Three Old Tractors and One Old Guy

A Tale of Three Tractors and an Old Guy Who No Longer Felt Tired

If you have horses, don’t keep them at someone elses barn, then you probably have, or at least had, an old tractor.  To be an “old tractor”, it can not be air conditioned or four wheel drive.  It has to be older than you oldest child. You get bonus points if it is older than you are. Paint on said tractor is purely optional, but you get more bonus points if you have a pet name for it. You know, like a “barn name” for that horse of yours that has 4 fancy names but you call him “Bob” or something.

I have two old tractors. Exhibit “1”, a tough little 1952 Ferguson To 30. Great little bush hogging tractor, but not really big enough for 1000 lb round bales. I call him “Fergie”

Fergison TO 30

Exhibit “2”, a brute of a tractor. This is a 1965 Ford 3000 with WAY too much front end bucket. Said bucket is very, very handy but really belongs on a bull dozer. The tractor sometimes breaks things on the front end due to the weight of the bucket. But, I have learned that just because I can carry a 1000 lb bale on the front end and another on the rear end, does not mean it is a good idea.  Lesson learned. I call her “Ford”. Notice I said “her”?  That is because “Ford” is like a mare. Much more complex to deal with you it might turn out good or you might be in danger of getting yourself killed.

Ford 3000

The steering went out in Ford. My tractor mechanic had to come get it. It took 3 of us 2 hours to get Ford loaded on a trailer. Apparently steering is a pretty big deal.

Then Fergie decided he thought he did not want to pick up any more round bales. Apparently something was amiss with his rear picking up ability. Now, I am tractor-less.

Did I mention I have ten horses? You see the problem don’t you?

My mechanic had a family health emergency and could not get Ford done quickly. A week became 6. Ouch. I called him and asked him when he might get to Ford and btw, I needed Fergie picked up too. He had a great offer.

He said he could loan me a 1953 Ford Jubilee that could set out round bales under my tractor piloting skills. Yippee!


My mechanic, Mr A, brings Jubil. Jubil has no paint but hey, you dont ride color and you dont drive paint. Now, one thing I need to mention is that Mr A is very , very safety conscious. He mentioned Ford had a faulty starter safety, and he would never let a tractor leave his shop unsafe, so he would have to fix it. I agreed of course and did not mention that I had kept Ford from killing me for years without a working safety switch.

One of the things I needed him to fix on Fergie was a broken throttle piece.  Apparently, sitting outside for 64 years leads to rust, so a piece rusted. So, as I could not find a replacement piece I “fixed it” with a stick. This made the motor run at high speed. Hey , I usually run it at high speed. However, Mr A, being a “safety guy” said this was somehow “unsafe” and wanted me to load Fergie on his flat bed.

Then he explained Jubil to me that he was nicely letting me borrow.  He looked at me pointedly and said, and I quote, “THIS TRACTOR IS UNSAFE!” Wait a minute, I thought, “aren’t you the safety guy?”  Apparently, the whole “safety issue, was just about other people’s tractors. He said, “this tractor will run away with you, it has great breaks but if you park it on anything except completely flat ground, it will run away!”  I thought, Right, it runs away. Sure. Really. It was noon, no one was drinking that I could tell. How much could it run away?


Ford Jubilee

After work and after Crossfit, I prepare for the nightly feeding buffet. 10 horses, 4 cats and two chickens. I hear the theme from Green Acres a lot here. (I am a lawyer when I am not horsing and stuff) I drive Jubil very slowly and safely to the round bale barn, pick up a 1000 lb bale and start across the back yard with it with is on a small incline. Jubil, quite unreasonably, tries to do a back flip. Now, having worked machinery and tractors for many years, I know I cant back flip with a round bale on the rear spear. I can however bounce and bounce really hard. That happens.

I drive back to the barn and get 250 lbs of weights and chain them on the front end of jubil. I am thankful that I hurl weights at Crossfit because 250 lbs is actually pretty heavy even if it is in two pieces. Just to be really, really safe, I back all the way to the other barn so as to not tempt Jubil to do any more back flip maneuvers. I park Jubil, sans round bale on my almost perfectly flat gravel pad and cock the wheels and take him out of gear. I then go and shut the gait. I look up and much to my surprise, Jubil is RUNNING ACROSS AND DOWN THE BACK YARD!

