Dead Dog 2012

Dead Dog Creak 2012

First of all, there is no Dead Dog Creak at this ride in Kinmundy, IL. Secondly, it is not in Kinmundy, it is at Stephen Forbes State Park outside of Salem IL. The ride is put on by the lovely Mowrer family with no backing from other groups. They are endurance heroes in my book.

Thirdly, the ride was named after the previous ride where there was also no Dead Dog Creek. Supposedly, there was some ride about 30 years ago that did have a creek that featured a dog past his prime and the name stuck. Go figure. Such is the lore of endurance.

This ride features up and down and around and mud. Usually it has lots of mud and sometimes impassible creeks. They moved the ride date to miss the rainy season. Someone forgot to tell the weather. Record drought fell on the ride site. It left the course with hard as concrete dirt and mummy dust. I have never seen dust on this course before.

Sandy and I held a “This Is Endurance 101” weekend two weeks before the ride and several of those folks who attended showed up to ride. Some showed up to help and learn and they even brought someone. Sandy moved down to the LD to mentor a first time rider on a twh gelding that we had sold him. The new owner was thrilled to try his first ride but apprehensive. I told him to relax, have fun and let Sandy mother him. She is superb at that.

I had a friend come to the pre ride who had done an Ld on his mixed breed gaited horse named Buddy a few years ago. The friend, Kelley is a very experienced and gifted gaited trainer and Buddy is a super horse. In fact, I tried to buy Buddy from him when I started this adventure many years ago. I took Kelley and Buddy to the Ky Horse park a few years ago for their first 50. That course, which was held during the Egyptian Arabian Festival, it extremely stressful on the horse. It was a bit too much for Buddy and Buddy had to be pulled and it really shook Kelley up. Even though Kelley rode one of my mares in a later 50 and ended up tying for 4rth in a very well ridden ride, he was still apprehensive about another attempt with Buddy at 50 miles in hot conditions.

This was to be Kate’s last ride for a while, as I am hoping to breed her. She had been leading her last ride through 34 miles at the Ozark wilderness 100 when she lost a shoe and some hoof, along with the shoe. She had almost 2 months off to get well but her front hoof angles were wrong as not enough hoof had grown to set the angles exactly where I wanted.

Kate was the top endurance point TWH for the last two years and is leading this year. I am riding this weekend for points. Well, I am riding to help Kelley and for points. My plan was to ride on Buddy’s heart rate and let that put us where ever it put us. Kate already had a double 50 weekend this year and a 100 completion. I knew she was ready.

The trail was declared “open” which always cracks me up. I took Kate out in 2nd place behind Mary Wills and Maark of Tstardom. They were absolutely flying in a huge trot. Looking at my GPS, I saw 12 mph and knew that Mary and Maark where doing at least 17 mph. It was time to let them go. I heard Kelley behind me saying, “go on! This is too fast.” Oops, bad Keith, time to ride my plan.

So, we backed the pace down. I put Kate into either a running walk or stepping pace depending upon the terrain and speed. Buddy, has a wonderful racking gait, and it is a dream to ride.

It started getting hot and we took advantage of every mud hole and creek spot. We dropped back to 8th and 9th place and periodically checked Buddies heart rate. He was a trooper. No problems at any of the vet checks. There is a learning curve at this sport about keeping a clock running in your head. All the high tech stuff in the world won’t negate the need for that little clock in your head. That clock tells you:

1. Time to back off your pace before the vet check, especially in hot weather.
2. Time to get off and walk into the vet check.
3. Once through the vet check, time to get the horses fed and take care of yourself.
4. Time to tack up and get to the timer to get back out on the trail.

Maybe I am too competitive but it does bother me to give back time from the trail because I have been lazy with my “head clock” and waisted time at the trailer for no good reason.

Checking the timer on the last loop at Dead Dog, I knew we had a chance to move up but would probably not be caught by the riders behind us. It was time to ride smart considering the head which was now in the 90s. We finished easy and pulsed down with no problems. Although Kate was just super, my main concern was getting Kelley and Buddy through and they did wonderful. The ride manger told me later how impressed she was with them as a team. We completed as 8th and 9th places.

Meanwhile, back in the Ld, our friend Derrick King was having the time of his life in his first ride. Sandy set pace for Derrick and Pippen but eventually had them lead some. I had helped them set up a ride/race plan based upon Pippen’s heart rate. Derrick was in for a real surprise because Pippen was a much better horse at this than the horses he had ridden before in anticipation of doing endurance.

He said he was shocked at how sure footed the twh was at speed and moving down hill and how calm he was in the race. I think Derrick’s heart rate was more than Pippin’s at times. Sandy rode Savanah, her accomplished MFT mare that really hits a lick at 50 miles.

This was to be a training and mentoring ride for her. Yet, Pippin made heart rate slightly faster than Savanah all day. He was down within 2 minutes at the first vet check. This really pleased me. Derrick was joined by his Dad and brother in law who had both driven 6 hours to crew.

Pippin came down just before Savanah so Derrick took 6th and Sandy was 7th. Derrick had the time of his life and it looks like the Midwest and Umerica will get a whole new endurance family in our sport!

The Saturday 50 was won by Mary Wills and Maark of Tstardom . Mary told me that they were just warming up when they ran off and left us. This is one incredible horse!

Another incredible team was Jerry Cummons and his Arabian. Jerry is a friend of mine and I have ridden with him several times on this course. He is famous for getting off on this course, which is very technical and running with this horse for miles. One year, I remember him running at least 8miles with a horse. This year, he ran some too. The difference this year was that his horse was blind from moon blindness. Jerry is a gracious man and a superb horseman. He has trained the horse on verbal commands so that he tells him when the trail is going up in elevation or down in elevation. I am proud that he is my friend and they finished well together.

Day Two

Only two horses/rider teams were willing to give the second day’s 50 a go. The forecast was for hotter weather and higher humidity.

Unfortunately, the other horse lamed itself before the start. So, the starting time was moved up to first light at 5 am and Kate and I were a bit lonely at the starting line. It was time to walk the line between riding smart and getting through as quickly as could be safely done to avoid being in the heat any longer than we had to be on the trail. After lots of times around this trail, Kate knew the water holes she could stand in. We made a practice of bring her heart rate down to 64 in the water holes. Kate would turn corners to go to a water hole even if she was not thirsty as she knew what our plan was for cooling off. I do love this little mare.

We finished easy and were both first, turtle and BC. She was the only horse to complete both 50s. Fortunately, starting at 5 had put us finishing just at the novice, CTR and Ld riders where getting their awards so folks did not have to wait on us.

Dead Dog is the closest ride to us and we are always thrilled to have a part of helping support it. Hope to see you all there next year!

Keith, Sandy and Kate
BTW, here is the grand sire of Kate’s Kate’s Foal, EZD Falcon Rowdy. Notice anything about the rider? (Hint, look at his reigns and saddle.)

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