Tag Archives: fei

You Can’t Ride With Me

“I can’t have them cleaning two riders off the ground” was all I could think as the freshly broken mare I was riding leaped and bucked and ran through the trees as branches pulled me every direction. I don’t know how I managed to stay on, perhaps it was the will from my previous thought, perhaps it was skill, or perhaps it was just because the trees were so dense there was nowhere to go. I do know how I stopped… the mare and I got wedged between chest high trees, fallen into a V shape. We were locked in like we were in the stocks.

Without any way to dismount or escape or even see the other riders, I sat and listened.  Silence made my stomach sick.  Not true silence, no, if anything the opposite.  I could hear her mother and sister screaming her name and crying, but she was silent.

I waited

and I waited

She is surely dead, I have killed this young girl.  

Perhaps only 30 seconds had passed since the initial wreck, but it felt like an hour before Makayla screamed “My leg, its broken” and wailed in agony.

She’s not dead, I haven’t killed her. It’s surely a miracle.

With the extra commotion, the mare surged through the downed trees and back onto the trail, I dismounted and approached.  Not close, just enough to alert myself to everyone and see.

Makayla was lying on the ground screaming and crying in an awkward lump, but she was alive, and was not a vegetable.


Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, cloud, sky, outdoor and nature

Several hours earlier I had mounted the young mare who had been backed a handful of times in the pasture, with the intent of doing an easy 25 mile Limited Distance ride.  Ariel, Makayla’s sister also hopped on an equally green horse and we were accompanied by two experienced babysitter horses ridden by their Mother, Tara and Makayla.

This is where it’s important to note, Makayla declined to wear a helmet.

A few rodeos (from my mare) well stuck and 23 miles down the trail, things were going well.  We were close to the finish and the baby horses were now being called “broke”.

That’s when Makayla’s horse (one she had been riding for 13 years) spooked sideways and I watched her fall. The first thought in my mind “She’s not wearing a helmet”

She fell in my direction, and her horse spun around and ran into mine. She was already nearly beneath our hooves, and my mare panicked, with horses and forest blocking every direction, she bounced up and down on top of Makayla until I kicked her hard enough to bolt into the dense forest.

I watched the mare’s hoof hit Makayla’s bare head.  I will never forget it.  It haunts me.


There is a bright side to this story.

  1. Makayla wasn’t dead or a vegetable, she didn’t even have a concussion, the hoof must have just grazed her head.  As far as we know, she didn’t even have any broken bones (that we know of) and was able to ride the last 2 miles to the finish line… eventually.  She IS very sore and bruised.Image may contain: one or more people
  2. We were being crewed by a paramedic in their paramedic vehicle.  He literally drove down the trail (cleared some double track for us!) to our rescue and was able to properly check her.  He also took care of her for the rest of the day
  3. Makayla recognizes how incredibly lucky she is and has vowed to always wear a helmet.  She realizes that no matter how calm and steady your horse, accidents can happen to anyone.

So here is my vow, if you don’t wear a helmet, YOU CAN’T RIDE WITH ME.  No exceptions.  

 

 


Addition after original post: I have been asked why we would even consider taking a green horse out in competition.  Good question!  We were literally the only 4 riders entered that day and with crew and vets we were well set up to give the horses a positive training experience, so we took advantage.  We treated it like a training/pleasure ride, going slow, giving lots of breaks and of course, patience!

NATEC 2015

It was the week before NAETC and things are starting to look bad. Angel had a bug bite on her back that when we touched she would drop her back. We were doing everything for her and nothing was working. On the Sunday before NAETC we went to Greenhawk and met an endurance rider from BC. Since they came so far from their home they brought an extra horse. Since I would give anything to ride my own horse this was my back up horse. On Tuesday things bad for Angel, witch was very upsetting because I wanted a good last ride with Angel.

On Wednesday we brought Angel to the ride site just to see if anyone could recommend anything. We got Scott Hie to work on Angel and he said that her one rib was off. So he adjusted it and we left her alone for the rest of the day. I looked at her Thursday and she was amazing, she didn’t even flinch when you touched her. I was so relieved when she wasn’t sore because now I get to ride my own horse. I found out later that the horse I was going to use for backup was being used because their other horse was unable to compete.

