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2008 Far Out Forrest - Debbie Parsons

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It wasn't pretty, it wasn't a lot of fun, but we got it done! 5
started the 100, 2 completed--the horse traveling in first and the
horse traveling in last. You can guess which one I was! Ride time
was 16:15; finished at 1:45am.

The sand was the worse that I've seen it there and I've actually
hauled the 100 miles to work on those trails. There had been rain
earlier in the week but just not in the part of the forest we were
riding in so the sand was dry, loose, and deep. And it was warm--
upper 70s/80.

We rode out as a group at 6am since it was dark. It wasn't long
before you could actually see the colors of the marker cards. It was
then that we spread out a bit but the group was still probably all
within a mile of each other. One of the things this ride is known
for besides the nasty sand is the low branches. I had eye protection
for my night portion of the ride but didn't wear it at the start.
Big mistake as I found a branch that went for my left eye. I got a
good whack on my left upper eyelid. Talk about pain! I could feel
moisture but it turned out not to be blood (thank goodness for a
white tissue in my pocket to use in the dark to check for blood). My
actual eye was OK but I had enough swelling of my eyelid that it was
irritating my eye. But on I rode. The first loop was 15 miles with a
trot by into camp and then out again for 15 miles before the first
hold at 30 miles. Not what I'm used to but good training for other
rides. I decided to actually go to my rig after I trotted by to
electrolyte Boomer and to check my eye. This resulted in the other
100s getting several minutes ahead of me. I never rode with any of
them again that day. My eyelid was swollen and fuschia colored but
no open skin to worry about which was good.

The 2nd 15 mile loop contained the worse and longest stretches of
sand. It didn't seem THAT bad on my first time on that loop but on
the 2nd time through, it seemed a lot worse, thanks to the heat of
the day and many hooves along the trail. After the 40 min hold, we
repeated the first loop of the day. Now in the daylight, I could see
long stretches of "moguls" that were made by the ATVs that use the
forest. They are miserable to negotiate--hard to get a rhythm or
find a gait above a walk that feels comfortable so I walked them
this time (last time we trotted them in a group in the dark which
was a weird sensation). When I came in for the 2nd hold at 45 miles,
I got a reminder that Boomer is a bulky horse and just doesn't cool
as well as some of the others I've ridden. He had a poor CRI and low
gut sounds but I knew he'd eat. Unfortunately, my rig was in the
full sun. My bad in not moving some stuff into the woods for shade.
My plan had been to park my rig so I could set up my pen in the
shade but 2 other riders had gotten there early and parked their
rigs horizontal to the shade rather than vertically, thereby taking
all the shade for 2 when about 5-7 rigs could have parked there.
Something to think about when you park your rig. Boomer's gut sounds
came up but his pulse at the end of the hold was 56. Not good. I was
OK'd to go out though and I went out to repeat the sandy 2nd loop
again, this time at a much slower pace. I know I took at least an
hour longer than the prior time, if not more than that. I walked
whenever the footing was even a bit questionable, and handwalked the
last 1/8 mile into camp at the end. Much improved marks going into
the 50 min hold despite limited water on this loop. Boomer ate and
drank and looked good although a bit tired.

The next 4 loops were 10 miles each. I got in one of those before
dark. When we went out in the dark to start the last 30 miles,
Boomer had decided I was truly crazy. He did go out and he did trot
when I asked but it was what I call a "screw you" trot--not much
faster than a western jog. That was his pace and he wasn't going to
go any faster unless I really got after him and I didn't see any
point in doing that, figuring he knew best what he could give me. I
had to deal with this on his first 50 and then did battle with him
to keep the pace down on his 2nd one because he thought he knew the
game then. So we trotted along slowly in the dark. I started
counting 50 strides before changing diagonals. I did this pretty
much the entire time we were in the dark. I bet Boomer can now count
to 50. I think the poor horse was in a state of disbelief and was
hoping I'd come to my senses. Even though he trudged along, he kept
moving. This is a horse that I've thought to be a quitter. He has
stopped on me in the past, taking a lot of urging to get back in
motion but those instances are becoming more distant. If there was
ever a time for him to have quit, it would have been Saturday night.
We had been by ourselves for probably 85+ miles of the entire 100
(we'd caught up with some 50s after 45 miles and rode along with
them for about 5 miles before moving on). We kept going back "home"
and then going back out, leaving food and rest behind. He really
dragged on the last loop until we hit the forest road coming back
towards camp. That section was about 3 miles long and this time he
actually stepped out a bit more. I had told him that he would be
finished this time. Maybe somehow he understood or perhaps he was
just hoping!

