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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Wild West

So I just spent 2 hours on a post that described in excruciating detail how much fun I had at this ride, how good my little pony was, how beautiful the trails were, etc. And then, do you know what I did? I deleted it. "Why", do you ask? Because it was boring. Very boring. Everything went perfectly. I feel great, my horse looks great, what is there to write about? Instead, I would like to highlight some things that went especially well, or tricks that I discovered that served me well over the weekend.

First I want to go over the goals I made for this ride:

1. Finish with a strong and sound horse - Completed

2. Get off during the race and run - Completed.

3. Finalize my crew bag decisions. - Kinda Completed Still haven't found the "best" way to do it.

4. Practice my electrolyte protocol - Completed

And while we are at it - I can check off one of my yearly goals - Complete my first endurance multi-day - Completed!!!


I mixed applesauce and electrolytes in a squeeze ketchup bottle and then filled 4-60cc syringes. 1/2 dose of electrolytes was in each syringe. I capped each syringe with a wire nut. Then I mixed another batch of electrolyte/applesauce in the ketchup bottle and put in my crew bag. It worked PERFECTLY. It was easy to refill my syringes at the lunch vet check (just squeeze it into the each syringe) and easy to give on the trail. I electrolyted after each water stop (1/2 dose, or one syringe). She drank great, was well hydrated, and peed several times on the trail every day. Very very very happy how this method worked out. Thank you everyone who gave me ideas for this!!! For future: Buy at least 4 more syringes as a spare set, and a couple for bottles so I can have mixed electrolytes for longer rides.

Running and running shoes

I wore my trail runners and actually got off and ran a total of ~7 miles this week (not counting the 7-8 mile "adventure" - ie Melinda got lost - run on Friday morning). The shoes felt great in and out of the saddle. The second day I duct taped my laces and didn't have to re-tie my shoes ONCE. Yeah! Very annoying to get out of the saddle to run, only to find out that you have a shoelace untied.... Farley seemed to really appreciate the break, especially on the second day when travelling on some endless side jeep roads....I would get to the point where I couldn't STAND it anymore, and then I would get off and run for a while. It was a GREAT break for both of us. For the future: Practice my running/moving mounts. I knew Farley was ready for me to get back on when she would start moving ahead of me when running. That was my clue to run along beside and jump on....theoretically.

Helmet handkerchief - or - "The Flying Nun"

I took a clue from Karen Chaton and duct taped a handkerchief to the back of my helmet to keep the sun and bugs off my neck. It worked like a charm. I'll definitely be doing more of this! For the Future: Try to get a handkerchief more dignified than my teal and magenta mayan print....

Tall Socks in Lieu of Half Chaps

Went well - my leathers rubbed a hole in the sock of my inside calf of my left leg - but it didn't bruise my leg or tear into my tights. I think a combination of the tail wraps around the leathers and a knee high sock on at least my left leg, should eliminate any half chap need. It was really nice to run without the half chaps.

Just a short note on how good my pony is....:)

My horse LOVES single track and technical trail. She's completely awesome. Some of the single track on this ride is a little hairy....she handled it like a pro, never taking a wrong step. I couldn't be more proud of her.

Eating on the Trail

I can tell when she's going to stop and eat - we'll be going at a power trot and then she'll start examining the side of the trail for edibles. She'll slow, walk and grab 3-5 bites and then trot on. After a couple repeats, she's usually good for a while. I was able to ride by myself for most of the 2 days which really made a difference in her comfort level of eating on the trail. I did have to put a limit of the number of times she wanted to stop and eat on the second day on the second loop. We would have NEVER made it through the last 10 miles if I had let her eat as much as she wanted.

Did I push her this weekend?

She barely sweated this weekend. Never had a problem with pulse, excellent recoveries (CRIs were all 52/48 etc.). There was one STEEP (and I mean STEEEEEEEPPPPPPP gravelly hill that went STRAIGHT up for at least a mile) hill that I decided NOT to get off on because I wanted to see if she had enough gas in her tank to get me up it - it was near the end of the second day. She did. I got off at the top and walked her the mile to the vet check. By the time we got there she was under sixty pulse and looked great. She never felt tired. We both hit a mental wall on the jeep roads. It was tough. But I found out how to handle it - when I got off I immediately felt better. I practiced our "stay cool" strategies - trotting in the sun and walking in the shade. Her gait and hydration was absolutely solid both days and the day after. She was mentally with it and focused for the entire ride. She could have easily done another day of 50 miles, or have done the 2 days of 50's much faster - probably top 10 both days (not that I would have - that's not my goal right now, but I just trying to provide a reference of how she felt).

What I WASN'T happy with....
I had to pulse down for lunch on the second day right outside of camp. She threw a hissy fit. Apparently she thought she should be able to go straight to camp. She was down on the trail (totally relaxed, I walked the last mile in, probably in the 40's). When she threw her fit by spinning, pacing, and invading my personal space, she of course was over 60. This was not a tired horse that wouldn't pulse down, this was a misbehaving horse that was not pulsing down because she was refusing to stand still and accept her fate of having to listen to me. I'm sure the pulse takers thought I was a crazy person for disciplining her for not standing still. I was NOT doing the whole "poor horsey must be so tired...", instead I was working on the behavior of "I asked you to stand so you will". I knew I was going to pulse down and honestly, even if it took me 45 minutes to address this behavior and I got pulled, I would rather address this behavior NOW instead of having to deal with this every time we have to pulse outside of camp. We (pulse takers and I) finally got her to stand and she pulsed in. I have a feeling that point to point or single loop trails are going to be her best rides.

Rider Fitness
For these 2 50's I was in the best shape I have been while doing a ride (I've been fitter, but wasn't doing rides at that time). It made a huge difference. I could ride well all the way through, I could get off when I needed to, and I could help my horse. Even at 5000 feet (I live at sea level) I could get off and run 30-60 minutes no problem. If I do the tevis I should be in even better shape by then.

So the Tevis or Not?
I'm waiting 1-2 weeks before making my decision. Sometimes an issue doesn't show up until a few weeks after the ride. I want to make sure she really is 100%. She has some weird bumps on her back (bug bites?) and I want to make sure those go away without incident. I probably won't do Diablo - I'm going to want to take as many weekends in June and July to ride the Tevis trail as I can. One of the differences between Saturday and Sunday's ride was that I knew Saturday's trail much much better. I definitely need to continue rider fitness - it made a huge difference.

So the Tevis decision is still up in the air - I'll let you guys know at the beginning of June what I have decided. My pony has earned her 2 weeks of vacation/easy work, but there's no reason for me to be a slacker! I need to get more miles on my own legs, ramp up my hill and the heat training.


  1. Congratulations on your ride! Sounds like it went really well, and you met all your goals. How wonderful!

  2. Way to go Mel!

    If you get some time to spare could you email me more detail on your elyte protocol? Brand, how much in the applesauce ratio, etc. I feel I really need to explore at least minimal elytes for Phebes for our "come back".

    ~E.G. (

  3. Congratulations, Mel! What a great ride, and good job meeting all your goals!

  4. Fantastic! I'm so happy for you two.

    BTW, I do not think there is such a thing as a "dignified" helmet handkerchief. I think you should go for the most garish possible print that matches your gear! Maybe a white one for training rides with the normal people, but definitely something wild for actual rides!


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