>Two days before the ride, the bottom dropped out of the sky and we had tons
>of rain. Race day was sunny, cold wind and deep mud.
Look for the obvious before you start to panic about something being
drastically wrong. How cold is cold and how muddy is muddy. It takes a
lot of energy to handle the mud - especially if the horse is doesn't have
experience in the mud. A horse will handle bad footing - sand and mud -
once they have experience in it, that is once they have developed the
skills required for it. It is possible the that horse was tense all during
the ride because he kept slipping.
The Far Out Forest ride near Ocala, FL is very sandy. Every year people
show up with very good horses, but with no experience in the sand. They
usually get pulled before 50 miles because their horses are conditioned and
trained for the sand. The local horses have little problems with it. This
includes some of the best horses and riders in the East. The Gold Rush
ride in North GA last year had about 40 miles of slick red GA clay mud.
Even so it was an extremely hard ride. Stagg Newman won it in about 16
hours and he said it was the hardest 100 he had ever done. The second
horse finished with Stagg and the remainder of the field (four more
finished) took 23 and 1/2 hours. So the mud can do it.
What was the wind chill? Cold conditions require energy to just keep the
animal warm. Did you ride with a rump rug - maybe that would have helped.
You might have needed to go faster to generate more heat to keep him warm.
I know of one horse that doesn't do well at all in cold windy conditions.
A combination of losing energy from the cold wind and the trail conditions
could have eaisly sapped your horses energy.