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Sunday, March 25, 2007

City Slickers Endurance Ride

March 23, 2007

This was my first year to attend City Slickers in Memphis, TN. I don't mean near, I mean, in Memphis, TN. There was a Wal-mart 1 mile from camp and a mall a mile or two further. I'd wanted to go to this ride for awhile and was happy to be able to fit it my schedule and do the Friday ride.





Daniel was asked to be the ride photographer for Friday and he was happy to accept.

We drove over on Wednesday and were pleased to see Ted LaComette, Susan Kasemeyer and Tamra and Joe Schoech already in camp. We parked the rig and settled Tanna in his stall. Then we all walked over to the Butcher Shop for an early dinner. What great food and a great treat to be able to buy our dinner instead of me having to cook! The baked potato and creamed spinach was yummy and the company was stellar. Even if Joe did get me to examine my multiple forks for the S that meant it was the salad fork!! Never found the S, btw. ;-)

Thursday morning started early. Daniel went off with Terry Silver, the ride manager, to look at the away vet check area and scope out good places to take pictures on Friday. After feeding Tanna, I changed into tights and a t-shirt and went on a jog/walk for a couple miles to loosen up and take a look around.

Back at camp for breakfast and got Tanna out of his stall for a good while to eat grass while I braided his mane in small, somewhat even braids. The weather was pleasant with a nice breeze, but I knew it was going to get warm in the afternoon and figured a bit of extra help with the braids would be appreciated. At least it'd be easier to sponge his neck during the ride. I then spent a lot of time with a grooming block getting a lot of excess hair off.




The rest of the day I spent watching rigs pull in, registration, vet in, organizing my vet check necessities and chatting with new and old friends.

The ride meeting was held in an indoor arena, complete with snacks to fuel the hungry would-be riders. We received a short talk on ulcers and the use of UlcerGard from the Merial rep. Then Terry went over the trails and Joe gave a good talk about being alert and courteous on the ride. The head vet, Dede Huff, gave us the pulse parameters. 60 for all except the 25 milers finish was 60, per the rules. There were 4 loops and 3 holds for the 50 milers. A 14 mile loop to an out check. 11 miles back for a check in a field a little ways from the parking lot. Then repeat the 14 mile and 11 mile loops. All holds were 60 minutes long. I was not thrilled with the idea of 3 hours worth of holds. It sounded way too long for my taste. I'm rather used to 2 40 minutes holds instead of 3 60 minute holds. But I wasn't planning to turtle this ride, so it probably wouldn't hurt me at all to have the 3 hours of holds.

After walking Tanna around and chatting way past when I should have gone to bed, I fell into a restless sleep.

Two hours before the 6:30 AM start, I was up and getting ready. By 5:40, I was saddled and pretty much ready to go. Tanna was chilled out at 32 bpm and sleeping by the trailer. At 6, Daniel and I took a couple chairs to Debra and Ted LaComette's truck to put with my away vet check things. Ted was kind enough to offer to take my stuff to the away check. Then Daniel and I took my second group of vet check paraphernalia to the check nearer the camp.

Five minutes before the start, Samm Bartee, the timer, announced that the start was delayed for 15 minutes to allow a bit more light at the start. I took the minutes to go back and get my gloves from my trailer. I was back and ready for the controlled start (led by Joe Schoech) at 6:45.

I fell into place in the back middle of the pack and we trotted along with the other horses. Tanna was doing fine for a little while, but when the trail widened, Tanna decided it was time to pass all the other horses, even though we were still in a controlled start. I disagreed and he went into a bucking fit. I thought I was going to stay on for a couple seconds, but that wasn't to be. I don't really remember a whole lot, except I thought I was going to be trampled and lose my horse in the city. Thank the good Lord, I ended up on my feet, with the reins firmly in my hand. Tanna did a half spin and stood still. I thanked the riders around me for stopping and told them I was ok and to go on while I recovered my courage to remount. I had another group or two pass me before I decided it was time to mount up.

Tanna was very impatient to get going, but I refused to let him get out of control. After a few false starts, I was mounted and we were headed down the trail. I caught up with the last of the riders Joe had let go after the controlled start. Joe was still there and asked if I was ok. I assured him I was and we headed on down the trail.

 
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Tanna was a bit of a maniac during that loop, but never really lost control again. I joked to Joe that I must've gotten his horse Kit out of the stall instead of Tanna! (Joe was riding Bogie Friday; Kit Saturday.)

My goal for City Slickers was a 7 hour 50. I'd done close to that at the Camp Osborn Powwow ride in February and wanted to better my time by a little bit. Since City Slickers was a flat ride, I figured I could do that. But I also didn't want to be too fast. City Slickers doesn't have hills or anything to slow one down, so I was relying on my Garmin Forerunner 305 GPS to help me pace through-out the day. I decided 6.5 hours was the fastest I wanted to do and 7 hours was the goal.

 
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The first loop was 14 miles and completed with an average of 7.4 mph. I found my vet check stuff that Ted had graciously set out for me and had filled my water buckets! I dropped Tanna's saddle, threw a light blanket over him to protect from the wind and took him to the vet. Tanna got great scores and a decent CRI and back to our stuff. I tried to get Tanna to eat, but he just wouldn't, so I grabbed a pan of food and we went wandering for grass. Joe and Tamra saw me and urged me to let Tanna have Bogie's hay. So I thankfully accepted and was happy to see Tanna eating yummy hay.

The hour hold flew past and before I knew it, it was time to saddle up. Joe and I went out right on time. I have a bad habit of going out late from my holds, but was determined to go out on time for this ride. Especially with 60 minute holds.

