Mongol Time of Year

If you follow this blog, chances are you also follow the Mongol Derby.  It has now wrapped up and the 2016 riders are on their way home for some much needed R&R, but I thought, in the spirit of the Derby, I would re-share my stories from when I went in 2014.

Unfortunately, I chose to withdraw with all my body parts attached… still no regrets, it was the right choice for me at the time.  However, I still managed to have quite the adventure and wrote about it in great detail here.  I am forever thankful to have met such amazing people at this race, people who have become a recurring part of my adventures and who feel close despite living at all the corners of the world.

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Without further ado, here are some links!

Arriving in UB –  in his deep Swedish voice, he responded casually “I saw a dead body”

A visit to the Black Market – Sam Jones pretty much orchestrated the whole thing

Pre-race training: In the Classroom – The medics said something about bugs on the steppe who would shoot their eggs into your eyes

PRE-RACE TRAINING ON THE STEPPE – DAY 1 – ABE –  We got to the horse line and it hit me: I had no clue what I was doing.

PRE-RACE TRAINING DAY 2 – BORIS – they were 6-12 year olds who all could outride us in a heartbeat

GETTING TO THE START LINE – I was asked if I wanted a different horse.  No way!  I wanted this jackass

LEG 1: CHIPMUNK – I galloped Chipmunk as fast as he could carry me after the loose horse

LEG 2: (DUD)LEY – to my horror, felt a tug on my head.  I watched my GoPro be WHIPPED TO THE GROUND

LEG 3 – ELECTRO –  I would say “hey, can I ride with you!” but Electro strongly said “Nope” and galloped on

SOMETIMES IT HURTS TO MAKE SMART DECISIONS – Would I get lucky enough to select such an understanding horse 25 more times?

MOVING ON – Mongolians must know the perfect distance from bathroom to civilization to sufficiently ensure no “details” are seen

DAY 3 – PICKING UP GOATS AND SICKIES – Little did she know, the power of Mongolian Dance Yodel was still to come

DAY 4 – BACK TO UB – “What is this?  Tramadol?  Oh its nice!  What is this? Tramadol, Oh its nice!”

DAY 5: RETURN TO THE STEPPES – It tastes like a very tart yogurt mixed with blue cheese.

DAY 5.5 – THE CABIN AND MY GOOD SLEEP – it was very clear that we would not fit in – 18 riders sharing one bitty cabin

DAY 6 – TASTY TREATS AND THE MOUNTAIN PASS – halfway through our dumplings we were told “uhh, its not mushroom…. Its INTESTINE”

DAY 7: CATCHING THE FRONT-RUNNERS & JESS’S CAT FRIEND – they had brought the couch outside the cabin in order to tether the cat to it!

DAY 8 – FINISH CAMP, AND AN UNWELCOME PASSENGER. – Seriously, it was the size of my hand! I batted it off with some sort of “blearghhha!” utterance, and all of a sudden, I was 50 metres up the mountain

DAY 9 – MORE FINISH, AND MORE CAMEL RIDING – Breaking News: Goat wins the Mongol Derby!

THE FINAL DAY OF RIDING, WITH THE BACK OF THE PACK – We weren’t left on the steps this time, all us party vanners were invited up to receive the ceremonial Deel

Madawaska Highlands Pioneer Ride of Canadians

I am very fortunate to live in an area that is central to the majority of the OCTRA events (heck, three of them are practically in my backyard). However, I’m always up for exploring new trail.  The Madawaska Highlands Ride of Canadians was at brand new location to OCTRA so I decided to check it out.  This was my furthest ride this season at over 4 hours of travel time. The ride was also in the middle of the week so unfortunately, I had to make the trip by myself. Normally, this is not an issue but after attending the ride talk, we were told that the veterinary/control check half way through the course was an away check. All of the rides I have done to date have all of the control checks back at base camp, making it easy to set up (especially when you’re alone). The ride managers had arranged for a vehicle to take items out to the check but since I was planning on leaving right after the ride, I wasn’t sure how long I was going to have to wait for the truck to come back with my stuff.  I want to give a massive shout out and thank you to Dianne Moore for crewing!!  It gave me one less thing to worry about!

Due to our timeline and amount of travel, we did 25 mile ride with the plan to just go nice and slow since we had lost a shoe at the last ride and didn’t want a repeat. While I was hoping for a nice, relaxing ride, just over a mile into the ride, Splash and Maribel’s horse both slammed on the brakes.  As they walked very cautiously forward, a small black bear crossed the trail in front of us. It didn’t seem to be bothered by the horses but our two were still on edge for about the next 10 minutes.  I was kicking myself for not having the Go Pro turned on because I wasn’t expecting so much excitement right at the start of the race!

