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

May 12, 2012

Maumee Valley Endurance Ride 2012

Wow...where to even start!  The Maumee ride was held at Midwest Trail Ride which is a private campground with really nice amenities.  You pay for it, but that hot shower  and flushing toilets were the bomb, as was Journey having her own clean stall in the huge shed row barn, bedding included.  We were parked under a nice tree that offered some shade in the afternoon., electric hook up (if I HAD electric wiring in my rig) and water on each campsite for each trailer.  That was nice.

The ride itself was put on by the Daniel Boone Distance Riders which is a club in the southern Indiana/Kentucky area.  Since I haven't done a 50 I'll stick to what I did do which was the LD.  This was day one of the Maumee Valley ride.  We were given maps and on the maps were typed instructions for the turns (photo of said error below), because Maumee 2011 someone ripped down the ribbons TWICE.  So at the meeting RM (ride management) instructed us to know the trail # we were on (which I did) and if you got to a turn and there was no ribbon your color to refer to the typed out instruction of your next move.     There were 28 turns on the first loop of 17 miles which was marked in yellow (trail markers intact).  I rode with a woman from Illinois (Trudy Horsman) who was riding a little Rocky Mt. mare and trying her for the first time too.  We talked and our mares travel at about the same rate of speed so we thought we'd pace well together and we did.  We decided to leave last out of camp to keep the girls out of the fray and to just ride slow and steady, watch the Garmin and make sure we were making out time.  This is where the first snag came in.  We stayed on trail fine, but we rode...and we rode....and we rode.....Trudy now and then would ask tentatively "how far have we gone?"  I'd look...15 miles, 16 miles, 17 miles, 18 miles, 19.2 miles on the Garmin (probably 20 miles in that loop given that Garmin won't pick up gullies and it was up and down the whole way).   We come into the check I throw copious amounts of water on my horse, it takes about ten minutes to get her down where upon she goes from 65 down to 47 bmp in about a two second span in the pulse gate.  The hold was fifty minutes.  This left me an hour and a half to complete the final eight.  A little tight timewise, but she was doing great, and if we trotted all of our ups and downs and didn't waste anything we could do it.  My ride partner R/O'd her mare, the vets opinion was she was worn out.  Journey and I do okay together so I had no worries about this.  I tape the map to my pommel during the hold to make sure I have my trail straight.  These were the written instructions:
Start on 90
Left on 4
Left onto the second gravel road
Right on 80 back into camp.

That is 3 turns total.  Piece of cake.  Ummmmm.......not so much.

