View Full Version : My second 50: Rider-Option Pull

Oct. 19, 2007, 12:38 PM
After successfully completing my first 50+ ride at the Biltmore Mountin' Hope ride on Sept 22nd in Asheville, NC (see previous thread), I decided to ride the momentum and do another 50 three weeks laster in central GA. The terrain would be much easier, my horse was fit, no problem!

Short Version: Rider did NOT follow the "Ride your Own Ride" Dictum. Did a Rider-Option Pull. BUT, a LOT of lessons learned.

Long Version:
Lots of lessons learned this weekend on my attempt at my 2nd 50 at the Red Barn Run in Chester GA:

I learned that:

* I CAN drive 6 hrs straight all by myself. I can drive a horse trailer, navigate, and NOT fall asleep for 6 hrs.

* I CAN set up/break down camp and set up/breakdown the horse area ALSO without help.

* You can have a ride plan, but the goal is actually to FOLLOW IT! After 2 seasons, I still have to get this into my head. Issues to work on: Follow MY game plan, NOT others, even if they are more "experienced". I have to listed to my gut!

* Ice likes to have company in camp and in the trailer. If he doesn't his eating habits suffer.

*What is easiest for the rider is not alwasy best for the horse.

* It doesn't matter what other people's expectation of you are and what their goals are, it is what is best for you and your horse and what makes you happy.

Ok, here's the story:
I planned on doing the 15 miles loops in 2 1/2 hours and the 10 miles loops in 1 hr 45 mins. (The course was 15 mi, 10 mi, 15 mi, 10 mi.) INSTEAD, I was so worried about riding alone that when I saw good acquaintances Susan and her junior daughter Erika, I asked if I could tag along with them. They had signed up for the 25 but switched to the 50. They said they would be going slower. My plan broke down very quickly - I wanted to started after every one else so Ice wouldn't get hyped up. Susan and Erika and I were the last ones out but we were right on everyone else tails (there were only 16 other 50 milers), so we are going fast out of camp (fast trot). A mile out I told Susan I was going faster than I planned, but she said she wanted to get as many miles out of the way before it got warm. So errors continued on my part as I continue to NOT ride MY own ride. We made it to camp on that first 15 miles loop in 1 hrs and 45 mins. On the second loop, I told Susan and Ericka that I was going to take it slower (ok, here is my first attempt to "ride my own ride" and get back on track). On the second loop, we go out on our own, at a nice easy trot. About a mile into it a rider comes flying past me. Crap, Ice starts drafting after this horse. My arms and shoulders are hurting as we are trotting quite fast and cantering too. Quite soon, this rider and I are now riding "together" and start talking. Turns out she is quite an "experienced" rider but for this ride she is riding a green horse. Gosh and I thought I was bad at pacing. When she was in front (a lot of the trail were quite narrow), she would alternate between walking and hauling ass. When I was in front, I tried to maintain a medium trot. But it was hard to control Ice when she was in front and took off. So, my goal to do the 10 mile in 1 hr 45 minutes tuned into 1 hr 25 mins. Aughhhh! Next time I will get off my horse and hand-walk him if necessary if I can't hold him back.

