Audio: Angie's Weather Report || Ride Meeting ||The Start ||Gate 1 || Gate 2 || Gate 3
See the Rider Biographies collected by Angie
Images by Bill & Angie McGhee
======================== At the Finish 1 Steve Rojek on Finch (FEI) (10:16 ride time) 2 Kathy Brunjes riding Theatric (FEI) 3 Lois McAfee riding Tonka Toi 4 Meg Sleeper riding Tyrocco Troilus (FEI) Best Condition AERC, BC FEI, High Vet 5 Ruth Anne Everett riding Royel-T Razzmatazz (FEI) 6 Lynn Kenelly on Reminisonce (with her jaguar undies!) 7 Sandra Conner on Elegant Pride 8 Jennifer Poling on Inconclusive 9 Connie Walker on VSF Otis 10 Bob Gelien on FC Galaxy 11. Karen Isaacs on Shameless 12. Jeannie Waldron on Wonder Witch 13. Kathy Downs on Blew Away 14. Natalie Muzzio on Lojic 15. Nicki Meuten on Fury 16. Herman Barbosa on Winnstar 17. Cara Disbrow on Veinte Corona (Gooby) 18. Fran Williams on SSYankee Clipper 19. Tom Gower on JG Bandy 20. Leigh Ann Pauley on Blizzard Bey 21. Julie Jackson on Nitro 22. Joni Buttram on Cash Bonus 23. Adri Dinkelmann on Lucius 24. Josie McGhee on Jets Irish Rose 25. Lisa Delp on Sonata Al Deus 26. Yvette Vinton on Faras Fali 27. Mary Farris on Thundering Overtime 28. Norma House on Zinfaudl Coalmane 29. Tom Hagis Legendary Echo 30. Paddi Steadman on Breezewood Nevarre (Ned) 31. Roxanne Ciccone on FM Spirit Wind 32. Susan Kain on ExcaliberAERC Results
Angie's StoryJohn knew we were riding and he'd take what he could get. Add to that rain on rain and it's hard to pull out any electrical equipment to get destroyed. Then add in trying to gather info to send in while crewing for a wife & daughter with the truck a 1/2 mile MUDDY walk away...and you *know* there's always something you forgot to bring to the check that they've decided they want. (wouldn't it be nice if the sponge water was HEATED a little??)
So..Bill rose to the occasion (more or less...somewhat he says) and kept up with the front runners while trying to keep us up and going.
The ride started in RAIN. We *did* get to saddle up in the dry, but then the sprinkles became a steady light shower. Unfortunately they'd had HEAVY rains Thursday and the ground was saturated already. I've done this 100 after a night of rain when the trails held up well, but I guess the Thursday rain had a big affect and in no time it was an absolute MESS. First loop 15.4 miles wasn't too horrible, but it was getting there. First thing I heard at the first check was that Val's horse got pulled. He was a *big* gray and has some definite issues with the blanket they put on him afterwards and a lot of big eyed people were waving their arms describing the rodeo that ensued. :-P
2nd loop (18.8 miles) involved quite a bit of the first loop run in the reverse direction. Now it was getting chewed up and holding water way too well. Can you say, slippery, sticky, splashing, sticking to shoes MUD. Not only were the horses working hard just to lift their feet, *all* their muscles were working just to stabilize their bodies as feet slipped this way and that. We passed Rita Swift at about the 11 mile mark. Her horse had slipped and possibly pulled his shoulder muscle. She told me this morning that that walk out leading an excited horse with that mud stacking up on her shoes was the toughest walk she'd ever done.
Now it was getting serious. The rain would stop for a few minutes just to tease you, then pick up harder so that you thought, "This is stupid, I'm going to hurt my horse...should I Rider Option out??" But you have to gamble because "what if it stops and dries out and everybody says it was great?" You'd wanna shoot yourself. Then you think, "What if I go 80 miles and the bottom falls out?" It's not fun to think about.
However, Josie *was* having fun. For a kid who wears me out worrying most of the time, she was rediculously cheerful and happy the whole time. She was just sooooo happy to be in a 100 that she literally chattered in the rain about how great it was to be in the 100 and how she *could not wait* to ride in the dark. She didn't even mind the rain, said it was better than hot. (I strongly disagree!) The third loop was AWFUL, AWFUL, AWFUL, AWFUL!!! Deep, slippery mud. Now we were on trail that 106 50's had already been over ahead of us. Water was running in a current down the trail and it was better to trot right up the middle of the water where the dirt underneath had washed away than on the slop next to it. Going down hills involved trot in front, sit down and ski in the rear. Going up hill was slip, slip, slip.This was also the longest loop at 19.1 miles and had the most elevation gain and loss of any loop.
