Miss Daizy and popped her in the face.  Seriously, I was ready to smack her when she said, “You are past your time.”

WE KNOW THAT AND WE DO NOT CARE!  Just check us out on trail already.


Miss Daizy and Steel were not as happy happy joy joy this loop.  Oh, we left at a trot, but a slow one.  In fact, I was very happy to be moving slow because I am getting beyond queasy.  As we’re going along, Kristen comes up behind us and rides some trail with us.,  She is not feeling well, either.  She has stripped down to her sports bra and when I turned around to greet her she held her hand up and said, “Oh no, this is totally a Dodie-thing, so no comments”.  Oh my gosh, does everyone know that I can’t handle the heat well????  And how funny that she would say that.

I perked up a bit at that!

We’re going along and passed a creepy guy on trail.  I don’t know how to write this part.  Lindsey and Kristen really got the creeps from this guy, standing my his car, out on trail, with the trunk partially open.  I didn’t think a thing of it, but then again, people do not scare me … swarming bees?  They scare me!

We are not moving all that fast, more because of me than the horses.  Kristen stayed with us for several miles before passing us by.  I found out later that she was feeling just as horrible as me and she was happy to be moving slow for a while.  Her story is just as sad as mine for this ride.  Bleck bleck bleck.

Miss Daizy started to perk up about the time I started to fail.  Steel is in the lead and …

…. spewing guts on the trail …. thank goodness I missed me and Miss Daizy with my projectile vomiting because it was chicken noodle soup and it was nasty.

Sorry for that image!

Oh, wow.  I feel so much better now.

Wait, once more … ewwww … grape flavored elytes …


But, I once again missed me and Miss Daizy.

I wash my mouth out with water and catch up to Lindsey and tell her that I am much better now, let’s pick up the speed.

Oh, what a relief.  I should have done that hours ago.  I really do feel much much better.  i even eat the crackers in my pack and swig down some more water.


However, thigh burn is back and this last four miles seems like 40 miles and I can’t wrap my brain around the fact that my Map-My-Ride is showing us at 52.9 miles and it seems the trail is never ending.  Lindsey’s GPS is showing us at 52.1 miles.


Thigh burn, gotta get off and walk before I die.

Ahhh, much better.  I’m walking Miss Daizy and Lindsey sees that we’re off so she gets off and we walk a mile.

Much better, thighs are like “Thank you”

We come into the one mile to go and I get back on.

YAY!  Timer tent ahead.

YAY!  4:47 pm we finish the ride and take them to the water trough.  They drank and drank and drank while we pulled their tack.  Straight to the pulser.

Miss Daizy was 52/48 and had all A’s and one B.  Guess what is was for?  Skin tenting .. as always.  Believe it or not, I’m very surprised she has scores like that after running in her pen all night long and not drinking her water last night.

Steel was 52/52 and had A’s and B’s.  Her B’s were all in the gait/impulsion/attitude boxes.  After clickity-clacking forging for 400 miles in the sand, I guess she was tired.  But everything else was wonderful!

Back to their pens and eat eat eat girls.  And they do!  Everything we put in front of them they were chowing down.


My MMR says 54.4 miles.  Llindsey’s GPS says 53.4 miles.  Couple other people’s GPS said between 53 and 54 miles as well.  Donna did say they had to change the course a bit due to some erosion and flooding.  Guess that last 4 miles really was 40 miles.

My guts are now cramping and I know that means I better get tot he bathroom ASAP!  So off I go.  And spend the next hour in there.


So, note to self … in the future, I will not compete if I am on day 3 of a stomach virus.

Now, as a side note, my 100 mile mentor, Ro, did tell me that now I have the puking skill (to not get it on me or the horse) so I am really ready for a 100 mile ride.

What a way to end this story, yes????

And I should mention that we killed over 1/2 an hour of time hanging out in holds yet we still managed to finish in 12th placing.  Not bad for a first ride of the year and a 50 to boot.  I love my two horses!!!!

All in all I had a great ride with Lindsey and Miss Daizy proved (once again) that she is an endurance machine, totally for this sport and so, I am happy to say we have completed our first ride of the season and the rest of the year should go marvelously because we have nowhere to go but up from here!

Today, when I went to feed, the two girls trotted and cantered across the field, looking like they had never competed 50 miles.  Horses are remarkable.  I can’t express enough how they make me feel.  I am actually just a wee bit stiff and not sore at all, surprisingly because I did not feel ready to do 50  miles.  And when I got home I found this in my flower garden, which made smile.  I love these teeny miniature daffodils.


1 5:34:00 519 Claire Godwin
2 5:55:00 511 Debbie Schultz
2 5:55:00 518 Pam Williams
4 6:00:00 509 Patti Pizzo
4 6:00:00 510 Heather Davis
6 6:16:00 501 Sandra Stavens
6 6:16:00 514 Mary Palumbo
8 7:01:00 505 Angela Gross
8 7:01:00 506 Skip Kemerer
10 7:12:00 516 Dean Hilliard
11 7:17:00 512 Kristen Gonyaw
12 7:47:00 508 Lindsey Cooke
12 7:47:00 515 Dodie Sable
14 8:10:00 513 Wendy Mancini
15 8:23:00 502 Jennifer Coffey
15 8:23:00 507 Becky Griffin
16 9:34:00 521 Michele Albright
Lame LF 503 Mackenzie Coffey
Lame LF 520 Dominika Nawrot
Lame RH 517 Dawn Hilliard
RO 504 Alexandra Coffey