Journey was being a little trooper cruising along at her little pitty-pat trot of 6.6-7.3 mph, uphill, downhill, and on the flat she didn't falter just kept up her rhythm.  We head down #90 trail, and make a left onto 4.  The purple ribbons confirm we are on track.  We cross the first gravel road and perk up looking for the second.  We get to the second gravel road and the trail crosses the road which worried me some.  My typed instructions on the map say turn left on 2nd gravel road.  Just to be sure we go down the trail head to look for purple ribbons, the only marker is a yellow arrow pointing straight ahead.  (We just did yellow earlier and that sucker was nearly twenty miles)  WE TURN LEFT as instructed on our maps.  As instructed at the pre-ride meeting (if you don't find a ribbon, consult the notes on your map).  Yeppers...Journey girl we are going left.   By this time the sun is hot and the deer flies have come out in force.  We trot on down the gravel road watching for trail 80 on our right.  1 mile, 2 miles, 2 and a half miles, suddenly the gravel road turns to paved road, still no trail head.  I turn her back with my heart hammering in my chest back tracking to where we crossed the road 2 1/2 miles back.  We get there and are faced with the prospect of going forward on YELLOW or turning back and following purple back to camp and forfeiting the ride.  About then a 50 mile rider came up and I somewhat frantically told her my situation, time was clicking, she said there was a gravel road not far ahead, to follow her and see if there was any purple when we got there (her name was Denise).  So we get to the third gravel road and TADAH! There is the purple marker for our turn left, and we go for a little ways and pick up trail 80 back to camp.  But our total distance was over 29 miles, which made us over time.  Journey's average speed on the GPS was 5.4 mph, plenty good for a finish if all other things had not been haywire.  I was disheartened at the evening meeting to find that 6 of the 15 riders failed to finish because they all did what I did FOLLOWED THE INSTRUCTIONS on the map.   If you click on satellite/labels on the garmin link you will see that you indeed cross the gravel road THREE times to get to the left hand turn towards camp.  I did report this mapping instruction errow when I got back to camp.  We all knew we were on trail #4 but we couldn't find our intersection to trail #80.   So 46% of the LD riders did not get their completions on day one of this ride.  Even those who did complete took much longer than anyone anticipated.  One rider I know that is a high mid-pack to top ten rider, well versed in the sport made the same mistake we all did...she made it with only minutes to spare, and she'd ridden that course before.  I had paid for the second day, but opted for a partial refund.  I had to push Journey trying to make the deadline, she went nearly 30 miles (unplanned) and had skinned up both rear pasterns when she galloped  up an incline (she broke gait) from interference from her hoof boots.  My little spotted wonder did the job, she was a great little horse, she vetted through well.  Bright, eating like a "horse", peeing lovely yellow pee.  Maureen Fehrs, DVM, said "she looks really good."  But when I asked her about trying again today she suggested that we call it a good training ride and point towards Top of the Rock.  So I looked in Journey's bright clear eyes, kissed her little nose and told her what a good job she did, and what a team we are together, and called it a weekend. 

The ride was an educational experience for me. I don't think I'd attend a Maumee ride again.  If the vandals are going to tear down directional markers year after year, what's the point?   One rider saw a man with a fist full of purple ribbons in his hand and confronted him, but the damage was done.  Those who did not finish were sort of chastised during the post ride meeting that IF WE HAD FOLLOWED OUR MAPS WE WOULD HAVE FINISHED.      I just wanted to earn our miles. But we tried! 
                           Step 3 on the map which did almost half of the riders in. Step two was corrected at the ride meeting.
But the truth is...following our maps given at the briefing is exactly what caused us all to make that wrong left hand turn.  They said nine did finish, so it was a fair ride.  How is it fair to be given wrong riding instructions that put you over time?  Those nine likely finished because they ride mid to front pack which allowed them the luxury of time to figure out how to get back on track or to reach the turn before the ribbons were torn down .    Oh....they put arrows on the road and a county truck with a grader smoothed those right off the road. I did report that the mileage was wrong on the first loop, most said twenty miles and my Garmin fairly well confirmed that adding in 10% loss for hilly terrain.  Second loop critical turn markers missing and the written instructions on our maps wrong.  It was very disappointing.  If it had just been rider error?  Yes, no completion. Guess that is why it is called "limited" distance *LOL*  But, I handled it better than I thought I would.  I didn't get mad, did not throw myself into a fit of morbid depression, just tried to suck it up. But some of the ladies were really torqued....some drove six hours for that ride : /  I however don't make the rules.  I just ride the little spotted horse, hope for the best, and want to fit in and misfit that I am, rarely do.   I met two new people Sheri and Trudy from another state and something outstandingly hilarious happened.  I was talking to Sheri and I said, if you ever want to get in touch, just google Endurance Granny where upon she started doing the happy dance and squealing in delight, and it just struck me as so hilarious that this young woman who had whipped the Old Dominion, and has done a hundred mile ride was so excited for my love of the sport and this little inconsequential blog. She wanted me to sign her i-pad it was FUNNY. She was delightful. (she also made the fateful wrong turn and did not finish).