It was tough and challenging course. They weren’t kidding about the rocks! I heard many people talking about how hilly it was but I didn’t find it that hilly (could be because my training grounds are incredibly hilly!) The trail was made up of mostly logging road/atv trail with forested parts.  The landscape was incredible (that view at the first vet check!!!)

Here is a little sneak peak at the trail a few miles from the vet check.  Again, had I thought to keep the helmet cam on at all times, you would have been treated to the view coming into the vet check. If anything, this ride taught me to be prepared for anything!

This was a placed ride (as opposed to graded) and although I completed I’m not sure of my placing as I left before awards ceremony took place (downside to living far from a ride site but I can’t complain as I am close to the majority of OCTRA rides).  My next ride will be Summer’s End. Participating in the 12 mile ride n tie (my boyfriend’s first ride and tie!) which should be exciting.

As you are reading this, I will be headed up for a relaxing weekend of trail riding at Horse Country Campground (not far from the site of the Madawaska Highlands ride) which I will be blogging about next time. Happy trails!

Something ’bout the North

Through the years of doing endurance in AERC and OCTRA I have learned each ride has its challenges. Some challenges are much harder than others, some are more difficult for different people. Our first pioneer ride up in Madawaska was very challenging. From winding roads, to the hills and the rocks it was for sure a test of the best. At the second vet check, the girl I was riding with for the first 25 miles looked down at her horse’s foot realizing there was no shoe on her left foot. The shoe was pulled straight out of the foot, luckily not hurting the horse or making her lame, but making the proper decision to pull because of this problem.

My horse was not the most motivated creature at this ride after we didn’t have a friend to go out with she slowed down a lot, making me have to continue to encourage her forward. At 9 miles from the second stop Earle Baxter caught up with me, boy was I happy as Angel was being a bum: walking the slowest walk she could possibly do, telling me she was tired every step, I hate it when horses are like that. Once she had a friend she thought she could race all the way home. Having to go over all the hills, makes like you’ve done the 50 twice.

At the end I ended up coming first, but overall I was just happy I completed because it was only a 50% completion rate. Now the stress begins for our competition, mounted games practice and let’s just say so much more. Well, nobody can say I had a boring summer!

 

-Solstice

MadBarn – Visceral+ & Performance XL Review

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MadBarn supplements, ready to get in Bentley’s belly!

I am so thankful to have connected with MadBarn last year.  After several discussions, MadBarn agreed to sponsor me with some product (as pictured above). I have now been using them for a little while, and I have to say, I am one satisfied lady!

Performance XL Electrolytes

This was sold to me with the words “It’s almost exactly the same as Perform n’ Win”.  Ok, I will give it a shot.  I have to say, it was nerve wracking to make the leap.  Once you have found something that works, you tend to stick with it. But PNW isn’t available in Canada, which means you have to have a friend drive over the border with your white powder.

When I used it at the Aprilfest ride, I am pleased to say NOTHING HAPPENED!  Yes, that is a good thing.  My horse performed exactly as he typically does on PNW.  I used approximately the same amount (2 scoops day before the ride, 2 scoops in the morning, and 3 scoops at each hold), and we survived, no worse for the wear (ok Bentley was good, I had weird lumpy legs… but that has nothing to do with these elytes).

I also used them at summer solstice (which was crazy hot) and Coates Creek (our first 75 mile ride) and came in with A’s for hydration every time.  We continue training as I prepare for Race The Wild Coast and using Performance XL on our training rides, and he never refuses a bucket or puddle.  I’m keeping them!

 

Visceral +

Ok so this one is a little harder to review, because it’s an ulcer product, but I have never had scopes done on Bentley.  Some of what may follow might be other factors or coincidence, but it also might not be (and I think it DOES play a role).  Keep an open mind.

I had suspected for a while that Bentley might have ulcers.  Its not uncommon for an endurance horse and he was showing signs such as being girthy, grouchy when I brushed certain spots on his belly (I can even think back to a time when a little girl said “he doesn’t like when I poke him here”, poked him in demonstration, and he turned around and bit her – it was hard not to laugh), and more recently had been difficult to catch in the field.

I started him on Visceral + the week before Coates… the week before, he was taking 3 hours to catch him in the field.  He also had a mystery lameness in his back that couldn’t be found by the chiro/vet who said he had a good strong back, with no issues.

