To Finish Is To Win

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Endurance News -- November 2017

Vice President's Message
Ride Reflections
Trails Post
Classified Advertising

Vice President's Message: Welfare of the horse

by Susan Kasemeyer

I do not want to restart a "barefoot vs. horseshoe war" -- all I ask is this: Please use hoof protection if necessary for the trail you are riding. I get very upset when I see a horse trying not to take a step because his feet hurt. On a recent ride, I saw a horse camped out (legs spread out) all weekend, trying to keep her weight off her hurting feet.

If I am asked for a recommendation, I always tell the rider, "If you can take off your shoes and socks and run down the trail, it is probably OK for your horse to go barefoot." The ride I went to had a "hoof protection strongly recommended" clause in the ride flyer. Please, folks, get a clue.

I used metal shoes on all my horses and carried two hoof boots for emergencies. There were many reasons but the main one was protecting my partner going down the trail for my pleasure. I found an excellent farrier after much trial and error and kept him for over 20 years. I would have had a heart attack if he had retired before I did. He made his own shoes so could fashion whatever my horses might need.

Conditioning. When I started (in the olden times) I asked everyone who was already in the sport for their recommendations and probably got as many different answers as there were people. I think we probably overdid it a bit back then -- we liked them "lean and mean" and it often took a lot of riding to get them that way.

Feeding. I didn't believe in cutting feed (another long discussion). I was blessed with mostly great eaters and later realized that there was nothing wrong with starting a ride with an extra pound or two. After all, I had certainly put on a few myself.

I found, of course, that every horse was different and required me to make changes in my training programs. I think the one horse that I raised and trained from birth was the one time I got it just right but I still will not put myself up as a great judge of conditioning.

I was blessed with great pasture and my horses never had ulcer problems. The fact that their diet was grass, grass and more grass had a lot to do with it, in my opinion. I remember a tough Race of Champions 100-miler in Utah where the middle vet check was a one-hour hold in terrific grass. Amir ate a lot and slept a bit and I had a brand-new horse for the second 50. We won the solo award that ride.

Myths. Recently someone put an article on Facebook about the horse myths that have been debunked over the years. I think they left out a couple we have disproved in endurance. One was: "Don't take the saddle off too quickly or the horse will get heat bumps." Especially here in the South, we practice getting the saddle off as fast as possible so we can cool thoroughly . . . I've never seen a heat bump.

Another myth we have disproved: watering right away while exercising. Horses used to be kept in stalls and "protected" from the elements so maybe you needed to wait a bit before offering water but we celebrate every sip our horses take.

Electrolytes. While we are talking of riding in the South, might as well talk about electrolytes. We use them for two reasons: to replace the ones lost in sweat and to stimulate drinking. If you come to Dixie, please plan on using them. I used them in every region, just possibly less in low humidity areas.

I hope the past year has been a fun one for you and your horse. I am looking forward to seeing you and your horses at a ride real soon.

Ride Reflections: Yes, you are ready (for the S2S)

by Shannon Loomis, DVM

Hi. My name is Shannon and I am a Shore to Shore addict. For those of you who haven't heard me talk about it ad nauseum, Shore to Shore (S2S) is a Michigan point-to-point Pioneer ride held in August, where we ride 250 miles from the shore of Lake Huron to the shore of Lake Michigan in five days.

Two additional "warm up" rides are available the weekend before the traditional five-day ride, starting and finishing from the first base camp, making a total of 350 miles in seven days available. A limited distance ride is also offered daily.

Riders can choose to ride one horse or many, every day or one, 25 or 50 miles, on a permanently marked trail that has been in place for decades.

I've been trying to encourage participation in this unique ride for years. I've ridden this trail a dozen times and want to be able to ride it at least a dozen more. Every year is different -- either because of me, my horse, my fellow riders, or the trail itself.

And I believe that I learn more from these S2S miles than all the others. The most important thing I've learned is that you can get away with a lot on a one-day ride, even a 100, that you cannot get away with after three or four or five days. You find what you and your horses' weaknesses and strengths are. You learn what really fits and works and what really doesn't.

That said, every time I post about this ride, the majority of responses claim, "I'd love to do this ride but I (or my horse) isn't ready. We will do it next year!"

Then next year comes along and the same responses pop up. So I thought about what it means to be "ready."

S2S snuck up on me this year. I haven't been doing many 50s lately. My experienced Decade gelding, Quest, retired two years ago. I've been slowly bringing along Wee Willy Whisper, a plain-Jane liver Morgan mare who had been given to me as an unbroken 7-year-old in early 2014. Willy had never stepped foot out of her home pasture before she came to my house.

At 14.1½ hh, she is wee, almost 8" shorter than my old gelding. She lacks Quest's pure athleticism and flash and drive to go, go, go. I've been waffling for over a year about whether or not Willy will ever actually be my next 50 mile horse. She's done lots of LDs, including five days of S2S LDs last year, as well as two 50s, one last fall and one this spring.

I planned to do a back-to-back 50/25 in July, but Mother Nature had other ideas. The ride I was aiming for was cancelled due to flooding, meaning we did not get the final bit of conditioning before S2S I really wanted.

