Sunday, March 21, 2010

Rides of March 2

So, non endurance people, here's what happens at lunch. You come into camp, and someone notes your time. Your horse has to pulse at 60 bpm before your 1 hour hold starts, so that's the first thing you concentrate on. After you pulse and before you head out, you have to pass a vet check.

I am really terrible at taking pulses - it confuses me greatly to count beats while looking at numbers on a watch. But even I can figure out if a pulse is above or below 60 - that's one beat per second, or 10 in 10 seconds. I checked as soon as we got in and she was pretty high, so we headed to the trailer. I stripped her tack, let her drink water, and let her munch hay and calm down.

She was pretty gross.
Mud horse!

Then I noticed she was shivering and realized that she was probably cold, poor thing, and I blanketed her and kept checking her pulse. She was very close - maybe 64 - and we moseyed slowly back over to the water, then to the P&R people, and she was down. I took her back by the water, then back to the hay to stuff her gut a bit before we vet checked. (I have no idea if this is a good theory or not, but I figured if you'd just eaten something, your stomach would make more happy sounds.) She passed the vet check - IIRC, she got B's in skin tenting and gut sounds. Skin tenting was no surprise - she didn't drink til we got back to camp, but she did start then.

I changed clothes completely. Somebody, probably Mel, talked about how amazingly good it feels to put on fresh clothes, and I wanted to get out of my early morning cold weather clothes anyway. Fresh underwear! Dry socks! Jogging pants! It was heavenly.

I ate too - a bag of Fritos, a ham sandwich, and a whole bottle of gatorade. Dixie wasn't eating as much as I'd like - our hay and grain were all stupid and horrible and nasty. I kept shoving apple slices between her lips and waiting for her to slowly eat them, and I snuck her back over to P&R for their super-tasty bright green alfalfa. Still, at the end of the hour she looked pretty perky and I realized there was no good reason to not go on, so we did.

We happened to start right behind some different people - a lady and a junior on greenies. We followed them down a pretty nice road along the tops of some hills, and I realized that I should take some pictures. The iPhone is pretty awesome in general, but it takes uninspiring pictures :(

Here's a decent one. Boulder sculpture things, hills, valleys, and huge walls of mountains.

The road goes on forever (and the party never ends)

Red rocks! In Red Rocks, NV!

I managed to ration my horse pretty well on the first half of the last loop. We trotted (yes, TROTTED) the flats and downhills and walked the uphills. She didn't have a bit of pace or rack left in her - it was all hard trot the whole rest of the ride.

Eventually we walked down off the hills, 1000' down in a mile and a half. An industrious girl in full English gear caught up by jogging her horse on foot. And right as the trail leveled out, the first two 50s passed us - I admit, that was really depressing.

Dixie drank from every water trough we came across and she kept up with the other 30s til about mile 21. She was clearly tired. It was a tough bit of trail, too - we gained that 1000' of elevation back in a steady slow rise over seven miles. It was like being on an inclined treadmill, and I think it's way harder than just slogging up a really steep hill.

I alternated trotting and walking for another 15 or 20 or 30 miles. It was endless. I lost my patience and vowed to sell my horse if we ever made it back to camp. Or maybe I'd just get off and leave her to die in the desert. Or maybe we'd die together and become Dead Horse and Human Flat for future riders to see.

I think I needed some sugar.

Anyway, there was absolutely nothing to do but keep riding forward, so we did. Eventually we made it to the crossroads and I knew we were close. Three more 50s had passed us, cheerfully trotting along like they were having fun or something. I didn't want to go through all this and not complete, so I knew we had to vet in, so I got off and walked the last half mile.

I did the same thing when we got back - stripped tack, blanketed, and even poured water on her neck - and I got her pulse down in 10 minutes. Hey, we're getting better! She passed her vet check again - I think her Bs were skin tenting and mucous membranes? But I was too busy eating The Best Candy Bar Of My Life to pay much attention.

After the vet check, we were... done. Finished. Completed. I bought the ride pictures (I do look like I was having fun, so the big smile worked), got my tee-shirt, and started slowly sorting my stuff. Dixie had come in almost too tired to eat again, but once she pulsed down she started munching.

