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

October 30, 2010

The Spook Run

We packed up and headed out on Thursday for the ride at Henryville. Set up camp, dropped off our box of turtle stuff, then headed out for an hour long fairly slow warm up ride, a little uphill trotting in the mix. But the warm up wasn't so much about the warm up as it was getting the lay of the ribbons at the start so I would not botch my ride like last time. I don't know who marked the trail this time but it was CRYSTAL CLEAR where you turned, and where you did NOT. The person who marked the trail should be commended for a job well-done. Ride management in general did an extraordinary job at this ride. Even the sun smiled on us eventually.

But did I mention it was cold? OH MY GOSH....I had a Buddy Heater going in my dressing room / sleeping area and I could still see my breath. The temperatures dropped into the low thirties overnight, and a wicked wind was blowing on ride day Friday. I was concerned about the start as that is usually a big part of her emotional unraveling, and even though I stayed where I thought was in the back, unravel she did. So I just one-reined her and shut her down, again, and again, and again. It was pretty hairy. Then along came Mary Mast from Ohio who graciously offered to let us ride along with her "slow" horse Pete. Pete is a very big Anglo-arab, very nice bay gelding with a huge loose stride. I'd let Phebes lead until she would get another horse on her radar, then I'd tuck her nose behind the big gelding. It worked out well except when leading she was difficult to rate. She'd hold her trot, however my nice little jog got up and went and the trot expounded to 9-13 mph depending on how flat the trail was.

Did I ever say that endurance riders in Indiana ride FAST? I think the 30 mile winner on Friday finished in about 2:30 (maybe a little less) over the biggest, roughest hills in the region. Some of the fastest riders in the state were in attendance on Friday and a good many of the 50 mile riders rode this 30 LD (maybe in preparation for an upcoming 50) but times were smoking fast. I'm not sure what our ride time was, maybe 4:30 or so not including the hold. That was with Phebes trotting out for most of the course (slower behind the gelding, faster when she was leading). There was no water on trail. Thankfully, the local saddle club set out barrels of water at two places. Phebes did drink at each location, but she didn't "tank up" like she should. She still is bothered about horses coming up on her, or leaving without her, and the sound of cars, or wildlife rustling in the woods. Her trot outs were awesome, and may I put my two-cents in for low heart rate training which I've been doing for the past eight weeks, it works. Phebes first vet check I was asked "did this horse go anywhere"? Her pulse was in the low forties. She did get some B's however. B on capillary refill, B on gut sounds, and a B on muscle tone (which gets my HYPER ALERT AND WORRY BUTTON on). She ate hay at the holds and turned her nose up at the wet mash that we'd been using successfully in training. The vet said to get a blanket on her and keep her blanketed overnight. We finished next to the last in 17th place. Which brings us to day #2.

Yes, we rode a multi-day. We again started at the back of the pack. Found an empty pocket and pretty much motored on down the trail the first half without too much angst. We came into the half-time covering fifteen miles in just a little over 2 hours. Pulse in the low forties by the time she got to the vet. The vet cautioned me to keep her rump rug on even when riding as she was feeling a little tight. That if she suddenly started stopping that she could be cramping and to stop if that happened, and to slow her down and take the second half easy if all went well. Heading out on the second half I was going out with Mary (didn't ride with her in the a.m. because I wanted to just set a pace and find a calm empty pocket). She graciously offered to let us ride along again, but I felt that even that pace of 6.5 mph was too much for her on day #2, and the fear of bringing on a repeat tye-up just sent me into anxiety mode, so I just stopped my horse and let her and the other person she was riding with go on. I knew we needed walking intervals between the trotting. That was going alright until some fast 50 mile riders came chugging along behind us and Phebes started prancing, headtossing, and wanting to race. I stopped her off the side pf the trail and the biggest melt down of our time together happened which including rearing (not a big rear, but still BAD HORSE BEHAVIOR). I apologized to the 50 mile riders and waved them on, and was advised that I needed to use my crop hard on that horse and ride her hard, which was exactly the opposite thing that the vet advised and my horse needed. She needed to calm down, walk when asked, and let riders pass without a fuss. So she and I really battled for the next TEN MILES. When riders came up on us, I waved them on past. Then we had the bumble bee incident. A woman dressed like a bumble bee with big bells bouncing on her helmet comes charging up behind us as we are decending a very steep hill. There are a number of riders all close together working their way carefully down the hill with a human sized bumble bee with bells pushing up close behind. Phebes about came unhinged on the hill, so I asked the nice ladies ahead if I could get around and get some distance between me and the lady dressed like a bumble bee. So we rode out a little faster than I really wanted trying to get some dead air between us and her. We get to the last water stop (still 7 miles left to go) and guess what I hear? HELLS BELLS. Phebes quit drinking, so again I try to distance myself thinking they too will stop at the water and we will be okay. No such luck. Here comes bumble bee lady galloping up behind us again, and I pull Phebes over and wave them on. She stops and says "Am I bothering you?" I guess the gracious thing to have said would have been nothing, but unfortunately I told the truth and said "yes, you are." From that point on we walked and we slow trotted, and I got off and hand walked her squirting water in her mouth, and feeding little bites of hay out of my pack. We made it back, and man was she thirsty. She drank and drank and drank. I was worried about her pulse down, it was at 70, but then dropped quickly to 60 and we headed to the vet. She had the same B's she had before, and I asked the vet if that meant her muscle tightness was not any worse. He said, no...she's pretty tight. Where I pretty much emotionally deflated, stressed, was sad, angry, disappointed all at the same time with niggling doubts about the potential for another tie up. She trotted out beautifully, she stuffed her face with hay. I rubbed her big rump muscles with a towel and kept a heavy blanket over her rump. Waited and waited for her to pee, nothing. Popped my head into the horse trailer for something and when my head came out she was just finishing her squat and I missed the pee and was reading to throw myself under a rolling four horse rig! Doug and I started breaking camp, all the time waiting and hoping she'd pee again. No such luck. Eventually we just had to call it a weekend and head home so I could get her taken care of before dark. As I left ride-camp the dreaded bumble bee was coming in...(I'm quite sure she is probably a nice person but Phebes doesn't like bees). We got Phebes home. She trotted the field, rolled in favorite rolling spot, ate a big bucket of mash (yes, the same mash she shunned on Friday and Saturday), twirled her head at me and gave me stink-eye. She did pee and it was yellow!!! That is pretty much the short version of completing our first multi-day (12th place today I think but don't know how many riders). Doug as usual was my life saver as he crews for me as if I were doing 50's because he loves me I reckon (though it could be the horse).