We did manage to get through that ride ok, and to my surprise, the next day, Bentley came to greet me at the fence.  No multi-hour chase.  I had thought for sure he would hate me, but that day, and ever since, he comes trotting to the fence, eager to get to work.  A complete attitude 360.  As I mentioned, this could be Visceral+, it could be the chiro work, or it could be his horsey brain doing silly things, but he certainly seems like a totally happy horse these days!

As for the brushing/girthing.  I haven’t seen a pinned ear since he started on it.  I am not sure how long Visceral+ is supposed to take effect, but it seemed to start working fast!  He is still in full work, hard enough it would aggravate an ulcer, but no symptoms I can tell.  Again, I am sticking with it.  The total attitude change with increased work can’t be total coincidence, because he may like to do things the hard way… but clearly as we were 2 months ago, he cant like it that much!

Visceral+, you are staying in my cabinet!

 

 

Electrolyte Supplementation in the Exercising Horse

 


Electrolyte Supplementation in the Exercising Horse

A discussion about electrolyte supplementation is really about thermoregulation and being able to dissipate heat.  The horse demonstrates what is likely the highest sweat rate within the animal kingdom and uses this to dissipate ~70% of the heat produced during exercise.  It shouldn’t be surprising that such high sweat rates, which can approach 20 L per hour, are required when you consider the tremendous oxidative capacity and range of the equine athlete.  For example, the volume of oxygen consumed per kilogram of body mass in the human increases about 2 fold when comparing rest to high intensity exercise.  In the horse there is a 35-fold increase in oxygen consumption.  The tremendous oxidative capacity of the equine athlete allows it to perform a tremendous amount of work at relatively high speeds, which in turn generates a lot of heat which must be dissipated and the majority of this is done through sweating.

Evaporative cooling through sweat is accompanied by a substantial loss of electrolytes.  Unique to the equine, is sweat that is isotonic or slightly hypertonic, unlike the human athlete which has hypotonic sweat.  Therefore, during intense exercise or prolonged moderate intensity exercise, there is a substantial loss of electrolytes.

The rate of sweating and electrolyte loss is directly proportional to the level of work performed and the ambient temperature and humidity.  Level of conditioning and acclimatization also impacts the rate of sweating and electrolyte loss.  Based on sweat composition studies, sodium losses through sweat are approximately 4 g per liter of sweat lost.  Therefore, a horse sweating at a rate of 10 L/hr performing an hour of work, total sodium loss would approach 40 grams.  Which is equivalent to 100 grams of salt (sodium chloride).

Any electrolyte supplementation program has to be taken in the context of the whole nutrition and conditioning program.  It should be the goal of your nutrition program to provide at least 125% of the required electrolytes in the daily diet, please note this does not need to be done through commercial electrolyte supplements.  This can be achieved through readily available feed ingredients.

For example, a horse undergoing intense exercise, as defined by the NRC as 6-12 hours of slow work and 1 hour of speed work per week, the electrolyte requirements are: Na, 41g; K, 53 g; Ca, 40 g; Mg, 15 g; Cl, 93 g.  An average quality hay will meet all these requirements if fed in sufficient quantities, with the exception of sodium and chloride.  Therefore, in a balanced diet, the only requirement to meet electrolyte needs is the addition of salt.  At this level of work, that would require approximately 125 grams of salt per day – equivalent to roughly half a cup.  Please note that the entire nutrition program is more complicated than this, but is outside the scope of this article.  Please seek the advice of a qualified nutritionist for balancing your equine athletes diet.

Having the diet properly balanced for electrolytes is important, but does not exclude the use of homemade or commercially prepared electrolyte solutions to be used during a competitive event or intense training day.  Lindinger and Ecker (2013) demonstrated that a well formulated electrolyte supplement given prior to exercise increased the time to voluntary fatigue by 33%.  Many other studies and experience have shown improvements in performance by providing electrolyte solutions prior, during and following strenuous bouts of exercise.  In the case of electrolytes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Given the myriad of electrolyte supplements on the market and the vast difference in requirements for horses in various disciplines, it is impossible to provide a standard set of guidelines for supplementation practices.  In general, supplementation should begin prior the event, frequently during the event (30 min intervals) and continued well into the recovery phase.  Depending on the event and level of exercise a substantial amount of the sweat loss will actually occur after the bout of exercise.  It is imperative that electrolyte supplementation be continued through the recovery phase.

The Great Sugar Debate!