Friday was the day of the competition. I was up at 5 getting dressed and getting my horse ready for the day. Everyone was happy I was riding Angel, but our team vet Glen was happier than all of us. I still have to think that deep down we were all praying that I got to complete and show everyone Kentucky was a one-time thing. My ride was great until the last 5 miles where my horse just gave up, she said, “I’m done I can’t go anymore.” So I got off and walked up all the hills and let her take stops to eat grass on the side of the trail. She would trot a bit when I got on her, but the only time she would trot for a long time was when I got off and ran beside her.

That last 5 miles was horrible other than the fact she wouldn’t trot when I got on, she also pushed/pulled me into a puddle up to my knees and all I could think about was I was going to come in and it was going to be another Kentucky. It didn’t help that I got that idea walking up a really long steep hill so I was out of breath and started getting upset. I got myself through that part and continued on. I ended up coming fourth and Angel looked beautiful at the end. She couldn’t have made another loop, but I knew before that she wasn’t my 100 mile horse.

I know that everyone is very proud of us both, but I am probably the most proud not of me but of my horse. She really did give it her all and we rocked the trail the best we can. Even though we didn’t get a medal in my mind we got gold. This was Angel’s last big ride. So this is her big bang to end her career as an endurance horse. So I hope everyone remembers her as the 19 year old mare that did 75miles in the Ganaraska Forest barefoot. Everyone has that one horse they will always remember and not that I don’t remember my other horses, but Angel is definitely my super star.

-Solstice

Road to Kentucky part 2

On Monday night it was horrible, there were flood warnings everywhere and tornado warnings as well. Tuesday, we made sure Angel got out of her stall and then we went swimming. Wednesday was the trot out day. I made Angel all pretty and braided up. We did our trot out and everything was fine. Once we finished trot outs we shaved her neck to make her cool better.

Angel's stall
Angel’s stall
before the storm
before the storm
before the storm
before the storm

Thursday was the day of the competition. I woke up at 5 so I would be ready for 6:30. I warmed Angel up and the race began. Around 6.5 miles I started feeling something, but I wasn’t sure if I was imagining it or not; so I kept going, but didn’t push her. At about 8 miles I knew there was something wrong, so I got off and started walking/running beside her. I got into the trot past and unfortunately got pulled. Angel got taken back in the treatment trailer and put on 20L of fluids. She was fine after that so we put her in a paddock and got ready to catch any pee for tie up testing. We put her in her stall at 5 and went to the pool to cool down. Today was just not my day; I jumped into the pool and started shaking uncontrollably. I figured I probably had heat stroke, so I got out and went into our RV to have a rest and have food. We went back later in the night to check on Angel and she was fine.

pool at Kentucky horse park
pool at Kentucky horse park

I woke up Friday morning with a call from my mom saying Best Condition was happening “they are headed down now” she said as I replied half asleep still “ok? Is Emma there? Wait who’s in the trailer? Oh there’s Emma! Why did they change the time of BC?” We did make it for BC just as the first horse was ready to walk in the ring.

the barns
the barns

Friday we were trying to figure out when we were going to leave. Finally we decided that the competitor’s party probably wasn’t the first thing on our list to go see. So we left Saturday morning instead of Sunday morning. We got to our rest stop at 8 Saturday night and figured out that our room had been booked for someone else. We got the problem solved by staying in the property owner’s living trailer. We ordered pizza and drinks for supper, our order: “hi, can we get a medium pizza with two cokes and one sprite.” They sent three big bottles that were two liters each. “We will never die of thirst, just of diabetes” said Emma. We got home around 6 Sunday evening and were all very thankful to be in the country and sleeping in our own beds. A big thanks goes out to both of my grooms, Emma Webb and my mom for helping with everything down in Kentucky and also up here in Ontario.

cross country
cross country

kentuky 2015 ipod 087

kentuky 2015 ipod 086

in Kentucky
in Kentucky
bye Kentucky
bye Kentucky
the bridge home
the bridge home

-Solstice

Masterfeeds Challenge (Ganny Gallop)

As with my post about the Massie Autumn Colours ride, I would like to interject my Mongolia stories with what is going on in the here and now.  This will be one of those stories.