LSEGH is becoming a pro at the crewing thing.  In truth  LD riders don't "need" a crew.  I don't really, but it is so nice to plop in a chair and slug down a cold drink and gnash down on a sandwich knowing Journey is under control.  He ordered her a set of brushing boots ♥

Journey: "Where we going ?" ~E.G.: "I can neither confirm nor deny."

Pre-ride vet check and trot out.
 Tacking up for a short pre-ride the evening before.
 Staging area.
 Coming in from the 19.2 mile (17 mile loop)???

Speaking with the ride vet as to ride day two...and our final trot outs.
Post ride trot outs
Long and low and ears giving stink eye

We are done.  Little Journey did such a good job.  She doesn't know that in essence under the "rules" we have failed, but in my mind we succeeded even if we did not get our miles.  The royal spotted one did nearly 30 miles in 5 1/2 hours, very good training ride, yes?   Muscle tone great, appetite and gut sounds great, hydration good, saddle fit great, attitude on trail great.  The only true failure of the day was her interfering on her hinds.  We must get that sorted out as it affected her impulsion (which is not stellar anyway) and I truly believe this is why she doesn't "want" to canter because she knocks herself.  So we know what we need to fix, and our training will shift gears to work towards a completion and hopefully at some point a  multi-day.

Note: The trail was re-routed today to a different loop for the folks doing the second day 25 mile ride.  Two 12.5 mile loops.  If the ribbons haven't been ripped down, hopefully all will go well for them. There are eight intersections on the blue...

Further note:  I must say that the logistics of managing a ride would be exceedingly difficult.  Don't know how ride managers deal with this stuff over and over.  Can you imagine managing a ride knowing that the ribbons will likely be ripped down?  Those people have more fortitude than I.  Hoping that TOR will go better for us in a few weeks.     
Post-ride thoughts:

Booting: her boots stayed on, she is interfering in the rear with them, and we will try to solve that by putting brushing boots on the hind.  If that doesn't work I may need to try another type of boot to see if it would minimize knocking.  She doesn't do this bare.  When she brings her hinds forward she is so close to touching the pastern, the added width of the boot throws her over the edge.  Don't want my girl all nicked up so we have to sort that out.

Saddle:  the trusty old Crestridge all 24 lbs of it....did us well.  She had not a spot of soreness on her back. It stayed right where I put it.

Toklat Woolback: No rubs, no heat rash, all good!

Headgear/bridle: No troubles there either.

Rating: I can see where I could have a little trouble in a pack sort of situation.  She broke gait into a canter a few times trying to "catch" another rider.  It took a little convincing on my part that NO WE ARE NOT DOING THAT.  But not a big fight, and no emotional melt-downs, more oh puuuuuuuuuulease let me chase them.  No speckled wonder, we will not.  Being in the back of the pack meant we did not encounter much excitement (nor did we complete).

Tieing to the trailer:  She just plain sucks at this.  If I am present she is fine, but if I step away for something she goes all postal on me and tries to rear.  I'm tieing her up really short so she can't get too much "lift" if she happens to do this.  I feel a little caught in the middle on this one.  She needs to be tied to learn to tie well, and I risk an accident when I tie.  She doesn't pull or set back, just the hopping on the front end thing.

Electric Pen:  We didn't use one, and we haven't used one.  Journey is kept in by electric fence, but I have yet to determine if she can be contained that way...and I'm gonna have to find out.  The answer on this one scares me some because I simply cannot afford to purchase a corral this year having put all new tires on the trailer and buying a truck, and hay not in the barn.  So I'm going to have to take a deep breath and set one up and guess sleep outside with her for a night.

Drinking:  For whatever reason, Journey hasn't been able to relax enough on trail to drink worth crap.  If we pleasure ride she will, but if she is asked for above 5 mph, she kind of shuts down on that.   She did drain a 5 gallon bucket when we were done, and another half bucket after she was untacked.

Appetite:  Nothing wrong with that...dang!  Should have named her groceries.

