Lincoln Trails 2012


Lincoln Trails 2012


The tradition of the names of Endurance rides is bemusing.  “Dead Dog Creek”, has lots of creaks but none of them are named “Dead Dog”.  “Red Barn Run” has no barn, but the word is their used to be a barn. “Raptor Run” is named that because the old growth forest made the race director feel like a dinosaur might use her for lunch. “Lincoln Trails” used to be in Central Illinois.  If you know history, Illinois is the “Land of Lincoln” because he did practice law in Illinois and lived most of his life here before going to Washington D.C.  However, the ride was not in Springfield and is definitely not within a few hours driving of their now.  It is listed as being in “Kinmundy” IL. If you go to Kinmundy, you won’t be at the ride because, it is actually at Stephen Forbes State Park and that is in Omega.

Omega has a population of about 30, but does have a general store with great ice cream and beer. It seems the store’s Sunday beer sales keep it going, as it is the only place allowed by law to sell beer in the entire area.


In any event, the ride application clearly stated in bold print, “There Might Be Mud”. Having ridden there several times, I knew they were right.   I had Jazz, a 7 year old twh mare, ready for her first 100.  She was 2 for 2 at LD, and 4 for 4 at 50 miles.  Kate was in foal, so she stayed home.  Sandy had Savanah, her 7 year old mft mare, more than ready for a 50.  Savanah can fly and was two for two in Lds and 3 for 3 at 50 miles. Now, I am kind of in charge of training schedules in our program and making sure our horses are ready for rides no matter who is riding them, but my Sandy is in charge of “nurturing”.  That means a variety of different things. From my male type “A” perspective, it sometimes means “worrying”.  But, if “Mama isn’t happy…….”  Well, you get it.

So, Sandy started worrying 3 weeks ahead that Jazz was not ready for a 100.  I poured over our training catalogs. I showed her that Jazz had about 1700 miles of training in the 4 years.  I submitted the question to a 100 miler friend, okay it was Paul Sidio. He said yes. I submitted it to 2 gaited competitors who are friends. They said yes. I submitted the issue to our close friend who is a local genius gaited trainer who knows the horse extremely well. He said yes.  I thought, “I have a lot less trouble convincing juries than my wife”.

Then it rained. Oh, oh, new worries. Then it rained more and the forecast was for a gully washer at the race site the night before. I finally realized I just needed to ride with Sandy in the 50. Mind you, she does not need me to ride with her.  Far from it, she won’t even wait for me. The woman, who does not appear to have a competitive bone in her body, turns into Billy Shoemaker when she hears “the trail is open”.

In fact, no one rode the 100 because of the mud.  It became a monsoon the night before the ride. They delayed the start to make sure the creeks could even be crossed.  This is an Umecra ride and they have lots of rides like competitive trail, Ld, and novice but the field for the 50 was small at 5. This was probably because of the mud. I am never apologetic about the size of a ride. All any of us can do is ride the ride presented to us by the people putting on the ride and ride with the folks that show up to ride. I figure everyone that fails to show up is missing out.

The other 3 riders where all experienced and the field was 2 Arabians, a Shagya and our mft and twh.  Jazz went to the lead and we held it through 19 miles of the first 20 mile loop.  The trail was actually not bad, but I was secretly glad I was not doing a 100 miles on it. Sandy and I backed our pace down at the mile marker to camp spot and then got off and walked into camp.

WE ACTUALLY HAD A CREW!  Our son Jonathan and daughter in law, Amanda came to the race and stayed with us and crewed. It was a blast spending the weekend with them and it has been so long since we had a crew that I had forgotten what a blessing they can be.  Jazz was at 54 when presented and Savanah always takes a few minutes longer to come down due to the fact she is more solidly built.  The hold was only 40 minutes, and even though Jazz had come down before the 2nd place Arabian, I let the first and second place horses go and waited patiently at the timer for Sandy.  She had told me not to do this.  She told me she would not wait for me. I said, “Yeah, I know, I get it, and I would send you and hunt you down, but this is a husband thing and I am waiting for you”.  The ride staff was appropriately impressed with what they called “a proper attitude” and told Sandy. I thought, “brownie point, wonder if I got a brownie point?”  Not a chance.