As I am the only one there, no one is driving Jubil. This tractor is not only unsafe, it is probably possessed. A sudden vision of Jubil, the borrowed unsafe tractor running into the woods at a high speed runs through my mind. I yelled. I think I might have said a bad word, as in several of them.  I was tired from Crossfit. It was 101 degrees tonight and we ran 9 long sprints along with the weight hurling. I took off running in boots.   I caught the tractor and trained my head light on it. I thought, “tieing with Jubil is not good enough, I have to beat him and jump on him before he kills himself in the woods!”  I knew I had to pass him, and then try to jump on him while he was picking up speed. I am too old for this. No one is home to call 911 or even watch my heroics.

I did it and landed in the drivers seat right before the woods and steered Jubil to safety.

Before we feed next time, I am going to anoint Jubil with oil and have prayer.  Things are never boring at Shawnee Sunrise Farm. You just have to love old tractors.

Keith Kibler




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Gaited Endurance in Really High Heat– Dead Dog Creek 2016

Honey at start

Dead Dog Creak 2016

I started Endurance on this course 11 years ago. It is the closest ride to where I live and I want to support he Mowrer family in their selfless commitment to the sport of endurance, so I always try and make the ride.

It is extremely technical , but not as tough as the Shawnee National Forest and that is where we ride almost every week. Technical courses are the best on for the gaited horses that we train and compete. We have the horse version of a 4 wheel drive and because our horses don’t have a time of “suspension” when all 4 feet are off the ground at the same time.  The horses have “gaits” and that usually mean a running walk, a racking gait and a canter.  Our really top horses, that are mature, also have a gallop. We use our knowledge of the horse, the gps watch, and a heart rate monitor to know when to switch  gaits.

Sandy , my hero of a wife, was in Seattle with grand babies so I got to prep for this solo. Fortunately, I had a friend named David and a friend named Kelley who wanted to crew and a friend named Gaby who also wanted to compete. Gaby has one of the 18 twhs who have successfully completed a 24 hour 100 mile aerc ride. Her mare, Cheyenne, is a muscled racking machine.

Gaby and Cheyenne

Gaby and Cheyenne


My top mare,Kate, just had a foal, so I was set to take my next best horse who is a twh mare named Southern Honey. Honey is an unregistered TWH mare, but I bought her because of her fine racking movement and I thought I instantly recognized her bloodlines from that movement and her build. I thought, and still think, that she is what is known as a “Pusher “bred mare.

That means she is athletic, quick, but emotional. She is the third of this type of TWH mare I have trained out of that line and they have all been like that. The other two both took BC’s before they went to live elsewhere. Honey might end up being the best horse I have trained. The trick with this bloodline, if I can draw a conclusion from a sample size of three horses, is that the emotional training can take more work than the physical training time.

Gaby and Honey Trot out   The “trot out” is always a challenge for most of our gaited horses if they are square moving. They seem to think, “I can do a running walk faster than you are running , so what is the point of our getting really animated ??” It would kind of be like you getting up in the middle of the night to go the bath room and doing the “Monty Python Silly Walk ” as you go down your hall.  Here, Gaby runs out my my Honey horse and Honey invents a new way moving in the process.

I started watching the predicted weather. It was looking horrible. It was going to be over 90 degrees and humid. The trail at Dead Dog has the unique capability of being both concrete hard and then also being shoe sucking wet because some areas really never dry out. When the course is really wet, you may have to swim a creek.

When you are spouseless, working a full time day gig, have to deal with 10 horses, chickens, hay, broken tractors, a farrier and a vet for coggins, life becomes challenging. Add to the mix having to get trailer work done and I found myself napping in the middle of the day on my desk. It sure makes one appreciate their spouse!

I took a mft mare named Gypsy that I am heading toward endurance for David to ride on the course before the race and also to expose to the ride camp and race activity before she was to be actually competed. The ride camp offers electricity but the water is not at the individual camp spots. Time to carry buckets. I was a bit concerned about Cheyenne with the coming heat. She has a perfect 50 mile record but she is a well muscled mare. Hot is hot no matter how good the horse.

Cheyenne’s chest is about twice as wide as Honeys chest.

