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

April 17, 2010

The Chicken Chase 2010

I was up early on Thursday. Got Phebes a bath (with bucket and a pitcher to pour water). Braided up her mane with a strand of her mommy's hair in one of the braids for "luck". Her mommy was all heart and give, figure it didn't hurt to carry a little of that along for the ride. We loaded up and headed to Henryville and got Bill Wilson's place just about noon time. Set up camp, and signed in at 2 p.m. and vetted in about twenty minutes later. She vetted in with all A's and a question mark on gait. The vet thought she was a little off on her right rear, but I thought she was just acting goofy. He gave her an A and said we'd watch it, just in case. The ride meeting was set for 7:30 p.m. We got our instructions which included an 11 mile first loop, an away vet check, and then 19 miles back to ride camp. Tucked Phebes in for the night with her hay, her wet mash of beet pulp, and crashed on my cot to try and get some sleep. Caught maybe four hours of sleep as I was keyed up thinking about the next day. Phebes ate and drank well overnight, but refused her 3 a.m. morning ration of feed which really worried me. She was willing to eat some hay, and graze on grass so we did that awhile prior to our start time at 8:00 AM. I decided to try a slightly different ride strategy this time. I like riding by myself, so my preference is to start in the back, but I wondered if I could start with the front runners, stop, let them get good and gone, and go out before the middle of the pack people came along. It sort of worked, but she got incredibly worked up and was pulsing above 200 at the trot, and wanting to break gait to CATCH THE HERD. I persisted and we had a little rearing, crow hopping session. When the trail cleared out we were off at her power trot, pogo sticking down the trail. Some of the worst section of trail she was very worked up, including the dreaded double switch back (goat hill) trail. We came out onto the paved road and I was lucky in that respect because she could see a few horses ahead of us, and trotted on out the 3/4 mile to the trail head. She boogered over some trash cans and yapping dogs, but nothing too bad really. Then back onto the trail with hills that just never stopped. Hills that go up and up and up for miles, and then go up some more. There just can't be a tougher trail in Indiana than that one in my opinion. We had a rear boot failure which slowed us down, and I had real serious issues and lost time getting it off of her. The boot was intact, hanging by the gaiter on her right rear hoof. Each time I'd try to get a hold on it to pull the velcro she would spin. The boots actually fit her hinds better than her fronts, so I was shocked that it had come off. We made it into the first vet check, and she hadn't drank anything yet. She showed some interest in her hay, but nothing else. I syringed her some Gatorade first, and then later a half dose of electrolytes. She then drank out of a tub before we left for the second loop. My saddle skirt had caused me to get a nasty rub again, and I was not thinking that I would be able to finish, it hurt that bad. Every lift of impulsion wearing away at my skin. Doug ripped up his "favorite" old shirt and we tore strips that tied around my leg which helped...until all of a sudden pain again, I had lost it somewhere. I could have just stopped then, and bodily thrown myself off the nearest hillside (which was plentiful), if she trotted slow, I could stand it, if she moved out, which she invariably insisted upon, I was in agony, and we fought, and fought, and fought on who controled the pace for the next 15 miles. I was glad of the empty trail ahead of and behind us because of the string of cuss words each time she started pogo sticking down the trail with my leg getting further abrasion. We had some difficulty with the second loop where the trail markers had either been torn down, or were overlooked. We came out to a paved road and there were blue ribbons going both directions, but we were following white. We wandered down the left to see if we could spot a ribbon, uh then we wandered to the ribbon. I was stumped, and didn't want to cost my ride on a bad decision. About that time a rider I'd been playing leap frog with all day came along and she knew the trail direction as she'd ridden it many times. She pointed the way and we were off again. We came past a spotter and gave her our letter "D" and she pointed the way to go from that point. Later on we hit an intersection that had three splits, NO WHITE RIBBON. I took a wild guess and just walked along looking for a confidence ribbon and found one. From that point the trail was marked very well and we had no more directional issues. I was beginning to worry about her drinking, but we had enough alone space that finally she did, and then she started drinking at almost every crossing, really tanking up on water. We were now on a more familiar leg of the trail, another ten miles to go. We were alone, and I was so happy for it. She was getting tired at this point, and the pace of her gait became a little better, but I still had to do walking intervals at times for relief on my leg. The last five miles went extremely slow. She was about shot....and SO WAS I. Never was so glad to see a black top road in my life, because I knew I could dismount, and we could walk the last bit in. I started pulling grass on the road edge and giving it to her as we crawled the last little way to the final pulse gate. We went straight to the pulse checker, and she was hanging at about 74 bpm, so we left, did some sponging, pulled off our gear, and went back for a 60 bpm pulse down, on to the vet check, her scores were okay, but she did have some muscle tightness. Her CRI was 54/48. Her urine was clear, and she had a couple of small rubs from the gaiters on her boots. We were invited to stand for Best Condition which we did because I wanted to learn the process, we ended up with an overall 7th place finish. OUR FIRST TOP TEN! My girl did okay. I had hoped to ride on Sunday, but with her going a faster pace than I'd planned and the little bit of muscle tightness I felt enough was enough. Better to heed caution, to be good to ride another ride next month. ~E.G.


