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Fw: Kalahari Ride(LONG)exremely long!!!!!!!!!!

>"Next year,"says Annemarie van Zyl,"instead of having vets at the
>checkpoints,we're going to get psychiatrists for the riders!" Why do we put
>ourselves and our horses through this ordeal?Why do the same people come
>back year after year? What makes a grown man break down and cry when forced
>to pull from this ride?
>By no reach of imagination can it be called fun.The original route which I
>have never seen included huge dunes and endless stretches of deep sand that
>had to trudged on foot for hours.This route was closed when part was
>included in a nature reserve and a new route mapped out in 1994 which was
>easier for vetting and crewing.There is a long mountain pass to be
>negotiated six times in four days,but the rest is mostly flat.The going is
>very testing-stony roads baked hard as concrete and deep sand.It is the
>monotony however of riding straight down never ending roads for hours in
>the dark that makes this such a hard ride to finish.
>The ride takes four nights.Starting in the late afternoon after the wrote
>heat,riding all night and coming in sometime in the morning.Not many
>hours to care for your horse,eat and try to sleep in the sweltering desert
>heat before its time to saddle up and start all over again.Four times.And
>the slower you ride the less time you get for rest.Day one starts Wednesday
>afternoon at 4pm.We leave with sun hats under a blistering sun.Ride 87.7
>miles.Trudle back to camp again in the blistering sun,only now its Thursday
>morning.Vet check,wash down horse,feed ,shower,if you have the energy,try
>to eat(too tired),try to find a cool place to sleep(impossible).5 PM time
>to saddle up again,6pm set off .At least its cooler,closer to sundown.Only
>62.5 miles to ride tonight .Survivable.Back in camp before
>breakfast.Rest.Wake up before midday(too hot to sleep).Back in the saddle
>by 6pm.The same 62.5 miles in reverse.Back to base.If horse and rider are
>not in a coma by now Saturday morning the worst is yet to come.Day one in
>reverse,87.5 miles, to make up the full 300 murderous miles.Day four is
>ridden on courage of horse and rider,on ability to ignore pain and
>exhaustion and just keep moving forward.To give in now is too costly,the
>price already paid for those hundreds of miles behind you to great to
>Crewing is the vital ingrediant in surviving this test.Without a dedicated
>and skillfull crew it cant be done.You need three people.One to care for
>the horse,one for the rider and one to sleep,so that at least someone can
>keep awake tommorow! The most important thing is nutrition.Horse and rider
>have to eat enought o have energy for 10 to 14 hours of extreme effort for
>four days.At camp in the day you are to hot or tired to eat much so feeding
>is continuous on the ride.The checkpoints are far apart and rests short,but
>crew vechiles are allowed to follow the entire ridden route,although
>4-wheel drive is necessary in the sand.Crews drive ahead a distance
>requested by the rider and put out hay,concentrate and water so horses can
>drink immediately and pick what they want to eat.Juicy greenfeed or
>cqarrots are favourites.Electrolytes are vital in this dry desert
>enviroment and should be given at regular intervals.Each riders individual
>whim is pandered regarding food.Raw bacon and pink mix?Distance between
>stops is determined by the state of horse and rider.An hour between
>pitstops is fine when you're cruising,but in the suicide time of 3 am those
>little red taillights somewhere ahead are all that keeps horse and rider
>going.At the 45 min stops the mattresses are put out for the riders to
>crawl into and hopefully sleep.We once left 10 minutes after departure time
>because we could not bear to wake Ina from a deep sleep.The danger lies
>however in the sleepy crew testing out the mattresses while they wait for
>there riders!The horses are fed and fussed over,taken to the vet at 20
>minutes and then left in peace to rest until leaving 25 minutes later.If
>they are in good shape the horses spend most of this time eating.Horses
>that go off there food will not make the distance.Apart from seeing to the
>physical needs of the horse and rider,the crew need to play pschchologist
>to persuade the rider to get back on the horse!By the third and fourth day
>the rider will experience moments of sanity,wondering what he is doing
>punishing himself and his horse in this ridiculous manner,when the only
>sensible course is to load the horse into the trailer,drive home and crawl
>under a warm duvet to sleep for three days.Only the combined persuasion and
>outright threats of the crew will return him to his previous state of
>Vetting standards are the same as those we used for 100 milers before the
>vet gate system was introduced.A pre ride vet check,2 compulsary 45 minute
>rests with vetting 20 minutes after comming in,two running checks and
>vetting fter finishing each day.Pulses must be under 60 at the first vet
>stop,thereafter under 70.With the slow pace of this ride pulses are seldom
>a problem.Lameness,mostly bruised feet,from hard going,dehydration and sore
>backs are the most likely problems.
