Lincoln Trail 100, 2011

Lincoln Trail 100, 2011

A TWH and Gypsy the Mule

My name is Kate. I am a grey TWH. My human is Keith. Sometimes he is my best buddy, sometimes he is my food slave. You would not believe how I have this guy trained. I can go and stand at the gate and Keith brings me food. I have him trained to give me an apple treat every time I nuzzle him. He was a little slow to train, but he is catching on. Part of my training of Keith is that I take him to endurance rides. Giving him a job has made him a much better human.

One of my favorite places to take Keith is Stephen Forbes State Park in Salem Il. It is only a 90 minute drive and the course is really technical and it is almost always muddy with lots of climbing and creek crossings. I like that. I finally convinced Keith that he was ready for 100 mile rides a year ago.

Cheyenne, one of my pasture mate TWH’s went with her human, Sandy. For some reason, we decided to take Samba. She is just a 4 year old MFT. I think we took her so she could see what a ride camp iss like. You know how youngsters can be.

The 100 started off at 5:45 and it was very dark. This trail has always been very muddy and it is mostly in woods. The trail is not completely cleared and you have to duck under limbs and go around occasional trees that completely block the trail. There are never any glow sticks on the trail. I appreciate Keith’s light on his helmet. I went to the lead and off we went.

It was a small group consisting of 3 Arabians, me, and a big bay horsey thing with big floppy ears. I had never seen anything like this big eared horse. Her name was Gypsy. Keith said she was a mule. She had a really sweet human named Sheila from somewhere called Iowa.

At one point, I could hear horses coming up behind our group. They were really moving faster than us. I pulled over and let them go past. My pasture mate Cheyenne, a big grey TWH with Sandy on board zoomed past. Cheyenne is much faster than I am, but Sandy just lets her do 50 miles at a time. When I try to do a 50 with her, she makes me work too hard to try and keep up.

We all zoomed around pretty good and smooth on the trail most of the way through the first 20 mile loop until Keith pulled off the trail and took me into the woods and tied me to a tree. Keith got sick, really sick. All the other horses, plus the big eared horse went away. It made me a little nervous. Eventually Keith untied me and we went looking for the others but we did not catch them. They must have been going faster. Vet check is always fun. I get to eat, have my human give me a sponge bath. I do get a bit annoyed by new humans putting things on me and calling out numbers when I am enjoying my food and sponge bath. I like the thing they call the “trot out”. All the other horses sure do move funny. It makes me giggle. I get to do my favorite movement. Keith calls it a “pace. He thinks he won’t let me do it when I choose to take him for a ride but sometimes I fool him by sneaking it in. I humor him because we really are best buddies.

After a great meal at the trailer, we are off looking for the other riders. The trail sure is hard and dry this fall. I wonder if they are going too fast. Keith has slowed me down for some reason. We caught Gypsy the mule. She and Sheila had stopped to eat grass. Gypsy did not like to go in the lead, so off we went with Gypsy right behind us.

At the next vet check, one of the leaders in front of us stayed in camp. I guess she wanted to rest. I wanted to go. We did the same loop again. I learned it pretty good and knew where the best grass and water was. I do a trick for the humans they all seem to like. I know how to put my whole nose in the water when I drink and blow bubbles out of my nose as I drink. It seems to make them happy so I amuse them. We saw Cheyenne again and got to ride with her some, as the 100 mile loop and the 50 mile loop covered some of the same trail. Cheyenne told me that some of the 50 mile riders where staying in camp too so Sandy had slowed Cheyenne down. I kept noticing that the trail was very hard and the footing was often bad. Sure glad my running walk lets me keep 3 feet on the ground and my rack lets me keep one foot on the ground. I think it makes difficult trails easier on me than on some of the trotting horses.

Keith lets me canter and sometimes gallop up hills. I like it a lot. I know that we get to slow down and rest some after this, but it is fun for me. I also like jumping things but Keith won’t let me do that very much in these 100 mile rides.

At the 60 mile vet check, we found out that only one arabian was still on the course and that she was an hour and 27 minutes ahead of us. I heard Keith tell Gypsy’s human that all the pulls where a problem and that we were going to ride conservatively if she want to go along. Gypsy liked that, but I can’t tell that Gypsy likes too much of anything else except her human. Once, while I was eating, she walked by me and narrowly missed kicking me in the head. Another time she tried to bite me. She was very grumpy. That confused me as I liked her just fine. Well, all but the kicking and biting part.

Before we left ride camp at the 60 mile mark Cheyenne told me that her and Sandy had finished and that they were 3rd in the 50 mile ride. She said they would have done better but that her heart rate had been a bit higher than usual. She told me to come on back to camp and we would eat dinner together. I don’t think she knew how far I was going to take Keith on this ride.

As we got a few miles out of camp, the remaining Arabian on the course came
backwards on the trail towards us and his human was on the ground walking. Keith wanted to help her but the human said that he had twisted his leg on the trail somehow and that they were finished and walking back to camp. Keith stopped and let me eat and had a talk with Gypsy’s human. He and Sheila said we were on our own and needed to conserve us on this hard trail and that we just needed to keep us sound and finish. That sounded good to me.

The 80 mile vet check was fine and off we went in the night. I have a great memory and knew just where all the best grass spots where on the trail. This seemed to surprise Keith as I would stop in the same spots every time around the trial. I have no idea why this surprises him as he remembers where the barn is and where the pond is.

Keith turned his light on for me and Sheila put her light on behind us. This trail would have been dangerous without the lights. Once, even though Keith had his light on he barely ducked in time to partially miss a limb that hit him in the head. It would have drug him off had he not seen it at the last second. I am glad he was okay as I do like living with him. The trail got kind of spooky. In places it was very grown up and close with high weeds. In other places it was foggy and misty. It got cool and we got wet. No one was on the trail except for me and Gypsy. We came into camp just before midnight and passed our vet check.

Gypsy said she was done and did not want to come back for B.C. under any circumstance. She was having dinner and going to bed! Since I had finished in the lead, I let Keith take me to B.C. Sandy put a blanket on me but I was pretty wet and cold in the cool and moist air. I got a Charly people in my inside rear leg. Keith and Sandy rubbed and rubbed on me and that made it feel better but it was still a little ouchy for me so no one got B.C.

Back at the trailer again, Cheyenne woke up and I ate dinner. The long rides sure make me hungry. Actually, everything makes me hungry. We had a great time together and I would take Keith back there again. I hope to see Gypsy again and try and make her my friend. This is a picture of us the next morning. You can see that I am looking at her kind of funny. She had just reached across Sheila and tried to bite off my face about 2 seconds before this picture. These horses with big ears sure are cranky!

Until next time,

The two finishers of the Lincoln Trail 100

This is my buddy Cheyenne. Her human, Sandy, declined being photographed. Silly humans, I get treats when I get my picture taken!

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