The Adventure of a Horse Tattoo

So, I was thinking about getting a Horse Tattoo.
When many people think of horses and tattoos, they think of the replacement for a “brand”. In other words, the tattoo is a way of marking the horse to show ownership. That is not what I am thinking of when I talk about horses and tattoos.
To the surprise of some, I have a tattoo. To make a long story short, I had a trailer hitch fall on me and and crush my left foot. In an instant, I was transformed from the runner of the year in my area, to someone that was told would end up in a wheel chair and that I would never run again. I was told that amputation was what would be the normal outcome. I told  my Doctor that that was not for me and that I believed through faith and hard work, I would do Ironman. He said I did not know my own limitations and that I would never make it. I told him he was right on the first thing, but wrong on the second. I did it in 13 hours 35 minutes. Then I did it again 4 minutes faster. I got the finishers tattoo. Google the Ironman symbol and you will see it. It is on my left calf behind the foot that was crushed.M-Dot

It reminds me to never give up. It also seems to encourage people as they pass me in human endurance events who then invariably say as they pass, “Hey are you REALLY an Iron Man?”


After having achieved what a non insane middle aged person could reasonably expect to do in Ironman that had a life outside the sport, I turned to long distance equine endurance racing. I fell in love with it. I used the training protocols and tools that I learned and developed to train for Ironman and Marathons on horses. I used those tools  on gaited horses.  It worked. In fact, it worked past my wildest dreams.


I have this one Tennessee Walking Horse named Kate. I love this mare. She is very sweet to me, but not so much to other humans and can be quite nasty to our other horses. I can call her and she catches me. Often times, she kisses me. Really, I am not kidding, you can ask Sandy. You may be thinking I am making this up. So did she, until she saw it happen. I think she might have been jealous. Actually Sandy and Kate seem to be jealous of each other when it comes to me.
By the way, my two top mares don’t like each other very much.  They seem to have a disagreement over the pecking order thing.
Kate does endurance at the 50 and 100 mile distance. She is a beast at these events and only wants to go and to please me. I can’t always say the exact same thing about Sandy.  But, I digress. Kate is the only TWH to have taken first or Best Condition in a 100. She has done both of those things. In fact she has finished first in two different 100 mile endurance events.

So, I thought about getting a second tattoo. I thought about getting a tattoo of Kate. I “trotted” out a trial balloon a few years ago. Everyone in my family laughed and rolled their eyes. It seemed they thought Papa Keith had lost it.  About every 6 months I brought up again.  You know, the male ” I can wear them down if I talk about this enough” thing.
I do a bizarre and marginally obsessive workout regimen called “Cross Fit”. It features extremely  young people repeated hurling weights over their heads and  throwing themselves onto the ground. They call me the “Masters Mascot”.  Many of them, of both sexes, sport spiffy tattoos. Naturally, this made me think about my some more about a Kate tattoo. By the way,, if you want something heavy picked up a lot of times give me a call. Don’t call about hay though, I am allergic to it.

Sandy asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I told her the usual, “nothing, I have you and everything I want” response.  I usually mean this. However, I admit I did have the horse tattoo in the back of my mind.  She pressed me. I finally admitted I wanted a Kate tattoo.

Much to my glee, and surprise, she agreed.  My son and daughter tried to intervene. My daughter just screamed “NO!!!” all the way from Seattle. Her husband, whom I love very much has a wonderful dry wit. He sent me a picture of “my little pony”.
My son started a face book page that he called, “People for the ethical treatment of horse likenesses.”

My daughter in law said she wanted to watch me get the tattoo if it hurt a lot. Funny girl she is.

    My sister in law, Patty,  suggested a squirrel tattoo. 1215441410235483012lemmling_Cartoon_squirrel.svg.hi    Have I mentioned how much my family loves and supports me?

We take a lot of pictures and make movies off the horses which I turn into horse music videos because, well, just because. People seem to like them or at least thousands of people click on them when I post them on YouTube.