Sandy, super crew Amanda and Jonathan and MFT, Savanah Sunrise

Sandy, super crew Amanda and Jonathan and MFT, Savanah Sunrise

Jazz pulled Savanah for most of the next 15 miles and I decided that the leaders must be moving out.  Jazz has an incredibly square and even 4 beat racking gait and can certainly hold it for 50 miles.  I sometimes hear people express the opinion that a gaited horse can’t rack for 25 miles let alone 50 miles.  I know this to be false.  It’s not that I don’t use canter breaks, because I do.  It freshens the horse if the horse has a well developed canter.  Jazz does not have a well developed canter.  So, she racks.

I presented her at the second vet check and she was at 44.  She was also still making close to straight “A”s on her grades.  We were about 12-15 minutes off the leaders.  Since Jazz came down immediately, my out time was 5 minutes before Sandy and Savanah. Sandy was insistent that I go out and not wait and see if I could gain back time. Her argument was this:

  1. Don’t wait on me.
  2. I would not wait on you.
  3. You have a shot at BC, go!
  4. Don’t wait on me, I mean it!

So I went. It took her 2 miles to catch me. She passed me with the same grin of determined satisfaction that Lance Armstrong used to give those he was crushing as he went past riders up the Alps.

I gulped, and thought, “What have I created here?”  But the truth is I did not create this hot shoe.  She just sort of blossomed.  At times, I really don’t recognize the woman I married 32 wonderful years ago. I am however, always proud of her.

Sandy was in the mood to move out, and with some judicially applied persuasion, so was Savanah.  Going up a hill, I asked Sandy to shift her horse into a canter. Savanah has a great canter.  Suddenly, Jazz copied it. It was not the little, choppy canter of the past. It was a smooth, reaching canter. YEAHHHH!!!!!.  I had been looking for this for two years with this horse.

I praised Jazz, and we went back and forth from racking to cantering on the up hills. With 5 miles to the finish I broached the subject of the finish to my wife and mentioned a word she can’t stand. It is her dreaded “T” word.  Yes, I did it, I asked her if she wanted to tie.

You would have thought I had asked her to give away her favorite horse.  Her reaction was immediate and definitely not “husband friendly”.  To put nicely, she said, “I hate that, we are racing to the finish.”

As logically as I could, I explained that we were in 3rd and 4rth place. Because there were less than 10 riders in the 50 we would not be getting any bonus points no matter what we placed and that the smart thing would be complete and just not do anything with any added risk. She was not having any part of it.

Mind you she was on the faster horse, and we both knew it.

Then with 2 miles to go she said, “I will race you to the one mile wooden bridge”!  Visions of slipping on the slick bridge came to mind and I said, “No”.

She took off in a fast rack that became a controlled canter.  Jazz kept up with Savanah in her newly acquired canter and we hit just over 14 mph.  We are approaching the 49 mile mark and she was hitting a new high speed. On top of that her heart rate was still very low.  This mare is good, very good.

We crossed the bridge very safely and slowly.  By the way, I don’t want to blame it on my vocation, as I am a lawyer, but I can sometimes do pretty well with strategy.  Just past the bridge, with one mile to go, I knew there was a spot where a horse could pass on the trail.

I touched a spur to Jazz and said, “Come Up”!  She did just that, and we edged past Sandy and then the drag race to the finish line began.  The trail was windy and had very few places to pass. Very, very few if the leading rider was doing things like keeping to the middle of trail.   Yes, I did sort of “drift” over on one spot that was a little wider and did sort of result in Sandy not passing me.  But, I had a very vivid remembrance at that very moment of Sandy passing me in this same situation at Raptor Run with 300 yards to go.  A very vocal objection from immediately behind me brought me back the moment.

I held her off and we finished 3rd and 4rth. We had closed to just 4 minutes off of first place. Jazz ended up with the Best Condition award which is always my hope at rides.  Our horses have been privileged to take several BC’s but this was Jazz’s first. As we had raised her from a weanling, I was and am very proud of her.  We had a great time and would suggest this ride to everyone.  They have a great potluck and unique awards. Just understand there may be some mud.