Last Weekend (September 13 & 14), Cayuse Creek Ranch hosted the Ganny Gallop and Masterfeeds Challenge.  This was the test event for the Pan-Am Games being held in 2015 – so it was set up just as they are hoping to set up next year, including the same trails as will likely be those which will be ridden next year.  There were a few things that they had that made it a bit different from a normal ride – the ride booklet said there were motion activated cameras in the forest as we passed certain checkpoints – COOL!

I was fortunate enough that a few people had offered to drive me there or back – Thank you Lesley, Deanna, Linda, and Jess!  I had a few days where I had not thought it would be possible for us to go… and I really needed to blow off some steam by riding through the forest for hours on end.  Some stuff around homelife had me down, and knowing the weather was cool (thats where Bentley shines), I was very sad thinking I couldn’t make it.  So these angels stepped in and helped make that happen!

Linda and Solstice rode the 50 mile ride (80km) together on Saturday.  Their horses are I’m No Angel, and Angel, so thats always fun.  It was the AHA championship ride, and they tied for 4th place.

Solstice was set to ride again on the Sunday, this time with her other horse Desiray.  Because we were cross -entered in the FEI and Open categories, there was some bizarre conflict in rules that I had to start with the senior riders, and then wait 15 minutes just across the start line so that Solstice could ride with me (as juniors cannot ride alone).  So I started with a bit of a handicap, and a horse who was hopping and dancing and didn’t understand why we had to stand in a field for 15 minutes when all the other horses were on trail.

 

For the first several miles, the horses were feisty and fresh, it was cool – we were in our winter jackets already and ice covered everything.  We had the big trot going, as well as lots of spunky canter.  We started on the orange loop, which is the longer of the 2 trails – 24 miles out of 52 total we would ride.  It was also the tougher of the 2 trails – having some tight turns, rocky and washout footing in some places.  The horses traveled it beautifully.  There were lots of hills, and being as this was the first ride I intended on “letting him out” I allowed some trotting down the more gentle hills for the first time.  He managed spectacularly.

We pulled into a check, 15 miles down the trail.  There we had a mandatory 10 minute hold.  We arrived, and 3 of the other riders were still there, we had almost caught up the 15 minutes!  I dismounted and removed some of our warm gear – thankfully the stewards offered to take it back for us!  Bentley ate his electrolyte and grain slop which I carry in plastic baggies in my backpack, and we were on our way!  Well, not before handing off some zipties to a rider whose reins had broken.  Thank goodness for Derby training to have me carrying everything I need right on my back.

Back on the trail, we continue in good form, enjoying the music blasting from the speakers in my backpack.  We drop our reins and start sharing out best mounted dance moves.  We start getting hungry, so Solstice tries her best to get the food from my backpack as I lean sideways and backwards off my horse (they wouldn’t stand for this of course), and eventually we gave up and went hungry.  We cruise into the camp, feeling great considering the length of the leg.

We come into our crew area, Desi is down right away but Bentley takes some work to get pulse down – not uncommon as Desi is a freak of nature (in a good way) and Bentley is very big for an endurance horse.  Bentley vets out all A’s but Desi has to be called back for re-evaluation.  Unfortunately Desi is lame and had to be pulled from competition.  Upon a full examination, it appears that a piece of her frog, which had been peeling off previously, must have come off during the ride  so she was a little footsore and landing toe-first on the affected hoof.  Thankfully it isn’t a major or lasting injury, but it was enough to ruin a great ride for Solstice.  What a disappointment!

I set back out on the trail alone, half a minute behind Mandy who was leading, and about another half a minute ahead of Debbie.  I caught up to Mandy easily, and we rode the loop together.  Bentley seemed to like her mare and they paced really well together.  Perhaps it was because she was a bay mare named Angel – Bentley seems to always find a way to ride with bay mares with “Angel” in their name.  He was a doll the whole loop and I was feeling great, with the exception of one small spook which had me jamming my thumb into his neck with an audible CRUNCH!  The loop itself was 14 miles and mostly 2 track with good footing.