There is a lot of rhetoric in the commercial market space about electrolytes containing sugar and even in academia as to the level of sugar (glucose) that is appropriate.  When confronted with this, my response is usually as such: “If the horse is working hard enough to require electrolyte supplementation, then the electrolyte should contain sugar.”  There are many benefits of sugar administrated with electrolytes: promotes the uptake of sodium from the gut, enhances cellular potassium absorption, stimulates the rate and completeness of rehydration, provides a ready source or energy and may enhance glycogen synthesis in recovery.  The literature consistently indicates that the inclusion of glucose in electrolyte solutions enhances performance.

The hypothesized downside of providing sugar with the electrolytes is the concomitant increase in blood glucose and insulin and the proposed ‘sugar crash’ that would occur after, therefore decreasing performance.  The literature simply does not support the ‘sugar crash’ phenomenon and as stated previously, consistently shows improvements in performance when sugar is a component of the electrolyte solution.

Many authors also state that sugar should not be the first ingredient in a properly formulated electrolyte.  Again, this is misleading, as a good number of studies showing improved performance with electrolyte supplementation, glucose was the most abundant ingredient, meaning it would be the first ingredient if regulations required the ingredients to be listed in order of abundance.  Regulations in Canada do require that the order of ingredients be listed in order of abundance from greatest to least, unfortunately this is not the case in the US where regulation is at the State level.  Many States do not require ingredients to listed in order of abundance.  Therefore, depending on where the product is manufactured, the order of ingredients may have no relevance to the abundance of that ingredient in the product.

In summary, a properly formulated electrolyte should contain some glucose and the electrolytes should be balanced to replace what is lost in sweat.  Electrolyte administration should begin prior to the event, during the event and the recovery phase.  Administration should be frequent and before any signs of dehydration are evident.   Most importantly, there should be a source of clean fresh water (no electrolytes added) available at all times.

Definitions:

  1. Electrolyte – a substance that produces an electrically conducting solution when dissolved in water
  2. Cation – positively charged electrolyte:
  • Sodium (Na+)
  • Potassium (K+)
  • Magnesium (Mg++)
  • Calcium (Ca++)
  1. Anions – negatively charged electrolyte:
  • Chloride (Cl-)
  • Phosphate (HPO4-)
  • Bicarbonate (HCO3-)
  1. Intracellular – inside the cell
  2. Extracellular – outside the cell
  3. Solute – general term to describe the ions in a solution. In a mixture of water and electrolytes, the electrolytes are considered the solute.
  4. Tonicity – the relative concentration of solutions that determine the direction and extent of diffusion
  5. Hypotonic – used to describe a solution with less solute per unit of water than the one it is being compared to.
  6. Isotonic – used to describe a solution with the same amount solute per unit of water than the one it is being compared to.
  7. Hypertonic – used to describe a solution with more solute per unit of water than the one it is being compared to.
  8. Salt – most often used to describe table salt/sodium chloride. In chemistry through a salt is an ionic compound that results from the neutralization reaction of an acid and a base.  The distinction is important as in some literature, salt is often referred to and is not strictly relating to sodium chloride.

From Sarah:

I am so excited to bring you a guest post from Scott Cieslar, of MadBarn.  MadBarn is sponsoring me this season, so I have had the pleasure of testing some of their products, I will get to a full review in a later post, but for now, read it from the Expert!

MadBarn supplements, ready to get in Bentley's belly!
MadBarn supplements, ready to get in Bentley’s belly!

What To Pack In My Saddle Bags?!

Everyone has their own personal preference about what they carry with them when they ride. And that’s ok! I personally just try to carry with me what I will need to get through the loop and back to the trailer/crewing area so as not to overload my horse with everything but the kitchen sink.

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As you can see in the picture, this is generally the contents of my saddle pack. Although it may vary from time to time depending on what type of ride I’m doing, these items would generally be with me on every ride.

Water – depending on the temperature and the length of the loop, I will carry 1-2 bottles of water.  I always make it my goal to go through the water I’m carrying on the loop before getting back to the crewing area.  This keeps me from becoming dehydrated.

Human electrolytes – in addition to the water, on those really hot and humid days, I will carry some human electrolytes with me. You can get these at most running or camping stores and they either come in a powder you can mix in a bottle of water or they make chewable ones. It is all dependent on your preference.  These are much better than Gatorade because they contain less sugar.  Depending on the length of the loop, I may or may not carry a syringe with electrolytes for my horse.  Again, whether or not you choose to carry them for your horse is up to you. You know your horse best.

Toilet paper – if you have a small bladder like me, going through two bottles of water in a little over an hour is going to make you have to go to the bathroom (probably at the most inconvenient time when you are still 5 miles from base camp!). I always carry some on me when I’m riding in a plastic baggie to keep it from getting wet.