We flew along the nicely marked trail that wound through the city park across open fields and into single track, knee knocker trails. We caught up with a couple other small groups and we all flew along together. Thirty minutes from the vet check, we had gone 5 miles. I expressed a couple times to Joe that the pace was too fast and finally pulled Tanna back to a slow trot and let the others go on. I slowed to a walk (jig for a bit) until they got out of sight. I was watching our average speed drop quickly and was happy to have gotten out of being caught up with other riders. Coming around a curve, I found Joe had let the others go on and I caught back up with him and we continued on at a saner pace without the encouragement of the other horses to pull us too fast.

We got back into camp after the 11 mile loop with an average of 7.9 mph. When I reached my stuff, I found out there was no water in my buckets. I dropped the saddle and went to vet in quickly while Daniel went to find some water for me. Tanna ate while I cleaned him up. Then I ate some of my food and chatted with other riders. The hour hold flew by and soon it was time to tack up again. I started tacking up while a helpful volunteer held Tanna.

 
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Back out to repeat the last two loops. I had a much saner horse on this loop and was able to look around a lot more. Tanna was still energetic and ready to go, just not a breath away from run-away. Past the spot where Tanna dumped me on the first loop, through the woods, trotting and cantering next to a road, out into fields by the visitor's center. Under a 6-lane highway bridge, through more fields to the road crossing where a very nice cop was stopping traffic for us. He did a great job and had everybody stopped so we could just hop up on the road and walk across without waiting. More fields, more woods, wide with plenty of room to pass, lakes to drink in, single-track trails, through the dog park and across another field to the vet check.

 
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This vet check, I asked Tamra if she'd be willing to take my stuff back to camp since Ted was going to be leaving much sooner to get back for Debra's finish. Tamra was gracious enough to agree, so I dragged all my stuff over to their truck and we spread out 5 varieties of hay for the horses to eat. When the horses stopped eating, Tamra and I hand-fed hay to them so they could keep looking around and still eat. Bogie and Tanna both like to "supervise" as Joe puts it. Soon it was time to saddle up, load the truck with our stuff, and head out for the last 11 mile loop.

I pretty much let Tanna pick his own gait during this loop. I was looking for an 8 mph loop, so I didn't want him to race back or gallop back, but if he wanted to canter along, I wasn't opposed to it. He spent a lot of time that loop in a relaxed canter. Licking, chewing, looking around with ears perked, cruising along at a 125 heart rate. At some point during this loop, we caught up with Ron Chapman and he came along with us. When we stopped to electrolyte for the last time, we walked along beside a fishing lake and I grabbed handfuls of grass for Tanna to eat while we walked.

Back on for the last few miles. We caught up with another rider walking. That rider took off when they heard us. We just moseyed on through the trail enjoying the day. In no time, we were out on the last stretch. Less than a mile to go. Joe, Ron and I paused at a water puddle and I noticed the other rider did the same, then took off again. Joe, Ron and I trotted along. The last part of the trail makes a U shape before a left-turn to the finish line. When the other rider reached the bottom of the U, the horse started walking. We remained trotting and caught up with them. Joe had dropped back, but Ron was still with me. When we passed the other rider, that horse came along, too. I let Tanna move into a canter and held him to that until the left-hand turn. Then I gathered him up through the turn and asked him to GO to the finish. Off he flew like a shot. He felt great and had a ton left in him. We galloped across the finish line into 15th place. What a rush! ;-)

 
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As I circled to pull Tanna up, I saw Angie, Debra and Ted, so headed over to them and slid off, laughing and talking. Angie came with me to my stuff and helped me clean Tanna up for his completion exam. Three minutes after after crossing the finish line, Tanna's heart rate was 72. At nine minues after the finish, he pulsed in at 44. He was perky and happy. I got in line for completion and was happy with his performance. I was thrilled to death and still on an adrenaline high. Tanna completed with all As. In fact, he only had one B+ the whole ride and 3 A-s. The rest were all As. I was thrilled with him.

When I got back to my vet check stuff after completion, I found Angie had loaded all my stuff onto her cart. We stood around chatting and Angie hand-fed Tanna for me until we decided to go back to the trailer. Angie pushed the cart and I led Tanna. I liked that cart! That's going on my list of stuff to buy! Angie is a very good crew, btw! Thanks, Angie!

What a great ride (falling off not-with-standing)!!! I was so happy with my horse! We completed in 6 hours 35 minutes in 15th place. So while we went a little faster than the goal, I didn't go faster than the 6.5 hour minimum time I'd set for us. The 3 60 minute holds were really good for Tanna and myself and I found that I really enjoyed them. And for the first time, I went out on time at every check. :-)

Thanks to Terry Silver for running this ride! Thanks to the vets and all the volunteers for making this ride happen. The ham radio guys were great, the cop was very welcome at the road crossing, and the company all weekend was outstanding! Thanks to Joe for riding with me and making the ride so much fun. Thanks to Tamra for helping me at the checks and hauling my junk back to camp and for allowing Tanna to eat their hay. This is going on my "must-do" list of rides. Very well run!

 
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3 comments:

rosebahr@hotmail.com said...

What a great story, so well laid out with the photographs. It is interesting to see the horse at various stages in the ride and happy afterward. What sort of saddle are you using?

G.P. said...

nice ride report. Am doing my first ride in May... good info

Is that biothane bridle/halter combo you were using
Thanx for answering
happy trails
GP in Montana

PS Nice recovery:)

April said...

sorry for my late answers to these!!

rose, I am using an Abetta endurance saddle. Wide QH tree. I removed the fenders and stirrups and replaced them with 1" biothane leathers and ez ride stirrups with cages.

gp, it's actually a biothane headstall with a Little S hackamore.