I was terribly happy with Gunner's performance so far. I'm just reporting this because there's so many of you out there who are scared to put your 50 mile horse in a 100 thinking he can't do it. I got Gunner 1 year ago as an 11 year old with prior trail experience and have done 9 50's with him. I had no idea what he'd do after 50 miles but in all this mess he drank, ate like a champ, stayed motivated and just *cruised* down the trail. At the 53 mile mark he did not hesitate at all to leave camp (see soon to be posted photo of gray with his nose cut off and Paint mare following). So...should I even attempt a 1st 100 on a day like this or call it a day at some point? What to do?
When I vetted through I was seriously questioning whether a 100 was doable for a sane person with a mortal horse when Stagg Newman came over to encourage me. He assured me that the next loop had not had *any* 50 milers on it and that it would be in much better shape...and that the last loop to be done twice had only intersected the number 2 (loop from hell) for 3 miles so things would look up soon. On that advice, we headed out. Josie was all excited because from the 55 mile mark on she was riding "the farthest she'd ever ridden). The "blue" (4th loop) was as he said in much better shape in places simply because it hadn't had all the traffic to tear it up, however it did have quite a bit of fairly new single track that just followed the sides of a ridge and the ground had chewed up so that their feet immediately slipped through till it hit tree roots and their feet would zip sideways. It was pretty much "walk only" and I cannot imagine that even the winner managed to trot that unless it was better before *he* tore it up for us. >g< The final descent off the ridge was as the crow flies, straight line down that was running with water and looked like it had been plowed when we got there. It was the only place all day where Gunner could not control his feet and kept sliding off the side while trying to stay upright, but ended up in the briars. (rough on tights)
When we came in to our 4th check the atmosphere was changing. MANY pulls. Horses getting pulled right and left. The vetting here tends to be on the businesslike side (FEI vets don't give you the "I'm your friend to help you through this" talk) but seemed they were being especially conservative...which was actually understandable considering what any horse that passed was being sent out to attempt.
I had no doubts about Gunner, since he was slamming on the brakes on the trail to drink from puddles, grab a mouthful of grass and jumping right back into a wonderful trot. In camp he stole hay from every pile he passed on the way to our tent. I was riding both diagonals and he felt perfectly even and great. Rose is always a little behind the Arabs on recoveries because she's a *big* girl (big ol' perty Paint butt & body that holds heat more) but we'd seen no cause for concern on her either. Just got paranoid about the silly "2 strikes you're out rule" and we were making sure she was solid down before going in the check. I trotted Gunner out and was caught totally off guard when the vet said she saw something either "LF or RR" (I didn't see anything but was bouncing along running...) His CRI was 48/48 (I think...hard to SAY since AERC decided they needed my card more than I did >grrrrr< ) She called Kerry Ridgeway over and he said something weird like, "Makes no difference which it is, he's out" or something like that. Well, heck, if there was *anything* wrong with my horse I sure as heck didn't want them sending me out to try to do 30 miles of sucky mud so I'm glad they had a good enough eye to see it, but then he said something like, "Grade 3...0 or 3 it doesn't matter". Huh?? OK vets. Here's some advice. Riders at the 70 mile mark don't understand kidding, or quips, we're *real* literal. I always considered "Grade 3" to be dragging a leg and considering any head bob was apparently really subtle (I couldn't feel it on the trail and I tend to think *all* horses feel lame) I've got a feeling he was making some sort of joke I didn't get. I remember when my doctor made a joke about the time he told me to "push" during labor and I didn't get that one either. Same type mental mindset. :-P
So, I was out at 70 miles.
Got back to our crew tent and Josie was in tears. Seems her vet had kept her card. He didn't care for the way Rose was "setting her mouth, wrinkling her lips" and thought the 64/64 CRI was reason for concern. Well, my first impression was, "You've gotta be kidding...she's a PAINT, with pink skin, permanent sunburn wrinkles around the mouth and she's had that look as long as I've known her. I think it means, "I'm Rose, I know my job, bug off". Jody had warned us her pulse would always look high by the Arabs, but I was really wishing she was there to make the call and tell us, "She's fine, she's always like that and has done OD and a lot more just that way". Joel made the call for us. Her pulse was soon 48 in the tent, but when we went back for the re-check the vet said she was 60. Another vet immediately checked and said 52. Meanwhile Josie's in tears because she wants to RIDE IN THE DARK! It made me feel much better to have vets who knew the horse discuss her with the FEI trainee guy, then he cleared her to go. whew.
