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  1. #1
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    Jul. 20, 2007
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    Question Speak to me of the Old Dominion No Frills ride

    For the end of April, I'm thinking of doing the LD at Old Dominion instead of the Cheshire at Unionville, which was my original plan. From what I've read and seen, the OD looks like an amazing ride with some pretty tough terrain. I've been on the OD website a lot and pretty much have read everything on there at least 2 or 3 times LOL! How hard is it to do the LD there without any crew? It sounds like it is a continuous ride rather than one that does several loops back to camp is this correct? Any tips, pointers, etc? Anyone else from here going?
    “While the rest of the species is descended from apes, redheads are descended from cats.” Mark Twain



  2. #2
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    Dec. 9, 2010
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    Quote Originally Posted by tabula rashah View Post
    For the end of April, I'm thinking of doing the LD at Old Dominion instead of the Cheshire at Unionville, which was my original plan. From what I've read and seen, the OD looks like an amazing ride with some pretty tough terrain. I've been on the OD website a lot and pretty much have read everything on there at least 2 or 3 times LOL! How hard is it to do the LD there without any crew? It sounds like it is a continuous ride rather than one that does several loops back to camp is this correct? Any tips, pointers, etc? Anyone else from here going?
    I really love both of these rides. Cheshire is easy, fun, and has a very relaxed environment. There is not a ton of challenging trail, just rolling hills. Its really pretty, and makes for a great beginning ride.
    No frills in comparison is about the opposite. There is a ton of people, in the middle of giant mountains, and really the whole ride was a bit of a challenge. The ride is almost all loose rocks, steep hills which can take a ton out of a horse if they are not used to it. Also, it is a very technical ride, so just be prepared for some more exciting questions. One of the hills on the LD I could barely walk down. I ended up sliding on my butt most of the way down. More than a few times my saddle ended up over my horses withers, when I had never had trouble with my saddle at the other od rides.
    As for the crew, I did without, and it is really not bad. They bring tons of beet pulp, hay and grain to the hold, so you can use anything you would like. They also had tons of people there to help, it's really a nicely run ride.
    Based of what I have ridden nearby, I would say this is the hardest LD in the area. Doable, but definitely a bit of a challenge.
    Good luck, and let me know if you have any more questions!
    PS- last year, the completion prize was a mustard squirter. I would think they would choose something else this year, but it was hilarious to try to determine the different uses of the notorious condiment holder.


    Here is a video showing some of the hills you might see. I believe this is big horse's video, so I hope this is ok with her to post. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sw9IFOBT9YE
    Last edited by smilesthepony; Mar. 15, 2013 at 09:55 PM. Reason: Add video



  3. #3
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    Thanks for the info. I've done the Cheshire before and it is very nice ride but it's very similar to Fair Hill where I ride every week. The terrain at the OD sounds like tons more fun to me esp because I am missing my annual horse camping trip in the mountains in GA this year.
    “While the rest of the species is descended from apes, redheads are descended from cats.” Mark Twain



  4. #4
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    The No Frills is tough, but doable. I've ridden and top tenned at this ride for many, many years - from when it first moved from Fort Valley out to Star Tannery. The beginning and end are on lovely gravel roads where you can make up tons of time if you are so inclined. The middle of the ride is on a mountain trail with breathtaking views. It is a technical ride - meaning you have to plan your speeds according to the terrain. You move out when you can, go slow when you have to.

    How hard is it to do the LD there without any crew?
    Not hard at all. The away check is staffed with volunteers who are happy to help you get yourself organized and bring food for you and your horse. Your crew bags will be transported to the check by the management - everyone is given a plastic bag to put their necessary stuff into, and your entry number will be written on the bag. All the LDs are in one area; the 50's in another so there is better organization for the incoming, outgoing riders. What you'll need is a cooler or blanket for your horse, any extra clothing you might need for yourself, a full set of 4 hoof boots, and special treats if you've a mind to carry them with you. There is a horse ambulance that will take your horse back to basecamp should it get pulled, so no worries there.

    The chance that you'll have wild weather is pretty high - in the years I've done the trail it is sleeted, snowed, rained, deluged, and been picture perfect on the valley floor while the top of the mountain is in deep clouds, and visa versa. So be prepared for anything. Basecamp is at the Crandall farm which sits in a vale (valley) - the first part of the trail is on their side of the mountain; the remaining trail, and finish line, are on the other side. The last leg runs along a rolling gravel road which parallels a flowing stream - great for a horse that is starting to run thirsty from the mountain climbing.