What is easiest for the rider is not always best for the horse. Ok, this one I consider a rookie mistake because I have not been in this particular situation before.. Because I was by myself and had no crew, I decided that I would bring Ice back to my trailer at the holds instead of waiting it out in the crew area. I guess Ice was unhappy being away from all the action and the horses, but he refused to eat. I had 4 different types of hays, apples, carrots, beet pulp, 3 different types of grain. Nothing would go past those lips. So I spent my entire hold running around desperately trying to find different concoctions for him to eat. I barely managed to get some liquids and food in my own mouth. Ice was perky, but not eating. His head was up and ears perked forward, looking around (looking for other horses?). Just NOT eating. Ok, hold two. Ice gets a B for gut sounds again and Dr Schmitt says he has to eat. Ok, same deal as first loop. Crap!!! At the end of hold, I tack Ice up but in my mind, *I* have already said I'm done (mentally, physically). I take Ice to the vet area and talk to Dr Nelson and explain the situation. He does a thorough check - all the parameters, CRI, listens to the gut sounds for a long time. There are NO gut sounds in any of the four quadrants. Ok, now I'm in tears. God, can I get through an endurance ride without crying?!? Dr Nelson said if it was his horse he would pull. He said when his stallion has zero gut sounds and was not eating, it turned out that he had a fractured something- or-other bone. The not eating was the first indicator. But Dr. Schmitt comes over and says, see that hay and grain over there, go have him eat that. I take him to the crew area and park in front of some other people's hay and grain. He loved it. A lady wandered over and we started talking. She was sooo nice. She took Ice and I to her trailer and made up a huge pan of beet pulp and Purina Fast Track (I think that's the name of the grain - I think it has probiotics in it) with carrots and apples. He ate all of it plus her hay. I got a bottle of water and cheese stick for me, too. It turns out she was Dr. Nelson's wife, Rebecca. Dr Schmitt's wife Becki comes over and consoles me also. 45 minutes later (and 45 minutes past when my hold ended), Becki, Rebecca, and the vets are saying I'm now ready to go out (Ice has some gut sounds now). I reluctantly go out (remember I said I had already made up my mind that I was done), but I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself and pep up. I had about 6 hours to do 25 miles. Since I was so late leaving the vet hold, I was the last one on the trail. Ice and I would have to to this by ourselves. However, Ice did not want to trot. I'd ask him to trot, and he would ask to walk. Ughh, 25 MORE miles. The first hour, we went 4 miles. Ok, this is NOT going to work. We had both given up. I was pretty sure he had more steam to maintain 5 mph, but was not 100% sure. I think he was unmotivated like me. I cut the 15 mile loop short and headed back early. When I got back to camp I pulled him. Ice trotted out perky for Dr .Schmitt, but he said his rear right was very slightly off. But not lame. (He looked and felt fine to me). I took Ice over to friends Brenda, Kim, and Kay's crew area and he ate a bunch of their food. Brenda did a 25, Kim top 5'd in the 50, and Kay had a rider option-lame pull. They consoled me and told me a did the right thing for pulling him. But I still felt really bad because I set a goal and didn't following it and therefore didn't accomplish it. I think if I did the first 2 loops slower and had set a up a crew area, I could have completed the ride. Also, I'm going to look into feed Ice probiotics to encourage Ice to eat. I actually had some liquid probios, but it was old (smelled strongly like vanilla extract) and didn't think I should use it. I also might feed this before a trailer ride. Looking back, he was always really good about eating beet pulp, apples, and carrots on long trailer rides. Except for the past two times. But the past two times he was by himself. I wonder if this is the reason when he wouldn't eat in the trailer.

I admit this pull and lack of completion hit me hard. It was so disappointing and I felt like a failure. I know I did the right thing for my horse by pulling him. But I'm upset because it was due to me errors. Looking back, I'm chalking it up to "the first pull is always the hardest". And I did learn some valuable lessons.

Oct. 19, 2007, 12:48 PM
Bummer - sorry about your ROP but like you said best for the horse and best for you.

At least you have looked at things logically and know where you went wrong and how to fix it for the next time. AND next time YOU WILL follow your game plan.

I always say things happen for a reason - you might not like the reason at the time but there was a "REASON".

Oct. 19, 2007, 12:53 PM
smile:) you did the right thing. there will be plenty more to come. this one wasn't meant for you guys. you learned from it.

when i RO'd at my first 50 3 weeks ago i was so sure that i was making the right decision. and then about 20 minutes later, all the doubt started going through my head and i began beating myself up. luckily i got some good friends on the phone and they reminded me again that i know my horse and that it was the right thing to do, and that there will be other rides for us.

i think that we KNOW all the right things to do, but it's so hard to implement them all when you're at the ride. lets face it, we feel the effects of adrenaline, too.

so congrats on your attempt and on making the right decision!:))

p.s. i forgot to add, that gothedistance, i think it was her, gave me the best advice ever re food - keep giving your horse snacks on trail whenever you can. i did that on that first 20 mile loop of my first 50 attempt and when we got back to camp and even before she ate anything, her gut sounds were awesome! i think we got an A+ on them. i just kept on handing her pieces of carrots and apples whenever i could.

Oct. 19, 2007, 01:00 PM
I always take carrots and maybe an apple with me in the saddle bag. But he was not interested in eating them this time (he ate a lot on the Biltmore ride). I think because we were going so fast this time. When he get in his race mode, he doesn't want to stop.

