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[RC] Big Horn 100 - II - Steph Teeter

The soreness is fading from my body, as are the details of the time in the
saddle... so I'd better get it down while I can. Before the ride meeting I
quizzed Tom VanGelder about the ride - how did it start, when did it start,
etc. I've heard a few different versions, but basically the local club - the
Canyon Cavaliers - got the idea of doing a 100 mile ride in 1970 - before
AERC was even formed. Tom VanGelder, Dale and Terry Perkins, Dave Nicholson,
Ray Cheetum (who is credited with putting together the trail), and a few
others were involved in organizing and planning the first Big Horn - which
was held in 1971. (if there are real historians out there, please correct
me!). Pat Fitzgerald won the ride the first two years. My friend Regina Rose
who now lives not too far away in Owyhee County, stopped by after I got
home, full of questions about the ride - about the trail - which trail did
we use, where was the new trail, mentioning names and landmarks that were
too unfamiliar to me to be of much use in answering her questions. But,
Regina used to live there (Shell I think) and was a member of the club when
it started the ride. She didn't ride it the first couple years, but soon
figured out that it would be alot easier to ride, than to crew. Regina has
13 Big Horn buckles, and 5 unsuccessful attempts - that's a lot of Big

So... up at 2:45 AM. I'm not a morning person, and really have a struggle to
wake up, much less climb on a horse, in the wee hours of the morning. I hit
the coffee before my eyes were fully open (a can of Starbucks Doubleshot
next to my pillow) and let the full moon ease me into wakefullness. sort of.
The light was on in the Sundowner, Bev and Bill were stirring, and Bev was
putting on a pot of coffe. Around 3:30 we started saddling up. Paladin was
calm, the professional. Bev's younger horse Zipcode Bey was pacing, had been
pacing much of the night. He was pretty amped, knowing something was up.
Fit, fed well, travelled well, too much energy to spend the night in a small
pen. We climbed up and headed down to the river with the rest of the group.
Headlamps bouncing, horses bouncing, enough moonlight to see the trail and
the start. A little milling before they let us go. All of the distances
start together on this ride - the 25 milers, 50 milers and 100 milers. Quite
the assortment of horses and riders. In the dark, in close quarters.

We finally started out, and Zip was way too excited. Bev had her hands full
with a bucking bay horse, too excited. Pal just put his head down and moved
out. Strong, pulling, but manageable. A great feeling horse, all business.
We were looking for Kathy Arnold - she and Bev had arranged to ride
together, since Kathy knew the trail. Always a good idea, and Kathy doesn't
dally. The first 25 miles of this ride were out in the desert, it looked a
lot like our Owyhee country. Enough moonlight to see the road, and ease us
into dawn. It was really beautiful. Fairly warm too. A shirt and vest was
enough. We cruised through the desert and into the juniper scrub, a gradual
climb, nice riding, nice company, lots of conversation. Into the first
vetcheck at 25 miles, met by Bill and Ted. We had been cruising at a  pretty
good clip, 2 1/2 hrs to do the 25 miles (make time while you can on this
course). Did I mention that I'm not very fit? I haven't been riding much at
all, too much travelling, sitting, eating.... when I climbed down off of
Paladin my legs almost collapsed. Total jelly. I handed Pal to Ted and
waited until my legs started working again, not sure if I could even trot
him out. I managed to recover enough to wobble along with Pal for the vets,
but I was thinking 'uh oh' ... this is not a good sign. How am I ever going
to get through another 75 miles???  We had a nice 45 minute hold, the horses
were ravenous, and Ted and Bill took care of everything. so nice! We climbed
back on - oh dear - and off we went. Soon the rhythm of the work took over
again, and we trotted on.

About 5 miles we came to a spot and Kathy had stopped, looking up, looking
down, looking at the road where the ribbons were tied. We joined her and she
said 'this is wrong'. uh oh again. We got the map out, again, this can't be
right. But what to do... the ride had never gone that way before, it can't
go that way, but what to do - take down the ribbons, re-tie them up the road
that she thought it should be. still hadn't quite decided what to do, Bev
and I decided to ride up the 'should be' road for a ways and see if we
picked up ribbons again. About that time the front runners came flying up
from the 'wrong' road, it had dead-ended farther down. Somebody had
deliberately moved ribbons and remarked the trail going the wrong way.

From that point the climbing began, up up and up and up, gorgeous views of
the valley, beautiful trail into the timber. And then down and down to a
creek crossing, then back up and up - and so the hours went. Spectacular
single track trail - through woods and boulders and creeks, up across alpine
meadows. Still morning fresh, the horses were still strong, still full of
optimism. This was a wonderful section of trail. We climbed up and up and
onto a dirt road, followed it for a while as it followed the contours of the
grassy meadows. The biting flies were bad up there though, they particularly
liked Bev and Zip - a little cloud followed them along. Left behind a bit
when we trotted, to catch back up when we slowed to a walk. I was getting
bit a little, but not bad. We finally crossed the ridge and down into the
vetcheck. A merciful breeze was blowing there, no flies! I was hurting
pretty bad by now, the stirrup leathers were bruising my legs, hard to get
comfortable at a trot. But - I had brought 2 different saddles, figuring I
might need a change. Bill and Ted were there, Pal stopped when he saw them
and drank 2 5-gallon buckets of water before moving again. This horse knows
how to take care of himself. Another 45 minute hold, merciful rest, the
horses tanked up, and off we went again. Another 14 miles to the half-way

We arrived just as the 50 milers were finishing, a bit of a line backing up
and we waited at least 20 minutes before a vet was free to check the horses.
Bev and Zip trotted out, ok, and then turned and trotted back, uh oh. He was
off. Poking and prodding and stretching and testing and head scratching and
the vet couldn't find anything obviously wrong. Bring him back before you
go, maybe it was a muscle cramp and he'll work out of it. Pal was fine, but
now we have an hour to fret and worry about Zip. Bev did everything she
could think of, ice, massage, walking, and he seemed much better. The vet
passed him so she decided to head back out and see how it went.

wow- this story is turning out just like the ride - going on and on and
on... I've run out of steam for now, I'll finish for sure tomorrow - (only
50 miles to go)



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