I talked to the tattoo artist I chose and she told me none of my existing pictures did the trick for her. My friend, David Kalhok is our best photographer on the trail and he took several pictures of me and Kate   burning up the trail together. Everyone in the group thought I was working on another article. Nope, I was working on a Kate tattoo.  I settled on this picture.kate1


On the appointed hour I showed up very fatigued from a rigorous evening of hurling weights over my head and throwing myself onto the ground at CrossFit. You know, fatter people should get extra credit for pull ups don’t you think?  I was, in fact, a little nervous and thought about backing out.  Not being the quitter type,  I charged ahead and went right in the brightly lit tattoo emporium.
A sign on the front door said “cash only”, “no smoking” and something about liking guns. Okay I thought, “this sounds perfect, let the skin mutilation begin.”
The artist was a lovely woman everyone said was the “bomb” in our area for artistic tattooing named Becky.


She had on a “My little Pony” shirt. Really, she did. I almost fell over. I commented on it and what my kids had suggested about my getting a “my little pony” tattoo.  She said, “You mean like mine?” She pointed at her neck. No fooling, Becky had a “little pony tattoo on her neck.  This was getting really, really funny. I started to wonder if my kids were setting me up somehow. I thought maybe I was on “Candid Camera.”

I got the tattoo on my right calf.

It hurt. In fact, it hurt a lot. Ouch for an hour. A day later, the pain is almost gone. The swelling is going down and I have quit bleeding.

I have a lovely tattoo that I am quite pleased with I  and am very glad that I  have it. I think you need to get them refreshed every 14 years. I will be in my 70s then.

So, if you think of tattoo and a horse in the future, don’t necessarily think about it being a substitute for a brand on your horse. You can get a brand on you of your horse. I cant wait to show Kate. I think she will like it.
Kate tattoo


I do.


Shawnee Sunrise Farm


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Beware The Conibear Trap!

Beware the Conibear Trap
They Make a Tool for That
By Keith Kibler


Chuck Bearden is one of my favorite people in the world. Chuck is the closest thing to John Wayne that I know. He is 75 years young and lives in Western Ky. He is a horseman’s horseman. He has been through two bouts of cancer and his bucket list includes two 50 mile endurance horse races with me next year and one 100 mile endurance 24 hour event. Chuck is a man any red blooded man would want as a father.




My Friend Chuck Bearden and Ratatouille Tex
This story was told to me and a friend recently on lunch break during a long training ride. We laughed so hard we were literally rolling on the ground. Chuck told the following story on himself and I will write this from his perspective.

Beware the Conibear Trap

Although I am a young man of 75 years, I know some older people. My brother in law is one of those older men in my life. He is 90 and lives in a decidedly non-metropolitan part of Tennessee. Think “rural”. My better half decided it was time to visit her sister so off we went, or rather, “down we went”. Being a 90 year old retired Doctor, my brother in law is not the most out of doors kind of guy.

He has a shed though, and it came to my attention while visiting that an industrious ground hog had taken up residence under the shed. I decided to demonstrate my knowledge of ways to get rid of pesky varmints by dispatching the intruder. I searched the shed and garage for tools to help me towards that goal and found a Conibear trap.


Conibear Trap


Having had a 100 acre cattle ranch in my younger days, I had experience with these traps. They are both effective and dangerous. I knew I could handle the trap and it would be just the right thing for the uninvited intruder. I set the trap. I adjusted it. Then I adjusted it one more time. Did I mention I used my hand? It sprung and I got my hand turned so that it securely rested across the widest part of my right wrist. I was definitely caught in the trap.

I called for my wife and told her I needed a hack saw. My wife and her sister then started searching the garage. Unfortunately, neither of them knew a hack saw from any other tool and their search left me a bit frustrated. I suggested my wife drive me for help. So off we went to a nearby large tool and hardware store. I cannot say what it was but let me hint that it rhymes with “Rowes”.

After a frantic car ride, after all, this thing was really starting to hurt, we arrived at the store. I decided to take the trap in with me since we had acquired a real attachment for each other. I hurried to the tool section and found a nice young woman to help me. I asked her if I could use a saw. She looked at me and her eyes got big. She said, “You need Ted, the tool supervisor”!  I stood there.  She looked at me and stared.  So I mentioned it might be good if she got Ted.  My hand was really hurting. I seem to remember marveling at my own restraint and patience.

Ted walked up at her call and then adroitly mentioned, “you have a Conibear trap on your hand.”  I tried to stay composed, after all I needed his help. I asked Ted if he might have a saw we could use. He grabbed a hack saw. Now I suppose that the makers of Conibear traps are concerned that trapped animals would chew themselves loose, but I really don’t think that is going to happen once we learned that a hack saw left this thing unfazed.