The night before was interesting. David saddled up Gypsy and took off to do the 15 mile loop. I have ridden the horse as far as 18 miles and the trail was well marked. I get a notice on my phone 1 ½ hours later that David had called. Gaby got the same notice. We neither one got a message. I immediately tried to call back. The phone went immediately to voice mail. I texted. I called more times. I got nothing. I started to worry. After all, I thought, he would not call just to say he was having a good time. Something was wrong. It had to be. The best possibility was that he was lost. I put a GPS watch on him, marked the camp and he knew how to use the watch. He is an engineer and an inventor. I try and use almost every Saturday ride as a GPS learning situation and he is a part of those rides. I start worrying a bit. I had Gaby saddle up Cheyenne and go backwards on the course but told her no more than 3 miles out before she turned. I spotted a park ranger, and talked him into coming back in a few minutes. He did, and then took me to his side by side 4×4. I told ride management what was happening and off we went in opposite of directions. Six miles into the 4×4 ride, Gaby texted and said David was back over 3 hours after he left.

Time to feed, be grateful my friend was OK and found and get some sleep.

Darrick and LydiaThe King family from northern Indiana with their two TWHs . They rode the LD.

We were off at day break and 15 minutes after the LD riders. We caught them pretty quickly. We started at the back and Honey wanted to rack out at 10-12 mph. It is her comfortable speed. The first time I sat on her at home, she only had a light trail base under her. She took off at 10 mph and wanted no part of being rated at a slower speed. I decided to give her head and see how long she would go that speed. She tired that first ride after 9.5 miles and asked to slow down. I thought, “this mare may be special if I can get a hold of her head and her emotions.”

Honey racked up within the first 4 horses and we swapped back and forth until we finally caught up with a real house of fire Arabian. In fact the mare’s name is Ella N Fires Jane Doe and is ridden and owned by Lori Windows. This mare is unbelievably good. She has been a repeat national BC champion, and has about 3000 aerc miles on her. Her worst 50 mile finish in her last 10 races was a second place finish and she took BC in 8 of those ten events. The Arabian mare is a winner of the U.S. War Mare award. Honey was in high cotton to be near her.

Honey set the pace for Cheyenne. Honey did her 10-12 mph and it really did not matter what the terrain was or whether we were headed up hill or downhill. Lori Windows and Jane Doe were faster than we were on the flats but our down hills were quite a bit faster. So we all went back and forth. It was fun. Lori said once, “We don’t have the Shawnee to train in like you do!” She was right and that is tremendous advantage when you can train in a more challenging environment than you are competing in. Honey and Cheyenne hit the ride camp in front and Lori was right behind. It was already getting warm. We all jerked off the saddles. We used cold water, but the Arabian didn’t need it. She was down to 64 instantly. I know Honey and thought she was down, so I presented her for pulse. The Vet said, “she is almost there, give her a minute”. I gave her two minutes of light sponging and asked for a check. Again, the Vet said, “Almost there.” I asked, “How almost?” He said, 4 beats every time I timed her. I asked, “and that is every 15 seconds?” He said, “Yes”. I mentioned that 4×15 was 60 and 60 was less than 64 and that 64 was the heart rate parameter. He smiled and said he needed some caffeine. I laughed, but lost about 3 or 4 minutes.

My friend Gaby and Cheyenne took a couple of minutes longer to come down. Cheyenne is horse version of Tina Turner. She is all shapely and muscular and has great legs. But big girls can take longer to cool than little thin girls.

We were now back in about 6th and 7th places. Honey asked for her 10 to 12 mph and I let her go and kept an eye on the heart rate monitor. By mid -loop we were sponging. We jumped off and walked in the last 600 yards and found ourselves coming in a few minutes off the leaders. Honey came down well, but Chey was a few minutes longer and took more sponging. She hung up at 68 for a few minutes, but then dropped. It was now HOT.

Our crews did a great job and things were in order. Gaby told me she was done racing heads up behind Honey right before I was going to say the same thing. Again, Lori and Fires Jane Doe where down to 64 immediately upon presenting.

Honey and I were 8 minutes down from the leader. Lori is a national class rider and her horse is also that good. Honey was at her 3rd ride and had 150 Aerc miles at the end of the day. However, my horses don’t know when they are ridden if they have had a race fee paid or not, and I really do try and prepare them to the best of my ability. By the end of the day, Honey had been ridden 84 times and had 1,111 miles on her in training. I knew she was tough. I just did not know how tough. She wanted to move 10-12 miles and hour in a rack and did not care about the temperature , the humidity or her heart rate. I watched her very, very closely and we racked 10-12 between each creek. Then I sponged her and she dropped to the 80s with me on her back. The electrolyte protocol I used worked well and she drank, and drank and drank.Chey and Gaby Finish  Gaby and Cheyenne at the finish. They did SO good! Did I mention how hot it was?

Honey at finishSouthern Honey and I were both glad to be done.

