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

May 29, 2010

Unraveling my miserable fail...

Okay...rider column:

(-) Choosing to start at the front again. (kind of seriously stupid though I thought I had logic working for me...because getting a pocket to ourselves near the front worked previously)
(no....really stupid) *ding ding ding*! (I WILL START IN THE BACK FOR THE REST OF THE SEASON) *ding ding ding* (yes I'm slow ladies, but pour enough water on me and I eventually get wet enough to grab an umbrella or a wet suit).

(-) Missing the trail ribbon for the first turn (kind of stupid) (missing the next ribbon (super stupid)
(just start slow ninny head and get your bearings)*ding ding ding*!

Any experienced riders out there care to share what ribbon placement means when the ribbon is here, there, or elsewhere because I'm seriously missing something in the equation???

(+) I felt wonderfully balanced riding, no tipping forward, and comfortable at all three gaits. Compared to last year this is a stellar improvement.

(+) Saddle pad was working great, the skito is going to do it. No bumps.

(+) Boot fitting. I vet wrapped her front hooves and the boots just fit better overall. My guess is she's between sizes, the vet wrap made her hooves tackier, and the boots performed better. No rubs, I put monkey butt on the insides of her gaiters, and also did not fasten the gaiter as snugly, so that went well.

Rider score 3/5 = 60 %

In the horse column:
(+) Relaxed in camp (previous rides not so good).

(+)Eating well in camp ( previous rides not so good).

(+)Drinking on the first loop (even though we were going the wrong direction Phebes didn't know that) she drank twice out of the creeks after about 7 miles which for her is a MAJOR IMPROVEMENT.
(+) Excellent behavior at the pre-ride vet check for the first time.

(-) Rushing on the trail, using herself up trying to catch the horse up ahead.

Horse score 4/5= 80%

Who was the real problem here?

Hmmmmmmmmmmm.....Looks like Phebes has only one area of improvement to work on (which is actually a training issue that comes back on me the trainer). Some more lessons will be in our future. Since I can get control of her when we are alone, maybe a few group lessons somewhere working the walk, trot, and canter would be prudent.

Pickles are back in the fridge until Maumee.


Between now and then I'm going to continue training as we have the past couple of weeks. Shorter rides, but at a good trotting pace, a little hill work, short controlled canters as our balance is improving.

I met a lady at the ride who I'm going to contact and try to pick her brain, she has 12,810 AERC miles, so she's got to be doing something right. She was real friendly, and seems to have a genuine heart for her horses. It doesn't hurt to ask her some questions, huh?



  1. An explanation about ribbon placement - Most ride managers, especially experienced RMs, will follow these standard practices (although there may be regional differences):

    1. "Ribbons are on the right" - this means that ALL ribbons, for YOUR direction, SHOULD be placed on the right.

    2. Ribbons on the left side of the trail are either for riders doing the trail on a different loop, or you are going the wrong way.

    3. If you are not seeing ribbons, you are also probably going the wrong way.

    4. Three ribbons clumped together mean "turn here." Before you make a turn, stop (or at least slow to a walk) and scan the trail ahead of you for the next ribbon.

    5. When you get to a road crossing, stop before you cross and scan for your next ribbon. Once you spot it, you can cross the road heading in the correct direction.

    6. You should ALWAYS be scanning the trail ahead for your next ribbon. Don't follow hoof prints exclusively. If ten riders make a wrong turn and then double back, you will be following a well traveled trail, but it will be the wrong one. If I haven't seen a ribbon within the last 2 or 3 minutes. I stop and re-navigate.

    7. Chalk, lime, flour, or other ground markings can indicate a turn with an arrow, or they may be in a straight line telling you NOT to cross the trail. Never cross a chalk/flour line.

    8. Rarely is an entire loop sabotaged (by people or nature), so don't continue for more than 10 minutes without seeing correctly placed ribbons. If you've gone for a while without seeing a ribbon, you're most likely on the wrong trail.

    9. Carry your ride map. Before the ride starts look at surrounding hills, desert, trees, etc. and get your bearings. Are you riding the first, second, third, etc. loops generally clockwise, counter clockwise, out and back etc. Then while you're on the trail, keep that in mind, especially if you get to a confusing spot along the trail.

    Getting lost can really ruin your day, as you discovered. The best advice I can offer is to continually scan for trail markers (ribbon, chalk, pie plates, etc.), make sure they're on the right side of the trail, and STOP if you think you're wrong. And if you do get "lost," go back to the last place you saw a ribbon that you KNOW was right.

    Whew ... sorry to be so long, but I have ridden more than 80 endurance rides (25s to 100s to multi-days) and I have learned how NOT to get lost. I hope I offered a clearer explanation of trail marking.

