Red Barn Run – March 2011

Red Barn Run
March 2011

You know the old story about the battle being lost for the want of a nail?  Mammals don’t function well with foot problems.  The same is true for human mammals.  When I was in my 40’s, I was the runner of the year in Southern Illinois.  Then a trailer hitch failed and dropped a fully loaded band trailer on my left foot and crushed it.  I was told I would never run again and would end up in a wheel chair. The Dr’s were wrong, as I completed two Iron Man Triathlons after their prophecy of doom.  Prayer and hard work won the day and I learned to never give up.  My license plate is “Triagn”.

Shortly before Red Barn Run in Ga., I had to unhook my diesel truck from our stock trailer and hook up the live aboard.  The ball hung up on the transfer as I tried to raise the stock trailer and I found it would not release it.  I stepped on the truck to use my body weight to jostle the ball out of the hitch. The problem was that I stepped on the hitch instead of the bumper.  The truck came lose, rolled back into the chocked stock trailer and pinned my right foot against the stinger of the stock trailer.  I called out to my wife Sandy and told her I was in trouble and needed HELP!  She walked my direction.  I suggested pointedly she should hurry as my “good foot” was being crushed.  She carefully used the brake and gas pedal to pull the truck off of my foot.  It was very bruised, but not broken, as far as I could tell.

The race in Ga. was on and I was glad to leave 30 degree weather.  The drive was 12 hours and I went to the ride meeting as Sandy signed us up.  We had taken Cheyenne, a 7 year old TWH mare for Sandy. I had taken my two favorite horses. That would be my rocket fast MFT racking horse Blues and my 100 mile TWH mare Kate.  Blues is a Ferrari and Kate is a Honda.

Sandy decided to change the order of when the horses would be ridden due to the weather forecast. Kate is much slower than both Cheyenne and Blues, but is not affected much by heat and humidity.  Blues is heavily muscled and is affected more by hot weather.

This is a very large ride in the South East region and there had to be at least 250 trailers. There was no “Red Barn” in sight.  I later learned it got blown down in a storm.  The trail was opened at day break and Blues was hitting on all cylinders. His rack is unbelievable to ride.  He has numerous gaits and sometimes mixes them up a bit.  Between 10 and 15 mph he always brings a smile to my face. Sometimes, he can be really wound up for the first 25 miles but he was manageable from the start.

Blues at Red Barn Run

It is often said that horses have walnut sized brains.  Blues and I had an Arabian mare in front of us that seemed to be sporting a brain that was more the size of a peanut.  A group of us were together and mid top ten. We were really moving.  The trail was very sandy and yet muddy in places. We went through several muddy and wet trail crossings.   None of our horses had ever been ridden in sand.  The wound up mare in front of me would suddenly misbehave and her rider would run her out into the field near the trail.  Then he would pass us in a full gallop until the mare would misbehave again and he would back her into the nearest ditch off the trail.  This mare was right on the edge of being completely out of control.

After this scene repeated itself several times, I gave them some extra space and expected a wreck at any time.  While rounding a tight spot on the trail, I ran up beside the rider of the mare running down the trail. There was no mare in sight.  As I pulled up next to him he said, while running, “she jigged, I jagged, and she ran my chest into a tree”.  I offered to look for the mare and bring her back and bumped Blues up to find the mare.  We never found the mare and I think the rider ran all the way to the vet check.

Blues went through the first vet check fine with Dr. Otis Schmidt saying he was a little concerned with Blue’s movement during the trot out.  I told him I would watch him closely.  When I went back to the trailer and got him cleaned up I discovered he had lost a front shoe with a toe clip. When the toe clipped shoe was pulled, it took some hoof with it. Blue’s was done for the day.

On a side note, the out of control mare ran 7 miles to the next town and went racing through the main street.  The mare was caught and hauled back to the event where she was re-entered on the course.  She did not finish.

Sandy and I saddled up for day two and she wanted to start Cheyenne out several minutes after the rest of the horses started.  The day was hot, the trail was sandy and there was almost no forage along the way.  Sandy is great on Cheyenne, who was entered in her second 50.  Cheyenne has a smooth 9.5-10 mph rack.  Kate gets rough over 9 mph.  Sandy racked Cheyenne up ahead of us and then brought her back to a running walk.  Kate never lost sight of Cheyenne and constantly wanted to gait fast enough to catch her stable mate. Kate was beating up my back side and I finally had to insist that Sandy either rack away enough to make a good separation or slow down and ride at a steady pace.  She chose our company which was great for me. I love riding with my wife.

All the vet checks were without incident and the horses did well with the sand and the heat.  We came through a very pretty growth of Wisteria and Sandy excitedly said, “let’s stop, I have a camera!”  From a few feet away, we heard, “I have a camera too and I am a professional.” We went around the corner and posed in a beautiful setting.

A few minutes later, Sandy said, “do you have a knife”?   I’m a man, of course  I had a knife.  She then asked me to stop and take a cutting of wisteria.  I might have mentioned that we were in a race and the clock was running, but I took the cutting.

We finished mid pack and were thrilled to get the two completions.  I was concerned about the sand from the problem that Blues had on the first day.  The hospitality of this ride is first class.  Both days featured great food and we will go back.  The ride managers own a winery and Sandy was impressed with the peach wine slushies.  It is a long way to haul for us and the change in temperature can be brutal but we will go back to this wonderful ride.

This is a wonderful ride and I would encourage everyone to try it and the peach slushies!

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