Lincoln Trail 2013

Lincoln Trail 2013

Sometimes You Have To Have A Since of Humor

We know this course. In fact, we really know this course. It is the same course as Dead Dog and it is only 90 minutes from our house. Considering that we often drive 1000 miles round trip to and from rides that is like being in our back yard. The course is usually very muddy. When it is not muddy it is very hard and dry. This time it was hard and dry.

I took my favorite twh mare, Kate. She was coming off a long rest and had lost a foal at 7 months.

Back to the endurance race. I also took Indigo Spirit, our 5 year old blue roan .  I legged Kate up and entered here in the 100. Kate is 15 for 15 under 100 miles and 4 for 6 in 100s. She eats a technical course and is the first twh to take first or best condition in a 100. She has done both. I used her time off from competition to work on her gait and to get quarter horse training on her. She now racks and if you pick up her reins, she goes into reverse like a cow horse. As cool as that is, she found her gallop. I mean a fast gallop. I clocked her at 29.4 mph in an uphill gallop on GPS. Gulp. Oh, by the way, she is still figuring out how to smoothly transition out of that gallop and the pogo hop transition is rough as a bucking. The first time she showed me this ended up with my performing an unplanned dismount. Hooray for my helmet as I think we were still moving around 20 mph. Well, I think I was as I went through the air hanging on to one rein.Indigo is a standard bred, Tennessee walker cross. I bought her in February with a trail background, a spooky and emotional state and a propensity to perform the dreaded pace. You don’t ride color, but you do buy it. You especially buy it when your wife elbows you and says “buy that horse!” I bought her, worked on her gait and put 300 miles of endurance training on her.

I have never ridden a 100 mile event and then gotten a few hours sleep and tried to race the next morning. So, I figured I would give it a shot if Kate did really well and we finished early or if we had a problem and finished early.

Sandy took her favorite horse Samba. Samba is a 6 year MFT that moves like a gaited deer. She has a balking nature that is displeasing to me, but my wife is patient with her because she loves her. So, Samba is Sandy’s to ride. I would not put up with the horse’s attitude.

We started the 100 at 5:45 am which was a good 45 minutes pre-dawn. Kate was in “go mode” and she and I know the trail like the back of our own farm. She led the first 20 mile loop. I pulled her up with 800 yards to go, then got off and walked her in. It took her a few minutes to come down so we went out in 4rth place. Oh, I did not mention that this was a tiny field. 4rth place was also last place.

Kate was the only horse in the field that had 100 mile completions. I had completed on this course once when all the Arabians went out too fast on the trail when it was hard and dry like it was now and none of them completed due to different leg and foot issues. I decided to slow her down due to the trail conditions. My friend Jerry Cummins and his Arabian, Grace, where doing their first 100 together. Grace was not a forward type horse so she liked being behind Kate. I thought I might be able to teach Grace to rack but that did not work out.

Kate lost her rack on the second loop. Each loop presented the challenge of catching up to Jerry and Grace as they came down to the 64 heart rate a few minutes faster than Kate. Once we caught them, we slipped ahead and gave Grace something to sit behind. On one lap, I got to see Sandy at the trailer. Sandy and Samba were in the 50. She told me that Samba was experiencing some inner leg cramping on her right rear leg and the vets wanted to see the horse again.

When we came in at the end of the next 20 mile loop I was hoping Sandy and Samba were not in camp. Unfortunately, they were at the trailer and Sandy was sitting with a camp neighbor. He said, “you need to check on your wife!” I stopped at the trailer and Sandy had a wash cloth on her head. It was bloody. In fact, she had blood in a line down the front of her neck.

She told me that she was trying to walk Samba’s cramp out and Samba had stepped on one of her spurs just as she got ready to step forward with that foot. She flipped and fell on the hardtop road and hit her head on a rock and had a bloody lump the size of an egg.

Sandy said she could still help me sponge Kate and reached into the water bucket for the sponge. She yelped in pain. A yellow jacket was on the sponge and stung her in the soft spot between two fingers.