We finished 9 minutes back from Lori and Fire’s Jane Doe and took a solid second place and first in weight class.  I think our moving time for the 15 miles was a bit faster than the winning horse but I spent enough time in every single creek to drop her heart rate into the 80s. I did not bother with BC. I knew the Arabian was too solid. Honey later had a right rear muscle cramp which I rubbed out and David took her for a walk. Cheyenne and Gaby finished a solid fourth and we all celebrated getting both horses through as the only gaited horses in the 50.

Honey after finishHoney lounging with grub after her finish.

This ride features a very welcoming group of managers and riders. It also features cool home made awards , great T Shirts and fantastic slow cooked cobblers out of cast iron cauldrons that have spent slow cooking time with a wood fire.

When I started this, I had no idea what a gaited horse could do at this sport, or if it could do the sport, or if I could do this sport. We have been blessed past my imagination. It has given my wife, Sandy and I, something to share in our later years.  It has kept her active despite numerous bizarre health challenges that would leave most men home in a recliner. This was our 90th event, including 100s, and our 81st completion.

What did I learn at Dead Dog Creek? I will use even more of my electrolyte brew next time and give a tube mid loop. I will also use more calcium supplement. I also learned that a twh mare can be tougher that I dreamed.

The same course has a 50 and a 100 in September and it is called Lincoln Trail. I hope to see you there! A huge thank you to the Mowrers and to Linda Stewart. Well done!

Keith Kibler

Shawnee Sunrise Farm


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Lincoln Trail 2015

Lincoln Trail 2015

The names of Endurance races/rides or whatever you feel compelled to call them, always make me tilt my head like a dog trying to figure out a tricky math problem.
Dead Dog Creek has a Creek but it is not “Dead Dog Creek” nor is a dog involved. “Barefoot Run” is decidedly not a good event to run barefoot. You get the idea.
“Lincoln Trail” used to be somewhere else but it moved to “Kinmundy” which is actually “Omega”, which is a beer sales one room package store (that also has great ice cream, about 12 residents and a dog that barks enough to entice campers to consider deadly force.)   Actually, the nearest town is Salem Il.  Illinois claims to be the “Land of Lincoln”, but Lincoln  was actually born in Kentucky. But, I digress, Lincoln Trail is in extreme Southern IL. It is on a trail, but Lincoln was never there.
It is also a fantastic ride and, I believe, a ride everyone needs to check out. Ruth Stewart has been putting it on since forever. The Mowrer family who have been hosting endurance rides for most re years than I know also help her.


HoneyatStart                                                               Southern Honey
To say they make you feel welcome would be an understatement. You can ride 50 miles, 30 miles, 100 miles, a novice 15 mile ride or do CTR. To say you have choices would be an understatement. Saturday night features a great potluck with wonderful deserts than Linda slaves over. Seriously, have you had a berry cobbler that is slow cooked in cast iron over a wood fire? The ride is worth going to for the desert alone. The trail is technical and almost always muddy in places. It is what it is. Slow down or you will wish you had.
I usually do the 100 here but my top mare, (Kate the twh  really likes this course) is in foal. I sold my second 100 mile TWH, and I recently sold the standie, twh cross I had ready for this 100. So, I was out of 100 mile horses. My next in line horse was Southern Honey, a smokey black 6 year old twh mare. She had one 50 under her belt.

I really want to support this ride and have taken as many as 5 horses to it but this time I only competed one. I did take two others to play with so that my super crew (my friend David) could have something to ride after crewing. It has been about 90 degrees in southern IL but the night before the ride had the temperature drop to about 60.
My bride of 35 years was getting ready for a womens week of camping and riding in the Ozarks and she said that my taking the live aboard would leave her with a “less than clean” trailer. She coyly suggested I take the stock trailer and sleep in the truck. Yup, stock trailer time for me.
Southern Honey is a Pusher bred mare. I know these horses and have trained and competed three of them. They are, well, “emotional” and athletic. You can not bully one of them.  If you fight with them you will both get tired and stuff will get broke and you might end up rolling around on the ground together. Seriously, you don’t need the wreck. But, if you can connect with their emotional side and win their trust, you end up with one super duper gaited endurance mount. I had BC’s with both the other ones I trained.
Warm up at an endurance event is always a hoot. Sit calmly on the horse as you walk around. The horse knows why you are here and if it is a forward horse you may have a bit of a handful to deal with. If you are a competitive type and know the other riders, then you end up watching the other horses. If you are looking not to be a competitive type then you are watching the other horses while looking for an escape route. Either way, everyone is looking at each other, their own horse and trying not to look like they are looking. One rider asked me not to gallop past her at the start. What? If I was doing any galloping at the start, it would clearly not be on purpose! So, I agreed to try and not do that.
I almost decided to go backwards from the start upon the event being started. Did I mention how emotional this mare could be? Then I decided I would just go out with the lead riders and hang back at about the 5th to 7th position. The “trail was opened”, and that phrase always cracks me up. On the way out of camp, a large grey Arabian acted up beside us. Secretly acting like a hypocrite, I both admired the rider’s adept handling of the prancing steed  but also thought, “Arabians!”