The camp was quiet when we finished as all sane people had gone to
bed. I wasn't happy with our final trot-out. Boomer was really
dogging it and didn't look to be moving well or evenly but it was
good enough for the completion. Everything else checked out fine and
Boomer couldn't wait to eat. He ate the best at this ride he's ever
eaten. At the hold at 90 miles, Darlene Krell brought him some
pellets and he almost devoured the feed pan along with the pellets.
He couldn't get enough of the feed or the hay so I stayed beyond the
very short 10 min hold time to let him eat. It paid off.

My friend Cindy called out from her rig to offer help as I untacked.
My mistake was not taking her offer. I had not taken care of myself
as well as I should have. By the time I finished poulticing and
wrapping Boomer's legs, my head was really swimming and things were
getting black. I closed my eyes as I unsnapped Boomer from the
trailer and turned him to his pen. He went in to get to his food and
I got the top strand of his pen done before lying down on my trailer
ramp, hoping the spinning and nausea would ease up so I could finish
what I had to do. It was not a good feeling. After about 5 mins I
got up and finished off what needed to be done outside and then
staggered into the camper. I managed to change my clothes and call
my boyfriend to tell him we were done and I was near death. I set an
alarm for a few hours so I could check on Boomer and was out like a
light. Sure beat dealing with the spinning head and nausea. I could
hear Boomer eating and drinking so I knew he was OK. Should have
known when I started "seeing" deer standing alongside the road that
things weren't going well in my world!

By the time I was ready to leave Sunday morning, everyone else had
already left. I went to take Boomer for a walk before loading him
for the ride home. He planted his feet. It took a lot of
encouragement to convince him to move and when he did get going, he
just dragged along. I felt terrible seeing him like that. I got him
walking and then had him trot a couple of circles around me. He
looked a bit awkward which made me wonder what was lying beneath his
bandages. We continued to walk around and Boomer seemed to finally
realize that everyone else was gone and he was done. He suddenly
brightened up and started dragging me around and even trotting
spontaneously as he spied leftover piles of hay to investigate. He's
a pretty crafty horse; perhaps he was "tired" to avoid more work!
When we got home, I unwrapped his legs--they looked great. I was
happy to see that. I turned him out and watched as he rolled
vigorously several times. He even trotted off to check out the
hanging feed bucket.

He has a sore area on the left side of his back that is something
new. This appeared at 45 miles. I realized as we trotted along in
the dark that I've not checked his saddle fit since November and
he's done a lot since that time. That is a stupid thing to forget to
do. I ride him in a Reactor Panel saddle so it's not like I can't
adjust things for changes in his back. He'd done fine with the 50s
other than loin soreness. This time, no loin soreness but he's had a
loading dose of Adequan, a shot of Legend, and chiropractic work
along with shoes on his formerly bare hooves. There's some soreness
in the girth area that he didn't have on his last 50 (the one
previous to that he did but I changed to a different girth and
thought the problem was solved when he was fine on the next 50).
Overall though, he looks good--his weight stayed up and he's as
obnoxious as he was prior to the ride. He nickered at me a while ago
when I went out to check on him. I doubt it was in greeting . . .
probably a direct threat that if I came near him I'd die! But at
least he looked happy (maybe at the thought of me lying crumpled on
the ground by his hooves!).

We won't discuss how sore I am. Actually, parts of me are OK today
but there are parts of me that are hurting for the first time ever
after a ride. Physically, that marathon I ran the Sunday prior was
easier (I did that in the "blazingly" fast time of 4:52:16 . . . .
Kenyans beware!!). Being up for 22.5 hours is not easy, especially
when the bulk of that time is on a moving horse. I hope this is like
they say childbirth is . . . you soon forget the pain and want
another! I'm still not 100% with my stomach but I'm eating and

So, it's done. Now to sit back and analyze the ride and decide if
Boomer did well enough to have a chance at finishing Tevis. I didn't
like the slow and poor recovery. I didn't like the way he was moving
at the final check. I did like how he ate and drank. He did not get
much time for any of his traditional naps--maybe he dozed 10 mins
the entire time because he was too hungry to nap. That was likely
the product of 30 miles before a hold. That length of time/miles is
a good thing when considering Tevis since the first real rest is so
far into the ride. And I did like the way he kept going, despite
being alone and tired. The pace was slow but steady and he did it
for miles and miles in the dark. He was surefooted and didn't spook
in the dark other than to eye a few dark areas of ground

Boomer gets a month off now. He deserves it and needs it. He won't
see the saddle until it's time to go ride again (at which time I'll
definitely check the fit and make adjustments). Next ride is
Leatherwood, just one day for 50 miles, the last weekend in March.
That will give us some mountain riding. Yee haw!

Thanks to everyone on the list for their encouragement and thanks to
my unofficial crew of Darlene Krell, Thurmon Tolbert, Cindy Ryan,
and Teri Hunter. Without them in those later hours, I'd have been

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