However, I was less than amused and really starting to hurt. I asked Ted if he might have something more effective that might be powered by say, electricity. He grabbed a reciprocating saw and inserted a new metal blade. I put the trap and of course my wrist and hand down on a counter and Ted got to work. Now I don’t know how much Ted knew about his job, but I pretty quickly decided Ted did not have much tool experience. The electric saw danced around the metal of the Conibear trap without so much as making a scratch. Ted started sweating as the dancing blade kept getting close to my skin.

Ted began sweating like he was running a marathon. He looked really worried. I was hurting at this point past the point of distraction. I realized that I was getting nowhere with Ted and “Rowes”.  I looked at my wife, who thankfully was being very quiet during my ordeal, and said “let’s go”.  The only thing I could think was the local fired department. After all, they have the “jaws of life” don’t they?

As we headed out the door I met a typical middle age couple that shop at “rowes”. I quickly assesed that this man might now a thing or two and stopped to speak to him. He rewarded my attention by the observation, “You have a Conibear trap on your hand!” I counted to about 1 ½ and asked him where the local fire department was. He started giving me directions that featured the phrase, “you turn right where the bar used to be”. I asked my wife if she knew where this was. She declined all knowledge of the fire department or more pointedly, the missing bar. I was really in pain and very close to the end of my patience. Fortunately, the spontaneous helpfulness of the local gentry sprung forth and the man said, “Follow us!”

The good Samaritan jumped in his care and off we caravaned. My wife drove as it is hard to drive when you are in a Conibear trap. Life is funny like that. I never did see where the missing bar was but we did find the fire department.


I thanked my benefactor and charged into the bay where their were two shiny firetrucks. The nearest fireman looked up and, you guessed it, said, “You have a Conibear trap on your hand”! I composed myself the best I could and asked if he might have a tool to help me. He said, “We are the fire department, we have every tool you can imagine, including the “jaws of life”.


He had the Conibear trap off me in less than 2 minutes. He asked me how my trapping incident occurred. I told him I was setting the Conibear trap and got caught. He said, “You know, they make a tool for that.”
I still hurt, so I thanked the nice fireman for his help and left. I also collected my Conibear trap, which was now in two convenient but non-working pieces and went to the local hospital. My wife drove as it is hard to drive after spending a long time in a Conibear trap. I had a long 2 ½ hour wait and eventually gave up and went back to spend time with my brother in law and think about the ground hog.

I never did see the Doctor, but I had plenty of time to left handed google “Conibear traps.” It seems the first warning about them is to never set them with your own hand. They make a tool for that and it costs $ 7.49.


Conibear Trap Setting Tool

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Like A Phoenix Rising, Lincoln Trail 2014

SOMETIMES LIFE DEMANDS that you refocus.
My wife Sandy and I love the sport of endurance riding. We train and compete gaited horses, and endurance has been an
important part of our empty nest years. We both compete mainly at the 50-mile distance but she does some LDs and I compete in some 100s. Sandy has a long list of autoimmune disorders that would leave most grandmas at home in the recliner.

In September of 2013, I came into a vet check in a 100 and she was sitting in a chair with a bloody rag on her head. She had fallen and hit her head while walking her Missouri Fox Trotter, Samba, who had been pulled with a lameness issue.
A couple of months later, we found out that Samba had EPM. It became so bad that you could push on the horse’s hip and it would almost knock her down. Samba had also lost hundreds of pounds and no amount of feed and hay would put weight back on her.

Sandy fell again a month later on a bluff overlook in the Shawnee National Forest. After that, she was diagnosed with an ultrarare autoimmune disorder called Stiff Limb Syndrome. She is one of 400 people in the
world with that diagnosis. She was put on once-monthly immunoglobulin IVs. We treated her horse and we treated her.
Cancer tends to run with this strange disorder and Sandy was found to have liver cancer too. Her medical team took out the cancer and part of her liver in February of this year. For a month she lived and slept in a recliner next to our bed. Sandy dreamed of getting outside and riding a horse again. I kept treating the horse and then training the horse with the help of friends.

In April, several of my friends and I put Sandy on the tailgate of a pickup truck and we helped her carefully onto a horse for the first time since that fall in October. She refused to give up, and neither did the rest of us. I recruited two friends with warmblood horse backgrounds. Neither had ridden a gaited horse before starting to ride our horses. They learned and they applied themselves in a systematic manner. I taught them how to ride a gaited horse, how to use GPS watches, heart rate monitors, and how to trot out. I put Gabrielle Hoffmann, who is from Germany, on our TWH mare Cheyenne.

