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Top 100 Mile Rider Interviews

Rider Name:  Darolyn Butler

Age that you did your first 100 at:  31

How is your 100 mile conditioning program different from your 50 mile conditioning program?

Actually it's not a lot different.  After the horse has done 5 to 6 50's, sometimes less depending on the age & condition of the horse when it started doing Endurance, I may attempt a 100 on them.  I let the 50 mile rides serve as much of the conditioning.  If you can do a multi-day or two day 100 that's a pretty good indication that the horse can be successful at a 100 one day ride.

Describe your feeding program, before during and after a 100:

If I'm traveling a long way to the ride I try to feed them 3 times a day instead of the normal two so they will not drop weight during travel.  I may add electrolytes to their feed, depending on the weather & how well they are eating & drinking.  During the 100, I will let them eat free choice whatever & as much as they want.  I provide my usual DJB Enduro custom feed (simply beet pulp, oats/corn/barley/rice bran & other goodies), in a mush form.  I will also offer apples, carrots, oats, and the new Purina Ultium.  Then of course, they will always want what the neighbors horse has.  But the neighbors horse always wants our feed, so it works out.  Hay is mainly coastal Bermuda, but if I have access to a grass & light alfalfa mix I may offer that as well.  I don't like to use much pure alfalfa.  Perhaps just a bite to get an appetite going if they are stalled out..

What kind (if any) supplements have you used -- do you think they made a difference?

I have ABC Power Plus mixed into my Custom feed regularly.

How close to the 100 mile ride do you do your last conditioning ride?  I usually like to do a fairly serious ride around a week before.  Depending on days on the road, and arrival at ride sight, I will normally do a light ride everyday before the ride.

  50 mile ride?  Our horses work in a trail ride business, so they have constant long slow distance riding that usually maintains them in a performance state.  I do a little bit of fast training, but not a great deal.  I try to rest them a few days (meaning they get off their "work" schedule, when they are going to be racing.

How do you prepare yourself for a 100 mile ride?  I ride or trim horses daily, so I stay in pretty good riding shape.  I do make sure I stay hydrated.  I have discovered two products that I just won't ride without.  One is a potassium supplement, KM, that I have taken for 20 years.  I take a tablespoon daily, but when I'm racing, I'll take that amount at every vet check usually.  Helps with my energy level and any muscle cramping I might get later that night.

The other product is XANGO, it is the juice of the Magasteen Plant, plus strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries.  I find it helps tons with joint aches and pains, plus a lot of other health related reasons.

  Over what period of time?  I up both products just before and during race day.

How do you know or feel that the time is right to do a 100 on your horse for the first time?

When  he finishes a several 50 milers with lots of energy left.

How do you handle riding in the dark?  I trust my horse and try to follow the ribbons/glowbars.  Practice riding in the dark a lot at home.  If you can pre-ride the trails that you are going to do in the dark that helps tremendously.  

Glowsticks on your tack or not? Usually not… depends on the natural lite and my knowledge of the trails.

 Headlamps, flashlights (describe).  I always carry a headlight, but seldom use it unless there is some sort of emergency on the trail.  Remember, it takes 2 minutes for the horse's night vision to re-adjust when a rider turns on his light.  This is one of my pet peeves when riding at the start of a 100 miler.  Riders that have big strong headlights that are flashing around make it very difficult on all the other horses.

Do you have a preference on color of glowstick? No

How do you and your horse feel at different points in the ride?  What are the "low" spots and how do you handle them? Usually there is a 3rd quarter slump.  If there is good grass to eat on trail, perhaps a few minutes spent eating will cheer them up.  If you are at a vet check, sometimes it's incredibly smart to allow them to stay an extra 15 minutes, maybe even an hour to pick them up.  I'm never surprised if my horse does not eat or drink much the first vet check, but if he is not eating & drinking well by the 2nd, it's time to stop/slow down & just stay put until he starts replenishing himself.

I have found if I feed a very light breakfast, they are more inclined to eat well at the first stop.

Is your post ride horse care any different than a 50 mile ride?  I might ice or put magnets on their legs after a 100, where I usually don't after a 50.   Most rides I don't shoe, so the legs are getting excellent circulation, therefore I find it detrimental to wrap the legs.  I believe this cuts down on circulation  The best thing to do is make sure the horse continues to move or is in a large enough pen where he can move himself.  If that is not possible, walking him is a must.

Any advice to first time 100 mile riders on post ride rider-recovery? Drink lots of fluids, protein and drink KM.  It will put you back together in a hurry.  Matol also makes a handcream that fixes the "electrolyted rough hands" we all get on a 100 and the wind/sunburn as well.

What kinds of food and drink do you like on a 100? My favorite drink is grape juice and I'll eat anything… I mean anything!