I got everything stowed, loaded the horse, and got back on the road. It took another two hours to get home. I had to feed all the horses when I got back to S's - Dixie looked very bright eyed and perky by then. I had to literally pull everything out of the truck to find the other set of keys to get in the tack room - pretty frustrating. Then I stowed all my horse gear, drove down to south Reno and dropped the trailer, and drove back to north Reno.

Today I feel like a truck ran over me. My knees are Not So Good and all my muscles hurt. I can't wait to do it again - aside from Mile 21 where I wanted to suicide pact with my horse, that was super total hella fun and I can't imagine why anybody wouldn't want to do that, over and over again.


  1. You guys are troupers - that sounds pretty hard to me!

  2. It sorta sounds like fun. Except for all the conditioning and boring stuff that goes with it. We spend hours (6-8) on our horses, but don't cover too much ground (maybe 14 miles - depending on our destination).

    I think I'd like to do it once just to say I did it. Estes may have another think about it though :)

  3. Way to go!!

    Two suggestions (from someone who doesn't ride endurance but CTR):

    Pack a candy bar or zipfizz in your bags. That shot of sugar when you needed it would have really helped.

    Tunes really help also, especially if you are riding alone. I always ride with someone since we are either bushwacking, timing, safety rider or drag. But I still carry my tunes with me on my phone.

    Thanks for taking us along on your ride. The snow here is slowly melting. There will be a really short window where the snow is gone and the ground still frozen that we can get on our trails without tearing them up. I'm getting impatient!!

  4. Yipppppeeeeee! You did it, and you should be dang proud!

    Stuff that will help next time:
    * sponging a hot horse will help bring the pulse down quickly. Water will cool the skin so the blood doesn't have to do it--if the blood isn't needed for cooling, the heart can relax and beat slower. Make sense?

    * good hydration (horse) will also help with lowering the pulse. If the horse is even slightly dehydrated, the blood will be thicker and harder to pump; the heart will work harder and beat more frequently to move sludge than to move properly hydrated blood.

    * good hydration and food (human) will help everything. Take some food with you! Zipfizz or jolly rancher candies are good if you can tolerate sugar. I can't do sugar, so I take string cheese and V-8. When you bump up to longer rides (you will do longer rides, right?) you might want to explore human electrolytes.

    Meanwhile, ibuprofen is your friend!

  5. Way to go, girls!!
    I did a few 25-mile CTRs back a few years with Corky (he was four and five at the time, and he would have been 30 this year, so you do the math). It was a kick in the pants! But I was much younger and sturdier then. Sounds like Dixie's recover rates were pretty good--your conditioning routine is obviously on the right track. It'll just take a while to keep up with those 50-milers. ;-)
    I have to admit I'm one of those who get bored with the sagebrush, and would prefer trees and green. But your first "scenery" shot is gorgeous!

  6. wow, you did it! i'm so happy for you and your mare! i *lol*d when you thought about selling the horse if you made it back, i've heard that one before: )

    i also cannot imagine anyone not loving endurance. it's the very best thing there is.

    i'm sorry your mare lost it at the start. i didn't think she would, but who can tell.

    i wanted to tell you beforehand that going overtime isn't so bad, because you have the satisfaction of knowing you put your horse's welfare above all else. but you did it, whew: ) she'll learn to eat and drink even better - she's a mare: )

    i also think you did right by doing it alone, because you could ride your own ride.

    i can't believe how close that ride is to you. lucky you!

    i hope you picked some sage, and i'd like to see more pics!


  7. Oops, forgot to say re: sponging

    Sponge and scrape off water to cool your horse. You can use a squeegee, one of those hand-sized scrapers, or even a riding crop to scrape water off.

    In a hot/humid climate, putting water on your horse and leaving it there works like leaving a warm blanket on a warm horse! When you first start scraping water off, the water will feel HOT! Your horse is cool when the water that you scrape off is cool.

  8. Thanks, yall!

    AKPG - Definitely need a candy bar. And I have never ridden to music, actually - I am usually listening to the world around me, or on the road where I NEED to listen. I might try it.

    AareneX - I wasn't really sure where the sponging water was, and I didn't want to sponge out of the drinking water, so I just... didn't.

    I can't get Dixie to drink before 15 miles. Once she decides to start, she drinks pretty reliably, so I'm hoping she'll just start drinking quicker. And I don't feel like I understand electrolytes well enough to use them - seems like they can backfire easily or cause more problems than they solve.

    And of course I'm going to do longer rides!