Cheyenne had six 50-mile completions and is a powerhouse of a horse. We call her “Tina Turner in horse form.” Gabby rode Cheyenne with me in a 50 in Illinois in June. I had two horses in 50s that weekend myself. Not only did Gabby do well and finish in the top ten at her first AERC ride, she asked me if I had another horse for her the second day of the ride. I told her “no,” but as she thought she was ready to ride further, I agreed to help her get ready for a 100 in September called Lincoln Trail.

IMG_0896                                        Gaby Hoffman and Cheyenne

So, I ratcheted up the training. It would be a chance for Cheyenne to get her first 100 completion. It would be Gaby’s second ride of any kind. I kept up the training of Sandy’s horse by encouraging Sandy to make the effort to get out with us on Saturdays to ride. I took another of our gaited mares, a gorgeous blue roan Standardbred/TWH cross named
Indigo for another friend, David Kalhok of Canada. I had been training this horse for a year and a half myself and the mare had both a 30 LD and a 50 completion.

I hatched a plan to have Sandy ride in the 30-mile LD and have David ride with Sandy on Indigo. Sandy’s MFT mare Samba had been given another evaluation and was pronounced neurologically sound and cured of EPM. I thought Sandy could mentor David in the 30 and he could help her on and off Samba and do the trot-outs. Of course, our gaited horses don’t actually “trot.”

The ride itself couldn’t have been any better.

I rode my top horse, a TWH mare named Kate, in the 100. She had 19 completions for 19 starts in less than 100s and we would be trying for her fifth 100-mile completion. Gaby pulled Cheyenne in behind us and we rode conservatively due to mud on the course and the fact that Kate lost two shoes off the same foot in that mud. I taped on a boot and
worried. I decided that the easiest way to protect Kate’s foot was to put her into a pace. A pace is the most horrible gait there is. (It is easy for Kate, but horrible on my back side.) That is the reason that pacing Standardbreds are raced with a cart. I posted most of the 100.
You simply could not safely move on this course past a walk without a decent light. I had both horses trained well with lights and we sped up after dark because the course started to dry out. With four miles to go on the last loop, and well after dark, Gaby and I galloped uphill, side by side, at 16 mph. We were also hooting and hollering. We finished second and third. Cheyenne became the 65th gaited horse to finish a 100. Kate got her fifth 100 mile completion.  IMG_0943                Keith Kibler and Kate, Gaby Hoffmann and Cheyenne post 100.

While that was all good, my major excitement for the day was Sandy. She still has issues walking and fell twice trying to get around ride camp. Once David got her on Samba, he said he had a hard time helping her very much. It seems Samba was not crazy about him passing her on Indigo and neither was Sandy. My little wife turns into Lance Armstrong in these events.

We use heart rate monitors and GPS to determine which gaits, at which speeds, each horse moves most efficiently at. You know how the first four miles or so are sort of a time to forget sticking to your ride plan? That is the way Sandy usually is for the first lap of any distance. She led the first half of the LD, and even though she has been around this course many times, she was completely surprised when she and David arrived back at the ride camp.

She said she realized she was leading when she kept getting hit in the face with spiderwebs. Sandy led almost all of the second lap but wisely finished second when she let her horse walk in the last half-mile. David and Indigo were third.

IMG_0918                    Sandy Kibler and Samba, David Kalhok and Indigo

It was the best weekend of my life.


I was so proud of Sandy I cried. With a disorder that is on the Social Security automatic disability list, my determined wife fiercely refused to give up her dream of competing in endurance again. Not even falling in the camp stopped her from reaching for her dream. Both Sandy and Samba rose like the Phoenix from what would have stopped many other athletes, equine and human. Their heroism and determination, to me, is what endurance is supposed to be about.

Take courage and encourage each other. Life is short.