Cell phone – While it is safer to carry your phone on you in the unlikely event you and your horse become separated on the trail, I usually keep mine in my saddle pack.  If your phone is not waterproof, I recommend putting it in a plastic baggie as well, along with a sheet of emergency contact numbers. Having a cell phone on me has proved to be of tremendous help, especially when you lose a shoe on trail and have to call the farrier to come meet you.

Snacks – I like to carry something that won’t melt or go bad that will keep me satisfied until I can get back to the crewing area and eat some real food.  Granola bars or energy bars are great for this. On longer rides, I will usually bring something sugary for a boost of energy such as licorice or gummies.

Chap stick, sunscreen and bug spray – these three aren’t necessary but they sure are helpful. Anything to make me more comfortable on a long ride will find its way into my pack.

Hoof pick – these are small, cheap and very handy. Sometimes those rocks just don’t want to come out with your hands.

First aid kit – I normally carry just one for humans with your basic bandages, gauze, antiseptic spray, etc.; just enough for me to be comfortable enough to get back to the trailers.  I don’t normally carry first aid equipment for my horse as I have a one back at the crewing area. If the injury is that bad that it cannot wait to get to the crewing area, that’s when an emergency call is made back to base camp.

Multi-tool – A Swiss army knife works as well.  You never know when you’re going to have to repair a piece of tack out on the trail or deal with some other obstacle where something on that tool might help you out. I also carry electrical tape and zip ties or binder twine for this same reason.

What do you pack in your saddle bags?

 

 

Times to remember

I don’t think I could have a better summer: from the amazing view, to all my new friends, a horse between my legs and the wind blowing my hair. Ya, for sure I miss my home and my bed, but I wouldn’t trade this summer for anything. Most of my blogs are mainly me talking about my adventures, but that’s only because I can never remember to take pictures. This blog will be mainly pictures so let’s get started.

The first day I arrived I got to see a family of foxes

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This little pony was Angel’s first friend. Daisy was a rescue and now she’s doing 110% better.

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Of course a lot of riding. A different horse each day and lots of time in the saddle!

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We all wanted a jumping ring so us girls got together and a jumping ring was built.

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We also go on lots of adventures!
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Who could forget horse swimming?
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I think I get pretty good views too!
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The best part about this whole thing is I’ve meet so many new and great people i would have never met before.
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Hope you all liked the pictures of my summer. Have a great July!
-Solstice

When the Stars Align

On July 3, I tackled my first 2* ride (75miles / 120km).  Neither Bentley nor I had ever ridden this distance and I wasn’t my usual confident self going into it.  Its totally uncharted territory for us and I had been dealing with some hip problems leading up to the ride which made even walking very painful for me.  I had done some physio, taken my trip to London which seemed to magically cure it, but then it came back (thankfully less intense) shortly after.  The other side to this was how I was affecting Bentley… who was exhibiting signs of back end lameness at the start of our rides (but then would work out of it after 10-20 minutes of work).

The week before the ride, I had a Chiropractor come out and look at Bentley.  He couldn’t find anything wrong, but gave him an adjustment anyway.

On the plus side, the nights before, I had Stevie and Sam of the Mongol Derby come stay with me, and we always seem to have good luck when we travel in groups!

We started the ride near the front of a controlled start.  Bentley loves to chase vehicles, and was pulling my arms out trying to catch the ATV.  After it peeled out, everyone shuffled positions for the next several miles, and by the end of the loop, my still very frisky, still not lame horse was paired well with Emma’s Zillary.  They pulsed through about the same time and I was thrilled to have another horse and very fun rider to share the long white trail with.

The white trail was limited to the 75 and 100 mile teams, and boy was it ever fun!  I was thankful for doing the 75 so I could enjoy the twisty gnarly trails, winding through the trees… though they weren’t cleared as high and spent a lot of time on Bentley’s neck.  16.2hh and I am used to ducking a lot! I was so proud of Bentley, I did manage to syringe some Mad Barn electrolytes into him at the midway trough, something he usually wont tolerate and is so tall… well… I just can’t reach when he says no!  I did still manage to cover my new black polo shirt and arms in sticky white mess though!

We finished that loop feeling good… almost wishing we had attempted the 100 so we could ride that loops again! Again, we pulsed close to Emma and was happy for company yet again, heading out now on the Short Red loop.  Not long after we started, we caught up to Ashley, riding the 1* and rode with her for a little bit, but were setting a faster pace and pulled away eventually, finding Emma’s friend and other horse along the way, we continued to ride with them.