Phebes is going to have a ten day to two week vacation. So the next leg of this thing is multifold as to what is next.

#1. I need to get to the bottom of what is missing or what I'm missing that is causing her to get tight. It could just be the terrain which is much more brutal than anything we have here. Our hills are mole hills compaired to Henryville. It may be related to something lacking in her diet, it could be more than one thing coming together. She did go faster than I wanted, but slower than a "slow" endurance horse.

#2. Hoping for a horsemanship clinic to work out our partnership a bit better. Lida recommended someone north of Indianapolis who does full day clinics. We need some different winter goals rather than just pounding down the trail.

#3. We will do some pleasure riding until about February or March, then leg up again in hopes of another slow multi-day (if other factors have come together), if not, slow single days when the weather meets our fancy :)

The end to an "almost" perfect (except for horsey melt downs) 60 mile weekend. A big thanks to Lois Mcaffe who graciously accepted my "box of turtle rocks." ~E.G.

P.S. I discovered this weekend that Phebes is gaited. (her mama had a running walk that was awesome) Phebes can do it too, if I can figure out how to get her doing this on purpose consistently IT IS AWESOME walking along really really fast! I could have drank a cup of coffee and not spilled a drop!!!


  1. I think you should be proud of both of you! A 2-day ride. That is great! I think the rest will come with time. Though I do think it sounds like you have some great goals for the winter. Wish I could have been there with you guys!

  2. CONGRATULATIONS! I'm so happy for you and Phoebes! Yaaaay!

    Welcome to the spoiled world of gaited horses ;)

  3. Great story! And congratulations on your two day 60!
    I have found that lots of worrying and thinking and dreaming about our horses eventually gets the little problems solved. So, maybe about a 1000 miles... I was in the 50 the first day and won!! My boy was just awesome, and yes those IN riders really go for it...gosh I am killed...Noways though, looks great... Ah these horses ~ how we love them.

  4. EG, What a ride! What a day! What a weekend! Wow! I'm sorry you had some worries with Phebes, but overall it sounded good. I think maybe the terrain being much more challenging than your normal terrain may have caused her to work harder (and get tight). Just a thought. But a big congratulations to both of you for doing it and finishing it well! Good for you!!

  5. I think you done grand. I raced the andalusion/arabian on saturday in the 30 miler. I had the rearing bucking queen before we ever got started, we left 15 minutes behind everyone else and still managed to get 8 th because in the second loop my horse got behind a couple of 50milers and tucked herself in right behind. I have never cantered quite that much!
    I had the small white fluffy dog are you the one with the pom?

  6. Bethann,

    Nope, I was dogless :) I wish I'd have seen your horse, bet that is a really nice cross. We rode both days, but were quite a ways behind you. You guys were drafting the 50's and I trying everything in my arsenal to AVOID the 50's *LOL*.

    Where you from?


  7. congrats, you did a great job managing your horse, doing what she needed! sometimes it takes more out of a horse fighting them - but I know letting her go faster wasn't good either, so I don't have a suggestion. those horses prone to tying up are a challenge and a worry, but you did it!
    - The Equestrian Vagabond

  8. I am from palmyra indiana and ride all the local places such as deam lake, o'bannon, and some henreyville.Wanna ride?

  9. I'd definitely be up for some rides at Henryville in the future! The more we end up getting of those hills the better. My plan is to ride there at least once a month beginning in February as weather permits me to have access. I haven't been down to the Deam Lake area yet. Love O'Bannon but it is a ways out for me for a day ride.

  10. Bethann, you were following me and my friend Laura. You do have a beautiful horse.

    EG, I seen you on the trail and you did not look too happy. Must have been your tough part on the trail. Both my horses and I had fabulous rides! Hoping to go to KY Diehards in a few weeks. Glad you completed both days. Did she eat and drink well for you?


  11. The tie up issue could be caused by a selenium deficiency. Endurance horses are to have a higher selenium reading than what the norm is. I am not sure what that is but a friend of mine had the exact same problem. Her name is Debbie Parsons, you should email her, she would be glad to tell you what she did.

  12. Michelle,

    That would have been either just before, or after the rearing episode. The second day was pretty stressful because Mike scared the crap out of me that she had to go slow, and she was NOT being cooperative and I was determined that she WAS going to go slow. That was why when I ran into you at the water tank I looked so grim, I was not looking forward to the vet out...but all was well. It is tough having a horse that wants to go fast, but NEEDS to go slow. Friday was a different animal. We had a good time all day, but she got to trot all the way. I vaguely remember yielding the trail to you guys at one point, but had my hands full.