Keith Kibler

Shawnee Sunrise Farm2014-09-06 20.12.46

Keith and Sandy Kibler
Shawnee Sunrise Farm
Marion IL

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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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Dead Dog Creek 2013



This is the closest ride to our little farm. It is listed as being in Kinmundy but is really near Salem IL.  Actually the ride is at Omega. Omega is “town”  of about 20 people and a country store that has good ice cream, beer on Sunday and electronic gambling.   We have competed there many times. By that I mean Dead Dog Creak, not at the store.  Only once has mud not been a part of the ride. The mud has been so bad in the past that the following is all true:
1. The co race director face planted into a mud hole one year at speed. I seem to remember he won the 50 but the back of his head was the only thing not covered in mud.
2. The course became so wet and muddy after a night time of rain, that it was changed to a road ride. One of our twh mares, Kate , won that ride but I really dislike riding on roads.
3. I rolled a saddle one year climbing a muddy hill in the rain and slid down the hill on back in the mud.
4, They moved the ride from May to June to avoid the rain and resulting mud.

It did not work, the rain and mud found the Dead Dog Creek Ride anyway.


Linda and Aaron Mowrer are great salt of the earth endurance folks. They have worked tirelessly on this ride and they are the back bone of the AERC as far as I am concerned. You won’t find them at FEI rides or worrying if their are too many weight divisions, but you will find them working their tails off and risking their hard earned money to put on a ride. They are to be applauded.


We have not done the normal number of rides we usually get done this year.  A new grandson has had a lot to do with that. I crewed for my wife Sandy and a friend in his first aerc ride at LBL in May and tried the Ozark Trail 100 again in May but that was all we have been able to attend. That ride is a hard one. In four years 4 arabians, a mule and my twh Kate have been the only finishers in the 100. I took Cheyenne, another of our TWH mares this year and knew she was off by mile 20 and took a rider option.
So,  I brough Cheyenne back from the 100 mile distance and entered her in the 50 at Dead Dog. I took Kate to ride the second day 50 and a new 5 year old to experience her first ridecamp. She is a beautiful and interest horse. She is half twh and half Standard-bred and blue roan in color.  Her name is Indigo.  Sandy stayed home so off I went with three horses to look for mud.
We found it.
The course at Dead Dog does not usually involve a Dead Dog.  It does involve several creeks. It seem one year, in the distant past the ride was held somewhere else and their was a creek and it featured a dead dog. They moved the ride but kept the name. They also kept the mud.
All vet checks are in camp and the course is one loop that is repeated with a 5 mile extension on it. So, the loops are 20,15 and 15. Cheyenne went out with the leaders and we settled in a respectable 5th. Mud was flying to say the least. The trail is almost all single track so we would fly until hitting mud bogs and then walk through the mud. We repeated this. We repeated this a lot. It was heading for about 90 degrees and the humidity was also very high.  I let the leaders go into camp and Cheyenne and I backed off.  It was now hot and humid. Cheyenne presented at 72 and I wished I had a crew.  A few minutes later she was down  and we rested and readied to go out again.
I decided that the heat and humidity ,coupled with the mud, could be a problem for a big horse like Cheyenne. She is long legged and very muscled. I might also mention I am not what I would call a “tiny heinie” in the sport.  Then there was , as I might have mentioned, the mud.  The trail was turning into churned mud. We rode the last 30 miles by our selves. We did find some trail riders and some of those were lost and needing directions. When we saw trail riders on Quarter horses, Cheyenne wanted to become  quarter horse and walk with them. I declined.
We finished 6th and were both glad to complete and get off the course. My favorite comment of the day came from the vet who has seen several of our horses.  At one of the “trot outs” , which of course will never feature a “trot” if I can help it, the Vet just broke out laughing. I thought Cheyenne had done a very find running walk with a bit of animation. The Vet said, ” I have no idea what your horse just did, but it was symmetrical so I guess she’s fine!” Harrumph.
Just as I lined her up for her final “trot out”, (no pun intended), the sky opened up and a monsoon  fell on everyone. It rained for 6 more hours.

Cheyenne, 10 year old TWH mare after 50 miles


This is one of those rides that feature a great pot luck and the ride management supplies the main course and desert. I think the cobblers cooked in dutch ovens are worth some mud.
I decided I was not going to put Kate through  50 miles of mud and knew some of the creeks would require swimming. She eats this course for lunch but it was not worth the risk to her .
So,  I loaded up and went home and the 50 the next day was cancelled.
In conclusion, if you can stomach a technical trail that is often got some muddy spots in exchange for some good food out of dutch ovens, this is a ride you should try.

Keith and Cheyenne
Shawnee Sunrise Farm
Marion IL

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