Also, always remember to encourage your spouse and know that competition has both its rewards and its drawbacks.

I am hoping I get to quit sleeping in the barn and move back to the house any day now.

Dancer's Southern Princess, aka "Jazz", 7 yearold TWH

Dancer's Southern Princess, aka "Jazz", 7 yearold TWH

Keith and Sandy Kibler

Shawnee Sunrise Farm

Marion IL




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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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Ozark Trail, 2012

Ozark Trails 2012
In 2009, a friend of mine named Paul Sidio, had an idea of doing a point to point 100 mile endurance ride in the Ozarks fashioned in his mind live Tevis. The ride was to be rough, on beautiful bud challenging trails. It was advertised as an old fashioned ride and not for whiners. Partially due to a very bad storm that left much of the trail with debris, no one made it past the 65 mile mark in the rides first year in 2010.

In 2010, Linda and Barry Cole caught the vision and challenge of the event and they were the race directors. Six of us finished the 100. My twh mare, Kate, led the race until a major, biblical storm caused the course to be changed. Paul and 5 others finished 100 miles in about 23 hours and 20 minutes. Kate did 119 miles and was 15 minutes behind.

Naturally, I did not tell Kate we were going back. Sandy reluctantly agreed to crew for us. This would involve a lot of work on her part. She had to get us started at daybreak, drive the live aboard 100 miles to the finish and drop it. Then she had to bring the truck back up the course with supplies to leap frog ahead of us to each vet check for as long as 24 hours. Did I mention how much I love my wife? For the purposes of this weekend, I guess the better point is how much she loves me.

The trail is very tough on hoofs. I used Vettec and plastic screen under the shoes to pack the Vettec last year and it worked very well. This year, my farrier strongly suggested using simply leather pads instead. As you shall see, I will stand my ground on the Vettec next time.

Race day was forecast in the low 90’s and 80% plus humidify. The vets became rightfully concerned, and added vet checks in place of some of the “gait and goes”. I did the math on the time and knew that the ride would become a balancing act of the following:
1. Managing time.
2. Balancing the heat, humidity, difficult trail and coming darkness.
3. Watching the trail surface and potential damage to hoofs.

So, my plan was to get out and cover reasonable distance as quickly as possible while keeping an eye on heart rate, temperature and humidity. I wanted to cover as much of the trail as I could until the day got. The plan was to then slow down. We started at day break and Kate went to the lead. I watched her heart rate, speed and avg moving speed on my gps watch. We settled in at a 7.1 moving average. That would be mid to the back of the pack at most 100s. I really thought that could be a winning average on this course. It is very tough and winding with hundreds if not thousands of small climbs and creek crossings. My math, experience on the course, and gut told me that a minimum of about 5.5 mph moving average would be needed to finish in 24 hours.

Kate leading and still having all her shoes.

Kate leading and still having all her shoes.

Kate led into the first gait and go, which we were told to treat as a hold at the 20 mile mark. We led out with two Arabians for company. At about the 24 mile mark, Kate stumbled. I got off, saw she had lost a front shoe and put on a boot.

Pulling into the vet check a mile 34 showed Kate with hoof that had lost some material when the shoe was pulled off on the trail. It was already hot. Usually Kate is very good at cooling. It took her a few minutes. I thought the hoof could be a problem. It was. She favored it on the trot out whether she had the boot on or not. She was lame and our day was over.

I am extremely motivated by completions. When I started this adventure, I was told “everyone knew you had to use Arabian horses” to be competitive in this sport. I thought that wrong. Our completion rate was over 90% coming into this ride and it really pained me to be pulled. However, this sport is not for the faint of heart, nor for those wanting to take the safe easy way.

Paul, The trail is this way, really, I am sure of it!

Paul, The trail is this way, really, I am sure of it!