I came in so fast that I was crewless, thats ok, because I gave Bentley one swipe of a wet sponge on his chest, and put the stethoscope to my ear.  Looking at my watch, he was already down.  What?!  That never happens.  It was the fastest he has ever pulsed down… EVER.  I had to check it again to make sure I wasn’t accidentally listening to some other heart… you know, that backup one he is hiding.  Everyone showed up and I was just like “Nah im good, time to vet!”  All A’s except the CRI, which was a little high as Solstice tried to blanket him immediately after his trot-out, which was met with a major spook. Oops!

I had vetted about 2 minutes ahead of Mandy, and being that I wanted to ride this seriously, and see what he can do, I left alone.  Trotting the first 2 miles of that loop, I swear Bentley turned into Dudley, the slowest horse ever.  Then, I heard thundering hooves behind us, and Mandy and Angel were galloping up behind us frantically.  “She wanted to be with him so badly!”  and it looked like he did too, because he perked right up and was a happy camper again once she re-appeared.  Apparently Angel also had a fit when Bentley left camp without him.  Oh boy, how did Bentley become such a heart-throb?  Angel was happy to park herself behind him for another 14 mile loop and we enjoyed the company.

We tried to pick up the pace, which was fine on the flat, but both horses wanted to take the tiniest walk steps down hills.  Towards the end, we were passed by the 75 milers (we were doing the 50) galloping along, and got caught up in their updraft.  From there, Bentley was awake again, and I asked for a gallop for the last mile or so of the ride to see exactly how much he had left in the tank.  We crossed the line in first place, with Mandy and Angel about a minute or two behind us.  I believe our total ride time was 6:19 for 52 miles – very decent considering the terrain in the first loop!

We decided to stand for BC (best condition).  As we finished the 10 minute CRI, I was told we were selected for a drug test.  No surprise there… we did win after all!  So I got an entourage while we all waited for Bentley to pee.  And waited, and waited.  I also was met by members of the local newspaper for an interview, and cleaned him up for his BC showing.  He never did pee (eventually, about an hour and a half later) we were released from their watch as the winner of the 75 miler came in.  No worries, he peed when he was allowed back at his campsite and it was lemonade.  He did have to have blood drawn, which he was not happy about.  It happened 9 mins before we had our BC exam, which made him pretty cranky when being touched on the neck and the full bladder had him not so eager to trot.  I didn’t think it had gone very well, but thats ok, its good practice and he had every right to be cranky.

Could you imagine my surprise, when awards came and it was announced Bentley had won BC and High Vet Score?  Ok, well, it turns out we won by default – nobody else stood… but when my scores were announced, there was a murmur of approval from the crowd.  I am new to this whole BC thing, but it sounded like the scores would have been deserving of the award even if others had stood.  Off the top of my head, I believe the scores were 678/800 for AERC, and 374/400 for FEI.  Perhaps someone with more experience reading this can tell me what that means.  I should get my scorecard back once the scores are submitted.

I can’t believe how well Bentley has done.  Not only statistically, but he didn’t make one bad move throughout the ride.  He has become such a trustworthy and dependable partner, and always gives his best effort with no drama.  He certainly deserved the win, and I am so proud of him in his debut FEI 1*.

As I wrap up this post, I would like to give a shoutout to 2 of my product sponsors form the Mongol Derby.  First is The Edge – Bentley and I are both on their supplements, and there are so many benefits to the supplement that I know they played a role in how great we both felt during and after the ride.  Second is KnixWear athletic underwear.  I was wearing the FitKnix Air throughout the whole 52 miles and didn’t have any discomfort or fashion faux pas! I can’t say enough good things about both of these products, they are staying in my everyday routine!

 

Lastly, for those who may take on the Pan-American Games next year and want a sneak peek at the trail (or those who are just Cam junkies), here are the rest of my uncut videos from the Orange loop (38km)  showing the different terrain and footing.  Our horses are both completely barefoot.  The white loop is mostly 2 track with good sandy footing, my cam battery died after loop 1.