After making it through the 60 mile vet check, I had an hour hold. I looked at Sandy and she was a mess. One hand held the bloody wash cloth. She was holding a frozen water bottle between her fingers in the other hand. I asked her which was worse:

1. . Being pulled for the horse’s leg cramp.

2. Falling on a rock and cutting her head. Or

3. The yellow jacket sting between her fingers.

She waived her stung hand over her head as the answer.

After catching Jerry and Grace once again, we cruised towards the 80 mile vet check. Still in 3rd place, we were on pace for a sub 11:00 pm finish. I thought that would give me enough sleep to ride Indigo on Sunday.

At mile 76, Kate bobbled. I love this mare and know her well. I immediately jumped off of her and checked her shoes and feet. All the shoes were intact but I know I had felt something. I walked her with Jerry watching from the back. He said, “it was just leg fatigue, let’s let them walk a bit.” We did just that and found a water hole to stand in.

After a 10 minute stand we eased back to camp. I could not find anything else wrong with Kate on the way. In camp I told Sandy I suspected Kate had an issue and we needed to get to the Vet ASAP. I presented her and she was down in a couple of minutes. Then Kate stumbled. The vet found too much pulse in her front lower legs and not enough gut sounds.

We went on sponging detail even though she was already down. The vet said we needed to cool her lower legs to get the blood back to her gut and do it quickly. I knew our day on the trail was over.

While getting my vet card, someone called from a car to me. He said, “Aren’t you Keith? “ I said I was. “He said, I live in the area and we met in the Shawnee 7 months ago. You told me about this thing here. I thought you were crazy but I wanted to come see it.”

It was Bryan Hawkins, his wife Abby and strapping son Patrick. I said, “I am glad you are here, Kate and I need help! ” So, this nice family who had met us once on the trail went into sponging detail. Patrick, a muscular young man went into water bucket carrying mode. I carefully explained that this was not normal and that Kate had never had an issue like this, but that we needed to care of her before she had more of a problem.

Kate seemed to recover after we had her stand in two feed pans of ice water. After a gram of Bute she was herself the next day and after a few days of being stalled in soft bedding she was pawing at her gate to get out.

The vet concluded that the only thing she could think of was that her toes were too long and that kept her break over from being correct. The other possibility was the fact that she had lost a foal, but she discounted that as a factor.

The vets final conclusion was that she simply did not know what had happened to cause Kate to have sore front feet. I hate not knowing things as that is not a good way to learn for next time.

I stayed up late loving and tending to my Kate and got up early for the 4rth day in a row. I had Indigo to tend to in the 30 mile Ld. We saddled up in the dark and warmed up. She was a bit nervous as it was her first ride of any kind. The trail was opened to a small field of 8 and off we went.

I did not want this mare to have race brain so went out in a reasonable manner which meant a 10-12 mile rack for Indigo. We slipped into 4rth place behind the lead pack of Arabians and Indigo was a little nervous, but superb. I watched the GPS and the heart rate monitor. We played “peek a boo” with the lead pack. We would catch them, let them go, and catch them again. This was training time. I could have slipped her into the lead on this lap but chose not to. I wanted a sound, happy horse and a completion.

She did fine at the vet check but the 3rd place horse was pulled. Josh and Sarah Mowrer had a 10 minute lead on me and I told them Indigo was coming after them. It took us a few miles to catch them and then they really took off. I decided it was best for Indigo if I let them go without a chase. Indigo finished third with her head up and that was very satisfying after the rest of our weekend.

We decided, after a lot of talking with the vet, that we needed to change our feed regiment. We have been using a mix of beet pulp, rice bran, alfalfa pellets and oats. The Vet thought the dried beet pulp was dangerous and that the alfalfa pellets, even in small quantities, kept our horses from using calcium to their full capability in the rides. This was even though we were using Calcium Gluconate, and alfalfa pellets at the rides. Oh well, if this was always easy, it would not be as much fun!

We will learn, enjoy the ponies and live to compete another day. In the mean time, I will get Indigo ready for a 50 and help Sandy heal up.

Keith and Sandy Kibler

Shawnee Sunrise Farm


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