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Still feeling good on loop 3 of 5

We pulsed in a few minutes behind them, but at 56… drat, we lost some time!  So I headed out into loop 4, the blue loop alone.  That’s when it started to get hard.  We had passed the 50 mile mark and we both felt VERY aware of that.  The heat was also climbing and the loop seemed to drag on a bit, we were both losing our mojo.  We hit a long open field and Bentley seemed re-energized, offering to stretch out and canter.  I got so into it, we completely blew past a turn and went off trail for a little bit (grinning like an idiot with our second wind), continuing around the field instead of exiting and crossing the road!  Ooops!  By the next water trough, we had caught back up to Emma and her two horses and we once again rode in to the hold together.

Bentley was taking a long time to cool down, he kept hanging just around the required 64bpm, and shooting a bit back up again.  It was especially tricky because the cooling water had gotten hot over the course of the day, and was less effective.  Sam was helping to crew us and a few other riders, suggested that we cool, then walk, then cool again… giving the cold surface blood a chance to work its way to the core.  It worked! We got Bentley down in time that we weren’t disqualified, and vetted through with mostly A’s… the B’s being for impulsion, as both of us were getting pretty tired and our trot out was lacklustre!

Emma was now long ahead of us, and I set out alone for the last loop.  The moment I mounted, I could feel a huge pain in my right butt.  I assumed it was compensatory from my left hip issues, and just grit my teeth through the pain and kept thinking “always forward.”  Bentley was feeling tired and was no longer offering to canter or big trot, instead, he shuffled along the roads which felt so tedious.  That is… until I looked at my GPS watch and realized I was STILL going faster than my goal speed.  He had managed to learn a new gait that day… the endurance shuffle.  It was efficient, comfortable (less bouncy than his big trot), and managed to cover ground at a decent clip.  I didn’t really clue into that until at least 24 hours later once my brain had recovered.  I hope it was a lightbulb moment for him too, and he will break out this efficient gait earlier in our rides now!

Starting to get a little lonely, and boy does my butt ever hurt!
Starting to get a little lonely, and boy does my butt ever hurt!

Speaking of brain… I had a traumatic experience at the same spot I went off trail the loop before.  This time, as I came around the field, there was a junk yard.  As I neared the fence “BANG” a gunshot rang out, Bentley spooked sideways and I barely stayed in the saddle.  We stopped and stared into the junkyard in shock, trying to see the soul who had fired, but unable to see a single person.  Hearts racing, he refused the water trough right beside that property.  I didn’t blame him and went along.  We then had to cross the road and ride past the front of the junkyard.  When we did, I heard a whistle, then nanoseconds later, another gunshot.  It still strikes me as odd… is it coincidence they managed to shoot at the exact times I was in front of their yard?  What was the whistle about?  No matter what it was, I was convinced, through my delirium that they were shooting at me, or deliberately trying to scare me… so I spent the next several miles crying my eyes out.  Until I saw Wendy, the photographer.  Wipe wipe the tears, smile, wave, ok im over it.

As we came to the end, I was still alone and knew nobody was nearby me.  We stopped in the stream a few hundred feet and just outside view of the finish line and Bentley had a good drink, having not drank through most of that loop thanks to scary stuff.  We took a few minutes just to relish the moment and have the weight of the ride sink in.  I reached down and gave him a thankful hug, and we made our way up the hill, trotting quietly over the finish line.  We had done it!

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Our finishing card.

We walked back to camp, where my awesome crew got to work cooling him.  We went to the vets, and of course, as Ashley described, it was a nerve wracking finish, but we passed (although I was seriously gimpy from that butt pain… don’t worry, turns out it was just a knot and some muscle relaxants and stretching worked it out)!

Walking back to camp, tired but still pretty chipper!  Bentley doesn't know he's done yet... all these extra miles?  His mind is blown!
Walking back to camp, tired but still pretty chipper! Bentley doesn’t know he’s done yet… all these extra miles? His mind is blown!

We had also been selected for drug testing… again… seriously, I must look like a druggie or something, because I always get tested!  So we found a spot for Bentley to pee and have his blood taken.  Despite his exhaustion he still managed a half-rear and some serious backing up to avoid the needle (we decided not to stand for BC as the needle was 6 minutes before the time we needed to be in!). I don’t blame him, I hate needles too.  Then as the paperwork got signed, Bentley rested his chin on the Vet’s truck and promptly fell asleep, face pressed into the bed of the truck.  It was met with a lot of chuckles and “Awww’s” from the officials who thought he was just the cutest thing… he is.❤

So there you have it, our first attempt at a distance beyond our 50 mile comfort zone.  Oh and we did manage to place 5th open, 3rd FEI, and got a bronze medal for the Provincial Championships.