So, needless to say, I did not feel ready coming into Shore to Shore this year. I fretted, I waffled, I toyed with dropping to LDs. But I was committed to come, I had crew lined up, and I had my daughter, Morgan, who absolutely loves this ride and wouldn't even entertain the thought of not going. So Willy went in the trailer. I brought my usual supplies and lots of Desitin.

And I went to Michigan, planning to ride until we couldn't go any more. Worst case? We get pulled Monday and can't go again and spend the week crewing for my daughter and everyone else. Still loads of fun seeing my endurance friends and worth the trip north.

Guess what? Willy finished 50 miles on Monday. Her halter bridle rubbed her face, so I borrowed a rope halter from Mary Mast to put under her hackamore. Then she finished Tuesday, which in my opinion is the most difficult day of the week. Both of us were tired and hot but she was focused enough that I took off the hackamore halfway and rode in just the borrowed halter.

Some extra electrolytes and alfalfa in her supper that night and, come Wednesday morning, she was bright and perky and ready to go again, so we went out and we finished another 50 miles.

But that night, Morgan noticed Willy had a wrinkled patch of skin on each side, an early sign of an impending gall, probably from a seam in her saddle pad, even though she has worn it many many times before without an issue.

So I dug through my collection of spare saddle pads and pulled out a big fluffy Toklat I had bought for Quest and off we went Thursday morning, with a happy-backed pony. Thursday's finish came and went, my pony now having 200 miles under her girth for the week, but Dr. Brett noted that her shoulder was a bit sore under the breastplate.

She got gentle massages all evening and I removed the breastplate for Friday, which is the flattest day of the week anyway. And 50 miles later, she looked awesome, walking through Empire, Michigan, 250 miles from where she started five days before, with her fluffy saddle pad and borrowed rope halter and naked shoulders. Ears up, stopping for ice cream and for little kids to pat her nose, walking so fast her pit crew couldn't keep up.

Was I ready? No. But I learned so much about what this awesome pony can do. And I went from thinking about selling her to get a "real 50 mile horse" to realizing that I have a real 50 mile horse. And her consistent, quiet, get-down-the trail-and-do-it-in-a-rope-halter attitude is just what I need.

If I had stayed home, I never would have discovered this incredible pony already standing in my barn.

You don't have to be any more ready for a multi-day ride than for a one-day ride. You don't have to ride every day. You don't have to ride 50 miles every day. And not being able to ride a day is not a failure, it is an opportunity to learn from what didn't work. And you are surrounded by the best folks to help you get through the week. We all want to see you succeed.

Ride Manager Bruce, Dr. Rae and Dr. Brett want to help you succeed. Riders like Mary Mast, Earle Baxter, Linda Hamrick, and even my daughter, Morgan -- with thousands of miles of multi-days under their belts (and I mean thousands, especially Earle!) -- want to help you succeed. You just have to ask.

Success may not be winning, or even finishing, all five or seven days. Success may be figuring out what you need to do to just be able to go out another day or how to fine-tune your tack or electrolyte regimen or boots or underwear. And then you can apply what you learned to the next day or next ride you go to and wonder why you never thought of that before!

Sometimes you have to forget "ready" and just get out on the trail. See you on the Shore to Shore trail next year! You are ready!

Trails Post: Year-end trails report

by Monica Chapman

The ride season is almost over, but here are some important things you can still do this year for your trails.

Record your trails work hours on the AERC website. The top two trail workers will receive an individual 2018 AERC membership. The hours that will be counted towards the membership are between May 1, 2017, and November 30, 2017.

These hours are very important to AERC. They help me when I go to Washington, DC, to meet with Senators and Representatives and their staffers. It is very nice for me to be able to tell them how many hours our members have worked on trails in their state or district.

I can also break these hours down by land manager, state, region, forest service district, etc. So please get those hours recorded! I know many members are doing far more trail work than is being recorded.

Donate to the AERC Trails Committee. The donated funds are used for trails grants and trails training for our membership. AERC had one Trail Master class in Pennsylvania in the spring of 2017. Two trails grants were approved so far in 2017 for a total of $6,000.

One trails grant was in New Mexico to replace ranch wire gates with easy-open gates. The other grant is in Ohio to help pay for equipment rental to move gravel to improve the trails.

Please go to the AERC website under the Trails tab to see how trails grant money is spent and see how it has been distributed across the United States.

Contact your State Trails Advocate and offer to help. Your State Trails Advocate is listed in the front of Endurance News and on the AERC website under Trails, then Trail Experts. They can give you the scoop on what is going on in your state.

Contact your local land managers. Let them know about AERC and offer help. They can put you in touch with the trail work manager for their property. You may end up working with a hiking or bike group if there are not enough horse people. That can be a good thing in spreading the good word about horse people and what we are capable of doing for trails.

Go national and/or go local. Look into joining other trail/land conservation groups like Back Country Horsemen of America (BCHA), Equine Land Conservation Resource (ELCR), or local trail advocacy groups.

It's important to be proactive in trail preservation. It always looks better to the land managers if you get involved early versus getting involved when it's too late to save a trail.

With winter coming, now is a good time for most groups to make plans for next year's trails projects!

October 2017 Classified Advertising



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