With that thought, Karma suddenly bit me on the butt. Honey took that  moment to say, “Watch my new spinning move, I hope you like it!”
On the third spin, she went into reverse and I thought we were going to connect with a shiny new aluminum trailer. I stopped her and she put on the brakes. She used all 4 breaks. The riders behind me all stopped. I, using my calm voice, asked them to go on. Honey then flipped into her reasonable mode and gaited right out on the trail behind them.
It was her last emotional issue of the day.  I do this endurance thing with heart rate monitor and gps and, because we train and compete gaited horses, I find out which gaits and speeds are most efficient for each horse. I admit to being a bit of a training freak. My past life involved Iron-man Triathlons and that is a synonym for being a training and data freak.

HonEYATSTART2.                                                     Why yes, that is a running walk.

I can tell you how many total training rides and miles each horse I train has been on for the last 10 years. You get the idea.
After 5 miles, Honey settled right in a very nice racking gait at 7-10 mph and about a 145 heart rate. Life became good.
We came into the ride camp at mile 20 and found out, much to my surprise, that we in the lead. I seriously thought we were in about 5th place. I have no idea where the other riders went to. Honey was down to 60 without sponging and with the saddle still on. She ate like a horse and 40 minutes later, we were off for another 15 miles. This loop featured a cold rain. We started passing riders in the other races that had started earlier but did not see any other riders in the 50. The mile 35 vet check took a bit of sponging but she made heart rate in a few minutes.  All the shoes were still on.

Again, the mare ate the entire hold. With 10 miles to go a 15 year old ,very sorrel Arabian with a big trot caught us. The horse was magnificent. Honey slipped in behind her as she passed. At mile 48, the Arabian stepped up her pace with a mix of trot and canter. Honey said she was tired. We let the Arabian go. With 800 yards to go, Honey sensed the finish and picked up her rack again. She met heart rate after a few minutes of sponging and I blanketed her for a few hours of eating.
Honey finished 2nd overall and we took first in the heavy weight division. Maybe I should forgo the diet plans. We left before the 100s finished but not before a great potluck. Did I mention the food at this ride? You should come try Lincoln Trail. You wont regret it!

Thanks again to super crew, David.