  1. If my first comment went thru (which I think it didn't) just post this one. To repeat and add more detail......

    We ended up getting 5th and 6th. With Shazam coming in at criteria and Stormy taking about 3 minutes to come down.

    Two riders just ahead of us about half way thru the second loop went straight when they should have turned. We were stopped at a creek giving the horses a drink. They ran off as soon as we got there (not cool). I didn't realize they went the wrong way until we started to follow them and then I seen the trail made a sharp left. I hollered a couple times telling them to come back, you went the wrong way. Bu we didn't see them so we just went on. I really thought they weren't that far ahead to hear us. I figured when they didn't see anymore ribbons they'd turn around and eventually catch up to us. So imagine our surpise when they never did pass us but were back at the finish coming in 10 minutes ahead of us. I asked the mother (I believe it was a mother- daughter) if she heard me hollering. She said she didn't. She said they eventually realized they were off trail but found it again and went on. Laura mentioned it to Amy. She asked them and they said they got off trail but then got back on and passed us. Oh, well. I told her not to press it since she had her daughter with her. And I was just so happy the horses did so well.

    We must have went pretty fast because we started at 7:15 and were pulsed down at 11. With a 40 or 50 minute hold I'm not sure what it was.

    It was muddy. I'm sure glad I had the shoes. Even so, Shazam "sprung" one of his fronts.

    I was so proud of both horses but especially impressed with how Shazam did. He eats and drinks so much better than Stormy or Jazz. I took him to the BC without Stormy and he didn't even care. Just as calm as a cucumber! I guess it is true what they say about geldings. They are easier! Stormy never really likes beet pulp anyway. But will eat alittle at home. She ate before I loaded them. After I got there. A little just before the start and then just a little both times we got back. And drunk just a little. But each time Shazam ate his whole bowlful of beetpulp, and most times seconds after that. And drunk gallons of water! Stormy did want to graze and eat her hay at least.

    Shazam even did great at the start. Granted, I thought he was going to pull my arms off the first five miles. But at least he wasn't spooky or a run-away. He was all business and really seemed to LOVE it!!

    I think we are going to shoot for a fifty at top of the rock if all goes well between now and then. You could too, you know!!

    And it sounds like you really need to invest in a full sheepskin cover. It is worth every penny believe me!!!

    Great ride.


  2. One more comment. I shut my finger in my door Tuesday evening. I was going out to ride both horses real quick to test out the new shoes. In a hurry and really got it good. At least it was on my left hand, middle finger. The nail is all black and it will fall off for sure. Pain was awful those first couple days. Of course I still rode. And I rode Shazam again on Thursday because he was a little hyper tuesday. I was worried about the start and only having one working hand with him. But luckily, by today it felt better and everything went well. Didn't even feel it the first five miles or so. Am feeling it now though!


  3. Congrats on the good ride. If you ride photos send them on and I'll post them up.

  4. That's amazing! Congrats to both of you. I'm so happy for yall!

  5. Whoohoo! You (and Phebes) did it! So proud....

    I think you made a good decision about riding the second day. I too had planned on riding the second day of the first LD I did on Farley, decided after I completed the first one not to and it was definately the better decision in the long run.

    Your CRI score looked good.

    I know you are sensitive to muscle tightness because of your past hisotry, but thought it might make you feel better to know that I had problems with muscle tone with Farley at the first couple of LD's, until she learned to stop pulling on me. Once she stopped pulling, the B's on muscle tone went away.

    I tried your strategy about going with the front runners and then dropping back...once. Was better than being with the bucking, rearing idiots in the back, but what I ultmately found that worked the best was to find a pocket at the start in the middle as people were moving out (there's ausually a gap between the front runners and people who hang back who are really wanting to be in the back) and insert myself in there. If that isn't possible, I've even left 10 minutes late (after chekcing with the ride manager) and have had some VERY good starts like this. (used this at Wild West and Tevis last year)

  6. Congratulations to both you and Michelle. I was really wishing I was able to condition Doc for the ride. The weather was AMAZING this weekend and I was itching to ride as I helped out.