It was time to get my mind right and spend the day serving others. Riders and horse teams where getting pulled due to the conditions and people needed help. Paul and Piper were also pulled and a trailer full of horses where headed back to camp. I went back to camp with Sandy and then went to the 65 mile vet check. There was a vet check at about 50 miles and I knew the day would be fully hot by that vet check and so the teams still on the trail would need help by mile 65.

Gunnar coming into mile 34 vet check

Lovely folks, lovely horses and great fun had by all.

So, Sandy and I took supplies and went to the 65 mile vet check. We set and visited with Paul Sidio, who had also been pulled at the 34 mile vet check due to an aggravated pasture injury. We had a lovely visit with the vet and other crews, some of which were from England. Time passed, I did math, it got dark. I went back up the trail to use my supplemental lights to guide the soon to arrive riders. No one came. I did more math. I decided that even if a rider showed up, they were not going to make the 100 miles within the 24 hour mark.

We went looking for horses and riders. Some had quit and were walking up a nearby road and they were looking for pickup. Daryl Downs, a very good FEI rider from the east coast was riding Paul Sidio’s back up horse, General Lee had gotten off course and added 8 miles off course on a nearby road.

We were all toast, and as I was enjoying a good meal in air conditioning back at the horse camp I actually mused I was happy I did not have hours more riding to do in the high heat and humidity while watching my data and wondering if I would make the cut off.

Paul describes some of the finer points of race directing to Linda.

Linda Cole announced that a special deal would be made to those who tried this year and wanted to try the 100 next year. In three years, there have been 6 finishers. Kate, the wonder twh, a mule and 4 fine Arabians are the finishers so far. Kate is expecting so I am bringing on 2 more twhs for 100s and plan on being back with one of them next year. By, God’s grace, I will not give up on this trail. It is just too much fun and such a fun challenge! If I wanted something easy, I would do something else.

Keith Kibler
Shawnee Sunrise Farm

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Red Barn Run 2012

Red Barn Run 2012
We love riding and competing in endurance races in the South. The folks, as a group, are friendly and genuinely glad to see new comers. The vets are used to seeing alternative breeds other than Arabians.

The location of the ride is Chester GA. It is so tiny that it could be a suburb of Mayberry. It has the claim to fame of having been the home town of Pretty Boy Floyd. I mean the famous criminal, not the speed racking horse. It seems that Floyd left town for greener pastures. In a classic southern tradition not unlike direction advice that starts with, “turn where the tavern used to be”, the ride is named after a red barn that is no longer on the property.

The ride site is owned by the Perry family. They own all 4000 acres of the ride site, and this ride is the only time the family place is open to the public. Camping is great but rustic. There is a water spigot and you have to haul water back to your trailer. The Perry’s own an off site winery, and they offer wine and wonderful concoctions they call “slushies” that many women, including my wife Sandy, loved. Both the Friday and Saturday evenings were catered as a part of the ride fee. Friday night was barbecue chicken and Saturday night featured barbecue ribs.

The Perry’s are great folks and they turn the dinners into a Mayberry- like impromptu skits where they end up making fun of their relatives or friends. The top awards feature things like hand-made wooden giant rocking chairs and mounting blocks. The vets included Otis Schmitt, Ken Marcella and Dee Dee Huff. Each of the 4 rides had about 60 entries. The trails are flat, fast and often a bit sandy. Each road crossing is manned and the crossing guards are usually the Chester volunteer fire department or friends of the Perrys. This is one of our favorite rides and I urge you to try it.

It is always great to see the Angie McGee family, Joe Schoech, and the other SE riders. We had to haul 11 hours to get there and that means getting up at 3:30 am. My plan was to ride my sweet heart twh mare Kate both days, and take the twh Jazz as my back up. Sandy took one of her twh mares Cheyenne. I loaded the horses in the dark and off we went. Shortly after leaving, the dash cluster on our 2007 Ford diesel 250 went dark and the gauges went dead and the battery light came on. The motor did not die and when the gas pedal was tapped, the power came back on. This happened on and off for the whole trip. It meant you could not really listen to the radio and required us to go to a “happy place” as we drove.