Keith and Southern Honey
Shawnee Sunrise Farm



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Barefoot Derby, 2015

Barefoot Derby 2015
I find the names of endurance ride/races interesting. Dead Dog Creak has lots of creaks but none of them are called Dead Dog Creak. This ride is called Bare Foot Ride and I have no idea why. It is however on top of the Cumberland Plateau. That means it was really high and on top of a rocky area. The climb on the high way up to the altitude of the ride camp was so long and so steep that our diesel truck went into “limp home mode”. This resulted in the truck going is maximum of 35 miles an hour for several miles.
I thought, “This ride is going to be interesting.”
Aubree Becker did a fantastic job of putting this ride on. The facility where is was held was equally fantastic. I cannot think of a ride camp facility that was better in our past history of attending rides in numerous states. The trailer spots were rustic in that you had to have your own generator for electricity. That was the only short coming of the ride camp.
The highlight of this weekend for me personally was the fact that my darling wife. Sandy intended to try and return to the 50 mile distance. She survived liver cancer last year and is dealing with a very rare autoimmune disorder called “stiff person disorder”. It is on the list of automatic social security disability. Sandy requires help on and off a horse. We are believing for more for her, but that is where we are at the moment. She vacillated up to a few days before the race if she would carry through with her plans to try a 50 mile event again. She also has to manage an insulin pump during a 50. My wife is amazing.
I told her I would help her on and off and stay with her. She was riding her top mare, a racking MFT mare named Samba. Sandy has done much better with this mare than I would have. I would have lost patience with her a long time ago. I mean the horse, not Sandy. I was planning on riding Southern Honey, a 6 year old dusty black TWH mare in her first event. The horse is a Pusher bred mare to the best of my knowledge. That means she is extremely athletic but emotional. If you argue with these horses too boldly, you end up in a major wreck. Been there, done that. However, if brought along correctly and you and the horse don’t get a divorce, you can really have a fine horse in the end. I have taken BC with two different mares from this blood line.
Our friend Gabby Hoffmann bought Cheyenne from us. This is one of the 5 twhs in the world being presently being competed with a 100 mile completion. The horse has numerous 50 mile completions and can rack a 50 mile race. In fact she can rack a 100 with some gallop breaks.
When Sandy found out that Gaby was going to be in the same 50 she was going to be in she said, “I am not waiting for you, I am riding with Gaby.” In fact, she said, “we are not waiting for you!” I mentioned that it was Honey’s first 50 and it would be really nice if Honey and I had company. She said something which could be translated into, “it’s a race buttercup, run what you brung! I will make coffee for you when you finish.”
Our friend David Kalhok was going to ride our 21 year old speed racking MFT Blues, but Blues threw a shoe a few weeks prior and was out with a bruise. David said he would be the super crew.
Our friend Chuck Bearden from Kentucky took his TWH gelding Cooper to their first 50.
I also took my top horse, Kate, to race solo in the second day 50. Kate is just a brute of a competitor and has a perfect completion rate under 100 miles and is 5 completions for 8 starts at 100. She is the only TWH to have a BC or first place finish in a 100. She has both. I am really proud of this horse, but riding her is a real handful as she is as finicky as an Italian sports car. Keeping her smooth in a race can be a challenge at times.
Did I mention this ride camp had shower houses and hot water? Plus they featured flush toilets. Yahoo!
All four of us presented gaited horses for the start of the 50. David was ready to crew. Bless him and all crews. Really!
The fastest Arabians took off at the start. Our horses were the only gaited horses. We were all just behind the lead pack. At about the mile mark, many of the riders apparently decided the warm up was over and dropped the hammer. As the speed got over 10 mph, I knew it was faster than what I wanted to go on Honey and I let my gaited friends go with the faster pack. I said, “let them go”. Who am I kidding? As if I could have stopped them. Just as the rest of my gaited buddies separated from Honey and I, we were passed by two galloping Arabians.
Honey then lost her mind and her composer. She strained into the bit, broke out of gait and into a gallop. She pulled so hard she actually sheared a Chicago screw in her left rein. I was now holding onto one rein attached to a bolting horse with the other rein dragging the ground. My “whoa” brought no response from Honey, unless you want to count the fact that I think she sped up.
I tried the emergency one rein stop we all know as horsemen. Honey’s response was to turn her head all the back to me and continue in a gallop on the tight trail. Did I mention that there were roots and rocks? I had the thought that a very bad tumble was immediately in store for us and I gave her back her head. I was running out of ideas. What I had left was to shimmy up her neck and try and reach for the side of the bridle that was supposed to have a rein attached. Keeping my toes in the stirrups, I went up her neck while trying to keep my weight back as far as I could. Grabbing the bridle with my left hand, I shortened the right rein and started gathering the horse.
I was catching the lead pack and then said loudly, “Would you please stop, I have lost a rein and have an emergency!” They stopped, and as Honey came down form the gallop I jumped off. Gaby spun Cheyenne around and said, “I have an extra rein.” She grabbed it and handed it to me. Honey continued to dance. I tried to attach it and Sandy said, “Do we have to wait on you while you are putting that on?”
I asked her to wait 10 seconds while I got back on because I knew Honey would not cooperate with my mounting if the other horses were running off. It took about 10 seconds to clip the rein on and get back on. It took me 5 miles to calm the horse and steady her after they took off the second time. We used the 5 miles as a training time.
Pusher bred twhs mares are like that. They are emotional but athletic. You spend more time training their minds than their bodies. Once that is done, well, almost done, you have a fantastic horse.
After she steadied, she went down the trail in her usual manner. That means a 9.5 to 10.5 mph racking gait. We then started catching Arabians and politely asking to pass. We pulled into the 20 mile vet check and after pulling tack and a bit of sponging, were down when we presented.
Sandy and Samba were several minutes ahead as was Gaby and Cheyenne. Both of these horses can fly in a 50 and I had no thought of trying to stay with them. I had put around a 1000 miles of training on Honey but she was not as far along in her training as the other two horses.