    Is it a continuous ride - yes, the LD is one big circle with only one vet check/hold at midway. The 50's have two checks at the same midway hold, and an additional loop that brings them back to the same away hold for the 2nd check. Both divisions finish on the same trail heading back to basecamp.

    Tips and pointers:

    Tip 1 - have your horse shod with pads, and have the farrier run the clinchs long and pounded down. Don't let him rasp them off hunter-show style. You will need all the grip on those shoes you can. Many a year I've passed a dozen shoes, and as many easy boots (both glue-on and strapped), cast aside along the trail, plus numerous horses coming in semi-barefoot when they went out fully shod. Do have emergency boots (at least 2) attached to your saddle.

    Tip 2 - have your horse conditioned to hills. There is a lot of rolling trail, and lots of rocks.

    Tip 3 - Book it at a canter when you hit the roads and don't worry about slowing for a breather - you'll have plenty of slow going when you hit the trails for your horse to recover completely.

    Tip 4 - Wear shoes that you can climb in. There are points along the trail that you can aid your horse by getting off and walking, or jogging, alongside. And yes there is one very steep, shale hill that you will absolutely want to dismount and walk/skid/slide down. But it isn't forever, and as soon as you get to the bottom, you are really close to the away check. Also DRESS WARM. It is easier to strip off clothing if you get too warm, than to be cold and wish for more clothing for what Mother Nature will throw at you. Remember, you will be climbing some decent elevation, and the temps/weather at the summit will be (usually) far cooler/far different than those at the base.

    Tip 5 - RIDE YOUR OWN RIDE. This is not a "chummy" ride you'd take with friends. This trail really demands you focus on yourself and your horse as the sole team...IF you want to finish at the top and do well. Don't get pulled into someone else's draft. This trail tests your ability to read your horse's energy level and be judicious in using the horse's "tank of gas" to the best advantage. I know many riders who would waste their horse up front by riding up the mountain at a walk, rather than getting off, and dilly dally when they needed to be moving out faster. Those people you can pass at the end if you ride the trail smart, and don't let anyone else dictate your pace.

    Tip 6 - Keep your horse fueled. Carry carrots with you, and feed along the way. They are high in fiber, water, and natural e-lytes. Frankly, I always carry treats that I can munch on myself, plus horse cookies and sometimes alfalfa cubes. The 50s have a stop-and-go feed station midway on their second loop to help nourish the horses in that barren (read as grassless) mountain trail, but the LD won't have that option. If you are walking next to your horse up or down the hills, take that time to feed carrots/treats. It will go a LONG way towards keeping your horse's gut sounds going, and keeping a continual level of energy in which the horse can tap. Do not forget water or juice for yourself - there will be enough water on the trail for the horse, but you'll need to carry your own.

    I'm sure I can think of some more later on, but right now this should be sufficient to get you going in the right direction.

    Click here for a photo presentation of the No Frills 50 mile trail in 2007. That's my Decade Team (2010) gray Welsh/Arab pony in the photos of the trail. (now retired at age 22) Lisa Green is now riding FEI.
    Last edited by gothedistance; Mar. 17, 2013 at 02:13 PM. Reason: spelling, and additional clarification


    5 members found this post helpful.

  5. #5
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    Thank you so much gothedistance!! This is exactly the type of info I was looking for (and the type of info that makes me want to do it even more!! LOL!) I'm about 99% sure I'll be going.
    “While the rest of the species is descended from apes, redheads are descended from cats.” Mark Twain



  6. #6
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    Sep. 5, 2011
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    Quote Originally Posted by gothedistance View Post
    The No Frills is tough, but doable. I've ridden and top tenned at this ride for many, many years - from when it first moved from Fort Valley out to Star Tannery. . . .
    Wow. I used to live in Star Tannery, & this has to be maybe just the 1st or 2nd time I've ever heard it mentioned anywhere - lol!!!

    Where is the ride hosted from?



  7. #7
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    GOTHEDISTANCE told you all the critical stuff. DO use pads unless you live and ride in serious rock year round. Do have a boot or two on board. On the first section of trail I had three riders ask me if I had an easy boot they could borrow. Hell no! I had enough sense to carry one for MY HORSE. I told them all I'd loan them a # OO which of course was too small for their horses, then took my # 1 boot down the trail with me. Yes, I'm bad.

    I suggest stuffing hay into a bag to carry on your saddle, some alfalfa maybe, and carry it along and keep handing it to your horse. I am a big believer in keeping hay/forage in their stomach while riding and there is very little grazing at that time of year up in them that rocky mountains.

