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Belated Biltmore(long)

I've been kinda out of touch with Ridecamp lately.  Hope no one missed
me! <grin>  After spending $1300 on an injector pump for my Chevy diesel
last week, when I returned from Biltmore, my answering machine was toast
and my hard disk was unrecoverable.  Just what I needed.  Had all my
important data backed up, but had to buy a new system and reload all my
software.  One of my losses, along with a lot of good pics, was my email
address book.  For some strange reason, I never backed that up. If you
are missing from one of my lists, send ME a note so I have your
address...probably lost it in the crash.  Would especially appreciate a
note from Phil Rash and Bobbie Lieberman...and anyone else who doesn't
routinely post to Ridecamp.....Thanks!  Today, one of my propane zone
heaters for my house crashed...froze my butt off last nite...just what I
needed to go along with my $400 vet bill. <sigh> 

Anyway, here's my Biltmore experience.  Sorry, no results...didn't make
the ride meeting due to some problems with the trailer I needed to fix.

On Friday, September 28th, Joan Tipton, Sunny, and I traveled over to
the Biltmore Estate in Asheville North Carolina for the fall Biltmore
EnduranceRide.  Weather was beautiful, just a touch of frost early in
morning, warming up to 70's during the day. My ride buddy Flinn couldn't
get off, so we took her horse SA Mr. Lincoln (Abe) along in the trailer
with Sunny.  Flinn and her husband Wally came up later that evening. 77
Riders in the 50 mile event. 

Since the National Championship Ride was only two weeks away, Flinn and
I agreed to stay together and take it a little easy.  Didn't want to
have a problem here that would prevent attending the NCR.  First loop of
about 15 miles was just beautiful, winding over the pastures and around
the corn fields of the estate.  Sun in our face, glistening on the early
morning dew with the elegant presence of the Biltmore Mansion on the
hill above us.  Very fast loop, Sunny and Abe down immediately and
vetted through all A's.....even on gut sounds, which is the first time
ever for Sunny, and he stayed A's on this parameter all day.  He did get
a couple of B's on hydration early in the ride, but I think this was
because he was REALLY excited....probably because it was his first ride
since spring and there is not a lot of water on the trail at Biltmore.

Interesting aside is that I tested a strategy espoused by my friend
Susan Garlinghouse.  I started Sunny on small doses of electrolytes
(4cc's) and frequent small meals of grain and soaked beet pulp all day
starting on Wednesday before the ride.  The theory is that you preload
the hindgut prior to the ride (remember that a Sunny is digesting in his
hindgut on Saturday what he eats on Thursday) and top off his
electroylytes. (He will just flush what he doesn't need) Also
electrolyted Friday nite and Saturday morning with a normal dose and at
each vet check. One of the first things I noted was that he drank a LOT
more water on Wednesday and Thursday in the pasture. More on the results
of this later.

Second loop was 10 miles, very rocky with a lot of small hills.  Whizzed
right through that one and back to camp, again both horses down
immediately. Joan was working really hard handling two horses and
directing Wally.  Wally, on the other hand, being a non-horse person and
a golfer, was more interested in looking after Flinn than Abe! <grin>.
Since Gabe couldn't make this ride, I asked Joan to vet Sunny in on
Friday and take him through the vet checks. She was a little nervous,
and asked me to do the first check, but then did the others just fine.
Good experience for her and an excellent way to learn.  Unfortunately,
Ann Stuart, DVM was her first vet experience and she came back muttering
to herself that "if Ann were a people doctor she wouldn't have any
patients"...something about her
"bedside manner?"  <grin> We were saddling up getting ready to leave the
second check and I asked Joan if she had checked Sunny's feet. Dang! he
had lost a right front shoe! Must have happened just as we came into the
check....don't remember feeling it come off and he was not ouching on a
very rocky loop. Fortunately, no damage to the hoof and the truck was
close by, so rounded up the farrier equipment and slapped on another
shoe, but it delayed us out of the check by 15 minutes.

Third loop was 15 miles along the river and a climb up to a ridge and
back.  We are alternating in the lead, still holding a good pace, but
not pushing. Horses have settled down now to a strong extended trot with
a little cantering here and there. Back to camp in good shape, both
horses down, but HUNGRY!  Waited a few extra minutes to let them finish
their beet pulp/grain mash.  Out again on the last 10 miles, same as
second loop, being careful on the downhills. Abe came up alongside Sunny
and we cantered across the finsh line finishing 19th and 20th in great

Had to pass right by the truck on the way back to camp, so stopped, gave
the guys a drink and washed them off with the hose on the truck.  After
giving them a few minutes to dry, Joan brushed Sunny and combed out his
mane and tail. With his "copper penny" coat just gleaming in the
sun, muscles rippling and his soft mane and tail like velvet to the
touch and floating on the gentle breeze, she headed off to the vet check
with the horse she calls "Sunny Delight" to get his completion. Great
shot of her and Sunny by the ride photographer....wish I could show it
to all of you....

Came back a half hour later grinning from ear to ear just all excited
and talking a mile a minute about how the vets "oohhed and ahhed" over
Sunny.  "Best horse we've seen finish all day". "Are you sure he's done
50 miles"?  "Gee, I don't normally like Arabians, but would love to have
one like him". Vets scratching on him, playing with his mane, etc.
Hmmm...wish I could have been there for all that. Sunny was straight
"A's on EVERY parameter at the finish. Not sure how far ahead of us the
10th place rider was, but suspect that if we had not hung around the vet
checks replacing shoes and letting the guys eat a little longer, we
could probably have snuck in at the bottom of the Top Ten. That's
OK.....completions with a sound and relaxed horse are great.  I'll take
a Top Ten in Lightweight at NCR instead! 

Lemme tell ya, folks....Susan knows her stuff.  Best Sunny has EVER done
following her advice.  She's my hero!  If I had Top Tenned this ride, NO
DOUBT that Sunny would have won BC. Mucho Margaritas for the lady at
first opportunity. Owe you big time, Susan.

By the way, Susan, you are welcome to come ride with me ANYTIME. Just
come on down.  You have a standing invitation.  Will show you some of
the prettiest trails in the country. Don't need a can ride
Sunny. Besides, those California horses can't handle our hills, heat,
and humidity anyway.  OK...The ball's in your court...when ya comin'?

Finally met Howard Bramhall.  Howard, considering your faults, how did
you end up with such a nice wife and daughter?  Joan and Erica hit it
off immediately. Howard's daughter Jennifer is just a great kid. Her and
Sunny were bonded at first sight.  Joan and I took a walk with Abe and
Sunny down to Howard's camp and I was showing Jennifer Sunny's ground
manners commands. She says "Dad, boost me up there". Took off bareback
on Sunny with just a halter. He knew IMMEDIATELY that she was a
soulmate. Think she said "Dad, I want one just like this".  Howard, I
think I have created a large hole into which you will deposit lots of
money. <grin> Hope she will come ride with me someday before I get too
old. She will love riding Sunny in the North Georgia Mountains. Howard,
if you don't want to sponsor her, I will.  Great future for her in

Sunday morning before we left, Jennifer came over to say "Goodbye", but
what she really wanted was to see Sunny again. "Will he do all that
stuff for me?" Sure he will...and did...when she approached him properly
and used the proper cues.  Sunny was just perfect, backing off her
shoulder, turning on hand signals, and coming when called.

Hope to see you all at the National Championship.  Look me up and meet
Sunny....and Flinn's horse "Abe". The rest of us are inconsequential!

Jim, Sun of Dimanche and Mahada Magic

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