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

December 31, 2009

Looking Back ~ Moving Forward

Looking back on the year and what a year it was. I was full of ambition and hopes of accomplishment for 2009. As they say pride goeth before the fall. My year of great accomplishment became my year of humbling experience. It is said that we learn more from our mistakes than from our successes and I can fully attest to that as an essential truth. I worked hard with Phebes, but there were just too many elements missing in my mental arsenal. Our first LD was a disaster on so many levels. Horse out of control, the unexpected heat, too much speed, my crash off of her, metabolic melt down, heat exhaustion (rider), what a way to debut my horse into the world of endurance riding... So there we sat, Phebes on IV fluids, and me with cold wet towels dripping on my head, too sick to even taste the humble pie. But that experience sure steepened my learning curve! I can not say with assurance that Phebes will never have another tie-up. But I can say that I will not ever be the cause of another tie-up. We learned a lot about rating.

That was the beginning of spring, and the very next day I had to have my Molly Brown euthanized. She was the sweetest boxer dog you’d ever want to meet. Eyes that were just bursting with love, gratitude, and everything a boxer dog can be. Soon after I would begin the slow process of rehabbing my horse. In July my step-dad cardiac arrested while I was visiting and could not be revived. He had been my Dad for almost twenty years. Such a helpless feeling to be there and yet unable to do anything to stop a series of tragic events. Then just a couple of months ago my precious horse, Puddin who is Phebes mama had to be euthanized. This happened shortly after Phebe’s successful ride at the Spook Run at Henryville, Indiana. It was a rough year.

But I learned. I learned that endurance riding is not a simple sport, that it carries risks, and with risk comes responsibility. A lot of people gave me input on how to manage Phebes to avoid a future tie-up. Maureen Fehrs, DVM assisted me long distance to understand the needs of my horse during the re-hab process when my local vet was unable to really tell me how to bring her back safely and to avoid any further damage to her muscles. Maureen is quite a lady, and I have a lot of respect for her base of knowledge concerning distance horses. She not only assisted me to understand the physical course of bringing my horse back, but also how to support her system nutritionally to avoid a repeat of what happened. Though there are no guarantees that a fit horse will not tie up. We hope to hedge the bet as best we can. I learned to ride my own ride. My instinct had been screaming that at me all along, but my fear of Phebes throwing me, kept me wanting to train with other people, which meant we often went their speed, rather than our own. So we backed up and spent a few months working on our own, trying to develop a partnership in hopes that some of it would stick once we attended an actual ride. Some of it did, but I believe if we had started with the pack I’d have had an identical repeat to what happened in the spring. I was dead set on riding my own ride, and once we separated from the group she did pace nicely, and completed without any real drama. Things were not perfect. Her gut sounds were bad at the halfway point. This gave us more goals to work on going forward into the future. I learned about glycogen stores, and having a nice fat layer on your horse prior to competing. We’ve figured out how to get the weight on when not in training, now we will need to work at maintaining a good weight through a ride season. Phebes doesn’t want to start drinking until about the twenty mile mark, and I figure that is when physiologically she has already begun to hit the wall. I’m hoping that the addition of pre-ride electrolytes might help with this drinking issue. She doesn’t eat well at a ride. She will stuff hay but turns her nose up at stuff she’d ordinarily dive into. Her reactivity needs to be curbed…Yes, we still have much more work to do.

My goals for 2010?

Minor goals:
Road riding as a training goal.
Acceptance of stuff being syringed into her mouth.
Eating from the smorgasboard.
Get her safely transitioning to a canter.
Moving straight at the canter, she sort of cocks sideways???
Drinking at stops.
Interval training with hills.
Perfect our booting and add more Easyboot Gloves to our arsenal.

Major goals:

I would like us to complete 3-25 mile LD’s
At the end of the season either do a multi-day or attempt a 50 mile.

The rest is just a maybe...
Most of the rides will be held at Henryville. We will attempt The Chicken Chase again, Top of the Rock, and the new ride that will be held in the Hoosier National Forest, It is not known if the ride at Salamonie will be a go this year, if it is I may try a multi-day there...depends on Phebes and how she is coming along. If all goes well again we’ll train easy for the month of July and August, pick up the pace again in September, and then decide if we will do a multi—day or a 50 at the Spook Run in 2010. I won’t attempt a 50 until she is meeting all of her minor goals. If we still have work to do, we’ll look at doing a multi-day at Spook Run, and then perhaps….Corydon. That sounds like a lot of stuff! Much depends on my Mom’s health, how well Phebes does on our goals, and also how tight the economy is in the coming year. I’m sure that completion of my goals will be spotty, but I am the type of person that needs to reach for the ring, even if it may be out of my grasp.

2009 has stacked up as one of the toughest years I've had (and in half a century I've had a few of those). Looking forward to the calendar flipping over to 2010, a New Year filled with new possibilities, beautiful trails, and new endurance friends. May God bless each of you in the coming year. ~E.G.


  1. Well put! Here's to Twenty Ten, may God bless the work you do towards accomplishing your goals!

    I noticed the info you posted in your sidebar about the Maumee Valley Pioneer, and got ridiculously excited! Of course, I'm also anxious to get to ride some trails at Clark, but it is exciting to hear there will be a ride in another part of the state.

  2. Nicole...when ever you feel ready, let me know!

  3. oh...and a p.s. I'd love to train at Henryville. A LOT!

  4. Wow, you had a rough '09 too. Here's to a way better '10! Those sound like really good achievable goals.

  5. Amazing as always

  6. I live and train in s.Florida successfully and I really respect the heat.Try to drink at least 16 oz of water before the ride.Electrolyte often-i use beet pulp mixed w/perform and win and summer games during a ride.keep an extra bottle of water for your horse-I've been known to squirt it down his throat!Try bringing a few different types of hay to a ride to tempt your horse.Also,I recently started using gel human electrolytes for myself and the halfway point of a ride.Powerbar makes it.I have had some rough years(my own health)but we are stronger than ever.
    My best wishes to you in 2010!!!