Chuck and Cooper

Chuck and Cooper

Our friend Chuck Bearden did not get his Cooper horse back to the vet in the 30 minutes he needed to be declared down to 64. When he presented, after cooling the horse, the pulse was in the 50s but he was a couple of minutes past his time. I felt bad for him, but his horse was fine.
Leg two was about 15 miles of gravel roads and we were alone. This is the worst trail conditions for many gaited horses but Honey did not seem to mind. She was all business and showed no misbehavior. I did not have to motivate her to make her go. Her gut sounds were quiet and that did concern me, but she was okay.
The last leg was technical and Honey was still in good racking form. We presented and although her gut sounds were still quiet, she got her completion. We finished in 10th place. Sandy was 8th, and Gaby was 9th. They both finished 12 minutes before Honey and I!IMG_3910

Sandy and Samba, Photo by and permission from Jessica Willis at Unbridled Imagery

Sandy and Samba, Photo by and permission from Jessica Willis at Unbridled Imagery

Picture by and permission from Jessica Willis of Unbridled Imagery

Picture by and permission from Jessica Willis of Unbridled Imagery

Southern Honey flying in a racking gait. Picture by and permission from Jessica Willis of Unbridled Imagery

Southern Honey flying in a racking gait. Picture by and permission from Jessica Willis of Unbridled Imagery

Day two was Kate’s turn. This course was meant for Kate, as the second day did not have the long gravel road section. It was muddy, technical and had a lot of climbing and turning. Kate was the only non-Arabian in the 50.
On Saturdays ride, the first 20 mile loop was technical. Kate and I went with the lead pack and settled in third. She held this position throughout the loop. The day was getting warm. Water on the trail was a real issue. Unfortunately, you really had to look for water. Although there was a few streams and a lake you passed once, most of the water that was available was muddy. There was no water set out by ride itself management and that was the only drawback to this ride.IMG_4143
Kate lost a few minutes to the top two Arabians on pulse down and that is normal. Unfortunately, losing your “pack” almost always involves your falling off their pace. Leg two was about 15 miles and we had the company of Arabians several times. Kate always asked to go and she pulled back into third place. Again, her gut sounds were quiet. To some extent that is a trait of gaited horses compared to Arabians. However, her heart rate was running on the trail higher than usual and I watched it continuously. It was hot enough that the vet added an extra vet stop and 40 minute hold. This meant that you had to stop at mile 45 for a full vet stop.
The fourth place rider was a well-known and very experienced lady. She was also very gracious but she did have her game face on. I did not know her before the ride but I sure did know she could ride. I learned later that was a past U.S. 100 champion. We must have passed each other 6 times on the loop ending at mile 45. Kate pulled into mile 45 vet check with a 2 minute lead and in a solid third place.
I was really looking forward to seeing my pit crew. Having four volunteers is really a blessing. Well, except that they were not there. Something about lunch and maybe cold beverages back at the trailer is what I understand was happening. Also, my wife told the others that there was no way Kate and I were going to cover the distance in the time I had said. We did. Picture a NASCAR driver fighting for position in a race and making his pit stop and finding tires and tools but no crew and you will see the situation. Also, I was at mile 95 of two days of endurance and maybe just a little brain faded. Okay, I was really brain faded. I was trying to sponge my Kate and text “where are you “ to my crew at the same time.
My friends David and Chuck arrived and helped me. Kate pulsed down upon presentation but had quiet gut sounds. I was told to let her eat. I did that and she ate like a horse during the entire hold. We were told to go out for the last 5 miles.
Kate and I were now in fourth place and had lost 8 minutes during the hold. This means we were 6 minutes back from the third place Arabian. Kate is amazing in a reaching gallop and can actually hit 30 mph. I thought Kate had the horse power to out pull the Arabian if it came down to a sprint but I was stuck trying to do a math problem in my head. After all, I was brain faded and on a moving horse. You know the problem you can never solve where someone leaves New York at 9 am at 60 mile an hour and you leave Chicago at 70 mile and hour and you have to figure out how long it takes you to meet them? It was like that. I thought the Arabian would average about 9 mph during the last 5 miles. I needed to catch him 80-200 yards from the finish. So, how fast did Kate need to ride? I could not do the math in my head while riding. I just could not. So I decided to watch her heart rate and see if we could average 10.5 mph. Kate said she wanted to average 11 mph. I really think she understood what we were doing. Did I mention how much I love this mare?
Kate is the most challenging gaited horse to ride I have ever set on. My two top mares do not get along. I mean Kate and Sandy. They seem to disagree on the pecking order issue. Kate is also a bit of a witch to the other mares. She will also kick a gelding if I ride one through her pasture. But, the horse is very affectionate to me and has a heart for endurance past my imagination. She is one tough girl.
I hardly ever compete this girl in a canter. As soon as we got out of camp, I asked her for the canter. She gave it to me and 11 mph.
She caught the Arabian in 2 1/2 miles.

