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

May 28, 2010

Sometimes you fail... Top of the Rock

We were loaded and arrived at Bill Wilson's place early and got a choice parking spot for the first time ever. It was wonderful....I had shade for Phebes and myself! Had never experienced that before.

We vetted in with a veterinarian who came down from Oklahoma. I really liked him, and Phebes did NOT ACT OUT. She vetted through fine, he said she had a mild case of wind puffs, hmmm....where have I heard that before. He recommended that I ice her legs after hard training sessions and competitions. Too bad she ripped the ice pack a new one. But I'm going to get some more fixed up for her.

So why am I home? And not at the ride? Well, we started, and we promptly got off trail and discovered about 7 miles in that we were doing the loop BACKWARDS. I wasn't the only one. A man in front of me did the very same thing. We were following the only blue we found, but it was on the left, not the right. That should have been a light bulb moment I guess but I was so involved with keeping Phebes from killing herself that it just didn't register. So! We turned around, and walked back the way we had come, and took a rider option. Many people down there know that trail, but for a newb like me, it is easy to get pointed the wrong direction. One place the trail split several directions and there was no marking at all, you just kept trying until you found a confidence marker on one of the splits. In fairness though, we were having issues and my attention was divided between the horse, and trail. I could stay with the "group" and follow where they lead, but that somehow seems unfair to tail someone for the sake of not getting lost. I like to pilot my own ship even when the ship is sinking...

Phebes had one of her emotional meltdowns at the start again, and I think that is how I managed to miss the ribbon. She was wanting to go go go, and I was struggling for slow slow slow. We likely just blew past the turn within the first half mile on the trail.

I could have gone back out and re-rode the whole thing for a completion. That would have been a 40 mile ride for my girl total, and we'd have had to pushed hard to meet the deadline, and I didn't like how she looked. She did drink on trail this time on the first loop, but she was tucked up in the flanks when we got back, she was trotting by sheer physical force of holding her back...her heart monitor was warning "danger danger" because she was so worked up she was just using herself up. By the time we got back to camp I was just sorely over the adventure. Sometimes you just have to know when to say enough. This was one of those times. I'm disappointed, but I would be more disappointed if she ended up with a serious health issue and that is where my instincts said she was heading. So doing the trail over, uh uh.

So what now?


I'm just not so sure my little girl can be made into an endurance horse. She is so tightly wound in emotion that she can't relax and just enjoy the ride. The horse I have at home is so differnt. Kind of lazy, but willing, yet relaxed enough not to want to go full throttle, she was trotting at 13 mph today for God's sake! She can only cope when she knows there are no horses in front. I don't feel angry with her, she just is what she is. And I having trained her can't fault her, but rather my ability to make this whole thing work for her. Getting lost may have just been a good thing to happen today. Maybe it is a wakeup call. I'm just going to have to spend some time thinking about it.



  1. Sorry about your ride. It is hard to find the trail over there sometimes. I know.

    I'm going out tomorrow. But am worried about the forecast. A high of 87 degrees. If my guys don't drink well I am not opposed to pulling. I do hope I don't get lost though. Definately don't need to do extra miles in that kind of heat.

    What time did the LD start today? I was told the 50 started at 6:30 tomorrow. I wouldn't be opposed to them moving it up to 6am. For the horses sakes.


  2. Michelle,

    Everyone 50's and LD's started at 6:30. You will probably do fine marker-wise, whatever I missed it was early on, and more likely a consequence of having to struggle with Phebes. Ride safe, the humidity is something else.


  3. So sorry E.G. If it's any help, given the situation, I probably would have done the same thing. I think it was the right decision for your horse and I would say if you are making decisions based on your horses best interest, you are well beyond a newbie!!

    Here's an idea, have you thought of just going to a ride and letting Phebes hang out for the weekend to take everything in without the stress of actually competing? Never know, it might be worth a shot.

    I'll send some cold your way. It hasn't been above 50 degrees in days and I am about to start growing webbed toes it's so wet.

  4. Jonna,
    Actually Phebes seems real happy in camp. She just stands around and watches people like she's fascinated. She ate really well this time, drank her water, also out on trail she drank twice on the first loop which has never happened before. She has the camp environment figured out. It is being on trail with other horses without getting race brained that is her downfall. I probably made a bad strategic error starting up in the front again this time. My thought was to just let her blow off a little steam, find our empty pocket again, and then try to settle her in. We were not only off trail, but a man was off trail ahead of us, and she kept catching sight of that horse, so she was pulling (as well as going the wrong direction).

    I'm trying not to get to down over it. I think I need trail marking 101 so that I understand what a ribbon means here, there, or whatever. I've just muddled through by following the color, but get very confused at intersections, splits in the trails, and when I come out on paved or gravel is like WHICH WAY DO WE GO. Since I'm riding alone whenever possible, there is nobody to ask *LOL* I'm not faulting the trail marking, I'm sure it is I WHO AM MISSING SOMETHING in my education :)

    If I spend the rest of the season riding dead last I wonder if she would learn at all or just continue to pull forward?

    I am glad of my decision. It was the best for my horse given my directional screw up and her condition at only a little ways in to the ride. She was in heat big time too. I mostly feel bad for the effort my husband put in helping me to have a good weekend, only to turn around and head back home. I'd only budgeted for one day, so that was that. Gonna be lazy the rest of the weekend. May take the little turd out for a trail ride...~E.G.

  5. Michelle,

    The trails are muddy and slippery, and if it rains again, it will be worse.

    There were only about 12 or so LD riders signed up today, and maybe 25 for the 50 mile. Turn out was really low. Hopefully turn out for Saturday will be much better.

  6. OK. Thanks EG.


  7. Did you have any problems with your boots in the mud? It has only sprinkled here, so the ground is rock hard here at my place. I would have been surprised to see mud but now I've been warned.


  8. The boots held fine. I vet wrapped her hooves prior to applying them. No booting issues this time.

  9. Sorry to hear that it went haywire! :-(

    I second J of AF's suggestion, and want to add to it: go to camp. Ride your horse. Ride her a LOT...but do not ride her on competition day. Instead, why not volunteer to help management flag or un-flag the trail (the experience of marking the trail might help with your navigation challenges). That way you and Phoebes will get plenty of "trail time", but without the drama.

    After a while, she will understand that "going to camp" means "working at a steady pace". This is not a fast solution! It took Fiddle 2 years of working around camp before I was ready to start her in a ride...and Phoebe has issues to "unlearn".

    There are probably other suggestions, but that's what worked for me.

  10. Maybe talk to a Ride Manager that you know and see if you can ride drag for the ride, so u can leave camp later and just ride behind everyone. That would probably be good for her... Just a thought