    Lytha - yeah, she mostly lost it. It was fun to ride at least! Next time I'll start last, and I'll have a buddy to ride with, and she'll know that we have a loooong ride ahead of us - it'll be better.

    I am allergic to everything, so I don't touch the sage - I'm probably allergic to it too. But I see it every day. It's even greening up for the spring!

  9. Oh Heavenly scenery Funder!
    I too would be an idiot with the math of looking at a watch and counting beats!
    BRING Chocolate or sours next time, for the sugar rush of it...I am glad Dixie drank at all the opportunities the second pony!
    Oh my..."my knees are NOT SO Good and my muscles ache, I can't wait to do it again"...I think this may be an addiction!
    I love it fund...Okay..I am calling this gal I met through a client..she says they will take me to rides and I can camp with them...I need to do this thing, at least once !
    Living the endurance ride-through YOU!
    Poor Wa knows not of what I enroll her in!

  10. oh i'm so glad aarene mentioned that about scraping the water off! i only saw a few people doing that in holland and it was soooo humid out.

    also, out of habit/whatever, people were blanketing their horses even though it was so hot out. i think sometimes people fail to concentrate on the weather for each vet check - they sponge when it's freezing out and they blanket in the heat. the horse i crewed for ended up with thumps on both sides (the vets were using him as a demo for this!) and it was due to the heat - and the fast 100 miles of course.

    i used electrolytes very sparingly, because our region was not humid. like i'd give a half dose the night before, and a half dose after the horses were drinking well, but only if it was really hot out.

    someday i'll have to tell you about the differences between endurance in the USA and europe. crazy stuff.


  11. Hey congratulations! Next time it will be easier and more fun for both of you. And next time take a few candy bars on the trail with you. They are a great pick me up. (I get the same way when I need food.)
    - The Equestrian Vagabond

  12. And here is where I continue to live vicariously through you....

  13. Congratulations!!! And I totally share your misery as my horse is very much like your's. If you unlock the secrets of eating and drinking well....please forward.


  14. Thank you so much for sharing your ride - even your visions of suicide (picturing Don Knotts in some western flick in the desert).

    When it hurts that good, its time to go back for more!

  15. And I was proud when I did 4 miles straight once! LOL

    You should be proud of both of you for sure! I can't imagine riding that far, must less riding that terrain.


  16. First of all I feel terrible that is has taken me so long to comment! I read the post the day you put it up, but didn't have the brain to makey-the-wordsy at the time.

    So anywho. You guys are absolutely incredible! I was just thinking how Key would never have that level of fitness, and then I thought about it.

    Why can't he?

    So you have inspired us to get out of the arena this year and start to explore my small hometown. Your mare's feet look AMAZING, and maybe it can do the same for Key's terrible feet. I don't think we'll be going nearly as far as you, hehe, but we'll be going out. It sounds crazy to me to just ride with my horse for miles and miles and miles, but I think we have so much to gain from it. (PS. Do cheap gps's exist that just tell me how far/how fast i've gone? lol)

    So congrats to you and the finish! Congrats to your crazy mare, and congrats to all the work you've put in to get this far. Thank you for inspiring us! (well, me, but I'm sure Key won't mind. ;) )

  17. Argh, obviously yall still like me even though I'm TERRIBLE at responding to comments in a timely fashion. Sigh.

    KC - DO IT! At least do a mini-LD, one of the 10 mile trail rides - it's not such a big deal, but you'll get to see what we're all so excited about.

    Yall, I'm thinking about carrying a bag of M&M's. I could stash them somewhere they wouldn't get squished, and they're OK if they get hot. I keep thinking of unwrapping a Hershey's bar and having a melted chocolate explosion all over my shirt, reins, horse, etc. Or even better, having the bar unwrap itself in my saddle bags - yay. :(

    DiJ - I would like to remind you that TWHs are not genetically gifted endurance mounts. No guarantees, of course, but there's really no reason a stock breed horse can't complete an LD. I mean, the Friesian completed! If a big hairy light draft can complete, then a cute lil paint can do it too.

    There's really no special equipment required. The cheapest GPSs just tell you time and distance. Mine's a Garmin 305 that I picked up for under $50 at an REI garage sale - I'm sure they're on ebay too. And you don't need a perfect saddle for an LD - you need one that fits, yes, but not "OCD saddle fitter working with FEI dressage rider" level of fit. That's about it!


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