    BTW - I have also marked trail for a ride. (The person who unmarked it said you'd have to be blind to have missed MY markers! :0)

  2. How disappointing that must have been!

    But it really sounds like it wasn't exactly a fail....your Phebes sounds like she had a great experience in camp and that definitely counts for something! least you weren't lost, send a search party out in the 100+ miles of trails down there!! :-)

    Not to make light of it, of course, but it sure sounds like it wasn't a complete waste of time. Ride entry fee, yes. Time? Maybe not?

  3. Great idea to hang out with truly experienced folks!

    Trail navigation, Pacific Northwest style:
    * ribbons are always on the RIGHT
    * for long rides with many loops, I write the colors of the loops in order with indelible marker on my arm.
    * three ribbons mark an upcoming turn (some RMs use "caution" tape instead)
    * watch for lime arrows and lines on the ground for directions, especially in areas where cattle and elk eat the flags.
    * watch for pie plates and signs
    * attend the ride meeting with your map in hand and mark landmarks that the RM mentions
    * if possible, ride the first loop (or the first 5 miles of the first loop) AT A WALK the day before the event, taking note of landmarks
    * if you aren't riding in front, watch the ground for hoofprints leading the direction you are travelling

    Navigation may be slightly different in your area, but those guidelines should get you down the trail.

  4. The first marker I missed was at the very start. There was a turn, and the ribbon was set about 15 yards down the trail, and I just didn't see it in the early morning light. Someone shouted and saved my butt there (thank you whoever you were).

    The second ribbon? Ummmm....I never pegged it AT ALL. That is when I got off course, and stayed off course, but didn't realize the ribbon on the right scenerio until someone brought it up later (after the fact). I was just following the blue ribbons.....

    The last ride I went on and managed to survive I came to two different intersections where there was no clear choice until a hundred yards or so down the trail. Could be someone had pulled them down??? One was a three prong split, and I had to try all three to figure it out, just riding down each one until I found a ribbon. The other was at a blacktop intersection. Since it was an out and back ride they may have assumed that a rider would not be directionally challenged coming back, but I am a little directionally challenged...
    This time? I really think I missed the second marker because I was having some issues with Phebes who turned into a galloping monster right at the first. I figured I'd just let her blow off a little steam (bad decision) and then I would try to get that under control and get her back into some form of a trot, which is when I had to have blown right past it. In truth I don't even recall an intersection, probably because I spotted a blue ribbon on the other side (for the return trip) and myoptic squirrel that I am there I went. I'm not faulting ride management at all. Those ladies work really hard, and don't get near the appreciation they deserve. That the ride meeting, a slightly more detailed description of how things are done for the newbie who may be in the crowd would really REALLY HELP. Last time I found it helpful that one direction was (let's say blue) going out, but coming back it became (blue/white). That made sense to me. This time the first loop was blue, and second loop was pink, only for me to discover blue & pink hanging all together, tipping head back and forth thinking, is this right? Which should have told me, only.... Which I get now that some of each loop was covering the same ground, but some wasn't.

    I did indeed have a map, but the trails at Clark are not marked well in general and there are multiple logging roads, park service roads, etc. that are not shown on the map. I've ridden solo down there twice and got lost both times but managed to find my way out after some back tracking. But you can get seriously off track down there (100 miles of trail).

    Okay, this is my take from you ladies and if I have it wrong someone smack me with a frying pan...

    Ribbons for your direction are always on the right.

    If you are seeing ribbons on your left disregard them, and keep focused on the one's on the right.

    When spotting multiple ribbons anticipate a turn. Does this mean if suddenly you see your color x's three on the left, and the trail is splitting that direction it is safe to assume you are going left?

    When a turn takes you on the road there will be an arrow pointing that way....made from chalk or pie plate, or something, or look down each direction for your color ribbon HANGING ON THE RIGHT? (right?)

    Please don't say left!

    I need to check email and see how Michelle D. did this weekend. It was not too bad this morning, but temperature and humidity right now are KILLER.


    p.s. Thanks ladies, that was extremely helpful and I have never had that primer before :/

  5. EG said:
    Does this mean if suddenly you see your color x's three on the left, and the trail is splitting that direction it is safe to assume you are going left?

    I would interpret those markings as another end of your trail which will be joining you, going the opposite direction, and NOT to be followed by you.

    Here's how I mark a left turn:
    three flags on the RIGHT side of the trail from the approach side (to mark an imminent turn)

    (...followed by, ideally, a lime arrow, but sometimes that's not possible...)

    and then
    a series of flags leading leftwards onto the new trail...but the markers will still be on the RIGHT side of the new trail.

    Think of it as being similar to car traffic signs. Most traffic engineers will put directional signs on highways only on the right side of the road you are travelling. You may be able to see signs that are pertinent to other directions and other roads, but they are not signs you should heed.

