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Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance

September 24, 2007

Thoughts and Musings on the Cave Country Canter

Me and Puddin' made it. Finished 11th out of 12, but we did finish with about 15 minutes to spare. I've never seen so much ROCK ANYWHERE. It was either little boulders, creek rock, or crushed limestone like on country roads. Our first fifteen miles were hell...Puddin' was wanting to move with some faster horses in front, and not wanting to listen to me telling her to slow down, flipping her head up against her bridle, all I could do to just stay on...then the booting problems started. The terrain as I said was rocky, and hills, just near constant up and down with bad footing. We nearly crashed when she caught her front boot with her hind foot, the boot ripped off from the gaiter and I thought we were going DOWN, then I was afraid she was hurt, but came out of it in a couple strides. She also hooked a tree limb and cracked it in half with her back leg, good sized branch, but luckily she didn't get hurt. Chris E. gave me her easy boot (THANK YOU CHRIS!!!!) out of her pack, and then the trouble really began. She kept popping that same boot off. Somewhere along the line it came off the fourth and final time and nobody noticed it. Two boots down, and I was so discouraged from tripping, stumbling, and nearly killing myself and my horse. Everyone was advising to not take her out on the final ten miles without boots, and I finally said to hell with it, the boots are KILLING US, and yanked off my remaining boot. By this time we were dead last and only had two and half hours to finish the course, it was doubtful we'd finish and I was feeling really stressed . So we headed out barefoot, and oh my God, crushed limestone, everywhere. She trotted through the first ten miles of it alright but then she just ran out of steam. Several shod horses were coming up lame and sore, and I was worried about my trot out at the vet check. She came through alright (A on gait, A on impulsion) with all mostly A's in other areas and a few B's on capillary refill and skin tenting, hydration issues again. She did drink on trail this time, they had water tanks set up for the horses at certain locations which really helped as the creeks were bone dry. I lost both of my water bottles during the first five miles. Again Chris went beyond the call of duty by giving me one of her's which I downed for fear it would come out of the saddle pack too. Chris's horse Jake was pulled at the halfway, he'd come up lame after stumbling in one of the dips we also stumbled in. Jake is an incredible horse, and I felt so bad for her.

My feeling is that Puddin' will never do this sport competitively. She has the try, but age and speed are certainly against her. If she were younger, she'd be an awesome horse given time, even now She would make an incredible CTR horse. The stallion I liked was there competing the 25 on Saturday and he won it and took best condition too. I'd sure like to get her bred to him, I think I'd have a contender if God willing I can still sit a horse at 55 years of age.

My plan at this point is to pleasure ride Puddin' and get to work on Phebes. The sooner I can make a trail horse out of her, the quicker I can get out there and see what I can do with her. Figure I'd start Phebes on 15 mile CTR's, and seriously work on pacing so as not to over ride on the time element. I have no feel for that yet AT ALL. If that goes well, I'll look at Endurance for her as she progresses. We'll see how it goes.

Even after this weekend I am still a barefoot advocate. I was very unhappy with the performance of my easy boots for this horse. Hoping they won't be such of an issue with Phebes in the future as she moves more fluidly than Puddin' who has that big showy park horse trot with a lot of paddle in it. So I will try foaming on easy boots with Phebes and see how they hold up. Have to get a set first mine are somewhere???? out on the Corydon trail.

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