We got to Southern Ga. no worse for wear and set up in a cotton field. While unloading the horses, Sandy happened to mention that I had brought Savanah instead of Jazz as my backup. Oops. I loaded the wrong black horse in the dark. So, we brought the wrong coggins and travel permits. That will teach me to go to bed earlier.

Sandy crews for me the first day of some rides so she can rest and ride the second day. I love my little Kate and she has the heart of a lion. But, she is not a speed horse and considering I am planning on riding her multi day here, I knew I was riding for completions. I also decided to hold Kate back during the first 15 mile loop to save her energy for later in the day. I let the leaders go and then kept riding slowly. I was 6 miles into the first loop when I saw a woman on her back on the ground and a rider who was a nurse caring for her. Horse traffic was sent slowly around them and it turned out she was fine after being checked at a local hospital.

Kate handled the excitement of almost 60 horses well as she always does. Watching the heart rate monitor and the GPS gave me something to do. I rode conservatively all day. Kate did great and I started planning on how to get the turtle award. At mile 40, I learned I really had no chance, so I started thinking about Kate being on her feet in the heat longer than necessary. I gave her head and asked her to go to the barn. She did just that and ended up 25th place.

1 04:48 McClary, Deborah Psyches Traveler (Traveler) (BC)
1 04:48 Gielen, Robert Vagas (Vagas)
3 05:14 McAfee, Lois LMS Hoosier (Hoosier)
4 05:14 Klingerman, Linda Thrust
5 05:14 Bunnell, Becky BR Jubaleigh (Bailey)
6 05:26 Crowe, Wesley Koweta Bentley (Bentley)
7 05:26 Silbert, Denise Arciem Alicyn (Ali)
8 05:31 Hamilton, Melissa A. Kabirs Dakota (Birs)
9 05:32 Tyler, Lisa Laizer ()
10 05:32 Gantt, Amy Warrant Promise

The LD results for top ten on Day 1 were as follows:
1 02:34 Mike De Chant on Koweta Pendleton
2 2 02:35 Amy Sumrall on DK Shadow Dancer
3 3 02:43 Bill Armstrong on Prima Donna
4 4 02:43 Scott Carroll on Tempest On Tha Bay
5 5 02:43 Pamela Houmere on Belladonna BC
6 6 02:43 Theresa Carroll on Deverish On Tha Bay
7 7 02:55 Margaret Clower on Aliya Jewel
8 8 03:03 Jerry R. Brown on The Jenerator
9 9 03:06 Alice C. Farrar on SMS Apache Shadodanz
10 10 03:28 Christy Smith on Koweta Ferrari

Day two was a going to be in the lower 80’s so it was a bit cooler. However, the humidity was higher and the sun was out with no cloud cover during much of the day. It was going to be horse management time. Cheyenne was wound up during the warm up so Sandy changed her plan to go out with the hotter front runners and stayed back with Kate and me. During the first 3 miles we settled in to about 40th place out of 59 riders. Kate moved the best she ever had and did a wonderful running walk.

Cheyenne, however kept calling for the alpha female horse we had left at the trailer. She would throw her head around and jumped around a few times, just to let us know how unhappy she was to leave Savanah behind at the campsite. Sandy was not having a happy time…

She said, “I cannot do this for 50 miles, I am going to have to get off and walk her back the three miles to camp.” I had her stop and pull off the trail and we let the field go by. Hello 54th place. I got off and checked her head stall and bit. There was nothing wrong with the horse’s gear. She was simply pining for her alpha mare buddy. Sandy said, “What do I do, I cannot continue like this?” I said, “Well, I am not telling you what to do, but what I would do is make her listen by giving her some rein on a shoulder and hip and telling her NO! when she misbehaves again.

I said, “You are apt to get a rodeo when you do this.” She said, “Okay, will you do this for me?” I said, “I would love to, but if we swap horses on the course we are both subject to being disqualified.”

I watched and when Cheyenne started to toss her head, Sandy said, “NO” loudly, and let Cheyenne have a rein on her shoulder and hip. Cheyenne is a very big, strong mare. We were doing about 7 mph. She lifted her front end off the ground for a step or two and then launched with all four feet off the ground as though she was a lipizzan. I heard something like “AHHEE” from Sandy.