This was going to be the first time Josie had ridden without a sponsor or me, or in the dark, and she couldn't stand the idea of missing it. She had heard me tell stories of riding in the dark at Biltmore for years, riding past the prom in the restaurant, etc. and that's all she'd looked forward to all day. Gotta say I was proud of her as she trotted out of camp alone with 2 flashlights in her pack and a breastcollar light strapped on & ready.
Little note here about the sort of guy Steve Rojek, the winner is. Jody Buttram told me that on her next to last loop she & Joni were dragging along since the mud had gotten to Aries and she was just *tired* (do NOT get Jody started about how she loaned Josie her GOOD HORSE and that's where she messed up!) Anyway, they're easing down the single track trail and she heard a horse come up behind them. In a bit she yelled back, "You want to pass?" and someone said, "Oh when it's handy, no hurry". "She said, we can "make room" and they got off the trail. When he trotted by she realized it was Steve, who was in the lead and he only had about 2 miles to go to the finish. He's *that* nice of a guy.
I'm afraid I missed all the finish (since it's a mile out of camp, and a few hundred hards across a wet field to get there) because I was getting a hot supper ready for Josie when she came in. Jody & Joni came in first and Jody pulled Aries. They offered her the option of re-presenting but she said she was tired and let her get busy eating (which she was working hard at) Meanwhile, that little Cuss Cash Pony was tearing up his corral and looking like a mustang that had just been corraled. That pony does NOT show fatigue. Period. I think he's possessed by demons and only Joni would deal with them! Joni jogged across the field like she hadn't done a thing all day, found a sponsor (Julie Jackson) and got ready to head out alone. If she felt sorry for Jody she didn't show it. >G< Now I had somebody to whine with and the kids were having all the fun. Josie made it in an hour later, Rose looked good and the vets had no complaints or misgivings about sending her back out. >double whew!< She'd enjoyed riding in the dark and had good stories of strange floaty white things in the distance (turned out to be reflectors on the back of other riders) and Rose freezing only to see LOTS of eyes staring at her out of the dark (12 deer when she got her flashlight on them) She was in good spirits and ready to head out again but we were REALLY hoping to find someone for her to ride with. That's when we saw Adri Dinkelmann getting ready to leave and knew she was going to have a great time. Adri is a beautiful 20 ish year old from South Africa who is pleasant, cheery, and an amazing rider. Her horse Muphasa could have been right up front but she said of the trail, "This was no day to race" and that she was trying to teach him to pace back at times. At the finish he looked like he'd done nothing at all. They're an amazing team. Long story short, Josie had the ride of her life, got to hear the prom "thumping" from a distance, she and Adri laughed about scarey sights in the woods and things like, staring at glowsticks in the distance only to see three of them suddenly go from stationary to whisking away. (Rider with glowsticks had stopped facing them to let horse graze, then turned and trotted away) believe me, things like that look STRANGE in the night. I've got a sore kid who's grinning from ear to ear. Thanks Jody for loaning the "good horse" (and you *know* I'll take Aries any time too!)
Back to the ride. Sorry there's no coverage of 50's. Let's just say it was pretty amazing that Bill gathered what he did of the 100's while crewing for 2 and EVERY timer or worker had all their notes inside a clipboard under a plastic bag! If you have any specific questions I'll try to find the answers. I didn't get to take the photos I'd have liked to since it rained so much and digital cameras do not like moisture. But I got a few conformation shots of those who didn't drive away *immediately* after the awards. At least I got Finch, the winner! I'm sending them to John as we speak (connection was too slow at the ride)
Stagg & Cheryl Newman worked awfully hard and we appreciate them here in the SE. Good to see Ann Ayala looking spry again.
OK guys, I GOTTA take a shower!
Forgot to mention. They told me to bring Gunner back in an hour or so after the adrenaline had worn off and he'd probably show the lameness more noticably. Took him back and they couldn't even see it as he jogged away, but could see it intermittantly as he came back.
One vet palpated and felt no digital pulse or soreness. One thought he had strained his shoulder. Ken Marcellas looked at him with his thermal camera and his left fetlock to hoof was lit up (heat) so there was the culprit. I'm glad they stopped us before we did more. Hopefully just a sprain possibly from that out of control slide down the hill on the blue loop. This morning he's good on a straight line but I can see it on circle to left. I'm *glad* they stopped me. That's what we pay them for. :-) Overall, I think he showed me he *is* a 100 mile horse. He was extremely bright eyed and taking care of himself at 70 miles, so I'm still hopeful. Not all trails are that high risk for sure.