My first medal!
My first medal!

 

Endurance racing is like a box of chocolates…

…you never know what you are going to get.  That’s the fun thing about the sport of endurance. No two rides are ever the same and anything can happen.  This past weekend had been a source of stress for a little while. Not only was it my first FEI-sanctioned ride (extra rules to remember, more paperwork to fill out, and more $$ to shell out),  the site of the ride was the location of my first and only ever DNF (did not finish). Splash had pulled something in her shoulder. It was very minor and just required some time off to rest.  This ride was more about mental hurdles than physical ones. But after much reassurance that this ride was just like the others I had completed, only much more expensive, as the day drew near, my worries began to settle.

Race day started off great.  The sun was shining and Splash felt full of energy.  The first two loops went by quickly. The course was very flat compared to our training grounds in the Dufferin Forest and it felt like Splash wasn’t having to try at all. However, at the end of third loop, Splash hit her wall and was tired but received A’s on all the other parameters so the plan to take the last loop slow. The endurance racing gods must have heard about this plan because at mile 40, Splash took two head bobbing steps.  Since we had just ridden down a gravel road, I figured there was a stone in her hoof. I hopped off to look and was relieved to not see any stones. It took me a few seconds, however, to realize that there wasn’t a shoe on the hoof I was holding.  Luckily, there was a water stop a few feet up the road with lots of grass and shady areas so we walked slowly up to there while I called the crew back in camp to send a farrier out.

While in reality it didn’t take the farrier long to get out to where I was since I was just 4 miles out from basecamp, it felt like an eternity.  Just to show how awesome the endurance community is, every rider that passed the water stop asked if everything was ok and I had a few offers to borrow Easy Boots, but unfortunately none of them fit. Since I could not find the lost shoe, I made the decision to pull the remaining shoe off.  I had ridden this particular loop earlier in the day and I knew there was only minimal road work to do further down the trail.  I normally compete Splash barefoot and she hadn’t had this pair of shoes on for long so I figured she would be able to handle the rest of the ride.

While there were some quite slow moments and I was reconsidering why I do this sport in the first place, Splash reminded me why we do this,  when on her own accord, she would pick up a trot and canter where she thought she could and even received a comment on how “spunky” she looked from one of the 100 mile riders as they passed. I had never been more relieved to see that finish line but we weren’t totally in the clear yet.  We still had a final veterinary inspection to pass. Sometimes the final check can be a little nerve-wracking since there’s nothing more disappointing to find out you’ve ridden 80km only to be pulled at the last check (fingers crossed this will never happen!)  It’s made slightly more stressful at the FEI level as there are now three vets watching your trot out and they do a silent vote to decide whether or not you pass. Splash felt much better and more energetic at this trot out than the previous one so I was hoping that was a good sign.

One of the biggest things I stress to people considering getting into the sport is that you do not need an Arabian to compete. This horse is living proof. We successfully achieved our 1* status!

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Photo credit to Wendy Webb
Now Splash gets a bit of a vacation while I plan our next adventure: tackling the Madawaska Highlands near Algonquin Park at the end of the month.

Hoofprints for Diabetes

Hey everyone! I was kindly invited to talk about my Ride! I’m new to writing posts so here we go!

Well! Ill start with myself and my horse! My name is Alexandra Teske and my Horse goes by Hidalgo. Hidalgo is a 7 year old Appaloosa.  My husband had discovered Hidalgo (5 years at the time) while horse training for another couple who could not handle Hidalgo. He had spunk,  fiest, was stubborn and had trust issues from earlier owners who called him Hammer Head. Not good for a beginning rider, BUT! My husband saw potential and after training we purchased him and joined him with our horses. After a lot of hard work, in the end he has learned to trust. I realized this when he protected me and stepped between me trying to help a calf and momma trying to get to calf no matter what!

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My husband is a healthy type 1 diabetic, and when I met him I knew nothing much about Diabetes. Every day I learn more about it and there is more to learn. I was getting frustrated as I was finding out how many people have to deal with it! I discovered 20 people every hour are being diagnosed, and the breaking point was when we went to our local swimming pool. My daughter (4) had been visiting with another girl her age while we were there. While we were getting ready to leave she had asked her mom for a snack. I was not really paying attention at this point and just getting our bags packed to leave. Her mom then asked if she had tested. I stopped what I was doing. I thought “no she’s not….” yupp… she asked for help with her insulin pump, and was testing her blood. She was diabetic. This cute sweet little 4 year old girl. That could easily be my daughter as well! I realized this is far to common and we need to be fixing this. So I talked to The Canadian Diabetes Association, and with their help started Hoofprints for Diabetes.