Pooping and Peeing:  All normal, but she will only pee once you get off at the hold.  Pooping is no problems, probably related to all that appetite.

Electrolytes:  I used some mini-doses and these seemed to settle with her better than full dose.  As humidity sets in here she will need more so will need to figure out how to buffer that to keep her gut happy.

Loading into the trailer: all I can say is good girl!

My foot:  Got the boot on!  Long live anti-inflammatory drugs!

Honestly the only thing that wasn't good was the fact that we didn't finish.  Otherwise just some things to address that I haven't gotten to yet.   I'm wrestling with our strategy moving forward.  Thinking a 25, then shoot for 2/25's back to back, and maybe a 50 if we can find a well-marked trail to try it on.   For now though it is still focus one step at a time.  We have to finish our first LD.



  1. Journey looks terrific in the photos. Sounds like you both did a great job despite very trying circumstances!

  2. Let me get this straight, "vandals take down our flags every year but it's ok because you'll have this incorrect map to work from!" I think it sounds like not going back to another one of their rides is a good decision. And what is wrong with people that they would go around removing ride markers like that?! Very sad.

    That said, I'm glad to hear that Journey did so great! I love that top picture of her. She has an expression that makes her look ready for anything. Including going 30 miles!

  3. Great job! It must have been SO frustrating to have things go well with your horse and not get a completion but it absolutely was a great training ride and will only set you up better for TOR.

  4. Excellent job.. yoru girl did you proud . ALl your hard work paid off, even though the mishap with the trail and finding the right route.. It's so sad that people have to sabotage others enjoyment by vandalizing. It's so selfish and what does it accomplish other than putting riders and horses at major safety risk.. Too bad no one would actually catch them in the act..

  5. Congrats! It might not be an official completion, but you know in your heart that you did the miles (and more!). What nasty vandals, I can't understand that. Your spotted wonder looks fit and ready to rock, which she did. I am sure your next ride will work out, it's all one trot-step at a time!

  6. Yall did great. TOTALLY SUCKS that you didn't complete, but it's got nothing to do with your horse or your management skills, and that's gotta be a weight off your shoulders!

    I'm impressed that the RMs keep putting the ride on, but I wouldn't go back either.

    Tying to the trailer might just take more time. Just slowly desensitize her - hang out at the edge of her comfort zone. I'm not a fan of portable electric pens, and I love my hi-tie, but I'd be nervous about tying a rearer to a hi-tie!

  7. Congratulations! I agree with the general consensus... if ride management things that's okay I'd not go back. LBL had the ribbons way high in the trees and I think it must be because of vandals on other rides cause we did see dozens of other trail riders while out and about. But on to important things... you rode thirty miles on the cutest little spotted wonder. I hadn't realized how cute until some of those photos but she looks fit and she doesn't look unhappy. I think your game plan of completing a 25 then moving to 25/25 is a good one. My vet is usually the treatment vet for our region and he likes to see them complete 25/25 with energy to spare before going to 50s.

    Anywho, I'm calling it a success. Happy trails ya'll, hopefully we'll see you at LBL next year.

  8. It was wonderful to get to meet you! So sorry that you didn't get a completion, but now you know that your girl can do 30 miles, so your next LD should be a snap!

    Years ago, I had a portable galvanized corral for my non-tying horse. They are expensive, but well worth it for your peace of mind. There is a company in Kansas that makes corrals just like mine for something like $600 (a fraction of what I paid back in 1998). I will try to find the link for you. It is something that you might want to save for (I know I don't have $600 sitting around, I don't know about you). I am still sick that I gave my corral away back in 2003 when I got out of horses. Since I had an endurance horse that did not tie (at all) I know the challenges that such a horse presents. Good luck!

    Sheri the Happydancer

  9. Sheri you will always be the "best" memory of the Maumee ride. Every time I think about it I start giggling. Hope we run across each other again one of these days ☺ ~E.G.