What are your recommendations for someone attempting their first 100
miler?  Make sure you & your horse have done enough 50's & possibly a 75 miler to mentally & physically prepare.  Go into the race with "no doubt" whatsoever, that you are going to finish it.  Being mentally positive for you & your horse can have a great effect on your mental psych and the horse's as well.  I used to think long & hard all week long before the race about how I was going to do and mentally charge myself.  POSITIVE THOUGHTS, NOT NEGATIVE ONES.


Make sure you have all your supplies lined up for both you and the horse.  If you have crew that can do that, that's great, but make sure it is all easily available and not a struggle to implement when needed.  Electrolytes should be mixed up ahead of time and easy to administer when needed.  I actually carry a small flask of KM in my fanny pack so if I get low on a long loop, I can immediately take a swig.

How often do you electrolyte on a 100 mile ride?I try to electrolyte every :45 to 1:30, depends on temperature, speed, and horse I'm riding.

 How about pre-ride or post-ride electrolyting?  Possible a day in advance, definitely the night before & morning of and during the ride.  Will usually give 1 to 2 doses of lytes after the race.  Depends on how hard we raced, etc.

How many 50 mile rides would you do on a horse prior to doing his first 100 miler? 

No less than three over a 3-4 month period for a super athlete that came into the sport conditioned, i.e. off the race track.  One year of 4-6 50's on most horses would be the typical though.  

What is your most memorable experience on a 100 miler?  It would have to be the 1981 Tevis Cup.  It was my 3rd Endurance ride.  I heard about the sport in January of 1981, did a Texas 50 in May of '81, went to California leased a horse, did a 50 3 weeks before Tevis & then Tevis in July.  OMYGOD… I had know idea what I was in for… however, it was a fantastic ride, I finished, and I changed my whole life in the next year switching from rodeos and horse shows to strictly Endurance.

What is the funniest thing that has happened to you on a 100? The hallucinations that you have during your first few hundreds when your body is trying to figure out how to cope with the long hours of grueling riding.

What is your favorite 100 mile ride and why? Probably the 100s that are set on the Decateur, LBJ Grasslands course.  Bluebonnet & Frigid Digit.  The trail is medium challenging, and a 100 is quite doable without too much night riding.  The course is generally very safe, but varied, but most of all, it is a pretty friendly barefoot course.

What do you look for in a good 100 mile horse?

Primarily energy, followed by agility, and a good comfortable gait.  Don't like him to beat me or him up crashing along.  They best not be too manical, as they use up a ton of energy fighting you for the trail.  Sometimes this is hard to find a blend when you get a competitive endurance horse.  I've had horses that have started out pretty calm, then after a few races become animals that I don't even know.  Don't forget small circles, (preferably just off the trail-don't block it) if your horse is nutsy to control… no one else wants to deal with him or having him run over other horses on trail.

How old do you think a horse should be when it does it's first one day 100? 6 or older.

What do you think is the biggest mistake that you've made on a 100?  Starting too fast.

What do you think is the biggest mistake that most riders make on a 100?  Starting too fast.

What traits do you posses that make you a successful 100 mile rider?  Tenacity.  I never give up, and I don't quit unless something is wrong with the horse.  I know how to judge the energy of the horse.  I know how to mental read him.  I can usually tell if he is just being lazy, or if he is really tired.  I know when to back off, let him eat, take it easy for a while, then pick him back up and go on. 

What traits does your horse posses that makes him/her a successful 100 mile horse?  The best horses have lots of drive, are mentally stoic, and likes to go.

Describe something about your current 100 mile horse that is unique or different from other horses?  I have 14 100 mile horses right now and they all have their uniqueness.  It's important that a rider remembers and maybe even keeps a log of things about their horse that they do in a 100 so you are prepared for it the next time.

What lesson have you learned the hard way, on a 100 mile ride?  Don't wait or pass up the chance to electrolyte early in the ride, it can make a huge difference later on.  Be sure & clear the palate of the horse after you electrolyte so he will drink on trail.  I've had horses hold lytes on their tongues for 20- miles… this is NOT good.

How many 100's a year do you think is doable for the average horse and rider team?

 If they are really serious riders they can do 4-6 100 mile rides.

If they are riding to complete?  6-8
If they are riding competitively?  3-6

How much time off following a 100 mile ride do you recommend? Two weeks is nice, but many times I put them back into light trail riding in our business much sooner than that.  It's not hard work & I think they enjoy getting back out on trail.

If they are riding to complete?  If they have an easy ride, they might go back to work in a couple of days.
If they are riding competitively?  After a hard race, I like them to have two weeks off after a 100.

I have done approximately 100 one-hundred mile races.

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