Thankfully, my wife has velcro on her backside. They hit pretty hard, but there was no buck or further rearing. Sandy gave Cheyenne a slight collection and off we went with Kate in tow. We went 8, 9, 10,11 and then 12 mph. This was too fast for Kate and Cheyenne was not showing signs of slowing. I yelled, “12 is too fast for Kate, I’ll see you at the finish, make me some coffee!” I pulled Kate over and turned her backwards on the course and we waited.

From then on Kate and I were looking to finish the last 45 miles and try for the turtle award. I watched the heart rate and gps. Kate’s heart rate was wonderful all day but she did pant in the humidity. Each vet check showed her with low gut sounds which concerned me. We went back to the trailer, she ate the whole break and then her gut sounds would be A- or B+. Once her heart rate hung for a few minutes at around 60 until she peed and then her heart rate immediately dropped into the 40s. I intend to work on peeing on command like they use with TB’s in race track training.

Kate averaged 118 H.R. from mile 25 to mile 40 which was in full sun and less water than I would have liked. Kate came down quickly but still panted in the humidity. More eating during the break and her gut sound came back strong. We averaged 108 heart rate during the last 10 miles.

At the finish I saw my new friend Cheryl Van Deusen and she graciously pitched in and quickly helped me get Kate down to 60. Kate passed the vet in and completed although she was still panting. Dr. Ken Marcella said it was just her way of cooling in the humidity and she was not having a problem.

We ended up missing the turtle for the day but did take the turtle for the 9 horses that completed both days of 50s. The panting quickly stopped and Kate ate like a horse.

Sandy finished 25th place and Kate ended up 41st. Sandy and Cheyenne finished over an hour and 45 minutes ahead of us! I was very proud of how Sandy handled Cheyenne and that she did not panic during the starting problems. My lovely wife is my hero.

The Endurance Results for top ten for Day 2 were as follows:

1 04:51 Myers, Lee WA Love Letters (Mo)
2 04:51 Lorey, Taryn Moons Cygnature (Buddy)
3 04:51 McGhee, Josie TM Cade
4 04:51 Cruz, Willie Cookie Bear
5 04:58 Bunnell, Becky BR Jubaleigh (Bailey) BC
6 04:58 Bryant, Jordan Isabells Dream
7 04:58 Bryant, Rusty Fancy
8 05:04 Kollath, Marbeth FFC First Csea Lord (Winston)
9 05:04 Newman, Stagg Jake LW TOP TEN
10 05:14 McAfee, Lois LMS Hoosier (Hoosier)

Day 2 LD top ten were as follows:

1 on CM 02:32 Ashley Wright on Classy
2 2 02:34 Michelle Wright on Nicky
3 3 02:34 Suzie Anderson on Rhythm In Red
4 4 02:41 Margaret Anne Christie on FF Special Delivery
5 5 02:42 Amy Sumrall on SWA Amazing Finish
6 6 02:42 Mike De Chant on Koweta Pendleton
7 7 02:43 Jeri Flint on Mr. Honey
8 8 02:45 Madison Nagel on Sayyid Rahul PR
9 9 02:45 Melissa A. Hamilton on Jaazil BC
10 10 02:45 Johnny PetrasMorrocco

During the great awards and dinner, we shared peach slushies and BBQ with new and old friends. I was pleased to win a pair of new Renegade boots for Kate.

We will definitely go back, as the SE in general, and these folks in particular, know how to put on a great ride. I give them an “A+”. Next year we will go a day early to try and get ready for the humidity and heat and I will try to load the right horses…

Rack on!
Keith and Sandy Kibler
Shawnee Sunrise Farm

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Blazing Saddles 2012

Early spring is too cold in the Midwest for rides and summer is too hot. So, Sandy and I have to travel. I have a 500 mile limit for Drs. Otis Schimtt, Dee Dee Huff and Ken Marcella. This ride was right at 500 miles and offered both Otis Schmitt and Dee Dee Huff.