    Make sense?

  6. Hmmm...I haven't seen any kind of ground markings in this region, but of course my ride experience has been limited to three trails thus far. I have seen chalk arrows on blacktop a few times. Other times nada! I'd like to make a trip back to clark and try to figure out where I went haywire, but of course with the ribbons down, I'm just as likely to get lost, again.

    Next LD I will have to grab an experienced rider and try to find out how they are marking the turns here. The explanation given by you makes good sense. But not concretely sure that is what is being done here. Could be, but of course since I had no idea other than to follow the color...GEEZ LOUISE!

    The best marked trail I over rode was at the Salamonie Reservoir, even in my lacking of trail marking savy, it was like following the yellow brick road (literally).

  7. Sorry to hear about your ride this weekend! Sounds like you learned quite a bit, so I wouldn't call it a failure.

    I rode Doc at Brown County today - he was definitely winded by the hills and the heat was hard on him today. But I guess not too hard because he certainly had plenty of energy to pick up the pace on the way back. Anyway, got me thinking that I am not sure if he'll be ready for Maumee. If I think he can do the 25 miles, I might try for another slow 25. I was hoping to step the pace from last year, but he definitely isn't ready for that yet. I need to try to figure out how many miles we went today that should help me figure out if he can do 25.

    Anyway, if you want to try taking the really slow route on a ride, Doc & I would be happy to keep you and Phoebes company. :-)


  8. Back from Top of the Rock. High heat and humidity and mud! But we did good, really good, frightingly good. We got second and third place out of eleven I believe. We came in 3rd and 4th but the first place rider got pulled for lameness. Bill rode and started out leading us. He said it was a new horse and it was her first fifty. He said he hadn't had a mare for many many years. Then he stopped and said he needed to go back and wait for someone and told us to go on. The Shaffers were the only other two with us right from the beginning. Nobody else really started right at the front. So I asked them if they wanted to pass us but he said no he wanted to stay behind us. So Shazam led the first 25 miles and we really breezed right along. It was a good footing loop. The other two were 15 then 10. What we had done before at Chicken Chase for the LD. They were quite a bit muddier but from what the Shaffers said they were more muddy the day before. On the second loop about half way thru we stopped at a water hole and they went on. Both horses drank really well or I would have pulled. They were drinking good so I wanted to stay longer, and I wanted them to get ahead of us. Even though we were leading I didn't want them to influence or horses and make our horses think they needed to go faster. So they came in a good 15 minutes a head of us. Shazam is always at criteria after I sponge him but Stormy took a little longer and the Shaffers probably went out about 30 minutes ahead of us. This was a ten mile loop and the horses started out pretty slow. Got about 3 or 4 miles into it and horses come hauling butt behind us. It's the Shaffers. They said they got off trail. About five miles. So they did an extra ten miles. We rode with them for about a mile. And then I backed off and made them stay at a water hole so they could get ahead of us. Went on. And the horses finished really strong the last 3 or 4 miles. They were the only ones in the fifty we seen on the trail since the start! When we came in to the finish the lady said first and second were only 5 minutes ahead of us! Amazing!! And Shazam pulsed down ahead of their horses but that doesn't matter in endurance for the finish. ((his vet-in pulse was 35 and the vet smiled and told me and said that's low and that's good.)) From what I've read alot of the resting heart rate is determined by heredity and not so much on exercise and conditioning, but I could be wrong.

    Any who, the horses did so well. We stood for BC and stayed around quite a while before we left. But still didn't know who got the BC. ((Last time at Top of the Rock they didn't get my weight. I weighed in but apparently the wrong person took my weight and Amy never got it. Darn because 7th place horse got BC we might have had a shot. And we didn't stand STormy because I though it was only for top five.))

    I am SO impressed with how well Shazam does at a ride. He is actually easier to handle at a ride than at home. He is just amazing. And STormy is really improving. She was so much stronger this time than she was at Cave Country canter.

    Alot of the riders who usually win or go fast were doing the LD with juniors or the fifty and were going slower. So that is how we did so well.

    Alot of the ribbons were on the ground. Okay almost all of them on the last two loops. I'm thinking maybe some of the trail riders did it. There were a lot of them. Of course it is Memorial Day weekend.

    Not sure if I am going to Maumme or not. It's a longer trailer drive and my trailer is hot in the afternoon. I don't like that. May need to paint my roof white, or so I've been told.

    Oh, and we got beat by an eleven year old whose horse had done the fifty the day before with him. Along with his seventy something year old grandfather! I just love this sport.


  9. Way to go Shazam! I didn't know you were going for the 50 mile this time. That is awesome :)

  10. Way to go Michelle & Shazam! Hope to meet you one of these days. :-)