>everyone discovers that to keep the circulation going under the saddle the
>rider has to get off and walk.A person can walk as fast as a horse so
>nothing is gainned by sitting on its back.It also does wonders for your
>stiff knees and numb bum!
>Apart from that there seem to be two schools of thought on how to cover the
>distance.Some of us like to maintain a steady rythm of a trot or canter for
>long streches while others believe shorter bursts of canter followed by
>walking is less boring for the horses.And then there is Vivienne and Andrea
>the crazy housewives who carried the kitchen timmer to keep them exactly
>planned periods of walk,trot and canter.If their inexhaustible chatter did
>not warn you they were comming then the raucus alarm would.
>The idea of the ride apparently came from Joggie jansen when he read that
>races of this length had been held in other countries.His brother Koot rode
>a trail run with his children in 1993.In 1994 the first official 300 Miler
>was won by him in 46 hours on Mantecca.It has been held 12 times since 1984
>and will in future be held every second year.Fields have been small with
>only 53 riders(10 woman) finishing in all that time.Koot jansen holds the
>record of 6 finishes,4 times on Mantecca.His record of two wins is equalled
>by Robert Lord on the brilliant Anglo-Arab,Souvereign Overdraft,who holds
>the old course record of 39 hours carrying a Heavyweight.The fastest time
>over the new course was 34 hours 21 minutes set by a junior Alwyn Smit on
>Proppie ,a tiny daughter of Side Echo.
>Diffrent breeds have been succesfull in this grueling endurance test.Of
>course puer and paerbred arabs takes it in their stride,but the slow pace
>of the ride opens doors to our indiginous breeds,the Boerperd and the
>Basuto Pony.I had the priveledge of riding Ina-Maries Bryers Sunny Basuto
>who has entered and finished the 300 miler in good shape for two
>consecutive years.This tough horse could go alot further than 300 miles.And
>not to underestimate those horses of no known breeding such as Digby who
>took the best conditioned trophy in 1966.Even mules have been entered for
>sections of this ride but have yet to go the distance.But in this desert
>landscape the Arabian seems to find itself at home.How eerie to be
>overtaken by a grandson of Morafic galloping like aghost out of the desert
>night.This snow white Sidi Echo was the first Arab stalion to complete the
>300 miler.
>Their and have been so many people involved in making of the 300  miler
>whose names I have not mentioned,but whose contribution is no less
>important.The Kalahari people who host this ride have a warmth which
>creates a family of the people who return year after year to participate in
>any way possible in this tremendous endevour.
>The spirit of this event is impossible to communicate in mere words,it
>needs to be experienced.Over four days competitors turn into
>comrades,joinned by a bond stronger than friendship,a bond created by
>mutual struggle and suffering,delerium and joy.You know that everyone is
>treading the same path,pushing themselves over the bare bones of nature
>until the venneers of civilisation peel away giving a glimpse of the real
>people inside.What our horses feel I am unable to know,but a deep respect
>and wonder is my response to these great harts who will do this just
>because we ask them to.
>Written by Laura Seegers
>I thought this would appeal to you,I had this article published in the
>Trail Blazer Magazine this year for Laura.This ride I am definately doing
>next year ol my old campaigner Shanni a tough ,small Appaloosa mare ,who
>has the heart and guts to do this for me,then she can finally retire in
>peace at the age of 18.Shanni has now done 5000 competitive endurance.She
>is wonderfull.
>If you or anyone else would like to do this ride let me know I will
>organise the horses for you.


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