It is also the only ride out of 15 that my twh mare Kate had not finished. Last year, I did a rider option at mile 85 due to a look in her eye and have been thinking about it. I know I did the right thing but I still think about it. I love my little 874 lb. Kate but she is the most challenging gaited horse to ride that I have owned or ridden. She is also the only horse I have ever ridden that gets stronger after 40 miles into a ride.

I can call this girl and she will leave the mare herd and come to me and kiss me. She may think I am her food slave but I fancy that she loves me and I sure do love her. Sandy wanted to ride (one of her) favorite Missouri Foxtrotter mares, Savanah, in the mare’s second 50 mile ride. So, off we go to southern Mississippi.

Naturally, we had truck problems. In the past we have blown trailer tires on trips. This time I replaced two extremely expensive truck tires before we left so I thought we were good. When, just into Kentucky, the engine light came on. Now, I had $ 8,000 of warranty work done on this truck in the last year and thought it was good to go. I was wrong. We pulled into a Ford dealership and they said it was just an EGR valve and I could keep going until I got home. 100 miles later it started surging. Okay, that gets your attention. Then, the entire dash cluster started going dead and shutting off completely. This was definitely starting out interesting. We prayed, drove on and prayed some more.

We finally got to Laurel, met Terry Price and parked. We looked for my friend Jody Rogers-Buttram but learned she had broken down too. My buddy Paul Sidio showed up. My endurance friends are an important part of my life and although I don’t get to see them often, I sure enjoy running into them as gypsy vagabonds with these horses we love. Some of my friends and fellow competitors and characters that showed up included Paul, Steve Huff, Jody Rogers-Buttram, Angie McGhee and Lucy Estabrook.

Sandy got the horses looking great with a spiffy weave into both of their manes. I am so proud of Sandy. She is my hero. Most women of her age would have retired to the couch with her physical challenges long ago. She will not go quietly into the night.

In the 50, Sandy started with her MFT mare Savanah, my friend Steve Huffman and his Spanish Mustang and 26 Arabians. Savanah sometimes pretends to be tired in rides and tries to fake Sandy out. So, Sandy decided to push Savanah and make sure she did not fake tiredness without a reason. When she heard “the trail is open”, she went to the lead pack. Sandy rode with a woman named Nelia all day. Savanah got almost all A’s and pulsed down quickly, but was 5 minutes behind Nelia going out the last loop. In the last 5 miles of the last loop, they caught up with a rider that had passed them earlier in the second loop. When they saw the finish line ahead they looked at each other with a “let’s go!” look. The three of them raced for the finish line. Sandy’s GPS showed 18 ½ miles per hour…Nelia got 4th place and Sandy ended up 6th overall and was thrilled. Her time was 5 hours and 42 minutes. Savanah did great for her 2nd 50 miler.

Photo by Jennifer Whittaker

Here was the finishing order for the top three per Terry Price:
1st Amanda Mead 4:49
2nd Gwen Douty 5:01
3rd Eva Kucerova 5:16 BC

Kate during the warm up before the 100

I got up at 4:00 am so that Kate and I could start the 100 at 5:30 am. We showed up at the start line 10 minutes early and the only people there in the dark were a group of locals that were camping. I asked where the 100 check in was and I was told they had already left. Panic hit my stomach, “how could that happen?” Just then Jack Price, the race director’s husband pulled up and said the out timer was a little late and that I was just the only one there. There had been others there and they had gone back to camp to find the timer in the dark.

The trail was declared “open”. Well, actually the “road” was declared open as the first 15 miles was completely road. I settled in at the back. These folks and their Arabians were absolutely flying. Kate was moving horribly even though I was trying to keep her just under 10 mph most of the time. She had “go” on her mind and “go” equals the horrible pacing movement that feels like a drunk sailor on a rolling ship. I brought her down to a running walk, then moved her up to a rack, then she went to a stepping pace. A few minutes later and she went to a hard pace. I repeated this and I repeated this and I repeated this.