    I'll probably be out on the 25 mile loop that the 50 mile riders do as loop 2. We've run a "hospitality" stop for several years way out there and this year I believe it will be a mandatory 15 min hold. There will be feed and hay and rider snacks out there which everyone is ready for after doing a long, slow, rocky trail. After that point the trail goes back in on a good forest road .

    Suggest you do ad GTD suggested make time where you can and take it easy where it is tough.

    Campground is on a hillside which can be challenging to park on and exit. You enter at the top of the hill and the pasture is marked out with camp sites with flags. Trailer, vehicle and horse pen must be with in the flags. Be considerate and do not crowd your neighbors. I like to drive in and go all the way to the bottom of the hillside pasture and park where is flat and easier to exit. The exit from the pasture is thru a gate the bottom of the field.

    If you send items to the vet check they will not come back to base camp until the 50s all thru the last vet check and they close it down and drive everything back to basecamp. The LD riders are done long before this but if they sent items to that vet check they may have to wait for several hours. So if you are an LD rider you may want to NOT send item to the vet check and be self sufficient by carrying what you need, electrolytes, rump rug, sufficient clothing, etc. Use the feed/hay provided at the VC, etc. That way you can leave once you have finished your ride. Since it is often a cold or wet ride you may be really wanting to hit the road once you have finished.

    Bonnie S.



  8. #8
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    Thanks Bonnie-
    I plan on 4 shoes with pads (yay for having a farrier brother!!) and we train barefoot and in renegades so I'll have those along with me. Rocky we can do! Here's the trails in the state forest behind my house- the "non-rocky trail" and the rocky sections (ie most of it LOL!) And one more Can you believe this is all 15 mins from Fair Hill? LOL!
    “While the rest of the species is descended from apes, redheads are descended from cats.” Mark Twain



  9. #9
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    Dec. 9, 2010
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    Quote Originally Posted by tabula rashah View Post
    Thanks Bonnie-
    I plan on 4 shoes with pads (yay for having a farrier brother!!) and we train barefoot and in renegades so I'll have those along with me. Rocky we can do! Here's the trails in the state forest behind my house- the "non-rocky trail" and the rocky sections (ie most of it LOL!) And one more Can you believe this is all 15 mins from Fair Hill? LOL!
    I'm glad you got such amazing responses! I knew there were others that could give you much better info than me. Have fun at the ride this year and I hope you have great weather.



  10. #10
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    Oct. 25, 2008
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    Gothedistance, you just described my perfect ride. Long hours, varied terrain, all keeps the ride interesting. The pictures were beautiful, but we have much tougher trails were we ride. But the longest I've ridden is only five hours. Could have kept going.



  11. #11
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    Jan. 12, 2004
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    Bonnie -

    I ROFLOL'd at your comment on not loaning out your easy boots! That trail sure brings out the "my Preciousssssssss" in us, doesn't it! Claiming your boots were 00's was a true stroke of genius!

    Who are you going to be riding...assuming Mouse is retired? I'll be there as a volunteer since I have a bike rally the week before and one the following day. No time to condition my pony. Maybe I'll have him ready for the June ride LD.

    Malda - The photos don't even begin to show the technicalities of the trail. It isn't until you are standing on that trail that you realize what you're in for. The LD riders are lucky - they will be coming down the hardest section of trail, while the 50's have to climb up it. If you can ride...and complete...the 50 mile trail, you can ride ANYWHERE ...and the rest will all feel like a walk in the park.



  12. #12
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    Mar. 29, 2006
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    Oh, I'll be there at the No Frills as a volunteer or I'll be at the Cheshire riding a nice pleasant CTR. Mouse is 15 this year and is ridden by a junior rider. He's my good boy, sound as can be and a do it all kind of boy. We'll do a CTR in two weeks with Mouse and Wynne and I'll have to see how my knees feel after 25 miles.

    My Wynne is a big strong fruit cake. He can really power up a mountain then be scaried to death at the sound of a squirrel running by. He worries about life in general but will follow Mouse anywhere. I just keep riding him and working at getting him to relax when his routine is changed. I am going to try the short distances with him again this year and see if he can learn to chill a bit and travel better. He travels a lot locally in the hope that eventually he'll just chill out.

    I hope we haven't scared anyone off from riding the No Frills. It is definite challenge but well worth doing.

    Oh, for those people who's saddles slide up on their horse's necks on the steep downhills, RIDE FASTER! You ride fast enough and your horse will stay ahead of the saddle

    Bonnie



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