You see with Hidalgo we had already been riding to our local town and back, about an hour each way, and always enjoyed the idea of endurance activities. Ill add we are very new to this! haha! Thankfully Sarah has been helping with answering my questions and tips!

I decided to ride from Lang, SK to Regina, SK. and have been practicing for this along the local highway here (my husband decided to join with his horse Wrangler-> a paint. We have a link we have on our Facebook page for people to donate to The Canadian Diabetes Association. Donations or not, I really just want to bring more awareness to this as it is very frustrating and this idea to help with a ride has been sitting in my head for about 3 years now. I just finally put it into action after I realized Hidalgo’s trust issues had become way better!(the whole take a bullet, well a cow, for me thing).

SO! For the ride this is my first endurance ride so we are using what we know and what others have mentioned and sorted out what would work for us! We are keeping up on nutrition for the horses of coarse! Practicing daily, or if we did lots on one day a rest day in between. We judge distance by our neighbors farms and land points… it’s flat in Saskatchewan or at least on the prairies. Haha!

We will be packing a lunch and snacks, as my husband needs snacks and emergency sugar for the ride. Snacks for keeping his blood sugars regular, emergency sugar for when he goes low (I’m not sweet enough😉 ). We also have a kind fertilizer company Ren Gro Fertilizer, and a farm helping provide us with stops and breaks with water for our horses.  We plan to leave Lang by 9 am to make it to Ren Gro for lunch. and will have our saddle bags packed with not only the foods for the ride but waters, my husbands blood testing case and supplies, cell phones, bug spray ( hoping I won’t need it for Hidalgo… he’s terrified its something dark and fierce coming out of the can to get him lol!), and a sweater/raincoat tied on the back of our saddles.  We might add more but for now this is where we are at, and our saddle bags will be full with food, and diabetes supplies.

The distance for if your unsure of how far of a ride this is, is between 47-48 Km. We are new to this like I said but we are estimating between 8-9 hrs!? As we will be providing a 1 hour lunch rest for the horses and breaks for water as we go along we will see I guess and just take it one hoof print at a time! We are in no rush and hope to enjoy the distance and view of our little piece of Saskatchewan with our horses.

Challenges… Every choice has them. So what do I guess we might face along our journey!?There is the possibility of passing farms with farm dogs that could be chasers or worse, so i worry about that. That is my number one worry as we did already while practicing pass a farm with dobermans that ran straight for us fast and mean.. and we had to booker out of there. ( jeepers !Hidalgo has some real quick go go in him!) mental highfive with Hidalgo!:). I was also worried about water but with the amount of help we are getting along the way I no longer worry as they all will be supplying water.  We will be taking lots of rest stops and like I said are going to just take our time with it so the horses are not worn out as this is our first journey and it is not timed:) We may face other challenges but I know my husband and I work really well together and will sort them out as need be. Our first priority is keeping us and the horses safe.

I look forward to this and am very nervous as it is our very first endurance ride of this distance. The amount of people being supportive has been of great help and I am looking forward to what the day brings! I will be keeping people posted on our facebook page of our journey and posting live video throughout the day. Please think about those facing diabetes. There are many ways to make a difference so find out ways in your community to help make a change. I know we even have clothing donation bins and the funds go to The Canadian Diabetes Association. Take care! As my 3 littles like to say to me for goodluck          ” And don’t Crash!”

Alexandra Teske


From Sarah:

I was so thrilled to come across Alexandra’s story, shared about the internet.  Her story hit a personal chord, as both of my Mom’s sisters were diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes as young children.  Susan passed away a few years ago but I still see her occasionally in old mementos and purple and white flowers (her wedding colours).  Nancy is still here and one of my strongest supporters- always one of the first to comment on my posts and offering words of encouragement.  She has been through far more than most people I know, and is the epitome of Endurance – still going on cruises and up to the cottage despite physical limitations. She is a model to me to live life on my own terms and never give up. And my Grandparents, who dedicate themselves to caring for their daughters even into their old age, Alexandra reminds me of them, and how Diabetes affects not just a single person, but an entire family and community.

So needless to say, I reached out to Alexandra immediately so I could help with her cause, kindred as we are! I am so happy to feature her on my blog here, please support her by liking the facebook page, making a donation to the cause, and sharing this over and over!

One last thing to note, she is setting out on her adventure TODAY!

 

 

 

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