My intention was to ride with my friend Paul Sidio and his horse Piper. They were going too fast for us and I had to let them go. I finally had to put Kate down into the soft earth runoff area beside the road and let her have her head. She went to 12 mph and her heart rate went to 102. There was obviously nothing wrong with metabolic. We ditch rode a good part of the first 15 miles and then had a 7 mile trail loop back to camp. She went back into gait on the trail. I had to surmise the movement problem was the road. I walked her into the vet check and did not remove the saddle nor did I sponge her. I just presented her with her halter on. She made heart rate in about 60 seconds from hitting the timer. She paced right through the trot out.

The next loop was a 24 mile trail that included about 4 miles of road. She moved okay on the trail but hard paced on the road. It was so bad it made me wonder if something could be caught under her shoe wall. I got off and checked the front left and back left. There was nothing and I did not bother checking the right side. She was again near perfect at the vet check. As the vet handed me the card and said “great”, she mentioned that “you do know you are missing a right front shoe don’t you?

Pilot error is what that was. I had not checked the right front when I checked shoes on the road. I had an easy boot, but that is not the best solution for Kate as she needs equal weight on both front feet to do her best movement. I had 4 shoes for her at the truck but needed a farrier. It seems at least one was in the 50 and was between his 1st and 2nd loop. He offered to help but had no tools, shoes or nails with him. I had every hand tool imaginable for emergencies and shoes but no nails for shoes. Someone had nails for shoes at their trailer and Paul’s wife hurried to their trailer. The farrier walked graciously to my trailer with Kate during his hold and used my automotive and trailer tools to put the shoe on. I had to force him to take money and a banana. He passed on the fruit and was wonderful.

Keith and Kate at mile 70, Photo by Jennifer Whittaker

That is the thing about riders in general and in the south particularly, the folks are simply the best.

We got out on time somehow and was soon caught by Clair Summers and her fantastic Arabian Mardi Gras. Clair has done Tevis on another horse but this was Mardi Gras’s first 100. Mardi Gras was named that name because he was born on, well you know.

Mardi Gras ate up the next 24 miles at 9.5-10.5 mph and we settled in behind most of the time. The next vet check was again near perfect but Clair was late to get out so Kate and I left word we would mosey out slow and wait for them. Within 2 miles they trotted up and we hooked on and off we went like a trail. Most of the time, they road on one side of the road on the 15 mile road loop and we rode on the other side of the road. There was very little water on this loop and only one actual water stop half way through. It got dark just a few miles before camp.

We hit the 85 mile and Kate took a couple of minutes longer to come down to heart rate than she had been, although I still did not untack her or sponge her. This made me wonder if I should back off her speed for the last 15 miles. This always presents a dilemma. We all know how horses gain strength from each other, so losing a buddy in the last bit of a 100 can be a negative. However, you have to balance that loss against the need for riding your own ride.

Clair had more horse under her and they still wanted to move 9.5 miles per hour. At mile 90 Kate and I let them go and I moved Kate down to 6.5 – 7.5 mph and we headed for the barn. We missed the two of them but I decided it was time to ride our own ride to the finish line. At mile 95, I took her to a walk with interspersed running walk breaks. Even though we walked most of the last 5 miles, we still beat our best time by 50 minutes and had a finish time of 14.09 and Kate went through the vet check with all A’s and one B. We were 11th place and I was tired, but thrilled. There were only 2 pulls in the whole 100 which was phenomenal.

Here are the top three finishers for the 100.
1st Ruth Anne Everett 10:36 BC
2nd Amanda Fant 12:02
3rd Josie McGhee 12:02

Dr Ike Nelson got his 11th straight LD BC which is incredible.

1st Ike Nelson 2:42 BC
2nd Jeff Thacker 2:45
3rd Jason Williams 2:46

Dr Ike Nelson sings to his horse before getting BC, Could this be his secret? Photo by Jennifer Whittaker

One highlight of the awards banquet for the 100 was that Josie McGhee won a copy of her Mom’s book on endurance. She accepted it and said, “I never have read this, I lived it with her”.
Someone thought she had some chance of getting it autographed.

This was Kate’s 4rth completion in 100’s out of 5 tries and we both needed some rest afterwards. This ride is a wonderful mix of good people and great times and I hope to see a more diverse mixture of breeds there next year.
Keith Kibler

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