Oct. 19, 2007, 02:37 PM
Nature Valley OatsNHoney granola bars.

My horses will grab them from me when I offer them from the saddle, and I usually give them a mile or two from the hold (and sometimes we share) so it gives them a mini sugar spike and makes them come in STARVING, which is great. No screwing around, they eat.

Not riding your own ride is not just a rookie mistake. I've made the same error this season and I've been around the block a few times. (Some of us are slower learners.)

Oct. 19, 2007, 03:14 PM
got a question here on that upper heart rate you cite (145). i remembered that during our attempt at the 50 in RI 3 weeks ago but i watched her heart rate hover around 160 and she didn't seem in any distress, there were no other horses around. the terrain was much harder than i anticipated but once i realized that we would not be finishing that ride, we took it easy. so then i wondered if the upper heart rate number which you don't want to exceed varies depending on the horse's resting hear rate. does it? my mare's resting is 32.

beth heffelfinger
Oct. 19, 2007, 03:27 PM
Thank you All you are So helpfull. And the thing I like most about endurance riding you are All sooo encourging.

Auventera Two
Oct. 19, 2007, 03:56 PM
Hey girl, you did good!! :yes: Taking care of your horse and yourself is always #1. Don't beat yourself up. I had a RO pull this season too because it was so freakin' hot you could fry eggs on my helmet. I was getting really sick. It happens to everyone. :)

Oct. 19, 2007, 03:58 PM
Some really excellent advice here. And it usually happens to everyone at least once so no stress!

Last year I RO-M at the Michaux. Very hot (over 100*) steep ride. I went too fast for the conditions. My horse had passed all parameters with decent scores at the first vet check and was cleared to go on trail again but the normally piggish mare would not eat. I pulled. And 10 minutes later found ourselves in the middle of a colic and hooked up to an IV. :eek:A terrifying scenario. Caught it early and all was well but talk about self beratement. It has slowed me down permanently.

Lesson-Ride my own ride. Ride for the conditions. Train for the terrain. And when in doubt pull. It likely saved my horse.

IMO, you learned more than you would have finishing this one without a hitch. Good luck on the next.

Bank of Dad
Oct. 19, 2007, 04:59 PM
So it sounds like the first several or more rides of any horse's endurance career are really training rides for the horse, and even finishing isn't important, if the horse learns how to rate himself, eat, drink, and listen to the rider. The rider needs to accept that these training rides are expensive, involve a lot of planning and energy, but they are still training rides, not serious or even just fun, competitions.

You did well, and you did the right thing. I learned a lot too, from a horse I couldn't slow down in a CTR. This was a horse who wouldn't do more than a walk or slow jog on a normal trail ride.

Oct. 19, 2007, 05:42 PM
This past attempt was my 12th ride (horses' 17th) but only my 2nd 50+ ride (his 4th). I think with 25 or 30 mile rides you can "get away" with certain things. But doing 50+ rides, you REALLY have to make sure horse is paced appropriately, eating and drinking, etc.

BTW, thanks for all the suggestions!

Oct. 20, 2007, 09:29 AM
... I confess I can barely pick up the voice mails from my cell phone.

I occasionally do wear a GPS so I have some clue how far I've gone on a loop and while we own a HRM, I don't regularly ride with one.

So take this with a grain of salt.

I don't think, other than a couple of hundreds where I knew the loops, that I have ever figured out how long a loop would take me to ride.

You can pace your horse just fine by paying attention to him and following this mantra:

Fast When You Can. Slow When You Have To.

I don't ever feel guilty about going slow over rough going or when my horse needs a break. I pay attention to him because I don't have a numerical readout to "tell me" how he's doing. How's his breathing? Is he asking to slow down? Is he more motivated by the horses around him than his own ability to go on? Will he eat if I stop at a grassy patch? Is he covered with "flop sweat" from nerves? Is he moving easily, without effort? Is he pulling on me? Who is driving the bus?

Oct. 22, 2007, 04:30 PM
Being from an area really close to that ride, we ride that terrain often, and it is so easy to go too fast. There is nothing to stop you or slow you down. I was pulled (rider option) there last year at that ride (but the temps were in 100s) at 40 miles, so I know the feeling. I didn't get to do that ride this year, due to some bad circumstances. I'm sure you will get your pace figured out and as you and your horse get more conditioned for 50s you will be great!