We pulsed down okay, but her gut sounds were still quite and she had some rub spots on her front legs where she wore boots and on her flanks where the cinch buckles had rubbed her. We let her eat and took her back to the vet and we got our third place finish and completion. The rub spots on her flanks and her quite gut sounds, in reflection, were both my fault. I took a horse from Illinois to south east Tennessee that still had too much hair on her. The day was hotter than projected and the rain that was supposed to occur did not fall. It made for a hot and humid ride and the water situation was not good on the trail. Next time I go south for an early spring ride I will clip the horse. I will also closely study my electrolyte plan.
We had a great time and learned a lot. All three of our horses finished and were in the top ten in their respective 50s. We enjoyed meeting all the friends who we had not seen in a year. Best of all, Sandy returned to form after cancer and dealing with a continuing problem of the autoimmune neurological disorder. Like Kate, Sandy is one tough female.
The two Lds had many gaited horses. I hope to see more of them step up to the 50.

See you down the trail my friends.
All things are possible,,,,,,,

Keith and Sandy Kibler
Shawnee Sunrise Farm

All pictures below by my friend and super crew David Kalhok, who did a great job of crewing and hiding his disappointment that his ride for the race threw a shoe in training and bruised a foot two weeks pre-event.

Let's all make sure are GPS marked so we will know how much ahead of Keith we are.

Let’s all make sure are GPS marked so we will know how much ahead of Keith we are.

This nice woman made me very grateful for my cart.

This nice woman made me very grateful for my cart.

"If you quit doing what ever it is that you are doing human, you could feed me again! "

“If you quit doing what ever it is that you are doing human, you could feed me again! “

Gaby and Cheyenne off to the start!

Gaby and Cheyenne off to the start!

Wait a minute, we are riding HOW far?

Wait a minute, we are riding HOW far?

I have a very unique relationship and bond with this Kate horse. This is her telling me, " I know why we are here and we should be going now!"

I have a very unique relationship and bond with this Kate horse. This is her telling me, ” I know why we are here and we should be going now!”

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Intro To Endurance Clinic in the Shawnee National Forest

Spotted Saddle Horse/MFT Buddy take Kelley for a vet check

Spotted Saddle Horse/MFT Buddy takes Kelley for a vet check

On March 28th, the first Intro to Endurance Clinic was held at the Bay Creek Campground in the Shawnee National Forest in deep Southern Illinois.  About 30 people attended in total. The day started with free doughnuts, pastries made by Gaby Hoffmann and a presentation by a competitor, an endurance manager and a CTR manager. The total cost to the participants was a $ 2 parking fee.
We then road 12 miles in groups on a marked trail according to a pre agreed pace of either 9-10 mph, 7-8 mph or 5-6 mph. Each group was led by a seasoned endurance rider who already knew the marked trail and rode with a gps watch to match the announced speed.
We then had a practice vet check with explanation and heart rate check.
The youngest person was about 12 and we had a pair of mid 70 year olds.
We had one quarter horse, 5 arabians and the rest were gaited.
After the 12 mile ride, I took a group out for a gaited ride. We introduced one seasoned Arabian endurance rider to her first ride on a gaited horse. She said she would stick with an Arabian. Go Figure.
Mostly we all had a very good time.
Keith Kibler
AERC Membership Committee
Thank you to ALL the volunteers and Bay Creek Campgrounds!


Jessica Cox and her Arabian getting ready for their first endurance event

Jessica Cox and her Arabian Jumping Jack Flash

IMG_3534Keith Kibler and Kate.

IMG_3569Gaby Hoffmann and Southern Honey.


The Ky version of John Wayne, our own Chuck Bearden, and Cooper. 75 years young, 2 time cancer survivor and getting ready for his first 50!

Chuck Bearden, and Cooper.

Practice vet check by the most able and most awesome family Mowrer. From Olney Il, home of the white squirrels!

Practice vet check by the most able and most awesome family Mowrer. From Olney Il, home of the white squirrels!

Sandy Kibler, the most awesome  wife of Keith Kibler and her 4 year old twh blue roan gelding Sapphire.
Sandy Kibler, the most awesome wife of Keith Kibler and her 4 year old twh blue twh roan gelding Sapphire.


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