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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